Church of the Brethren members have just returned from a 10-day Faith Expedition to the region of Chiapas, Mexico, sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office in partnership with Equal Exchange and Witness for Peace.
The delegation spent several days in the town of San Cristobal exploring the history of Mexico and the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement on this southern neighbor of the United States. In addition, issues of militarism and immigration were addressed in regards to policy decisions made by both Mexico and the United States.
The group met with organizations representing governmental and nongovernmental structures in regards to development and humanitarian support of the Mexican people. Concerned emphasis was given to the indigenous communities who remain persecuted and impoverished, most often due to governmental suppression. A sobering highlight of the trip was a visit to the nonviolent community of Acteal, that only 11 years earlier had been tragically attacked by paramilitary, leaving 45 dead.
This expedition also provided an opportunity for delegates to visit an indigenous community that produces coffee sold through a regional cooperative. The cooperative markets the coffee as organic, fair-trade coffee to Equal Exchange, as well as other fair-trade companies in the US and Europe. Members of the group were able to see the entire production cycle of the coffee that ends up in their cups each morning. The average producer of this coffee works in difficult conditions to earn less than $3 per day.
The 18 delegates completed their trip with a day of developing strategies that will enable them to clearly articulate their experiences, work toward strengthening free-trade policies, develop fair trade partnerships, and directly advocate on behalf of the people of Mexico.
For more information on this, or other Faith Expeditions, contact the Brethren Witness/Washington Office at email@example.com or 800-785-3246.
— Phil Jones is director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office.
The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor at email@example.com. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.
BRETHREN IN THE NEWS
“Lilly Endowment Awards Grants to Help Pastors Address Financial Challenges,” Lilly Endowment, Indianapolis, Ind. In a press release from the Lilly Endowment, the Church of the Brethren’s Northern Indiana District is named as one of 16 regional church bodies in Indiana to receive grants to help support pastors. The district received a grant of $335,000. Read the release at http://www.lillyendowment.org/pdf/Economic%20Challenges.pdf
“Faiths back nonviolent action against gun violence in US,” Ekklesia, the United Kingdom. A religious peace gathering in Philadelphia, USA, last month included daily acts of opposition to gun violence held at a gun store in the city. The actions included non-violent protest, prayer and civil disobedience. A dozen people were arrested over a series of afternoons. Read the full report at http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/8516
Obituary: Kathryn Galbreath, Coshocton (Ohio) Tribune. Kathryn Galbreath, 81, of Baltic, Ohio, died on Feb. 2 at her residence. She was a homemaker and a member of Baltic Church of the Brethren. Her life was her children and husband. She is survived by her husband, Raymond J. “Pete” Galbreath, whom she married in 1955. For the full obituary, see http://www.coshoctontribune.com/article/20090203/OBITUARIES/902030318
“Retired teacher has time, so he gives it,” Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News. James Martin learned the value of helping others from his grandparents and his father, who was a minister for the Church of the Brethren in Lebanon County, Pa. Martin, who lives at Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, became an English teacher and taught thousands of students over the years. He started volunteering at Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center after his wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer. Read the full story at http://www.ldnews.com/news/ci_11609849
“Minister is ready for a new mission,” Herald Tribune, Sarasota, Fla. Pastor Janice Shull’s odyssey began in Aug. 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ravaged her dream house in New Orleans and God steered her family toward another life, leading her to Venice (Fla.) Community Church of the Brethren. “To feel that I have been called to serve the people here in Venice, and to serve the Lord is such a joyous thing for me,” Shull told the newspaper. Read more at http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20090131/ARTICLE/901310318/2058/NEWS?title=”Minister_is_ready__for_a_new_mission
“No football, but still ‘Souper,’” Herald-Mail, Hagerstown, Md. Brownsville (Md.) Church of the Brethren is highlighted in an article about the 20th anniversary of the Souper Bowl of Caring. At the Brownsville Church, the youth have participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring for the past five years. “We collected $200 for the South County Food Bank last year, and we hope to increase that amount for this year,” said Carrie Jennings, one of the organizers. Find the article at http://www.herald-mail.com/?cmd=displaystory&story_id=215699&format=html
“Argos Swap Shop helps clothe the needy,” WNDU-TV, South Bend, Ind. It’s been said “nothing in life is free” but that’s not the case at one store in Argos, Ind. The store is called the Argos Swap Shop sponsored by the Walnut Church of the Brethren CHAFIA. People can bring in their donations and swap them for other items in the store. The store also believes that if you can’t donate, don’t worry. They want to help out those in need during tough times. Find the report at http://www.wndu.com/home/headlines/38651517.html
Obituary: Dorothy J. Puffenbarger, News Leader, Staunton, Va. Dorothy Jean “Nellie” Puffenbarger, 78, of Bridgewater, Va., died on Feb. 1 at her daughter’s residence in Avon Park, Fla. She was a member of Sangerville Church of the Brethren in Bridgewater. She was born Nov. 12, 1930, in Briery Branch, a daughter of the late Bryan and Artie (Huffman) Rexrode. Her husband, C. Leon Puffenbarger, preceded her in death in 1989. For the full obituary go to http://www.newsleader.com/article/20090202/OBITUARIES/902020321