Newsline for February 27, 2008

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

“Instead, strive for (God’s) kingdom…” (Luke 12:31a).


1) Annual Conference ballot for 2008 is announced.
2) Church of the Brethren sends delegation to North Korea.
3) BVS worker helps Guatemalan school raise funds.
4) Brethren funds send money to N. Korea, Darfur, Katrina rebuilding.
5) Brethren Volunteer Service unit completes orientation.
6) Brethren bits: Remembrances, personnel, job openings, much more.

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1) Annual Conference ballot for 2008 is announced.

The ballot has been announced for the 2008 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, to be held July 12-16 in Richmond, Va. The Nominating Committee of Standing Committee–a committee of the representatives of Church of the Brethren districts–developed a slate of candidates, and Standing Committee then voted to create the ballot that will be presented. Nominees are listed by position:

  • Annual Conference Moderator-Elect: Shawn Flory Replogle of McPherson, Kan.; Beth Sollenberger-Morphew of Goshen, Ind.
  • Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee: Linda Fry of Mansfield, Ohio; Diane (Newcomer) Mason of Moulton, Iowa.
  • Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee: Shirley Bowman Jamison of Calloway, Va.; Linda Sanders of Oakland, Md.
  • Committee on Interchurch Relations: Paul W. Roth of Broadway, Va.; Melissa Troyer of Middlebury, Ind.
  • Association of Brethren Caregivers Board: Bernard A. Fuska of Timberville, Va.; John D. Kinsel of Beavercreek, Ohio; Tammy Kiser of Dayton, Va.; Christopher J. Whitacre of McPherson, Kan.
  • Bethany Theological Seminary Trustee, representing clergy: Nathan D. Polzin of Saginaw, Mich.; Karen Walters of Tempe, Ariz. Representing laity: Founa Inola Augustin of Miami, Fla.; Raymond M. Donadio Jr. of Greenville, Ohio.
  • Brethren Benefit Trust Board: John A. Braun of Wenatchee, Wash.; Jack H. Grim of East Berlin, Pa.
  • On Earth Peace Board: Jordan Blevins of Gaithersburg, Md.; Vickie Whitacre Samland of Edgewater, Colo.

2) Church of the Brethren sends delegation to North Korea.

To help North Koreans boost agricultural production and equip their country to avert periodic famine, the Church of the Brethren entered into partnership with a cluster of farm cooperatives in 2004. In the intervening years the productivity of the farms has virtually doubled.

Through grants from its Global Food Crisis Fund, the Church of the Brethren assists small-scale farmers in poor countries around the world to strengthen food security by launching sustainable agricultural programs. The four farm cooperatives in the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea have become an annual grant recipient, farms that were designated by their government for rehabilitation in order to feed and house their residents–15,000 people.

Located two hours south of Pyongyang, the capital city, the farm operations caught the attention of North Korea leader Kim Jong Il, who this past December visited one of the communities and publicly commended its use of advanced farming techniques. He promised to make a return visit to the community this fall.

Kim Jong Il’s government has established state quotas that give priority to the growing of cotton, a crop that has been introduced with some success on the four farms. Other key produce on the farms are rice, corn, wheat, barley, fruit, and vegetables. The farms have led the way in introducing improved varieties of produce and demonstrating double-cropping and the interplanting of crops.

In a country where 80 percent of the terrain is mountainous, and where fuel and fertilizer are in dire supply, advances in agriculture are hard to come by. Drought and floods periodically take their toll. Last August several days of torrential rain reduced by 60 percent what showed promise of being a record yield.

In an act yet rarely extended to people from the United States, a delegation from the Church of the Brethren was invited to visit the four farm enterprises and to tour cultural landmarks in the DPRK. The first to visit was Bev Abma, director of programing for the Foods Resource Bank, in mid-December. The rest of the delegation–Timothy McElwee of the peace studies program of Manchester College, North Manchester, Ind.; Young Son Min, pastor of Grace Christian Church, Hatfield, Pa., a congregation of the Atlantic Northeast District; and Howard Royer, Elgin, Ill., manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund of the Church of the Brethren General Board–were guests for seven days in January. Two other North Americans joined the January contingent, mission administrators from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod: Carl Hanson, based in Hong Kong, and Patrick O’Neal, working from Seoul, South Korea.

Pilju Kim Joo, president of Agglobe Services International, and Kim Myong Su, vice president of Korea Unpasan General Trading Corporation, hosted the delegation. Agglobe is the instrument through which the Global Food Crisis Fund has channeled over $800,000 in relief and development grants to North Korea since 1996. Unpasan is a North Korea trading company with whom Agglobe has entered into a joint venture for managing the four farm programs.

Beyond cooperation in agriculture, Brethren delegation members were intent on reconciliation, taking whatever steps appropriate to help ease 60 years of estrangement between the US and North Korea. They found common cause in a Sunday morning worship service with the Chilgol Christian Church, one of two Protestant churches in Pyongyang. The minister preached on 2 Corinthians 5, the call for believers in Christ to be ambassadors of reconciliation. The music underscored the call. One personal salvation hymn with the refrain “Do not pass me by” spoke poignantly when cast in the context of North Korea’s place in the global Christian community. A choral anthem, “Bringing in the Sheaves,” sung with gusto by the church choir, was a reminder of our interaction under way. In sum, the service belied the sentiment that North Koreans are insular and indifferent to outsiders.

A vexing question for a delegation from a peace church is what message can we share with a garrison state that has long regarded the military as its foremost institution. Clearly a beginning is to listen and learn, and to cultivate relationships. Further, the Church of the Brethren has earned credibility and leverage within the DPRK that it is challenged to exercise well. One of our aspirations is to broaden the Christian witness by encouraging other church bodies and agencies–the Foods Resource Bank, sister denominations, ecumenical agencies, Korean-American groups–to seek out opportunities of becoming engaged with North Koreans.

In one realm, food security, donations of greenhouse technology, irrigation and wells, seed supplies, fertilizer, chemical inputs, and livestock will indeed help North Koreans turn around stagnant levels of agricultural production.

On a broader scale, a paramount need is for the world and for Americans in particular to gain a deeper understanding of what University of Chicago scholar Bruce Cummings calls the “otherness” of North Koreans. That is, to seek to understand the foundation of the national pride and cultural distinctions that North Koreans treasure. To grasp why they hold their late former leader, Kim Il Sung, in such reverence, bestowing upon him not only the mandate of heaven but the sense of an ever-living presence; to put in context why they have long been so distrustful of foreign intervention; to affirm their yearning for Koreans, north and south, to be united as one family.

At this juncture it appears the US and North Korea may be on the path to a new diplomacy that could put aside decades of antagonism. A lot of what North Korea is about today revolves around “three Rs”–rehabilitation, reconciliation, and reunification. Pray that the Christian movement be attentive to and respectful of a North Korea that both resists and pursues change.

–Howard Royer is manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund for the Church of the Brethren General Board.

3) BVS worker helps Guatemalan school raise funds.

Results are in from a three-week US educational/fundraising tour on behalf of Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, that included a stop on Dec. 5, 2007, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Brethren Volunteer Service worker Ryan Richards, who serves as development and office manager at Miguel Angel Asturias Academy, accompanied and translated for the tour by Jorge Chojólan, founder of the nonprofit school.

Richards volunteers at the school on behalf of the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board. He reported that the tour and annual appeal raised sufficient funds to cover the academy’s operating budget for the 2008 school year and build a new computer lab.

Chojólan spoke at events on the tour, sharing his vision for education in Guatemala. Beginning on Nov. 27, the two gave 30 presentations in 12 cities across the United States, to interested audiences in as far flung places as Washington State and Washington, D.C.

“The academy, serving some of the country’s most marginalized children, offers a model for reforming Guatemala’s educational system,” Richards explained. “Only eight out of ten Guatemalan children enter elementary school, and all but three drop out before the end of sixth grade. Poor families can send their children to the academy thanks to scholarships and a subsidized general tuition. The school combines strong academic fundamentals with training in leadership and human rights issues.”

Tom Benevento, Latin American/Caribbean specialist for the General Board, has recommended the academy as a General Board mission site. He praised Richards’ placement as a good fit for the project. “Ryan’s work has been to develop a reliable and growing stream of resources for the project, thus bringing the academy closer to its goal of replicating similar schools in other communities in Guatemala. He has developed the academy’s fundraising infrastructure, including planning the tour, and has also built a sustainable volunteer structure,” he said. Richards holds a bachelor of arts degree in international development from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and was part of the fall 2007 orientation unit of Brethren Volunteer Service.

Benevento added, “The academy is a school that matches Church of the Brethren concerns and values of respect, education for youth from situations of poverty, and educating to create a more just and loving world.”

–Janis Pyle is coordinator of mission connections for the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board.

4) Brethren funds send money to N. Korea, Darfur, Katrina rebuilding.

Grants totaling $155,000 have been given by two funds of the Church of the Brethren: the Global Food Crisis Fund, and the Emergency Disaster Fund. The grants provide support for hunger relief and disaster response in North Korea, the Darfur region of Sudan, and the Gulf coast of the US as it rebuilds following Hurricane Katrina.

An allocation of $50,000 has been made from the Global Food Crisis Fund for four farm cooperatives in North Korea. This is the fifth year of supporting Agglobe International, which oversees the work. The grant will help purchase seed, plastic sheeting, and fertilizer, and cover operating costs for all four farms in the program.

A grant of $35,000 has been made from the Global Food Crisis Fund for a Darfur emergency relief operation, in response to a multiple organization appeal to assist displaced Sudanese. The money will support the planting of trees, monitoring ground water use, expansion of sanitary facilities, and training indigenous leadership.

The Emergency Disaster Fund has made an additional allocation of $35,000 for the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries at its Hurricane Katrina Rebuilding Site 2 in Pearl River, La., and an additional allocation of $35,000 for the Hurricane Katrina Rebuilding Site 4 in Chalmette, La. The grant continue support for these two project sites and will feed, house, transport, and support Brethren volunteers, as well as provide tools and materials, leadership training, and some building supplies.

In other news, Brethren Disaster Ministries reported an increase of volunteers in 2007. “Thanks so much for all your hard work,” coordinator Jane Yount wrote in an e-mail to volunteers. “Our volunteer numbers increased 22 percent in 2007, and hours served increased 35 percent!”

5) Brethren Volunteer Service unit completes orientation.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 278 completed orientation Jan. 27-Feb. 15. The nine volunteers, home congregations or home towns, and placements follow:

Elizabeth Barnes of Sioux City, Iowa, is serving at Casa de Esperanza do los Ninos in Houston, Texas; Brandon Bohrer of Brook Park (Ohio) Church of the Brethren has gone to the San Antonio (Texas) Catholic Worker; Lauren Farrell of Rochester, N.Y., is working with Quaker Cottage in Belfast, N. Ireland; Heidrun Herrenbrueck of Bielefeld, Germany, is working at Gould Farm in Monterey, Mass.; Dennis Kottmann of Lage, Germany, is at the Tri-City Homeless Coalition in Fremont, Calif.; Jim Leyva of York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., is working for Lancaster (Pa.) Area Habitat for Humanity; Rita Schuele of Buchen, Germany, is serving at Bridgeway Home for Pregnant Teens in Lakewood, Colo.; Julia Seese of Delphi, Ind., also is going to Bridgeway Home for Pregnant Teens; and Jutta von Dahl of Bell, Germany, is serving with the Brethren Nutrition Program in Washington, D.C.

“As always your prayer support is greatly appreciated. Please think of the unit and the people they will touch during their year of service,” said Beth Merrill of the BVS office. For more information contact the office at 800-323-8039 or visit

6) Brethren bits: Remembrances, personnel, job openings, much more.

  • Lena M. Wirth, R.N., died at age 89 on Feb. 24 in Modesto, Calif. She was a career Church of the Brethren mission nurse and midwife in Nigeria, where she worked for 30 years from 1944-74. She served at the mission hospital in Garkida, where she also worked at the Garkida Leprosy settlement and in the nursery for well babies at the leprosarium. She also later worked in the communities of Lassa, Biu, and Marama. The emphases of her work in Nigeria included care for children and child welfare. She was born on April 2, 1919, in Empire, Calif., to her parents John and Nina Heisel Wirth. She received her education at Modesto Junior College, the Children’s Hospital of Nursing, and La Verne (Calif.) College–now the University of La Verne. She was a member of Modesto Church of the Brethren and most recently lived at Casa de Modesto, a Church of the Brethren retirement community. Wirth is survived by her sister, Esther Wickert. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 8, at 2 p.m., at Modesto Church of the Brethren. Cards of remembrance may be sent to Esther Wickert, 2814 Lewis Dr., La Verne, CA 91750.
  • Helen J. Goodwin, 95, died on Feb. 8. She was one of the earlier African-American women to earn the doctor of philosophy degree from Johns Hopkins University. She had been a member of First Church of the Brethren in Baltimore since 1978. Born Helen Elizabeth Jefferson in Norfolk, Va., she married Stephen C. Goodwin in 1935. He predeceased her in 1994 after 59 years of marriage. They were originally members in the Church of God in Christ and the First Church of Christ Holiness. After the birth of her four children, she earned degrees from what is now Hampton University, New York University, and Johns Hopkins University. She served as a faculty member of New York University, Morgan State University, and Coppin State University. She also excelled in architectural drafting, as a poet, and in business. She was a co-founder and officer of Amron Management Consultants, Inc., and Health Watch Information and Promotion Service, Inc. Courageous in fighting for civil rights, she worked as a poll captain in elections that involved her daughter, Maryland State Senator Delores G. Kelley, and her granddaughter, Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen L. Holton. Her daughter, Barbara Cuffie, has served on the Church of the Brethren General Board. Goodwin became a devoted member of the Church of the Brethren, attending all but one Annual Conference from 1978-96, and serving as an early board member of the Association of Brethren Caregivers. Survivors include her four children, two sons-in-law, a foster daughter, seven grandchildren, and two nieces. Services were held Feb. 16 at Payne Memorial African American Episcopal Church in Baltimore.
  • Linda Fry of Mansfield, Ohio, is serving as interim secretary for Northern Ohio District, as of Feb. 18. She is a member of First Church of the Brethren in Mansfield, and also serves as district peace and conciliation worker. Her new e-mail address at the Northern Ohio District Office is She is serving in the absence of district secretary May Patalano, who is on leave. Patalano’s district e-mail address,, remains active.
  • Pacific Southwest District seeks a district executive minister. The position is fulltime and available immediately. Pacific Southwest District is geographically, ethnically, and theologically diverse. The district has 28 congregations in California and Arizona as well as five church starts, three of which are Spanish speaking, and one fellowship. The district office is located in La Verne, Calif., 30 miles east of Los Angeles. The district staff includes a missions director, church revitalization director, Center for Brethren Studies director, administrative assistant, secretary, and a financial and property manager. Responsibilities include serving as executive of the district, strengthening a diverse, collaborative team environment; collaborating with the district board in shaping the vision for the district; articulating and promoting the vision; strengthening relationships with pastors and congregations; facilitating pastoral placement; and administering, clarifying, and validating the work of the district board. Qualifications include passion about the potential of the Church of the Brethren and openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit; pastoral and prophetic gifts; deep faith and prayer life; spiritual maturity and Christian integrity; being a student of the scriptures with a grasp of theology and Brethren history; staff and team management skills; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership; experience with the dynamics of growth and change; communication skills; ability to listen and build relationships across cultural, theological, and geographical diversity. Masters degree preferred, English/Spanish bilingual ability advantageous. Send a letter of interest and resume by e-mail to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of resume, a Candidate Profile must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is March 18.
  • The Church of the Brethren General Board seeks a coordinator of online gift invitation, to fill a fulltime position at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Responsibilities include to promote and secure online gifts that will support ministries of the General Board; work with multiple areas to develop and follow a comprehensive plan for e-community building and online giving; work with outside contractors for e-mail communication systems, site design, and/or online giving; work with the coordinator of stewardship formation and education on printed and electronic media messages; develop and maintain the General Board Stewardship and Donor Development website and related pages, blogs, and other web-based donor communication and gift invitation activities. Qualifications include public relations or customer service experience; computer skills; familiarity with computer-based communications; commitment to denomination and ecumenical objectives; positive, affirming collaborative style of leadership; with membership in a Church of the Brethren congregation preferred. Education and experience required include a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. Start date is May 1 or as negotiated. A position description and application form are available on request. Contact the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 258;
  • New volunteer opportunities have been announced by On Earth Peace, in a program titled “Peace Partners.” These volunteer opportunities include leadership, hospitality and logistical support, communication support, designated giving options, volunteer coordinators, and specified expertise. To learn more, contact Lauree Hersch Meyer, Peace Partner Coordinator, at Other volunteer opportunities include a communications volunteer, a district conference assistant, a peace education volunteer, a Peace Basket coordinator, a peace witness volunteer, a counter-recruitment resource volunteer, Peace Witness Action List editor(s), a counter-recruitment call mobilizer, and a Welcome Home Project assistant. For more information visit
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) has appointed a search committee for a new general secretary. It is expected that the election of a new general secretary will come at the next WCC Central Committee meeting in Sept. 2009. The search committee will seek candidates to succeed the current general secretary, Samuel Kobia, who has said he will not seek a second term in office. His current term ends on Dec. 31. “We want to express the deep gratitude of the World Council of Churches for the dedicated services he has given to the council since becoming general secretary in Jan. 2004.,” said Central Committee moderator Walter Altmann. Kobia is the first African elected to the general secretary position and was the former general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Kenya. He had previously served as executive director of the WCC’s “Justice, Peace, and Creation” unit. More information is at
  • A bulletin insert from the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund features Phil and Louise Baldwin Rieman, pastors of Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis. The campaign advocates for passage of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill. The insert tells the story of how, for 39 years, the Riemans “have redirected the military-related half of their taxes to life-enhancing programs and organizations.” An action alert from the Brethren Witness/Washington Office encourages congregations to use the insert on a Sunday prior to the campaign’s spring lobby days in Washington, D.C., on March 29-31. Download the insert from
  • Children’s Disaster Services, a ministry of the Church of the Brethren, is offering two Level 1 Training Workshops in April. The trainings, which are required for volunteers in the program, are scheduled for April 4-5 at Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Glenville, Pa., and April 12-13 at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. Register by two weeks prior to the workshop date. The fee is $45 for early registration (three weeks prior to the date), $55 for late registration, or $25 for retraining for those already certified with the program. For more information contact Children’s Disaster Services at 800-451-4407 (#5) or
  • Upcoming events from On Earth Peace include March 6-7 “Welcome Home Project Workshops on Ministries with Returning Soldiers” in Washington, D.C., and two Counter-Recruitment Networking Calls on March 12-13. Two Welcome Home Project workshops will be part of the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq, with one taking place on March 6 at 6:30 p.m., and the other on March 7 at 8:30 a.m. (more details at Networking calls for those working against military recruitment are scheduled for March 12 at 4 p.m. Pacific time (7 p.m. eastern) and March 13 at 1 p.m. Pacific (4 p.m. eastern). Each call will last 90 minutes. Register for a networking call by sending an e-mail to
  • The annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering March 9 is on the theme, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have” (Hebrews 13:16a). The offering benefits the ministries of the Church of the Brethren General Board. Resources include bulletin inserts, activity maps, offering boxes, bookmarks, posters, a DVD, worship resources, sermon helps, and offering envelopes. A resource packet has been sent to Brethren congregations, and resources in English and Spanish are available at
  • Codorus Church of the Brethren in Loganville, Pa., is marking its 250th anniversary in 2008 with a variety of events planned over a year-long celebration.
  • The Ephrata Cloister Choir will give a concert at Bermudian Church of the Brethren in East Berlin, Pa., on March 1 at 4 p.m. The event celebrates the 300th Anniversary of the Brethren movement. In a recent talk on the church’s history, the congregation learned that nearly all the families that came from Ephrata to plant the Bermudian congregation in 1758 were from one town in Germany–Gimbsheim, according to the church newsletter. The church’s preaching series titled “Stumps and Saplings” is examining “key scriptures, influential Brethren, great quotes, and amazing stories from 300 years of Brethren history and 250 years of Bermudian history.”
  • *Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., is hosting a concert by Andy and Terry Murray as the kick off for its celebration of the 300th Anniversary. The concert titled, “A River Runs Through Us,” takes place this Sunday, March 2, at 3 p.m., and will include participation by the children of the congregation. Andy Murray will preach for morning worship at 9:30 a.m.
  • A Western Regional Youth Camp is planned for June 29-July 4 at Camp Peaceful Pines in Dardanelle, Calif. “Since there were no plans to hold a Western Regional Youth Conference this summer the Program Committee of Camp Peaceful Pines decided to invite the youth of the Idaho and Oregon/Washington Districts, and the youth of Southern California and Arizona to come,” said an announcement from Pacific Southwest District. Leadership will be provided by Walt Wiltschek, “Messenger” editor; David Radcliff, director of the New Community Project; and Cindy LaPrade, Princeton Theological Seminary student and a coordinator of the 2006 National Youth Conference. Cost is $120, or $140 after June 1. The event is for those who have completed grades 9-13 (the first year of college). Churches sending four or more youth need to have an adult advisor attend as well, to serve as cabin counselors and chaperones. More information is at or contact Russ Matteson, pastor of Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, at or 209-523-1438. In other news, the annual Eastern Regional Youth Conference has been cancelled this year.
  • A “Coaching 4 Clergy Workshop” is scheduled for May 1, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind. The workshop is sponsored by the Northern Indiana District Pastoral Support Task Team. Participants will see coaching demonstrated, and have a chance to practice it in small groups. The purpose is to train pastors, church leaders, and spiritual directors in coaching so that they can coach small groups of three-to-five people while receiving support themselves. The registration fee of $30 includes the workshop, a workbook that will be e-mailed to participants ahead of time, lunch, snacks, and a conference call 30-90 days after the event with speaker Val Hastings. The deadline to register is April 1, to ensure receiving the workbook prior to the event. Pastors are encouraged to invite other clergy, church leaders, and spiritual directors, and the event is open to other denominations. Participants receive 1 continuing education unit. To register, mail the fee of $30 per person and each participant’s name, telephone number, e-mail address, address, and congregation to the Northern Indiana District Office, 162 E. Market St., Nappanee, IN 46550. For an informational flier, contact the district office at 574-773-3149 or
  • John and Irene Dale have donated $1 million to Juniata College as part of a capital campaign to restore and expand Founders Hall, according to a Juniata press release. Irene Dale is a 1958 graduate of Juniata; John Dale is a 1954 graduate. The hall is Juniata’s original campus building and currently its main administrative facility. The project with an approximately $8 million budget will create new classrooms and new office space for two departments in the humanities faculty: history and English. A distinctive bell tower and circular staircase will be restored. The renovated building designed by Street Dixon Rick Architecture of Nashville, Tenn., will be built to environmental standards to qualify as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building by the Natural Resources Defense Council. It will be the second LEED building for Juniata, after Shuster Hall at the Raystown Field Station. John Dale is a retired executive vice president of the telecommunications software consulting firm Dale, Gesek, McWilliams, and Sheridan, a computer software, services, and consulting business specializing in telecommunications and networking technology. He has been a member of Juniata’s Board of Trustees since 1997.
  • The Manchester College Symphonic Band toured Puerto Rico on Jan. 24-29, visiting and performing at Brethren congregations. The group was hosted by Segunda Iglesia Cristo Misionera Fellowship in Caimito and Iglesia de los Hermanos in Castañer. Concerts were held at an elementary school, outdoors on a community basketball court, and in the central plaza in Castaner. Small groups played at worship services at the Castañer, Rio Prieto, and Yahuecas churches. The band is directed by Suzanne Ginden. Assistance for the trip was provided by Duane Grady, staff member of the Congregational Life Team of the General Board.
  • Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) has added a new study-abroad location in India, at the College of Fisheries of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal, and Fisheries Sciences University in Mangalore. The agreement was announced in an article in “The Hindu.” Students may apply for a variety of courses including certification of diving experience and competence, introductory-level courses in marine biology, oceanography, and geology, the paper said. Brethren Colleges Abroad is affiliated with the six Church of the Brethren-related colleges and universities, with its central office at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. It offers study-abroad opportunities in some 15 or more countries, and also offers international seminars for faculty, peace and justice programs, and international student exchanges. BCA holds its 5th annual international student conference on relations between the US and Europe titled, “European-US Relations After Bush,” in Strasbourg, France, on March 7-11. BCA students studying in Europe, other American students, and European students are eligible to attend. For more go to
  • Michael Leiter, director of marketing and development at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village in Boonsboro, Md., was appointed recently to the Board of Directors of the Western Maryland Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Fahrney-Keedy is a Church of the Brethren retirement community.
  • Helen Myers of Pleasant View Church of the Brethren in Red Lion, Pa., was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show on Feb. 14. She received a red Volkswagen Beetle convertible, after her granddaughter wrote to the show responding to an invitation for people to send ideas for Valentine’s Day surprises. Myers had driven a Beetle for years when her children were young and always wanted a new one, her granddaughter wrote. Myers is the mother of two Church of the Brethren ministers and missionaries supported by the Brethren Mission Fund, said Brethren Revival Fellowship leader Craig Alan Myers: Linc Myers is serving in Hungary, and Patrick Myers is in New Zealand.
  • Martha Grace Reese, author of the Real Life Evangelism series, is to direct a new research study in effective congregational transformation. “We are looking for pastors and leaders who yearn to be part of something new, something real, something powerful for God,” Reese said, inviting congregations interested in being a part of the study to contact her via Reese gave a workshop based on her “Unbinding the Gospel” book for the spring meeting of the Church of the Brethren General Board last year. The series includes “Unbinding the Gospel”; “Unbinding Your Church,” a pastor’s guide; and the all-church study “Unbinding Your Heart: 40 Days of Prayer and Faith Sharing.” The Lilly Endowment has now awarded a grant to support a second research phase to provide coaching to 1,000 or more congregations to use the Real Life Evangelism Series, and to encourage pastors and lay leaders in 1,000 congregations to work as field researchers to help discover the dynamics of church transformation.

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. John Ballinger, Barbara Cuffie, Larry Elliott, Lerry Fogle, Duane Grady, Nancy F. Knepper, Jon Kobel, Karin Krog, Craig Alan Myers, Deb Peterson, Glen Sargent, Joe Vecchio, John Wall, and 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 March 12. 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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