Newsline Extra for September 3, 2008

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

“But strive first for the kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33a).


1) Children’s Disaster Services pre-positions volunteers in Louisiana.
2) Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers evacuate Chalmette, La.
3) Hurricane Gustav not a Katrina repeat, but still destructive.
4) Church World Service disaster response kits are needed.
5) Emergency Disaster Fund accepts donations toward Gustav response.

Go to for a photo journal of 300th Anniversary events in Schwarzenau, Germany. The photo journal documents the international celebration of the Anniversary on Aug. 2-3, and showcases the work of photographer Glenn Riegel, who is a member of Little Swatara Church of the Brethren in Bethel, Pa.
For Newsline subscription information go to For more Church of the Brethren news go to, click on “News” to find a news feature, links to Brethren in the news, photo albums, conference reporting, webcasts, and Newsline archive.

1) Children’s Disaster Services pre-positions volunteers in Louisiana.

While the rest of the country was preparing for their Labor Day barbeques, residents along the northern Gulf Coast were preparing for Hurricane Gustav–and 18 Children’s Disaster Services volunteers were on their way to Louisiana to set up child care services in American Red Cross shelters.

As early as Friday, Aug. 29, Children’s Disaster Services staff and regional coordinators were on the phone recruiting volunteers for pre-positioned teams in Shreveport and Alexandria, La. The teams arrived on Sunday, Aug. 31. Some of them even rode out the storm in Alexandria–and by Monday they began caring for children who had fled the storm with their families.

(See Children’s Disaster Services aids families affected by Gustav for more details.)

2) Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers evacuate Chalmette, La.

As it became clear that Hurricane Gustav was heading straight for Louisiana, Brethren Disaster Ministries staff at the Hurricane Katrina rebuilding project in Chalmette, La., heeded evacuation orders.

Project leaders John and Mary Mueller, Amy Fishburn, and Steve Keim followed the mandatory evacuation order issued by the St. Bernard Parish government, but first they battened down the hatches at the volunteer house in Arabi. The group also packed up all of the Brethren Disaster Ministries equipment that they could and hauled it up to McComb, Miss., for temporary shelter.

The Muellers and Keim evacuated to Atlanta, where the Muellers have relatives. They are expected to be able return to Chalmette today, Sept. 3. Only first responders have been allowed back into the area up to now. Fishburn has been reassigned to the Brethren Disaster Ministries project site in Rushford, Minn., for the remainder of her term in Brethren Volunteer Service.

The good news is that the Chalmette area was not flooded, reported Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. However, the project leaders are still advised to check with parish officials about water quality.

“We anticipate that the next volunteer group can still arrive on Sunday, but they should be aware that we probably won’t have air conditioning” for awhile, Wolgemuth said.

3) Hurricane Gustav not a Katrina repeat, but still destructive.

On the heels of the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Gustav made landfall around noon on Sept. 1 as a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of up to 110 miles per hour. As floodwaters splashed over levees in New Orleans, and residents bravely volunteered to sandbag the base of a leaking levee, the nation held its collective breath, hoping and praying that this would not be Katrina’s encore performance.

Thankfully, it wasn’t. Although the levees remained relatively intact, Gustav still packed a powerful punch. Seven deaths in Louisiana and 93 in Haiti and the Dominican Republic can be blamed on this deadly storm. Communities across the Louisiana and Mississippi coast and the Florida panhandle were flooded and received wind damage, and at least 2,000 homes were affected.

Zack Rosenburg, director of the St. Bernard Project–the Hurricane Katrina recovery agency in Chalmette, La., wrote in his blog that the Gustav aftermath “is truly a best case scenario…. Residents can return and know they will be safe.” He also issued a reminder that there are still 1,800 families affected by Hurricane Katrina who are living in FEMA trailers in St. Bernard Parish. “I just ask that we don’t lose sight of the fact that we have not escaped Katrina yet,” he said.

4) Church World Service disaster response kits are needed.

Church World Service (CWS), a longtime disaster relief partner of the Church of the Brethren, reported that it pre-positioned material resources and disaster relief kits at a warehouse in Ferncliff, Ark., in preparation for Hurricane Gustav. The agency is now prepared to fulfill requests from partners for CWS Emergency Blankets, Baby Kits, Hygiene Kits, and Clean-Up Buckets as needs arise.

Brethren are invited to help contribute kits to this response. Information about kit contents and directions for assembling kits are at Many of these kits are processed, warehoused, and shipped from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

5) Emergency Disaster Fund accepts donations toward Gustav response.

The work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services is supported by gifts to the Emergency Disaster Fund of the Church of the Brethren. The fund is accepting donations toward the Hurricane Gustav response.

To donate by mail, make checks payable to Emergency Disaster Fund, and send to Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. To donate online, go to


(This entire special report was prepared by Jane Yount, Brethren Disaster Ministries coordinator, working out of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.)

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, 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 Sept. 10. 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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