Newsline Extra for May 7, 2009

“What do these stones mean to you?” (Joshua 4:6b)

1) Brethren Disaster Ministries offers workcamps in Haiti.
2) 50th Anniversary Open House to be held at General Offices.
3) Bethany Theological Seminary observes its 104th commencement.
4) Study tour to Armenia is open for applications.
5) Cross Keys to dedicate new Wellness Center, apartments.
6) Shepherd’s Spring holds grand opening for Heifer Global Village.
7) Brethren bits: More upcoming events!

Online registration ends May 8 for the 2009 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in San Diego, Calif., on June 26-30. Go to to register. Also available online are the Conference schedule, information packet, and major items of business.
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1) Brethren Disaster Ministries offers workcamps in Haiti.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is seeking volunteers to help build homes in Haiti, as part of a new disaster recovery project following hurricanes and storms that caused widespread destruction in Haiti last year. This longterm response project was initiated earlier this year by Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren Haiti Mission. It has been funded by grants totaling $305,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund.

Jeff Boshart is serving as the Haiti disaster response coordinator, working with Haitian consultant Klebert Exceus of Orlando, Fla., in cooperation with Haiti mission coordinator Ludovic St. Fleur and the Haitian Brethren congregations.

“This is an exciting chance to serve and worship alongside our Haitian Brethren,” said the announcement. “So far, Brethren Disaster Ministries has helped build 40 homes in Haiti. While we are thankful for progress made, there is so much more to be accomplished.  We will be building 60 more homes, and volunteers are needed to meet this goal.”

Three Haiti Hurricane Response Workcamps are planned for 2009: on May 30-June 8 (registration is due by May 11), Aug. 7-16 (registration is due by July 6), and in October (dates to be announced). Volunteers will work, eat, and worship with Haitian Christians and help rebuild homes in the mountainous Mirebalais area and the coastal city of Gonaíves. Workcampers also will worship with the Haitian Brethren in the capital Port-au-Prince and other preaching points.

Cost will be from $1,000-$1,200, from Miami, Fla. The fee will cover meals, lodging, in-country transportation, and travel insurance, but does not include round-trip transportation from the volunteer’s home to Miami.

Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older. Other requirements include excellent health, stamina for hard work in a hot climate and two-mile treks up mountain paths, a passport, appropriate vaccinations and medications (malaria medications are recommended), and sensitivity and flexibility with regard to cultural differences.

In addition to home rebuilding, the broad-based project also includes a micro-loan program to fund the purchase of farm animals and support small businesses, shipment of meals for local schools, medical supplies for clinics, providing canned meat from the Mid-Atlantic and Southern Pennsylvania Districts canning project, and training and capacity building for Haitian leadership.

For more information or to register for a workcamp, go to or call 800-451-4407.

In other disaster relief news, the Emergency Disaster Fund has given recent grants in the amounts of $60,000 for the Brethren Disaster Ministries’ Hurricane Katrina rebuilding site 4 in Chalmette, La.; and $5,000 for a CWS appeal following extreme flooding and flood damage in several areas of the United States.

2) 50th Anniversary Open House to be held at General Offices.

On May 13, a 50th Anniversary Open House will be held at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. “What do these stones mean to you?” (Joshua 4:6) is the theme.

The Open House will begin at 1:15 p.m. on May 13 with building tours. At 2 p.m. “Worship in Word and Song” will be held in the unique stone-walled chapel, led by Wil Nolen and the choir of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren. The speaker will be Annual Conference secretary Fred Swartz. At 2:30 p.m. a program of “Stories of Living Stones” will be led by Howard Royer, manager of the denomination’s Global Food Crisis Fund and a church staff member in Elgin for more than 50 years. A reception will follow, and another opportunity for tours of the building.

On April 8, 1959, the building was opened on Dundee Avenue after the church moved its offices from a previous location on State Street in downtown Elgin. This year also marks the 110th anniversary of the church’s move to the city.

Currently the building houses Church of the Brethren denominational staff, the Brethren Benefit Trust, the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Living Gospel Church of God in Christ. Around the building are expanses of lawn, and behind it lie a section of community garden plots.

3) Bethany Theological Seminary observes its 104th commencement.

On May 9, Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., will celebrate its 104th commencement. Two observances will mark the occasion. A ceremony for conferring degrees will take place in Bethany’s Nicarry Chapel at 10 a.m. Admittance to this ceremony is by ticket only. A worship service, open to the public, will be held at Richmond Church of the Brethren at 2:30 p.m.

Christina Bucher, dean of faculty and Carl W. Zeigler professor of religion at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, will give an address titled “The Allure of God and the Lure of Love,” based on the biblical texts of Song of Songs 2:8-17 and 8:6-7 and 1 John 4:7-21, at the academic ceremony.

Russell Haitch, Bethany’s associate professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Ministry With Youth and Young Adults, will speak at the afternoon worship service. His message, “Limping and Leaping,” will be based on Genesis 32:22-32.

Five students will receive master of divinity degrees: Charles Myron Bell of New Castle, Ind.; Kendra Lynnette Flory of McPherson, Kan.; Holly Sue Hathaway of Connersville, Ind.; Dava Cruise Hensley of Roanoke, Va.; and Sandra K. Jenkins of Centerville, Ohio.

Three students will receive master of arts in theology degrees: Valerie Jean Knickrehm Friedell of Goshen, Ind.; Karen Ann Garrett of Eaton, Ohio; and Haley Marie Goodwin of Carlisle, Pa.

Receiving a certificate of achievement in theological studies is Mary Alice Eller of Richmond, Ind.

Graduates’ future endeavors include careers in pastoral and congregational ministry, teaching, and additional graduate study.

Marcia Shetler is director of Public Relations at Bethany Theological Seminary.

4) Study tour to Armenia is open for applications.

Space is still available in the joint Heifer International and Church of the Brethren Study Tour to Armenia and Georgia on Sept. 17-Oct. 1. The tour will include visits to Heifer Armenia projects focusing on peace, cultural sites, and sites connected with the Church of the Brethren’s relief work in Armenia that began in 1919.

The first five days of the tour will be spent in the country of Georgia, visiting Heifer dairy and rehabilitation projects.

Cost is $3,500 and includes accommodations, meals, in-country transportation, project visits, tour leaders and guides, workshops, and sightseeing. The tour leaders are Jan Schrock, senior advisor for Heifer International, and Kathleen Campanella, director of Partner and Public Relations at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

Contact Jan Schrock at to receive an itinerary and application form or go to for more information about the tour including a study tour overview, an application form, and the Armenia Annual Report from Heifer International.

5) Cross Keys to dedicate new Wellness Center, apartments.

Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa., will dedicate the new Harvey S. Kline Wellness Center and Harmony Ridge West Apartments on May 29. An Open House for the facilities will be held the next day. The public is invited to both events.

The wellness center is named for the Church of the Brethren clergy member who served as administrator and president from 1971-89. Harvey and Ruth Kline now live at Cross Keys. The wellness center portion of the project is being funded by private donations, currently totaling more than $2.5 million.

The 127,000-square-foot project includes 56 apartments; a wellness center with pool, exercise room, cardio equipment room, changing rooms, and salon/spa; and a community center expansion with café restaurant and spaces for recreation, meetings, business, and activities of all kinds.

The dedication ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Friday in the front Harmony Ridge West parking lot, and the open house will be from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. throughout the building. The guest speaker for the dedication will be Larry Minnix, president/CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the national association representing nonprofit retirement communities, nursing homes, assisted living, and other senior service endeavors.

New villagers began moving into the apartments on April 13, with the other facilities beginning operations at various times in May.

— Frank Buhrman is director of public relations for Cross Keys Village-Brethren Home Community.

6) Shepherd’s Spring holds grand opening for Heifer Global Village.

The public is invited to the grand opening celebration of a new Heifer Global Village at Shepherd’s Spring in Sharpsburg, Md. The celebration takes place May 9 from 2-4 p.m. Admission is free.

Shepherd’s Spring is an outdoor ministry center of the Church of the Brethren’s Mid-Atlantic District, providing summer camp programs and retreat and conference facilities. The district has worked closely with Heifer International,–a nonprofit organization originally begun by the Church of the Brethren dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty–to bring the Heifer Global Village experience to Shepherd’s Spring.

Through programs designed by Heifer International, the Heifer Global Village raises awareness of hunger and poverty by giving participants a first-hand experience of the daily struggles that people in poverty face every day to simply feed their family a meager meal. By living the lessons of poverty first-hand, participants come to understand the complications surrounding hunger and poverty and see their connection in creating change that brings possibility and hope to millions around the world.

During the grand opening celebration, visitors will take a guided tour of the Heifer Global Village featuring homes representing Kenya, Guatemala, Mozambique, and the Appalachian region of the US. Volunteers will offer guests food samples, such as tortillas eaten in Guatemala, and cashews from Mozambique. Attendees will learn about the Global Village programs and about Heifer International’s work as they meet several of the animals that Heifer provides to struggling families around the world including goats, pigs, and other traditional farm animals.

Education has long been an important part of Heifer’s mission. Heifer lives its mission by sharing the knowledge that it has gained in 60 years of fighting global hunger and poverty. Since 1944, when it began as the Church of the Brethren program Heifer Project, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income.

Every gift of an animal provides benefits such as milk, eggs, wool, and fertilizer, increasing family incomes for better housing, nutrition, health care, and school fees for children. Recipients then “pass on the gift” of offspring of their cows, goats and other livestock to others.

For more information about the celebration visit or contact or 301-223-8193. For more information about Heifer International visit or call 800-696-1918.

— Ann Cornell serves as administrator for Shepherd’s Spring.

7) Brethren bits: More upcoming events!

— The Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., will host a meeting of the National Council of Churches (NCC) Governing Board on May 18-19. The meeting is expected to gather about 60 people from a variety of Christian denominations to consider an agenda that may include action on a budget, panel presentations on a Peace Church Gathering and on the ecumenical document Joint Declaration of Justification, and a number of reports from committees and commissions of the NCC and related organizations including Church World Service. H.E. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian will preside. Church of the Brethren staff will lead the opening chapel service.

— The SERRV Store at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is holding a World Fair Trade Day on May 9. “Come and have a Fair Trade Coffee Break with us,” said an invitation. “Sample some of our Amazing Coffees, Divine Chocolates, and delicious jams and jellies, all out for our customers to enjoy.” Copies of the new Brethren Press history of the Brethren Service Center written by R. Jan and Roma Jo Thompson, “Beyond our Means: How the Brethren Service Center Dared to Embrace the World,” are available in the SERRV Store.

— The annual Ministers’ Association Continuing Education Event takes place prior to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in San Diego, Calif., on June 25-26. The theme will be, “Paradoxes of Congregational Conflict: Pastoral Leadership in Interpersonal Peacemaking.”

Celia Cook Huffman, professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., will be the presenter. Go to to register online. Registrations are due by June 10. For more information contact Dave Miller, chair of the Ministers’ Association, at or 717-637-6170.

— A trial date of May 26 has been set for the 12 people arrested for civil disobedience at Colosimo’s Gun Center in Philadelphia, Pa., as part of the “Heeding God’s Call” gathering of the three Historic Peace Churches that took place in January. The trial will take place at Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center. Those arrested included Church of the Brethren members Phil Jones and Mimi Copp, along with community advocates from Camden, N.J., and Philadelphia, Christian clergy from three denominations, and a Jewish rabbi. The “Heeding God’s Call” gathering launched a faith-based initiative against gun violence in America’s cities, requesting gun dealers to sign a code of conduct for responsible gun sales. “Please join us in supporting these individuals during their trial and help continue Heeding God’s Call movement to end gun violence,” said an e-mail notice from Therese Miller, one of the coordinators of the gathering. Miller also announced a second Gathering of Partner Faith Communities in the initiative against gun violence, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on May 16 at Cookman United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. Five new partner communities have joined the group, bringing the total number of congregations involved to 38 including among others Mennonite, Friends, Episcopal, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Jewish, and Muslim congregations.

— A Second Annual Southern Ohio District FIESTA celebration of Hispanic ministry takes place May 16 from 5-7 p.m. at Iglesia de los Hermanos Cristo Nuestra Paz (Christ Our Peace Church of the Brethren), hosted by New Carlisle Church of the Brethren. The menu will be prepared by chef Ramona Rivera and will include arroz con pollo, Puerto Rican chicken rice, along with habichuelas (beans), ensalada (salad), pan con ajos (garlic bread), and a postre or dessert of sweet rice with coconut. A love offering will support the ministry of Iglesia de Los Hermanos Cristo Nuestra Paz.

— Fundraising events leading up to the 2009 World Hunger Auction in Virlina District have been scheduled. A Mini-Golf Tournament will be held at Hot Shots in Smith Mountain Lake on May 16 at 1 p.m. The Hunger Bike Ride starts at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., on May 30 at 8 a.m., with a choice of short courses or 25 or 50 mile routes. A Family Fun Day will be held at Monte Vista Acres on June 20 at 4 p.m. An organ concert by Jonathan Emmons, who has been an Annual Conference organist and currently is an instructor at Wesley College Department of Music, will be offered Aug. 2 at 3 p.m. at the Antioch Church. The 26th Annual World Hunger Auction will be on Aug. 8 at 9:30 a.m. at the Antioch Church. Go to for more information and pledge sheets for events.

— Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., is sponsoring its third annual E.J. Smith Memorial canoe outing on the James River, on May 16. Contributions will be received for Relay for Life. Contact Ronnie Hale at 540-334-2077.

— An “iCare NOLA Workcamp” on June 13-20 will take a group of youth and adults to do disaster relief work in New Orleans, sponsored by Camp Ithiel and NOLA East Brethren Home, and the Atlantic Southeast District Brethren Disaster Team. The group will help reconstruct homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Contact or 407-293-3481.

— The Bridgewater (Va.) College 2009 commencement address will be given by Edward Ayers, American historian and president of the University of Richmond, speaking on “Graduating in Unusual Times.” The ceremony takes place at 2 p.m., on Sunday, May 17. Nearly 300 seniors are expected to receive degrees. Jeffrey Carter, pastor of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, will deliver the message at the 10 a.m. baccalaureate service in Nininger Hall, speaking on the topic “Thinking and Doing What Is Right.”

— The Juniata College commencement address will be given by Peter Marzio, director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, and Juniata graduate. Juniata College is located in Huntingdon, Pa. Marzio also will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at Juniata’s 131st Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 16.

— A Study Tour of Israel/Palestine and Jordan will be led by Bridgewater (Va.) College chaplain Robbie Miller in Jan. 2010. The 15-day tour will be part of the “Religion 315: Lands of the Bible” interterm course. The tour will be conducted by the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, and will visit sites of biblical and religious importance including Jericho, Petra, Qumran, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Masada, and more. Cost including airfare will be approximately $3,400. The Church of the Brethren’s Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center will grant 8 continuing education units for the tour. Contact Miller at or 540-828-5383.

— “Beyond SECURITY: 2009” is a North American Stewardship Conference recommended by the Church of the Brethren’s stewardship staff. The event takes place on June 18-20 in Toronto. Featured presenters include Blair Clark, Associate General Secretary of Canadian Baptist Ministries; Eleanor Clitheroe, rector of St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Smithville, Ontario, and Executive Director of Prison Fellowship Canada; Nathan Dungan, founder and president of Share Save Spend; Bev Foster, director of music at Church of the Ascension in Port Perry, Ontario, and executive director of the Room 217 Foundation; Bill Phipps, co-founder and chair of Faith and the Common Good; Rick Tobias, CEO of Yonge Street Mission in Toronto; and Henry Wildeboer, who has served as Regional Director for the Christian Reformed Church in Ontario and Eastern Canada and as Associate Professor at Tyndale Seminary. A wide variety of workshops will be offered on topics such as “Multiplying the Gift: Tax-Effective Giving,” and “Soul-Mapping: Discovering Abundance in Personal Time and Space” and “Food: Eating Ethically.” Hotel reservations may be made for $94 (single) or $99 (double). Cost of registration is $325 by May 15, $350 thereafter. A one-day rates is available. Go to for more information.

— Churches in many countries are preparing for a “World Week of Peace in Palestine and Israel,” according to a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). The week of June 4-10 is intended to generate joint church action for a just peace in Israel and Palestine. The WCC-led week of action is in its fourth year. Participants are invited to pray, educate, and advocate, with a 2009 focus on Israeli settlements in occupied territory. A prayer offered by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem has been sent to more than 120 countries. Among ideas for activities during the week, a Palestinian community organization is offering a way for people to join in by sending peace prayers to Bethlehem. A church-related community organization there will share the prayers for worldwide use online and to be read aloud locally at the Separation Wall, near settlements, and in Palestinian parishes and schools including in Gaza. Go to for resources including a message, prayers, and liturgies.

— “Israeli-Palestinian Peace: Hope for Things Unseen” (Hebrews 11:1) is the title of the conference of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) on June 7-9 in Washington, D.C., at Gallaudet University. “The conference is an occasion to reflect on the challenging and complex situation in the Holy Land,” said an announcement. “The facts on the ground are discouraging and give few reasons for optimism. In fact many doubt the possibility of peace. But faith leads us to a hope that perceives a reality beyond optimism. Faith affirms our role as advocates for a just and lasting peace–two states living side by side with dignity and security for all the peoples of the region.” Speakers include Amjad Attalah and Daniel Levy, co-directors of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation; Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations; and Danny Seidemann, founder and legal advisor for ‘Ir Amim’, a nonprofit association dedicated to an equitable, stable, and sustainable Jerusalem, and a practicing attorney in Jerusalem. Participants will have an opportunity to meet with elected officials. Go to for schedule and cost information and to register.

— The National Council of Churches (NCC) Eco-Justice Program is offering resources and action ideas for Endangered Species Day on May 15. “The call to protect species lies not in human-centered benefits, but in a biblically centered directive to protect species for the sake of God,” said an announcement. This year, the program is encouraging Christians to contact government representatives about the construction of a fence along the southern border of the US, with concerns for its impact on endangered species as well as public lands and water. More than 35 environmental laws may be waived in order to complete the fence, the release said. Go to to contact Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano about the waiver of environmental laws. Go to for education and worship resources on biodiversity and endangered species.

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jordan Blevins, Mary K. Heatwole, Jon Kobel, Elizabeth Mullich, Carmen Rubio, John Wall contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for May 20. 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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