Newsline for November 21, 2007

November 21, 2007

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10a).

1) Wil Nolen to retire in 2008 as president of Brethren Benefit Trust.
2) Program and Arrangements requests review of sexuality statement.
3) Brethren workcamp ministry experiences successful expansion.
4) Womaen’s Caucus to focus on next 300 years in 2008.
5) Brethren bits: Remembrance, job, Asia peace conference, more.

6) Bethany Seminary to offer offsite classes in Spring semester.
7) 300th Anniversary update: Calls for exhibit items and video entries.
8) 300th Anniversary bits and pieces.

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Para ver la traducción en español de este artículo, “La Junta Directiva Compromete Para El Centro De Servicio De Los Hermanos, Trata Con Un Documento Acerca De Eticas En El Ministerio Y Recibe Resoluciones Para La Aseguranza Medica Y La Esclavitud,” vaya a www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2007/oct3007.htm. (For a Spanish translation of the report from the fall meetings of the Church of the Brethren General Board, originally published in the Newsline Special Reports of Oct. 20 and Oct. 30, go to www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2007/oct3007.htm.)
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1) Wil Nolen to retire in 2008 as president of Brethren Benefit Trust.

Wilfred E. Nolen, president of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) since the agency’s inception in 1988 and chief administrator and trustee of the Church of the Brethren Pension Board since 1983, has announced that he will retire in 2008.

Nolen informed the BBT Board of Directors of his decision as it met Nov. 17 in Lancaster, Pa. “The timing of such a decision is never easy as there are always pressing issues that must be addressed,” Nolen said following the meeting. “Nevertheless, BBT is a healthy organization with about $440 million in assets under management for 6,000 pension, Foundation, insurance, and Church of the Brethren Credit Union clients and members. It has a sharp staff and a new strategic plan and is primed for continued success.” In a letter to Harry Rhodes, BBT board chair, Nolen offered to retire on Dec. 31, 2008, or on a date mutually determined with the board.

“We, the church, owe much to Wil,” Rhodes said, “for pastors and church staffs having sound retirements; for churches and organizations having their assets under strong management and invested in a way that reflects Brethren values through the Brethren Foundation; and for credit union members who receive competitive rates and compassionate service that promotes financial health and good monetary decision making. Wil has also advocated for and has overseen the growth of the Church Worker’s Assistance Plan, which assists eligible current and former church workers who are in financial need.

“We also owe much to Wil for the healthcare insurance BBT long provided pastors and church workers, despite an aging employee population and despite the challenges of providing healthcare in the midst of a national healthcare crisis,” Rhodes said. “Even in the wake of Annual Conference delegates declaring that the Brethren Medical Plan for the ministers’ group should be shut down, BBT continues to reach out to those pastors who are finding difficulty in obtaining new healthcare insurance and is prepared to provide support for those having to pay much higher insurance premiums.”

Nolen has spent his professional career in service to the church. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Bridgewater (Va.) College and a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary. In the mid-1960s, he was selected to coordinate the 1966 National Youth Conference (NYC). Later that year he joined the Church of the Brethren General Board fulltime on the Christian Education Commission’s youth ministries staff.

Over the years, Nolen also worked for the General Board as coordinator of the Fund for the Americas, which provided grants for minority groups and encouraged Brethren to examine the causes of racial injustice; as a Parish Ministries Commission consultant for worship and the arts; as director of the SHARE program, which emphasized meeting human needs of economically disadvantaged groups in the US; as coordinator of Development Ministries; and as director of SERRV (now A Greater Gift) handcrafts ministry benefiting artisans from developing countries.

In 1983, he began as administrator of the Brethren Pension Board. In 1988, Annual Conference declared that the General Board and the Pension Board should no longer be composed of the same 25 people. The Pension Board was moved into a new organizational structure, named Brethren Benefit Trust. Nolen was heavily involved in this restructure and has served as president of BBT ever since.

As an ordained minister, Nolen has had an active avocation in the ministry of choral music. He has served as choir director at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., for 37 years and has led choirs and congregational singing at Annual Conference and at National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), as well as conferences of other denominations. He also has promoted wellness among Brethren as a coordinator of fitness and recreational outings at Annual Conference and NOAC.

In other volunteer positions, Nolen served on the boards of Bridgewater (Va.) College, the Mutual Aid Association of the Church of the Brethren, the Elgin (Ill.) Choral Union, and Praxis Mutual Funds, and as president of the Church Benefits Association, a national coalition of 50 denominations and religious organizations.

A president search committee was appointed by the BBT board, consisting of four board members: chair Harry Rhodes, of Roanoke, Va.; vice chair Janice Bratton, of Hummelstown, Pa.; Eunice Culp, of Goshen, Ind.; and Donna Forbes Steiner, of Landisville, Pa. Also called to serve on the committee was H. Fred Bernhard of Arcanum, Ohio, a former pastor, Annual Conference moderator, and BBT board member.

–Nevin Dulabaum is director of communications for Brethren Benefit Trust.

2) Program and Arrangements requests review of sexuality statement.

The Program and Arrangements Committee of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference will ask the Standing Committee for help in moving the church toward a clarification of its position on homosexuality. The Program and Arrangements Committee of three at-large members and the Annual Conference officers holds responsibility for organizing and planning events at the Conference. The Standing Committee is made up of delegates from the 23 districts of the Church of the Brethren with leadership from the Conference officers.

In its annual fall meeting held in Richmond, Va., on Nov. 16-17, the Program and Arrangements Committee drafted a query that it will take to this year’s Standing Committee asking, “Is it possible for the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren to review the section of the 1983 Statement on Human Sexuality that deals with ‘homosexual persons and sexuality’ and engage the denomination in a study and dialogue in order to clarify the church’s response to homosexual persons?”

The Program and Arrangements Committee has perennially received an application for an Annual Conference exhibit from the Brethren and Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests (BMC), an application which has been consistently denied by the committee for a variety of reasons, including the 1983 Annual Conference statement that covenantal relationships between homosexual persons is “unacceptable.”

The query that is being sent to Standing Committee also notes that “many in the church believe it is an issue of justice that the ministries of BMC be granted exhibit space alongside their sisters and brothers in the church, while many others believe it contradicts scriptural teaching to grant that space.” It also states that the Program and Arrangements Committee “believes it is inappropriate and irresponsible for P&AC to make a decision that should be made by the church as a whole.”

In its response to BMC regarding its decision about this year’s exhibit application, the Program and Arrangements Committee said, “We appreciate your efforts to plan an exhibit that honors the 1983 Annual Conference Statement on Human Sexuality. The concerns you wish to help the church address regarding treating lgbt (lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender) people with respect and protecting them from violence are extremely important. At the same time, we are deeply concerned, as we have said in previous communications, that the exhibit hall is not the venue that can help our denomination enter into conversation about the issues of homosexuality, an issue which causes such passionate divisiveness in our denomination.

“We wish to move forward in seeking to bring before the denomination the need for dialogue about the church’s response to homosexual persons,” the response continued. “We strongly believe that the church as a whole must work on these issues and that it is inappropriate and irresponsible for our committee to make a decision which will be interpreted by each side in this debate as either favoring or opposing its partisan interests. Therefore, we have decided to put BMC’s application for exhibit space on hold, while we ask Standing Committee to consider the…query.”

Also on the agenda of the Program and Arrangements Committee’s meeting was a tour of the facilities for the 300th Anniversary Annual Conference, July 12-16, 2008, in Richmond’s Coliseum and Convention Center. The site provides ample space for both the Brethren Church and the Church of the Brethren to have both separate and joint sessions. The committee received a report from the Joint Anniversary Committee (JAC) that met earlier in the same week at Richmond. The JAC is arranging for a major service project within the city of Richmond for Monday, July 14, as a way of honoring Brethren commitment to service in the local community. It is anticipated that 1,000 conference attendees from both denominations may take part. The committee also encourages conferencegoers to bring canned goods to the Conference, which will be collected for a local food bank.

The Program and Arrangements Committee and the Joint Anniversary Committee have agreed that the combined denominational worship services on Sunday and Wednesday, July 13 and 16, will begin at 9:30 a.m. Sunday afternoon there will be an educational opportunity for all attendees, including 30 heritage sessions. The John Kline Riders, with their equine friends, will also make an appearance on Sunday. Sunday’s events will climax with an evening event focusing on mission efforts of the two denominations.

In other actions, the Program and Arrangements Committee updated position description for the Conference coordinators of children’s and youth activities; updated guidelines for meals and other special events to allow musical and other groups to sell products at the events, with the permission of the committee; decided to restrict the delegate packet at Conference to items only relating to the business agenda; decided to revise the next bound Conference minute book to include only four years of minutes instead of five; considered ideas for marketing future Conferences; decided that it is not feasible to have a love feast that would include every conferencegoer; and heard a positive report from the Association of Brethren Caregivers indicating that the spiritual growth tract of the Passport to Wellness will be expanded for the 2008 Conference.

–Fred Swartz is the secretary of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.

3) Brethren workcamp ministry experiences successful expansion.

An expansion of the workcamp ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board has been very successful, according to coordinator Steve Van Houten. This past summer, the ministry involved about 875 participants in a total of 37 workcamps that took place across the US and internationally.

“We really jumped into it this year,” Van Houten said. The most workcamps held in previous years was in 2005, when 26 events involved about 650 people. Another aspect of the expansion was the number of workcamps offered for different age groups, from junior high through youth to young adults, to intergenerational events that also involved older adults. The workcamp ministry also offered “custom” workcamps for congregations that could send a large enough group to hold a workcamp by themselves (at regular workcamps only a third of participants can come from the same church). Also new this year was the widest variety of locations ever offered.

“It was a very positive year, from the youth who responded,” Van Houten said, adding that, “the adult leadership that stepped up and came on board was wonderful.”

New locations offered the opportunity to partner with Brethren camps, including Camp Mardela in Maryland and Camp Wilbur Stover in Idaho, and with Brethren Disaster Ministries at the Hurricane Katrina rebuilding sites in the Gulf coast. Other new locations included a home building site in an Appalachian area in southeastern Kentucky with Homes, Inc., which saw the largest single group this summer with 52 participants. Five workcamps were held in the Caribbean including the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. Other international workcamps were held in Mexico and Guatemala.

The responses from those receiving the service of workcampers signaled success to Van Houten. “People are amazed that the youth workcampers will pay to come to work,” he said. Community members always want to know why the youth are there, he said.

Van Houten described a conversation on St. Croix with a Muslim man who managed the lumberyard that supplied materials for the workcamp. “He scratched his head,” Van Houten recalled. “He said, are these bad kids doing community service? I explained these are good kids who want to be here. He struggled to understand…. He said, your kids come here and do things for people who aren’t even neighbors, this is amazing.”

At the end of the conversation, the manager insisted on giving Van Houten a hug, instead of a simple handshake, saying, “We are brothers.”

Another unmistakeable sign of success for Van Houten came during a “custom” intergenerational workcamp held for Plymouth (Ind.) Church of the Brethren in Keyser, W.Va. Ages ranged from the teens to the mid-70s. “Those 26 people will always have a bond that they wouldn’t have otherwise,” Van Houten said. He had asked the adults to take the role of mentors, to share their knowledge and skills with the youth, and encouraged the youth to be the ones actually doing most of the work. The youth responded with affirmation, he said, even expressing the wish that their grandparents and parents would spend that kind of time with them. “Work-wise we might not have gotten quite as much done,” Van Houten said, “but I think in the end they all saw the benefit.”

Van Houten has resigned as coordinator for the program as of the end of the year, to return to pastoral ministry. Jeanne Davies begins in mid-January as fulltime coordinator. Sharon Flaten and Jerry O’Donnell are working with the ministry as Brethren Volunteer Service workers.

The General Board will offer 26 workcamps next summer, 2008, on the theme “Strengthen My Hands” (Nehemiah 6:9). Locations will include the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding projects on the Gulf coast; the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.; the Dominican Republic (co-sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship); Roanoke, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Ashland, Ohio; Baltimore, Md.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Idaho; Broadway, Va.; Castaner, P.R.; Neon, Ky.; Kyle, S.D.; the eastern shore of Maryland; Keyser, W.Va.; Chicago, Ill.; St. Croix; Reynosa, Mexico; and North Fort Myers, Fla.

For a 2008 brochure contact cobworkcamps_gb@brethren.org or 800-323-8039, or go to http://www.brethrenworkcamps.org/ for more information. Registration for the 2008 workcamps begins online at http://www.brethrenworkcamps.org/ as of 12:01 a.m. (central time) on Jan. 3.

4) Womaen’s Caucus to focus on next 300 years in 2008.

The Church of the Brethren Womaen’s Caucus Steering Committee met recently in Fort Wayne, Ind., for three days of meetings. Two new members, Jill Kline and Peg Yoder, joined the committee that includes Audrey deCoursey, Jan Eller, Carla Kilgore, and Deb Peterson.

The business addressed by the committee included planning for a booth at the 2008 Annual Conference, incorporating the Conference theme for the Womaen’s Caucus as “Women’s Empowerment in the Future Church.” It was decided to focus the booth on the next 300 years, rather than reflecting on the past 300 years.

The group planned future issues of the journal, “Femailings.” The next issue will be published in February and will focus on ministries of women. The committee also discussed sisterhood as ministry and how women are supporting one another. Ways to reach out to younger women was reflected on, noting that the Womaen’s Caucus blog (womaenscaucus.wordpress.com) and new website are positive steps in that direction. In addition, the group is planning feminist worship resources including liturgy, prayers, and hymns for congregations to use for a once-a-year service honoring women. Meeting time also included worship and singing.

Terms for current members were clarified and it was noted that the Womaen’s Caucus is currently looking for a new editor for “Femailings,” as editor Deb Peterson’s term in office expires in July. Anyone interested in this position should contact the Womaen’s Caucus at wcaucus@hotmail.com.

–Deb Peterson is a member of the Womaen’s Caucus Steering Committee and editor of “Femailings.”

5) Brethren bits: Remembrance, job, Asia peace conference, more.

  • Edward “Ned” W. Stowe passed away on Nov. 4 at his home in York Center-Lombard, Ill. He was a former volunteer staff member of the Church of the Brethren General Board, serving as interim controller from July to September, 1998, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. He and his wife, Mary, also served as directors of program volunteers for the General Board for two years, in 1991-92, and prior to that were longterm volunteers at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. He was an active leader in York Center Church of the Brethren. Stowe was born on July 18, 1926, in Chicago, and was a 42-year resident of York Center-Lombard. He retired in 1985 from George Williams College as director of Student Financial Aid, and also had served as an officer of the York Center Community Cooperative. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and his children David (Phyllis), Ned (Amy), Scott (Ann) Stowe and Ruth (Mark) Karasek, and 10 grandchildren. Family and friends will gather for a memorial service on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 11 a.m. at York Center Church of the Brethren.
  • Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind., seeks to fill a vacant chaplain position. Two part-time chaplains maintain a program of visitation with residents, make hospital visits in a 50-mile radius, conduct public worship, and support the work of several committees. Energetic candidates with a caring heart, strong counseling skills, experience in ministry with older adults, and denominational credentials can send a resume to Ted Neidlinger, Timbercrest Senior Living Community, P.O. Box 501, North Manchester, IN 46962.
  • Representatives of the Church of the Brethren are traveling to the Historic Peace Churches of Asia Conference in early December. The group includes Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board; Merv Keeney, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships for the General Board; Donald Miller, a former general secretary of the board and professor emeritus of Bethany Theological Seminary; Scott Holland, associate professor of theology and culture and director of peace studies for Bethany Seminary; and Brethren videographer David Sollenberger. Prior to the peace conference, Noffsinger, Keeney, and Sollenberger will visit with Brethren in India.
  • Registration for the Church of the Brethren’s 2008 Cross Cultural Consultation and Celebration will be available online as of Dec. 1. The consultation will be April 24-27, 2008, in Elgin, Ill. “This is a wonderful opportunity see the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, and worship at three area churches,” said an invitation from Ruben Deoleo, newly appointed as the Cross Cultural Consultation coordinator. Go to www.brethren.org and use the keyword box to highlight “Cross Cultural Ministries” to find the registration form and schedule information in English and Spanish. Send registrations to jwillrett_gb@brethren.org or mail paper copies to Joy Willrett, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. For more information, contact Deoleo at 717-669-9781.
  • On Earth Peace has announced its next counter-recruitment networking call for those working against military recruitment, on Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. Pacific time/1 p.m. eastern time. The networking calls are for both new and experienced peacemakers to share experiences and receive support for their work resisting military recruitment and generating alternatives for youth. Each call offers opportunities for sharing, as well as a “strategy session,” and spiritual and theological reflections on counter-recruitment. Find more information about the calls at www.brethren.org/oepa/programs/peace-witness/counter-recruitment/NetworkingCalls.html. Reserve a place in the Dec. 13 call by e-mailing mattguynn@earthlink.net.
  • The Ministry of Reconciliation, a branch of On Earth Peace, welcomes natural peacemakers and those interested in conflict resolution to a two-weekend “Faith-Based Mediation Workshop” on Feb. 16-17 and 23-24, 2008, at Camp Mack, Milford, Ind. A refreshing, faithful approach to interpersonal peacemaking will be taught through a series of interactive and collaborative sessions. The workshop is designed for church leaders, pastors, deacons, members of Shalom Teams and Discipleship and Reconciliation teams, and anyone interested in introductory level mediation. Led by Janet Mitchell, attorney-mediator and Ministry of Reconciliation practitioner, and Angie Briner, executive director of Education for Conflict Resolution, this workshop will introduce the process for mediating between individuals and provide hands-on mediation practice. Learn effective communication skills for all ages, conflict theory, how the Christian faith informs an approach to mediation, how to understand and work with style differences in communication, and mediation skills to assist those in conflict. Cost is $275-$350 on a sliding scale and includes tuition, lodging, meals, and materials. Commuters pay $225-$300 on a sliding scale. Scholarships are available. Continuing education credit is available to Church of the Brethren ministers. To register or for more information, send name, contact information, and number of participants to Annie Clark at annie.clark@verizon.net or 260-982-8595. The registration deadline is Jan. 16, 2008.
  • A dining hall and kitchen remodeling project is beginning at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Environ Corporation, an environmental consulting firm, is overseeing the project to assure employee safety and compliance with environmental and state regulations, as the project will include the removal of asbestos-containing floor tile. Hard surface flooring will be replaced in the kitchen and hallway and part of the dining hall, the rest of the dining hall will receive new carpet and fresh paint, and some new equipment will be installed in the kitchen. Special provisions are being put in place during the asbestos abatement process to ensure that the kitchen and dining hall area is cut off from the rest of the building in terms of ventilation and accessibility by staff and visitors, and that proper processes are used for the safety of workers who will do the removal, and for appropriate clean up and disposal of waste. The abatement process begins Nov. 26 and is expected to be completed by Dec. 3. The entire remodeling project will be completed by the end of the year.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is requesting prayer for the four-member CPT team in northern Iraq including Church of the Brethren members Peggy Gish and Cliff Kindy. The team has been invited by Kurdish nonviolence trainers to lead a training module for regional police officers this week on human rights for detainees. For more go to http://www.cpt.org/.
  • Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., hosts the celebration of a new book release from CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center: Volume IV in the series, “Unionists and the Civil War Experience in the Shenandoah Valley,” on Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. Researchers and compilers David Rodes and Norman Wenger and editor Emmert Bittinger will share insights from the 1,090-page volume documenting the testimony submitted to the Southern Claims Commission by 60 families in northwestern Rockingham County who lost cattle, saddles, firewood, animal and human food stores during the Civil War.
  • Students of theology and young theologians are being invited by the World Council of Churches (WCC) to participate in an essay competition to mark the council’s 60th anniversary. Participants are invited to address the theme, “Making a Difference Together–Prospects for Ecumenism in the 21st Century.” The best six essays will be presented by their authors at an international consultation in Switzerland in late 2008. Other selected essays will be published by the WCC. Essays should be written in English, but will be judged for the quality of their contribution and not their language proficiency. With a length of 5,000-6,000 words, the essays should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere. More details are at www.oikoumene.org/contest. The deadline is Feb. 28, 2008.
  • David A. Leiter, pastor of Green Tree Church of the Brethren in Oaks, Pa., has authored a book recently published by Herald Press. “Neglected Voices: Peace in the Old Testament” identifies five types of peace in the Old Testament as a way of presenting significant “peace passages” of scripture that often are ignored. “Perhaps Leiter’s greatest gift in this book is his contention that the Old Testament contains a systemized typology for peace,” writes Jay W. Marshall in the foreword to the book. “In seeking to demonstrate the truth of this conviction, he introduces multiple distinct ideologies of peace that demonstrate where the Old Testament contains nonviolent responses to conflict. The presence of these ideologies of peace recasts the dominant perception that the Old Testament only supports violence.” Order from Brethren Press for $16.99 plus shipping and handling, call 800-441-3712.

6) Bethany Seminary to offer offsite classes in Spring semester.

Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., will offer four offsite classes during the 2007-08 Spring semester, focusing on Brethren heritage, Brethren polity, conflict resolution, and biblical studies.A class titled “Brethren Beliefs and Practices” will be offered at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on Feb. 29-March 1, March 14-15, April 4-5, and April 18-19. Wally Landes, senior pastor at Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, will be the instructor. The course examines major beliefs and doctrinal interpretations along with practices that shape the Church of the Brethren, including discussions about the present life and faith of the church.

“Brethren Polity and Practice” will be offered at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Feb. 1-2, Feb. 15-16, Feb. 29-March 1, and March 28-29. Earle Fike, an author and retired pastor and former teacher at Bethany Seminary, and Fred Swartz, retired pastor and current Church of the Brethren Annual Conference secretary, will be the instructors. The course will focus on Church of the Brethren policy and governance, and how it is lived out at the denominational, district, and local levels.Celia Cook Huffman, professor of Conflict Resolution at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., will teach the course “Conflict Resolution.” The course includes classes at Juniata College and additional course work online. Class dates are Jan. 18-19, Feb. 1-2, and Feb. 15-16. The course provides an introduction to the study of conflict and its resolution, exploring basic theoretical concepts of the field, and learning and practicing skills for analyzing and resolving conflicts.Bob Neff, president emeritus at Juniata College and a former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board, is the instructor for “The Prophets: Jeremiah” at Elizabethtown College on May 2-3, May 23-24, June 6-7, and June 20-21. The course examines Jeremiah’s prophetic call, the role of lament in the life of faith, the nature of patriotism in the context of war, the definitions of enemy and hope in a time of terror, and devotion to God in adversity.Tuition is $975 for each course, plus applicable fees. Those interested in enrolling in the courses for graduate credit who are not currently Bethany students must complete the application process no later than four weeks prior to the start of the class. Applications can be completed online at www.bethanyseminary.edu/admissions/apply. For more information contact the Admissions Department at 800-287-8822 ext. 1832 or enroll@bethanyseminary.edu.A limited number of places may be available for those who wish to take a course for personal enrichment or non-credit continuing education, for a cost of $275 per course. Reservations are made through the office of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Contact academy@bethanyseminary.edu or 800-287-8822 ext. 1824.

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

7) 300th Anniversary update: Calls for exhibit items and video entries.

A special exhibit and an anniversary video contest are planned for the 2008 Annual Conference, to be held in Richmond, Va., on July 12-16, marking the 300th anniversary of the Brethren:

  • The 300th Anniversary Committee is organizing an exhibit of Brethren artifacts. Individuals and congregations are encouraged to consider items they may have to offer, and submit a photo and description of each item. The committee is especially interested in items that will attract people of all ages, including children. Objects may relate to baptism, the Love Feast, Sunday school–especially curriculum and hand-out pages, music and hymnbooks, clothing, missions, service, or other expressions of Brethren beliefs and practices. To submit an item, send the following no later than Feb. 1, 2008, to Lorele Yager, 425 Woodland Place, Churubusco, IN 46723: for each item include a photo, name and description, age (or approximate), size and dimensions, a history of the item, and a contact person including name, address, e-mail address, and telephone. Also include an acknowledgment that “Yes, I understand the enclosed photo will not be returned.” Complete one form for each item; forms and photos will not be accepted by e-mail. Those who submit items for consideration will be contacted by April 5 regarding the committee’s decision. For more information contact loreleyager@aol.com.
  • A 300th Anniversary Video Contest has been announced by the Congregational Life Teams of the Church of the Brethren General Board. Individuals and churches are invited to create a three-minute video representing the 2008 Annual Conference theme, “Surrendered to God, Transformed in Christ, Empowered by the Spirit” (John 12:24-26a). The most creative video will be shown at the 2008 Conference, and a DVD featuring the top five entries will be given away at the Congregational Life Team exhibit. Each video entry should be a maximum of three minutes, with only one entry per church or individual. Entries will be reviewed for creativity and theme inspiration. Entries are due Feb. 1, 2008. For more about the anniversary theme go to www.brethren.org/ac/richmond/theme.html. For a video entry form, go to www.brethren.org/genbd/clm/clt/VideoContest.pdf.

8) 300th Anniversary bits and pieces:

  • Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind., is planning a New Year’s Eve event for the 300th anniversary. “Wouldn’t it be great if 300 young people (who represent the next generation of the church) gathered together in one place to celebrate this milestone in our history by ushering in the New Year?” said an invitation from the camp. The event is being planned for 300 junior high and senior high youth. It will begin at 2 p.m. on Dec. 31, and conclude at 1 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2008. The theme is “Fan the Flame.” Indoor and outdoor activities are planned including worship, an “Olympics,” talent shows, and a Times Square-like countdown to the New Year with the dropping of a lighted ball at midnight followed by a hike to the “living cross” for devotions, and continuing on with activities throughout the night. The fee is $55 ($45 before Dec. 10). T-shirts cost $10. Contact the office at Camp Mack for brochures, 574-658-4831.

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For Newsline subscription information go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. For more Church of the Brethren news go to www.brethren.org, click on “News” to find a news feature, links to Brethren in the news, photo albums, conference reporting, webcasts, and Newsline archive. Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board, cobnews@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. J. Allen Brubaker, Annie Clark, Ruben Deoleo, Sharon Flaten, and Karin Krog contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for Dec. 5. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. For more Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine, call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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