Newsline for January 17, 2007

“Honor the Lord with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your produce….” — Proverbs 3:9


1) Brethren invest half-million dollars for turning hunger around.
2) Haiti mission continues to grow.
3) Credit union offers new savings options for kids, youth, and adults.
4) Fund gives $120,000 for Middle East, Katrina, Sudan, among grants.
5) Peace church insurance group declares dividend, decreases rates.
6) Brethren bits: Correction, personnel, peace delegation, and more.


7) Commentary series celebrates 20th volume in 20 years.

To receive Newsline by e-mail or to unsubscribe, go to For more Church of the Brethren news, go to, click on “News” to find a news feature, more “Brethren bits,” links to Brethren in the news, and links to the General Board’s photo albums and the Newsline archive.

1) Brethren invest half-million dollars for turning hunger around.

A half-million dollars to counter world hunger was raised in 2006 by the Global Food Crisis Fund and the growing projects it spawned through the Foods Resource Bank. The effort was marked by several firsts, reported Global Food Crisis Fund manager Howard Royer, including the “REGNUH … Turning Hunger Around” campaign of senior high youth and senior adults, and a doubling of the number and acreage of local growing projects for the Foods Resource Bank. The fund is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board.

Giving to the Global Food Crisis Fund topped $318,000 in 2006. Of this amount, approximately $100,000 came from the REGNUH campaign of National Youth Conference that featured tithing, a run/walk, and hunger education and worship components. The fund was further supported through “My 2 Cents Worth” offerings of congregations, churchwide art and hunger auctions, vacation Bible school and camping projects, and individual donor gifts.

Fourteen Brethren growing projects, some engaging partner churches of other denominations, raised over $200,000 for investing in Foods Resource Bank agricultural programs in poor countries, in the 2006 preliminary accounting. First-time growing projects were launched by Brethren in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota, and–gearing up for the winter wheat harvest in 2007–Kansas. Other sponsors in 2006 were the first Brethren camp, Camp Mack in Indiana, and the first Brethren retirement community, Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa.

Were the donations of Brethren to such efforts as Emergency Disaster Fund, Church World Service/CROP, Heifer International, SERRV, America’s Second Harvest, Bread for the World, and other hunger- and poverty-focused endeavors taken into account, the level of giving would likely be tripled, commented Royer. “Brethren have a passion for reaching out to the world’s poor and vulnerable,” he stated.

“A significant initiative of the denomination last summer was the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals by Annual Conference,” said Royer. “But more significant still is that the Church of the Brethren did not just sign on to the goals to reduce poverty and hunger; its response reveals Brethren sense deeply the call of Christ to feed the hungry and to work toward a healthier and more just world.”

Both the Global Food Crisis Fund and the Foods Resource Bank issue grants that enable partner agencies in underdeveloped countries to launch sustainable, community-based agriculture. The grants currently support work in two-dozen countries.


2) Haiti mission continues to grow.

A Brethren mission in Haiti continued to grow in 2006, despite instability in the Caribbean island nation. The Haiti Mission Advisory Committee that met on Nov. 18, 2006, in Miami, Fla., received reports that the effort is still in the very early stages but already includes a worshiping group of about 100–including 80 children–in the Delmas area of the capital city Port-au-Prince. In addition, two preaching points are emerging in neighboring areas of Croix des Bouquets and La Plaine.

“The formation of a fellowship and two preaching points within two years is an amazing pace– especially with a part-time mission coordinator,” commented Merv Keeney, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships for the Church of the Brethren General Board.

It was the third meeting for the advisory committee responsible for the new Haiti mission. The committee’s role is to bring together wider church perspective and mission experience to support and give counsel to the mission committee of L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens and its pastor, Ludovic St. Fleur, who also serves as mission coordinator. Committee members include St. Fleur, Jonathan Cadette, Marie Andre Ridore, Gaston Pierre Louis, Wayne Sutton, Jean Nixon Aubel, Merle Crouse, Jeff Boshart, and Keeney.

The mission in Haiti was approved by the General Board in Oct. 2004, in response to requests from Haitian Brethren in the US and Dominican Republic for a mission to their homeland. It is being carried out through a partnering model that incorporates Haitian Brethren leaders from the US and the DR as prime leadership, under the oversight of the General Board’s executive for Global Mission Partnerships. Pastor Ludovic St. Fleur was called to serve as mission coordinator on a part time basis while he continues pastoral duties at L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) in Miami.

In November St. Fleur reported that he had not made a trip to Haiti in the past six months because of instability and risk in the country, where kidnapings for ransom have increased. This insecurity has delayed some of the steps that had been planned for the year. Nevertheless, some other members of the Miami Haitian congregation have visited and made contact with the fellowships in Haiti during this period, according to a report from Keeney.

Teaching basic Christian beliefs has been a main priority for the fellowship, and there have been a number of baptisms. Pastor Yves, who brings some pastoral training and experience from another church background, has been called to give pastoral care for the group. He is being supported with a small stipend. One student has been selected for pastoral training and is being supported for fulltime study at a major seminary in Haiti.

Teaching for all participants and training of leadership are important initial objectives of the mission, Keeney’s report added. Initial teaching had been done on earlier trips by St. Fleur and others, and a plan is developing for a series of week-long intensive trainings for 2007. The training will seek to deepen the understanding of Brethren beliefs and practices, especially the role and function of church leadership, which is quite different than is common in Haiti. Haitian Brethren from the DR will be invited to join in leading the training events. A related objective is to translate more Brethren resources into Creole.

The process to legally register as a church in Haiti also has been an area of focus for the Haiti Mission Advisory Committee. This process requires that the church have three recognized pastors, an office headquarters, and some type of service outreach to the community. St. Fleur reported that he and his pastoral team in Miami can be a part of this leadership requirement. The office requirement is prompting exploration of land and sites for possible location of an office and church building, with the possibility of a school or other ministry attached.

Official Church of the Brethren relationships in Haiti go back to at least the 1960s. This history of denominational involvement and recent private mission ventures by Brethren members has resulted in a mix of short-term and semi-permanent ministries and relationships in Haiti. The possibility of linking with some of these efforts, many of which have continuing Brethren support, has the potential to speed up movement toward official registration and also toward fostering a viable church in the country, Keeney said.

The meeting of the advisory committee also included a financial report and a recognition of the 2006 Annual Conference insight session in which three committee members shared various dimensions of the work.


3) Credit union offers new savings options for kids, youth, and adults.

The Church of the Brethren Credit Union began offering new savings options in December to facilitate good stewardship practices. The new products include regular money market accounts, Traditional IRA and Roth IRA money market accounts, Coverdell Education money market accounts, and five unique club savings accounts. The credit union is a ministry affiliated with Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT).

Two of the new savings accounts, the Kids Club and the Youth Club, are designed especially for children. The credit union feels so strongly about the importance of encouraging children to become disciplined savers, according to a newsletter article from BBT, that these accounts offer a higher rate of interest. (For the article go to

“Nothing teaches sound financial practices like first-hand experience; opening a savings account for your children is an excellent way to get them started on the road to good stewardship,” the article said. The Kids Club is available to any child through the age of 12; the Youth Club from ages 13-18.

The new Christmas Club and Vacation Club savings accounts are designed to encourage members to plan ahead and save towards specific goals, thereby avoiding excessive credit card debt and the risk of late payment fees and high interest rates. These accounts earn a higher dividend than regular savings, but require a monthly deposit. Withdrawals are limited to four per year.

The Brethren Youth Mission Club is truly unique to the Church of the Brethren, according to the credit union. The new savings account club is offered to encourage savings for those planning to participate in Brethren service or educational opportunities such as National Youth Conference, Christian Citizenship Seminar, workcamps, or local projects. The Brethren Youth Mission Club is available to any individual, youth group, Sunday school class, congregation, or district.

Also now available from the credit union are the Coverdell Education money market accounts. Parents or grandparents are encouraged to open a Coverdell education money market account for children or grandchildren, with the suggestion for regular contributions to the accounts to be made at Christmastime, on birthdays, or at any other time.

Money market accounts earn higher dividend rates than regular savings accounts, but limit withdrawals to six a month. Regular money market accounts reward members who maintain a balance of $2,500 with a higher interest rate. The Traditional IRA and Roth IRA accounts and the Coverdell Education accounts do not have a minimum balance requirement.

Members who wish to contribute regularly to their retirement savings or toward savings for education will benefit from these money market accounts; as their balances reach set amounts, members can transfer their funds into IRA or Coverdell certificates to earn even higher dividends.

For more information or to open a money market or a club account, contact the Church of the Brethren Credit Union at 888-832-1383 or


4) Fund gives $120,000 for Middle East, Katrina, Sudan, among grants.

The Emergency Disaster Fund of the Church of the Brethren General Board has given a total of $120,000 in six recent grants. The amount includes grants for peace efforts in the Middle East along with Brethren disaster relief work in the Gulf following Hurricane Katrina, and support for displaced people returning to southern Sudan, among other projects.

An allocation of $40,000 supports a Church World Service (CWS) appeal addressing humanitarian need in several regions of the Middle East resulting from war and violent conflict. These funds will provide medical care, food aid, material resources, rebuilding of schools, and repairing water systems.

A grant of $30,000 supports a project of Brethren Disaster Response in McComb, Miss. This new “Katrina Site 3” project will repair and rebuild homes destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The grant money will provide travel expenses and food and housing for volunteers, leadership training, additional tools and equipment, and some building supplies.

An additional allocation of $25,000 continues funding of Brethren Disaster Response work at the “Katrina Site 2” in Pearl River, La. The funds will provide food, housing, transportation, and support for Brethren volunteers who travel to Louisiana to do home rebuilding and repairs, as well as tools and materials.

The sum of $15,000 has been given in response to a CWS appeal to assist displaced Sudanese people who are returning to their homes in southern Sudan. The funds will be used by a CWS partner, Churches Ecumenical Action in Sudan, to provide water and sanitation as well as education and health services to 66,000 residents, displaced persons, and returnees.

An allocation of $5,000 supports a new year-long project for Disaster Child Care in New Orleans. The project called “The Road Home” is at the request of FEMA, to provide child care assistance to families returning home to New Orleans throughout 2007. On Jan. 2, FEMA is opening a Louisiana Welcome Home Center as a “One-Stop-Shop” housing agencies and organizations that can provide resources to those who had to be evacuated during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Disaster Child Care center will be set up at the One-Stop-Shop. The grant money will support volunteer travel, food, housing, and training. Future grants are also expected.

A grant of $5,000 responds to a CWS appeal following flooding and storm damage this fall in many states including Washington, New York, Texas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Alabama, and Hawaii. The grant will support capacity-building work by the CWS Disaster Response and Recovery Liaisons in these states, as well as local longterm recovery groups.


5) Peace church insurance group declares dividend, decreases rates.

Peace Church Risk Retention Group, at its annual shareholders meeting in Baltimore Md., declared a $500,000 dividend distribution to its shareholders, payable by March 15. The board also announced that it would be reducing its renewal rates for 2007 by 11 percent.

“This is a significant day for us,” said Ed Brubaker, chair of the board. “We have had a good start, continue to see solid growth, and now it is time to see a return on our investment.”

Peace Church Risk Retention Group is an insurance captive that was formed three years ago by the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC), Friends Service for the Aging, and Mennonite Health Services. The group represents the health care agencies of the Church of the Brethren, the Religious Society of Friends, and the Mennonites–all historic peace churches–to provide liability coverage for 42 of their nursing and retirement care facilities. The group is administered by AARM, a third-party administrator located in Lancaster, Pa.

“It has long been thought that peace church facilities have been able to self-insure their liability needs without relying on the excessive premiums charged by commercial insurance carriers,” said Brubaker, “and in three years time, we have shown steady growth in capital and reserves, to the point where it is financially appropriate to make a distribution.”

In its three-year history, the Peace Church Risk Retention Group has yet to pay a claim. “Part of our success is the huge emphasis we place on risk management,” said Kathy Reid, executive director of ABC, and a member and officer of the group’s board of directors. “When incidents occur in our facilities, we teach our policy holders to report them to us so that we can take appropriate measures to ensure that these incidents are dealt with at the management level and don’t become potential landmines.”

This approach is somewhat different than the thought process that chooses not to report incidents to insurance carriers for fear of a rate increase. The risk management education has worked so well that instead of a rate increase, the 2007 renewal rates will actually decline by 11 percent. Risk management training courses are offered through the year at various locations around the country.

Peace Church Risk Retention Group currently follows guidelines established by A.M. Best, an insurance rating agency well known in the insurance world, for “best practices” for insurance companies. It also intends to apply for a rating from A.M. Best.

For more about ministries related to the Association of Brethren Caregivers go to


6) Brethren bits: Correction, personnel, job opening, and much more.
  • Correction: Karen Orpurt Crim joined the board of Brethren Benefit Trust in the fall of 2006. Newsline incorrectly reported on Dec. 20 that Karen Crim Dillon had joined the BBT board.
  • Shanita Hamlin has resigned as customer service specialist for Brethren Press in order to begin a job with Chicago Metro AEYC, the Illinois Chapter of the National Association for Young Children. In this position she will inform preschool providers about funds that have been allocated to enhance preschool in Illinois, and will assist them in applying for the funds. Jan. 17 was her last day with Brethren Press. “Shanita has been a strong advocate for the new Gather ’Round curriculum during these important months of introduction,” said Wendy McFadden, executive director of the press. “We will miss her on the Brethren Press team.”
  • Wendi Hutchinson, director of church relations at Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., has resigned from the position as of Jan. 12. She began Jan. 16 as director of alumni relations and special events for the College of Consumer and Family Services at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Many at Manchester College will share the church relations responsibilities following Hutchinson’s resignation, including new campus pastor Steve Crain, trustees, Manchester president Jo Young Switzer, faculty, and others on the college staff. The campus pastor and president Switzer will share leadership for church relations; admissions secretary Sandy Bendsen will provide administrative support. For more information contact executive vice president Dave McFadden at
  • Diane Ford Jones of Cleveland, Ohio, has been named national director of Every Church A Peace Church (see John Stoner, co-founder and coordinator for the past five years, will continue in an advisory role. Jones is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC), and since 2002 has been the minister for communication and education mission of the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, in the denomination’s national office. She spent formative years with the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C., and holds masters degrees in divinity and journalism from Boston University. She will lead a strategic planning process, promote conferences, supervise production of a peace study curriculum for churches, expand television and web-based communications, and will promote the National Registry of Peace Churches. Every Church A Peace Church was begun by an ecumenical group including Church of the Brethren representatives.
  • Sharing Services Agency/MutualAid eXchange (MAX), a property and casualty insurance company serving Anabaptists across the US and Canada, is seeking a producer/agent in its Goshen, Ind., office. Responsibilities include developing strong connections to the Anabaptist community, generating opportunities for providing MAX insurance, and delivering 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 can be considered. To learn more about the company and those it serves, visit Resumes may be e-mailed to or faxed to 877-785-0085.
  • A Middle East Peacemaking Delegation co-sponsored by On Earth Peace and Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) arrived in Israel/Palestine on Jan. 11. The delegation will conclude on Jan. 22. The trip began in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then travels to Hebron and the village of At-Tuwani, to join in CPT’s ongoing work of violence-deterrence, accompaniment, and documentation. The 12 delegation members includes participants from the US, Canada, Ghana, and Northern Ireland, including several with Church of the Brethren connections. Delegation leader Rick Polhamus is a member of Pleasant Hill (Ohio) Church of the Brethren. The group planned to meet with members of the Israeli military, Israeli settlers, Palestinian families, and human rights and peace workers from both Israel and Palestine; join in a public witness that nonviolently confronts injustice and violence; tour the ‘security wall’ separating Israel from the West Bank; and visit Palestinian families whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by expanding Israeli settlements. Track the delegation’s activities at For more information go to
  • Disaster Child Care Level 1 Training Workshops planned for early 2007 include events on Feb. 16-17 in Atlanta, Ga.; Feb. 23-24 in Tampa, Fla.; March 9-10 in Dallas Center, Iowa; March 16-17 in Fort Wayne, Ind.; March 23-24 in Natchitoches, La.; and April 20-21 in Littleton, Colo. Disaster Child Care is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board that trains, certifies, and mobilizes volunteers to disaster sites in the US to provide crisis intervention to young children of families suffering from natural or man-made disasters. Volunteers must become certified and successfully complete an intensive 27-hour training workshop. The training covers information on the needs of children following a disaster, learning skills for effective interaction with children, and experiencing a simulated disaster aftermath. The Disaster Child Care program currently has volunteers working two-week shifts in New Orleans at a “Welcome Home Center” set up by FEMA–since the beginning of the year a total of eight volunteers have served 75 children. For additional information and a registration form, visit or call the DCC Office at 800-451-4407 (option 5).
  • The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is offering several courses this winter and early spring, among them “Confronting Death, Proclaiming Hope: A Brethren Approach to Funerals and Memorial Services,” on Feb. 11-12 at Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center in Sharpsburg, Md., and March 2-3 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., taught by James Benedict (registration deadline Jan. 26, go to; and “Exploring Christian Faith: An Introduction to Theology,” an online course Feb. 26-April 28, taught by Craig Gandy (registration deadline Jan. 29, go to Courses offered through the academy are open to Training in Ministry and Education for Shared Ministry students, pastors, and lay people. For more contact 765-983-1824 or
  • Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has announced its 2007 Winter Orientation, Jan. 28-Feb. 16 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. This will be the 273th orientation unit for BVS and will consist of 16 volunteers from across the US and Germany. Several Church of the Brethren members will attend, and the remaining volunteers come from varied faith backgrounds. A highlight of the three weeks will be a weekend immersion with the Brethren Haitian community in Miami and Orlando, where volunteers will have the opportunity to work at food banks, nature preserves, nonprofit organizations, and Habitat for Humanity. The group will also have a chance to work at Camp Ithiel for a day. A BVS potluck is open to all those who are interested on Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at Camp Ithiel. “Please feel free to come and welcome the new BVS volunteers and to share your own experiences,” invited Hannah Kliewer of the BVS office. For more information contact the BVS office at 800-323-8039 ext. 423. “As always your thoughts and prayers are welcome and needed. Please remember this new unit and the people they will touch during their year of service through BVS,” Kliewer said.
  • Reading (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, located in Wyomissing, is taking advantage of a developer’s interest in its property and preparing to build a new facility, reports the “Reading Eagle.” Pastor Timothy Speicher told the paper the church will build a new facility on three acres it will retain at the rear of the property, and in the meantime will worship at nearby Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom synagogue. During its own building renovation the synagogue met at Reading First. Read more at
  • “Darfur Awareness Day” at Glade Valley Church of the Brethren on Dec. 10 brought more than 50 people from the congregation and community to learn about violence taking place in Darfur, Sudan. Caitlyn Leiter-Mason organized the event along with help from friends and members of Glade Valley. She reported that donations from the event totaled over $2,500. The contributions will be sent to Church World Service to support work with refugees from Darfur.
  • Illinois and Wisconsin District has announced a new “satellite” office. Contact district executive minister Kevin Kessler at the new office, 120 N. 3rd Ave., Canton, IL 61520; 309-647-4828; Contact district administrative assistant Duane Steiner at the former office, which will remain at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill.
  • The Great Plains Office of Church World Service (CWS) has recognized Lee Rodgers, a member of Newton (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, for a half-century of service to CROP. Fifty years of counting CROP Hunger Walk money is enough, said Rodgers in a CWS release. He retired after last October’s CROP Walk, ending a run that began in 1956. “I started as a banker in 1938,” he said. “When I returned from military service in 1956, my boss at the bank handed the CROP treasurer’s job over to me.” Although in recent years Rodgers served as a local treasurer, in the past he was responsible for all of Harvey County, in which Newton is located. In those early days, methods were a little different, he said. Farmers took wheat to the grain elevator and donated the profits. Rodgers collected the proceeds and sent them to Church World Service. He recalled the Friendship Trains that would take the grain away. Rodgers is a life-long member of the Newton congregation. “The churches ran the walk. All I did was handle the money,” he said. His time as treasurer was a labor of love, he noted. “It was worthwhile.”
  • On Earth Peace staff member Matt Guynn was one of a panel interviewed on national radio as part of an activist-oriented training network called Training for Change (see The interview was broadcast from Philadelphia on Saturday, Jan. 13, as part of the show, “Weekend America.” The show related to the Martin Luther King holiday and included clips from Dr. King’s speeches and responses from the panelists about the speeches’ relevance for today. Find “Weekend America” at
  • CrossRoads Valley Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center annual dinner meeting will be held 6 p.m. on Feb. 2 at First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va. Tickets are $15, with registration required, call 540-438-1275. The program will include highlights of 2006, plans for 2007, and an address by Steve Watson, professor of religion and philosophy at Bridgewater (Va.) College. For more about CrossRoads go to
  • New Life Ministries is sponsoring a Leadership Training Event entitled “Deep and Wide: Expanding Hospitality in the Faithful Church” on Tuesday, May 8, at Franconia Mennonite Church in Telford, Pa. Keynote speakers are Ron Sider and Eddie Gibbs. Participants will receive a copy of a new hospitality and assimilation resource by Steve Clapp, Fred Bernhard, and Ed Bontrager. Pastors will earn .6 continuing education units. Discounts are available for early registration and for multiple persons attending from the same congregation. For more information about the event and to register, contact Kristen Leverton Helbert, director of New Life Ministries, at 800-774-3360 or
  • During the week of Jan. 15-21, a campaign of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) against the use of depleted uranium weapons will be assisting residents of the Jonesborough, Tenn., area to conduct a health poll of the neighborhood around an Aerojet Ordnance plant where the weapons are made. CPT held a fall delegation related to the campaign, five days of which were spent in a prayer vigil at the plant where participants had contacts with neighbors and plant employees who expressed concerns about health issues because of the depleted uranium products, CPT member Cliff Kindy reported. “This health poll has developed as a response to those concerns. Perhaps it can serve as a stimulus for a more exhaustive and credible study,” he said. CPT has announced two more delegations to investigate and challenge the use and manufacture of depleted uranium munitions, on March 16-25 and on May 18-27. Starting in Jonesborough, the delegations will meet with people affected by the weapons and will organize a nonviolent public witness. The March delegation may also travel to Washington, D.C. Delegates will arrange their own transportation to Knoxville, Tenn., and raise $300 for expenses. For more information or to apply contact Christian Peacemaker Teams, 773-277-0253,; or see For more information about the campaign against depleted uranium weapons visit


7) Commentary series celebrates 20th volume in 20 years.

On Nov. 17, 2006, more than two dozen writers and editors working with the Believers Church Bible Commentary met for dinner to celebrate the publication of 20 volumes in 20 years. The dinner was held in Washington, D.C., at the conclusion of a workshop for writers and prior to the Society of Biblical Literature meeting that began the next day.

The Believers Church Bible Commentary series began 20 years ago with the publication of Elmer Martens’ “Jeremiah” (1986). Martens served for many years as Old Testament editor. Douglas B. Miller of Tabor College is the current Old Testament editor; Loren Johns of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary is the current New Testament editor.

With the recent publication of “Psalms,” the project has averaged one new volume per year for the past 20 years. The commentary’s editorial council has stated its desire to complete the New Testament volumes within 10 years and the Old Testament volumes within 14 years. The commentaries have been received well so far in critical reviews.

The series originated when a Bible commentary series in Papua, New Guinea, caused Mennonite publisher Ben Cutrell to ask, “Might the Mennonites in North America do something similar?” Since then several Anabaptist denominations including the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Church USA, the Brethren in Christ, and the Brethren Church have partnered to develop a commentary series. An editorial council of scholars representing each of these church groups meets annually.

Nineteen scholars met at the writers workshop, which brought together those who had already written commentaries published in the series and those who are working on upcoming volumes. The workshop featured the personal experiences of commentary writers–how they went about the process of research, writing, and rewriting. Several reflected on the challenge of finding theright balance between technical or historical-critical background and contemporary appropriation in ways that communicate compellingly.

Another challenge writers have faced is being relevant without writing things that become quickly dated. Two key features of the series, which have begun to show up in other commentary series, are the sections, “The Text in Biblical Context” and “The Text in the Life of the Church.” A third challenge has been finding the right balance between how the text has functioned in the life of the church and how it might function in the life of the church.

Commentaries already published include “Genesis” by Bethany Theological Seminary president Eugene F. Roop (1987), which has been translated into Russian. Roop also authored “Ruth, Jonah, Esther” (2002). Other commentaries by Brethren authors include “Matthew” by Richard B. Gardner (1991), and “Acts” by Chalmer E. Faw (1993). In addition, the series has published “Exodus,” “Judges,” “Psalms,” “Proverbs,” “Jeremiah,” “Ezekiel,” “Daniel,” “Hosea, Amos,” “Mark,” “Romans,” “2 Corinthians,” “Ephesians,” “Colossians, Philemon,” “1 and 2 Thessalonians,” “1-2 Peter, Jude,” and “Revelation.”

The series is available through Brethren Press, call 800-441-3712 or go to



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. J. Allen Brubaker, Don Fecher, Matt Guynn, Kristen Leverton Helbert, Loren L. Johns, Mervin Keeney, Cliff Kindy, Dennis Kingery, Hannah Kliewer, Jon Kobel, Jeri S. Kornegay, Wendy McFadden, Howard Royer, and Paul M. Zehr contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with the next regularly scheduled Newsline set for Jan. 31; 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"]