Newsline Extra for October 29, 2008

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

“You are to be a key witness to everyone you meet…” (Acts 22:15a, The Message)


1) Northern Ohio District Conference celebrates ‘Life, Heart, Change.’
2) Northern Plains District Conference theme states, ‘Here I Am Lord.’
3) Western Plains District Conference centers on joy.
4) Michigan District Conference opens with Love Feast.
5) Northern Indiana District holds 149th recorded conference.
6) Delegates speak out at Southern Pennsylvania District Conference.
7) Mid-Atlantic District holds its 42nd annual conference.
8) Atlantic Southeast District holds a second Family Peace Camp.

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1) Northern Ohio District Conference celebrates ‘Life, Heart, Change.’

“Life, Heart, Change” was the theme for the 144th Northern Ohio District Conference. Delegates and other district members gathered from July 25-27 at Ashland University for worship, business, fellowship, and information-gathering. Moderator Doug Price, associate pastor of Dupont Church of the Brethren, presided over the business session.

Registration for the weekend totaled 297 people, including 82 delegates, and a total of $2,426.30 was received in offerings during worship. A Silent Auction received $1,838.85, and a “multiply your talents” collection received $544 for a Peace Endowment Fund.

Daily worship services were held. A service was provided by the Senior Performing Arts Camp. “Undo” brought the Gospel message of salvation through drama and song. Moderator Price presented a monologue on the Sermon on the Mount. Sunday morning worship was led by Jonathan Reuel, founder of the Charlottesville Project Micro Church in Virginia, presenting the “DMX Zone and Transition.” Holly Hottel directed the Junior Performing Arts musical, “Life Song,” a humorous look at working together for God’s Kingdom.

The district’s Anniversary Committee asked each congregation to bring a poster to the conference with a history and photos of the churches in the Northern Ohio District. Twenty-eight churches were represented through posters.

In the business session, delegates representing 44 congregations met to fellowship, receive reports, elect conference and district officers, and deliberate over several items of business.

Delegates approved a new 18-member District Board structure along with corresponding revisions to the District Constitution and Bylaws; adopted a $199,129 budget for 2009; and remembered former district secretary May Patalano, who passed away in March. District executive minister John Ballinger offered a remembrance of Patalano and her outstanding work. Patalano’s father, Durward Hays, her brother, David Hays, and husband, Bob Patalano, joined Ballinger at the podium for a prayer led by moderator Price.

Delegates viewed a 14-minute DVD about the Northern Ohio District filmed and narrated by Church of the Brethren videographer David Sollenberger. District staff and board members presented reports throughout the day, as did representatives from Manchester College, the Ohio Council of Churches, the Church of the Brethren agencies, West View Manor in Wooster, and Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria. Guests included Ken Hunn, executive director of the Brethren Church, who led an insight session; staff of Bethany Seminary and the Church of the Brethren General Board; and Brad and Jo Strycker of Heifer International.

The Ministry Commission recognized 35 ministers representing 786 years of combined ministry. Those recognized for 50 or more years of ordination included Guy Buch, 65; Richard Speicher, 62; Wayne Wheeler, 62; Durward Hays 61; Dale Young, 57; Ivan Fausnight, 57; Horace Huse, 57; Clyde Fry, 53; Carl Cawood, 53; Delbert Kettering, 51; and Wendell Tobias, 50.

Short biographical sketches interspersed among business items highlighted the life and service of Brethren leaders James Quinter, Clara Harper, Ruby Rhoades, Cora Wertz, and Goldie Swartz in celebration of the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary.

Election results included the selection of Kris Hawk as moderator-elect for 2009, and Deb Beer as District Conference clerk. Elected to the District Board were Deana Gilmore, Harold Keener, Joy Parr, Bruce Jacobsen, Paul Markland, Mike Zellers, Mark Bowyer, Scott Brinkman, and Jo Doster; and to the Nominating Committee were Max Canfield, Dottie Widmer, and Reid Firestone. In the District Board’s reorganization meeting, Paul Bartholomew was named chair, Bruce Jacobsen vice chair, and Susan Ladrach secretary.

Wes Richard will serve as district moderator in 2009. He is an ordained minister and co-pastor with his wife, Sue, at Elm Street Church of the Brethren in Lima, Ohio. A consecration service was held for the new moderator and moderator-elect following the Sunday morning worship service. Next year’s District Conference will be July 24-26, 2009, at Ashland University.

2) Northern Plains District Conference theme states, ‘Here I Am Lord.’

Under the leadership of moderator Lois Grove and with the theme “Great Is Thy Faithfulness…Here I Am Lord,” the 2008 Northern Plains District Conference was held on July 25-26 at Hammond Avenue Brethren Church in Waterloo, Iowa. There were a total of 143 registered participants including 75 delegates representing 25 churches.

In business sessions, the conference adopted a $110,075 district budget for 2009; supported the wishes of Maxwell Church of the Brethren to close, and set up a committee to help with disposal of the church’s property; and approved the recommendation that the 2009 District Conference be held at a shared venue using the Baptist Camp and Camp Pine Lake on July 31-Aug. 2, 2009.

The delegate body also granted that participants in new church projects may place their membership in the district or in a neighboring or sister congregation until the project applies for and is granted fellowship status by the District Board, and provided guidelines for new church projects to move to fellowship status.

The district called Marge Smalley as moderator-elect. Helen Kerkove was called to the Program Planning Committee. Nelda Rhoades Clarke was called to the Standing Committee. Ben Nolt and Marilyn Koehler were called to the Nominating Committee. Roger Emmert, Gary Gahm, Linda Lantz, Steve Cameron, Mark Gingrich, Lucinda Douglas, Jeanne Helleso, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Joey Kimpston-Burkgren, and Aaron Peter were called to the District Board. In the District Board reorganization, Kathy Mack was named board president, Earl Harris vice-president; and Alan Oneal recording secretary.

Three ministers were recognized during the annual “milestones in ministry” acknowledgement: Nelda Rhoades Clarke for 25 years of ordination, Mary Jane Button-Harrison for 15 years, and Rhonda Pittman Gingrich for 10 years. Tim Button-Harrison was installed as permanent, half-time district executive, and Lois Grove was ordained to serve as minister of Leadership Development for Northern Plains District. A service of graduation was held for Laura Leighton-Harris for completion of her Training in Ministry studies. In addition, newly elected district leaders were installed with a laying on of hands for Alice Draper, as the district moderator for 2008-09.

The Friday evening offering was $787 and the Saturday evening offering received $1,264. An auction raised $3,500 for the district program and $500 for a Disaster Response trailer. One hundred twenty-eight flood clean-up buckets were assembled and brought by congregations and projects to District Conference.

In other news from Northern Plains, generous contributions have been given to the District Disaster Fund, according to the district newsletter. The donations have included $2,500 from the Sheldon congregation, individual gifts of $2,000 and $1,000, several $100, $200, and $300-plus gifts from individuals and congregations, along with many other donations.

The district has been collecting funds to help in the flood recovery effort in Iowa. In addition, South Waterloo Church of the Brethren has extended a special expression of gratitude to Briery Branch Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va., for the donation of 60 Personal Hygiene Kits to distribute to those in the congregation who were directly affected by flooding. Kits remaining were shared with the American Red Cross. “Blessed are those who give of themselves, and grateful are the receivers,” said a note in the Northern Plains District newsletter.

3) Western Plains District Conference centers on joy.

Western Plains District Conference convened Aug. 1-3 at McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren and McPherson College with the theme, “That Your Joy May Be Complete.” The conference logo was designed by Jan Gilbert Hurst of JanDesign and the worship center featured a painting by artist Connie Rhodes.

Friday included visiting displays as well as workshop, Bible study, and prayer group opportunities. The display area was a feast of heritage items coordinated by Noel Ditmars, and included books, photos, clothing, machinery, tools, covered and farm wagons, timelines of many of the earliest and current congregations in Western Plains, hands-on sewing, quilting, pumping water, grinding grain, and games as well as agency displays.

Youth participated in workshop and worship times, heritage activities, games and swimming, and also planned for leading the Saturday evening worship. Children’s heritage activities included riding in the wagons, pumping water, playing old-time games, threshing, winnowing, grinding wheat, and making whole wheat pancakes. The Cedars, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in McPherson, hosted an ice cream social that included a time of “Holy Hilarity” presented by conference attendees.

District moderator Sonja Griffith led the conference in business sessions. Conference attendance nearly matched last year in spite of a large number of regular attendees participating in the 300th Anniversary celebration in Schwarzenau, Germany. A 2009 operating budget of $131,154 was approved. A statement of vision for the future of the district, “Rooted together in Love to be Christ’s transforming hope and power!” was adopted. Keith Funk was chosen as moderator-elect to serve with moderator Leslie Frye in 2009.

Milestones for ordained ministry were acknowledged by the Ministry Commission: 65 years-John Ditmars; 60 years-David Albright; 55 years-Kent Naylor; 40 years-Kenneth Holderread and Herb Smith; 30 years-Steven Tuttle; 25 years-Connie Burkholder; 20 years-Leah Harness; 15 years-Gail Erisman Valeta; and 10 years-James Hubble, Shawn Flory Replogle, and Vickie Samland. Offerings raised $6,789 for the district budget.

The conference was blessed by participation from beyond the district. Workshops were led by Kim Ebersole of the Church of the Brethren’s Caring Ministries, Dennis Kingery of the Church of the Brethren Credit Union, and Congregational Life Team member Duane Grady. Bob Gross represented On Earth Peace. Elizabeth Keller from Bethany Seminary and Nancy Knepper from the General Board were present. Don Mitchell from Atlantic Northeast District assisted with music. Former academic dean at Bethany Seminary, Stephen Breck Reid, spoke at the minister and spouse dinner. Worship times were inspirational with preaching by moderator Griffith and Dennis Webb, pastor of Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren.

The overall spirit of the conference was enriching and inspiring. It added strong encouragement to district life.

–Elsie Holderread is co-executive minister for Western Plains District, along with her husband, Ken Holderread.

4) Michigan District Conference opens with Love Feast.

The Michigan District Conference was held Aug. 15-17 at the Winding Creek Campground in Hastings, Mich. Anita Smith Buckwalter led an opening Love Feast on that Friday afternoon, for at least 52 participants.

Debbie Eisenbise, pastor of Skyridge Church of the Brethren in Kalamazoo, Mich., served as moderator and used the theme “The Church Alive-Past, Present, Future” for this annual meeting. Frank Ramirez, pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, preached for three worship services during the conference. The senior high youth group presented a drama about the young Julia Gilbert, written by Ramirez. Throughout the weekend, numerous ‘”guests” from Brethren history spoke to the conferencegoers.

Attendance was larger than in recent years, but offerings were not adequate to cover costs. Many youth and children were among the 225 registered on Saturday, the day with the largest attendance.

The district expressed thanks to its new Conference director Beth DuBois, sound technician Lester Gandy, day camp coordinator Erica Wave Fitzpatrick, and the Beaverton congregation for doing the cooking.

An “All Conference Activity” on Saturday night presented a “hysterical historical talent show” with Brethren composers and musicians from Michigan singing and leading in original compositions. Pieces included a harp solo and a six-piece “heavy metal band” composed of four tubas and two baritones.

District executive minister Marie Willoughby announced her retirement effective Feb. 14, 2009. She received seven large red roses at the close of the business sessions in honor of her seven years of ministry to the district. Following dismissal of the District Conference on Sunday at noon, her family hosted a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for Don and Marie Willoughby at Hope Church of the Brethren.

During the business sessions, a proposal for Visioning and Restructuring was adopted, and a newly elected committee of five will work with an interim district executive on the project during 2009-2010. The District Conference also adopted the Resolution Urging Forbearance that had been passed by the 2008 Annual Conference, and recommended that local congregations study it. The District Conference also advanced the Church in Drive, a new church start in Saginaw, Mich., from being a project of the New Life Christian Fellowship to full status as a fellowship.

In naming of new leadership, Bill Sumner of Midland, Mich., was named moderator for 2009, with R.J. (Joe) Wave of Marilla, Mich., named moderator-elect. Four people were elected to the District Board.

5) Northern Indiana District holds 149th recorded conference.

The 149th recorded Northern Indiana District Conference was held Sept. 19-20 at Camp Mack near Milford, Ind. Conference leadership was provided by David Wysong, moderator; Tim Waits, moderator-elect; and Roger Haupert, clerk. At this year’s conference, 127 delegates, out of 144 people registered, were present.

Friday evening worship was led by pastor Tim Waits and members of the Rock Run Worship Team. David Shumate, Annual Conference moderator, was present from Virginia as the guest preacher. The offering totaling $1,834 was divided between the Ministry Scholarship Fund and the District Disaster Fund.

Business included the usual reports from the District Board, Standing Committee, Camp Mack, Timbercrest retirement community, Manchester College, and denominational agencies. The ballot/slate brought by the Personnel Committee was approved and the following people were called to district leadership: Mary Haupert as moderator-elect; Dwayne Runkle and Reta Middaugh to the District Board; Jan Nicodemus and Janet Kagarise to the Personnel Committee; Becky Morris to the Program and Arrangements Committee; and Roger Haupert as clerk.

District Board appointments were confirmed including Mike Dilling to the Indiana Camp Board, and Kevin Morrison and Kim Betz to the Timbercrest Board. At-large members to the Indiana Camp Board and Manchester College were also confirmed.

In other business, the 2009 proposed district budget of $179,400 was approved. Also, a query from Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren was approved to be sent to Annual Conference in 2009 in San Diego, Calif. The query asks whether the current language on same-sex covenantal relationships will continue to guide our journey together.

New pastors to the Northern Indiana district were recognized during the District Board report, as was Training in Ministry graduate Guy Biddle. Nate Freeze and Krista Mevis, who served as the district youth heritage team during the past year, were recognized as the 2008 Volunteers of the Year.

The Northern Indiana District Conference will return to Camp Mack next year on Sept. 18-19 with Tim Waits serving as moderator.

–This report is taken from the newsletter of Northern Indiana District.

6) Delegates speak out at Southern Pennsylvania District Conference.

Members of York First Church of the Brethren warmly greeted Southern Pennsylvania District Conference workers and delegates on Sept. 19-20, as the congregation opened its doors to the annual meeting of the district’s 45 congregations.

Registered attendance at District Conference on Friday was 150 delegates and 129 nondelegates and on Saturday, 143 delegates and 75 nondelegates. Attendance at the Friday evening worship service was an approximate 250 people, including 21 of the 23 licensed ministers who were present to receive their annual licensure.

Charles Ilyes, pastor of Midway Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District, brought the evening message on the conference theme, “Be still and know I AM GOD.” An offering of $1,725.50 was received and has been forwarded to the denominational offices to benefit the Minister’s Emergency Fund.

John D. Byers, former Hanover Church of the Brethren pastor, was recognized for 50 years of ordained ministry; Pat Arendt of Gettysburg Church of the Brethren was recognized for completing the denominational Training in Ministry training track for credentialed ministry; Brandon Grady of York Madison Avenue Church of the Brethren was recognized for graduation from Bethany Theological Seminary; and Duane Bahn of Codorus Church of the Brethren and C. Earl Eby of Trinity Church of the Brethren were recognized for completion of the ACTS training track for set-apart ministry.

Conference delegates called Eli Mast to serve as moderator-elect in 2009. Mast will join moderator John Shelly and district writing clerk Ann Miller in leading the district forward in Christ’s directive to further the kingdom in 2009.

Others called to leadership include Richard Fischl and Kim Gingerich for the District Board Eastern Zone, Daniel Witmer for the Western Zone, R. Edward Weaver for the Northern Zone, and in the at-large category Melinda Carlson, Richard Godfrey, and Terry Smith. Betty Malenke was called to the District Program and Arrangements Committee to represent the Eastern Zone, Malinda Napp and George Martin were called to the District Nominating and Personnel Committee to represent the Eastern and Western Zones, respectively.

The District Board held its reorganizational meeting and called Terry Smith and Ray Lehman to serve as chair and vice chair.

Conference business included receiving the 2007 district financial reports, including the independent accountant’s review. The conference approved the District Board’s recommendation to close Genesis Church of the Brethren effective Sept. 30. The District Board will continue to work at determining the future of the current Genesis Church property and whether ministry there is a viable option.

District Conference delegates also approved a query from Dry Run Church of the Brethren asking Annual Conference Standing Committee to re-examine and re-educate the Church of the Brethren’s constituency on the denomination’s stance and statements about membership in secret oath-bound societies, and the conflict that has with Church of the Brethren beliefs about taking oaths.

After healthy debate, the delegates passed the 2009 District Financial Ministries Plan in the total amount of $531,019, which breaks down as $79.85 per church member. Many people, including delegates and nondelegates, attended various insight sessions including the District Financial Ministries Plan sessions, and indicated a better understanding of the complexity of the District Board and staff’s work in accomplishing district ministry that pleases its 6,700-plus constituents.

Those attending the Brethren Volunteer Service insight session and an insight session on the issue of modern-day slavery indicated the need to get information to their local congregations. Associate district executive Georgia Markey is working on a plan to make this happen. Positive feedback was received on insight sessions about stewardship, both in the area of curriculum and teaching children about stewardship. The District Nurture and Stewards Commission stands ready to help congregations follow up with this emphasis.

A new event this year was a District Auction, which netted $1,647 for the Fair Share ministries pool. A Pie and Ice Cream Social also was a positive experience. Seventy pies were asked for and 128 were received. The uneaten pies were sold with proceeds going to the Children’s Aid Society, for a copier for the Nicarry Center.

–This report is taken from the newsletter of Southern Pennsylvania District.

7) Mid-Atlantic District holds its 42nd annual conference.

Mid-Atlantic District held its 42nd annual District Conference on Oct. 10-11 at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren on the theme, “Surrendered to God, Transformed in Christ, Empowered by the Spirit.”

District pastors held a Pre-Conference Clergy Seminar at Glade Valley Church of the Brethren that focused on Christian Worship, followed by a Minister and Spouse Banquet.

The District Conference began with a Brethren meetinghouse style of worship on Friday night. In celebration of the Brethren heritage and 300th anniversary, the service recreated the kind of worship that Brethren ancestors experienced. Hymn singing, without instruments, was led by Gregory Shook of Woodbridge Church of the Brethren. Messages, which centered on being “Surrendered to God,” were given by district executive minister Don Booz, Gene Hagenberger of Easton Church of the Brethren, Jim Benedict of Union Bridge Church of the Brethren, and Tracy Wiser of Harmony Church of the Brethren.

At the Saturday morning worship service, Nancy Faus-Mullen, professor emeritus at Bethany Theological Seminary, preached on the theme, “Transformed in Christ.”

Business sessions were convened under the leadership of moderator Dale Posthumus. In keeping with the format used at the Mid-Atlantic District Conferences over the past two years, business items were explained to the delegates during a morning session, with time for questions and clarification. Voting then took place during an afternoon session. Conference delegates considered and passed a 2009 budget for the district, Camp Mardela incorporation, Shepherd’s Spring incorporation, disorganization of Celebration House, and disorganization of Fahrney-Keedy Fellowship.

Much of the discussion during business sessions centered on the 2009 budget, which was presented by Leadership Team member Jerry Patterson. Giving for 2008 in the district is anticipated to fall $40,000 short of budget needs. During an extensive analysis of giving trends, the Finance and Property Team discovered that church giving has essentially been flat over the past seven years. The Leadership Team presented a 2009 budget that is drastically scaled back over the past year. Patterson assured delegates that the Leadership Team would consider individual requests to fund line items that had been cut, and would endeavor to find money for programs that committees identified as important to continue. However, he emphasized that the Leadership Team is committed to passing a budget that has a realistic chance of being supported by congregational giving and will not enter into a budget that has little chance of being funded.

Saturday afternoon ended with a worship service during which Jim Hardenbrook, a former Annual Conference moderator, preached on the theme, “Empowered by the Spirit.”

A highlight of the conference were the various opportunities attendees had to recognize the service of Don Booz as district executive minister. Booz is ending his eight-year tenure in Mid-Atlantic District to accept a district executive position in Pacific Southwest District. He was praised and “roasted” at various times throughout the weekend. At a reception following the Friday night worship service, attendees had an opportunity to personally thank him for his service. Cindy Booz also was recognized for the strength and support she has given throughout her husband’s service to the district.

–Gretchen M. Zience is a member of Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va.

8) Atlantic Southeast District holds a second Family Peace Camp.

For the second consecutive year, the Action For Peace Team and Camp Ithiel of Atlantic Southeast District sponsored a Family Peace Camp over Labor Day weekend. The event was held at Camp Ithiel near Orlando, Fla. Jim and Kathy McGinnis, directors of the Institute for Peace and Justice in St. Louis, led the multi-age campers in learning about “Family Peacemaking.”

The activities led by Jim and Kathy McGinnis emphasized several features of their Family Pledge of Nonviolence, namely respect and peaceful problem-solving, listening and forgiving, being stewards of God’s creation, playing creatively, acting courageously, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s challenge. Together they led interactive presentations that focused on techniques, concepts, and attitudes that are essential for peacemaking in the family and community.

The McGinnises founded the Institute for Peace and Justice in 1970, as an interfaith center promoting peace and justice through education, social action, and prayer. They are nationally known peace education consultants, authors, workshop presenters, family life resource leaders, and peace educators. They have received the 1995 Pax Christi USA “Teachers of Peace” award, and also are founders and international co-coordinators of the Parenting for Peace and Justice Network.

The 20 adults, 8 teenagers, and 4 young children who participated in the camp–representing ages 5 to 77–enjoyed and learned much from the McGinnises’ hands-on experiences. The camp featured music, self-expressive activities, artwork, storytelling, group discussions, drama, and more. Other camping features knit the multi-age group into one large family–such as picture puzzles, games, a talent night, morning watch, contra dancing, campfire, swimming, Sunday worship, a nature walk, and a sing-a-long of hymns, camp songs, and folk tunes.

–Phil Lersch is chair of Atlantic Southeast District’s Action for Peace Team.


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. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for Nov. 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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