Newsline for December 19, 2007

December 19, 2007

“To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

1) Committee makes progress on new organization for Brethren agencies.
2) Annual Conference Council holds envisioning retreat.
3) Around 50 Brethren attend vigil against School of the Americas.
4) Brethren funds give $84,000 in grants for hunger and disaster relief.
5) Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, and much more.

6) Yoder to direct Insurance Services for Brethren Benefit Trust.
7) Wittmeyer to be interim director of Pension Plans for BBT.

8) Partnerships in the Gospel in Northern Ohio District.
9) Sharing memories of lost missionaries.

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1) Committee makes progress on new organization for Brethren agencies.

The committee charged with the task of how to implement the streamlining of two church agencies while incorporating the functions of the Annual Conference Council, held its second meeting Dec. 10-11. The committee was formed after passage of the 2007 Review and Evaluation study by the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.

The Implementation Committee reports that it is making continuing progress on its assignment, and is preparing the documentation for the new organization. The proposed merger agreement, including a new set of bylaws and revised articles of incorporation, will be reviewed in early March 2008 during a combined meeting of the General Board, the Association of Brethren Caregivers board, and the Annual Conference Council.

Each board will be invited to approve the proposed plan before it is considered by the 2008 Annual Conference. A summary of the implementation plan along with the bylaws, articles of incorporation, and merger agreement will be posted on the Annual Conference website shortly after they are considered in March.

The Implementation Committee is recommending to the 2008 Annual Conference that the General Board and the Association of Brethren Caregivers be united in a single entity, incorporated as “Church of the Brethren, Inc.” and doing business as “Church of the Brethren.” The inclusion of the term “Incorporated” or “Inc.” will only be referenced in legal documents.

The new organization will become effective Aug. 1, 2008. For more information about the work of the Implementation Committee, go to the committee’s webpage on the Annual Conference website at

–David Sollenberger is an elected member of the Implementation Committee, and serves as coordinator of interpretation for the committee.

2) Annual Conference Council holds envisioning retreat.

Denominational envisioning, the frequency of Annual Conference, polity questions, financial concerns, and business items for the 2008 Annual Conference were all on the agenda of the Annual Conference Council on Nov. 27-30, in New Windsor, Md.

The meeting, chaired by immediate past Annual Conference moderator Belita Mitchell, also included 2008 moderator Jim Beckwith and moderator-elect David Shumate, Joan Daggett, Jim Myer, Fred Swartz, and Lerry Fogle. Don Kraybill of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethown (Pa.) College, led a day and a half retreat devoted to discussions of denominational envisioning and the future of Annual Conference.

Denominational envisioning has been on the council’s agenda for a number of years. When it received its charter from the 2001 Annual Conference, one function was to “share with the Standing Committee the responsibility to see that envisioning is an ongoing part of denominational planning.” Longterm envisioning for the church was no longer lodged in the denominational structure, as it once was with the Goals and Budget Committee of the General Board. Since the board’s restructure at the end of the 1990s, each of the Annual Conference agencies has adopted strategic plans for carrying out its individual programs. The Standing Committee of district delegates understands its envisioning function to be primarily a listening role, collating concerns to pass on to agencies.

The Annual Conference Council has sent a request to consider options for including the envisioning function to the Implementation Committee that is studying a restructure of the General Board, the Association of Brethren Caregivers, and the council. The council suggested examples of long-range envisioning for the denomination, and cited areas that could be explored: mission, including overseas mission, congregational renewal, and new church development; leadership, examining how vital, excited, and loyal leadership can be called for denominational positions; making disciples, calling and growing disciples to do the work of Jesus; and worship, nurturing vital worship in our congregations and conferences.

The other portion of the retreat addressed whether the denominational Conference should continue to be held yearly. The council examined 10 different scenarios ranging from alternating a delegate’s Conference and a full Conference, to holding Conference every three years. The council recognized that economic concerns and diminishing attendance are driving the question, and that there are many benefits to holding a biennial Conference. The council looked at other factors as well, including historical, sociological, and spiritual values to the denomination of an annual meeting. The discussion pointed out the effect of increased pulls in our culture away from opportunities to gather face-to-face.

The council will pass on to the Program and Arrangements Committee its sense that an annual Conference is preferred, with a biennial Conference as a second choice. There was unanimous agreement that the Conference needs to be “reenergized and revitalized,” and the council included in its communication several of its own ideas for making that happen.

In its regular meeting prior to the retreat, the council expedited a full agenda. Beckwith asked the council to give an opinion on whether the Program and Arrangements Committee can send a query to Standing Committee. The committee has prepared a query to send to Standing Committee asking, “Is it possible for the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren to review the section of the 1983 Statement on Human Sexuality that deals with ‘homosexual persons and sexuality’ and engage the denomination in a study and dialogue in order to clarify the church’s response to homosexual persons?” (see the Newsline of Nov. 21).

The council indicated that polity only allows for queries to come through the normal district process, from an Annual Conference agency, or from Standing Committee itself. Therefore, the committee’s query is regarded as a request for help and interpretation from Standing Committee. In order for the committee’s concern to become a query for Annual Conference, Standing Committee will need to adopt it as its own question to Conference. This means that the committee’s query will not be included in the 2008 Annual Conference booklet.

In other business, the council completed a revision to the paper, “A Structural Framework for Dealing with Strongly Controversial Issues,” which it was asked by Conference to do following the adoption of a recommendation from the Denominational Name Study Committee in 2004. The paper will be sent to Standing Committee.

The council also received a positive financial report of offerings and registrations at the 2007 Conference, enabling the Annual Conference Fund to make progress to reduce its deficit; adopted a 2008 budget of nearly $550,000 with anticipated income of $585,000; prepared several questions of concern to the Implementation Committee; previewed a new promotional video for Annual Conference; celebrated completion of the update to the denominational polity manual; and conducted a five-year performance review for Annual Conference executive director Lerry Fogle. The next meeting of the council will be March 8-11, 2008, in Elgin, Ill.

–Fred W. Swartz is the Annual Conference secretary.

3) Around 50 Brethren attend vigil against School of the Americas.

More than 11,000 people gathered at Fort Benning, Ga., on Nov. 16-18 for the 18th annual School of the Americas (SOA) Watch protest and vigil, including around 50 Church of the Brethren members. The protest has been held on a weekend in November since 1990, marking the anniversary of the Nov. 16, 1989, slaying of six priests in El Salvador. SOA Watch organizers say 18 of the 26 soldiers involved had attended the School of the Americas.

The SOA, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001, is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Protesters say it teaches security personnel from Latin American countries to use repressive tactics, and that graduates have overthrown legitimate governments. They cite a coup against Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973 as an example. SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement to close SOA/WHINSEC and to change the US foreign policy that the SOA represents.

On Friday night various workshops and concerts were held at a convention center. On Saturday, people gathered outside the gates of Fort Benning for a rally, and the street was lined with more than 100 exhibit tables representing various organizations. The Brethren Witness/Washington Office handed out resources about its work, the Church of the Brethren, and the National Farm Worker Ministry, and also promoted Fair Trade coffee and chocolate for Equal Exchange.

Sunday featured a three-hour vigil during which the participants marched carrying crosses while the names of those killed by people trained at the SOA were sung. Fort Benning officials report that 11 protesters were arrested by federal marshals for trespassing, and face up to six months in prison for civil disobedience. Speakers included presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and the founder of SOA Watch, Father Roy Bourgeois.

A Church of the Brethren gathering Saturday evening was hosted by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office. A group of students from Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., were in attendance along with Brethren from across the country. When asked, “What justice issue is most important to you?” the group gave answers including immigration, climate change, genocide, health care, and war. Phil Jones, director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, led the discussion.

The overall feeling of the weekend was one of energy and hope, even with a funeral procession that served as a reminder of the tragedies that have occurred. The SOA Watch vigil was a time to say that human rights violations are not acceptable.

–Rianna Barrett is a legislatives associate at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office of the Church of the Brethren General Board.

4) Brethren funds give $84,000 in grants for hunger and disaster relief.

Recent grants from the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) and the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF), two funds of the Church of the Brethren General Board, total $84,000 given to target hunger and disaster relief.

  • $30,000 from the GFCF has been given to the Christian Commission for Development in Honduras, to work with eight villages to develop food security, commercialization, and an alternative financial system for the area’s poor.
  • $15,000 from the GFCF has gone to Church World Service (CWS) following serious food shortages in Zimbabwe.
  • $10,000 from the EDF covers outstanding expenses for the Brethren Disaster Ministries’ Hurricane Katrina Project Rebuilding Site 1 in Lucedale, Miss., which is now closed. Previous allocations to this project since 2006 have totaled $105,000.
  • $8,000 from the EDF is given to CWS for escalating humanitarian crisis in Myanmar (Burma).
  • $7,000 from the EDF is going to the Comision de Trabajo Ecumenico Dominicano following Tropical Storm Noel, which caused extensive flooding in the DR.
  • $5,000 from the EDF responds to an Action by Churches Together appeal following an earthquake in Peru.
  • $4,000 from the EDF supports work by CWS in Somalia with some 400,000 displaced people.
  • $3,000 from the EDF is given to CWS after flooding in Nicaragua.
  • $2,000 from the EDF goes to a CWS appeal for flooding in the Pacific Northwest.

5) Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, and much more.

Jerry Duble is retiring from his position with the Church of the Brethren General Board on Dec. 31. He has been serving as housekeeping supervisor for the New Windsor Conference Center located at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. He began his career with the General Board at the Brethren Service Center in 1994, working for SERRV International. Duble has been a key staff member at the New Windsor Conference Center since 1999. He is a member of Edgewood Church of the Brethren in New Windsor.

Lois Duble is retiring for a second time from programs of the Church of the Brethren General Board at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. In retirement following several fulltime positions at the center, she has been working part-time as needed for Children’s Disaster Services and Brethren Disaster Ministries. She has had a total 18 years with the center.

LethaJoy Martin started on Dec. 17 as a program assistant in the Children’s Disaster Services ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board, at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. She is returning to the workforce after a break from Maryland Public Television, where she was involved with the production of shows such as “Wall Street Week” and “Great Performances.” She also has worked as missions coordinator for Mays Chapel United Methodist Church in Timonium, Md., and secretary for Good Bears of the World. She holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast and business administration from Anderson (Ind.) University.

Tammy Chudy will move from temporary employment to permanent employment status with Brethren Benefit Trust on Jan. 1, 2008. Her title will be Insurance Plans member services representative.

Pacific Southwest District has named Richard Hart as interim district executive minister as of Jan. 1, 2008. He previously served the district in the same position almost five years ago.

Pacific Southwest District seeks a fulltime district executive minister. Responsibilities are to serve as executive of the district, strengthening a diverse, collaborative team environment; collaborate with the district board in shaping vision; articulate and promote the vision of the district; strengthen relationships with pastors and congregations; facilitate pastoral placement; administer the work of the district board. Qualifications include passion about the potential of the Church of the Brethren and openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit; pastoral and prophetic gifts; deep faith and prayer life; spiritual maturity and Christian integrity; being a student of the scriptures with a good grasp of theology and Brethren history; staff and team management skills; flexibility working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership; experience with growth and change; communication skills with ability to build relationships across cultural, theological, and geographic boundaries; abilidad para escuchar y crear puentes en medio de la diversidad cultural, teologica y geografica. A masters degree is preferred, English and Spanish bilingual skills are advantageous. Send a letter of interest and resume via e-mail to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. Application deadline is Feb. 15, 2008.

The Church of the Brethren General Board seeks a director for Conference Center and Marketing at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., to begin in early 2008. This new position will direct all aspects of the New Windsor Conference Center (dining services, conference coordination, and housekeeping) as well as lead development, implementation, and evaluation of a strategic marketing plan. The director will be responsible for increasing the total number of bookings and revenue of the conference center, must be strongly versed in quality customer service, and bears ultimate responsibility for insuring that the needs of each guest or volunteer are met. Qualifications include ability to relate with integrity and respect within and beyond the Brethren Service Center, at least two years of experience developing and implementing a successful marketing plan, at least two years of hotel or conference center management experience, strong general management skills, knowledge and experience in budget development. Non-profit and volunteer coordination experience are preferred. A bachelor’s degree is required, preferably in management or marketing. EOE/ADA. Send a resume with a cover letter no later than Jan. 16, 2008, to Joan McGrath, Human Resources Coordinator, Brethren Service Center, P.O. Box 188, New Windsor, MD 21776; or by e-mail to

Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks a manager of publications to fill a fulltime one-year interim salaried position in Elgin, Ill., available immediately. Responsibilities include oversight of BBT’s publications; serving as a senior writer; reporting on news and information related to BBT’s ministry areas; supporting BBT’s wellness component and socially responsible investing; managing the publication schedule, content for publications and website, and creating writing and photo assignments; working with a production coordinator and contracted designers; assisting marketing and promotional efforts; and travel to denominational events as assigned. Qualifications include at least an undergraduate degree, preferably in Communications, English, Marketing, Business, or a related field, with experience or expertise in writing, copyediting, or project management. Knowledge of business is helpful. Active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred. Salary is competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Send a letter of interest and resume with salary range expectation to Nevin Dulabaum, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; or e-mail to For questions or clarification about the position, please call Dulabaum at 847-778-8274.

National Young Adult Conference worship coordinators Jim Chinworth and Becky Ullom have begun planning for the upcoming conference on the theme “Come to the Mountain, Guidance for the Journey,” based on Isaiah 2:3. The conference takes place Aug. 11-15, 2008, in Estes Park, Colo. Speakers will include Michaela Camps from Atlantic Southeast District, Thomas Dowdy from Pacific Southwest District, Matt Guynn from the staff of On Earth Peace, and Laura Stone from South/Central Indiana District. Guest worship coordinators are David Sollenberger and Walt Wiltschek. Online registration begins on Jan. 7, 2008 at 12 noon central time. The cost will be reduced to $300 for those registering between Jan. 7 and Feb. 14. Go to

Black River Church of the Brethren in Spencer, Ohio, held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new church building on Nov. 18. It will be a year ago on Christmas Eve that the Black River church building was destroyed by fire.

The Lititz (Pa.) Area Meals on Wheels has been preparing meals from the church kitchen at Lititz Church of the Brethren since 1973. In November, the 1 millionth meal was served. On Sunday, Nov. 25, the church and Lititz Area Meals on Wheels volunteers were honored as a representative from the Lancaster County Office of the Aging shared comments, and Lititz mayor Russell Pettyjohn read a proclamation recognizing the community ministry.

A nationally televised “Farm News Show” from WGN has been taped in part on the campus of Pinecrest Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement center in Mount Morris, Ill. Other area locations will be featured as well, such as White Pines State Park near Mount Morris. The show is scheduled for Dec. 22-24 on satellite and dish networks. It is to air at 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Dec. 22, at 7 a.m. on Dec. 23, and 5 p.m. on Dec. 24.

Five Learning Tours are being offered in 2008 by the New Community Project, a Brethren-related nonprofit. The trips welcome all ages to learn about troubled areas of the world and build relationships with neighbors and God’s creation. Learning Tours will go to Nepal on Jan. 5-15, studying areas of poverty and women’s empowerment; to the Ecuadorian Amazon on May 18-29 to explore the rainforest and learn about threats to it; to Guatemala on June 15-25 to visit with indigenous communities, see reforestation efforts, and possibly make church-to-church connections; to Honduras on July 19-28, where participants will live and work in a poor community; to Denali National Park, Alaska, on Aug. 7-15, to view wildlife and the effects of global warming; and to Burma on Aug. 18-27, where the group will study poverty, repression, and visit Christian villages. Go to or contact director David Radcliff at 888-800-2985 or

Tom Lehman, a librarian at Notre Dame University and a member of the Mennonite Church, is seeking slides of Brethren and Mennonite mission work in Puerto Rico in the 1940s and ’50s for an online collection. He is hoping that those with Puerto Rico slides will make them available for scanning. For details contact Tom Lehman, 17701 Tanager Lane, South Bend, IN 46635; 574-272-3817; View the online collection at

6) Yoder to direct Insurance Services for Brethren Benefit Trust.

Randy Yoder begins Jan. 1, 2008, as director of Insurance Services for the Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). He will work part-time out of his home in Huntingdon, Pa., with periods in the Elgin (Ill.) offices of BBT twice a month.

Since April 2006, Yoder has served as interim director of the Brethren Insurance Plans for BBT. He previously was a BBT field staff representative with most of his work focused on the Brethren Medical Plan and the Brethren Foundation. In 2005, he helped establish the Brethren Medical Plan District Advocate Network and facilitated many insurance-related meetings throughout the denomination. He also has represented the Brethren Medical Plan at Annual Conference and helped present related insight sessions. Prior to joining BBT, he served for 20 years as district executive minister for Middle Pennsylvania District.

In the new position, Yoder’s main duties will be to provide oversight of BBT’s Insurance Services and administer the service grants program related to the Ministers’ Group Medical Plan, which was approved at the November meeting of the BBT board. He will continue working with the agency’s Wellness Program, and also will have responsibility for exploring and developing new initiatives in insurance and insurance services.

7) Wittmeyer to be interim director of Pension Plans for BBT.

Jay Wittmeyer has accepted the position of interim director of Pension Plans and Employee Financial Services for the Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), as of Jan. 1, 2008. In his new position, he will serve on the Management Team of BBT.

Wittmeyer began working for BBT on Oct. 30, 2006, as manager of publications. In this role, he developed knowledge of the BBT Pension Plans through attending Investment Committee meetings of the board, and writing pension-related newsletters and other pension communications. He also has a strong interest in finance and investments.

He holds master’s degrees in English and in conflict transformation with a focus on organizational development, and also has led workshops and has extensive experience in public speaking. Previously he served as assistant director of Lombard (Ill.) Mennonite Peace Center, and from 1996-99 worked for Mennonite Central Committee in Bangladesh as a community development officer, and from 2000-04 he served the MCC in Nepal as project director of a community health project, and as organization development facilitator at a hospital.

He currently is in the Training in Ministry program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, and has been licensed to the ministry by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

8) Partnerships in the Gospel in Northern Ohio District.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things: of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–of cabbages and kings.” So says the poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.”

This past year, leaders in Northern Ohio District decided that the time has come to talk of re-evaluating the way we do some of our work, in order to better serve the congregations and enhance our ministry partnerships. We recognize God is blessing us, and that things are going well, but we could do better.

They identified four directions for change: District Board configuration, method of calling district leaders, district budget construction process, and core services/resources the district provides. They also decided that the time has come to critically evaluate Camp Inspiration Hills’ funding and operations. In addition they decided to raise awareness of the many services and resources the district provides and invite each congregation’s participation and support.

To help raise awareness the District Board asked Church of the Brethren videographer David Sollenberger to prepare a video about the district. That video project, “Partnerships in the Gospel,” premiered at the July 2007 District Conference. Copies of the DVD were included in each congregation’s District Conference Self-Allocation Packet. Additional copies of the DVD are available from the District Office, and the video can be viewed by visiting, click on the “gallery” link, then “videos,” and then “Partners in the Gospel.”

In the opening moments of the video, narrator Sollenberger states that “Brethren have learned that as congregations, you can’t go it alone. You need the help of the Holy Spirit and your brothers and sisters in Christ, believers who share a similar faith understanding. The Apostle Paul commended the Philippians for their partnership in the Gospel (Philippians 1:4-5), and in the Northern Ohio District, partnerships are everywhere.” He then goes on to describe the district partnerships that support pastors and congregations.

The time has come to for us talk as individuals and congregations about the effectiveness of our ministry partnerships. “The Northern Ohio District is a great place to do ministry,” the video concludes, “Why not join them in the good work the Lord is doing among them and through them?” Sollenberger is right: we really can’t go it alone. How are we doing in our ministry partnerships? The time has come for us to find out.

–John Ballinger is district executive minister for Northern Ohio District. His article originally was published in the district newsletter.

9) Sharing memories of lost missionaries.

Seventy years ago and half a world away, a young woman, her new husband, and a friend from California–all three Church of the Brethren missionaries–disappeared without a trace in rural China.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, the congregation of Broadfording Church of the Brethren Fellowship in Hagerstown, Md., and a few family members swept away the miles and the years as they shared memories of the three missionaries and their ultimate sacrifice for their beliefs.

Mary Hykes Harsh, Alva Harsh, and Minneva Neher set off for China on Sept. 2, 1935, according to Broadfording pastor Len Smith. They disappeared two years later on Dec. 2, 1937. “The family, the mission board, and the US State Department tried to solve the mystery (of their disappearance) but there were no answers,” Smith said.

Some information later emerged from a Chinese citizen who claimed to have witnessed their deaths at the hands of the Japanese, Smith said. In 1937, China was in the throes of a Japanese invasion as well as internal unrest. Missionaries were often in jeopardy because of their efforts to aid Chinese women and girls who sometimes were brutalized by the invaders.

A book written in 1947 about the event contains pictures of the missionaries’ compound in Show Yang, some Chinese friends, and a snapshot of the Harshes and Neher, which reportedly was taken just a few days before they disappeared.

“I remember my mom telling me that Aunt Mary had written there was danger but that she was going to stay because of God,” said pastor John Mowen, a nephew of Mary Hykes Harsh. Mowen was born in 1937, two years after Ruth Hykes Mowen’s sister left for China. Mowen said he remembers his grandfather, Charles Samuel Hykes, telling him that when Mary Hykes was wed to Alva Harsh, “Pappy” made Harsh promise that he would never take Mary out of the country.

But Mary and her husband were determined to serve their calling, even in those troubled times, Mowen said. The two met when they were earning degrees at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, Mowen said.

“Mission work began in China in 1908 and about 100 missionaries were sent,” Smith said. All were evacuated by December 1940 and were not able to return until 1946.

Mowen said his Aunt Mary was the first in her family to earn a college degree. She was also the only member of the Broadfording congregation to ever go on a fulltime, longterm mission.

Arvin Harsh, a brother of Alva, is still living but was unable to travel to Broadfording from his home in West Virginia for the service. The service included carefully selected hymns such as “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” and “So I Send You.” Smith read a poem that Mary Hykes Harsh had written.

The service was inspiring and sparked a lot of conversations about the ultimate sacrifice made so many years ago, Mowen said. “I was in awe that, 70 years later, people still remember and care,” Mowen said. “The church and her family have kept this alive.”

Mowen’s sister, Beverly Mowen Hann, gathered much of the information for the observance from her home in Florida. And then there was some unexpected help. Patricia Robinson might not be a member of the Hykes family, but the 16-year-old homeschooled student became intrigued by the trio’s sacrifice when she saw the plaque that had been erected 10 years ago. “I mentioned it to Mom and then I began doing some research on the computer,” Patricia said. “I also learned that Ruth Mowen (Mary Hykes Harsh’s sister) was friends with my great-grandmother.”

The plaque that inspired Patricia in her research project reads, “The church provides this memorial that the full measure of their devotion to Christ may not be forgotten.”

–Marlo Barnhart is the community reporter for the “Herald-Mail News” of Hagerstown, Md. This article is reprinted with permission.

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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. Judy Bezon, Kathleen Campanella, Bekah Houff, Bill Johnson, Bob Kettering, Nancy Knepper, Jon Kobel, Karin Krog, Donna March, and Joan McGrath contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for Jan. 2, 2008. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. For more Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine, call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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