(Dec. 16, 2008) — ¡Bendecido! The newly-appointed director of the Church of the Brethren’s Community Development Program in the Dominican Republic, Felix Arias Mateo, always answers his phone with the greeting, “Bendecido!” which in Spanish means “Blessed!” This greeting, replacing the traditional “Hola!” expresses well his attitude towards life. As 1 Peter 1:3-7 articulates, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heaven and on earth. Even in the midst of life’s struggles, this faith is rock-solid for Mateo.
After the departure of Beth Gunzel, who devoted four faithful years to directing the program, the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships approved the hiring of a Dominican Brethren director. This supports the mission’s longterm goal of turning the program over to the Dominican church.
Mateo brings a wealth of experience and gifts to the program, having served as president of the program’s board since its inception. As well, he has been overseeing the program’s financial transition to working with Cooperativa Central, a Dominican credit union. Through the credit union, the participants will receive their next loans, develop increased credit, and have access to services and resources of the institution. Mateo will continue supporting the program goals of giving good support to local loan communities and participants, and will give general oversight to the total program.
In addition to these new responsibilities, Mateo also is pastor of a new church located in San Juan de la Maguana, and is moderator-elect of the Dominican Church of the Brethren.
Funds for the Community Development Program come from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund, which has just approved a final grant for the program. Ongoing funds for the program will be generated by the investment and participation with Cooperativa Central.–Irvin and Nancy Heishman are the Church of the Brethren mission coordinators in the DR.
BRETHREN IN THE NEWS
- “Cindy Lange-Kubick: A simple thing that can mean so much,” Journal Star, Lincoln, Neb.: Three years ago Pastor Joyce Petry of Antelope Park Church of the Brethren read a newspaper story about Clinton Elementary School where children who collectively speak a dozen languages and rely on teachers and staff for reading, writing, and math, sometimes need coats, shoes, and food. She wondered: Might the children at Clinton Elementary need blankets, too? The church has delivered blankets to Clinton for three years now. This year they gave 53. Read more at
- “Brothers’ journals window to 19th century,” Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News: New books by Gladys Sowers of Lebanon, Pa., and published by Mast-hof Press offer the journals of three brothers–Christian, George, and Jacob Bucher–from the 1850s through the early 1900s. Christian and George were elders in the German Baptist Brethren Church (now the Church of the Brethren). All three were active in building Brethren churches. One of the journals includes more than 11 years of minutes from meetings of the council of the Mechanic Grove Church. Read more at
- Obituary: William C. Eicher, News Leader, Staunton, Va.: William C. “Bill” Eicher, 85, of Harrisonburg, Va., died on Dec. 13 at his home. He was licensed to the ministry in the Church of the Brethren in 1942 and ordained in 1945. He graduated from Manchester College in 1946 and Bethany Seminary in 1950. During his career as a pastor, he served seven churches, and in retirement served as interim pastor at five congregations. He is survived by his wife, Elsie Ruth (Williard) Eicher. Find the full obituary at http://www.newsleader.com/article/20081215/OBITUARIES/812150335/1002/news01
- “Church of the Brethren carolers visit other members to spread a little Christmas cheer,” News and Advance, Lynchburg, Va.: A group from Lynchburg (Va.) Church of the Brethren sang Christmas carols to home-bound members of their church on Sunday evening, Dec. 14. The group has caroled every year since the church opened in 1964. Twenty-seven members of the church showed up to be a part of the event. Read more at http://www.newsadvance.com/lna/news/local/article/
- “Dorsch resigns as Patriots volleyball coach,” Frederick (Md.) News-Post: Jim Dorsch, a member of Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren, is celebrated as the most successful high school volleyball coach in Frederick County history. He has resigned, after a tenure of 12 years in the position. Go to http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/sports/display.htm?StoryID=83764
- “Book ’em | Local authors publish variety of topics,” Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.: Among recently printed books by local authors in the Johnstown, Pa., area, is “What to Do While You Wait for the World to End” by Noah S. Martin, an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and founder of New Day Inc. “Instead of offering more timetables, predictions, and secret codes, Martin offers a fresh approach to understanding the end times,” the review says. For more go to
The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to Messenger magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.