On Earth Peace Reports Mid-Year Financial Concern

Church of the Brethren Newsline
April 6, 2009

On Earth Peace in a recent newsletter has reported concerns about its finances. The organization currently is at the mid-point in its fiscal year.

“At the half-way point of our fiscal year, our income is running about $9,500 above expenses,” reported executive director Bob Gross in follow up comments by e-mail. “However, most years the difference between income and expense is considerably greater at this half-way point. We know that income is generally lower in the second half of the year, and expenses are usually higher. So we are concerned.”

In the newsletter report, Gross wrote that “the current economic downturn, and the financial bind it puts on our organization, is threatening essential ministries of peace-building and reconciliation.” He called for prayer following the downsizing of denominational staff and redesign of some programs of the Church of the Brethren, and encouraged participation in the listening process that has been announced following the closing of the Washington Office, noting that participation will help the church make decisions about the future of its peace witness.

“The economic downturn we are experiencing is both global and local,” Gross wrote in the newsletter. “Some of us are feeling its effects personally; nearly all of us know persons who have been strongly affected…. It is important that we pray for those who have been most affected by these cuts in staff and program, including those who have carried the responsibility of making painful decisions.”

“For the first time in several years, On Earth Peace’s income in 2008 did not keep up with expenses,” Gross reported. He said that the organization has drawn from its limited reserves to make up the difference, which comes to about 7 percent of the On Earth Peace budget for 2008. Current projections show an even greater gap between income and expenses this year for On Earth Peace, he said.

Gross announced that in order to preserve its small reserve fund, On Earth Peace has set a strict limit on any withdrawal from reserves this year. It will work at ways to control expenses, but he noted that “our normal way of working is already very frugal. Our salaries are modest, many volunteers assist our small staff in the work, and we keep our travel and other expenses very low.” His report also noted the efficiency of the On Earth Peace program, from an audited financial report for 2008 showing only 11 percent of contributions spent on fundraising and administration combined, while 89 percent has gone directly to program ministries.

The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contact cobnews@brethren.org to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

Brethren in the News

“Jewish, Christian congregations share meal in Wyomissing,” Reading (Pa.) Eagle (April 6, 2009). It is a ceremonial Jewish meal, but people of two faiths sat around the table Sunday. Gathered for a model seder to mark the start of Passover this week, more than 50 Jews and Brethren broke bread. That the congregations of Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom and First Church of the Brethren in Wyomissing Hills, Pa., would share a meal is not surprising: They share a building, too. http://www.readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=132611

“Vt. minister shares art for Holy Week,” Altoona (Pa.) Mirror (April 6, 2009). A Vermont artist and Church of the Brethren minister will bring several oil paintings depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross to Morrisons Cove for Holy Week. Paul Grout, an artist and minister from Putney, Vt., and a former moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, will display his work today through Saturday at Roaring Spring Church of the Brethren. http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/

“Bridgewater College president Phillip C. Stone announces retirement,” Staunton (Va.) News Leader (April 4, 2009). Bridgewater (Va.) College President Phillip C. Stone announced today that he will retire at the end of the 2009-10 academic year, concluding 16 years at the helm of the institution. Stone took office on Aug. 1, 1994, as the seventh president of Bridgewater College. His retirement will be effective June 30, 2010. http://www.newsleader.com/article/20090404/

See also: “Bridgewater College president to retire next year,” WSLS Channel 10, Roanoke, Va. http://www.wsls.com/sls/news/state_regional/

Obituary: Jean W. Falls, Staunton (Va.) News Leader (April 3, 2009). Jean W. Falls, 84, of Waynesboro, Va., passed away on April 3 at Augusta Medical Center. She was a lifetime member of Waynesboro Church of the Brethren. She was a retired longtime realtor. She was preceded in death by her husband, Roger L. “Buddy” Falls, and her first husband, Murvel Mason Deffenbaugh. http://www.newsleader.com/article/20090403/

“Concert introduces the sounds of the world,” Campus Times, University of La Verne, Calif. (April 3, 2009). The University of La Verne’s Chorale and Chamber Singers presented “Colors of the World,” Saturday night at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. Todd Harper, assistant professor of music, conducted the concert alongside pianist Grace Xia Zhao, who teaches piano and music theory courses at the university. http://www.ulv.edu/campustimes/040309/arts_stories/

“Peace Community Garden: A Marriage Made in Heaven,” Neighborhood Notes, Mill Park, Ore. (March 31, 2009). In east Portland, Ore., Peace Church of the Brethren and Portland Parks and Recreation have forged a relationship that will do heavenly work here on earth: feed people at minimal cost. Over the weekend, Portland Parks and Recreation celebrated the opening of Peace Community Garden, its 32nd community garden. The garden was built on an unused parking lot on church property. http://www.neighborhoodnotes.com/se/mill_park/news/

“Living words for tough times,” Suburbanite, Akron, Ohio (March 31, 2009). Pastor Tobin Crenshaw of Hartville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren offers a meditation on the troubled economy in light of the promise of Easter resurrection. http://www.thesuburbanite.com/communities/

“Denominations Trim Presence on Capitol Hill,” Religion News Service (March 30, 2009). A review of the situations of religious and nonprofit groups supporting advocacy work in the nation’s capital includes a section about the closing of the Church of the Brethren’s Washington Office and comments from former director Phil Jones. http://blog.beliefnet.com/news/2009/03/

“More seeking church help in slow economy,” Chambersburg (Pa.) Public Opinion (March 30, 2009). Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and its minister of pastoral care, Darlene Stouffer, are featured in an article about local congregations who believe in offering a helping hand, or even a free meal, in good times as well as bad. http://www.publicopiniononline.com/ci_12026750

“Safety emphasized at children’s fair,” Chambersburg (Pa.) Public Opinion (March 29, 2009). The Brethren Life Center at Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren hosted a “Get Ready, Get Set, Learn Children’s Fair” on Saturday, March 28, sponsored by the Franklin County Early Childhood And Education Community Engagement Program. Some 200 people attended. http://www.publicopiniononline.com/ci_12021523

“Theater + Dinner = One Tasty Church Fundraiser,” Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, Va. (March 27, 2009). Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Weyers Cave, Va.,, has a new approach to fundraising, and a community with a taste for entertainment is eating it up. Pleasant Valley now draws upon the thespian skills of its members to bankroll worthy causes. This weekend, the church holds its fourth annual dinner theater for three straight nights, starting April 2, to help finance an irrigation system for a crop garden on which Pleasant Valley grows produce for the Verona Food Pantry. http://www.dnronline.com/news_details.php?

“Church helping to support child in need of transplant,” Cumberland (Md.) Times-News (March 26, 2009). Attending Living Stone Church of the Brethren in Cumberland, Md., every Sunday with her older brother and sister and her uncles, one wouldn’t suspect the happy 2-year-old girl is sick. But Jaelyn Spencer was born with polycystic kidney disease and will need a kidney transplant in the near future. Matthew Cuppert, youth leader at Living Stone, is spearheading a benefit to help raise money for Spencer and her family. http://www.times-news.com/local/local_story_085233528.html

Obituary: Elizabeth K. “Betty” DeLong, Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal (March 26, 2009). Elizabeth K. “Betty” DeLong, 82, of Mansfield, Ohio, died on March 24 at Mifflin Care Center. A homemaker, she was a member of Mansfield Church of the Brethren where she volunteered in many areas. She was also very involved with her children and grandchildren. She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Mervin L. DeLong. http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/article/

“‘Faith in Action’ at Herndon Church,” Herndon (Va.) Connection (March 25, 2009). Brown paper bags lined tabletops, as an assembly line was created for ham sandwich construction. Volunteers dropped packets of mustard and salt into open bags. One volunteer dried leaves of lettuce as she chatted with a fellow church parishioner about the virtue of romaine lettuce versus its mellower iceberg cousin. On Saturday afternoon, March 21, volunteers gathered at Dranesville Church of the Brethren in Herndon, Va., to prepare around 150 bag lunches and at least 10 gallons of soup for distribution among the homeless population of Washington, D.C. http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/

“Erwin church demonstrates how to keep your faith,” Erwin (Tenn.) Record (March 24, 2009). An opinion piece lauds Erwin (Tenn.) Church of the Brethren for keeping its faith alive. The congregation broke ground for a new church building on March 15, after losing the previous building to a fire last June. http://www.erwinrecord.net/Detail.php?Cat=

“A Little Help, a Lot of Hope: Churches, Clubs Join to Create New Food Pantry,” Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, Va. (March 24, 2009). Three Church of the Brethren congregations in the Harrisonburg and Dayton areas of Virginia–Fairview Church of the Brethren, Greenmount Church of the Brethren, and Mount Bethel Church of the Brethren–are among the 10 churches, Ruritan clubs, and a Boy Scout troop who are jointly sponsoring a new food pantry. The West Rockingham Food Pantry has opened in the fellowship hall at Cooks Creek Presbyterian Church. It will be a branch of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. http://www.dnronline.com/skyline_details.php?AID=

Obituary: Hazel F. Hall, Staunton (Va.) News Leader (March 24, 2009). Hazel Lucille (French) Hall, 81, died on March 21 at her residence. She was a member of Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren. Prior to retirement, she was employed by Arlington Hospital as a nurse’s aide. She was preceded in death by her husband, Paul Irvin Hall Jr. http://www.newsleader.com/article/20090324/

“Former Manchester College President Dies,” Inside Indiana Business (March 23, 2009). Former longtime Manchester College President A. Blair Helman has died. He led the college from 1956 to 1986, overseeing construction of new residence halls, the Funderburg Library, and a physical education and recreation center. Helman was 88. http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=34649

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