Newsline Extra for February 15, 2008

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

“…Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (1 John 3:18b).


1) Annual Conference registration and housing to open March 7.
2) Bethany Theological Seminary holds inaugural forum.
3) Anabaptist peace forum will address theme ‘Bridging Divides.’
4) More upcoming events: Mission Alive, intercultural course, CCS.

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1) Annual Conference registration and housing to open March 7.

The Annual Conference Office has announced that reservations for housing (hotel rooms) and registration for the 2008 Annual Conference in Richmond, Va., on July 12-16 will be available beginning March 7 through June 20.

Those planning to attend the Conference are encouraged to obtain housing before registering for the Conference. Conferencegoers are encouraged to use the online housing link at www.brethren.org/ac or to submit housing requests on the forms available in the Information Packet on CD being distributed to congregations through the March Source packet. The Annual Conference Office is asking church members to use the Conference hotel block both to save money and to hold down the cost of meeting space and Conference facilities.

Advance registration of nondelegates also will begin on March 7. Registrations can be made online or through forms in the Information Packet. Conferencegoers will be able to register themselves and family members, sign up for age group programs, purchase tickets for meal events, order Conference booklets and choir music, pre-order cash buffet meal plans, and sign up for service projects. Those registering in advance will realize a savings of more than 33 percent over onsite registration this year. The deadline for advanced registrations will be May 30.

Starting on March 7, to obtain housing for the Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac, then click on HOUSING RESERVATION in the Richmond section of the Annual Conference homepage. To register for the Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac and click on REGISTRATION in the Richmond section. The Annual Conference Information Packet also will be available online in early March at www.brethren.org/ac, click on the INFO PACKET tab in the Richmond section. Paper copies of the Information Packet can be obtained by contacting the Annual Conference Office at 800-688-5186 or annualconference@brethren.org.

2) Bethany Theological Seminary holds inaugural forum.

Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., will host an Inaugural Forum titled, “Hearing Scriptures of Peace,” on March 30-31. The forum celebrates the recent call of Ruthann Knechel Johansen as president of the seminary, and celebrates the role of the seminary as a resource for the church and the world.

The forum will include worship services, lectures, panel discussions, and small group sessions. Three plenary speakers and six Church of the Brethren panelists will represent various theological perspectives. The plenary speakers will be Scott Appleby, historian of religion from the University of Notre Dame; Rachel Gartner, rabbi and campus minister at Earlham College in Richmond; and Rashied Omar, scholar of religions and a Muslim imam from South Africa.

Church of the Brethren panelists will include Scott Holland, associate professor of Theology and Culture and director of Peace Studies and Cross-Cultural Studies at Bethany; Craig Alan Myers, chair of the Brethren Revival Fellowship and pastor of Blue River Church of the Brethren in Columbia City, Ind.; Amy Gall Ritchie, director of student development at Bethany; Roger Schrock, pastor of Cabool (Mo.) Church of the Brethren and former mission staff for the denomination; Daniel Ulrich, associate professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany; and Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, associate professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany.

The forum will open on Sunday, March 30, at 1:30 p.m. with a plenary session featuring Appleby, who will speak about Christian scriptures of peace. Johansen will share reflections on “Hearing Scriptures of Peace” at the Sunday evening worship service, which will include a performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.” On Monday morning, Gartner will present Jewish scriptures of peace. Omar will interpret Muslim scriptures of peace at the Monday afternoon plenary. The forum will conclude with worship on Monday afternoon.

The registration fee is $50, $65 after March 1. College and seminary students may register for a discounted rate of $25, $40 after March 1. Ministers will receive .7 continuing education units. Register at www.bethanyseminary.edu/forum. For more information contact coordinator Mary Eller at 800-287-8822 ext. 1825 or inauguralforum@bethanyseminary.edu.

3) Anabaptist peace forum will address theme ‘Bridging Divides.’

The Brethren Witness/Washington Office and the Anabaptist Peace Center in Washington, D.C., are jointly sponsoring an Anabaptist peace forum on the theme, “Bridging Divides: Uniting the Church for Peacemaking.” The event will take place April 11-12 at Capitol Hill United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.

The forum is for pastors, theologians, service workers, academics, and laypeople to explore how the church can unite for mission despite political divides, and also how the church can work to heal divisions in communities. The event will include plenary and seminar sessions, and each day will begin with Bible study and worship.

Myron Augsburger, president and professor emeritus of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., is the keynote speaker. Other plenary and seminar speakers will include Chris Bowman, pastor of Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va., and a former moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference; Celia Cook-Huffman, assistant professor of peace studies and associate director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.; Phil Jones, director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office; Michelle Armster of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) US; and Steve Brown, of Calvary Community.

Adam Tice of Hyattsville Mennonite Church, will be worship leader. A pre-conference seminar on “How We Talk When We Disagree,” will be led by Grant Rissler, MCC peace and justice coordinator. Participants also are invited to join in an annual “Hymn Sing for Peace” at 5 p.m. on April 12.

The registration fee is $80, $40 for students, and those who register by Feb. 15 will receive a $10 discount. Register online at www.apcwdc.mennonite.net/Bridging_Divides or contact Keith Swartzendruber at 202-548-0010 or keith@apcwdc.mennonite.net. For more information contact the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, 800-785-3246 or washington_office_gb@brethren.org.

4) More upcoming events: Mission Alive, intercultural course, CCS.

  • Bishop Mano Rumalshah of the Church of Pakistan, who will be the keynote speaker for “Mission Alive 2008” in April, has written to Global Mission Partnerships executive director Merv Keeney about concerns for his country. As he left Pakistan recently, he wrote, “We are still going through the turmoil of restlessness especially as the lead up to the general elections. Please continue to pray for us.” Keeney invited Brethren to hold the country in prayer. “We are honored to have the Bishop on our conference program, and we invite members both to hold him in prayer, and also to come to the conference to hear him tell about the internal challenges facing the church in Pakistan, as well as the effect of the war in neighboring Afghanistan on the Christian population there.” The deadline for online registration for Mission Alive 2008 is March 24. After that date, registration will be available by phone or onsite, and the cost will be $89 rather than $79. To register go to the Mission Alive page of http://www.brethren.org/, using the keyword box to access the page, or call 800-323-8039 ext. 230.
  • The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is offering a course on “Intercultural Competence: Key Skills in a Multicultural World” with Darla Kay Bowman Deardorff as instructor. She is executive director of the Association of Intercultural Education Administrators, a cross cultural trainer, and an instructor at Duke University. She also was a member of the Annual Conference Intercultural Study Committee. The course will be held April 27-29 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., following the annual Cross-Cultural Consultation and Celebration. The course begins on Sunday at 3 p.m. and ends on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Tuition is $200. Participants are encouraged, but not required, to attend all or part of the consultation. Information about the Cross-Cultural Consultation and Celebration is at www.brethren.org/genbd/clm/clt/CrossCultural.html. Training in Ministry (TRIM) students will receive one Academy Level/CEQ unit of Ministry Skills Credit for completion of the course; pastors and other ordained ministers will receive two continuing education units and will be required to do the pre-course reading in addition to participating in the course. For more information, including a brochure which lists the texts, contact Debbie Mullins, Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, at 765-983-1824 or mullide@bethanyseminary.edu.
  • Dates and location for the 2009 Church of the Brethren Clergywomen’s Retreat have been announced. The Clergywomen’s Retreat will be held Jan. 12-15, 2009, at the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. The retreat is sponsored by the Ministry Office of the Church of the Brethren General Board. The event will feature daily sessions with a speaker, nightly worship, a celebration of the 50 years of women in ministry in the denomination, and generous blocks of unscheduled “sabbath time” for participants. For more information contact Dana Cassell, Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the Office of Ministry, at dcassell_gb@brethren.org.
  • Feb. 28 is the last day for senior high youth (grades 9-12) and advisors to register for the Christian Citizenship Seminar to be held March 29-April 3 in New York City and Washington, D.C. Register online at www.brethren.org/genbd/yya/ccs_reg.htm and note that the $350 registration fee is due by Feb. 28 for all participants. For more information visit the Youth and Young Adult Ministries webpage at www.brethren.org/genbd/yya.
  • The Brethren Witness/Washington Office is encouraging participation in the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq on Friday, March 7. Events will take place in Washington, D.C., and around the country. Washington City Church of the Brethren will host one of several ecumenical worship services planned for 12 noon on March 7, with preacher J. Daryl Byler, regional representative for Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, and Iran for Mennonite Central Committee. Marches from around the city will then make their way to the Capitol for an Interfaith Witness on the Mall at 2:30 p.m. A public nonviolent action will follow. The Brethren Witness/Washington office is planning a Brethren gathering following worship at Washington City Church. Nonviolence trainings and workshops will take place before the event on Thursday, March 6. For those able to stay in Washington for the whole weekend, Ecumenical Advocacy Days will begin the evening of March 7, and March 10 has been designated as a lobby day. For more about Ecumenical Advocacy Days, go to http://www.advocacydays.org/. For more about the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq go to http://www.christianpeacewitness.org/. To take part in Brethren events, contact the Brethren Witness/Washington Office at 800-785-3246 or washington_office_gb@brethren.org.
  • A “Progressive Brethren Summit” has been announced for Nov. 7-9 in Indianapolis, on the theme, “Faithful and Just: Progressive Brethren Speak.” The event is sponsored jointly by Voices for an Open Spirit (VOS); the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests (BMC); Womaen’s Caucus; Christian Community; and a number of congregations and individuals; and will be hosted by Northview Church of the Brethren. It is planned as “a first general gathering of those who see themselves as ‘progressive’ and currently, or formerly, participate in the Church of the Brethren,” according to an announcement. It begins Friday evening with worship and speakers addressing the difficulties facing progressive Christians in “A Challenged Church”; Saturday includes a plenary session on being “A Jesus Church,” break-out groups with presenters on a variety of topics, afternoon workshops, evening worship and speakers focusing on “A Welcoming Church,” and a concert by Mutual Kumquat and others; Sunday will present several models of progressive Bible studies, with worship and celebration of “A Courageous Church.” Cost is estimated at around $80, plus housing. Details and registration will be available around March 1 at http://www.voicesforanopenspirit.org/ and http://www.bmclgbt.org/. For more information contact Ken Kline Smeltzer at bksmeltz@comcast.net or Carol Wise at cwise@bmclgbt.org.

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. Dana Cassell, Lerry Fogle, Bekah Houff, Marilyn Lerch, Janis Pyle, Marcia Shetler, and Ken Kline Smeltzer contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for Feb. 27. 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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