Newsline for December 17, 2008

Newsline December 17, 2008: Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1).


1) Church of the Brethren leaders address WCC’s US Conference.

2) Church of the Brethren issues update on Sudan mission.

3) Grants support disaster relief in Asia, Central America, Nigeria.

4) Brethren bits: Remembrances, personnel, jobs, workcamps, more.


5) Dates for study tour to Georgia and Armenia are announced.


6) Mateo begins work with Community Development Program in DR.

7) Young adults are chosen as National Youth Conference coordinators.


8) A cool, soaking rain: A reflection from Jos, Nigeria.


New on the Internet is a redesigned website for This Church of the Brethren denominational website has moved to a new host–Convio–and has received a complete make-over. Becky Ullom, director of Identity and Relations, has been the primary staff person leading the project. Parts of the website are still under construction. Church members with questions may contact Ullom at or 800-323-8039.


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1) Church of the Brethren leaders address WCC’s US Conference.

“Making Peace: Claiming God’s Promise” was the banner under which the US Conference for the World Council of Churches (WCC) gathered in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 2-4 for its annual meeting. Planned and developed by the US Conference staff–Deborah Dewinter, David Fracarro, and John Asher–the meeting engaged in conversations about topics ranging from racial reconciliation to care for creation. One focus of the meeting was framing a message that could be shared with US President-Elect Barack Obama with regard to the passions of the church and a call to “claim God’s peace.”

Church of the Brethren pastors and members were leaders for the opening worship service, which was held in the peace church tradition. The service was at the Omni Shore Hotel in conjunction with the Progressive Baptist Convention. Leading the service was Jeff Carter, pastor of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren and the Brethren representative to the board of the US Conference of the WCC. Joining Carter in worship leadership were pastor Nancy Fitzgerald of Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren and John Shafer of Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va. Also participating were Ilana Naylor of Manassas Church of the Brethren, Rich Meyer of Benton Mennonite Church, Ann Riggs of the Society of Friends, Jordan Blevins of Westminister (Md.) Church of the Brethren, and Phil Jones, director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office.

Carter also was one of those in a panel discussion held during the conference around the concern, “What message does the church have to share to the new administration of our nation?” In his remarks, Carter expressed as the highest concern for the Brethren tradition that of ending the Iraq war. His message to President-Elect Obama would be “to think globally, work collaboratively, and act morally,” he said. “To be truthful and transparent in all actions, and to hold close to his faith convictions. Be faithful in doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God.”

Leaders from other Christian traditions expressed their concerns for change as well, ranging from healthcare reform to the sanctity of life, torture and human rights, and the education and care of children around the world. A drafting committee has been formed to shape this conversation into a letter to be sent to the new US President.

In an ecumenical young adult presentation on the opening night of the conference Jordan Blevins represented the National Council of Churches’ Eco-Justice Program as assistant director of the program, and represented the Church of the Brethren. He shared from his experiences of working in young adult ecumenical circles around the issue of environmental justice. Blevins expressed excitement that the young adult generation of today “get it,” he said. “They understand that acknowledging climate change and being active in the protection of our environment is critical to the survival of humanity.”

Jones as director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office and co-chair of the US Decade to Overcome Violence program, spoke as part of a panel in the opening plenary of the conference. Building on one of the key themes of the WCC’s Decade to Overcome Violence, he spoke about the churches’ call to end war. Jones quoted President-Elect Obama, challenging the group to find its own voice, and reminded the meeting of its previous statements in regard to war, most recently the confession of culpability offered at the 2006 World Council of Churches Assembly in Brazil. He also spoke of the need to engage congregations in the United States in this conversation of moral integrity. The church’s voice “cannot be empty rhetoric drawn from statements or resolutions,” he said. “We must pray, organize, commit to, and seek peace as the church of God.”

The meeting presented “Blessed Are the Peacemaker” awards. Both Jones and Carter participated in the presentations. This year’s recipients included Blevins, who joined other members of the staff of the NCC’s Eco-Justice Program in receiving an award for their efforts in addressing global warming and other environmental issues.

–Phil Jones is director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office.

2) Church of the Brethren issues update on Sudan mission.

General secretary Stan Noffsinger has issued an update on the Church of the Brethren work in Sudan, in a letter sent this week to congregations and to those who have contributed to funding of the Sudan Initiative.

“This program has not gone as smoothly as we had hoped,” Noffsinger wrote. “Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the latest developments…. In the three years since taking on this challenge, we have learned a great deal.”

The letter listed three specific learnings for the denomination during the three years since Oct. 2005 when the Church of the Brethren board approved the Sudan Initiative, including difficulties related to various views of mission and related personality conflicts, and that in trying a new model of fundraising the church has found “that it is difficult to operate a venture like this outside the core ministries budget of the church.”

The Sudan Initiative was approved as a new model of funding for mission efforts, in which mission workers raised their own funds and the mission budget was based solely on designated gifts. The letter noted problems with this model including placing burdens on prospective mission workers, the time required to manage fundraising, and the way it “undervalued the need to provide overall administration.” The letter also noted “a clear benefit to this model was the face-to-face contact with church members.”

A third learning for the church was that original expectations for church planting in Sudan “have been met with caution,” Noffsinger wrote. “Church leaders there tell us that 95 percent of southern Sudan has been exposed to Christianity and has access to existing indigenous churches…. The task in this place and time appears to be church-tending more than church-planting.”

The letter closed by lifting up the invitation for the Church of the Brethren to join in work with Reconcile International, an affiliate church organization in southern Sudan established by the New Sudan Council of Churches. Bibek Sahu, a computer consultant who has been active in Church of the Brethren congregations in Kansas and Iowa, began work with Reconcile earlier this month as a Church of the Brethren short-term mission worker.

Noffsinger closed the letter with a request for prayer and continued financial support for the Sudan mission: “Please join us as we pray for good judgment, for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and for wisdom to sense where God is leading us at this juncture.”

3) Grants support disaster relief in Asia, Central America, Nigeria.

A number of grants have been given recently for disaster relief in several areas around the world. The grants have come from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund.

An allocation of $30,000 responds to a Church World Service (CWS) appeal following major flooding and mudslides in Pakistan. It is estimated that up to 500,000 people have been affected, with 40 deaths and 50 reported missing.

A grant of $10,000 assists partner agency Proyecto Aldea Global in responding to massive mudslides in Honduras. The grant will support the reopening of roads and help provide food, water, and medical assistance, as well as health kits and crop assistance.

A grant of $10,000 responds to a CWS appeal for the growing humanitarian crisis of displaced Afghans. Those displaced experience multiple problems including lack of food and water, sanitation, health care, and violence.

An allocation of $4,000 has been given for the work of Children’s Disaster Services responding to multiple wildfires in southern California. Children’s Disaster Services is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren.

A grant of $5,000 supports the work of the Emergency Preparedness-Response Team (EPRT) in Jos, Nigeria, following sectarian violence (see the Newsline reports of Dec. 3 and Dec. 5). EPRT is a network of 10 inter-religious and inter-agency groups that came together after the 2001 crises in Jos. Member organizations include Mennonite Central Committee, Justice Development Peace/Caritas of Jos Catholic Diocese, the National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations, the Nigerian Red Cross Society, and the state and national Emergency Management Authorities, among others.

In a recent report from EPRT, staff Mark and Brenda Hartman-Souder and Matthew Tangbuin of Mennonite Central Committee Nigeria said that the situation in Jos remains calm. The organization has registered more than 28,000 internally displaced people who have lost their homes and have been staying in camps or with relatives and friends. “Let’s continue to pray for all the people of Jos and Plateau State who are suffering in one way or the other because of this crisis,” said the report. “Food is scarce and expensive and people continue to live in fear and suspicion.”

4) Brethren bits: Remembrances, personnel, jobs, workcamps, more.

  • Warren S. Kissinger died on Dec. 14, after having been diagnosed this fall with a tumor in his shoulder and back. He was an ordained Church of the Brethren minister and a religion and philosophy cataloguer at the Library of Congress. In 1988 he received a pin commemorating 20 years of Federal service, all of which were in subject cataloguing at the Library of Congress. Kissinger read several Western European languages and told “Messenger” magazine in a 1975 interview that he handled more books in other languages than in English for the library. He also was editor of the academic journal “Brethren Life and Thought” for 10 years. He was the author of four books including “The Sermon on the Mount: A History of Interpretation and Bibliography,” “The Parables of Jesus: A History of Interpretation and Bibliography,” “The Lives of Jesus: A History and Bibliography,” and “The Buggies Still Run.” In a “Messenger” review of “The Sermon on the Mount,” reviewer Murray Wagner commented, “It is a volume which belongs in the personal library of anyone who believes the Beatitudes to be formative to Christian discipleship.” In addition, Kissinger taught for four years in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. He pastored congregations in Pennsylvania and served a number of interim and part-time pastorates in churches in Virginia and Maryland. He held a bachelor’s degree from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, a master’s degree in Library Science from Drexel University, and master’s degrees from Yale Divinity School and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pa. He has been an active member at University Park Church of the Brethren in Hyattsville, Md. Kissinger is survived by his wife, Jean, and his children Anne, Adele, and David. His oldest son, John, predeceased him by three weeks. A memorial service will be held on Friday, Dec. 19, at 10 a.m. at University Park Church of the Brethren, followed by burial at the Middle Creek Church of the Brethren cemetery in Lititz, Pa.
  • Bill Eicher, 85, died on Dec. 13 at his home in Harrisonburg, Va. He was one of those who went to China in 1946 as part of the Church of the Brethren’s “tractor unit” with Brethren Service. He was born in Mount Pleasant, Pa., on April 16, 1923, a son of Marion L. and Vernie Lillian (Shaffer) Eicher. He was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, a 1946 graduate of Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., and a 1950 graduate of Bethany Biblical Seminary in Chicago, Ill. He served as pastor of five congregations in Virginia, a congregation in Ohio, and a church in Pennsylvania. Following his retirement in 1993, he was interim pastor at five other churches. He married Elsie Ruth (Williard) Eicher of Harrisonburg on June 24, 1949. He is survived by his wife, daughter Linda Neff and husband John of Harrisonburg, son David Eicher of Louisville, Ken., and two grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Harrisonburg First Church of the Brethren on Dec. 16. A funeral service was to be held at Fraternity Church of the Brethren, Winston Salem, N.C., at 3 p.m. today, Dec. 17, with burial following at Fraternity Church of the Brethren Cemetery. Memorial contributions are being received to Heifer International, RMH Hospice, or Harrisonburg First Church of the Brethren. Go to to send condolences to the family.
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) and Christians around the world are joining in remembrance of the life and ministry of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Alexy II, who died on Dec. 5 at the age of 79. The patriarch had led the Russian Orthodox Church since 1990. The church counts the majority of Russia’s 142.5 million people among its members, according to a release from the WCC. From the 1960s, Alexy II was seen as being one of the most vigorous supporters of the movement for church unity. He played a major role in theological dialogue with Protestant churches in Germany and Finland and held a seat on the WCC Central Committee.
  • Leah Yingling of Martinsburg, Pa., will complete her term of service with the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships and Brethren Volunteer Service on Dec. 24. She has been a staff worker at the Emanuel Children’s Home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Her work has involved daily support and teaching at the facility, which is an orphanage for abused and neglected children. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish education from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.
  • Amy Waldron of Lima, Ohio, completed her term of service with Global Mission Partnerships and Brethren Volunteer Service on Dec. 12. She has been a mathematics teacher at the Comprehensive Secondary School of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). She holds a bachelor of arts degree in physics from Bluffton (Ohio) College and a master of science degree in physics from Indiana University in Bloomington.
  • The Church of the Brethren’s Western Plains District seeks a district executive minister to fill a half-time position available Jan. 1, 2010. Since 2003, the district has been engaged in a visionary, Christ-centered transformation movement and has become deeply committed to personal and congregational transformation. A team of volunteer Area Ministers works closely with the district executive in serving congregations, facilitating congregational relationships across considerable geographic distance. An annual “Gathering” conference and a creative program of leadership training for pastors and other key leaders support an environment of growing unity in vision and mission. The district foresees the position of district executive as being attractive to energetic, pioneering, spiritually-sensitive people who are seeking an exciting and challenging calling. The district serves 36 congregations and several fellowships in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico. The district office is located in McPherson, Kan. Focuses of the district executive position include to call forth a vision for the district, provide leadership for the transformation movement, support congregational life including pastoral placement through leadership of the Area Minister network, give leadership to an emerging New Church Development movement, assist the district search committee in calling additional staff, develop collegial team leadership relationships. Qualifications include having a vibrant Christian faith; membership and active participation in the Church of the Brethren; passion about the potential of the Church of the Brethren; openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit; positive pastoral experience in the Church of the Brethren; ability to serve as a spiritual leader of the district; understanding of the transformation in process in the district and ability to give leadership to this movement; commitment to the Area Minister model of servicing congregational needs; commitment to a team leadership style; ability to build strong bonds of shared ministry; “big picture” management skills; commitment to Christian coaching; master of divinity degree preferred. Apply by sending a letter of interest and resume via e-mail to and contact three or four people to provide letters of reference. A Candidate Profile must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is Feb. 7, 2009.
  • The Church of the Brethren seeks a director of Buildings and Grounds for the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The position will manage assets at the General Offices and related houses including capital planning, equipment selection, inventory, acquisition, and disposal; provide space planning, utilization, negotiating, and letting; manage building and equipment maintenance for the physical plant and grounds; ensure development and maintenance of a purchasing system for office supplies and small equipment, photocopier systems, mail systems, telephone system, and a system to meet catering needs; coordinate technology needs with the Buildings and Grounds department at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and the director of Information Systems; establish cost allocation methods for billable services; manage Church of the Brethren-owned vehicles; hold responsibility for budget development, monitoring, and reporting; administer human resource policies and procedures for the Buildings and Grounds unit in consultation with executive staff. Required skills and knowledge include a minimum of three years of administrative experience in facilities management; a bachelor’s degree or equivalent; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Church of the Brethren; ability to relate with integrity and respect in and beyond the organization; knowledge and experience to plan and implement a vision for ongoing facilities needs and uses of physical resources; communication skills; and knowledge and experience in budget development and management. Request the Church of the Brethren application packet from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; or 800-323-8039 ext. 258. The deadline for applications is Jan. 5.
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) is inviting applications for its top executive position. The WCC has invited member churches and ecumenical partners to nominate candidates for the position of general secretary. The deadline for applications is Feb. 28. The general secretary is the WCC’s chief executive officer and serves as a spokesperson for the council. He or she is charged with the responsibility to interpret and promote the strategic vision of the WCC. An active lay or ordained member of one of the member churches of the WCC, the general secretary is expected to be a gifted, skilled, and experienced Christian theologian and leader with deep spiritual discernment grounded in scripture and prayer. A new WCC general secretary is to be elected at the council’s Central Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from Aug. 26-Sept. 2. At the Feb. 2008 Central Committee meeting a search committee was formed after the current general secretary, Samuel Kobia, announced he would not seek a second term. Candidates’ applications must be addressed to the moderator of the search committee, Dr. Agnes Abuom. The search committee will screen applications and short-list candidates at the beginning of April. Interviews are expected to take place in late June. Go to for a full description.
  • The Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., hosted a meeting of the Anabaptist Council of Moderators and Secretaries on Dec. 12-13. The council includes the moderators and general secretaries of several Anabaptist denominations and groups including the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church USA, the Brethren in Christ, Mennonite Central Committee, the Conservative Mennonite Church, and the Mennonite Brethren.
  • Registration opens Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. central time for the Church of the Brethren’s 2009 workcamps. The 2009 workcamp theme is “Bound Together, Finely Woven.” Workcamp opportunities are available for junior high youth, senior high youth, and young adults, as well as a new opportunity for an intergenerational workcamp on the theme, “Passing on the Peace Witness,” available for families. Also new this year is “We Are Able,” a workcamp for intellectually disabled participants to work alongside a service partner. Go to for a bulletin insert with a list of the 2009 workcamps and more information, or call the workcamp office at 800-323-8039.
  • For the 2009 Annual Conference, the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Team is sponsoring a contest for the best 3-minute video giving a creative interpretation of the Conference theme, “The old has gone! The new has come! All this is from God!” The winner of the contest will see their video shown from the floor of Annual Conference and will receive a $100 prize. Up to four runner-ups will have their videos distributed on a DVD at the Conference and will receive $50. The video contest entry form and an information form are at For more information contact Jeff Glass at or 888-826-4951.
  • The National Council of Churches (NCC) has announced a holiday television special on Christmas Eve at 11:35 p.m. on the CBS network. “The Voices of Christmas” will include music and testimonies from a variety of faith groups ranging from the Brethren to Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Orthodox traditions in celebration of 100 years of ecumenism.
  • New resources on the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery are available from the National Council of Churches website, according to an announcement from Ann Tiemeyer, director for Women’s Ministry. They were issued on Dec. 10 as a way to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, and are designed for use on Sunday, Jan. 11, for Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Go to for more information.
  • Subway, the third largest fast-food chain in the world and the biggest fast-food buyer of Florida tomatoes, reached an agreement on Dec. 2 with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to help improve wages and working conditions for workers who pick tomatoes, according to the Presbyterian Church news service. The agreement with Subway follows on the heels of similar wage and working condition agreements with Yum! Brands–the parent of Taco Bell–as well as Burger King, McDonald’s, and Whole Foods stories. Subway has agreed to pay the additional one cent per pound for tomatoes grown in the Immokalee region of Florida. Florida Senator Bernie Sanders issued a statement saying the agreement “is yet another blow to the scourge of slavery that continues to exist in the tomato fields of Florida.”
  • Liz McCartney of the St. Bernard Project in Louisiana has won the 2008 CNN Hero of the Year award. The St. Bernard Project is a grassroots disaster recovery organization and a partner organization for the Hurricane Katrina rebuilding project of Brethren Disaster Ministries. The St. Bernard Project will receive a $100,000 donation from CNN.

5) Dates for study tour to Georgia and Armenia are announced.

The Church of the Brethren and Heifer International are jointly sponsoring a Study Tour to Georgia and Armenia on Sept. 17-Oct. 1, 2009. The tour leaders will be Jan Schrock, senior advisor for Heifer International, and Kathleen Campanella, partner and public relations director of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

The tour will begin with several days in Georgia visiting Heifer dairy and rehabilitation projects, with the remaining time spent in Armenia focusing on agricultural developments, youth peace programs, and cultural landmarks. The tour may visit a site of Brethren mission and relief work in the early 1900s.

The cost of $3,500 includes in-country transportation, accommodations, meals, tour guides, workshops, and SOS emergency evacuation insurance. Participants will be responsible for their own air travel to Tbsili, Georgia, and from Yerevan, Armenia. The application process will begin in January. Contact Jan Schrock at to receive an itinerary and application form.

6) Mateo begins work with Community Development Program in the DR.

¡Bendecido! The newly-appointed director of the Church of the Brethren’s Community Development Program in the Dominican Republic, Felix Arias Mateo, always answers his phone with the greeting, “Bendecido!” which in Spanish means “Blessed!” This greeting, replacing the traditional “Hola!” expresses well his attitude towards life. As 1 Peter 1:3-7 articulates, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heaven and on earth. Even in the midst of life’s struggles, this faith is rock-solid for Mateo.

After the departure of Beth Gunzel, who devoted four faithful years to directing the program, the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships approved the hiring of a Dominican Brethren director. This supports the mission’s longterm goal of turning the program over to the Dominican church.

Mateo brings a wealth of experience and gifts to the program, having served as president of the program’s board since its inception. As well, he has been overseeing the program’s financial transition to working with Cooperativa Central, a Dominican credit union. Through the credit union, the participants will receive their next loans, develop increased credit, and have access to services and resources of the institution. Mateo will continue supporting the program goals of giving good support to local loan communities and participants, and will give general oversight to the total program.

In addition to these new responsibilities, Mateo also is pastor of a new church located in San Juan de la Maguana, and is moderator-elect of the Dominican Church of the Brethren.

Funds for the Community Development Program come from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund, which has just approved a final grant for the program. Ongoing funds for the program will be generated by the investment and participation with Cooperativa Central.

–Irvin and Nancy Heishman are the Church of the Brethren mission coordinators in the DR.


7) Young adults are chosen as National Youth Conference coordinators.

Coordinators have been chosen for the Church of the Brethren’s National Youth Conference (NYC) in 2010. The conference takes place every four years, sponsored by the denomination’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

The NYC coordinators will be Audrey Hollenberg, a senior at Bridgewater (Va.) College from Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren; Emily Laprade, currently one of the assistant coordinators for the Church of the Brethren’s workcamp program, from Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va.; and Matt Witkovsky, a graduate of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., from Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon.

The NYC coordinators will serve as fulltime volunteers through Brethren Volunteer Service. They will spend 15 months working in the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office in Elgin, Ill., beginning in May 2009. The work will entail planning for the gathering of thousands of Brethren youth at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 17-22,

8) A cool, soaking rain: A reflection from Jos, Nigeria.

The following reflection was sent by Church of the Brethren mission coordinator for Nigeria, David Whitten, who lives in the central Nigerian city of Jos. The city suffered an outbreak of sectarian violence and rioting on the weekend of Nov. 28-30, in which hundreds of people were killed and many homes, businesses, churches, and mosques were burned. Jos is the site of congregations and administrative buildings of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

“Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008

“We were out of town when the crisis happened in Jos. We live and work in Jos, the capital of Plateau State in central Nigeria. We returned one week later.

“It was strange indeed–that the day we arrived in Jos it rained. I immediately thought of God. It doesn’t rain in Jos in December! It hadn’t rained in Jos since the rainy season ended in the middle of October. But it rained anyway, a cool, soaking rain.

“That was Friday, one week to the day that the crisis began. The city is different now. You can feel it. Less traffic, less noise, less people walking up and down. The people you see are quiet too. Nothing has been done about the burned out churches, mosques, homes, and cars. Black skeletons of a disastrous event.

“On that particular Friday everyone was running for safety. Our compound, Boulder Hill, was safe. Our gardener came with his son that night seeking protection. He is a Muslim. His neighborhood was in a trouble spot. Along with his son, he had a Christian friend with him. My neighbor and colleague Pastor Anthony Ndamsai took them in against the wishes of some of his family and others in the compound. There is a general mistrust between Muslims and Christians, even with people you work with daily. Pastor Anthony said the night passed peacefully at our compound, though little sleep was had.

“Today is Sunday a week later. We went to church today. The church was packed. During announcements, the secretary gave the statistics of the previous week when there was still killing going on. There were 140 worshipers present then. Today’s service included the annual Thanksgiving Celebration. We danced down the aisles to the rhythm of the music, singing songs of gratitude. Prayers of thanksgiving were given, ranging from gratitude for restored health to escaping from the torches’ fire.

“Thanks was given for the rain. People were, like me, surprised it rained. The worshiper who stood and gave the congregational prayer wondered why God had allowed it to rain on Jos. Maybe, he said, it was to wash the sins away off the pavement.”


Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Chris Douglas, Nancy Knepper, Jon Kobel, Karin L. Krog, Terri Meushaw, Janis Pyle, David Shumate, Jane Yount contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for Dec. 31. 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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