Newsline Update for October 7, 2008

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

“…As you also join in helping us by your prayers…” (2 Corinthians 1:11a).

A trainee in the current Brethren Volunteer Service orientation unit has been involved in a situation that is under investigation by the Baltimore City Police Department. The trainee checked in to a hospital on Saturday and was discovered to have given birth recently. After the woman told police the baby was stillborn, they found the body in a trash bin outside the church where the unit was staying.

Police are investigating the death of the baby. The outcome of the police investigation is not yet known.

BVS leaders did not know the trainee was pregnant, nor did they know she gave birth.

“This is a tragedy,” said Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren. The denomination’s executive staff have been involved in offering support and caring for the members of the orientation unit and the BVS staff. Direct care and support also have been offered to the family of the individual involved.

The incident took place at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Baltimore, where the unit was staying at the time. St. John’s pastor Drew Phoenix offered support to the orientation unit immediately. The church has hosted BVS units previously in order to give trainees experience with inner-city life and an opportunity to do volunteer work with organizations such as soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

Church of the Brethren staff expressed gratitude to the St. John’s pastor and congregation for their support during a very difficult time.

The Church of the Brethren is continuing to request prayer support from church members across the denomination. Noffsinger emphasized the role of the church community in times of tragedy and loss. “As a church community, we need to stand by the young woman, her family, and the volunteers who are completing their orientation,” he said. “We have a group of volunteers who are getting ready to go out on their assignments. They are getting tremendous support from staff and counselors as they prepare to go out and serve others around the world.” A professional counselor is meeting with the unit this week.

Brethren Volunteer Service is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren, and this year has been observing its 60th anniversary (


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