Newsline for December 3, 2008

December 3, 2008

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

“…All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isaiah 52:10b).

1) Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees holds fall meeting.
2) Brethren participate in NCC assembly, anniversary celebration.
3) Deadline extended for nominations for denominational offices.
4) Brethren Volunteer Service unit members begin assignments.
5) Brethren bits: Personnel, NYC 2010, immigration statement, and more.

6) Historic Peace Churches to hold North American gathering.
7) Theme for Church of the Brethren Service Sunday is Micah 6:8.

8) Douglas called as director of Church of the Brethren Pension Plan.

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New at www.brethren.org, the presentation papers from the Mission Alive 2008 conference are now available online. Go to www.brethren.org/genbd/MissionAlive/Resources.html to download the seven papers, including the keynote presentation by Man Rumalshah, Bishop of the Peshwar Diocese of the Church of Pakistan. For more information contact Janis Pyle at 800-323-8039.
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For Newsline subscription information go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. For more Church of the Brethren news go to www.brethren.org, click on “News” to find a news feature, links to Brethren in the news, photo albums, conference reporting, webcasts, and Newsline archive.
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1) Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees holds fall meeting.

The Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees gathered for its annual fall meeting Oct. 24-27. The business meeting was preceded by a two-day retreat for board members and seminary faculty at Hueston Woods State Park in nearby Oxford, Ohio. The Bethany Seminary campus is located in Richmond, Ind.

The retreat was a continuing step in the process of clarifying, renewing, and revising Bethany’s mission and educational objectives. Bethany received a grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion to engage the services of Faith Kirkham Hawkins as facilitator. In addition, the board approved funds to bring two representatives from Crane MetaMarketing to be listening presences at the retreat and provide feedback.

In business sessions, the board approved an 8.5 percent tuition increase for the 2009-10 academic year, to $385 per credit hour. The board also approved an audit report from Batelle and Batelle for the 2007-08 fiscal year. Bethany received an “unqualified opinion” audit, which is the best designation possible. The Institutional Advancement Committee shared goals and year-to-date progress for gifts to Bethany’s annual fund from various constituency groups.

The board’s Academic Affairs Committee reported their delight that the faculty is fully staffed. Follow-up reports related to Bethany’s 2006 re-accreditation requested by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools have been submitted.

The Student and Business Services Committee shared highlights of the Bethany graduating senior questionnaire completed for ATS. Students graduating in 2008 cited accessibility of faculty, upkeep of campus, and class size as their top areas of satisfaction with seminary services and academic resources. Eighty percent of Master of Divinity graduates indicated they planned to pursue fulltime parish ministry. All graduates indicated that their debt load did not increase during their seminary studies.

The Student and Business Services Committee also reported that students entering Bethany’s Connections program this fall expressed appreciation for the revised format. New Connections students participate in a weekend retreat instead of a two-week intensive, and attend orientation with residential students.

As part of the Executive Committee report, Bethany Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen shared that the second Presidential Forum, titled “Weaving Wisdom’s Tent: The Arts of Peace,” is scheduled for March 29-30, 2009.

During the meeting, the board accepted the resignation of secretary Frances Beam. Lisa Hazen was elected as the new secretary.

–Marcia Shetler is director of public relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.

2) Brethren participate in NCC assembly, anniversary celebration.

Eight members of the Church of the Brethren participated in the annual General Assembly of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Church World Service (CWS) in Denver, Colo., on Nov. 11-13, at which the council celebrated its 100th anniversary. The NCC traces its origins to the founding of the Federal Council of Churches in Dec. 1908.

The assembly was held on the theme, “Jesus said…Whoever is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50). Participants included delegates and visitors from the 35 member communions of the NCC and CWS. The elected Brethren delegates to the assembly are Elizabeth Bidgood-Enders, J.D. Glick, and Illana Naylor. Additional delegates included Ken Rieman and Becky Ullom, who serves on the denominational staff as director of Identity and Relations. Stan Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren general secretary, also attended as a member of the NCC executive board. Bekah Houff, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the church’s Youth and Young Adult Office, was one of the young adult stewards. Jordan Blevins is a Brethren member on the staff of the NCC.

“This assembly had some of the best attendance of member communions in recent years,” commented Noffsinger. “The spirit was encouraging and signaled a desire by participants to fully engage in the intentional community of communions the assembly represents. It celebrated at every possible point our common connection with God through Jesus Christ.”

The General Assembly celebrated the past 100 years of Christian ecumenism and expressed “a renewed hope that the future of this communion of communions is bright,” according to a release from the NCC. In business sessions, the delegates passed resolutions on immigration reform, the United Nations Human Rights Covenants, and calling for an end to the persecution of Christians in India. They called on the executive committees of the NCC and CWS to speak out on the current worldwide financial crisis.

The assembly noted the numerous messages of good will that member communions have received from international colleagues on recent events in the US. The delegate body also affirmed the young adult New Fire event that took place just prior to the assembly. The NCC Governing Board was asked to consider the creation of a young adult ministries position on the NCC staff. The board also received a proposal by the Racial Ethnic Caucus to devise a vehicle for working more closely with international ecumenical bodies.

Worship services were held in the Baptist and Orthodox traditions. An opening address was brought by Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York, who spoke about “Remembering 100 years and anticipating the future.” Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, gave a sermon on race in America. He succeeded Jeremiah Wright as pastor of the church, and alluded to the controversy over Wright’s relationship with President-Elect Barack Obama, according to the NCC release.

“What is unique about this moment is the reaction around the world,” Moss said in his sermon. But he was disturbed when “pundits said now all of this racism is over,” he said. “Every station we turned to said as a result of a person kissed by nature’s sun in the Oval Office, racism is over. We are in a post wilderness moment–but we have yet to move into the promised land…. You have to make sure that those who don’t have the same economic or education level are able to cross over into the promised land. Success is not defined individually, it is defined collectively.”

The assembly concluded with a celebration of 100 years since the founding of the Federal Council of Churches. “For 100 years, we have gathered–or have been gathered–by God’s grace,” said general secretary Michael Kinnamon in his report to the delegates, “not to celebrate our achievements but to give thanks for what God has done, is doing, and will do to tear down the dividing walls of hostility that separate even the followers of Christ.”

(Sections of this report are taken from National Council of Churches press releases.)

3) Deadline extended for nominations for denominational offices.

The deadline for nominations for offices to be filled by election at the 2009 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference has been extended to Dec. 15. The Annual Conference will take place in San Diego on June 26-30, 2009. The announcement of the extension of the deadline for nominations came from the Nominating Committee of the Standing Committee of district delegates.

All interested individuals, congregations, groups, or district boards in the Church of the Brethren are invited to give prayerful consideration to people who would be good candidates for these important positions: Annual Conference moderator-elect (three-year term); Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee (three-year term); On Earth Peace Board (five-year term); Brethren Benefit Trust Board (four-year term); Bethany Seminary Board of Trustees representing the colleges (five-year term); Committee on Interchurch Relations (three-year term); Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee representing the district executives (five-year term).

Go to the Annual Conference website at www.brethren.org/ac to submit nominations online. For nominations made online, the committee also must receive permission and additional biographical information from the person who is to be considered. The online nomination tool contains statements that, when agreed to, provide permission and authorization of the nomination. Those making nominations must have the consent of the person who is being nominated, and nominations should include a current e-mail address for the nominee.

To submit a nomination, go to www.brethren.org/ac and click on “Online Forms.” Select “Nomination Form” and fill out the information requested. When the form is complete, press the “Submit” button and the information will be transmitted to the Annual Conference Office and copied to the nominee. The nominee also will receive an information form to complete and e-mail to the Annual Conference Office.

For more information or questions contact Annual Conference executive director Lerry Fogle at 800-688-5186; Nominating Committee chair Glenn Bollinger at 540-828-7402; or Annual Conference Secretary Fred Swartz at 540-828-4871.

4) Brethren Volunteer Service unit members begin assignments.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 282 held orientation at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., from Sept. 21-Oct. 10. The first weekend was spent with over 300 participants of the BVS 60th Anniversary Celebration, concluding in a consecration of the volunteers for their time of service.

Members of the unit, their home congregations or hometowns, and placements follow:

Fredericka Banks of Denver, Colo., and Rebecca Wood of Keene, N.H., to CooperRiis in Mill Spring, N.C.; Jennifer Carter of Sacramento, Calif., to Women in Black, Belgrade, Serbia; Matthias Duebner of Shersheim, Germany, to Tri City Homeless Coalition in Fremont, Calif.; Timothy Hartwell of Orlando, Fla., to Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Va.; Meghan Horne of Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Boones Mill, N.C., and Emily LaPrade of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., to the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry in Elgin, Ill.; Jillian Hutton of Hazleton, Pa., to Trees for Life in Wichita, Kan.; Donald Knieriem Jr. of Wilmington (Del.) Church of the Brethren, to Brethren Disaster Ministries, New Windsor, Md.; Matthew Maclay of Spring Run Church of the Brethren in McVeytown, Pa., to L’Arche in Dublin, Ireland; Stephan Meissner of Bonn, Germany, and Jonathan Wooten of Trier, Germany, to the Brethren Nutrition Program in Washington D.C.; David Muench of Wannweil, Germany, to Samaritan House in Atlanta, Ga.; Molly Reichelderfer of Madison, Wis., to San Antonio (Texas) Catholic Worker; Anika Roth of Des Moines, Iowa, to the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington D.C.; Niko Zdravkovic of Hannover, Germany, to Camp Myrtlewood in Myrtle Point, Ore.; Ine Zuurmond of Bolsward, the Netherlands, to Bridgeway in Lakewood, Colo.

For more information about BVS visit http://www.brethrenvolunteerservice.org/ or contact the office at 800-323-8039.

5) Brethren bits: Personnel, NYC 2010, immigration statement, and more.

  • The University of La Verne has named Ibrahim Helou as dean of its College of Business and Public Management. Helou succeeds Gordon Badovick, who retired at the conclusion of the 2007-08 academic year. Helou first joined the La Verne faculty in 1993, having previously taught at Arizona State University and the College of William and Mary in Virginia. During his time at La Verne, he has served as a professor of finance, chair of the college’s graduate business programs, and for the past five years as associate dean of the College of Business and Public Management. He holds a Ph.D. in finance from Arizona State University, a Master of Business Administration from Loma Linda University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Lebanese University. Helou migrated from Lebanon in 1985 to pursue his educational and professional goals.
  • Dates have been announced for the Church of the Brethren’s National Youth Conference (NYC) in 2010: July 17-22. The conference is sponsored by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office. It will take place at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., beginning with dinner on Saturday, July 17, and concluding Thursday morning, July 22, at 11:30 a.m.
  • Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, recently added his signature to two interfaith and ecumenical letters to national leaders: “Ecumenical Christian Letter to Next President: Make Israeli-Palestinian Peace an Immediate Priority,” a letter initiated by the Churches for Middle East Peace encouraging President-Elect Obama to work to bring peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the first year of the new administration; and “Interfaith Platform on Humane Immigration Reform,” a document encouraged by the Church World Service (CWS) Immigration and Refugee staff, to be sent to the new US administration and Congress. The letter calling for immigration reform identified immigration as a matter of human rights, and stated that “our diverse faith traditions teach us to welcome our brothers and sisters with love and compassion–regardless of their place of birth.” It called on the new administration and Congress to uphold family unity as a priority of all immigration policies, to create a process for undocumented immigrants to earn their legal status and eventual citizenship, to protect workers and provide efficient channels of entry for new migrant workers, to facilitate immigrant integration and naturalization, to restore due process protections and reform detention policies, and to align the enforcement of immigration laws with humanitarian values.
  • The 2009 Christian Citizenship Seminar on April 25-30 will focus on the topic of modern-day slavery. The event for 100 high school age youth and advisors is sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office and the Youth and Young Adult Office of the Church of the Brethren. All high school youth and adult advisors are eligible to attend. Churches sending more than four youth are required to send at least one adult. Registration is limited to the first 100 youth and advisors who apply. The seminar will begin in New York City and end in Washington, D.C. The registration fee of $350 includes lodging for five nights, dinner on the opening evening, and transportation from New York to Washington. At www.brethren.org go to keyword “Youth/Young Adults” and click on “Christian Citizenship Seminar” for more information and to register. Registration ends Feb. 28, 2009, or as soon as 100 registrations are received.
  • An evaluation of the ministry of the Rural Service Center in Ankleshwar, India, is being carried out. The center is one of the organizations that emerged from Brethren mission work in India. “For 55 years the Rural Service Center at Ankleshwar has championed development, health, and conservation in the villages of Gujarat State. It has done pioneer work in land leveling, water management, and biogas production,” reported the newsletter of the Global Food Crisis Fund. For the last dozen years, the fund has provided the center its prime support from the Church of the Brethren. The evaluation will be carried out by an independent team of development specialists, with a full report anticipated in early 2009. The evaluation was requested by the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren, and the Global Food Crisis Fund’s grant review panel.
  • A Marketplace Sale will be held at the SERRV store at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., on Dec. 6-15. Overstock items will be available for sale at greatly reduced prices. All staff, volunteers, and guests visiting the Brethren Service Center are invited to attend the preview of the Marketplace Sale on Friday, Dec. 5, at 3-5:30 p.m. Santa will be visiting the SERRV store on Sunday, Dec. 7, from 2-4 p.m. SERRV is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating poverty through the sale of craft and food items from artisans and farmers around the world. It was begun as a Church of the Brethren program, and was one of the first alternative trade organizations in the world. Go to http://www.serrv.org/ for more information.
  • Columbia-Lakewood Community Church in Seattle, Wash., is celebrating a double anniversary: the 15th anniversary of the forming of the church by combining Columbia United Church of Christ and Lakewood Community Church of the Brethren; and the 12th anniversary of the calling of pastor Jeff Barker. The church observed the two anniversaries on Sunday, Oct. 26, with a special worship service followed by a “decadent dessert bar,” according to an announcement in the Oregon and Washington District newsletter.
  • Elmer Q. Gleim of York, Pa., has been celebrated as “a Brethren Treasure” in an article in the Southern Pennsylvania District newsletter. “This minister, theologian, teacher, scholar, genealogist, and nonageian (91) continues writing prolifically six to eight hours per day, penning articles for the Southern Pennsylvania District as well as authoring numerous Brethren books and articles, although he has long passed the age when most retire,” the newsletter said. Gleim graduated from Crozer Theological Seminary, and later obtained a masters degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh. He was ordained at age 18, and spent 73 years in the ministry. His written work includes more than 17 books and innumerable articles. He also was noted for almost 25 years of Literary Roundtable studies at The Brethren Home in New Oxford, Pa.
  • Atlantic Southeast District has announced recipients of the Robert and Myrna Gemmer Peacemaking Award, which is given annually at the district conference by the Action for Peace Team. This year’s recipients are the members of the Sutton family of Miami, Fla.–Wayne, Karen, Sarah, Maggie, and Levi. “Beginning with Wayne’s decision during the Vietnam War to do alternative service as a conscientious objector to military service, each member of the family has pursued peacemaking as a part of his or her Christian lifestyle,” the citation read. “Their various individual activities have included editing peace curriculum, performing in a school peace musical, relating to prisoners in a death row support project, and serving on the Action for Peace Team. As a family, they have sought to respond to God’s love by living in multicultural neighborhoods, by being part of a multicultural church, and by practicing hospitality to people of many cultures.” In previous years, the Gemmer Peacemaking Award has been given to John Forbes and Elsa Groff (2006), and SueZann Bosler and Myrna Gemmer (2007).
  • The University of La Verne, Calif., has received a $3.58 million Title V Grant from the US Department of Education in recognition of continued efforts to actively support and educate students from underserved populations. The two-year, renewable cooperative federal grant allows the university to partner with Citrus College, a community college in nearby Glendora, to help students prepare for university education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or “STEM,” reported a release from the university. This marks the third such cooperative Title V Grant that ULV has received in the past four years, joining previously awarded grants involving the university’s College of Business and Public Management, and College of Education and Organizational Management.
  • The Juniata College Orchestra will perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” as part of its fall concert at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 4. The concert will be conducted by James Latten, associate professor of music. The orchestra also will play “Concerto for Clarinet, Movement 1” by Wolfgang Mozart, with solo clarinetist Steven Schmitt, a sophomore from New Providence, Pa., and co-winner of the 2008-09 Juniata Concerto Competition. The concert will take place on the college campus in Huntingdon, Pa., in Rosenberger Auditorium. Tickets are $5 for adults and free for children under age 18.
  • Paul Grout, a former Annual Conference moderator, is the leader for the 2009 Men’s Retreat at Woodland Altars, a Church of the Brethren outdoor ministry center near Peebles, Ohio. The theme of the retreat is “Warrior, Mystic, Monk: Taking hold of the life that is really life; Body, Spirit, and Mind.” The event is scheduled for Feb. 20-22. Go to http://www.outdoorministries.org/.
  • At a Volunteer Appreciation Banquet hosted by Happy Corner Church of the Brethren, Woodland Altars recognized 12 people for the amount of time they have volunteered for outdoor ministries. Sherry Liles, Lisa Osswald, Dan Poole, Matt Shetler, Tracy Sturgis, and Keith Weimer were recognized for 500 hours of volunteer time. Dean Dohner, Tonnya Helfrich, and Ryan Stackhouse were honored for 1,000 hours of volunteer time. Bob Bitner was recognized for volunteering 1,500 hours, and Shelley Flenner for over 2,500 hours. The winner of the evening with more than 4,500 hours was Raymonde Rougier.
  • Church of the Brethren member Cliff Kindy is taking part in a new Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kindy previously worked with CPT in Iraq. He was part of a four-member CPT team who left for the Congo in early December at the invitation of a Martin Luther King Group there. This three-month project follows three previous short-term CPT delegations to the region in 2005-07. The CPT team plans to work in an area where thousands of Rwandans fled in the aftermath of the Tutsi genocide. In other news from CPT, a team has returned to the Kurdish area of northern Iraq and has begun documenting the situation of families who have fled their villages because of aerial bombardment and shelling by Turkish planes and Iranian missiles. CPT is an initiative of the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers).
  • The Church of North India (CNI), which has been a partner of the Church of the Brethren in mission efforts in India, has issued a statement condemning the terrorist attacks in Mumbai (Bombay). The statement from general secretary Enos Das Pradhan said in part, “The Church of North India strongly condemns the shootouts and appeals to the churches and religious communities to pray for peace and reconciliation. The CNI also appeals to the civil society to start a drive against fanaticism that is mutilating the secular fabric of India. We express solidarity with those killed and taken hostage by the terrorists, particularly our friends from other countries.” The attacks struck in Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, in the early hours of Nov. 27. At least 115 people were killed and hundreds injured, according to the CNI statement.
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called for prayers for Bethlehem during this Advent and Christmas. People from around the world are invited to e-mail Advent and Christmas wishes and prayers for justice and peace to Bethlehem, in collaboration with the WCC and its Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum. Wishes and prayers will be printed and handed out as personal messages, educational materials, and in the context of interfaith prayers in places of worship and in the newly established peace house of the Arab Educational Institute opposite the Israeli “separation wall” in Bethlehem. E-mail Christmas messages and prayers for peace before Dec. 25 to the Arab Educational Institute at aei@p-ol.com. Go to http://www.aeicenter.org/ and http://www.paxchristi.net/ to read the messages.
  • The Association of Professional Chaplains has announced new leaders. The association is a national organization of professional pastoral care providers, including Church of the Brethren chaplains. Susan K. Wintz has been named president; she is a staff chaplain at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz., endorsed by the Presbyterian Church (USA). David C. Johnson is president-elect; he is director of pastoral care and education at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W.Va., endorsed by the United Methodist Church. James Gibbons has been appointed transitional executive director; he retired from Advocate Health Care in 2002 as vice president for mission and spiritual care.
  • Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) has announced a new book by Harold S. Martin, titled “Marriage, Family, and the Christian Home.” The announcement said, “Drawing on his years of experience as a husband, father, grandfather, church elder, evangelist, and teacher, Bro. Harold Martin provides useful, practical material for those considering marriage and for those who are married. Helpful pointers, direct guidance, and biblical teaching permeate this book.” The BRF is offering the book for $10 plus shipping fee of $2 per book for quantities up to four books; free shipping is offered on orders of five books or more. Go to www.brfwitness.org/books/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=22 to order online, or send a request and check to Brethren Revival Fellowship, P.O. Box 543, Ephrata, PA 17522-0543.

6) Historic Peace Churches to hold North American gathering.

The Historic Peace Churches are planning a meeting in Philadelphia, Pa., on Jan. 13-17, 2009, titled “Heeding God’s Call: A Gathering on Peace.” The meeting is by invitation, and is a joint effort of the Church of the Brethren, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, and the Mennonite Church USA. The event is supported in part by a grant from the Shoemaker Fund.

Each sponsoring group will bring 100 delegates, with another 100 participants coming from other Christian denominations and groups including member communions of the National Council of Churches. Participant-observers from the Jewish and Muslim faiths have been invited as well.

Participants will consider three focus statements: “Inspiring HOPE–remembering/reconnecting with our faith that peace IS possible,” “Raising VOICES–raising our voices to lament the terrible suffering and violence in the world and to witness to the possibility of justice and peace for all the world (near and far),” and “Taking ACTION–to make a new thing, to act in the world in ways that bring this reign of justice and peace ever closer.”

Events will take place at a historic Quaker meetinghouse, the Arch Street Meeting House located near Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The schedule will include worship, plenary sessions, workshops, and panel discussions. A closing day of public witness and community action will be carried out with faith communities in the greater Philadelphia area, with a focus on ending gun violence and as a way to remember the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Vincent Harding, noted author and activist, will be a leader for the event, along with James Forbes, pastor emeritus of the Riverside Church, who will speak for the opening of the gathering. Plenary speakers are Ched Myers, author of “Binding the Strong Man” and director of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, and Alexie Torres Fleming, founder and executive director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice in the Bronx, N.Y.

Philadelphia-area faith communities in the city and suburbs are invited to join with the gathering on Jan. 17 for a public witness. The witness will include meetings in houses of worship, and a rally in front of a Philadelphia gun store notorious for selling weapons used to threaten, wound, and kill. The witness will call for retailers of firearms to adopt a sensible Code of Conduct to reduce illegal trafficking of handguns. To register for the public witness on Jan. 17 or for more information about the event, contact saturday@peacegathering2009.org or 267-519-5302.

Church of the Brethren representatives who have been a part of the planning and organizing of the conference include Stan Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren general secretary, and Bob Gross, executive director of On Earth Peace, who have served on the advisory committee. The steering committee has included Phil Jones, director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, and On Earth Peace board members Don Mitchell and Jordan Blevins.

The gathering’s Prayer and Pastoral Care task group hopes to have large numbers of faithful people praying for the event and for peace in the world on Sunday, Jan. 11. “We hope that your congregation will join in an ever widening circle of prayer for this event,” said an invitation from the task group. “We invite you to join in praying for this event in the certain faith that the Gathering will be drawn by your prayers more fully into God’s guiding presence.”

Go to http://www.peacegathering2009.org/ for more information, or contact Phil Jones at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, pjones_gb@brethren.org.

7) Theme for Church of the Brethren Service Sunday is Micah 6:8.

The Church of the Brethren’s Service Sunday is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2009. This special Sunday is recognized annually on the first Sunday in February. The theme for the 2009 Service Sunday is Micah 6:8, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.”

Service Sunday is a time for congregations to remember, celebrate, explore, and continue in opportunities of service. The sponsoring programs are Brethren Disaster Ministries, the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., Brethren Volunteer Service, and the Workcamp Ministry.

A poster and an interactive bulletin insert will be included in the January Source Packet that is mailed to each Church of the Brethren congregation. Other resources are available online, including resourced written or submitted by from former and current Brethren Volunteer Service volunteers, staff, and pastors. Go to www.brethren.org/genbd/bvs/ServiceSunday.htm for more.

8) Douglas called as director of Church of the Brethren Pension Plan.

Scott Douglas has been called by Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) to serve as director of the Church of the Brethren Pension Plan and BBT’s Employee Financial Services at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Douglas, who has extensive experience in marketing and sales of pension and insurance plans, is an ordained minister who has served 13 years with Church of the Brethren-related organizations.

In previous positions, he served from 1986-96 as associate pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. He worked for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies for four years in the 1990s. From 1993-97 he served as a licensed insurance agent for the Mutual Aid Association of the Church of the Brethren. From 1997-2006 he was director of Older Adult Ministries for the former Association of Brethren Caregivers.

In 2007, Douglas earned a master of social work degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also holds a master of divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary and a bachelor of science degree in management/marketing with a minor in psychology from Purdue University.

Douglas will join BBT fulltime on Jan. 5, but is expected to begin limited work in December. He is a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren.

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Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, cobnews@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Glenn Bollinger, Chris Douglas, Phil Lersch, Beth Merrill, Craig Alan Myers, Patrice Nightingale, Carmen Rubio, Callie Surber, John Wall 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. 17. 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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