Newsline for Dec. 17, 2009

Newsline is the Church of the Brethren e-mail news service. Go to www.brethren.org/newsline to subscribe or unsubscribe.
Dec. 17, 2009 

“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed…” (Isaiah 40:5a, NIV).

1) Immigration issues are affecting some Brethren congregations.
2) Grants support ecumenical build in Iowa, assistance to Cambodia, India, Haiti.
3) Kulp Bible College holds 46th graduation ceremony.
4) Dominican theology students receive introduction to pastoral care.

5) Wiltschek resigns from ‘Messenger’ to lead campus ministry at Manchester.

6) NYC registration opens Jan. 5, ethnic minority scholarships are offered.
7) Author of ‘Grace Goes to Prison’ plans speaking tour.

8) Quilts bring to life memories of women’s work in China.

Brethren bits: Personnel, new BVS project site, Haiti workcamp, and more (see column at right).

New at www.brethren.org is a study guide for the Brethren Press book “Grace Goes to Prison” by Melanie G. Snyder. The study guide will help Sunday school classes and other small groups use the book as a resource for study and discussion. The author also is planning a book tour (see story below). To download the study guide in pdf format go to www.brethren.org/site/DocServer/grace_study_guide_faith.pdf?docID=5301 . Order “Grace Goes to Prison” from Brethren Press for $18.95 plus shipping and handling, call 800-441-3712 or order online at www.brethrenpress.com.

1) Immigration issues are affecting some Brethren congregations.

Immigration issues are affecting several Church of the Brethren congregations and members, according to Ruben Deoleo, director of Intercultural Ministries. “This is a situation that our church is living right now, right here, with people that are members of the church,” he reported.

Legal proceedings such as deportations have been carried out against some Brethren members in specific congregations over the past several months. Deoleo estimates that around five congregations are being affected across the denomination. He is not naming the congregations and affected members because it may make the legal situation more difficult for them, he said.

In one recent case, a woman who is a leader in a Church of the Brethren congregation in North Carolina, in Southeastern District, was detained in October and has now been deported to Honduras. The stated cause for her deportation is that “she did not follow on some documentation that she said was never received at their residence,” Deoleo said. “Her husband and children also are active in the church, he is responsible for the church’s program and media and his older son is the keyboard player.”

“Some of this situation is also happening at the other side of the country, in California,” Deoleo said. In June, a Pacific Southwest District pastor informed Deoleo that several people from the congregation had been detained and were in the process of being deported. The pastor also shared “that some people of her congregation want to come to the Conference (in San Diego in June), but their fear to travel two hours, and the possibility that the police stop them and ask for documents, blocked the desire to be at Annual Conference,” Deoleo said.

Brethren who live in rural areas where there is a lot of agricultural work are those experiencing the most immigration issues, Deoleo said. He mentioned California, North Carolina, and Virlina District as the areas where Brethren are most affected.

This fall, Deoleo was part of an ecumenical meeting of denominational staff for Hispanic ministries, where immigration was one of the topics. The group represented several Christian denominations and had a chance to “openly share how they have been affected by the deportation process,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to the day when the Church of the Brethren unites in support of the congregations” that are being affected by immigration issues, Deoleo said, adding encouragement for a new church statement on the issue. “There are lots of people working on those issues right now.”

An Annual Conference statement made in 1982 is the current Church of the Brethren statement on immigration. Titled, “Statement Addressing the Concern of Undocumented Persons and Refugees in the United States,” it is online at www.cobannualconference.org/ac_statements/82Refugees.htm .

Among Christian denominations and organizations that recently have made statements on immigration are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which on Nov. 14 issued a new social policy resolution, “Toward Compassionate, Just, and Wise Immigration Reform” ( www.ELCA.org/socialissues ). The National Association of Evangelicals also recently made a resolution in support of immigration reform and compassion for immigrant families ( www.nae.net/resolutions/347-immigration-2009 ). Church World Service this week issued a statement welcoming the introduction of a new comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House of Representatives, titled “Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009.”


2) Grants support ecumenical build in Iowa, assistance to Cambodia, India, Haiti.

Recent grants from two Church of the Brethren funds–the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF)–total $40,200. The grants support an ecumenical rebuilding project in Iowa, reconstruction and food relief in Cambodia, work at the Rural Service Center in India, and a children’s program in Haiti.

An EDF grant of $25,000 will support a rebuilding project in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, more than a year after the severe flooding that affected the state in June 2008. Brethren Disaster Ministries is joining with Church World Service and other denominations in an ecumenical rebuilding effort in which it will take a lead role by committing additional staff and volunteer time. The grant will purchase building materials, tools, and supplies, and undergird volunteer support, travel expenses for additional project leadership, and equipment.

Northern Plains District reports that the project is scheduled for April 12-May 21, and will involve working through two local programs: the Linn Area Long Term Recovery Coalition and Block by Block. Several people from the district participated in a planning meeting on Nov. 16-17 in Cedar Rapids, including Dick and Karen Williams, district disaster response coordinators; Jim Goodrich, pastor of Cedar Rapids Brethren/Baptist Church; and Tim Button-Harrison, district executive. Also present was Zach Wolgamuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

A GFCF grant of $7,500 has been given to Church World Service (CWS) for reconstruction in Cambodia following a typhoon in September. CWS Cambodia responded with a three-phased program of immediate food and relief assistance, intermediate recovery measures, and longer term reconstruction for 41 villages. The Brethren grant will be designated for agriculture and development, and is in addition to a $15,000 grant from the EDF made in October.

A GFCF grant of $5,000 will assist the Rural Service Center at Ankleshwar, India, which has connections with the Church of the Brethren. The center assists villagers in utilizing government agricultural extension programs, working among Hindus, Muslims, and Christians alike. The grant will undergird programs of land leveling, biogas development, and agricultural capacity-building.

A GFCF grant of $2,700 has gone to a children’s educational agriculture program in Haiti, “Coordination des Enfants pour le Progrès Agricole et Educationnel de Bombardopolis.” The program provides children the opportunity of working in school vegetable gardens in return for having their school fees paid in part or in full. The funds will be used for the purchase of vegetable seeds, plastic sacks for tree seedling propagation, and watering cans. The program covers school fees for participating families.


3) Kulp Bible College holds 46th graduation ceremony.

Kulp Bible College (KBC) held its 46th graduation ceremony on Dec. 4. KBC is a ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Fifty-five students graduated from several programs offered by KBC. Guests from the village of Kwarhi–where the campus is located–and areas further abroad in Nigeria were present to witness the granting of diplomas and certificates.

The school is the source of ministry training for pastors and church workers within EYN. Graduating students from diploma and certificate programs will be placed in ministries–in roles such as pastor, evangelist, and Bible school teacher–by EYN National Headquarters.

For the Diploma in Christian Ministry (a four-year program), 19 diplomas were awarded to 16 men and three women. Nine full-time students (eight men and one woman) and five part-time students received the Certificate in Christian Ministry.

The Women’s School granted 17 certificates to full-time students and five to part-time students. The Women’s School is an educational program to further the knowledge of women whose husbands are studying at KBC. Studies include both practical (such as basic health concepts) and biblical/theological content.

In his speech as principal of the college, Toma H. Ragnjiya congratulated the students and spoke about some of the improvements and challenges facing KBC in the future. The improvements include the implementation of a new curriculum, the Diploma in Theology, which will be granted in affiliation with the University of Jos. This affiliation program is near completion but was delayed due to a strike by national university workers. Twenty-two candidates were accepted to begin this new three-year program in February. Classes for new and continuing students will begin Feb. 1, 2010.

— Nathan and Jennifer Hosler are Church of the Brethren mission workers serving at Kulp Bible College. In addition to this report, they requested prayer for graduating KBC students and families as they are placed in ministries; for continuing students to receive needed rest over the holiday break; for Principal Toma H. Ragnjiya and the KBC staff; and for the development of Peace and Reconciliation classes, as next semester will have its first full implementation of the new program.


4) Dominican theology students receive introduction to pastoral care.

Thirty Brethren students in the Theological Program of the Dominican Republic participated in a weekend intensive conference titled, “Program of Preparation for Counselors,” held in mid-November. Directed by a Dominican Mennonite family therapist, the conference featured dramas, role plays, small group activities, and lectures.

Students were guided in reflecting on their own families of origin, common types of Dominican families, the profile of a Christian counselor, family life cycles, and how to deal with conflictive relationships caused by infidelity and domestic violence.

Following the conference, one student commented, “I don’t have words to express all the blessings that I received during the conference. I long to receive more preparation so that I can help meet the needs of couples in my congregation.”

Twelve students anticipate completing their studies at the Jan. 23, 2010, graduation to be held at San Luis “Prince of Peace” Church of the Brethren.

— Nancy Sollenberger Heishman directs the church’s Theological Program in the DR.


5) Wiltschek resigns from ‘Messenger’ to lead campus ministry at Manchester.

Walt Wiltschek has resigned as editor of the denomination’s “Messenger” magazine, effective Feb. 1, in order to accept a call as campus pastor at Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind.

He has served as staff of the Church of the Brethren for more than 10 years. He began work with the former General Board in Aug. 1999 as interim editor for Newsline and the “Messenger” news section. He began as full-time director of News Services in Jan. 2000. He also briefly covered the Identity and Relations position for part of 2003. He began as editor of “Messenger” in Jan. 2004.

In previous positions, he was an associate pastor of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren and program director for Camp Eder in Fairfield, Pa. He has volunteered regularly at several Brethren camps each summer. He also has been a sports writer and editor for the “York (Pa.) Daily Record,” and has done freelance work for several other newspapers.

Wiltschek is an ordained minister and a member of York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill. He holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and mathematics from York (Pa.) College, a certificate in biblical studies from Eastern Mennonite University, a master of arts in religion from Lancaster (Pa.) Theological Seminary, and a master of arts in communication studies/journalism from Northern Illinois University.

He is “well-regarded for his inter-faith mentoring of youth and young adults,” said a release from Manchester College, where he will begin Feb. 2 as part of the Student Development team. He will lead a religious life program that serves students from more than 30 denominations, on a campus that reflects a diversity of faith including non-Christian faiths as well as many not affiliated with a specific denomination.


6) NYC registration opens Jan. 5, ethnic minority scholarships are offered.

National Youth Conference (NYC) registration will be open in less than a month. NYC registration will open online at http://www.brethren.org/  at 8 p.m. (central time) on Tuesday, Jan. 5. The online registration will be available through April 5.

“Before registering, however, there is some information that each participant should know,” said an announcement from coordinators Audrey Hollenberg and Emily LaPrade. Each participant will need to create his or her own log-in at www.brethren.org in order to register. It will take longer to register youth groups than in past years because each person will have to log in and out of the system. Also, each participant will need his or her church code at the time of registration (go to www.brethren.org/churchcode  to find a congregation’s code number).

The cost to register opens at $425. The cost will increase to $450 after Feb. 15. A deposit of $200 per person is due within two weeks of registration. Credit card payments are another new feature of the 2010 registration. Registration includes all programming, lodging, and meals during the conference, but does not include transportation to and from the conference.

NYC also will offer ethnic minority scholarships. “Raising enough money to attend National Youth Conference is a big obstacle for many youth,” said the coordinators. “However, due to generous contributions to a scholarship program created to aid ethnic minority and international youth in attending NYC, the size of this obstacle has been greatly reduced. We are committed to promoting diversity and to making it possible for as many Brethren youth as are interested in NYC to attend.” The scholarships will be need-based and offered on a case-by-case basis. To apply, youth or advisors should contact Audrey Hollenberg at ahollenberg@brethren.org  or 800-323-8039 ext. 281 before Feb. 1, giving an assessment of the need for ethnic minority scholarship assistance within your church.

Preview the registration page and what information is needed to register at www.brethren.org/nycreg . Contact 2010nyc@brethren.org  or 800-323-8039 ext. 246 with questions about NYC registration.


7) Author of ‘Grace Goes to Prison’ plans speaking tour.

Melanie G. Snyder, author of the new Brethren Press book “Grace Goes to Prison: An Inspiring Story of Hope and Humanity,” is planning a cross-country speaking tour to foster understanding of restorative justice and promote awareness of current issues in the American criminal justice system. She is a member of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

“Melanie will share inspiring true stories from her book about Marie Hamilton’s 30 years of prison volunteer work, facilitate community dialogue about related criminal justice issues, and provide information on promising approaches such as restorative justice and alternatives to incarceration–approaches which are now receiving renewed attention as state budgets are strapped and legislators seek better ways to address crime and reduce recidivism,” said a release.

Snyder will tour from mid-February to late April, visiting a number of cities including places such as Charlottesville, Va.; Richmond, Ind.; Elgin, Ill.; McPherson, Kan.; and Phoenix, Ariz. She is seeking speaking engagements with churches and other faith groups, colleges and universities, retirement communities, civic groups, peace and justice organizations, prison ministry groups, independent bookstores, public libraries, and book discussion groups.

To schedule a speaking engagement contact Melanie@MelanieGSnyder.com  or 717-572-2110. A schedule for the tour will be available at http://melaniegsnyder.com/books . The book may be purchased from Brethren Press for $18.95 plus shipping and handling, call 800-441-3712.


8) Quilts bring to life memories of women’s work in China.

“Archival research and collective memories from close at hand and afar are bringing an intriguing story to life–a kind of SERRV project a decade or two ahead of SERRV, a hunger action program 50 years ahead of the Global Food Crisis Fund,” reports Howard Royer.

Earlier this fall Royer–who manages the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund–was loaned two unique quilt pieces by Marjorie Morse Kauffman of Lancaster, Pa.: a bed quilt and a quilted runner. The quilts were made of white cloth, appliqued with blue fabric in a floral pattern.

All that Kauffman knew about them were that the tops had been sewn together and appliqued by women in China as part of the former Brethren mission program there, prior to World War II. The quilt tops were then made available to churches in the US. Kauffman had found the two quilt tops in a trunk of things owned by her grandmother, and had the pieces quilted in Elgin, Ill.

Royer asked Ken Shaffer, director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, and his assistant Denise Kettering to find out more about the origin of the quilts.

“Denise and I have spent a couple blocks of time this week looking for documentation of teaching embroidery/sewing/etc. in China,” Shaffer reported back by e-mail. “We found this sentence in a June 1931 report written by Emma Horning: ‘Sis. Bright continues to conduct the beautiful sewing of women of Ping Ting, the returns of which support a number of budgets on the field.’ Also we found a photo labeled ‘Mrs. Bright and Chinese helper planning needle work.’”

The same picture appeared in an old issue of the denominational magazine, accompanying a story titled “The Hungry Are Fed” by Minnie Bright. Mentioned in the story was a “Woman’s Industrial.” A sentence read, “From among the 60 women who are at present doing needlework to support themselves, about 25 have been brought to new life through this means.”

Shaffer continued: “In an issue of ‘The Star of Cathay’ (no date but about 1934 or 1935) we found this statement: ‘The industrial needlework in Ping Ting is making it possible for more then [sic] 60 women to provide food for more than 200 mouths. All these women are given class work in reading, hygiene, maternity welfare, and Gospel teaching.’”

Royer found out more after sharing the story of the quilts with Joe Wampler of Santa Cruz, Calif., who grew up in China, the son of missionaries Ernest and Elizabeth Wampler. He pursued the topic with heirs of former China missionaries and reported that embroidery work “was encouraged by many missionary denominations as a way for widows to earn a living in feudal China. In the old days, if a woman’s husband died the widow was practically without resources. So the mission women would set up a cottage industry for these women and then promote their handcrafts in the big cities and also in America.

“In the Church of the Brethren mission the center for embroidery was in Ping Ting and was run by Minnie Bright,” Wampler continued. “Homer and Minnie Bright were in China from Sept. 1911 until Feb. 1938…. Marie Oberholtzer remembers it as a major cottage industry run by Minnie in the 1930s. She said that the Chinese women usually embroidered onto linen and made table cloths, bed covers, etc.”

The quilt pieces have been displayed at the Church of the Brethren General Offices and at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. The church’s Global Mission Partnerships hopes to display the quilt pieces at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Pittsburgh next July.

An online photo album offers several pictures of the quilts, go to www.brethren.org/site/PhotoAlbumUser?view=UserAlbum&AlbumID=9907 . Those with more information about the women’s handcraft ministries that were part of the Church of the Brethren’s China mission are invited to contact Royer at hroyer@brethren.org  or Shaffer at kshaffer@brethren.org .

A detail of one of the quilts originally appliqued by Chinese women in the 1930s, part of a women’s handcraft project of the former Church of the Brethren mission in China (see feature story below). An online photo album features the two quilts on loan to the Global Mission Partnerships program by Marjorie Morse Kauffman. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
A Bosnian man with the heifer he and his family received as part of the work of Bread for Life–now a new project site for Brethren Volunteer Service. BVS is seeking a volunteer to fill a new position with the organization (see notice below). Photo by Kristin Flory

Theology students do role plays in a pastoral care class offered by the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic (see story below). Photo by Nancy Heishman

Brethren bits

The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center is welcoming Sarah Robrecht as a first-time volunteer host. She is on furlough from missionary work with Wycliffe Bible Translators, based in Orlando, Fla., and will volunteer in Windsor Hall from January through May.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is seeking a volunteer to serve with a new project partner in Prijedor, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bread for Life is a Christian humanitarian association founded by Protestant churches in Serbia, with an office in northwest Bosnia-Herzegovina since 1996. It is developing programs to promote income-generation, long-term employment, and self-sustainability such as a trial project of interest-free loans and other support to dairy farmers, and low-cost English and computer courses at an education center. BVS is seeking a volunteer co-worker/assistant for the income-generation projects. Duties will include assisting the director and program manager with writing and implementing income-generating projects, assistance with fundraising for new projects, contact with donor organizations, and assistance with creation or development of capacities of the organization. Requirements include preferred experience in the non-governmental sector in a developing country or eastern Europe, ability to adjust to new environments and cultures, expertise in the field of economics or agriculture, willingness to learn the local language. For more information about the project go to http://www.breadoflifesite.com/ . To express interest in this BVS opening, contact the BVS Office at 800-323-8039.

The Material Resources distribution center at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is getting low on all types of relief kits, and invites donations (for instructions about how to assemble kits, visit www.churchworldservice.org/kits ). In other news from Material Resources, staff are shipping 250 lightweight and 270 wool blankets and 540 hygiene kits to the Disabled Veteran Foundation. Homeless persons in Topeka, Kan., are receiving 50 lightweight and 90 wool blankets through Doorstep Inc., donated by Church World Service. CWS also has donated 100 lightweight blankets to be shipped to Pottstown, Pa., for the Homeless Shelter Cooperative. Two 40-foot containers have been loaded with Lutheran World Relief quilts, school kits, layettes, and health kits and shipped to the Philippines. Two containers of CWS school kits and IMA World Health Medicine Boxes have been loaded for Pakistan. One 40-foot container of Lutheran World Relief quilts, sewing kits, and school kits has been sent to Armenia.

The Haiti workcamp sponsored by Youth and Young Adult Ministries has changed its date to June 1-8 to avoid a conflict with the Young Adult Conference next year. “Now young adults can attend both events!” said a note from the workcamp office. For more information, contact cobworkcamps@brethren.org  or 800-323-8039 ext. 286.

“Creation Care: Stewards of the Earth” is a weekend event co-sponsored by the Church of the Brethren, Laurelville Mennonite Church Center, and Mennonite Mutual Aid. The event takes place Feb. 12-14, 2010, in Mt. Pleasant, Pa., with the goal of “equipping leaders to guide the church to care for Creation.” Worship services and presentations will be led by David Radcliff, director of the New Community Project, and Luke Gascho, executive director of the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. A number of workshops are offered with leaders including Carol Bowman, coordinator of the Church of the Brethren’s Stewardship Formation and Education. Registration includes lodging and meals, materials, and continuing education units, and ranges from $154 to $295 depending on the choice of cottage or guesthouse and number of roommates. Student scholarships and a reduced commuter fee are available. Register by Dec. 31 for a reduction of $10 in the final price. A registration brochure can be downloaded from www.brethren.org/site/DocServer/
 or contact program@laurelville.org .

— In an update on the Brethren rebuilding project in Haiti, coordinator Jeff Boshart has reported that six more homes are nearly complete, bringing the total to 78. The goal for the project is to completely rebuild 100 homes. In addition, “there are two well projects in the works,” Boshart added. One will serve a worksite with 22 homes, and the other will serve a Haitian Church of the Brethren church building and its immediate neighborhood. The Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund is accepting gifts for these two well projects. A third Brethren Disaster Ministries workcamp in Haiti in the last week of January has already been filled with applicants.

Children’s Disaster Services is offering a Volunteer Workshop at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren on Feb. 27-28. Children’s Disaster Services volunteers set up and operate child care centers in disaster locations. The workshop will train volunteers to understand and respond to children who have experienced a disaster, learn how child-led play and various art mediums can start the healing process, experience a simulated shelter, sleep on cots and eat simple meals. Once the training is completed, participants have the opportunity to become certified Children’s Disaster Services volunteers by providing two personal references and a criminal and sexual offender background check. The workshop is open to anyone over 18 years old. Registration costs $45 ($55 after Feb. 6). Contact coordinator Kathy Benson at 909-593-4868 or the Children’s Disaster Services office at 800-451-4407 ext. 5 or cds@brethren.org .

SERRV has announced a special offer “to make your holidays sweeter!” A free Divine Milk Chocolate bar will accompany orders of $50 or more. “And if you order at least $75 we’ll also send you a Divine fruit and nut dark chocolate bar,” said the announcement. Orders of $75 or more that are made by noon (Eastern time) on Dec. 18 receive free ground shipping. SERRV, which was started by the Church of the Brethren, is a nonprofit organization providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide. Its Divine Chocolate is produced by cocoa farmers in Ghana, and supports, among other things, school for children, access to basic medical care, clean water wells, and income projects for women. Place orders ay http://www.serrv.org/  or visit the SERRV Store at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

“Pastors at the Community Church of the Brethren are praying for whoever vandalized their place of worship,” according to the “Times-News” of Twin Falls, Idaho. The church pastored by Mark and Kathryn Bausman was vandalized last weekend. Cost of the damage came to about $9,600, including destruction of an electric organ, the newspaper said. Intruders also defaced children’s books, sprayed a fire extinguisher around the building, and did other acts of vandalism. The church continues plans to offer three live Nativity shows with free hot cocoa this Saturday evening.

Fellowship in Christ Church of the Brethren in Fremont, Calif., has announced a “Celebration of Ministry at Our Closing” in the Pacific Southwest District newsletter. The closing celebration of the congregation takes place at 2 p.m. on Jan. 30.

York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren is one of several congregations contributing to chaplain Dan Lehigh’s annual Christmas cookie ministry to truckers. The congregation’s Tuesday Morning Women’s Bible Study packed 245 bags of cookies for the Truck Stop Chaplaincy Ministry in Carlisle, Pa. Last year, the ministry gave 12,300 bags of cookies to truckers. This year’s goal is 13,000 bags.

Belita Mitchell, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and a former Annual Conference moderator, is one of the religious leaders speaking out in response to the Dec. 6 shooting of a police officer by a gunman on parole for weapons violations. The incident took place in Penn Hills, near Pittsburgh. Mitchell contributed to a statement from the Heeding God’s Call campaign to prevent gun violence, joining Isaac Miller, rector of the Church of the Advocate (Episcopal) in North Philadelphia, and Rabbi Carl Choper, chair of the Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania. She said, in part: “We do not know exactly where the Penn Hills shooter got his guns, and may never know, but we can say with confidence that he did not walk into a gun shop, pass a background check, and proceed with a legal gun purchase. It’s infinitely more likely he obtained his guns through an illegal street purchase, from a gun trafficker…. So, while others may focus on a parole system that failed to adequately keep the gunman from committing criminally violent acts, Heeding God’s Call decries the illegal gun trade and gun dealers who look the other way and allow straw buyers to make bulk purchases at their stores.”

West Branch Church of the Brethren in Polo, Ill., was one of the destinations for an annual “Christmas in the Country House Walk” on Dec. 5. Proceeds went to the American Cancer Society. West Branch, organized in 1846, was the first Church of the Brethren in Ogle County, Ill. The stone church building was completed in 1862.

Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., will host a “Community Forum on Immigration” with guest speaker Rachel Heuman on Jan. 2 at 9 a.m. The event is sponsored by the Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice. Heuman has founded an Immigrant Advocacy Project and helped promote a city resolution in favor of immigration reform in her hometown of Evanston, Ill.

Panther Creek Church of the Brethren in Adel, Iowa, has challenged churches in Northern Plains District to fill “quarter tubes” so that the district may purchase a Heifer International “ark.” In November, the district board sent its first $5,000 to Heifer in honor of the two Panther Creek women, Lois Banwart and Marilyn Hoy, who helped initiate the project.

— “Who are your Brethren heroes?” asks Camp Bethel, the Virlina District camp near Fincastle, Va. The camp is seeking stories of Brethren heroes to flesh out its 2010 summer camp curriculum titled, “Be a Hero: Living Like Jesus.” During each camp day this summer, campers will study the story of a biblical hero and a Brethren hero. An online response form is available at www.campbethelvirginia.org/

The McPherson (Kan.) College football team won nine games this year “for the first time in its history,” reports director of campus ministry Tom Hurst. The college team also was invited to its first football playoff game ever, he added. “The team ended the year with a 9-2 record.”

— The Global Women’s Project has received a gift from Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis, in memory of late co-pastors Phil and Louise Rieman. The gift will purchase machines for a sewing cooperative in southern Sudan, said an announcement. Photos of the Narus Women’s Sewing Cooperative can be viewed at http://www.globalwomensproject.org/ .

— “We have only one world, this world, if we destroy it, we have nothing else,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu at an ecumenical event for climate justice in Copenhagen on Dec. 13. His remarks were reported in a press release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). The ecumenical community is suggesting an agreement that would entail developed nations committing to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050 (as compared to 1990 levels), and to contribute funding to assist developing nations to reduce emissions. Tutu also delivered a clock representing over half a million signatures for climate justice to Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. A recording of speeches by Tutu and de Boer is at http://bit.ly/DesmondTutu

— Palestinian Christians from a variety of churches have issued a prayerful call for an end to the occupation of Palestine by Israel. The call, issued at a Dec. 11 meeting in Bethlehem, is being referred to as “The Kairos Palestine Document,” according to a release from the WCC. It echoes a similar summons issued by South African churches in the mid-1980s at the height of apartheid. The document is addressed to Christians around the world and decries “the emptiness of the promises and pronouncements about peace in the region,” highlights current problems such as the separation wall erected on Palestinian territory and the blockade of Gaza, declares the occupation of Palestinian land a sin against God and humanity, and mentions signs of hope such as “numerous meetings for inter-religious dialogue.” It concludes, “We believe that God’s goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death that still persist in our land.”

— Illinois and Wisconsin District is inviting volunteers to help prepare a new building to house the Chicago offices of Christian Peacemaker Teams. “Is there a group from your church who will donate time?” asked an announcement. The move-in date was scheduled for December, but work will continue into January. Contact 708-445-1998 or 630-606-5670.

— A 3rd Annual Bethlehem Prayer Service has been announced by Churches for Middle East Peace, of which the Church of the Brethren is a member. The event takes place on Dec. 19 as a joint simulcast with the people of Bethlehem and the Bethlehem Chapel of the Washington (D.C.) National Cathedral. The gathering begins at 9:30 a.m. and the service begins at 10 a.m. (Eastern time). Prayers, readings, and hymns will alternate between Washington, D.C., and Palestine. Watch the service live at http://www.nationalcathedral.org/ .

— The Brethren Revival Fellowship has published a commentary on Genesis by Harold S. Martin. The book is part of the “Brethren Old Testament Commentary” series, which has the stated aim of giving a readable explanation of the Old Testament text with loyalty to Anabaptist and Pietist values. Suggested donation is $20 for the 304-page volume. Send requests and donations to Brethren Revival Fellowship, P.O. Box 543, Ephrata, PA 17522-0543; or go to www.brfwitness.org/

— A book by Jeffrey Kovac, “Refusing War, Affirming Peace: A History of Civilian Public Service Camp No. 21 at Cascade Locks” tops the list of titles for holiday shoppers recommended by “The Oregonian” newspaper. The book tells the story of the Cascade Locks camp for conscientious objectors during World War II, which was sponsored by the Church of the Brethren. Kovac’s father-in-law, Charles Davis, was assigned to the Cascade Locks camp and assisted his research. For “The Oregonian” recommendation, go to www.oregonlive.com/books/

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, cobnews@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jeanne Davies, James Deaton, Kristin Flory, Audrey Hollenberg, Jeri S. Kornegay, Emily LaPrade, LethaJoy Martin, Wendy McFadden, Nancy Miner, John Wall, Loretta Wolf, Jane Yount contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for Dec. 30. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.


Forward Newsline to a friend

Subscribe to Newsline

Unsubscribe from receiving email, or change your email preferences.

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]