“…Let us love one another, because love is from God…,” — 1 John 4:7a
1) Faith expedition takes Brethren to Vietnam.
2) Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, trips, and much more.
3) New African-American music group to tour.
4) Brethren help sponsor christian peace witness on war anniversary.
5) Plans progress for 300th anniversary of Brethren movement.
6) There’s more to life than racing.
Para ver la traducción en español de este artículo, “Lider de la Iglesia de los Hermanos Responde a un Discurso Acerca de la Guerra en Irak,” vaya a www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2007/jan1207.htm#sp. (For a Spanish translation of the response to President Bush’s speech on Iraq from Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board, go to www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2007/jan1207.htm#sp.)
Para ver la traducción en español de este artículo, “Presidente de la Igreja da Irmandade de Brasil Responde a un Discurso Acerca de la Guerra en Irak,” vaya a www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2007/feb0107.htm#sp. (For a Spanish translation of the response to the speech from the president of the Church of the Brethren in Brazil, go to www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2007/feb0107.htm#sp.)
To receive Newsline by e-mail or to unsubscribe, go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. For more Church of the Brethren news, go to http://www.brethren.org/, click on “News” to find a news feature, more “Brethren bits,” and links to Brethren in the news, photo albums, and the Newsline archive.
1) Faith expedition takes Brethren to Vietnam.
By Jordan Blevins
A faith expedition organized by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, in conjunction with Church World Service (CWS), completed a successful and uplifting trip to Vietnam in the first two weeks of January. The office is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board.
Church World Service currently works in eight provinces in Vietnam: five in the north and three in the south. The first week of the trip was spent in and around Hanoi visiting numerous CWS project sites and learning about the work they do. CWS benefits from a relationship with the government of Vietnam that dates back to the Vietnam War, when it did not discriminate in its aid. Currently, CWS focuses on funding and coordinating with the government on water and sanitation issues, known as “WATSAN.” CWS works with schools in poorer areas, and often with many of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups. Working with government officials on all levels, CWS conducts assessments to determine areas and schools most in need of facilities.
The Brethren delegation spent time in the Thai Nguyen and Ha Tay province, visiting seven schools to which CWS currently or in the past provided support. The school projects were at different stages of progress. CWS provides training and funding for the projects to happen, and then puts the projects in the hands of the community, helping to ensure the projects meets the needs of the communities. The projects visited by the Brethren group varied from a three-classroom project with bathroom facilities, to a boarding school at which CWS has provided funding for numerous handwashing stations and bathrooms, to a computer lab, library, and greenhouse.
At one stop, the Brethren were able to view a site that is still in the planning stage, and to see the situation before the work of CWS had begun. The work CWS is doing is really improving the quality of education–and thus the quality of life–for children who are amongst the poorest in Vietnam.
The second week of the trip was spent experiencing the history and culture of Vietnam, which included the personal stories of two of the people who traveled with the group: Dennis and Van Metzger. Dennis Metzger worked for Vietnam Christian Service in Tam Ky during the Vietnam War, bringing a more efficient way for the people to harvest the rice crop. During his time in Vietnam, he met and married Van. This was the couple’s first trip back to Vietnam in more than 30 years.
As the delegation traveled through the central and southern parts of the country, time was spent learning about the last dynasty of Vietnam and visiting tombs of emperors and the citadel, or the old imperial city, one of the main battle fronts of the Tet offensive during the Vietnam War. Time also was spent in worship with the Evangelical Church of Vietnam. The group learned as well about the Cham people, another original group to Vietnam and the only Hindu group, as well as the CaoDai, a newer religion whose headquarters and holy city is located in Vietnam. All of this gave a rich representation of the history and culture of the people of Vietnam.
The delegation attempted to visit the Di Linh province, where Brethren martyr Ted Studebaker had lived and worked for Vietnam Christian Service until he was killed, but the group was denied permission by the Vietnamese government. However, the Brethren could not be stopped from holding up Ted Studebaker’s memory: a brief memorial service was held in the hotel in Ho Chi Mihn City to remember the life of a man who truly put into practice “another way of living.”
The trip included a visit with the Mennonite Church of Vietnam, where the group heard about the persecution through which they have come since the war. This followed an emotional trip to the War Memorial Museum in Ho Chi Mihn.
The experiences of the trip were vast and rich on a multitude of levels, allowing us to see the work of faith in action, and the hope of a people recovering from the worst kind of pain humanity can create for itself.
–Jordan Blevins is a legislative intern at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office of the Church of the Brethren General Board.
2) Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, trips, and much more.
- The Church of the Brethren General Board has announced the placement of Roy Grosbach as interim part-time director of Information Services, serving since the departure of former director Ed Leiter. Grosbach has more than 20 years of information services expertise in a wide range of industries and work areas, and has been a technical consultant helping nonprofit organizations use technology to further their missions. He lives in Evergreen, Colo.
- The Church of the Brethren General Board seeks a fulltime director of Information Services located in Elgin, Ill. A position description and application form are available on request. The application deadline is Feb. 16. Responsibilities include developing, maintaining, and implementing a technology system to support General Board programs; providing management responsibility for day-to-day operations; maintaining and developing appropriate hardware and software systems; budget development, monitoring, and reporting in information services arena; providing for accurate and efficient support of use of computers to meet user needs. Qualifications include knowledge and experience in planning and implementing an information system, budget development, and management; strong technical skills in programming and systems analysis; progressive administrative and leadership skills. Education and experience required include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in information sciences or a related field, a minimum of five years of significant information services experience including systems analysis and design, and programming involving networks. 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; firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sharing Services Agency/MAX (MutualAid eXchange) is offering a producer/agent career opportunity in the Anabaptist community. Sharing Services Agency/MAX provides property and casualty insurance products (homeowners, farmowners, church, auto, and commercial policies) and Mutual Aid Ministries programs. The Goshen, Ind., office is seeking a producer/agent to develop strong connections to the Anabaptist community, generate opportunities for providing MAX insurance, and deliver outstanding service to members. Previous insurance experience and a current Property and Casualty insurance license is a plus. Training the right person not already licensed may be considered. To learn more visit http://www.mutualaidexchange.com/. Resumes may be e-mailed to email@example.com or faxed to 877-785-0085.
- Annual Conference moderator Belita D. Mitchell and her husband Don Mitchell, will travel to Nigeria from Feb. 26-March 9. The visit with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) will be a historic one for Mitchell as the first African-American woman to hold the highest elected position in the Church of the Brethren. She pastors First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and will lead the Annual Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, in July. The Mitchells will be accompanied on the trip by Merv Keeney, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships for the Church of the Brethren General Board, and Janis Pyle, the board’s coordinator for Mission Connections. In Nigeria, the group will be joined by David Whitten, Nigeria mission coordinator.
- The Executive Committee of the Church of the Brethren General Board will visit Gulf coast areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, from Feb. 15-17. The group will meet with survivors, disaster volunteers, and staff of local longterm recovery organizations, and will visit the Disaster Child Care site at FEMA’s Welcome Home Center in New Orleans as well as Brethren Disaster Response rebuilding sites in Pearl River and St. Bernard Parish, La., and Lucedale, Miss. The trip was organized to provide the committee with a broad overview of the Emergency Response program, and to prompt discussion of key issues related to disaster response and recovery. The committee includes chair Jeff Neuman-Lee, vice-chair Timothy P. Harvey, Dale Minnich, Vickie Whitacre Samland, Ken Wenger, and Angela Lahman Yoder. Accompanying the group are Emergency Response director Roy Winter, associate director Zach Wolgemuth, and director of Identity and Relations Becky Ullom. The trip will begin in New Orleans, where the group will tour the Lower Ninth Ward. In Lucedale a highlight will be participating in a house dedication. A night will be spent in FEMA trailers that house volunteers in Pearl River. The trip will end in Florida with a visit to Rebuild Northwest Florida.
- The deadline to apply for the summer 2007 Youth Peace Travel Team has been extended to Feb. 23. This team will provide leadership to Church of the Brethren outdoor ministry programs, sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, Brethren Volunteer Service, Youth and Young Adult Ministries, the Outdoor Ministries Association, and On Earth Peace. Four youth or young adults between the ages of 18-22 will be selected. A stipend is available. Go to www.brethren.org/genbd/WitnessWashOffice.html and click on “Youth Peace Travel Team” to download the application form.
- The March, April, and May issue of “A Guide for Biblical Studies” is available from Brethren Press. This quarter’s Bible study is titled “Our Community Now and in God’s Future,” and addresses scripture passages from 1 John and Revelation. Author Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Order for $2.90 each plus shipping and handling, or in large print for $5.15 each plus shipping and handling; call 800-441-3712.
- Every six to eight weeks, On Earth Peace sponsors conference calls for those doing truth-in-recruitment organizing, or who want to get started with the work of opposing military recruitment. Two calls are offered this month on Feb. 28: the first at 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. eastern time, and the second at 7-8:30 p.m. eastern. The calls will feature Christian theological reflection on counter-recruitment, a chance to share and hear stories with other organizers, highlights of recent resources and new developments in the truth-in-recruiting movement, and strategic reflection on themes and common challenges including explanation of a strategy tool to use in counter-recruitment work in a local setting. Facilitators are Matt Guynn, coordinator of Peace Witness for On Earth Peace, and Deb Oskin, peace minister at Living Peace Church of the Brethren in Columbus, Ohio. Eight slots are available for each call. To participate send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information go to www.brethren.org/oepa/programs/peace-witness/counter-recruitment/index.html.
- A new resource from On Earth Peace, “Shalom: Christ’s Way of Peace,” is a practical guide to the scriptural roots of reconciliation and peacemaking. The booklet by Lani Wright and Susanna Farahat offers theological grounding, and examples and suggestions for reducing violence. With questions for reflection and discussion, it serves as a study guide for church school and other groups. “The Hebrew word shalom conveys a rich vision far beyond the word peace, which is its most common English translation,” said On Earth Peace. “It includes health, wholeness, right relations, justice, and peace. The call to relationship and wholeness is deeply rooted in the fertile soil of scripture. It is an integral part of our faith story: the story of God’s action in the world; of Jesus’ life and ministry; and of the experience and testimony of the faith community.” The 32-page booklet is available for $2 plus shipping and handling, call 410-635-8704 or visit www.brethren.org/oepa/resources/everyone/ShalomBook.html. A bulletin insert about the resource is available at www.brethren.org/oepa/resources/pastors/living-peace-news/index.html.
- The Committee on Interchurch Relations is seeking nominations of individuals or congregations in the Church of the Brethren who are doing exemplary work in interfaith peacebuilding, for the 2007 Ecumenical Citation to be given at Annual Conference in July. “We are looking for stories of either congregations or individuals that can be shared with others to show creative, meaningful ways to express Christ’s love for all people,” committee member Robert C. Johansen said. Stories may include interfaith connections and witness through someone’s work or through volunteer activities, outreach through congregational activities, an ongoing church ministry to those of other faiths, and individual acts of kindness or compassion that cross boundaries which too often divide and encourage hostility between groups. Nominations may be mailed to the Office of the General Secretary, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; or submitted at http://www.brethren.org/, go to keyword “CIR/Ecumenical.” The deadline is March 16.
- The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies has announced a major step forward in a large fundraising campaign. In 2004, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded the Young Center a $500,000 matching grant, with the expectation that it would raise $2 million by Jan. 31, 2008. In a recent release the center reported that it has raised cash and pledges totaling $1.95 million, and is within $50,000 of reaching the goal. “We are looking forward to meeting our $2 million goal and to celebrating the completion of this campaign on April 5, 2008. That date also marks the 20th anniversary of the Young center,” said the statement from interim director Donald B. Kraybill, and Elizabethtown College director of church relations Allen Hansell. The center is located at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The NEH award and the money raised will create a $2.5 million endowment, allowing the center to endow an academic chair, enhance a visiting fellows program, and expand its collection of books and archival materials. In the same release, the center also reported that a large portion of the late Donald Durnbaugh’s library has been donated by his wife, Hedda Durnbaugh. “A preeminent scholar of the Brethren experience in Europe and America, Durnbaugh cared deeply for the work of the Young Center and we are honored to have these materials,” said Kraybill and Hansell.
- The National Council of Churches USA (NCC) is one of 100 groups calling for major changes in the “No Child Left Behind” law. The legislation is up for reauthorization during this term of Congress. The groups have released a joint statement that urges the law’s emphasis “shift from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to holding states and localities accountable for making the systemic changes that improve student achievement” (see http://www.edaccountability.org/). The NCC’s Committee on Public Education and Literacy has created a webpage inviting responses to a Congressional Letters Project at www.ncccusa.org/pdfs/LeftBehind.html. The committee provides ten different letters, one for each of ten moral concerns it has identified, and is asking writers to add a personal story to each letter about how the legislation is affecting a particular school, child, teacher, or community.
- Ecumenical Advocacy Days are planned for March 9-12 in Washington, D.C., on the theme, “And How Are the Children?” The gathering is expected to draw more than 1,000 religious advocates from a wide array of Christian communions. Experts will train participants how to do advocacy and inform them of US domestic and international policies. The gathering will conclude with a visit to Capitol Hill where participants will ask their Congressional representatives to make the needs of children the center of the 2007 legislative agenda. Cost of registration is $150. For more information and to register go to http://www.advocacydays.org/.
3) New African-American music group to tour.
A brief tour in late February will mark the performance debut of a newly formed “African American Community and Family Project.” The project will give worship concerts in three congregations in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Concerts are free and open to the public. Freewill offerings will be received.
Music will include original songs by group founder and ordained minister James Washington of Whitehouse, Texas. The group was created to present African American music to the Church of the Brethren and was initiated at the 2006 Cross Cultural Celebration in Lancaster, Pa. Other members are Scott Duffey, pastor of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren; Sandra Pink of Atlanta, Ga.; Robert Varnam, pastor of Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Greg Reco Clark of Los Angeles; Larry Brumfield, licensed minister from Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren; Don Mitchell of Harrisburg, Pa.; and Joseph Craddock, a community minister at Germantown Church of the Brethren in Philadelphia.
The tour kicks off Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, and continues Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. with a performance at Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren, closing Sunday morning, Feb. 25, at 11 a.m. with a worship concert at First Church of the Brethren, Baltimore, Md.
The African American Community and Family Project also will be part of the next Church of the Brethren Cross-Cultural Celebration on April 19-22 in New Windsor, Md., and will perform at Annual Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, in early July.
The tour is one of an ongoing series of similar events happening across the Church of the Brethren to promote racial and ethnic diversity. Contact Duane Grady, Congregational Life Team, 3124 E. 5th St., Anderson, IN 46012; 800-505-1596; email@example.com.
4) Brethren help sponsor Christian peace witness on war anniversary.
A “Christian Peace Witness for Iraq” is planned for Washington, D.C., on March 16-17, marking the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war. Two Church of the Brethren ministries–the Brethren Witness/ Washington Office of the General Board and On Earth Peace–are among organizations partnering to sponsor the event. Others include Christian Peacemaker Teams, Every Church a Peace Church, as well the American Friends Service Committee, Mennonite Church USA Peace and Justice Support Network, and other peace fellowships and ministries.
The Brethren Witness/ Washington Office hopes to have a large number of Brethren participate, said in an announcement. The witness will begin 7 p.m. Friday evening, March 16, with an ecumenical worship service at the Washington National Cathedral. A candlelight procession to the White House will take place after the worship service, with a prayer vigil following.
On Saturday morning, March 17, Brethren are invited to gather at 9 a.m. at Washington City Church of the Brethren for breakfast. Following the breakfast, all are encouraged to participate in a March 17 national protest titled “March on the Pentagon,” commemorating the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War and calling for the withdrawal of US troops. The march will assemble at 12 noon at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
“We believe it is imperative that members of the Church of the Brethren raise their voices in protest against the current direction of our nation’s foreign policy, specifically in regards to the Iraq war,” said an announcement from the Brethren Witness/ Washington Office. An invitation from On Earth Peace invited those not attending the event in person to join in prayers and preparation for nonviolent resistance in their own contexts. The website for the event (http://www.christianpeacewitness.org/) offers suggestions for participation in congregations and communities around the country.
Participants are asked to register at http://www.christianpeacewitness.org/ (registration is required for the worship service at the National Cathedral). For more about the March 17 event go to http://answer.pephost.org/site/News2?abbr=ANS_&page=NewsArticle&id=8107. Brethren planning to attend are requested to communicate with the Brethren Witness/ Washington Office at 800-785-3246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
5) Plans progress for 300th anniversary of Brethren movement.
The Anniversary Committee of Annual Conference has announced several plans for special events and commemorations of the 300th anniversary of the Brethren movement. Among them are an opening celebration this fall in Germantown, Pa., joint events will be held with the Brethren Church at the 2008 Annual Conference, and a “300th Anniversary Celebration Sunday” for congregations on Aug. 3, 2008.
“Our committee views the period from Annual Conference ’07 to Annual Conference ’08 as the time of celebration for the 300th anniversary,” said committee chair Jeff Bach. The opening event will be held Sept. 15-16, 2007, at Germantown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, the site of the first Brethren meetinghouse in America. The meetinghouse was built in 1770. A day of worship will be the focus, with Sunday morning worship at 10 a.m. led by the congregation, and a service at 2 p.m. serving as the denominational celebration. Other activities on Saturday will include cemetery tours, visits to the site of the first Brethren baptism in America at Wissahickon Creek, tours of Philadelphia, exhibits, a hymn sing, and informational presentations.
An academic conference at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is planned for Oct. 11-13, 2007, to celebrate the past heritage, present, and future prospects for the Church of the Brethren, Bach reported. Preliminary information is at the website of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, www.etown.edu/YoungCenter.aspx?topic=Brethren+Call+for+Papers.
The Annual Conference scheduled for July 12-16, 2008, in Richmond, Va., will include a joint day of worship and celebration with the Brethren Church on Sunday, July 13, and a joint closing service on July 16. A joint event on mission and the global church will take place on Sunday evening, July 13. The two denominations will gather under the theme, “Surrendered to God, Transformed in Christ, Empowered by the Spirit.” The two denominations will have separate worship and business sessions on July 14-15.
On Aug. 3, 2008, the Brethren Encyclopedia Board is planning an anniversary event in Schwarzenau, Germany, the site of the baptisms of the first group of eight Brethren. Several Church of the Brethren members are planning tours to Europe to coincide with this event. The anniversary committee encourages interested individuals to contact tour leaders directly for more information, Bach said.
Aug. 3, 2008, also is designated as “300th Anniversary Celebration Sunday” for Church of the Brethren congregations. The anniversary committee invites congregations and districts to mark the anniversary with special events. Activities being suggested include district speech contests for youth on the anniversary theme, “Surrendered to God, Transformed in Christ, Empowered by the Spirit,” or on the topics, “I’m Brethren because…,” or “My hopes for the Church of the Brethren as we move into our fourth century are….” Winning speeches may be given at district conferences or district-wide anniversary celebrations.
Districts also have been invited to participate in Youth Heritage Travel Teams. A training event for Youth Heritage Travel Teams is scheduled for April 13-15, 2007, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Each district has been invited to name a team of two youth to attend the training. Districts will cover travel expenses but other expenses such as room and board, materials, and leadership are covered by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office of the Church of the Brethren General Board. The youth teams will provide leadership at district events and in congregations throughout the anniversary year. They will be trained in the areas of storytelling, public speaking, drama, music, heritage, and Brethren beliefs and practices.
An anniversary resource packet including a six-lesson study guide on the anniversary theme, and a bibliography of worship and drama resources that will be posted at the anniversary website, was mailed to congregations and districts last fall. To request a copy of the resource packet contact the Annual Conference Office at 800-688-5186. A children’s curriculum, “Piecing Together the Brethren Way,” also will be available this year. It is suitable to be used for Vacation Bible School or church camp, may be expanded into a 14-week Sunday school unit, and may be adapted for use by youth and adults as well.
Find the 300th anniversary website at http://www.churchofthebrethrenanniversary.org/. To receive the e-mail newsletter of the 300th Anniversary Committee, send a request to Dean Garrett at email@example.com.
6) There’s more to life than racing.
By Joseph Slacian
Sam Hornish Jr.’s mother believed he would one day become either a minister or a racecar driver.
“I chose the one that probably took a few years off her life,” he joked while speaking Sunday, Feb. 11, to the congregation of Roann Church of the Brethren.
And while he’s had success at racing–he’s the defending pole sitter and champion of the Indianapolis 500 and a three-time Indy Racing League series champion–Hornish has not strayed from his belief in and love of God.
Hornish and his wife, Crystal, were guests at the Roann church, where Hornish brought the message for the congregation. Glen Whisler, interim pastor at the church, is lifelong friends with Hornish, having pastored at Poplar Ridge Church of the Brethren in Ohio, where the Hornish family attended while Sam was growing up.
Whisler baptized Hornish into the church when the future racing champion was 9, and officiated at his wedding to Crystal at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Indianapolis in 2004.
“I don’t remember ever missing church growing up except for the occasional family vacation,” Hornish told the congregation. “We lived about 30 miles away the church and we made the drive every Sunday.
“And I remember that some of my friends never went to church, so I always tried to bring a friend whenever I could.”
Hornish’s weekly trips to church had a major change when he turned 11. For that is when his racing career began in earnest. What was supposed to be a five- or 10-weekend-a-year venture for him and his father, Sam Sr., soon blossomed into a 30-weekend-per-year event.
Though he was on the road most weekends at one race track or another, his love of God and his commitment to the church didn’t waver.
“I would call my grandmother to see what the message was,” Hornish said. “Or I’d listen to a service on the radio. Or my Dad would have me read a passage from the Bible. I always had a Bible with me; I always carried a small one in my bag.”
As with most youngsters, as he grew into a teenager, Hornish had trouble motivating himself to go to weekly church service. He would want to sleep in on Sunday mornings, but knew church was important and went to service.
“Teenagers usually stay up late on Saturday night playing video games, watching movies and doing other things,” he said. “Go ahead and do those things. But make sure you wake up and get to church the next morning. That’s truly the important thing in life.”
Teens today face a variety of temptations, Hornish said. Some are major temptations that face everyone; other temptations are minor, such as wanting to sleep in on Sunday mornings.
No one is perfect, he said. Sometimes the teens, like anyone else, make a right decision; other times they make wrong decisions.
“God doesn’t care if you make the right decision all the time,” he said. “But what he is concerned about is that when you do the wrong thing, you learn from it and try to improve the next time you face that challenge.”
As an adult, Hornish continues his devotion to the church, even while at the race track. On race days, he’s got a morning filled with commitments of sponsor- and team-related activities. But the commitments don’t stop him from attending one of the church services held for the drivers and team members on race day.
Some may wonder why, with a race just hours away, he would spend time in church, he said.
“That’s the time I can sit there and not think about racing,” he said. “I can go to the service and spend one half hour thinking about God and thinking about my family, the important things in my life.”
The church services are sponsored by the Indy Racing League Ministries, which travels with the series to every racing venue at which the league runs. The Hornishes are members of the group’s board of directors, bringing what Hornish calls a young person’s perspective to the group.
The ministry program brings church services for the drivers and the crews, but it does more than that, both at and away from the track.
At the track, in addition to the church services, pastors go from garage to garage, asking drivers if they want to pray. Most drivers do, he said.
“And there’s something we don’t like to talk about,” Hornish said. “The pastors are there to console the drivers’ families in case of an emergency.”
Away from the track, the program seeks to help those in the cities where the races take place.
Food left over at the hospitality tents at the race track are taken by ministry representatives to homeless shelters, helping to provide warm food for those there.
It also oversees the “Soap for Hope” program.
“The teams stay at so many hotels during the year,” Hornish said. “And, you know, you get the little bars of soap and bottles of shampoo in the room. Even if you don’t use it, they throw it away.
“So we take the soap and shampoo to shelters to help them out.”
Following the service, Hornish posed for pictures and signed autographs for congregation members. He also met a cousin who lives in North Manchester and a gentleman who worked for Hornish’s father at his trucking company several years ago.
–Joseph Slacian is managing editor of the “Wabash (Ind.) Plain Dealer.” This article originally appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of the Plain Dealer and is reprinted with permission.