Church of the Brethren Closes Its Washington Office

Church of the Brethren Newsline
March 20, 2009

The Church of the Brethren has closed its Washington Office, as of March 19. The decision is part of an overall plan created by executive staff to respond to financial challenges facing the denomination and the decision of the Mission and Ministry Board to reduce the operating budget for core ministries by $505,000 this year.

The decision eliminates the position of director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office. Phil Jones has held that position since July 2003 (see staff announcement below).

Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships, will be structuring a listening process to gather broad denominational feedback for reshaping the way the church carries out the work of witness, peacebuilding, and justice.

Services or functions previously handled by the Washington Office should be channeled through the Global Mission Partnerships office; call 800-323-8039.

The upcoming Christian Citizenship Seminar that has been co-sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office and the Youth and Young Adult Ministry will be led by Chris Douglas, director of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

Staff announcement

The position of director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office has been eliminated and the Church of the Brethren’s Washington Office has been closed as of March 19. The elimination of this position is happening because of the economic recession and the budget reduction put in place by the Mission and Ministry Board at its recent meeting.

Phil Jones’ service as director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office ended March 19. Each person whose position is eliminated because of the budget reduction is receiving a three-month severance package of regular salary and benefits and outplacement services.

Jones has been director of the office since July 21, 2003. His work at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office built on his involvement in grassroots efforts for peace and justice, including work against the death penalty and opposition to the war in Iraq.

During his tenure, the office has done advocacy work based on statements of Annual Conference, and has helped organize many different events such as the Christian Citizenship Seminar and annual gatherings of Brethren at the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch vigils. By working through national organizations, congregations, districts, and Annual Conference, Jones has worked to raise the awareness of many people. He also has offered leadership at National Youth Conference, Young Adult Conferences, and other youth gatherings as he has met with and challenged youth to examine their faith and live out the teachings of the church.


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 to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor at For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.


Brethren in the News

“Lenten luncheons unite Mount Airy churches in faith,” Business Gazette, Gaithersburg, Md. (March 19, 2009). Some Mount Airy churches are celebrating together every Tuesday afternoon of Lent with food and a devotional. The tradition has been going on for more than 23 years. Wallace “Bud” Lusk, former pastor at Mount Airy Full Gospel Church and current assistant at Locust Grove Church of the Brethren, was one of the pastors who helped start it.

“Pennsylvania Germans Focus of Festival,” Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News (March 19, 2009). On Saturday, March 21, the 14th Annual Pennsylvania German Heritage Festival will be held at Harrisburg (Pa.) Area Community College/Lebanon campus. Organized since its inception by James A. Dibert, adjunct professor of history and director of the Pennsylvania German Studies Program, the day-long event kicks off at 9 a.m. with a series of speakers, displays by craftsmen, music, and ethnic food. The Brethren Heritage Singers will perform at noon–an eight-member group from the Elizabethtown area singing in the traditional style of the Church of the Brethren.

“Myersville woman spends year helping abused children,” Frederick (Md.) News-Post (March 18, 2009). While caring for abused and neglected children, Chelsea Spade has learned compassion for their parents. She is volunteering for a year at Casa de Esperanza de los Ninos in Houston, through Brethren Volunteer Service. She attended the Grossnickle Church of the Brethren growing up and has performed service activities through her church.

“A story of hope for the Swords: Couple is back together at Brethren Village,” Lancaster (Pa.) New Era (March 16, 2009). Gene and Barbara Swords are back together in their Brethren Village apartment, after a year of living apart. Gene Swords spent months recovering in the hospital, then rehabbing at Brethren Village’s health-care center, after a stroke. The Swords, now 80, met as opera-loving teenagers at a church camp, ended up at Elizabethtown College, and both retired from long careers with the Lampeter-Strasburg School District. For many years, they performed with the Lancaster Opera Co.

“ACRS Monday Morning Story-Telling Breakfast,” Eastern Mennonite University (March 15, 2009). The Anabaptist Center at Eastern Mennonite University has started a new “story-telling” series that includes the Church of the Brethren. Yesterday’s presentation, on March 16, featured Earle Fike sharing his life story. Fike has dedicated his life to the ministry of the Church of the Brethren. A colleague unequivocally calls him “the dean of Brethren pastors.”

Obituary: Garnetta R. Miller, News Leader, Staunton, Va. (March 10, 2009). Garnetta Jean Reamer Miller, 85, of Weyers Cave, Va., died on March 9 at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. She was a member of Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren and Dorcas Circle of the Church. Her husband of 63 year, Loren J. Miller, survives her.

“Woman, 110, known for sharp mind and humor,” Dayton (Ohio) Daily News (March 9, 2009). Sylvia Utz celebrated her 110th birthday on March 9 at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio. She told the newspaper that her earliest memory is of members of her church, Pitsburg Church of the Brethren in Arcanum, Ohio, picnicking on the present-day grounds of the Brethren Retirement Community with orphans and senior citizens. She figures she was 6 or 7. The newspaper reported that only 1 in 5 million people lives to age 110.

“Fuentes volunteers at The Palms of Sebring,” News Sun, Sebring, Fla. (March 8, 2009). Emily Fuentes of Erie, Colo., has recently undertaken a Brethren Volunteer Service assignment with The Palms of Sebring, a Church of the Brethren retirement community. Before joining BVS, Fuentes studied astrophysics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has also been very involved in her church serving on the Worship Team, Pastoral Search Committee, and as custodian.

“Arrangements Made for Meyersdale Teens,” (March 7,2009). Meyersdale (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is holding funerals for two of the three Somerset County, Pa., teens killed in a car crash last Thursday. A funeral service for Austin Johnson was to be held at the church today, Monday, March 9, at 10 a.m.; a funeral service for Lee Gnagey will be at the church at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Also see “Police: Teens Were Racing Another Car Prior to Fatal Crash,” (March 7, 2009)

Also see “Funeral Plans Set for Three Meyersdale Teens,” (March 9, 2009)

Obituary: Betty Jane Kauffman, The Review, East Liverpool, Ohio (March 7, 2009). Betty Jane Kauffman, 84, died at home on March 3. She was active in Zion Hill Church of the Brethren in Columbiana, Ohio. She was preceded in death by her husband, Adin R. Kauffman, whom she married in 1949. She was a graduate of the Hanna Mullins School of Nursing and worked as a registered nurse.

“Two Garrett churches hit by burglars,” Cumberland (Md.) Times-News (March 6, 2009). Oak Park Church of the Brethren in Oakland, Md., was one of two churches to be hit by thieves during the week. The Garrett County Sheriff’s Office said the two victim churches were ransacked with damages resulting to interior doors, door frames, and jambs.

“In and Around Greene,” Greene County Record, Stanardsville, Va. (March 6, 2009). The Food Pantry in Greene County received 42 donations of food and/or dollars during the February Souper Bowl of Caring food drive. Gifts in memory of Delbert Frey and a Church of the Brethren “Domestic Hunger Matching Grant” helped surpass the goal.

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