Newsline Extra for April 24, 2008

“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008”

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger…who announces salvation” (Isaiah 52:7a).


1) Mission Alive 2008 celebrates past and present mission work.
2) Meetings are held on Haiti mission.
3) General secretary calls new advisory group for mission program.


4) Reid resigns as academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary.
5) Mutual Aid Association leadership to change hands.
6) Shari McCabe to work with Fellowship of Brethren Homes.

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1) Mission Alive 2008 celebrates past and present mission work.

The Mission Alive conference April 4-6 in Bridgewater, Va., was a celebration of past and present mission work in the Church of the Brethren. More than 125 people attended. (Go to for a photo journal from the conference.)

Sponsored by the Church of the Brethren General Board with support from the Brethren Revival Fellowship and Brethren World Missions, the conference was hosted by Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. The planning team included former executive director of Global Mission Partnerships Mervin Keeney and a steering committee of Linetta S.A. Ballew, program director of Camp Brethren Woods; Carl Brubaker, associate pastor of Midway Church of the Brethren in Lebanon, Pa.; Carol Spicher Waggy, former mission staff and member of Rock Run Church of the Brethren in Goshen, Ind.; and Larry Dentler, pastor of Bermudian Church of the Brethren in East Berlin, Pa.

The conference was an inspiring mix of thought-provoking presentations and relevant workshops, all held together by times of worship. The conference moved through a series of themes: the biblical calls to mission, celebrating a fruitful past, looking at leadership for transformation, cultivating faithful congregations, the challenges facing the church in mission, and cultivating a faithful future. The five times of worship were created and coordinated by Tara Hornbacker, associate professor of Ministry Formation at Bethany Theological Seminary, and Paul Roth, pastor of Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va.The conference opened with worship, and moved directly into an exploration of the biblical basis for mission. Stephen Breck Reid, academic dean of Bethany Seminary, moderated presentations by Eugene Roop, former seminary president and Old Testament professor, and Dorothy Jean Weaver, a New Testament scholar from Eastern Mennonite University.

Roop highlighted the call of God in the Old Testament, noting that while such a call was rarely safe or comfortable, nevertheless blessing is to be found there. He also highlighted the Psalms as prayers that address the entire range of human experience, and urged attendees to realize that people in mission are a people in prayer. The call to share the Good News, making disciples of all nations, was clearly named as a dominant theme in the New Testament by Weaver, who described God as a sending God and the author of mission. Galen Hackman, former missionary and pastor of Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, then shared a “report card” of how well Brethren have responded to these calls to mission.The celebration of a fruitful past included presentations by Ted & Trent; Rebecca Baile Crouse, former mission coordinator in the Dominican Republic and pastoral team member at Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren; and a delightful multimedia review of mission work by David Sollenberger and A. Mack (played by Larry Glick). Representatives from the Brethren Church and Dunkard Brethren Church also shared some of their mission story. Paul E.R. Mundey, senior pastor at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren, led a session about leadership for the missional church, and three reports came from people living out that vision in their local settings.

A discussion of challenges facing the church was led by Annual Conference moderator Jim Beckwith and Noffsinger. Along with the challenges, some encouraging news was shared, such as how current missions at home and abroad are making and deepening disciples, and how Church of the Brethren outreach to North Korea has resulted in an invitation for Brethren to participate in a new university there.

The event also recognized turning points for the denomination’s mission program. A special session was inserted into the conference schedule following the announcement of mission staff resignations. The session offered a time to meet with general secretary Stan Noffsinger and the Leadership Team of the General Board.

The conference concluded by looking to the future. A powerful presentation by Mano Rumalshah, bishop of the Diocese of Peshawar in the Church of Pakistan, explored the repressive situation of the Christian church in that primarily Muslim country. A video, “Burden of Faith and Pakistan Relief,” showed the dire situation for many Christians, who are the lowest ranking people of the land and are often jobless. People in Pakistan still grieve the relatively recent killing of 17 Christians at St. Dominic’s Church. Rumalshah spoke of his deep appreciation of God who suffers with the people. There is a great deal of pressure to become Muslim, he said, and Christians are constantly being asked to convert.

Samuel Dali, a guest from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) said he identified with the Pakistani challenge of living with extremist Muslims. He shared about the destructions of EYN churches in the northern Nigeria city of Kano, during Muslim-Christian violence. The question for the conference was clear: What are we doing to show our solidarity with the Christians who suffer? It was suggested that they need more than our sympathy: when one suffers, we all suffer, and we must act together.

Mission Alive 2008 concluded with worship, led by Robert Alley, pastor of the Bridgewater congregation, who preached on the theme, “For All the World.”Those who attended the conference felt the strong call to move forward with mission. A quote from Emil Brunner, and a response stated by one speaker, summarized that feeling: “The church is meant for mission as fire is meant for burning.” Forgive us for taking too long to decide how to stack the wood.–Enten Eller is director of Distributed Education and Electronic Communication for Bethany Theological Seminary, and also served on the assessment team for the Sudan mission initiative. Mary Eller and Louise Rieman contributed to this report.

2) Meetings are held on Haiti mission.

Future planning is well underway for the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti, which has grown to three churches and six preaching points, with an estimated attendance of 500-600 people. The Haiti Mission Advisory Committee met for six hours at l’Eglise des Freres (Church of the Brethren) in Miami, Fla., on April 12 to develop broad-based, long-range recommendations for ongoing ministry. In a follow-up teleconference meeting April 21, committee members worked with General Board staff to begin implementing the new plans.

The context for the intense visioning is the Haiti mission reaching the five-year mark. Merle Crouse, chair of the meeting, said, “We are seeing amazing progress in reaching new people and developing leadership. We believe that the mission in Haiti has a great start. The next five-year phase is beginning, and will require a lot of wisdom, discipline and strategic resourcing to move the new Haitian church forward in a healthy way.”

The advisory committee includes Ludovic St. Fleur, pastor, and Mary Ridores of l’Eglise des Freres; Jeff Boshart, former Dominican Republic economic development staff; Jonathan Cadette and Wayne Sutton of First Church of the Brethren in Miami; Merle Crouse, former mission worker and retired General Board staff member; and R. Jan Thompson, the General Board’s interim executive director of Global Mission Partnerships.

Recommendations from the April 12 meeting addressed both the immediate food crisis in Haiti and the need for a long-range agriculture program. The committee continues to see the need to purchase land; ownership of property and the establishment of social service programs are necessary for a denomination to be granted full legal status by the Haitian government. Other agenda items involved recommending to the General Board the licensing to ministry of nine congregational leaders. The group also requested financial assistance for a Leadership Training Seminar in Haiti for 2008, after a successful event last year.

In the April 21 conference call, committee members met with general secretary Stan Noffsinger and Thompson to begin implementing the recommendations. Progress was made on the following issues:

The current food crisis in Haiti. Ecumenical partners will be contacted for shared responses to the crisis, if possible through Haitian Church of the Brethren congregations. People in Haiti are dying of hunger, St. Fleur said. “As a church, we are interested not only in eternal life for our people, but also how they are living right now,” he told the committee.

2008 Leadership Training Seminar. Financial undergirding will be provided by the General Board for a second Leadership Training Seminar to be held in August in Haiti. After an initial successful event last year, with 61 participants and 42 completing the course, even more registrants are expected this year. The planners will invite resource people from other denominational overseas programs to be part of the team of instructors.

Licensing of congregational leaders. General Board staff will determine processes and procedures to interview candidates for licensing to ministry at the Leadership Training Seminar, anticipating that they will be presented for approval to the new Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board in October.

Purchase of property. St. Fleur was charged with the task of further fact-finding on a property in the capital city of Port au Prince.

The next meeting of the Haiti Mission Advisory Committee is planned for Nov. 22.

–Janis Pyle is coordinator for mission connections for Global Mission Partnerships.

3) General secretary calls new advisory group for mission program.

A new advisory group has been called to help guide the denomination’s mission program. Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board, has announced the appointment of the group, which will hold a first meeting on May 2 by conference call.

Those named to the mission advisory group are Bob Kettering, senior pastor of Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Dale Minnich, a member of the General Board and former staff member; James F. Myer, vice chairman of the Brethren Revival Fellowship; Louise Baldwin Rieman, co-pastor of Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis, and a member of the assessment team for the Sudan mission initiative; Carol Spicher Waggy, who has been a mission worker in Nigeria and the Dominican Republic; Earl K. Ziegler, a retired minister and a past moderator of Annual Conference; and Mary Jo Flory-Steury, executive director of Ministry for the General Board. R. Jan Thompson will be involved in the first meeting of the group, as interim executive director of the board’s Global Mission Partnerships.

4) Reid resigns as academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary.

Stephen Breck Reid, academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary, has accepted a position as professor of Hebrew Bible at George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas, beginning Aug. 1. He has served in his current position at Bethany Seminary since 2003.

As academic dean, Reid led the work of the seminary’s teaching faculty and the administration of the Brethren Journal Association. He gave oversight to partnerships with the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center and the Church of the Brethren General Board to offer graduate and undergraduate ministry training opportunities through offsite courses and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

He also facilitated much of the process of a 10-year accreditation review with the Association of Theological Schools and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, completed in 2006.

Reid graduated from Bethany in 1976 and earned a Ph.D. from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., in 1981. He was professor of Old Testament Studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary prior to joining the Bethany faculty. He also served as an adjunct professor at Bethany for many years, and was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1990-98.

“It is with deep regret that I accept the resignation of Stephen Breck Reid,” said Bethany president Ruthann Knechel Johansen. “As academic dean, Steve has served the Bethany faculty, the students, and the denomination eminently through his passion for preaching and teaching, particularly the Hebrew language and Hebrew Bible, his devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and his commitment to the Church of the Brethren. To the faculty he has been both a fine mentor for creative teaching and a strong supporter of faculty members’ scholarly research and publication. He has been a prophetic voice in the denomination.”

5) Mutual Aid Association leadership to change hands.

President Jean L. Hendricks has announced that she will retire from the Mutual Aid Association (MAA). She has served as president of the church-related insurance company, headquartered in Abilene, Kan., since 2001.

The Mutual Aid Board of Directors has chosen Eric K. Lamer, president of MarketAide Services, Inc., to succeed Hendricks. Lamer will resign his position with the marketing communications firm based in Salina, Kan., to assume the presidency of MAA on May 1.

Hendricks joined MAA in 1995 as a board member and became board chair in 2000. During her tenure, she guided MAA through a time of transition, helped stabilize many company guidelines, and maintained the organization’s role in the Church of the Brethren. Hendricks holds degrees from McPherson (Kan.) College, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the University of Kansas. She has held professional roles as a teacher, pastor, lay ministry administrator, and church relations director. In retirement, she looks forward to pursuing music and other personal interests, and spending time with grandchildren.

Lamer started at MarketAide in 1986 as a production and traffic manager, and subsequently served as an account executive and account supervisor, vice president of advertising, and chief operating officer. He became president in 1999 when MarketAide’s founder and first president retired. During his years at MarketAide, he served as the primary account executive for the largest accounts. He was directly involved in creating marketing plans and advertising and direct marketing campaigns, as well as company management and new business development. In addition, he supervised production of corporate videos, radio and television advertising, lead tracking and prospecting programs, trade show exhibits, and other services.

Previously, he was a product communications manager for Premier Pneumatics, Inc. in Salina, and was director of public relations for Kansas Technical Institute, now Kansas State University-Salina. He is a native of Salina, and graduated in 1979 from the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. He has served as a member of Salina’s Convention and Tourism Committee, YMCA Membership and Marketing Committee, and Public Relations/Special Events Committee of the Salina United Way, and is a past president of the Salina Community Theatre Board of Directors. He is an active member of Salina’s Trinity Lutheran Church, where he currently serves as assistant executive director.

6) Shari McCabe to work with Fellowship of Brethren Homes.

The Fellowship of Brethren Homes has announced an affiliation with Shari McCabe, retiring CEO of The Cedars of McPherson, Kan. She has been active in the longterm care industry for more than 30 years, including years as an education coordinator, industry publisher, health care administrator, and chief executive officer.

McCabe joins Don Fecher, director of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, whose work will continue with a focus on the financial and insurance aspects of the work of the fellowship. McCabe’s work will include visiting the fellowship’s 20-plus facilities, organizing the annual Forum meetings, and keeping the lines of communication strong among leaders of the organizations. She anticipates establishing a presence in the various activities of the wider church as well as representing the fellowship at already established meetings and functions, such as the Peace Church Risk Retention Insurance Group, alliance meetings with other denominations, and Brethren gatherings. She can be contacted at or 620-669-0840.

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. Nancy Miner and Marcia Shetler contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for May 7. 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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