Newsline for May 23, 2007

“…I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” — Genesis 12:2b


1) Bethany Seminary celebrates 102nd commencement.
2) Brethren focus work north of Greensburg, following tornado.
3) Forum discusses future of Annual Conference, other challenges for the denomination.
4) Westminster Church, Buckhalter will receive Ecumenical Citations.
5) Older adult unit begins work through Brethren Volunteer Service.
6) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, job opening, and more.


7) Brethren participate in planning ‘The Gathering’ hunger conference.

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1) Bethany Seminary celebrates 102nd commencement.

On May 5, Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., celebrated its 102nd commencement. Two observances marked the occasion. A ceremony for conferring degrees took place in Bethany’s Nicarry Chapel. A public worship celebration was held at Richmond Church of the Brethren.President Eugene F. Roop spoke at the conferring of degrees ceremony. His address titled “Blessing” was based on Genesis 12:1-3 and two Gospel passages. He exhorted the graduates, “You go into ministry as an envoy and agent of God’s blessing.” President Roop, who will retire on June 30, was thanked for his 15 years of service as part of the commencement celebrations.

Dena Pence, director of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, was the speaker for the afternoon worship service. In her message, “What Do You See?” Pence referenced the response of Marilyn Lerch to the Virginia Tech shootings. Lerch serves as pastor of Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren in Blacksburg, Va., and one of the campus ministers at Virginia Tech. “Carry that image with you,” Pence said, “a person looking at the community in which they dwell, in all its goodness and all its brokenness, and then knowing, with real clarity, what they can do to be a part of it.”The seminary also recognized significant faculty accomplishments of the past year. Russell Haitch, associate professor of Christian Education, was granted tenure and also received the Rohrer Book Award for his book “From Exorcism to Ecstasy: Eight Views of Baptism.” Scott Holland, associate professor of Theology and Culture, also received the award for his two books, “How Do Our Stories Save Us?” and “Seeking Peace in Africa.”

Nineteen students received degrees or certificates, the largest class since 1998:
Master of Divinity, Peace Studies Emphasis: Carrie Eikler, Manchester Church of the Brethren, N. Manchester, Ind.Master of Divinity: Michael Benner, Koontz Church of the Brethren in New Enterprise, Pa., and Waterside (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Jerramy Bowen, W. Milton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren; Torin Eikler, North Manchester Church of the Brethren; Tasha Hornbacker, Pleasant Hill (Ohio) Church of the Brethren; Daniel House, Glade Valley Church of the Brethren, Walkersville, Md.; Rebecca House, Union Bridge (Md.) Church of the Brethren; Jennifer Sanders Kreighbaum, Bear Creek Church of the Brethren, Accident, Md.; Brian Mackie, New Life Christian Fellowship, Mount Pleasant, Mich.; Barbara Menke, Oakland Church of the Brethren, Bradford, Ohio; Kelly Meyerhoeffer, Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren, Weyers Cave, Va.; Nathan Polzin, New Life Christian Fellowship; Thomas Richard, Fairview Church of the Brethren, Cordova, Md.; Donald Williams, Stone Church of the Brethren, Buena Vista, Va.; Christopher Zepp, Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren.Master of Arts in Theology: Rachel Peterson, New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren; Carrie Smith, Beavercreek (Ohio) Church of the Brethren.Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies: James Sampson, Eagle Creek Church of the Brethren, Forest, Ohio; Ronda Scammahorn, Oakland Church of the Brethren.Christopher Zepp received distinction for his academic work in biblical studies. Carrie Eikler, Torin Eikler, Barbara Menke, and Kelly Meyerhoeffer received distinction for their work in ministry studies.

–Marcia Shetler is director of Public Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.


2) Brethren focus work north of Greensburg, following tornado.

In Greensburg, Kan., a tornado completely leveled 90 percent of town on May 4, during a night in which at least six tornados were in the area, and more the next night. “While Greensburg is the focus of the national media, the destruction reaches northeast into the heart of Kansas farmland,” reported Roy Winter, director of Brethren Disaster Ministries (formerly called the Emergency Response program) for the Church of the Brethren General Board.

Roy Winter visited the area last week to help assess the need for a Brethren response. “In Stafford County, the Eden Valley Church of the Brethren sits untouched, but at least five Brethren families experienced damage to their homes, garages, or barns,” he said.

Eden Valley pastor Tim Morris has been providing pastoral support to some families who survived the disaster, such as a family whose farm north of Greensburg lost all nine buildings. The loss included the house and some live stock. “Even the floor of the house was ripped away,” Roy Winter said.

Pastor Morris is helping coordinate relief efforts in this rural area, with support from Western Plains District. Bill Winter is acting district disaster coordinator for Western Plains, and is taking part in the meetings of agencies involved in the relief effort.

The district is planning to focus response in the area north of Greensburg. “Right now Greensburg is very much in the news eye, and they’re getting a lot of help,” said Bill Winter. “So what we’ve decided to do is focus on the area north of Greensburg where the tornados went after hitting the town.” Last week he and a small group of Brethren went out to help clean up felled trees and remove debris in the area north of Greensburg.

A “walk the fields” event is scheduled for Sunday, May 27, by the district. Western Plains has issued a general call for volunteers to help farmers pick up debris from fields on that afternoon. The call went out to the Brethren congregations located in the western part of Kansas. Volunteers will meet at Eden Valley Church of the Brethren at 2 p.m., and the church will provide a light meal. “Anyone from child up to older adult who can bend over and pick up stuff is welcome!” Bill Winter said.

“The process is ongoing,” he added. Future work may include rebuilding of homes and garages and other buildings damaged by the storms, he said.

Children’s Disaster Services (formerly Disaster Child Care) also has responded quickly to the Greensburg tornado by sending seven volunteers to help care for children of affected families. Volunteers worked in the Red Cross services center in Haviland, just west of Greensburg, through May 16. The program is currently working to create a longterm child care presence in Greensburg for families as they do clean up and rebuilding.

In other disaster response news, the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in Lucedale, Miss., is scheduled to close at the end of June, and the McComb, Miss., project will close Aug. 4. Both projects were in response to Hurricane Katrina. Projects in Pearl River and Chalmette, La., will remain active.

3) Forum discusses future of Annual Conference, other challenges for the denomination.

The Inter-Agency Forum of the Church of the Brethren marked its 10th anniversary as the group met April 26-27 in Elgin, Ill. The forum was created by the Standing Committee of Annual Conference in 1998, and meets annually to serve as a coordinating group for the life and activities of the Church of the Brethren by providing links among agencies.

All 16 members were present for the meeting including Ron Beachley, chair and past moderator of Annual Conference; the Conference officers including moderator Belita Mitchell, moderator-elect Jim Beckwith, and secretary Fred Swartz; Lerry Fogle, executive director of the Conference; Sandy Bosserman of the Council of District Executives; and the executives and board chairs of each of the Annual Conference agencies–Kathy Reid and Wally Landes for the Association of Brethren Caregivers, Gene Roop and Anne Murray Reid for Bethany Theological Seminary, Wil Nolen and Harry Rhodes for the Brethren Benefit Trust, Stan Noffsinger and Jeff Neuman-Lee for the General Board, and Bob Gross and Bev Weaver for On Earth Peace.

On the agenda for this meeting were discussions relating to the effectiveness and future of Annual Conference, the mentoring of potential denominational leadership, implications of several reports coming to Annual Conference, outreach challenges for the denomination in relation to the 300th anniversary year, and the call for the church to be more inclusive.

Fogle reported a steady decline in Annual Conference attendance over the past several years. In response, the forum gave overall support for the Conference but agreed that there needs to be some new ways of doing Conference, such as enhanced worship, more involvement of youth, more insight-type sessions, and consideration of various options for altering the annual status of the meeting, for example, alternating years of a full Conference with years of a delegate-only Conference.

The idea of a program of mentors for young adults and others interested in serving in denominational leadership was initially suggested to the General Board by a Bethany Seminary student. One of the concerns that prompted this idea was the need to have more minority persons in leadership. Forum members affirmed their willingness to provide such mentoring and to be alert to opportunities to do so, and said that mentoring also needs to be encouraged at the local and district levels where it may be easier to accomplish than at the denominational level.

The forum looked at several recommendations coming to Annual Conference from the Review and Evaluation Committee, including a reuniting of the program agencies and the Annual Conference Council under one board of directors for the denomination. There was a common concern that Conference delegates need to have more information on the work of the agencies before making their decision, and that there be no compromise of the agencies’ integrity with their constituents. Agencies are in conversation with the Review and Evaluation Committee to provide this material.

Issues relating to the inclusiveness of the denomination, especially acceptance of gay and lesbian members, also commanded a lengthy discussion. It was observed that the emotions and fears currently accompanying opposing viewpoints on the issue are a hindrance to a constructive, face-to-face denominational discussion, and that the Church of the Brethren communion, which values its biblical heritage, needs to find ways to study the scriptures together, accepting the Annual Conference recognition that not all agree in the interpretation of scriptures. Forum members also observed that the church’s strength and unity often has been enhanced and expressed by coming together in concrete acts of mission and service.

The forum also expressed support for a General Board initiative, sparked by a suggestion from the Missouri/Arkansas District, that calls the Church of the Brethren to consider new mission goals to mark the 300th anniversary; and received a presentation from Carl Desportes Bowman, project director, and professor of Sociology at Bridgewater (Va.) College, who reported results of the “Brethren Member Profile 2006.”

The forum’s next meeting is scheduled for April 23-24, 2008, in Elgin, Ill.

–Fred Swartz is the secretary of Annual Conference and recorder for the Inter-Agency Forum.


4) Westminster Church, Buckwalter will receive Ecumenical Citations.

The Committee on Interchurch Relations has announced the 2007 recipients of its annual Ecumenical Citation. The committee carries a mandate from both the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and the General Board, and met by telephone conference call on April 3.

Anna K. Buckwalter has received the individual citation, for her work over many years showing compassion toward people regardless of faith tradition. Westminister (Md.) Church of the Brethren has received the congregational citation, for its expression of Christian compassion toward a Muslim fellowship.

The citations will be presented at the Ecumenical Luncheon at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, July 3. At the luncheon the committee will highlight the recipients’ creative, exemplary responses to Christ’s call to show love for all people. The featured talk at the Ecumenical Luncheon is titled, “Living Among People of Other Faiths,” and will be presented by Paul Numrich, a Church of the Brethren minister and educator.

The committee reviewed an excellent set of nominees for the annual citation. This year the citation was given for individuals and congregations to share their experiences in ecumenical interfaith peacebuilding. At a time when tensions have risen between different religious traditions around the world, the committee has been seeking out those who are bridging the gap between different groups, aiming to be the embodiment of Christ amid hatred and misunderstanding.

The committee has finalized plans for an insight session at Annual Conference, on Tuesday evening July 3. The session will feature a conversation between a Brethren evangelical Christian, Jim Eikenberry, and a Muslim teaching colleague, Amir Assadi-Rad. Both are instructors at San Joaquin Delta College in California. They will discuss how people of different faiths may relate constructively with one another while deepening their faith.

In other business, the committee laid plans (without incurring any budgetary expenditure) for sending greetings and, in most cases, a representative of the Church of the Brethren to these other Brethren denominations: Old Brethren, Old German Baptist Brethren, Dunkard Brethren, Conservative Grace Brethren, Fellowship of Grace Brethren, and the Brethren Church. The group also discussed the decision by the General Board to approve the committee’s recommendation that the Church of the Brethren join Christian Churches Together in the USA. In general secretary Stan Noffsinger’s report to the committee, he described extensive activity in peace education and advocacy including the planning for a conference of the historic peace churches, to be held in Asia.

Committee members are chair Michael Hostetter, Ilexene Alphonse, Jim Eikenberry, Robert Johansen, Stanley Noffsinger, Robert Rene Quintanilla, Carolyn Schrock, and Jon Kobel (staff).

–Robert C. Johansen is a member of the Committee on Interchurch Relations, senior fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.


5) Older adult unit begins work through Brethren Volunteer Service.

The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center hosted the nine members of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Older Adult Unit 274 for an orientation from April 23-May 4.

During the orientation, volunteers had several days to serve the community including a workday at the Brethren Service Center working at A Greater Gift/SERRV, and an opportunity to work with the Brethren Nutrition Program in Washington, D.C.

The volunteers, their home congregations or home towns, and placements (if known at this time) are: Marilou Booth of Pasadena (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; MaryAnn Davis of Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; David and Maria Huber of Yellow Creek (Ind.) Church of the Brethren will work at the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center; Barbara and Ron Siney of West Charleston (Ohio) Church of the Brethren will be placed at Alderson (W.Va.) Hospitality House; Kent and Sarah Switzer of Cedar Lake (Ind.) Church of the Brethren will go to the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan; Steve VanZandt of Washington, D.C., will be placed with Cooperiis in Mill Spring, N.C.

For more information about BVS call the office at 800-323-8039 or visit


6) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, job opening, and more.
  • Lee Eshleman, a member of the Mennonite comedy duo Ted & Lee, took his own life on May 17, after succumbing to a long battle with depression. Eshleman will be remembered for his comedic and insightful performances with Ted Swartz, as they acted out biblical stories for the current day. Ted & Lee were major presenters at the Church of the Brethren’s last three National Youth Conferences, in 1998, 2002, and 2006. They also performed at two National Older Adult Conferences, and were booked to lead worship at the denomination’s first National Junior High Conference next month. “At the 2006 National Youth Conference, Ted & Lee closed a worship service with feetwashing, in the most powerful interpretation of what Jesus did for his disciples that I have seen. I remember thinking at the time, they have made sense of the feetwashing service for a whole new generation of Brethren,” said Chris Douglas, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren General Board. “We join with Lee’s family and loved ones, and with Ted and the Mennonite community, in grieving his death.” Eshleman was an active member of Community Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Va. He leaves behind his wife, Reagan, and their three children. A memorial service was held May 21 at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg. Memorial contributions are made to Our Community Place, a Harrisonburg community center. An online page of condolence and remembrance is offered by Eastern Mennonite University, where Lee Eshleman was an alumni. Go to
  • Pacific Southwest District has welcomed new office secretary Brenda Perez. She comes to the district with skills in computer work, volunteer organizations, disaster response, and health instruction work with the American Red Cross, and is at ease in both English and Spanish.
  • The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, which is affiliated with Bethany Theological Seminary, has announced the call of Lisa Krieg as volunteer coordinator of the Hispanic Academy. She will provide coordination of the Hispanic Academy in class schedules and teacher appointments, and will serve as a link between the center’s office in administration and communication with Hispanic students.
  • “Messenger” magazine is welcoming Nick Kauffman as a Ministry Summer Service intern beginning May 29. He is a member of Goshen (Ind.) City Church of the Brethren and just finished his sophomore year at Manchester College, majoring in peace studies.
  • Bob Edgar, outgoing general secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC), has been picked to lead the national advocacy group Common Cause. Edgar announced last October he would not seek a third four-year term as general secretary of the NCC. Edgar is a former congressman who represented eastern Pennsylvania from 1975-87, and had served as president for 10 years of Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology when he came to the NCC in 2000.
  • Daniel Aukerman will leave Interchurch Medical Association (IMA) World Health on June 1, completing nearly three years of service to the organization, to pursue new career options. The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of IMA, and Aukerman worked out of the IMA headquarters located at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. He has served as vice president for Program Development and Technical Support.
  • On Earth Peace seeks part-time communications staff as part of its communications team. Responsibilities include writing, editing, publicity, and news services, using both print and electronic media. Candidates must be self-motivated, well-organized. and flexible. The position requires commitment to Christian peacemaking and understanding of the Church of the Brethren. Start date is Sept. 1. Location is negotiable–the On Earth Peace office is located at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Applications will be reviewed beginning June 20, and will continue to be accepted and considered until the position is filled. Send a resume, two writing samples, a letter of interest, and contact information for three to four references. For more information or to apply, contact Bob Gross, director of On Earth Peace, at or 260-982-7751. The position announcement is online at
  • The report of Annual Conference’s Program Feasibility Committee will soon be made available at the Annual Conference website. The report focuses on the impact and cost of recommendations made by the 2006 Doing Church Business report, and will be posted on the Doing Church Business study committee homepage at on Friday, May 25.
  • Annual Conference moderator Belita Mitchell will be featured in the June edition of “Brethren Voices,” a program for Brethren congregations to show on local community cable television. The program is offered by an initiative of Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore., and producer Ed Groff. The half-hour episode titled, “Meet the Moderator,” will be viewed in 10 different communities around the country, Groff reported. The moderator shares some of her life history, thoughts and goals of her term as moderator for the church, experiences of her recent trip to Nigeria, and her feelings about the current status of the Church of the Brethren. Other upcoming programs in the series are “A Community Gathers for Peace,” slated for July, and “It Began with One Person” about Heifer International, for August. For those not currently involved in the community television project, DVD copies of the program are available for $8. Send orders to Peace Church of the Brethren, 12727 S.E. Market St., Portland, OR 97233. Contact Ed Groff at
  • The 2007 Young Adult Conference will be held over Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28, at Camp Harmony near Johnstown, Pa. The theme is “Doers of the Word,” James 1:22-25. Cost is $100, or $110 after May 25. For information go to
  • Roy Winter, director of Brethren Disaster Ministries for the Church of the Brethren General Board, has been elected to the board of directors of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. He also is scheduled to join a trip to Angola with a Bie University Project Delegation on June 2-12. Winter will be the only Brethren member of the delegation to Angola, an African nation that has been ravaged by a 27-year civil war. He takes part in the trip to monitor some of the projects Brethren have supported through grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund, in collaboration with SHAREcircle. In its itinerary the delegation hopes to visit a variety of projects and meet with the general secretary of the Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola, staff of Chevron’s Community Grants, the Ministry of Education, the governor of Bie Province, and the US ambassador.
  • Little Swatara Church of the Brethren in Bethel, Pa., is celebrating its 250th anniversary on June 16-17 with tours of four old meetinghouses used in rotation before the church was built, a German worship service, dinner theater, other weekend events, and publication of its first history book. The 480-page hardcover book will feature the history of the congregation, photos, biographical sketches of ministers, articles about ministries, a membership list dating back to the mid-1800s, and tombstone inscriptions of cemeteries associated with the church. Order for $30 plus postage of $8. Send a check payable to Little Swatara Church of the Brethren to Sandra Kauffman, 7326 Bernville Rd., Bernville, PA 19506.
  • Shenandoah District held its 15th annual Disaster Response Auction at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds. Since 1993, the auction has raised more than $2 million for the church’s disaster ministries, with sales of furniture, toys, quilts, gift baskets, livestock, and food, among other items. In a May 19 update, the district announced that 2007 proceeds have been estimated at $205,000. The district reported that, “At Friday evening’s oyster/ham dinner, 77 gallons of oysters were eaten by 1,465 hungry people. Over 700 folks came for Saturday breakfast consuming 248 pancake platters and 470 omelets. Children and adults put together 400 school kits and 100 health kits for Church World Service.” Congratulations went to Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren for its purchase of the Unity Quilt for $2,000.
  • The Hillman Foundation of Pittsburgh, Pa., has approved a $500,000 grant to Juniata College to establish an endowed scholarship to honor Ronald W. Wertz, the foundation’s longtime president, and his wife, Ann. The college is located in Huntingdon, Pa. Both Ronald and Ann Wertz graduated from Juniata in 1959. The Ronald W. and Ann L. Wertz Endowment will provide a full-tuition scholarship for four years for a highly academically qualified student. Ron Wertz, a native of Lewistown, Pa., started his career in higher education at Juniata in 1959 as assistant director of admissions, and then was promoted to director of admissions. In 1963 he moved to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., where he served as director of financial aid and later as director of development. In 1969 he joined the Hillman Foundation as its first executive director. In 1990, he was named president and trustee. He has been an active volunteer for Juniata, having served on the board of trustees from 1987-93 and on the President’s Development Council. In 1994, he received the Harold B. Brumbaugh Alumni Service Award. Ann Werz, the former Ann Larkin, has served as class fund agent for the college’s annual fund.
  • Six Bridgewater (Va.) College alumni were honored at the Alumni Weekend celebration on April 20-21. Among them were Church of the Brethren members Joseph M. Mason, a retired minister and former district executive who graduated from Bridgewater in 1945; and Franklin E. Huffman, a 1955 graduate and expert and author on southeast Asian languages who has served in the US diplomatic service and for the Department of State, and who has taught at Yale University and Cornell University. For more about the college go to
  • Nontombi Naomi Tutu was the 2007 Fasnacht Lecturer at the University of La Verne, Calif., on March 21-22. The daughter of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and founder of the Tutu Foundation and its chair from 1985-90, she is associate director of the Office of International Relations and Programs at Tennessee State University. She also is co-author of “The Words of Desmond Tutu,” and is collaborating on a new book, “I Don’t Think of You as Black: Honest Conversations on Race and Racism.” She spoke on the topic, “By Our Fruits We are Known: Religion and Activism,” for the Fasnacht lecture, and gave the keynote address at an annual Engendering Diversity and Community Conference. The lecture series is made possible by the Fasnacht Chair of Religion Endowment Fund, in honor of former ULV president Harold Fasnacht. For more go to
  • Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) has gone “carbon neutral,” according to an announcement at the program’s website Beginning this spring, BCA will make contributions to the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) to off-set the carbon released into the atmosphere by the flights students take to study abroad. Carbon offsets are projects that reduce or prevent the accumulation of global warming gases in the atmosphere to make up for the gases that have inadvertently been put there, either by increasing the availability of renewable energy, supporting energy-efficiency improvements by industry, or capturing and sequestering emissions. BCA’s contributions to SELF’s projects in providing rural villages in developing countries with solar power do not technically offset the carbon pollution released into the atmosphere by air travel in ways that other projects do, the announcement said. However, it helps to extend the benefits of electricity, in a climate-neutral way, to some of the two billion people in the world who lack it. For more about BCA go to The program’s central offices are located at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.
  • Manchester College professor Ken Rogers will offer free walking tours of religious sites in Marburg an der Lahn (near Schwarzenau), Germany, to Brethren groups in the summer of 2007 and again in the summer of 2008, to help celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Brethren. Each tour will last about three hours and visit Marburg sites such as the Elizabeth Church, the Old University, the medieval town, the city church, and the castle. The tours will be educational, with Rogers drawing on years of study and teaching of church history and theology. Those taking the tours will need to pay nominal admission fees at the Elizabeth Church and the castle. They will be asked to consider a voluntary contribution to the Project for German-American Understanding sponsored by the theology department of Marburg University. For further information please write to


7) Brethren participate in planning ‘The Gathering’ hunger conference.

Church of the Brethren leaders and General Board staff are taking part in preparations for a biennial hunger training event and rally in Washington, D.C., on June 9-12. “The Gathering” will be held on the theme, “Sowing Seeds: Growing a Movement.” Bread for the World is coordinating planning for the event, which is supported by a wide range of hunger agencies.

A broad spectrum of religious groups will convene in the nation’s capital for training, information sharing, worship, and advocacy. Particular focus will be on reform of the Farm Bill currently before Congress, a legislative measure whose nutrition programs and trade policies affect the poor and hungry at home and abroad.

The event is receiving financial support from the Global Food Crisis Fund. A $5,000 grant has been given toward expenses of the conference.

Global Food Crisis Fund manager Howard Royer is among those working with Bread for the World staff in helping plan the conference, and is one of the group of Interfaith Anti-Hunger Coordinators. The Brethren Witness/Washington Office also is encouraging participation in the event. Belita Mitchell, Annual Conference moderator, and Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the General Board, are slated to head the Brethren delegation.

Pastor Jeff Carter of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren is representing the denomination on the Worship Planning Committee, and has been invited to help plan worship services and may be involved in plenary sessions as well as the interfaith convocation at the National Cathedral on Monday evening, June 11. Emily O’Donnell, legislative associate and Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, has been named to the Program/Mobilization Committee and is involved in promoting the event among Brethren young adults and the Washington area congregations.

“We rejoice in the direct ways the Church of the Brethren is engaged in hunger awareness and advocacy on the national scene,” Royer said. “From its beginning the Global Food Crisis Fund has regarded hunger education and advocacy as integral to its work, along with fundraising and grantmaking on behalf of impoverished peoples.”

The goal of the Gathering “is to formulate concrete steps to strengthen efforts to end hunger and poverty, in synch with the Millennium Development Goals,” Royer said. “Participants are to emerge from the Gathering renewed, energized, equipped, and empowered.”

In related Action Alerts, the Brethren Witness/Washington Office is calling for support of a letter regarding the Farm Bill to be sent to members of Congress; and support for the Feed America’s Families Act (HR 2129) that it said would “build momentum for 2007 Farm Bill investments that strengthen the Food Stamp and emergency feeding programs.” The letter on the Farm Bill highlights its reauthorization as “a significant opportunity to improve farmworker safety and health, particularly as to toxic pesticides” (for a copy contact the Brethren Witness/Washington Office at 800-785-3246 or “Time is of the essence” the alerts said, with Congressional action on the Farm Bill already beginning. At least one House Agriculture Subcommittee takes up its portion of the bill before the Memorial Day recess. Full House and Senate Agriculture Committee mark-ups are slated for June.

For more information about the Gathering, “Sowing Seeds: Growing a Movement” and to register to attend, 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. Lerry Fogle, Ed Groff, Bob Gross, Mary Kay Heatwole, Hannah Kliewer, Ken Rogers, Howard Royer, John Wall, and Jane Yount contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with the next regularly scheduled Newsline set for June 6; other special issues may be sent as needed. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine, call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.


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