Newsline Extra for March 27, 2008

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


1) Bridgewater College welcomes Andrew Young to 300th Anniversary events.
2) Anniversary Writing Contest for Youth is announced.


3) Commissioned anthem, praise song are available for Anniversary.
4) Anniversary curriculum helps children explore ‘the Brethren way.’
5) Anniversary Committee offers ideas for nurturing identity in youth.
6) Anniversary video may help churches address Conference actions.


7) Registration begins for 2008 National Older Adult Conference.
8) Second annual Mother’s Day Gratitude Project is announced.

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1) Bridgewater College welcomes Andrew Young to 300th Anniversary events.

Former ambassador and congressman Andrew Young will kick off observation of the 300th Anniversary of the Church of the Brethren at Bridgewater (Va.) College, when he speaks on March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall. Young will speak about the relevance of the Brethren doctrine of nonviolence.

The college–which was founded as a Brethren school in 1880 by Daniel C. Flory–will continue to observe the anniversary in April with a number of events that include conferring Young with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. The conferment, which takes place April 1 in the Carter Center for Worship and Music, coincides with the college’s celebration of Founder’s Day. Young will speak briefly at the ceremony.

On April 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Bowman Hall, Room 101, a panel of distinguished Brethren will discuss the significance of the Brethren heritage. “Core Brethren values seem less popular than ever, whether within the Brethren fellowship or in the larger society,” said moderator and organizer Stephen Longenecker, professor of history and department chair. “What, then, does the future hold for the Brethren heritage?” The panel will consist of Mary Cline Detrick, Paul Mundey, Jeff Carter, and Bob Gross.

A public worship service commemorating the tricentennial will take place on April 6 at 3 p.m. in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. The service will feature a sermon by Kelly Burke of Richmond, Ind., and music by the College Chorale.

Additionally, on March 29, the college’s Civil War Institute will host a talk about the Dunker meetinghouse on the Antietam battlefield. The speaker will be Alann Schmidt, a Park Ranger at the battlefield. The program also includes Paul Anderson of Clemson University, who will discuss Turner Ashby; and Christian Keller, professor at the US Army Command and General Staff College, who will speak on Pennsylvania German civilians during the Gettysburg Campaign. The symposium begins at 9 a.m. at McKinney Hall 100.

–Mary Kay Heatwole is media relations assistant for Bridgewater College.

2) Anniversary Writing Contest for Youth is announced.

The 300th Anniversary Committee is sponsoring an Anniversary Writing Contest for Youth, grades 6-12, on the theme, “Why will you continue to be part of the Church of the Brethren?”

“Are you passionate about your faith?” the committee asked Brethren youth in the announcement. “Do you have a deep appreciation for the Church of the Brethren? Do you enjoy thinking and writing? If so, we have an opportunity for you.”

Entries are limited to one page in length and can be in the form of poetry, short stories, or essays. The following information should be on the entry: name, grade, congregation, and district. Contact information for the author should be submitted on a separate sheet of paper. The deadline for submissions is June 1. Entries will be exhibited at Annual Conference in Richmond, Va., in July, and some may be published in “Messenger” magazine. Entries will not be returned to participants.

Submissions should be sent to Lorele Yager either electronically at loreleyager@aol.com or by mail to 425 Woodland Place, Churubusco, IN 46723.

3) Commissioned anthem, praise song are available for Anniversary.

The 300th Anniversary committee has commissioned the creation of an anthem and praise song in honor of the 2008 anniversary of the Brethren movement. “Speak, O Lord” is the anthem, with text and tune by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, arranged by John Ferguson. “Lord, Empower Us to Love” is the praise song, composed by Ron and Linda Sprunger from the Brethren Church.

The anthem has been published by Morningstar Music. Copies can be ordered at a reduced price by using the downloadable form located on the worship page of the anniversary website (go to www.churchofthebrethrenanniversary.org/worship.html).

In addition to the version of the praise song to be sung by congregations, the Sprunger also have offered a choral arrangement or anthem version of the praise song. Published copies of the anthem version can be ordered by using the downloadable form also located on the worship page of the anniversary website.

The 300th Anniversary committee also has developed a variety of other worship resources for congregations and districts to use as part of the Anniversary celebration. The resources are posted on the anniversary website under Resources/Worship and can be downloaded from www.churchofthebrethrenanniversary.org/worship.html.

4) Anniversary curriculum helps children explore ‘the Brethren way.’

“Piecing Together the Brethren Way” is a curriculum resource for children, kindergarten through grade 5. It was published by the 300th Anniversary Committee and is available through Brethren Press for $49.95 plus shipping and handling, call 800-441-3712.

“Faith is like a quilt,” said an announcement from the committee. “Each prayer we say, each person we encounter, each scripture passage we study, each experience we have, each song we sing are like patches added to a quilt, making it ever stronger and more beautiful. Our corporate faith is also like a quilt. The pattern of the Brethren quilt has been enriched through the years by faith-filled people, experiences, and principles. It is important that we help our children add these patches to the pattern of faith they are stitching together.”

The curriculum encourages children to explore the marks and practices that make the Brethren expression of the Christian faith distinctive, and integrate them into their own walk with Christ. Marks and practices featured in the curriculum include the Believers Church, seeking the mind of Christ, counting the cost of discipleship, believers baptism, worship, the Love Feast, reconciliation, forgiveness, church discipline, nonconformity and simple living, peace and nonresistance, peace and justice, mission, service, health and wholeness, and call and vocation.

Designed with flexibility in mind, the 14 lessons in “Piecing Together the Brethren Way” can be used as a whole or selected sessions can be chosen. The lessons provide material adaptable for Sunday school, an after-school program, day camp, Vacation Bible School, or a once-a-month intergenerational program.

5) Anniversary Committee offers ideas for nurturing identity in youth.

The 300th Anniversary offers an opportunity to engage youth in an exploration of what makes the Brethren expression of the Christian faith unique. Congregations hoping to do this may find two resources helpful:

First, “Piecing Together the Brethren Way,” the Anniversary curriculum developed for children, also offers for each lesson a “Youth Connection” piece that suggests ways to engage youth in multi-media projects exploring the topic of the lesson.

Second, the Anniversary Committee has developed a listing of ideas for nurturing passion and connectedness in youth around issues of identity. Focusing on the same 14 topics addressed in the curriculum, this downloadable resource offers several interactive suggestions for exploring each topic with youth. The resource is designed to answer questions such as, “Who are we as members of the Church of the Brethren?” “How is our expression of the Christian faith unique?” “What can I learn from my brothers and sisters on the journey?” and “What difference does it make in my life–and in the world?”

Ideas vary but include intergenerational dialogue, practical applications, and personal reflection. Download the resource from the anniversary website at www.churchofthebrethrenanniversary.org/youth.html.

6) Anniversary video may help churches address Conference actions.

A 300th Anniversary video DVD titled, “Faith Alive: Surrendered, Transformed, Empowered,” produced by the 300th Anniversary Committee in cooperation with David Sollenberger, explores distinctive marks that make our faith peculiarly Brethren.

The video profiles members who live their beliefs in ways that make a real difference, daily exemplifying the values of baptism, simplicity, peacemaking, service to others, respect for creation, and the need to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

“But this DVD does more than help us celebrate who we have become and how God is working among us,” said an announcement from the Anniversary Committee. “It is an especially valuable resource for congregations taking to heart recent Annual Conference decisions related to intercultural ministry and the Great Commission challenge to reverse the declining membership trend. As we learn the stories of these faithful Brethren, may we all be inspired to continue expanding God’s kingdom now and as we move into the future.”

“Faith Alive” is available from Brethren Press for $20 plus shipping and handling, call 800-441-3712.

7) Registration begins for 2008 National Older Adult Conference.

Registration is now open for the ninth National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) to be held Sept. 1-5 at Lake Junaluska (N.C.) Assembly (go to http://www.brethren-caregivers.org/). Sponsored by the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC), the week-long conference will provide adults age 50 and older with a time for inspiration, renewal, and community.

The conference theme of “Come to the Water” is based on Isaiah 41:18. Participants are invited to “come to the water” to remember those who have informed their faith and inspired their living, to be awakened to the needs of neighbors here and around the world, and to experience God’s redemptive hope, wondrous assurance, and abundant provision.

NOAC will begin with a worship celebration on Monday evening with Sandy Bosserman delivering the message. Preaching during Wednesday’s worship is Valerie Bridgeman Davis, and Friday morning’s closing worship will feature Frank Ramirez. Stephen Breck Reid will lead the morning Bible study.

The Tuesday morning keynote presenter will be Donald B. Kraybill, speaking about his book co-authored with Steve Nolt and David Weaver-Zercher, “Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Redeemed a Tragedy,” the story of forgiveness following the schoolhouse shooting of 10 Amish girls in Nickel Mines, Pa., in 2006.

Jane Thibault, author of the book, “10 Gospel Promises for Later Life,” will speak Wednesday morning exploring the “good news” of the Good News that brings hope to the challenges of later life. Thibault is a clinical gerontologist, a clinical professor at the School of Medicine and adjunct faculty in the School of Social Work at the University of Louisville, and a trained spiritual director as well as an author.

“Don’t Manage Your Stress–Rekindle Your Spirit” is the topic of Thursday morning’s presentation by Scott Sheperd, a speaker, counselor, musician, and author who uses a humorous thought-provoking approach to challenge audiences to accept responsibility for their own lives, and give strategies to improve the quality of life.

Special observances will commemorate the 50th anniversary of women’s ordination, the 50th reunion of the 1958 National Youth Conference held at Lake Junaluska, and the 60th anniversary of Brethren Volunteer Service. A hymn sing featuring 300 years of music in the Church of the Brethren will be led by Nancy Faus-Mullen. An “informance” will be offered by the acoustic trio Trifolkal. A Well Walk will raise money to supply water for the secondary school at the headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The week also will feature Interest Group workshops and recreational activities.

Registration for the conference costs $150 per person, or $180 per person after July 18. Re gister online at http://www.brethren-caregivers.org/, where there is complete conference information including schedule and housing information. The registration form also may be downloaded. The registration fee for the conference does not include meals or housing. The Lake Junaluska Housing department will begin to take requests for housing on April 1.

Contact ABC at 800-323-8039 for more information, to have a registration brochure sent to you, or for housing and registration forms on paper.

8) Second annual Mother’s Day Gratitude Project is announced.

“In honor of a woman you know and love, and in solidarity with mothers around the world,” the Church of the Brethren’s Global Women’s Project has announced its 2nd annual Mother’s Day Gratitude Project.

“Rather than buying more material gifts for your loved one, express your gratitude with a gift that helps other women around the world,” said the announcement. “Your donation allows us to fund projects focused on women’s health, education, and employment. In return, your chosen recipient will receive a card indicating that a gift has been made in her honor.”

To participate, send a donation to the Global Women’s Project, Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Include your name and the recipient’s name and address. Memorial donations also will be received, and will be honored on a special page on the project’s website. Gratitude cards will be mailed to honorees in time for Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 11.

The Global Women’s Project seeks to raise awareness of the poverty, oppression, and injustice suffered by women around the world; to recognize how our overconsumption and misuse of resources contributes to that suffering; to change our way of living; and to support self-help community projects that are led by, empower, and benefit women. Additional information can be found at www.brethren.org/genbd/witness/gwp.htm.

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. Members of the 300th Anniversary Committee, Kim Ebersole, and Kathy Reid contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for April 9. 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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