Newsline for August 15, 2007

“We must work the works of him who sent me….”

John 9:4a

1) Agency executive committees and members of Implementation Committee hold discussion.
2) Disaster project leadership trainees are ‘hooked.’
3) Toothpaste is removed from hygiene kits at Brethren Service Center.
4) Travel seminar takes students to visit Brethren in Brazil.
5) Conference kicks off Southeastern’s 300th anniversary celebration.
6) Brethren bits: Personnel, Caring Ministries Assembly, and more.

7) Bosserman resigns as district executive for Missouri and Arkansas.
8) Royer resigns as director of admissions for Bethany Seminary.
9) Poole begins as coordinator of ministry formation for Bethany.

10) Reflection from Brazil: Doing an excellent job of being church.

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Para ver la traducción en español de este artículo, “La Conferencia Anual de 2007 hace historia y trata con una agenda grande y compleja,” vaya a www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2007/jul0407.htm#1b. (For a Spanish translation of the article, “Annual Conference 2007 makes history, addresses complex and lengthy business agenda,” from the Newsline of July 4, go to www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2007/jul0407.htm#1b)
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1) Agency executive committees and members of Implementation Committee hold discussion.

A previously scheduled meeting of the executive committees of three program agencies of the Church of the Brethren at the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center, Aug. 6-7, took on new significance when members of the Annual Conference-elected Implementation Committee were invited to attend.

The Implementation Committee was elected by the Conference in early July as part of its adoption of recommendations from the Review and Evaluation Study Committee that assessed the program work of the denomination. Following adoption of the Review and Evaluation Study Committee’s report, the delegate body elected a seven-member committee to address ways the recommendations could best be implemented.

Members of the Implementation Committee are the executives of three agencies and the Annual Conference Office–general secretary Stan Noffsinger for the General Board, executive director Kathy Reid for the Association of Brethren Caregivers, executive director Bob Gross for On Earth Peace, and executive director Lerry Fogle for Annual Conference–and elected members Gary Crim, John Neff, and David Sollenberger. The committee’s task is to implement a transformation of the organizational structure of program agencies of the Church of the Brethren, specifically the General Board and the Association of Brethren Caregivers. On Earth Peace is involved in the process as well.

The meeting at New Windsor was originally scheduled to address ways the agencies could better collaborate on programs of the wider church. It quickly became a consultation between the three program agencies and the Implementation Committee. Although this gathering was not an official meeting of the Implementation Committee, it proved to be a valuable time of discernment for the agencies and the committee. Members of the Implementation Committee who were present said that the information gleaned will greatly inform their work.

The group worked through a process to identify core ministries of each agency and how the values and programs of each agency could be enhanced by greater collaboration with one or both of the other agencies. It was agreed that the mission and vision documents of each agency will serve to guide the collaborative work of the denomination during this period of transition in organizational structure.

A congenial spirit permeated the two-day meeting that was led by Glenn Mitchell, a spiritual director and former chair of the General Board. Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the General Board, commented, “How wonderful it is that we have all shared openly and honestly today, and everyone is still present!” The two days also included an evening gathering for a time of fellowship and fun, during which participants sang songs popular in the church and society through the years.

A follow-up meeting with the agency executives, board chairs, and representation from the Implementation Committee has been scheduled to take place at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Sept. 26-27. The Implementation Committee will meet officially for the first time in late October, and will bring an update of its work to the 2008 Annual Conference in Richmond, Va.

Expenses for the New Windsor meeting as well as the follow-up meeting will be supported by each of the program agencies, with some of the participants donating all or part of their individual expenses. The General Board, Association of Brethren Caregivers, and On Earth Peace all indicated the importance of continued prayerful and financial support during this time of transformation.

–Eddie Edmonds is chair-elect of the Association of Brethren Caregivers and appointed scribe for the consultation meeting. He is pastor of Moler Avenue Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, W.Va.

2) Disaster project leadership trainees are ‘hooked.’

“My name is Larry, and I’m an addict.” The roomful of fellow addicts responded, “Hi, Larry!” This is not the typical opening for a meeting of Church of the Brethren volunteers, but Larry Williams offered this caveat, “I’m addicted to disaster response.”

Williams is a disaster project director for Brethren Disaster Ministries. He served as co-trainer for a five-day Disaster Project Leadership Training held at the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center on July 30-Aug. 3. All of the Brethren Disaster Ministries project leaders are volunteers. Teams of trained leaders work together in various capacities at each project site where the program carries out clean up, repairs, and rebuilding following disasters.

The 18 trainees at the event included Rodney and Christine Delawder, Jim and Doretta Dorsch, Jim and Alice Graybill, Charles and Sigrid Horner, Steve Keim, Jerry Moore, Alan and Denise Oneal, Mike and Ruth Siburt, Lee and Trudy Stamy, and John and Janet Tubbs. Trainers included Bob and Marianne Pittman, John and Mary Mueller, Glenn Kinsel, and staff members Roy Winter, Zach Wolgemuth, and Jane Yount.

Trainees learned all aspects of disaster project oversight–volunteer management, coordinating work, safety, household management–and the various nuances of relationships, faith, and ethics that are an integral part of the work.

When asked what they thought makes people volunteer for disaster relief, the group was quick to respond: “To give back to people,” explained Doretta Dorsch, “It’s what we are commissioned to do–what Jesus tells us to do.” Rodney Delawder added, “You build up self-confidence, knowing you can contribute.”

Christine Delawder chimed in, “They get hooked. Once you see the families and the smiles on their faces, you want to go back and help more.” Trudy Stamy agreed, “The thank yous and hugs from homeowners make you want to come back.” Jim Dorsch pointed out that, while volunteering is important, it’s also fun: “We laughed ’til our stomachs hurt!”

The training ended with a commissioning service led by Marianne Pittman, who instructed the group to look intently at their hands. “The saying that Christ has no hands but your own is true for disaster service,” she said. “Blessed be the hands that bring help to one another.”

She invited the other trainers to share from their own experiences, and John Mueller offered the group this challenge: “Just try to leave more than you bring back. It’s not possible…. Welcome to the losing battle of not being able to give back more than you received.”

–Jane Yount is coordinator of Brethren Disaster Ministries for the Church of the Brethren General Board.

3) Toothpaste is removed from hygiene kits at Brethren Service Center.

“We are in the process of removing toothpaste from hygiene kits (formerly named health kits) and checking the contents to be sure only the correct items are included in the kits,” reports Loretta Wolf, director of the Material Resources program of the Church of the Brethren General Board. The program packs, stores, and ships disaster relief materials worldwide from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., on behalf of partner organizations such as Church World Service (CWS) and Lutheran World Relief.

Brethren and others who donate hygiene kits are being alerted that toothpaste will no longer be included in kits. “This goes for Church World Service and Lutheran World Relief kits,” said Wolf. “It is also helpful to mark the donation carton ‘hygiene kit w/o toothpaste,’” she said.

The decision to remove toothpaste from the contents of the kits was in response to an initial problem with expiration dates, Wolf said. Now with the potential for “poisoned” toothpaste from China, she reported that CWS is purchasing bulk toothpaste to send alongside the hygiene kits for onsite distribution.

No decision has been made as to the disposal of the toothpaste that is being removed from donated kits, Wolf said.

In related news, the program is issuing an urgent call for donations of school kits. Wolf said there is “desperate need for school kits for Church World Service. At this point we have about 30 cartons. Church World Service has requests for several containers they are currently unable to fill.” For information about school kits, including a contents list and instructions for packing, go to www.churchworldservice.org/kits/school-kits.html.

Material Resources also issued a call for more volunteers to help staff work with the CWS kits. Help is needed to check items in donated kits so that each recipient is assured a complete and appropriate kit. Volunteer opportunities are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Brethren Service Center. Lunch is provided for volunteers who work six hours or more. For more information or to schedule a date to volunteer, contact the New Windsor Conference Center at 410-635-8700.

More information about the toothpaste poisoning is available from the Food and Drug Administration at www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/toothpaste.html. In a statement on the website, the FDA said it has found a poisonous chemical, diethylene glycol (DEG), in certain toothpastes imported from China. It warns consumers to avoid using toothpaste labeled as made in China that is typically sold at low-cost, bargain outlets such as dollar stores. An import alert is stopping suspect toothpaste from entering the US, the website said. The website offers a list of brands from China that have been found to contain diethylene glycol.

4) Travel seminar takes students to visit Brethren in Brazil.

On a recent travel seminar to Brazil, students of Bethany Theological Seminary and the Training in Ministry (TRIM) program engaged the question of what it means to be Anabaptists planting churches in today’s diverse world. The seminar was jointly sponsored by the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board, and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

Led by Jonathan Shively, director of the Brethren Academy, and accompanied by General Board member Vickie Samland, the seminar traveled in Brazil from May 17-June 2. They shared learnings with leaders of Igreja da Irmandade-Brasil (the Church of the Brethren in Brazil), participated in language school, experienced Brazilian culture, and worshiped in several congregations.

Participants included Virginia Bandy of Homeworth, Ohio; Jim and Elaine Gibbel of Lititz, Pa.; Carla Gillespie of Richmond, Ind.; Haley Goodwin of Richmond, Ind.; Jason Kreighbaum of Richmond, Ind.; Matt and Becky McKimmy of Richmond, Ind.; David and Cheryl Mishler of Sabetha, Kan.; and Christine Sheller of Wichita, Kan.

For more from the Brazil seminar, see the feature reflection by Haley Goodwin at the end of this Newsline. For an online photo album, go to www.brethren.org/pjournal/2007/BrazilTravelSeminar2007/index.html.

5) Conference kicks off Southeastern’s 300th anniversary celebration.

The Southeastern District Conference on July 27-29 at Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, N.C., culminated with a kick off event for the district’s celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Church of the Brethren.

Moderator Donna Shumate called the conference together as the 96 delegates met, with 33 churches represented. The delegates heard reports on Friday afternoon. Guest speaker Dennis Webb, pastor of Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, brought the message on Friday evening from Ezekiel 37:1-14, “Can These Dry Bones Live?” Saturday morning’s message by moderator Donna Shumate was from Matthew 14:29, “Walking on Water.”

In new business, the delegates approved closing two Bible Study Projects that were started in 2005, and approved a new Hispanic Bible Study Project for downtown Asheville, N.C., with sponsoring church HIS Way Fellowship Church of the Brethren/Eglesia Jesucristo El Camino, in Hendersonville, N.C. Carol Yeazell, a member of HIS Way, told the conference how the Bible Study Project is already sharing Christ with 27 individuals with regular attendance.

The conference also approved and celebrated the Hispanic HIS Way Fellowship moving to “church” status. Several members from the congregation attended the conference in support of their church, and also brought special music. The delegate body and others in attendance shared their support with a standing ovation, and pastor Raul Gonzalez expressed the congregation’s appreciation for the district support.

In other business, a 2008 budget of $81,748 was approved. Pastor Jeff Jones from Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren in Knoxville, Tenn., was called as moderator-elect. Pastor Wallace Cole of First Church of the Brethren in Mount Airy, N.C., was selected as district representative to the Church of the Brethren General Board. Proceeds from the Quilt Auction went to the district’s Ministry Assistance Fund.

Jeremy Dykes, who will serve as district moderator for 2008, announced the theme “Come, Holy Spirit” based on Acts 1:4-8 for the 300th anniversary year. After the business session closed Saturday afternoon, the district held its kick-off celebration for the 300th anniversary. Several people attended in “old Brethren dress,” with Shirley Spire and Pete Roudebush acknowledged for their old Brethren style. The children played several old-fashioned games, and the adults had a time to visit with Ruell Pritchett’s granddaughter. Old quilts from past conferences were on display along with early history information concerning meetings and events held in Southeastern District.

The district’s Youth Heritage Team of Rebecca Thomas and Jennifer Stacy also shared with the delegate body concerning their training. After the worship service held by the youth, everyone enjoyed a time of ice cream and cake.

For the final worship service of the conference on Sunday, Dennis Webb based his message on Matthew 14:29. A time of feetwashing and the bread and cup closed the conference.

–Martha June Roudebush is co-executive minister for Southeastern District.

6) Brethren bits: Personnel, Caring Ministries Assembly, and more.

Stephanie Hartley of Lewistown, Pa., completed a two-year term of service as a mission worker in Nigeria with the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board. Her term was completed at the end of the school year. In 2005-06, she taught math and social studies at the Comprehensive Secondary School of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN-the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), near Mubi. In 2006-07, she taught middle school history at Hillcrest School in Jos. Hartley is returning to Nigeria to teach at a private international school.

Emily O’Donnell has ended her service with the Brethren Witness/Washington Office as a legislative associate and Brethren Volunteer Service worker, as of Aug. 3. She is a member of Green Tree Church of the Brethren in Oaks, Pa.

Beth Merrill has joined the Brethren Volunteer Service office as a fulltime BVS volunteer. Merrill, who attended Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in her hometown of Sacramento, Calif., first joined BVS in the fall of 2005. She spent four months as a BVS volunteer at Bridgeway in Lakewood, Colo., working with pregnant women, and a year at Quaker Cottage in Northern Ireland, a cross-community family support center.

The General Board welcomes two new computer support volunteers serving through Brethren Volunteer Service. Jay Irizarry will serve at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.; Tom Birdzell will serve at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

On Earth Peace and the Brethren Witness/Washington Office of the Church of the Brethren General Board haved hired Mimi Copp as grassroots organizer for the denomination’s participation in the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21. This short-term position is a joint partnership of the two agencies to develop and carry out marketing, outreach, and organizing plans for the commemoration. A goal has been set of holding at least 40 vigils in Brethren communities on this date. Copp will provide resource materials and program support to congregations that become involved. She has served as a Brethren volunteer in Chicago, Ill., and Nigeria, and holds a master’s degree in Peace and Development Studies from Universitat Jaume I in Spain. She is a member of Shalom House, an intentional community in Philadelphia, Pa.

The morning Bible study leader for the next Caring Ministries Assembly will be Stephen Breck Reid, academic dean of Bethany Theological Seminary. Curtis Dubble was to be the featured Bible study leader but has had to cancel his involvement in the Sept. 6-8 conference on “Being Family: Reality and Renewal” to take place at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Pastors, deacons, chaplains, caregivers, and those interested in family ministry can still register for the assembly, which promises three keynote sessions, three worship celebrations, and almost 30 workshops about family life. For more information visit the Association of Brethren Caregivers website at http://www.brethren-caregivers.org/ or contact the ABC office at 800-323-8039 ext. 300.

*A conference call for International Day of Prayer for Peace organizers is offered tomorrow, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. eastern time. The 90-minute call will offer ideas and plans for the Church of the Brethren congregations planning a public prayer meeting for peace on or near Sept 21. The facilitator will be Matt Guynn, coordinator of peace witness for On Earth Peace. To register send an e-mail to Mimi Copp, organizer for the International Day of Prayer for Peace in the Church of the Brethren, at miminski@gmail.com. For resources and a list of participating congregations, visit www.brethren.org/oepa/programs/peace-witness/prayforpeace.html.

The annual Brethren Revival Fellowship/Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) unit will begin orientation on Aug. 18 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

“We’re doing well. We’re anxious to build,” reported pastor Mark Teal of Black River Church of the Brethren in Spencer, Ohio. The Black River church building burned to the ground on Christmas Eve night last year, Dec. 24, 2006. Now the congregation is close to making a contract with a builder and breaking ground for a new building, and hopes to be able to worship in the new facility by the end of this year, Teal said. The congregation has actually increased in attendance while it has been meeting in the facilities of Chatham Community Church, just a couple of miles away. The new building will be built on an open field that was part of the original property. “It is going to be larger,” Teal said, adding that the building plans include additional seating capacity for worship and more classrooms as well. “We’ve received a great deal of support and offers of help from across the denomination,” Teal said. “We’ve really appreciated their prayers and support.”

Oregon and Washington District is holding its first annual District Song and Story Fest on Aug. 17-19 at Camp Koinonia in Cle Elum, Wash. The purpose of the camp is “to get to know other district folks” and “to have fun together using music and stories,” according to the district newsletter. Cost is $55. To register contact Mike and Nancy O’Cain at 509-674-5767.

Brethren Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement center in Lancaster, Pa., has the only two low-income housing units at a Lancaster County continuing-care retirement community that are subsidized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to the newsletter of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. The second of the units, Fairview Meadows, was dedicated May 8. The first is the Village Garden Apartments, built in 1990. Brethren Village began work on the second low-income unit after Village Gardens experienced a long waiting list, indicating need for low-income housing for seniors. Even after the second unit was built, 50 seniors are still on a waiting list, the newsletter said.

Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., celebrates its 80th anniversary with a service of celebration on Sunday, Sept. 2, at 4 p.m., followed by a potluck dinner at 5:30 p.m.

Friends, fans, and former students were invited to Roland “Ort” Ortmayer’s 90th birthday celebration on July 7, hosted by the Ortmayer family and the University of La Verne (ULV), in La Verne, Calif. Ortmayer served as head football coach from 1948-90. During 43 years at ULV, he also coached other intercollegiate sports teams and served as athletic director and professor of physical education. In 1980 he was inducted into the NAIA Coaching Hall of Fame. He later brought the university added prominence in 1989 as the subject of a feature article in “Sports Illustrated.” His popular summer courses featuring rafting and kayaking in Montana began an “alumni float trip” tradition that continues today. The celebration on the football field in ULV’s Ortmayer Stadium featured picnic food, snow cones, and a special birthday cake. For more about the university go to http://www.ulv.edu/.

7) Bosserman resigns as district executive for Missouri and Arkansas.

Sandra L. Bosserman has announced her resignation as executive minister of Missiouri and Arkansas District, effective on or about Nov. 15. She has served as district staff for almost eight years, since she was called to the position on Jan. 1, 2000.

Bosserman has broad denominational and district experience, having served as a member of the Church of the Brethren General Board from 1986-87 and 1990-95. She also has served on the Standing Committee of district representatives, the Annual Conference Council, and the Inter-Agency Forum. Previous to her district position, she was pastor of Peace Valley (Mo.) Church of the Brethren for more than six years.

She is known by members of her district also as author of a “DE Dogma” column in district newsletters, and has written the Lenten devotional “A Time to Lie Fallow,” published by Brethren Press. She lives with her family in Peace Valley, Mo.

8) Royer resigns as director of admissions for Bethany Seminary.

Kathy Royer, director of admissions at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., has announced her resignation effective Sept. 3. In her three years of guiding and shaping recruitment and admissions work at Bethany, since her appointment in Sept. 2004, she has traveled extensively to connect with potential students from the Church of the Brethren and other denominations.

“Kathy has worked determinedly to enhance enrollment, to increase Bethany’s exposure in areas beyond Church of the Brethren realms, as well as to deepen connections with our Church of the Brethren college students,” said Brenda Reish, executive director of student and business services and treasurer.

Previously, Royer served in various roles at Hospice of Miami County, Ohio, for nine years. She is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. She plans to expand her spiritual direction practice through teaching and individual counseling.

9) Poole begins as coordinator of ministry formation for Bethany.

Dan Poole of Bradford, Ohio, has accepted the half-time position of coordinator of Ministry Formation at Bethany Theological Seminary, beginning Aug. 1. He will work closely with Tara Hornbacker, associate professor of Ministry Formation, in the administration and teaching of the ministry formation component in the local and Connections programs.

“Dan will be a wonderful addition to the Bethany community,” said academic dean Stephen Breck Reid. “He brings 16 years of pastoral experience and has served as an adjunct faculty member for the past several years.”

Poole is a 1991 graduate of Bethany Seminary. He will continue to serve as pastor of Covington (Ohio) Church of the Brethren in a half-time capacity.

10) Reflection from Brazil: Doing an excellent job of being church.

The Church of the Brethren in Brazil, though small, is doing an excellent job of being church. Even though this was my second trip to Brazil, it was my first trip focusing on Igreja da Irmandade, the Church of the Brethren. I received a bigger picture of what the Church of the Brethren is doing in Brazil.

The church is doing a very good job at being “radical” in regard to the culture. The push for pacifism and community is very strong. The congregations are small, most of them resembling house churches. This seems to be effective, because everyone has an important role in the church. Without each person, the congregation would not function properly as a church.

The Brethren in Brazil recognize that ministry happens every day, and not simply on Sunday, or during Bible study. The emphasis is on community–on living, loving, learning, laughing, playing, celebrating, and crying as a community. We spent a weekend at the Rio Verde church and with the members there. We worshiped together, but also spent a day full of fun and recreation. Being in community is ministry, and being in ministry is all aspects of life. One must study, worship, reflect, and play. It is a balance that each church community must strive to achieve.

There are two moments that moved me–statements made by Marcos Inhauser, national co-director of Igreja da Irmandade. The first was made during his reflection on John 9:1-7, the story of Jesus healing a blind man. “God does what God wants without our permission,” Marcos said. It is a simple statement but at that moment it rang true to my heart and soul. It spoke to me of my life.

The second statement was made as Marcos was reflecting on the story of the Last Supper in Matthew. He said, “All Jesus left us was the table.” Simple, profound, powerful, and layered with meaning and metaphor. If Jesus left us the table, then shouldn’t we be dining around it, and fellowshiping around it together?

–Haley Goodwin is a student at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

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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. Kathleen Campanella, Mary Dulabaum, Kim Ebersole, Phil Jones, Nancy Knepper, Karin Krog, Janis Pyle, Marcia Shetler, and Loretta Wolf contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with the next regularly scheduled Newsline set for Aug. 29. 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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