Newsline for August 1, 2007

“I will give thanks to the Lord….”

Psalm 9:1a

1) Butler Chapel celebrates tenth anniversary of rebuilding.
2) Foods Resource Bank holds annual meeting.
3) Grants support DR community development, Katrina relief.
4) ABC encourages support of SCHIP reauthorization.
5) Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, Annual Conference, more.

6) Course offerings are announced by Brethren Academy.
7) 300th Anniversary update: Plans are announced for Conference 2008.

8) Reflection: Meeting with USAID.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
New at The 1981 Annual Conference statement on “Diminishing Membership in the Church of the Brethren” has been posted at (scroll down to the year 1981). The 2007 Conference has recommended this statement for renewed study in response to a query calling for a reversal of the diminishing membership trend in the church.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
To receive Newsline by e-mail or to unsubscribe, go to For Church of the Brethren news online, go to, click on “News” to find a news feature and links to Brethren in the news, photo albums, conference reporting, webcasts, and the Newsline archive.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1) Butler Chapel celebrates tenth anniversary of rebuilding.

Ten years have passed since hundreds of Church of the Brethren volunteers helped to build a new Butler Chapel AME Church in Orangeburg, S.C. The original church was burned by arson.

Local church leaders there are now planning a major 10th Anniversary celebration to be held Jan. 11-13, 2008, and the Brethren are invited, reports the “Bridge” newsletter of the Brethren Disaster Ministries.

A variety of events are being planned for the anniversary including a banquet, music, fellowship, worship, and time to reconnect with friends and volunteers. All who love to sing will be offered an opportunity to experience typical AME Church music. The congregation will reserve housing and arrange for meals.

“This cross-cultural event will be a great way to begin our 300th Anniversary year,” said the “Bridges” announcement. “Mark your calendars now.”

2) Foods Resource Bank holds annual meeting.

The Foods Resource Bank (FRB) annual meeting took place in mid-July at Sauder Village in Archbold, northwest Ohio. Global Food Crisis Fund manager Howard Royer was among several Brethren members who attended. The Church of the Brethren participates in the Foods Resource Bank through the fund, which is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board.

“Some 200 people impassioned about hunger action were present for the Wednesday focus on growing projects,” Royer reported. Patty Hurwitz was on the program to share the story of the growing project of Grossnickle Church of the Brethren in Myersville, Md. Also present from Grossnickle were pastor Timothy Ritchey Martin, Jennifer Leatherman, and Patty and Don Hughes.

Later this fall, the Hughes plan to join Foods Resource Bank staff member Bev Abma in a visit to the Kenya Bamba program, which was supported by $36,000 from the 2006 proceeds of the Grossnickle growing project and matching funds from USAID (see below for a feature story about a meeting of Grossnickle members at USAID offices in Washington, D.C.).

Other Brethren present at the annual meeting were Floyd Troyer and Sam Reinoehl of Pleasant Chapel Church of the Brethren in Ashley, Ind.; Steve Rodebeck of Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren in Decatur, Ind.; and Lois Kruse from Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa. Bonnie Baker, a Presbyterian from Hutchinson, Kan., represented a growing project in which three Brethren congregations are partners: McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, Monitor Church of the Brethren also in McPherson, and Community Church of the Brethren in Hutchinson, Kan.

Among the speakers were Max Finkberg, executive director of the Alliance for Hunger; Jim Thompson, acting director of USAID’s Global Development Alliance; and Maynard Saunder, CEO of Saunder Industries and son of the firm’s founder. Saunder told the group that a favorite saying of his father was, “It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t know you can’t do it,” reported Royer. “In spite of its fast growth, FRB still seems to have that semblance of innocence about it.”

“Especially moving were the presentations of four overseas guests, representing programs in Bolivia, Cambodia, Kenya, and Zambia assisted by FRB grants,” Royer said. Hanah Mwachofi, a water technician from the Kenya Bamba program, who had spent a couple of days at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Cleveland, also has visited a growing project of South Waterloo (Iowa) Church of the Brethren, the Grossnickle project, and the ECHO training center in Florida, which was the site of a Church of the Brethren youth workcamp this summer. Mwachofi returned to Kenya on July 19.

One day of the meeting was given to a smaller group delving into ways of moving overseas programs and grant communities beyond subsistence, Royer said. “These words–‘beyond subsistence’–became a kind of unofficial mantra,” he added.

In naming new officers, the FRB board elected as chair Doug Harford, an FRB volunteer and a farmer from Mazon, Ill., to succeed Cort Miller of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries in Kansas City. The board’s winter meeting is slated for San Antonio, Texas, in January. Its 2008 annual meeting will be held in July at Souix Falls, S.D.

3) Grants support DR community development, Katrina relief.

Four grants totaling $95,000 are supporting community development in the Dominican Republic and continuing relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina. The grants have been given by two funds of the Church of the Brethren General Board: the Global Food Crisis Fund and the Emergency Disaster Fund.

An allocation of $30,000 from the Global Food Crisis Fund will fund the Church of the Brethren’s Community Development Program in the Dominican Republic for the year 2007.

Three grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund continue support of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts: $25,000 continues to fund the work of rebuilding by Brethren Disaster Ministries in Pearl River, La., and will be used specifically for tools and materials and to feed, house, transport, and support volunteers; $17,000 continues funding for a rebuilding site in McComb, Miss., providing travel expenses, leadership training, tools, and equipment; $23,000 continues to fund the Children’s Disaster Services Program in New Orleans, providing child care assistance at the request of FEMA, and supporting volunteer travel, food, housing, and training.

In other disaster relief news, the Katrina rebuilding projects are calling for volunteers. “As we approach the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, literally thousands of Louisiana residents still await assistance,” said an announcement from Brethren Disaster Ministries. The ministry is particularly calling for more volunteers to work at two rebuilding sites in Louisiana: Pearl River and Chalmette. There are three “open” weeks when volunteers are needed: Aug. 26-Sept. 1 in Pearl River, and Aug. 19-25 and Sept. 2-8 in Chalmette. Volunteers are invited to call their district disaster coordinator, or to contact Brethren Disaster Ministries at 800-451-4407.

Brethren Disaster Ministries also has received a request from Church World Service (CWS) for donations of School Kits. “We’re approaching an excellent time of year when components are often on sale as students head back to school,” said CWS. The kits are stored at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and shipped to disaster sites in the US and around the world. CWS has announced some revisions to the list of supplies for the kits, go to for the updated list and shipping instructions.

4) ABC encourages support of SCHIP reauthorization.

The Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) is encouraging Church of the Brethren members and congregations to support the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by contacting their congressional representatives and asking them to reauthorize the program before its Sept. 30 deadline. ABC is an agency providing publications and educational and faith opportunities that encourage the church to do caring ministries as the work of Jesus Christ.

With both houses of Congress approving bills to reauthorize and expand the program, legislators must now merge the bills before the Sept. 30 expiration. In 1997, Congress created SCHIP to provide insurance for children whose parents work but cannot afford health insurance. Today, 46 million people live in the US without adequate health insurance, and 9 million of those are children. Many legislators and organizations are calling for the SCHIP program to expand and include more recipients, which means increasing its funding. This week, the House and Senate both passed bipartisan bills with differing funding levels in support of SCHIP. President Bush indicated in May that he would veto any bill that expands the program.

ABC is calling attention to an update from the Children’s Defense Fund that highlights some differences in the bills, while encouraging those in support of SCHIP to contact their representatives. Links to the Children’s Defense Fund and others providing programs and resources about SCHIP are available at

In April, both ABC and the Church of the Brethren General Board signed up to support the All Healthy Children Act with the Children’s Defense Fund. For the last four years, ABC also has been a partner organization to promote the Cover the Uninsured and “Covering Kids and Families” programs of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Contact senators and representatives by calling 888-226-0627 or at their home offices during the August break.

5) Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, Annual Conference, more.

  • Brandy Fix Liepelt and Paul Liepelt, who have been mission workers in Nigeria with the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board, completed their term of service on Aug. 3. They taught Bible and Christian doctrine at Kulp Bible College, a major training institution for the church leadership of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The college has an enrollment of approximately 200 students and is located at EYN Headquarters near Mubi. Paul Liepelt began his term of service in July 2004. Brandy Fix Liepelt began her term of service in July 2005. The couple, who married in Nigeria, plan to make their home in Everett, Pa.
  • Rose Ingold has begun a temporary position as information services assistant for the Church of the Brethren General Board in Elgin, Ill. She began in the position on July 23. She will assist with setting up office procedures, scheduling, creation of training documents, and other administrative functions. Previously, Ingold served as Conference assistant for the Annual Conference Office.
  • The Church of the Brethren General Board seeks an executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, to fill a fulltime position located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Responsibilities include seeking to discern the needs of the larger church; articulating the vision of the General Board through collaborative work with districts and congregations, in conjunction with General Board staff; developing a plan of oversight and assisting the three units within Congregational Life Ministries including the Congregational Life Team coordinators, workcamps, and the Youth and Young Adult Ministry; overseeing networking and training for church plants and coaching for new church development; providing executive leadership and management of centralized and deployed staff. Qualifications and requirements include a Master of Divinity degree; active Church of the Brethren membership; five years of experience in work with congregational life, program development, mentoring, supervision, team development, and administrative work; current ordination in the Church of the Brethren; a minimum of 10 years of pastoral ministry; and interest areas of church renewal, revitalization, evangelism, youth, and young adult ministries. Starting date is Nov. 1, or as negotiated. Applications will be received through Aug. 31. Interviews will take place at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., in September and October. A position description and application form are available on request. Qualified candidates are invited to complete the General Board application form, submit a resume and letter of application, and request three references to send letters of recommendation to the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 258;
  • The Church of the Brethren General Board seeks a program assistant for its Global Mission Partnerships. The position supports and extends the ministry of Global Mission Partnerships by providing administrative and secretarial functions for the international mission operations of the denomination. Responsibilities include administrative coordination and support for the office of the executive director for Global Mission Partnerships, responsibilities for unit-wide organizational functions, facilitation of financial processes, arranging travel for individuals and groups, and facilitation of personnel processes and documentation. Required skills and knowledge include communication skills in English, both verbal and written; skills in computer applications, particularly Word, with the capability and willingness to learn new software applications; ability to problem solve; good judgment in prioritizing tasks; knowledge of basic financial processes; organizational skills, ability to work with details and simultaneous tasks; three-to-five years of administrative or secretarial experience; some college education preferred. The application deadline is Aug. 10. Request a copy of the position description and application form from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 258;
  • McPherson (Kan.) College is seeking an outgoing, organized, energetic, self-motivated person who will serve as executive director of Development. This position reports to the vice president of Advancement. The executive director will plan and carry out fundraising events, meet with existing and new constituents to solicit funds, should be able to lead a team, have good relationship building skills, and understand the benefits of a small-college education. This position involves travel, salary is flexible. A Bachelor’s degree is required. Send a cover letter, resume, and references to Lisa Easter, Human Resources, P.O. Box 1402, McPherson, KS 67460; or e-mail No phone calls please. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. EOE.
  • Final blood collection results at the 2007 Annual Conference have been announced: a total of 187 units of blood were collected at the Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. “The Red Cross informs us that this tremendous result will sustain the life of 561 patients needing whole blood or blood products,” said Annual Conference executive director Lerry Fogle. “On behalf of the American Red Cross, thanks to each person who donated blood at Annual Conference.”
  • A reminder to ministers who attended sessions qualifying for continuing education credit sponsored by Congregational Life Ministries at Annual Conference: please send stamped name tag with mailing address to Joy Willrett, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Call 800-323-8039 ext. 208 for more information.
  • The National Youth Cabinet of the Church of the Brethren met at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Aug. 1-3. The group spent three days focusing on the national youth program, selecting a 2008 Youth Ministry Theme, and developing resources for the next National Youth Sunday scheduled for May 4, 2008. Cabinet members are Seth Keller of Dover, Pa.; Heather Popielzarz of Prescott, Mich.; Turner Ritchie of Richmond, Ind.; Joel Rhodes of Huntingdon, Pa.; Elizabeth Willis of Tryon, N.C.; Tricia Ziegler of Sebring, Fla.; adult advisor Dena Gilbert of La Verne, Calif.; and Chris Douglas, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
  • Dates have been announced for the next Song and Story Fest: July 6-12, 2008, at Camp Brethren Woods in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Ken Kline Smeltzer is the founder and dean of the week-long music and story-telling camp. For several years On Earth Peace has been the organizational sponsor. The 2007 Song and Story Fest attracted more than 130 people to Camp Inspiration Hills in northern Ohio, this past June.
  • First Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., is celebrating 50 years of service and ministry as a congregation on Sunday, Aug. 12.
  • A service of dedication for the property of a new church start in Virlina District–Lake Side Church of the Brethren Project–will be held on Sunday Aug. 26, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Nappanee (Ind.) Church of the Brethren awarded its “Waging Peace” Scholarship to Christina Prochna of Northwood High School. The church worked with the school’s “Dollars for Scholars” committee to award the scholarship. The committee chose Prochna for her positive role model, random acts of kindness, and positive influence in the community.
  • A cookbook compiled by members of Mount Zion Road Church of the Brethren in Lebanon, Pa., is a fundraiser for a multi-purpose room for the church, according to an article in “Lancaster Farming.” Roxanne Molnar, former employee of the Pennsylvania Beef Council, is coordinating the cookbook along with a committee of women from the church. The committee hopes the cookbook also will be a tool to tell others about Jesus, Molnar said. The cookbook includes intriguing recipes such as “Elvis Presley’s Favorite Banana Pudding.” For more information contact Mount Zion Church of the Brethren, 2087 Mount Zion Rd., Lebanon, PA 17046.
  • Districts holding their conferences this month are Michigan District on Aug. 9-12 at Hastings, Mich.; and Northern Plains on Aug. 3-4 at South Waterloo (Iowa) Church of the Brethren. The month of July also saw several district conferences: Northern Ohio on July 27-29 at Ashland (Ohio) University; Southeastern on July 27-29 at Mars Hill, N.C.; Southern Plains on July 26-27 at Clovis, N.M.; and Western Plains on July 27-29 at McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren.
  • Manchester College anticipates 350 new students this fall, a 13 percent increase in class size. Manchester is on pace to enroll its largest first-year class in more than 15 years. An intense campus-wide focus on enrollment, and restructuring of the admissions team, appears to be paying off for the college, according to a recent release. The 119th year of the college in North Manchester, Ind., begins Aug. 29. For more go to
  • IMA (Interchurch Medical Assistance) World Health has been invited by the World Bank to participate in meetings in southern Sudan with bank officials and the ministry of health. The Church of the Brethren is one of the denominational members of IMA. Charles Franzen, IMA’s international grants manager, will travel to southern Sudan to meet with officials and negotiate financial terms for two proposals to be funded by the bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund. The projects will provide a basic package of health services in two states, Upper Nile and Jonglei. In related news, IMA also has been working on a Sudanese Physician Reintegration Program, jointly implemented with Samaritan’s Purse and the Capacity Project. The program is helping 15 Sudanese-born doctors return to their homeland after a 20-year absence. As teenagers, the doctors were transported out of southern Sudan to get an education. Ongoing civil unrest prevented their return. The program has given the doctors a refresher course to prepare them for practicing medicine in their home country and help to get them reintegrated into southern Sudan. IMA reports that southern Sudan currently has about 50 doctors for 10 million people.
  • “Peacemaker Congress IX–Tearing Down Walls, Restoring Communities” will be held Sept. 20-23 in Toronto, Canada. The event is the ninth congress held by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). Keynote speakers include James Loney, who along with Harmeet Singh Sooden and Norman Kember was a member of a CPT delegation kidnapped in Iraq in Nov. 2005. CPT Iraq team member Tom Fox also was kidnapped, and later murdered on March 9, 2006. Loney has been a member of CPT since 2000 and has served on CPT projects in Palestine, Canada, and Iraq. Workshops will address topics such as “Stop Depleted Uranium,” “Undoing Racism,” and “War Tax Resistance,” among others. The congress also features worship, caucus meetings, social time, and child care. Contact CPT Canada at or 416-423-5525; or visit for more information.
  • James Loney has contributed an essay in the National Public Radio series, “This I Believe,” for the “All Things Considered” radio program of July 2. Loney, along with Harmeet Singh Sooden, Norman Kember, and Tom Fox, was a member of a Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) delegation kidnapped in Iraq (see “Peacemaker Congress” notice above). “I believe all things and all beings are interconnected. I saw this most clearly in the time I was a hostage,” his essay begins. The full essay is available at
  • Mark A. Ray, an ordained Church of the Brethren minister, gave the message on July 18 at a combined worship service of the 119th General Conference of the Brethren Church and the Brethren Youth in Christ Conference, at Ashland (Ohio) University. Ray currently is serving as a missionary in Ireland for the Brethren Church; he previously served as youth pastor for Blue River Church of the Brethren in Columbia City, Ind.
  • A seminar on the topic, “Will Our Children Be Stewards?” is sponsored by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center on Nov. 26-29 in St. Pete Beach, Fla. The annual event is for congregational leaders, stewardship staff, Christian educators, and youth leaders. This year’s seminar has the purposes of identifying the culture of materialism targeted toward children, offering an understanding of the spirituality of children, and exploring ways to teach stewardship to children. Speakers include Dick Hardel from the Youth and Family Institute; Sandy Sasso, rabbi and teacher of children’s spirituality and author of children’s books; Nathan Dungan, founder and president of Share-Save-Spend; and Bryan Sirchio, who works with Crosswind Music and HarvestTime ministries. The seminar offers a group discount registration per denomination, a discount for “early-birds,” and a discount for “first-timers.” Please be in touch with Carol Bowman, coordinator of Stewardship Formation and Education for the Church of the Brethren General Board (509-663-2833 or, to help Brethren participants take advantage of these specials. For more information about the seminar visit

6) Course offerings are announced by Brethren Academy.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren General Board and Bethany Theological Seminary, has listed upcoming courses. All academy courses are open to Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) students, as well as pastors and lay people.

Upcoming courses include:

  • “Teaching and Learning in the Church,” an online course offered Sept. 4-Oct. 26, 2007, with instructor Rhonda Pittman Gingrich;
  • “Introduction to the Old Testament,” online Sept. 10-Nov. 2, with instructor Craig Gandy;
  • “Distinctive Marks of the Brethren,” at the Northern Indiana District Office in Nappanee, Ind., on Nov. 1-4, 2007, with instructor Kate Eisenbise;
  • “Introduction to Preaching,” at Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., on Nov. 15-18, 2007, with instructor Ken Gibble (register through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center);
  • “First and Second Thessalonians,” online Sept. 24-Nov. 3, 2007, with instructor Susan Jeffers (register through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center);
  • “January Intensive 2008” at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., with instructor Stephen Breck Reid;
  • “Jeremiah,” online Feb. 4-March 15, 2008, with instructor Susan Jeffers (register through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center);
  • “Sermon on the Mount,” at St. Petersburg (Fla.) Church of the Brethren on Feb. 7-10, 2008, with instructor Richard Gardner;
  • “Church Vitality and Evangelism,” at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., on April 17-20, 2008, with instructor Randy Yoder (register through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center); and
  • “Church Leadership and Administration,” at Juniata College on Nov. 13-18, 2008, with instructor Randy Yoder (register through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center).

Registration brochures are available through the Brethren Academy at or call 800-287-8822 ext. 1824. To register for Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center courses, contact 717-361-1450 or

7) 300th Anniversary update: Plans are announced for Conference 2008.

The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 2008 will feature special events celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Brethren, as announced recently by the 300th Anniversary Committee. The Conference will be held in Richmond, Va., on July 12-16.

The opening worship service will feature a sermon by the 2008 moderator James Beckwith, followed by a concert by the National Christian Choir. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, the choir includes members from all over the midatlantic region representing a variety of denominations. About 15 of the 200 choir members are members of the Church of the Brethren.

Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday are planned as days of formal joint fellowship with the Brethren Church, a sister denomination to the Church of the Brethren. The two denominations will be together in the conference facilities as well on Monday and Tuesday, when there will be more time for informal fellowship by Conferencegoers.

A team of speakers is planning the Sunday morning worship including Chris Bowman, pastor of Oakton Church of the Brethren near Vienna, Va.; Shanti Edwin, pastor of Brush Valley Brethren Church at Adrian, Pa.; and Arden Gilmer, senior pastor at Park Street Brethren Church in Ashland, Ohio.

During “An Experience of Brethren Faith Journeys” from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon, participants will choose from 27 different presentations including presentations on history and music, intercultural forums, art events, Bible studies, a panel discussion with representatives from the sister denominations, and sharing from Youth Heritage Travel Team members. On Sunday evening the Conference will gather international Brethren from around the world to share what God has been doing in ministry outside the US.

The Monday and Tuesday worship services will take place in the mornings. Monday evening will feature a concert by Christian musician Ken Medema, who has performed at several youth conferences of the Church of the Brethren. Tuesday evening will feature a drama about the life and martyrdom of Ted Studebaker, a Church of the Brethren volunteer and conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.

The closing worship service on Wednesday morning is being planned by a team of leaders including Melissa Bennet, pastor of worship and youth for Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Shawn Flory Replogle, pastor of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren; and Lee Solomon, dean of the doctor of ministry program at Ashland (Ohio) Seminary.

The Anniversary Committee also plans a “service project blitz” around Richmond, to take place at two different times during the Conference: all day Saturday, July 12, and Monday morning, July 14. The Monday service projects will be for nondelegates only, as they will coincide with business sessions. “We want to make a difference in the Richmond community,” said an announcement in the anniversary newsletter. “We are hoping that thousands of Brethren will participate, showing our Christian love by helping others in this way.”

The organizers are challenging congregations to increase their Conference attendance in 2008 by 300 percent–or three times their 2007 attendance–to celebrate the anniversary year. “Please promote this in your congregations by reminding your members that not every generation gets to be part of such a historic event,” said the committee.

8) Reflection: Meeting with USAID.

Early in June, four members of our Growing Project Committee made our way to the offices of USAID, housed in the grand Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C. This was our second visit to USAID.

Welcoming us was Jim Thompson, head of the Global Development Alliance, a division of USAID, and members of his staff. Also present were Marv Baldwin, president and CEO of the Foods Resource Bank (FRB), and representatives of two other growing projects, one in Wisconsin and one in Iowa. FRB staff members were also present. An international guest of FRB, Pastor Stephen of Kenya, was there to share about an FRB project in his country.

A meeting of government representatives, a member of the developing world, food security program staff, and folks from the “grassroots ” like us is a wonderful encounter. USAID staff wanted to learn more about how programs like FRB work at the grassroots level. Thompson of USAID seemed to exude joy as he heard of tax dollars being matched through the private sector. Pastor Stephen seemed joyful at the new life that programs like FRB bring to his part of the world. And we on the grassroots side of the discussion were filled with joy at what can be accomplished when government and private sector, and a measure of faith, combine to do wonderful things.

I wonder at how God truly can be present, in the beautiful offices of USAID, building a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Later that day we made our way to the offices of our Congressman, Roscoe Bartlett (6th district of Maryland) to keep an appointment to encourage support of USAID matching dollars in the farm bill. Some $2 million dollars are in the bill designated to match dollars raised through growing projects.

Charlie Johnson, an aide to the congressman, sat at a table with us in the conference room. Marv Baldwin of FRB joined in the visit, but waited for us volunteers to take the lead. Patty shared about our growing project. Jennie talked about how wonderful it is to be able to tell people that USAID matches every dollar we give. I raised a voice for the USAID matching dollars in the farm bill. Baldwin spoke from the perspective of FRB staff, filling in the gaps that we left.

On the way to Washington that morning, Robert, the final member of our delegation, had said, “Now I’m along to learn and to support, but don’t ask me to say anything. I just don’t do that.”

After the rest of our group had spoken during the meeting at Bartlett’s office, Charlie Johnson turned to Robert and said, “And what do you have to add to the conversation?” Robert’s eyes got big and he swallowed hard. He looked Johnson in the eye and said, “I just want to help feed hungry people.”

For a brief and incredibly simple moment, Robert spoke truth to power. “Inasmuch as you do it to the least of these….”

–Timothy Ritchey Martin is a pastor at Grossnickle Church of the Brethren in Myersville, Md., a congregation that is sponsoring a Foods Resource Bank growing project.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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. Mary Dulabaum, Lerry Fogle, Mark Hartwig, Vickie Johnson, Cindy Dell Kinnamon, Jon Kobel, Jeri S. Kornegay, Karin Krog, Janis Pyle, Howard Royer, Carol Yeazell, and Jane Yount contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with the next regularly scheduled Newsline set for Aug. 15.. 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.

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]