Newsline for Dec. 3, 2009

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Dec. 3, 2009

“The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28b).

1) National Council of Churches issues messages supporting nuclear disarmament, health care reform.
2) New Fire young adult movement dreams, takes action.
3) Bethany Seminary announces new pastoral presence programs.
4) Board approves new mission and vision statements for seminary.
5) Grants give $105,000 for hurricane recovery in Haiti, Louisiana.
6) Committee increases emphasis on ecumenism at the local level.

7) Schild to direct financial operations at Brethren Benefit Trust.

Brethren bits: Correction, personnel, job openings, end-of-year giving, more (see column at right).


1) National Council of Churches issues messages supporting nuclear disarmament, health care reform.

The annual General Assembly of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Church World Service (CWS) was held in Minneapolis on Nov. 10-12. “Rejoice Always, Pray Without Ceasing, Give Thanks in All Circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16-18) was the theme.

Major agenda items included a resolution calling for nuclear disarmament, and a related message urging international reductions in military spending be used to reduce child mortality and poverty. Also high on the agenda was a message on the urgency of health care reform.

Brethren representatives included elected delegates Elizabeth Bidgood Enders, J.D. Glick, Illana Naylor, and Ken Miller Rieman, with Mary Jo Flory-Steury, executive director of the Ministry Office, participating as church staff. Three Church of the Brethren young adults also participated and attended the pre-assembly “New Fire” event (see story below): Jordan Blevins, assistant director of the NCC’s Eco-Justice Program; Bekah Houff, who was a head steward for the assembly; and Marcus Harden, who served as a steward.

The assembly resolution titled, “Nuclear Disarmament: The Time Is Now,” calls for a goal of “the total disarmament of nuclear weapons.” The following resolution section concludes the document:

“THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the member communions of the NCC and CWS, speaking together through their respective governing boards, hereby reaffirm the goal of the total disarmament of nuclear weapons and commit themselves: 1. To ask for commitments toward this end from national, state, and local governmental and ecumenical representatives and agencies. 2. To engage in international anti-violence advocacy efforts including the programs and events of the World Council of Churches such as the Decade to Overcome Violence. 3. To encourage appropriate working groups/committees to designate nuclear disarmament as a central theme for the 2011 Ecumenical Advocacy Days. 4. To develop measurable outcomes that inform faith-based educational materials. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the President and the General Secretary of the NCC and the Chairperson and Executive Director/CEO of the CWS communicate this commitment to the President of the United States and congressional leaders. AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the President and the General Secretary of the NCC and the Chairperson and Executive Director/CEO of the CWS report regularly to the General Assembly regarding their actions toward the end of nuclear disarmament.” (For the full text go to .)

In a related action, the assembly sent a message to the US Congress and member communions urging support of the Global Security Priorities bill and commending the legislation’s sponsors. The bill, House Resolution 278, calls for deep reductions in US and Russian nuclear arsenals, saving at least $13 billion annually. The money saved would be used to reduce child mortality and eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

“There wasn’t a lot of discussion” of the resolution on nuclear disarmament, reported Bidgood Enders. “There seemed to be a tone among the body of general agreement. For the Church of the Brethren, of course we will be supportive,” she added.

A message on the urgency of health care reform was approved as a joint action of the NCC and CWS. Precedent for the statement came from a health care policy originally adopted in 1971 and reaffirmed in 1989, said Bidgood Enders. The new document includes current statistics on the numbers of Americans without insurance and those underserved by health care, she said.

The assembly also gave a lot of attention to immigration reform and gun violence, according to Bidgood Enders, who remarked that “those were probably the items that got most discussion.” In support of the CWS Immigration and Refugee Program, the assembly adopted a message urging proper treatment of immigrants and heard a presentation on immigration reform including the status of bills in Congress. Information was shared about a Holiday Postcard Campaign by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition to send messages to Congress calling for humane treatment of immigrants and concern for “families that are being torn apart,” Bidgood Enders said (see ).

On the issue of fire arms, a panel presentation about gun violence included some sharing from the work of the Heeding God’s Call movement in Philadelphia. Heeding God’s Call is an initiative against gun violence begun at a gathering of the Historic Peace Churches in January. “Everyone in the room received a Heeding God’s Call pin,” along with statistics on deaths by gun violence, reported Bidgood Enders.

In other actions, the assembly voted the Apostolic Catholic Church into membership, affirmed a statement by the West Virginia Council of Churches condemning the removal of mountain tops as a mining practice, issued a message on the tragedy at Fort Hood, installed Peg Chemberlin as NCC president and Kathryn Lohre as president-elect, issued a message of appreciation for the recent visit of Orthodox leader Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and gave ecumenical awards.

The NCC’s Women’s Ministries announced the launch of a “Circles of Names” Campaign to celebrate the historic contributions of women leaders in member churches and out of concern about cutbacks in gender justice and women’s ministries among denominations. Donors will help support ongoing and future ecumenical work by honoring women who have made a difference in the church and in individual lives.

The next General Assembly on Nov. 9-11, 2010, in New Orleans will mark 100 years since the birth of the modern ecumenical movement. The theme will be, “Witnesses of These Things: Ecumenical Engagement in a New Era.”

(Sections of this report are excerpted from NCC press releases.)


2) New Fire young adult movement dreams, takes action.

With a prayer of thanksgiving and guidance, the participants of New Fire 2009 left Minneapolis having dreamt dreams and implemented action plans for a vision of a revitalized young adult ecumenical movement.

The prayer asked for “the work of the Spirit in expanding our communications…the gift of prudence as we lay organizational foundations…the gift of discernment as we pilot our New Fire seed grant project…a Spirit-filled outpouring of glad and generous hearts as we expand our circle of New Fire.”

A vision statement declaring, “New Fire is movement-building work to call the Church to re-imagine its mission to live out the God-given mandates of love, justice, unity, and peace on a global, regional, and local level,” was given backing with the launching of an “Ecumenists of All Ages” fundraising initiative. All of the young adults present made their commitment to the movement by donating at least the amount of money equivalent to their age. A collection of more than $650 laid the foundation of their work together.

A set of goals also was adopted, including goals to form a New Fire Task Force, expand diversity and representation, finalize a concept paper and grant proposal, fund a New Fire event next year, start a seed grant pilot program and leadership training to empower local ecumenical possibilities among young adults, involve at least 100 people under age 35 and 100 over age 35 in the Ecumenists of All Ages Campaign, and develop a logo, tagline, and promotional materials.

All of this was the result of a weekend full of worship, conversation, relationship building, and issue education. The event concluded as participants gave concrete ways to take their experience with them–committing to financial support, spreading the word, and taking ecumenical action at home. Prayer partners were picked to help sustain one another in the journey.

— Jordan Blevins is assistant director of the NCC Eco-Justice Program.


3) Bethany Seminary announces new pastoral presence programs.

Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., has announced two new programs to encourage continuing education for pastors. The “Pastoral Presence Programs” provide the opportunity for Church of the Brethren pastors to avail themselves of Bethany facilities and participate in seminary life.

The purpose of these programs is to encourage direct conversations between Brethren pastors and the seminary. Pastors can make important contributions to the life and educational context at Bethany, and Bethany can provide a space for pastors for continuing education and retreat.

A Pastor-in-Residence track and a Pastoral Sabbatical track will be offered. Both will provide a setting for focused, purposeful study through meeting with professors and students, attending classes, pursuing research and writing projects, and participating in chapel services, forums, lectures, and other campus events. The Pastor-in-Residence will be expected to spend significant time interacting with students and attending classes and program opportunities. Those in the Pastoral Sabbatical track may choose more time for personal reflection, research, and writing.

Participants will complete a formal application, including an 800-1,000 word description of the intended research project, activities, and purpose of the time spent in the program; reside at Brethren House (the seminary’s guest house) for at least two weeks; preach or make a presentation at a chapel service or forum; and complete an evaluation of the program. For more details and an online application go to .

— Marcia Shetler is director of Public Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.


4) Board approves new mission and vision statements for seminary.

The Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees gathered at the Richmond, Ind., campus on Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Continuing work from its Spring meeting, the board spent considerable time discussing a proposed new mission and vision statement for the seminary and refining specific goals and action plans for a strategic direction paper.

The new mission and vision statements were approved and can be viewed at . Objectives in the strategic direction paper were compiled into a three-year completion plan and assigned to groups or individuals. The board also approved funding for a marketing study and communications audit.

The Academic Affairs Committee reported that a comprehensive curriculum review is in progress, with a simultaneous examination of the master of divinity and master of arts curricula. “As we consider how curriculum will support Bethany’s new mission and vision, we want to emphasize the importance of the seminary both for training congregational leaders and for Brethren scholarship,” said president Ruthann Knechel Johansen.

The board approved proceeding with the development of an MA Connections program proposal, a distributed education track for the master of arts degree. The proposal will be presented to the Association of Theological Schools, an accrediting agency, for approval. Academic dean Steven Schweitzer and Malinda Berry, instructor in theological studies and director of the MA program, are developing the proposal. The number of students in the MDiv Connections program continues to grow with 32 students currently enrolled.

The Academic Affairs Committee heard that faculty have approved several standards and resources for writing, to improve the quality of student writing and scholarship. The committee also heard a report from Donna Rhodes, executive director of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center that enrollment there has been more successful for classes offered at a nongraduate level than at the graduate level. SVMC and seminary staff continue to explore ways to strengthen the relationship and synergy of their work together.

The Institutional Advancement Committee reported that annual giving in fiscal year 2008-09 was less than the previous year. Although gifts from congregations have been declining slowly for more than a decade, there was a greater drop in gifts from individuals in the past fiscal year. The total also was affected by the receipt of fewer estate gifts than usual. The committee presented several reports that examined giving from specific constituencies in greater depth, including congregations and alumni/ae. The board approved a recommendation to conduct a feasibility study for a new financial campaign. The staff has developed a plan for making donor contacts utilizing four institutional advancement staff: Lowell Flory, Marcia Shetler, Fred Bernhard, and Dan Poole.

The board approved recommendations from the Student and Business Affairs Committee related to tuition and financial aid. Tuition for the 2010-11 academic year will be $1,260 for a three credit hour class. A new financial aid plan will be implemented in 2010-11 with a primary goal of meeting student financial needs and addressing seminary priorities relating to the makeup of the student body, financial goals, and support from congregations and districts.

In the new financial aid plan, registration and technology fees will be eliminated. All students will pay a flat amount that will vary each year, based on the annual income needed to keep the financial aid program viable. As in previous years, students’ congregations and districts will be invited to make a gift to Bethany in support of financial aid. The plan will offer generous scholarships for students with high academic standing and those who plan to pursue a vocation that serves the church.

The committee shared encouraging admissions and student development reports: 26 new degree-seeking students and two new occasional students began taking classes this fall, a 12-year record high. Reasons cited by new students for choosing Bethany include the quality of faculty, academic reputation, and financial aid.

A celebration marked completion of the restoration of the seminary’s special collections project. The special collections contain portions of the libraries of three donors: the William Eberly Hymnal Collection, the Ora Huston English Bible Collection, and more than 4,000 titles from the Abraham Cassel Collection. A grant of nearly $150,000 from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations provided for restoration of most of the very valuable volumes and the enclosure of each item in acid-free clamshell or hinge boxes. Murray Wagner, emeritus professor of historical studies, directed the project. The project team has posted more than 300 digital images of title pages and other illustrations at .

The meeting was preceded by installation of new academic dean Steven Schweitzer. The board also welcomed new member David Witkovsky of Huntingdon, Pa., representing the Church of the Brethren colleges. Other returning members elected or affirmed by the 2009 Annual Conference included Rhonda Pittman Gingrich representing alumni/ae; Jerry Davis of La Verne, Calif.; and John D. Miller Jr. of York, Pa.

— Marcia Shetler is director of Public Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.


5) Grants give $105,000 for hurricane recovery in Haiti, Louisiana.

Grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund have given $105,000 for rebuilding and recovery following hurricane damage in Haiti and Louisiana.

An allocation of $75,000 supports a Church of the Brethren program in Haiti. The grant will support the building of eight new homes and a simple road to the Gonaives area, provide a drinking water well, support a third Brethren workcamp in Jan. 2010, and support continued oversight and management of the program including travel expenses. Previous grants to this project have totaled $370,000.

An allocation of $30,000 continues funding for Brethren Disaster Ministries’ Hurricane Katrina rebuilding site 4 in Chalmette, La. The grant supports the repair and rebuilding of homes, and volunteer support including travel expenses, leadership training, tools, equipment, food, and housing.


6) Committee increases emphasis on ecumenism at the local level.

The Church of the Brethren’s Committee on Interchurch Relations (CIR) met in Elgin, Ill., on Sept. 24-26. The fall meeting is the annual launch to the CIR’s realm of responsibilities. The committee also participates in three conference calls throughout the year, and has responsibilities at Annual Conference including written and oral presentations to the delegate body.

In light of new denominational structure and the changing face of ecumenism, the group reviewed the continuing viability and purpose of CIR. The committee agreed that it is time to re-cast the vision of CIR by shifting energy to giving voice to ecumenical efforts at the congregational level. This includes calling out congregational stories of interfaith dialogue and activities, validating risks and commitments of congregations, encouraging congregations to be more outwardly focused, and working with the Office of Ministry and Congregational Life Ministries to provide resources for ecumenical activities.

From the list of CIR priorities for the upcoming year, three areas were highlighted: to anticipate engagement in conversations with Evangelishe Kirche von Westphalia in Germany regarding the apology given to Brethren bodies at the anniversary event in 2008; to examine and identify the ongoing relationship of CIR activities with the membership of the church; and to celebrate local ecumenical relationships already formed and flourishing, while inspiring the development of additional opportunities.

The committee also received a report from Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger, who is serving the final months of his second year as vice-president of the executive committee of the National Council of Churches; and a report on the history of the Baptist movement–recognizing the 400th anniversary of the earliest Baptist churches–given by ex-officio member Jerry Cain, president of Judson University in Elgin.

Members of the committee are Melissa Bennett, Jim Eikenberry, Jim Hardenbrook, Steve Reid, Paul Roth, and Melissa Troyer. Roth and Eikenberry were named as co-chairs.

— Melissa Troyer is a CIR member from Middlebury, Ind.


7) Schild to direct financial operations at Brethren Benefit Trust.

Sandy Schild has accepted the position of Director of Financial Operations for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). She will begin her duties on Dec. 14. She lives in Barrington, Ill., and is an active member of Barrington United Methodist Church.

Most recently Schild has served as controller for her husband’s company, Schild Consulting Inc. Previously she was a management company controller and directed a department that provided accounting, reporting, and cash management services for 15 foreign and domestic companies supporting multiple hedge funds. In addition, she has worked in tax planning, both domestic and international.

She is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Illinois and holds several degrees including a master of science in taxation from DePaul University in Chicago, a master of business administration in accounting and a bachelor of business administration from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She currently is involved in post-graduate study in environmental sustainability through the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

New at are 12 screen savers offered for this Advent and Christmas. Each features a quote from a Brethren writer, embedded in an image evoking the meaning of the season from the Church of the Brethren’s photography collection. These also may serve as meditative images for use in worship services during Advent. Go to .

This logo for the 2010 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren was released this week by the Conference Office. Designed by Debbie Noffsinger, the logo illustrates the 2010 theme from John 14:15. The Conference takes place July 3-7 in Pittsburgh, Pa. A theme statement from moderator Shawn Flory Replogle is available online, go to

The zany antics of the NOAC News Team–Dave Sollenberger, Larry Glick, and Chris Stover-Brown–have been a highlight at the Church of the Brethren’s National Older Adult Conferences. (Shown here are Stover-Brown and Glick dressed in sackcloth and ashes for a mock-solemn moment from one of the “NOAC News” clips.) This year, to celebrate the 10th NOAC, the team has put together a commemorative two DVD set, “The Notorious Nonsense of NOAC News: 13 Years of Classics,” featuring favorite clips and commentary by the team members. “The DVD is sure to provide hours of enjoyment and laughter,” said Kim Ebersole, director of Family and Older Adult Ministry. Order for $18, which includes shipping. Forms are available at  or by calling Ebersole at 800-323-8039. Photo by Eddie Edmonds

These 28 pastors represent 6 cohort groups from 10 districts who took part in the 2009 Vital Pastors “National Pastors’ Retreat” on Nov. 16-20 at the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center in Palos Verdes, Calif. The Vital Pastor continuing education track is part of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. Each cohort group’s picture, the critical question studied by the group, and the destinations of Immersion Retreats that are part of the program, will be published in the December issue of “The Scroll,” the academy’s newsletter. Go to
. Photo by Lahman/Sollenberger Video 


Brethren bits

Correction: An incorrect post office box number was given for the John Kline Homestead Preservation Trust in a recent issue of Messenger magazine. The correct address is John Kline Homestead Preservation Trust, Linville Creek Church of the Brethren, P.O. Box 274, Broadway, Va 22815.

The Brethren Encyclopedia, Inc., has announced that James C. Gibbel has accepted the responsibility of assistant treasurer, filling a position formerly held by Ronald G. Lutz. Lutz had served as a volunteer for 32 years, as the primary contact person for the Brethren Encyclopedia receiving book orders and payments, managing financial matters, and reporting to the board. Gibbel is a member of the Church of the Brethren and president of Gibbel Insurance Agency in Lititz, Pa. In other volunteer leadership positions in the church he has served on the board of Brethren Benefit Trust, has been a district delegate to the Standing Committee of Annual Conference, and was chair of the Brethren Peace Fellowship Coordinating Committee. Also joining the board of the Brethren Encyclopedia, Inc. is Isaac (Ike) V. Graham, pastor of Orrville (Ohio) Grace Brethren Church and a member of Conservative Grace Brethren Churches International.

The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center is thanking Alene Campbell for her service as volunteer hostess in the Old Main building for the month of November.

Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks a manager of Pension Operations to fill a full-time salaried position based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Functions include to manage the daily operations of the Pension Plan and assist the director of the Pension Plan and Employee Financial Services with plan administration. The scope of duties includes managing the daily operations of the Pension Plan, assisting and coordinating activity with staff associated with the pension department as needed, developing proficiency with pension software, overseeing and maintaining integrity and functioning of electronic and hardcopy records, providing direct customer service, reviewing and maintaining administrative policies and practices that support regulatory compliance. The Pension manager travels to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, BBT Board meetings, and other denominational events as assigned. BBT is seeking a candidate with excellent communication skills who has an undergraduate degree in human resources or business. The ideal candidate will have experience and expertise in compensation and employee benefits management, with human resources and employee benefits certifications/designations a plus. Active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred, active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Send a letter of interest, resume, three references (one or two supervisors and one or two colleagues), and salary-range expectation to Donna March, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 or . For questions about the position, call 847-622-3371. For more information about BBT visit . Interviewing will begin by Dec. 17, and the position should be filled on or after Jan. 2, 2010.

Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) is seeking a manager of sales for health and welfare benefits. This is a full-time salaried position in Insurance Services. The primary responsibility is to sell insurance plans and services to agencies and groups of the Church of the Brethren and to similar organizations. The scope of duties includes working with staff to develop a progressive strategic plan for the sales of all insurance products. Critical to the role is developing and maintaining relationships with those whom BBT exists to serve, which includes providing insurance consultations to both employers and employees. Sensitive to these consultations, the manager will collaborate with staff for the creation of resources and implementation of procedures to support BBT’s insurance ministry. The manager is expected to spend significant time traveling. BBT is seeking a candidate with an undergraduate degree in business, economics, or a related field of study. At least five years working in the health and welfare benefits insurance industry is expected. Willingness to develop an understanding of church insurance plans is important. The successful candidate will be a licensed Life and Health Insurance Agent or willing to become licensed. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. The position will be filled as soon as possible. Send a cover letter, resume, three references (one supervisor, and two colleagues or work associates), and salary expectation to Donna March, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 or . For questions about the position, call 847-622-3371. For more information about BBT visit .

The Gather ’Round curriculum seeks freelance curriculum writers to write for the 2011-12 year. Gather ’Round is a project of Brethren Press and Mennonite Publishing Network. Writers are needed for Preschool (ages 3-4), Primary (K-grade 2), Middler (grades 3-5), Junior Youth (grades 6-8), and Youth (grades 9-12). All writers will attend an orientation conference in April 2010 and begin writing thereafter, with deadlines staggered quarter by quarter. Writers prepare weekly materials for teacher’s guides, student books, and resource packs. Compensation varies according to the age group and the number of weeks (12-14) in a given quarter. For more information and to apply, visit the “Contact us” page at . Deadline extended to Dec. 18.

The Church of the Brethren’s finance staff are reminding donors to postmark 2009 gifts to the church by Dec. 31. Donations must be dated and postmarked by Dec. 31 in order for the donor to receive 2009 charitable gift tax credit.

On Earth Peace staff member Marie Rhoades is one of the panelists at a fall program of the United Nations Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism of the NGO Committee on Human Rights. Rhoades is program coordinator for Peace Education for On Earth Peace. Joining her on the panel will be Sasha Simpson, a graduate of the Agape Satyagraha program of On Earth Peace and First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa. “On Earth Peace is a participant because the sub-committee found their Agape Satyagraha (program) to fit this year’s theme on ‘making a difference,’ ” reported Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren’s UN representative and a member of the sub-committee. The panel presentation is open to the public. It will take place Dec. 3, at 1-3:30 p.m. in the Boss Room at the UN Church Center in New York City.

The reverse offering from National Junior High Conference has now topped $7,000, reports Becky Ullom, director of the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Each participant in the conference received $10, made possible through a $4,000 grant from the church’s Core Ministries Fund and the office of Stewardship and Donor Development, and were invited to take the money home and increase the investment.

Nathan and Jennifer Hosler, mission workers with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) have shared the following prayer requests: prayer for trauma healing for those in Maiduguri and Jos who have experienced violence, loss of life, and property; and prayer for a movement for peace. “The main training school in EYN is implementing a Peace and Reconciliation curriculum in its two programs–Diploma in Theology and Diploma in Christian Ministry–in order to train future leaders with a foundation of peace,” the Hoslers report. “Please pray that the curriculum being prepared would be insightful and would equip students to be peacemakers in their contexts. Please pray for young leaders who are concerned with peace.” The couple added a request for prayer for strength as they are separated from family this holiday season, and for their own health and safe travel to various events in the next few weeks–including invitations to visit the home villages of students at Kulp Bible College.

The SERRV Store at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is holding a “75 Percent Off Sale” on Dec. 2-6. SERRV is a nonprofit fair-trade organization started by the Church of the Brethren, working to eradicate poverty by buying and selling crafts and food produced by low-income artisans and farmers around the world ( ).

Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., celebrates its 100th Anniversary on Dec. 12-13.

The Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) is celebrating its 50th year. “Brethren Revival Fellowship began in 1959 as a loyal concern movement within the Church of the Brethren,” report Harold S. Martin and Craig Alan Myers in an article in the “BRF Witness” newsletter. “We have been calling the church to stand firmly for the veracity of the Bible, urging Brethren not to discard her historic doctrines, and pressing for an ‘as it reads’ understanding of New Testament truth.” The article goes on to review the beginnings of the movement following the 1959 Annual Conference at Ocean Grove, N.J., the specific concerns of the BRF, current activities such as publishing of the Brethren New Testament Commentary series, the service of the BRF Committee, and more. Go to or contact BRF, P.O. Box 543, Ephrata, PA 17522.

The first annual Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) International Student Conference on Divided Societies and Victimhood took place in Northern Ireland on Nov. 12-14, according to a release from Bridgewater (Va.) College. The conference was co-sponsored by AEGEE-The European Students’ Forum, the Foundation for International Education in London, the University of San Diego, and the University of Ulster. BCA organized the conference as part of its efforts to provide international education and study abroad with a focus on peace, justice and global citizenship. Founded in 1962 as a consortium of seven institutions of higher education with historic ties to the Church of the Brethren, BCA now operates academic study centers around the world for students from hundreds of US institutions of higher education.

The Manchester College Spartans tied for second in the Heartland conference, “our highest football conference ranking since 1968!” according to an e-mail note from college president Jo Young Switzer. Senior Chris Cecil was chosen as the conference Most Valuable Special Teams Player, in Manchester’s first-ever Most Valuable Player in football. In other news from the college in North Manchester, Ind., the public is invited to a Dec. 10 celebration of Jerry Sweeten, who has received a national honor as 2009 Indiana Professor of the Year. A program and reception will begin at 5 p.m. in Flory Auditorium.

“The Art of the Book,” a CBS Religion Special about art and the Bible, will be broadcast on Dec. 6 (check local listings for station and time). The special is produced with the cooperation of the National Council of Churches, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Islamic Society of North America, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the New York Board of Rabbis. Featured experts are Bill Voelkle, curator of the Department of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, who reviews the 1,400 illuminated manuscripts collected by the financier Pierpont Morgan; and David Kraemer, a librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at Jewish Theological Seminary. The program also visits the new Museum of Biblical Art.

“A Place for All: Faith and Community for People with Disabilities” is an interfaith documentary airing on ABC-TV affiliates nationwide beginning Dec. 6. It is presented by the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission, a coalition of Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic faith groups, as part of ABC’s Vision and Values series. “The issue addressed by the program is critical, as it is estimated that one out of five Americans has a disability,” said National Council of Churches general secretary Michael Kinnamon, who appears in the documentary. The film features Rabbi Darby Leigh of Congregation Bnai Keshet in New Jersey and one of the handful of deaf rabbis in the world; members of a Lutheran program for “Definitely Abled Youth”; pastor Beth Lockard of Christ the King Deaf Church; and Brandon Kaplan, a boy with limited sight and speech who recently had the privilege of becoming a Bar Mitzvah. A trailer can be viewed at

The New Community Project has launched an e-mail campaign to President Obama in preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference on Dec. 7-18 in Copenhagen, Denmark. “We are asking folks to make their own commitments to turn down the heat…as a way of supporting a strong US position to reduce greenhouse gases (and) to show that US consumers need to take responsibility for our role in global warming,” said a note from director David Radcliff. Participants pledge to take personal action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as hanging clothes to dry, or turning down the thermostat this winter. Go to

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Charles Culbertson, Melissa Dixon, Kim Ebersole, Mary Kay Heatwole, Kabi Jorgensen, Jeri S. Kornegay, Donna March, Nancy Miner, Brian Solem, Becky Ullom, LeAnn Wine 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. 16. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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