Newsline for June 4, 2008

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

“I wait for the Lord…and in his word I hope” (Psalm 130:5).


1) Church of the Brethren continues annual drop in membership.
2) Annual Conference moderator visits with Brethren in Nigeria.
3) Virlina District joins friend-of-the-court brief on church property.
4) United Church of Canada endorses Gather ’Round curriculum.
5) Rates drop for charitable gift annuities.
6) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, disaster response, and more.


7) ‘Portrait of a People’ reports on 2006 Brethren Member Profile.


8) BVS plans 60th anniversary celebration for September.
9) 300th Anniversary bits and pieces.

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1) Church of the Brethren continues annual drop in membership.

First the good news: Membership in the Church of the Brethren dropped by a smaller amount in 2007 that in either of the previous two years, down a net 1,562 members to a total of 125,964 in the US and Puerto Rico. And the denomination’s smallest district, Missouri/Arkansas, had the largest percentage gain, adding a net of six new members to grow to 555 (up 1.09 percent).

Three other districts–Shenandoah (net gain of 46 members), Middle Pennsylvania (31), and West Marva (22)–reported smaller gains in the past year.

The overall decline of 1.22 percent, however, continues a trend dating to the early 1960s. Most “mainline” denominations in the United States have experienced similar trends.

Statistics are from data collected annually by the “Church of the Brethren Yearbook” published by Brethren Press. The figures do not include Church of the Brethren membership in other countries, including Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Brazil, and India.

Of the other 19 US districts, the largest losses came elsewhere in Pennsylvania and the west. Western Plains had the largest numerical decline, with a net loss of 307 members. Five other districts–Western Pennsylvania (down 182), Oregon/Washington (174), Illinois/Wisconsin (172), Atlantic Northeast (149), and Southern Pennsylvania (121)–had triple-digit net losses.

As a percentage, Oregon/Washington’s decline was the largest, at 13.4 percent, followed by three other western districts: Western Plains (a net loss of 8.53 percent), Idaho (6.92 percent), and Northern Plains (3.11 percent).

Atlantic Northeast, which covers eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York City, and Maine, is the largest district in the denomination, with 14,711 members at the end of 2007, followed by Shenandoah District and Virlina District.

The numbers of congregations, fellowships, and projects were all lower at the end of 2007. Congregations decreased by four, to 1,006; fellowships dropped from 39 to 37; and projects from 15 to 12. Total reported average weekly worship attendance fell by nearly 2,500 from the year before, to 61,125, and the number of baptisms in 2007 dropped sharply, to 1,380.

But in another bit of good news, reported giving to most agencies and programs was up, with average per capita giving of $43. Of the major funds, only the General Board’s Core Ministries Fund saw a slight decrease in actual giving; donations to Bethany Theological Seminary, On Earth Peace, the Association of Brethren Caregivers, and special-purpose funds all increased.

Updated “Yearbook” figures are based on data provided by congregations that turn in statistical reports. In 2007, 64.5 percent of the congregations reported, slightly less than in most previous years; 68.7 percent reported in 2006.

The “Yearbook” also lists contact information and statistics for congregations, districts, and agencies of the denomination, as well as related Brethren organizations. The 2008 edition is available from Brethren Press; to order call 800-441-3712.

–Walt Wiltschek is editor of the Church of the Brethren’s “Messenger” magazine.

2) Annual Conference moderator visits with Brethren in Nigeria.

James Beckwith, moderator of the 2008 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, returned on May 12 from a 12-day trip to Nigeria to visit with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

In Nigeria, Beckwith traveled with David and Judith Whitten. David Whitten serves as Church of the Brethren mission coordinator in Nigeria. The group visited with a number of key leaders in EYN. Currently, Filibus Gwama serves as EYN’s president, Samuel Shinggu as vice president, and Jinatu Wamdeo as general secretary.

Beckwith went to a variety of locations important to the Brethren in Nigeria, including the national capital, Abuja, where EYN has a large congregation; the EYN headquarters and Kulp Bible College and Comprehensive Secondary School near the city of Mubi; the city of Jos, and the nearby Theological College of Northern Nigeria; and the village of Garkida, where decades ago the first Brethren worship service in Nigeria was held outdoors under a tamarind tree. Beckwith presented 300th Anniversary calendars, courtesy of Michigan District, everywhere he went in Nigeria, he said.

In Garkida, he had the opportunity to preach at the church where he had worshiped as a youth, when his parents served as Church of the Brethren missionaries. He spoke with a translator on John 12 and the 300th Anniversary theme. “That was special,” he said, adding that he spent time with the children of the congregation in Sunday school classes. He also preached in Abuja. Each service lasted about three-and-a-half hours, and hundreds of people attended, with the congregation in Abuja numbering almost 1,000.

In Nigeria, Beckwith found a church faced by “tremendous struggle with financial strain,” including a large disparity between members who are wealthy and those in poverty. The church also is facing up to the task of overcoming tribalism–EYN includes members from a wide variety of ethnic groups–and issues related to the education and nurture of church leaders.

At Kulp Bible College, he heard that the school may put a quota on the number of students, because EYN has more trained pastors than positions available. A theological career is “an exciting opportunity” in Nigeria, Beckwith said. At the same time, there have been periods of months when the church has been unable to pay faculty salaries. And the growth in the number of preaching points in EYN also is slowing down, Beckwith said. Pastors and Bible teachers in Nigeria must “be in it for the Lord’s work,” he commented.

EYN is putting into place a plan for a centralized system to pay pastors salaries, rather than having local congregations pay their pastors directly, in order to work on the disparity between more affluent and poorer churches. The church hopes to make the plan work through a new requirement for 70 percent of offerings to congregations to be passed on to the denomination. Another hope for the plan is to be able to fund pensions for retired pastors. EYN also is carrying out an impressive pastoral development program, Beckwith said.

While Beckwith was in the country, EYN leaders were involved in a top-level meeting of religious leaders in northern Nigeria, held in Maiduguri where interfaith violence between Muslims and Christians has killed many people and destroyed churches. The president and vice president of EYN attended along with Muslim Emirs and leaders of other Christian bodies.

In visits with staff of Mission 21, a European mission agency that has worked with EYN and the Church of the Brethren for years, Beckwith heard a good report of work toward a solar-powered well digging and water piping system for EYN headquarters. Mission 21 also works with Theological Education by Extension and an HIV/AIDS project.

He also joined in a pastoral visit by mission workers to pray for health for a baby boy named Micah–the new child of a church member who had lost all five of his older children to illness.

“It’s important to maintain brotherly and sisterly ties with EYN,” Beckwith said. “I am impressed by the vibrant life and faith they have in the midst of frequent death.” The good regard is mutual, he added. EYN general secretary Jinatu Wamdeo “offered a prayer for me and for the Church of the Brethren, that we would experience peace, purity, progress, and power.”

3) Virlina District joins friend-of-the-court brief on church property.

The Church of the Brethren’s Virlina District has joined a “friend of the court” brief with other denominations, concerning recent court decisions in Virginia related to church property holdings. The district board made the decision to join the friend-of-the-court brief at its meeting on May 10. The issue was referred to the district by the Virginia Council of Churches.

A Civil War-era law is being used to allow a group of conservative Episcopalians to leave the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia with millions of dollars worth of property, according to a “Washington Times” report. The diocese, the Episcopal Church, and a number of other Christian denominations and districts are arguing that the law is unconstitutional. Splits among Episcopalians are over the election of an openly gay bishop, and biblical authority, and those leaving the Episcopal Church are joining a new Anglican body.

Oral arguments in the trial began May 28 at the Fairfax County courthouse. The case is not expected to conclude for some time.

If the Fairfax County court upholds the Civil War-era law, it will set a precedent for the whole state of Virginia, according to Virlina District executive minister David Shumate. Three other Church of the Brethren districts with congregations in Virginia–Shenandoah District, Southeastern District, and Mid-Atlantic District–will be affected along with Virlina.

The case could have implications for Church of the Brethren congregations in Virginia because under Church of the Brethren denominational polity, the property of congregations is held in trust for the use and benefit of the denomination.

The Annual Conference Polity Manual states, “That if the property ever ceases to be used in accordance with the provisions set forth [in the polity manual], or in cases where the congregation has been closed or the property abandoned, the district conference may, upon recommendation of the district board, assert title to the property and have the same vested in the district board, in trust, for the district.”

If a congregation attempts to leave the denomination, Church of the Brethren polity states: “Any property that it may have shall be within the control of the district board and may be held for the designated purposes or sold or disposed of in such a manner as the district board, in its sole discretion, may direct.”

However the Virginia law in question, passed in 1867 after the Civil War, during a time of dissension in churches over slavery and North-South issues, holds that “when a denomination or congregation divides, the majority can vote on who is the continuing congregation and who owns the property,” said Cathy Huffman, chair of the Virlina District Board. “That’s obviously not how we’ve done it” in the Church of the Brethren, she said.

“The law that’s being referred to in the cases in Fairfax County says it doesn’t matter what the church’s polity is,” Shumate explained.

The friend-of-the-court brief contends that the law is unconstitutional in that it inserts the state into church relations, Huffman said. If the law is upheld, “the state can potentially decide what is the church,” she said. “The denominations that filed the brief are interestingly diverse, but they have the view that the church is larger than the congregation.”

“It’s never fun when you have a fight in the family,” Huffman commented. A recent conflict in a congregation in Virlina District has been “a vivid example” of problems faced by the Episcopal Church, she said. When the larger part of the congregation decided to leave, the group that continued in relationship with the Church of the Brethren was recognized by the district, even though it was smaller. The district board was “very cautious to make sure we were following Church of the Brethren polity,” which made the Episcopal court case all the more disconcerting, Huffman said.

Huffman emphasized that in making the decision to join the friend-of-the-court brief, the district board was reminded by at least one member that their intent is not to signal that the courts are the way to go in church disputes.

In the 1970s when a Church of the Brethren congregation in Botetourt County, Va., tried to leave the denomination, the courts awarded the property to the district because the Church of the Brethren denominational polity was so very clear, Shumate said. He summarized the Church of the Brethren polity in a succinct sentence: “If you leave the church, you leave everything behind.”

4) United Church of Canada endorses Gather ’Round curriculum.

The United Church of Canada has become the newest cooperative user of the Gather ’Round curriculum, citing its value for congregations that want to connect with families. Gather ’Round: Hearing and Sharing God’s Good News is a project of Brethren Press and the Mennonite Publishing Network. The curriculum serves children, youth, and parents and caregivers.

“Family, and parents in particular, play an important role in the spiritual development and faith formation of their children,” noted Amy Crawford, program coordinator for children, young teens, and youth. “United Church parents and congregations will appreciate the Talkabout, an important component of Gather ‘Round, which provides parents with practical ways to talk about faith with their children, and helps congregations and families stay connected.”

Crawford also highlighted the way Gather ’Round helps children encounter the Bible stories. “The stories of the Bible speak powerfully about who God is and how God relates to people and all of creation. Gather ’Round provides children with opportunities to encounter biblical stories, interpret their meaning, and make connections so that they can live the story in the world.”

Cooperative users are denominations that have officially endorsed the curriculum for their congregations, warehousing inventory and promoting the material as one of their recommended curricula. Other Gather ’Round cooperative users are the Mennonite Brethren, the Moravian Church in America, and the United Church of Christ. Gather ’Round has also been recommended to congregations of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Brethren in Christ, Friends United Meeting, and areas of the Episcopal Church.

For more go to or call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

5) Rates drop for charitable gift annuities.

The Board of the American Council on Gift Annuities has voted to reduce the recommended charitable gift annuity rates, effective July 1, according to Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). Lowering the rates for deferred charitable gift annuities, effective July 1, also was recommended by ACGA at its annual review.

These rates are linked to the ages of annuitants and are expressed in percentages of the original gift amount, and they define the amount paid to the annuitants each year. BBT is advising those planning to make charitable gift annuities to act before the rate change goes into effect on July 1.

“The annuity rate of a charitable gift annuity is determined at the time it is issued, and that rate cannot be changed once it is established,” said Steve Mason, director of the Brethren Foundation. “Because the payout may extend over many years, the benefit from acting before the rate change should be considered.”

BBT offered a comparison of current rates to the new recommended rates, to illustrate how the change may affect annuitants. At the current rate, an annuitant of a “One-Life Charitable Gift Annuity” at age 60 receives 5.7 percent, but for annuities issued after the rate change the person would receive only 5.5 percent. At age 75, under current rates, the annuitant receives 7.1 percent, but for annuities issued after July 1 the new rate would be 6.7 percent. Annuitants of a “Two-Life Charitable Gift Annuity” at age 60 at the current rate receive 5.4 percent, but for an annuity issued at the new rate they would receive only 5.2 percent.

“To put this into perspective, a $10,000 charitable gift annuity issued before July 1 for a 60-year-old would generate an annual annuity payment of $570. But, if the very same charitable gift annuity had been issued after June 30, the payment would be only $550,” Mason said.

Those considering a charitable gift annuity should consult with the charitable organization where the annuity would be issued. For more information contact Steve Mason, Director of the Brethren Foundation, at or 888-311-6530.

6) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, disaster response, and more.

  • John Rodney Davis, 80, passed away on May 25. He was a former director of volunteer services for the Church of the Brethren General Board 1960-64, when he administered Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and Alternative Service programs, and assisted in placing Brethren Service personnel. He previously was director of training for BVS in 1951. He was a volunteer member of the first BVS unit in 1948 and served as a “peace caravaner” in the Southeastern and Eastern regions of the denomination. His work for the University of La Verne (ULV) in California spanned three decades, and included positions in the public relations department and as professor of psychology. During his tenure at ULV he also developed and directed LV CAPA, an accelerated degree program for working adults. He had a private psychology practice and worked at Tri City Mental Health in Pomona, Calif., as a psychologist. He also taught at the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif., in the advanced degree program in psychology. He was born in Wenatchee, Wash., in 1927, and earned degrees from La Verne College and Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Davis was a passionate pacifist, and during the Korean War served in alternative service at Bethany Hospital in Chicago. He marched in the 1963 Civil Rights march, and witnessed Martin Luther King Jr. deliver “I Have A Dream.” He was a lifetime member of La Verne Church of the Brethren. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Dorothy (Brandt) Davis–who also was in the first BVS unit; and by their four children and 13 grandchildren. A memorial service was held May 28 at La Verne Church of the Brethren. Memorial contributions may be made to On Earth Peace or to the La Verne Church.
  • Susan Chapman has resigned as fulltime program director for Camp Bethel, after completion of this summer’s camping program. Camp Bethel is a program of Virlina District, located near Fincastle, Va. Chapman has served in the position for seven years. During her tenure, attendance at summer camps grew 48 percent. She begins a bachelor of nursing program this fall.
  • Kendra Flory has begun a summer internship with the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC). She is a student at Bethany Theological Seminary. In previous volunteer service at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., she served in Ministry Summer Service with Brethren Press in 2000, and as a program volunteer in 2001, first with “Messenger” magazine and then with ABC. Most recently she has been interim editor for ABC’s “Caregiving” quarterly, while also serving an internship at First Church of the Brethren in Wichita, Kan.
  • The Church of the Brethren’s new Mission Advisory Group is scheduled to meet with the Brethren World Mission on June 16 at the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Following that meeting, the group plans to stay on for more meetings with Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board, and R. Jan Thompson, interim executive director of Global Mission Partnerships. The group will look at current staffing for mission, will assist in the formation of a position description for the executive director of Global Mission Partnerships, and will receive reports from Brethren mission work around the world. Members of the group are Bob Kettering, Dale Minnich, James F. Myer, Louise Baldwin Rieman, Roger Schrock, Carol Spicher Waggy, and Earl K. Ziegler.
  • Somerset (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has received an exceptionally generous donation from a church member, according to a report in the “Daily American” newspaper. Warren Enfield gave $500,000 to help pay off the mortgage for a new church building. “I did something that I will remember for the rest of my life, and it’s completely gratifying,” he told the newspaper. Go to for the full article.
  • Pacific Southwest District is requesting prayer for Principe de Paz Church of the Brethren in Santa Ana, Calif., which was burglarized on the night of May 29. Most of the church’s sound system and musical instruments were stolen. The district requests notes of prayer and support to be sent through pastor Mercedes Zapata, community outreach pastor Richard Zapata, or family life minister Becky Zapata, at Principe de Paz Church of the Brethren, 502 S. Ross St., Santa Ana, CA 92701-5598.
  • The 35th Annual Brethren Bible Institute will be held July 21-25 on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. For more information, contact the Virlina District Resource Center at for a complete brochure listing course descriptions, instructors, cost, and scholarship information. The application process must be completed by June 25.
  • York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill.; Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind.; and the Emerging Welcomers of Turkey Creek Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind., have recently joined the Supportive Communities Network of the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests (BMC). The network includes communities that are publicly affirming of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. A release from BMC added that all three congregations have a long history of community involvement and commitment to peace and justice ministries.
  • During commencement ceremonies, Manchester College awarded two honorary doctorates, to Donald Miller, professor emeritus of Bethany Theological Seminary who also has served the Church of the Brethren as general secretary; and to Loren Finnell, a 1964 graduate and founder of a New York City-based nonprofit that seeks funds for social service projects in Latin America–he was a recent recipient of the Sergeant Shriver Award from the Peace Corps.
  • The World Hunger Committee of Virlina District has announced a full schedule of events for this year. The group raises funds and awareness of hunger problems in the world. Events include a bike ride on June 7, starting at Antioch Church of the Brethren; an organ concert on June 8 at the Antioch Church; a Family Fun Day on July 19 at Monte Vista Acres; and the Hunger Auction, the group’s “flagship event,” on Aug. 9 at the Antioch Church. This will be the 19th Annual World Hunger Bike Ride. Contact Ron Jamison at 540-721-2361 for more about the ride. Go to for more about the World Hunger Committee’s ministry.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has announced its first delegation to the Kurdish region of Iraq, on July 31-Aug. 14. CPT has had a presence in Iraq since Oct. 2002, first in Baghdad, and since Nov. 2006 in the Kurdish north of the country. For more information or to apply, contact CPT at or see Applications must be received by June 9.
  • The New Community Project, a Church of the Brethren related nonprofit, has announced another $12,000 in grants to southern Sudan, primarily for women’s development and reforestation focused on the communities of Maridi and Nimule. “This brings to over $30,000 our support in 2008 thus far,” said director David Radcliff. The project also has placed six young adults in Sudan this summer, to serve as “solidarity workers” in schools and in the reforestation project. The volunteers are Marie Bowman of Bally, Pa.; Jana Burtner and Emily Young of Harrisonburg, Va., who are members of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg; Sarah Durnbaugh of Indianapolis, Ind., and a member of Northview Church of the Brethren; Julie Sears of East Sandwich, Mass.; and Larisa Zehr of Pittsburgh, Pa. Go to for more.
  • The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Burger King Corp. have announced plans to work together to improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers who harvest tomatoes in Florida. Among other agreements, Burger King Corp. will pay an additional net penny per pound for Florida tomatoes, to increase wages for the farmworkers. To encourage grower participation in this increased wage program, Burger King Corp. will fund incremental payroll taxes and administrative costs incurred by growers, or a total of 1.5 cents per pound of tomatoes. “If the Florida tomato industry is to be sustainable longterm, it must become more socially responsible. We, along with other industry leaders, recognize that the Florida tomato harvesters are in need of better wages, working conditions, and respect for the hard work they do,” said a Burger King Corp. spokesperson. Yum! Brands and McDonald’s already have made similar agreements. The CIW campaign has been supported by the National Council of Churches and several Christian denominations. “This coalition of farm workers has worked tirelessly in this effort and we celebrate with them in this great victory,” said Phil Jones, director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office and a board member of the National Farm Worker Ministry. At the 2008 Annual Conference, the Church of the Brethren will address additional issues for farmworkers through a resolution against modern-day slavery, and Baldemar Valesquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, will speak at the Global Mission Partnerships Dinner.
  • Madalyn Metzger of Elkhart Valley Church of the Brethren and a communication manager for Mennonite Mutual Aid, was recognized with a “Forty Under 40” award by the Michiana regional chambers of commerce, the “Elkhart Truth,” “South Bend Tribune,” and Bethel College. The award recognizes 40 young professionals under the age of 40 for professional contribution in the workplace, dedication to community service, and volunteerism. Metzger also is a member of the On Earth Peace board of directors and a 1999 graduate of Manchester College.
  • “Springs of Living Water: Christ-Centered Church Renewal,” a book by Church of the Brethren member David S. Young, has been published by Herald Press. Young is a pastor and church renewal leader who has used the model explained in the book in guiding congregations and districts to take on church renewal. The book serves as a manual to help a church cultivate its spiritual life, train leaders, and focus efforts in ministries which express its identity and call, through a renewal team that is trained to get the entire congregation involved.

7) ‘Portrait of a People’ reports on 2006 Brethren Member Profile.

“Portrait of a People: The Church of the Brethren at 300” by Carl Desportes Bowman is now available from Brethren Press. The book reports the results of the 2006 Brethren Member Profile, a major sociological study of the Church of the Brethren. Bowman has been a professor at Bridgewater (Va.) College, and previously carried out a survey of the denomination in 1985. He also is author of “Brethren Society: The Cultural Transformation of a ‘Peculiar People.’”

In “Portrait of a People,” readers will discover new information about Brethren beliefs and practices, which Brethren Press notes may surprise, please, or even dismay. The survey covers Brethren beliefs about God and the afterlife; attitudes about military service, abortion, and politics; practices in the area of personal Bible study, worship, and love feast; and much more.

Order the book for $15.95 plus shipping and handling, or order a pack of five copies for small group study for $60 plus shipping and handling; call 800-441-3712.

8) BVS plans 60th anniversary celebration for September.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is planning its 60th Anniversary Celebration on Sept. 26-28 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The theme will be, “Faith in Action: BVS Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.”

The schedule for the celebration begins with dinner on Friday, Sept. 26, followed by an opening welcome and worship. The evening will be hosted by the current BVS Unit 282. On Saturday, Sept. 27, events continue with a series of insight sessions on topics such as “Brethren Service in Europe,” “Living the Story: 60 Years of BVS,” and “The Art of Accompaniment and Volunteering.” On the afternoon of Sept. 27, there will be sessions for storytelling and sharing by BVS units from the 1940s-50s, the 1960s-70s, and the 1980s-2000s. An evening banquet will feature keynote speaker Jeff Carter, pastor of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

On Sept. 28, a closing worship service will include a sending address by Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the General Board, and consecration of BVS Unit 282. Online registration will be available soon at

9) 300th Anniversary bits and pieces.

(The following were received in response to an invitation for readers to submit milestone anniversaries in 2008, during the church’s 300th Anniversary. E-mail to submit significant anniversaries of other institutions related to the Church of the Brethren.)

  • Spring Creek Church of the Brethren in Hershey, Pa., is celebrating its 160th year in conjunction with the 300th Anniversary of the Church of the Brethren. Both will be celebrated in worship on August 3.
  • The 100th anniversary of the initiation of construction of the Brethren church building in Valsad, India, was celebrated in May with several hundred people present, reported Asha Solanky, who recently returned from a visit to India where she participated in the celebration. Discussions about building a church there began in 1906. The Brethren decided to build a brick church with the first monetary contribution coming from D.L. Miller. Construction began in 1908 and was overseen by Solanky’s great-grandfather Valji Govindji Solanky nee Mistry (Carpenter). He was a contractor and did much building for the mission, and oversaw the repair and maintainence of the Valsad church throughout his lifetime. “It was a grand celebration beginning with the worship service on Sunday, May 12, and extending to a musical program on Monday evening,” she said. “All classes of the Vacation Bible School had their own acts, as did the Women’s Fellowship, the choir, and the elders. The guest of honor was Anandiben Satvedi Solomon, the oldest member of the Valsad congregation and the India Brethren at age 94. She is a spry and sharp young lady who wrote and read her own account of the Brethren Church.”
  • Herman Kauffman, executive minister for Northern Indiana District, contributed this note: “While not exactly a Brethren institution, the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series in 1908 during the Brethren Bicentennial year. This makes 2008 the 100th anniversary of the Cubs’ last World Series Championship. Perhaps the Cubs can contribute to our Tricentennial year as they did to our Bicentennial year!”

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. Dennis W. Garrison, Jeri S. Kornegay, Nancy Miner, David Radcliff, and Asha Solanky contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for June 18. 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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