Newsline for February 25, 2009

“Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10).

1) Annual Conference ballot for 2009 is announced.
2) Matching grant program provides $206,000 to local food banks.
3) Brethren funds give grants for disaster, hunger response in US and Africa.
4) Church of the Brethren faith expedition visits Chiapas, Mexico.
5) BVS seeks partner churches to provide community living opportunities.
6) Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, Annual Conference, more.

7) National Older Adult Conference to meet on ‘Legacies of Wisdom.’

8) Brethren Press sells three curricula for summer, VBS.

9) Brethren leaders release statement on New York Post cartoon.

New at is a photo album of the 2009 Clergywomen’s Retreat. The retreat, sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Ministry Office, gathered Brethren clergywomen from across the country to meet for worship, fellowship, study, prayer, and renewal at a retreat center on the coast of southern California. Go to and click on “News” to find the link to the photo album.
Contact for information about how to subscribe or unsubscribe to Newsline. For more Church of the Brethren news go to and click on “News.”


1) Annual Conference ballot for 2009 is announced.

The ballot has been announced for the 2009 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, to be held June 26-30 in San Diego, Calif. The Nominating Committee of Standing Committee–a committee of the representatives of Church of the Brethren districts–developed a slate of candidates, and Standing Committee then voted to create the ballot that will be presented. Nominees are listed by position:

Annual Conference Moderator-Elect: Robert Earl Alley of Harrisonburg, Va.; Rhonda Pittman Gingrich of Minneapolis, Minn.

Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee: Connie R. Burkholder of Great Bend, Kan.; Victoria Jean (Sayers) Smith of Elizabethtown, Pa.

Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee: Emma Jean Franklin Woodard of Roanoke, Va.; Tim Button-Harrison of Ames, Iowa.

Committee on Interchurch Relations: Jim Hardenbrook of Edinburg, Va.; Carolyn Schrock of Mountain Grove, Mo.

Bethany Theological Seminary Trustee, representing the Church of the Brethren colleges: Katy Gray Brown of North Manchester, Ind.; David Witkovsky of Huntingdon, Pa.

Brethren Benefit Trust Board: Carol Hess of Lancaster, Pa.; John Waggoner of Herndon, Va.

On Earth Peace Board: Robert C. Johansen of Granger, Ind.; David R. Miller of Dayton, Va.

2) Matching grant program provides $206,000 to local food banks.

The Church of the Brethren’s “Domestic Hunger Matching Grant” program has now provided a total of $206,000 to food banks and local hunger relief organizations across the country. That total includes amounts raised by the 217 congregations that have taken part so far, and matching grants given by two Church of the Brethren funds–the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) and the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF)–in partnership with the denomination’s Stewardship department.

Earlier this month the two funds requested second allocations for the program after the original grant amount had been completely disbursed. As of Feb 23, the $87,500 designated by the funds was fully expended. The amount raised by the 217 congregations averaged $545; the matching grants averaged $403. Together, congregational gifts and matching grants have provided $206,000 to local hunger relief.

Currently, at least 16 more congregations are awaiting matching grants. “Because of two donor gifts of $20,000 each, designated for US families entrenched in poverty or hungry, we hope to be able to fulfill the remaining grant requests,” said Ken Neher, director of the Stewardship department.

“Thanks are beginning to roll in from food banks,” reported Howard Royer, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund, “Johnstown, Pa.; Tonasket, Wash.; Hopewell, Pa.; Polo, Ill.; Lancaster, Pa.; Rocky Mount, Va.; Petersburg, Va.; and Baltimore, Md. thus far.”

The cutoff date for the program is March 15. Go to for more information.

3) Brethren funds give grants for disaster, hunger response in US and Africa.

Grants have gone out from two Church of the Brethren funds–the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF)–to respond to disaster and hunger domestically within the US as well as in Kenya, Liberia, and Darfur, Sudan.

International grants include: $40,000 from the EDF to support a Church World Service (CWS) appeal for continuing humanitarian needs in the Darfur region of Sudan; $30,000 from the EDF for a CWS appeal following a declaration of famine from the government of Kenya, where an estimated 10 million people are affected; and a GFCF grant of $5,000 to assist Church Aid Inc., in a program of seed distribution and skill training in Liberia.

Domestic grants include: $35,000 from the EDF for an ongoing Brethren Disaster Ministries project in Johnson County, Ind., following heavy rains and flooding last year; an EDF allocation of $10,000 for the Brethren Disaster Ministries program in Rushford, Minn., repairing and rebuilding homes of flood survivors; an EDF allocation of $5,000 supporting a CWS appeal after a destructive spring storm season across the US in 2008; and a grant of $5,000 from the EDF to assist people who are ineligible for federal funding following major flooding in Hawaii, aiding work by the Hawaii State VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster).

4) Church of the Brethren faith expedition visits Chiapas, Mexico.

Church of the Brethren members returned in early February from a 10-day Faith Expedition to the region of Chiapas, Mexico, sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office in partnership with Equal Exchange and Witness for Peace.

The delegation spent several days in the town of San Cristobal exploring the history of Mexico and the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement on this southern neighbor of the United States. In addition, issues of militarism and immigration were addressed in regards to policy decisions made by both Mexico and the United States.

The group met with organizations representing governmental and nongovernmental structures in regards to development and humanitarian support of the Mexican people. Concerned emphasis was given to the indigenous communities who remain persecuted and impoverished, most often due to governmental suppression. A sobering highlight of the trip was a visit to the nonviolent community of Acteal, that only 11 years earlier had been tragically attacked by paramilitary, leaving 45 dead.

This expedition also provided an opportunity for delegates to visit an indigenous community that produces coffee sold through a regional cooperative. The cooperative markets the coffee as organic, fair-trade coffee to Equal Exchange, as well as other fair-trade companies in the US and Europe. Members of the group were able to see the entire production cycle of the coffee that ends up in their cups each morning. The average producer of this coffee works in difficult conditions to earn less than $3 per day.

The 18 delegates completed their trip with a day of developing strategies that will enable them to clearly articulate their experiences, work toward strengthening free-trade policies, develop fair trade partnerships, and directly advocate on behalf of the people of Mexico.

For more information on this, or other Faith Expeditions, contact the Brethren Witness/Washington Office at or 800-785-3246.

— Phil Jones is director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office.

5) BVS seeks partner churches to provide community living opportunities.

In a new endeavor for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), the organization will be working to develop community living opportunities for its volunteers, in partnership with interested congregations.

BVS will be seeking Church of the Brethren congregations that can host a community house to accommodate groups of four to six volunteers who will work at project sites in the area. Volunteers will commit to being active in the life of the congregation. Housing could be in an unused parsonage or other suitable housing arrangement.

The new emphasis is part of an ongoing partnership that BVS has established with the Volunteers Exploring Vocation program through the Fund for Theological Education (FTE) and a grant from the Lilly Foundation. Through the new emphasis on community living within the context of a local church community, BVS is seeking to broaden the vocations program it is already doing through FTE. The vocations program invites volunteers to explore their call to ministry.

BVS has named a volunteer staff member to lead the emphasis. Dana Cassell began Feb. 1 as volunteer staff for Vocation and Community Living. She will work with Jim Lehman of Elgin, Ill., who is the facilitator of the vocations program for BVS. She is a member of First Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., and a graduate of the College of William and Mary. She holds a master of divinity degree from Candler School of Theology and recently completed 15 months as a BVS volunteer in the Church of the Brethren’s Ministry Office.

Congregations interested in hosting a Brethren Volunteer Service community site may contact Dana Cassell at or 800-323-8039, ext 317.

— Dan McFadden is the director of Brethren Volunteer Service.

6) Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, Annual Conference, more.
  • Correction: The location given for Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in the Newsline Extra of Feb. 11 was incorrect. AMBS is located in Elkhart, Ind.
  • Kenneth E. McDowell, 93, of Hanover, Pa., died on Feb. 13. He was a former executive of the World Ministries Commission of the Church of the Brethren General Board, a former mission worker in India, and also had been an interim general secretary for the Church of the Brethren, among other denominational appointments. McDowell retired in 1980 after having given 27 years of service to the church. He began working for the General Board in 1953 when he served four years as secretary, treasurer, and field secretary of the India mission. On his return from India he worked for nine years as assistant treasurer in the Finance Commission of the General Board. In 1966 he was appointed director of material aid services in the Brethren Service Commission, with responsibility for a network of Church World Service (CWS) collection and processing centers operated by the Church of the Brethren on behalf of CWS, as well as oversight of SERRV and processing and shipping of supplies for Interchurch Medical Assistance. After a reorganization of the board’s programs in 1968, community development consultant and director of disaster response were added to his job responsibilities. From Oct. 1977 through Dec. 1979 he headed the General Board’s World Ministries Commission, then worked as a consultant on special projects. In retirement, he served as interim executive for World Ministries from the end of 1984 through the first months of 1985, and as interim general secretary for some months in 1986. During his tenure with the General Board, he highlighted ecumenical work with organizations such as CWS and the National Council of Churches, and is credited with continuing development of the Brethren Service Center. He also helped develop the Lafiya rural ftlinehealth program in Nigeria and the Church of the Brethren Disaster Network. Born on June 21, 1915, in Johnstown, Pa., he was the son of Harry R. Sr. and Mary Jane Howard McDowell. He was married to Edythe Elizabeth Bowman McDowell, his wife of 67 years, on Aug. 14, 1941. He held degrees from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and Bethany Theological Seminary. He was an ordained minister and early in his career pastored Blue Ridge (Va.) Church of the Brethren. While attending seminary, he served as business manager of CROP, Chicago. Previous employment included accounting for Rice and Rice, CPAs, in Altoona, Pa., and a term as office manager for Insurance Premium Finance Co. in Huntingdon, Pa. He is survived by his wife, Edythe, daughter Susan E. Leader, sons and daughters-in-law Robert Neil and Ruth McDowell, David Bowman and Linda McDowell, Kenneth Michael and Suzanne Matchett McDowell, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial gifts are received to Church World Service and Heifer International. Online condolences may be made to the family at
  • Delegates to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in San Diego on June 26-30 are requested to download the Information Packet giving details about the event from the Annual Conference website. “In an effort to save time and money this year, we are offering the Information Packet online at,” said an announcement from the Annual Conference Office. The same Information Packet on CD was sent to each Church of the Brethren congregation in mid-February and should be available to delegates as well. “In the event that you do not have Internet access, or have trouble accessing the links, please contact our office and we will send you the packet,” said the announcement. Contact Dana Weaver at or 800-688-5186.
  • Lerry Fogle, conference executive director for the Church of the Brethren, has been nominated to serve on the Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA) board of Directors for a two-year term. He has been a member of the organization for seven years. RCMA, a multifaith, nonprofit, international association composed exclusively of religious meeting professionals, was established in 1972 and represents over 1,000 diverse religious organizations. The Church of the Brethren was one of the early members. Fogle is based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and is a member of Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren.
  • Some guidelines for participation in the 2010 National Youth Conference (NYC) have been released by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The guidelines are intended to help churches and youth groups prepare for the conference that will take place on July 17-22, 2010, at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. The guidelines are: all youth who have completed ninth grade through one year of college (at the time of NYC) are eligible to attend, and participants and churches that wish to request an exception to these age guidelines are asked to consult with the NYC staff; all youth must be accompanied by an adult advisor; congregations must send at least one advisor for every seven youth; churches that are sending female youth are requested to send a female advisor, churches that are sending male youth are requested to send a male advisor; all adult advisors must be a minimum of 22 years of age; children of participants, advisors, and staff are not permitted at NYC. Contact for more information or questions about NYC 2010.
  • The Critical Response Childcare team has completed its response to the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in which 50 people were killed near Buffalo, N.Y. The Critical Response Childcare Team is a part of the Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) ministry of the Church of the Brethren. The team closed out its work on Feb. 21. It included eight trained CDS volunteers. Seven of the eight live locally in the Buffalo area, including team leaders Barb and Don Weaver. “All gave up personal commitments to work with children” of families affected by the disaster, reported CDS director Judy Bezon. The work of the Weavers included developing a relationship with the local Red Cross, which facilitated communication, Bezon added. The childcare was provided in a hotel suite close to where the families of crash victims gathered. “Some days there were children throughout the day, others days there were up to 16 children all at once for over three hours,” Bezon said. The Critical Response Childcare Team also stayed on to care for children during memorial services and calling hours, as requested by the parents.
  • Recent work of the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program has included a shipment of relief supplies to Iraqi refugees, and supplies bound for Zimbabwe. The program processes, warehouses, and ships relief supplies on behalf of a number of ecumenical partners, working out of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The shipment of relief supplies for Iraqi refugees living in Syria was made on behalf of Church World Service and International Orthodox Christian Charities, and included one 40-foot container of hygiene kits and toothpaste. Ten pallets of health and medical supplies, blankets, and children’s items were shipped to Zimbabwe on behalf of Global Assistance.
  • Registration is now open for Regional Deacon Trainings sponsored by the Caring Ministries of the Church of the Brethren. Two events are offered this spring for deacons and other congregational caregivers. The first will be held at Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, Ill., on May 2, followed by a similar session at the Lebanon Valley Brethren Home in Palmyra, Pa., on May 16. The trainings will include workshops and other presentations on topics of deacon spirituality, the art of listening, offering support in times of grief and loss, and what it means to be called as a deacon. Go to  for online registration or download a paper registration form from the website. For more information contact Donna Hillcoat, Director of Deacon Ministry, at or 800-323-8039.
  • Youth Roundtable, one of the Church of the Brethren’s regional youth conferences, will be held at Bridgewater (Va.) College on March 20-22. Cost is $40. Cindy Laprade Lattimer will be the guest speaker, with entertainment by Mutual Kumquat. The theme will be “You Are a Knight in the Kingdom of God!” from Ephesians 6:10-11. E-mail for details.
  • The New Windsor Conference Center has entered into a partnership with The Arc of Carroll County, Md., for a work force training program providing education, training, and work experience to individuals with developmental disabilities. The conference center is located at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The goal of the new program is to provide participants with skills and training enabling them to obtain paid employment. The program began on Feb. 2, with classroom training conducted in the Blue Ridge Building by Arc staff, and hands-on training provided by the housekeeping staff at the New Windsor Conference Center.
  • Nokesville (Va.) Church of the Brethren has hosted its 51st Community Sewing Day, according to a report on “For the past 51 years, Community Sewing Day at the Nokesville Church of the Brethren has been a place to meet new friends and spend time together while doing a project to help others,” the northern Virginia news site reported. This year’s Community Sewing Day brought together about 30 women from various churches and civic groups to make lap robes for wheelchair patients.
  • Walnut Church of the Brethren has been sponsoring the Argos (Ind.) Swap Shop for two years, in a unique venture that helps clothe the needy, according to a report by WNDU-TV of South Bend. “People can bring in their donations and swap them for other items in the store,” the report said. “The store also believes that if you can’t donate, don’t worry. They want to help out those in need during tough times.”
  • A “Letters From Dad” program at Donnels Creek Church of the Brethren in Springfield, Ohio, hopes to help men express their love, and make it more likely for wives and children to know what is on the minds and hearts of husbands and fathers, according to an article in the Springfield “News-Sun.” The program is part of the church’s 200th anniversary celebration.
  • Pastor Robert Dunlap of Winter Park (Fla.) Church of the Brethren will be part of a crusade March 3-6 at Angola Prison, the largest prison farm in the country, located in Louisiana. The crusade will help train 157 inmate preachers to be pastors and ministers to over 5,000 inmates, according to the Atlantic Southeast District newsletter. “Please keep this ministry in your prayers,” the district asked.
  • The Puerto Rico Region of Atlantic Southeast District held a pastor’s and leader’s retreat on Nov. 21, 2008, with 30 people present. Ana Mildred Diaz spoke on “Pastors and the Burnout Syndrome” and Luis Filipa spoke on the theme, “Abundant Life.” The Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries donated $1,700 to the event, and the district’s Middlekauf Bequest Funds gave $750, according to the district newsletter.
  • The Palms Estates of Highlands County in Lorida, Fla., and the Palms of Sebring, Fla.–two Church of the Brethren retirement communities in Atlantic Southeast District–are celebrating their 50th anniversary. The effort was started as the Lorida Retirement Homes in 1958, created by the congregations of Lorida, Sunnyland, and Sebring. The district (then the District of Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico) in 1959 took action to support the effort. The Sebring property was purchased in 1961. Lester Kesselring, Palms historian, is providing articles about the history of the communities in the district newsletter.
  • McPherson (Kan.) College has been honored by the Corporation for National and Community Service with a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. “McPherson College is pleased to be recognized for the service rendered by students, with the support of many faculty and staff, during the past year,” said president Ron Hovis. “Service opportunities are integrated into our curriculum and co-curricular activities. We believe that service is an important part of developing whole persons.” During the 2007-08 academic year, McPherson students gave 7,490 hours of service in the local community, according to a release from the college. Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement.
  • The National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program has begun offering weekly e-mail messages for the season of Lent, according to an announcement from assistant director Jordan Blevins, who is a member of the Church of the Brethren. “This year, we invite you to include as part of your Lenten practices to consider your impact upon God’s Creation–and what steps you can take in your own life to bring yourself back into relationship with it,” Blevins said. Each Sunday, the program will send an e-mail message to subscribers including the lectionary text, a reflection, study questions, and suggestions for daily actions. Go to  or contact for more information.
7) National Older Adult Conference to meet on ‘Legacies of Wisdom.’

“Legacies of Wisdom: Weaving Old and New” is the theme of the 10th National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), to be held Sept. 7-11 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in North Carolina. Sponsored by the Caring Ministries of the Church of the Brethren, this tenth NOAC will celebrate the legacy born out of the wisdom, foresight, and creativity of the planners of the first NOAC, held in 1992.

Adults age 50 and older are invited to attend. Speakers, preachers, workshops, and entertainers will explore the legacies of the faith that we yearn to pass on to future generations, reclaiming the treasures of the past while creating new possibilities of hope for families, the church, and the world. There also will be opportunities for Bible study, recreation, creative expression, fellowship, and service.

A “Hike for Haiti” around Lake Junaluska will raise funds to assist with leadership development in Haiti, and school and hygiene kits will be assembled to give impoverished children and struggling families needed resources for learning, health, and wellness.

Preachers include Christopher Bowman, pastor of Oakton (Va.) Church of the Brethren; Cynthia Hale, senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga.; and Dennis Webb, pastor of Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren. Other main speakers are Rachael Freed, founder of Life-Legacies, who will speak about “Harvesting the Wisdom of Your Life: Creating your own Spiritual-Ethical Will”; David Waas presenting a keynote address on the theme, “And the Earth Moved”; and Judson University professor Michael McKeever speaking on “Wisdom on the Road” exploring the journey motif in the Gospel of Luke. Throughout the week, Robert Neff will lead the morning Bible study. Entertainment includes concerts by acclaimed Quaker singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer and Brethren musicians Andy and Terry Murray.

Members of the 2009 NOAC planning committee are Deanna Brown, Barb and Lester Kesselring, Joyce Nolen, and Glenn and Linda Timmons. Kim Ebersole is the coordinator.

Registration brochures will be mailed to past NOAC attendees, congregations, districts, and retirement communities in early March. Information about NOAC is available at  or by calling the Caring Ministries office at 800-323-8039. Online registration is available for credit card users.

— Kim Ebersole is director of Family and Older Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren.

8) Brethren Press sells three curricula for summer, Vacation Bible School.

Brethren Press is offering three curricula for summer Christian education programs and Vacation Bible School (VBS) this year. To order the items listed below, call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712. Shipping and handling charges will be added to the listed price.

“Catch the Spirit! Join God’s Work in the World” is a VBS curriculum based on stories from Acts. The VBS program will bring children face to face with the power of the Holy Spirit, as they learn how to get involved, speak up, and join God’s work around the world. Fun worship, interactive dramas, lively songs, an emphasis on active Bible learning, and 10 easy-to-plan activity centers are designed to inspire children ages 4 through grade 8 to live together as Jesus’ followers, and to share the good news of Jesus with others. The complete box contains everything needed for planning and preparation as a 5-day or 12-week program, including two copies of all leaders’ guides, and one copy of every classroom, promotional, and student resource. All items are also priced separately. Churches may buy the complete box for $129.99.

“Discovery Canyon: Explore the Wonders of the Word!” is a VBS curriculum published by Augsburg Fortress based on Bible stories from Exodus, 1 Samuel, Matthew, and Luke, on the themes of “Rejoice, Pray, Ask, Tell, and Seek.” Each day children will explore the Word, make Bible connections, and collect critter friends. Order the starter kit for $69.99, additional items may be ordered separately.

“Breakthrough” is the Outdoor Ministry Resource for 2009, from New Earth Christian Resources for the Outdoors. It offers six easy-to-use Daily Discovery sections for each age group, for use by camps and other organizations. Scriptures come from the ministry of Jesus and the stories of the people he met, from Mark and Luke. Contact Brethren Press for price information.

9) Brethren leaders release statement on New York Post cartoon.

A statement responding to a cartoon published by the New York Post on Feb. 18 has been issued by three key Church of the Brethren leaders: Annual Conference moderator David Shumate, Mission and Ministry Board chair Edwin H. Edmonds, and Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger. The statement follows in full:

“A statement from Church of the Brethren leadership responding to a cartoon published by the New York Post on Feb. 18, 2009:

“The Church of the Brethren leadership expresses grave concern about a cartoon published by the New York Post on Feb. 18, portraying the image of a dead chimpanzee, shot by police, alongside a reference to the federal government’s economic stimulus bill.

“Our concerns center on the cartoon’s use of old racist symbolism equating those of African descent with monkeys, and the way it connects that racist symbolism to President Obama, our nation’s first African-American president.

“We are concerned about the effect of this cartoon personally for people of African descent, and its effect on our society as a whole during a time in which many hope that America is moving beyond its racist past. Our deepest concern, however, is that the cartoon might be interpreted to encourage violence against President Obama and other African-American people.

“Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corporation, which owns the New York Post, has apologized personally for the publication of the cartoon and we are grateful for that. However, the apology does not detract from our concerns about the destructive effects of the cartoon.

“We call on members of the Church of the Brethren to hold President Obama and his family and the whole African-American community in prayer, and we call our church to a new awareness of how frightening expressions of violent racism are for people in minority groups in our country. We are painfully aware of an increase in hate crime, and of the various threats that have been made against President Obama since he was elected.

“We suggest that members of our church and people of good faith across the United States seek positive responses to the harm that may have been done by the cartoon. If we act together with faith, we may seize this difficult experience in our life as a nation and convert it into an opportunity to do outreach and relationship building with people of every ethnicity, and make it into an opening to talk with the children in our families and Sunday school classrooms about how God loves all people equally.

“The scriptures continue to encourage us as we walk together toward the Kingdom of God, where we will be among ‘a great multitude…from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb’ (Revelation 7:9).

“In the name of Christ, our hope and our peace.”

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Judy Bezon, Kathleen Campanella, Lerry Fogle, Donna Hillcoat, Tom Hurst, Jon Kobel, Emily Laprade, Dana Weaver, Jana Wingert, and Loretta Wolf contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for March 11. 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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