Newsline for April 22, 2010


April 22, 2010

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it…” (Psalm 24:1a).

1) Bethany Seminary board approves new strategic plan.
2) Fellowship of Brethren Homes holds annual forum.
3) Grants support hunger relief in Sudan and Honduras.
4) Brethren part of effort for flood-affected Cedar Rapids.
5) Brethren Disaster Ministries releases 2009 statistics.

6) Intercultural Consultation and Celebration to be webcast.
7) Webinar series continues with Cook-Huffman and Roxburgh.
8) ‘Peace Among the People’ to gather N. American peacemakers.

9) Christians celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
10) A meditation: God’s dwelling place.

Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, job opening, Covenant for Civility, more (see column at right)


1) Bethany Seminary board approves new strategic plan.

Bethany Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees gathered at the school’s campus in Richmond, Ind., for its semi-annual meeting on March 26-28. The board addressed several significant items of business including a strategic plan, a proposal for a distributed education track for the Master of Arts degree, a feasibility study for a fundraising campaign, and a budget for the coming year.

The board approved the strategic plan, which was reviewed by the entire Board of Trustees and the committees of the board. The board also gave direction to the seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen and the Strategic Planning Committee to include an additional priority of increased seminary visibility through attention to enrollment, communications, and public relations.

Described by board member John Neff as “fresh and fluid,” the strategic plan combines into seven priorities, with accompanying subsets of goals and tasks, the 22 recommendations from a strategic direction paper passed by the board in March 2009. That paper created specific action steps to align the seminary’s educational program with its new mission and vision statements.

The goals focus on educational ethos and environment; curriculum focus, integration, and expansion of the educational program; and funding for new initiatives. Each task has a time frame for completion, measurable marks for accomplishment, and personnel assignments.

The Strategic Planning Committee was chaired by John D. Miller Jr. and included the chair of the Board of Trustees, the committee chairs, the seminary’s administrative team, and faculty members Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm and Dan Ulrich.

In an update to the board about the Master of Arts Connections program, the board learned that a proposal was to be sent to the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) by April 1 for approval by the association. The Board of Trustees approved proceeding with development of the program at its Oct. 2009 meeting. Since 2003, Bethany has offered an ATS-approved distributed education track for the Master of Divinity degree, named MDiv Connections.

The new Master of Arts track will offer a parallel track to the current MA program, imitating its requirements and standards while offering courses in formats that are more conducive to the needs and desires of students who would enroll in a distributed education program. Pending ATS approval, the new track will be implemented as soon as possible.

The board received a feasibility study report conducted by Braren, Mulder, German Associates regarding the possibility of launching a new financial campaign. The board approved a four-year, $5.9 million campaign, with the lead gift phase to begin in July.

The board approved a budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year of approximately $2.3 million, a one percent increase from the prior year. Jim Dodson, Student and Business Affairs Committee chair, noted the current challenges of developing a balanced budget, including compensating for a 42 percent increase in health insurance premiums for employees. The board’s Investment Committee reported that Bethany’s investments, which meet the criteria of social screens that are aligned with the seminary’s mission and values, are performing well.

Other business:

To facilitate the ongoing work of assessment related to curriculum review and strategic plan implementation, Karen Garrett of Eaton, Ohio, has been hired as coordinator of assessment. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bethany and a Master’s degree in education with specialization in curriculum and assessment. The board is expected to approve a comprehensive assessment plan in anticipation of a focus visit by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 2011.

The board received a report on a marketing and communications study conducted by Liechty Media, Inc. The board approved funding for the study in Oct. 2009. Board committees offered suggestions to prioritize the recommendations of the plan.

The seminary’s new financial aid program will go into effect in the 2010-11 academic year. The basic components of the program include significant scholarship awards for academic excellence and goals of church service after degree completion. Federal loans, grants, and work-study will be available. Several forms of communication have been developed to promote and interpret the new program, including a brochure and a video.

The board approved 10 candidates for graduation, pending completion of all requirements. Bethany’s 105th commencement will take place on Saturday, May 8. The board also celebrated the increase of fulltime students enrolled in the 2009-10 academic year.

Amy Gall Ritchie, director of student development, presented a report on student retention over the last decade and its findings regarding student patterns in progress toward finishing degrees. The board also received reports on the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

President Johansen led a special recognition for chair Ted Flory of Bridgewater, Va., whose term of service ends this year. Carol Scheppard of Bridgewater, Va., will serve as board chair beginning in July. Others chosen to serve as officers include vice chair Ray Donadio of Greenville, Ohio; secretary Marty Farahat of Oceano, Calif.; Elaine Gibbel of Lititz, Pa., Insitutional Advancement Committee chair; Jim Dodson of Lexington, Ky., Student and Business Affairs Committee chair; and Lisa Hazen of Wichita, Kan., Academic Affairs Committee chair.

— Marcia Shetler is director of public relations at Bethany Theological Seminary.

2) Fellowship of Brethren Homes holds annual forum.

The annual Forum of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes met April 7-8 at Lebanon Valley Brethren Home in Palmyra, Pa. The fellowship includes 22 retirement communities related to the Church of the Brethren. Member communities are committed to providing high quality, loving care for older adults and work together on common challenges such as longterm care needs, uncompensated care, and nurturing relationships with congregations and districts.

The annual forum provides an opportunity for leaders of the church-related retirement communities to network, share best practices, receive training relevant to longterm care, and tour the host facility.

This year’s forum featured sessions on corporate compliance by Karla Dreisbach of Friends Services for the Aging; and on current issues and future trends led by David Slack of the Aging Research Institute and Malcom Nimick of Ascension Capital Enterprises.

A tour of Lebanon Valley Brethren Home included the community’s innovative Green House® homes, developed by Dr. William Thomas of the Eden Alternative. The homes are small intentional communities where elders live in habilitative, social settings. During a break, some members of the forum group joined residents playing their favorite past time, “pickle ball,” a sport that combines aspects of tennis, badminton, and Ping Pong.

Representatives from 10 communities attended the forum: John Warner of the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio; Gary Clouser of Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa.; Vernon King of Cross Keys Village-the Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa.; Michael Leiter of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village in Boonsboro, Md.; Chris Widman of the Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio; Jeff Shireman of Lebanon Valley Brethren Home in Palmyra, Pa.; Wayne Eberly of the Palms Estates in Lorida, Fla.; Carol Davis of the Pinecrest Community in Mount Morris, Ill.; Maureen Cahill of Spurgeon Manor in Dallas Center, Iowa; and David Lawrenz of Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind.

Others in attendance included Shari McCabe, executive director of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes; Jane Mack, executive director of Friends Services for the Aging; Keith Stuckey, vice president of Mennonite Health Services Alliance; Phil Leaman, CEO of Resource Partners: Risk Management Solutions; Steve Mason, director of the Brethren Foundation for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT); Diana Seymour, manager of sales for health and welfare benefits for BBT; and Kim Ebersole, director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren.

The 2011 forum will be held on April 5-7 at the Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio.

— Kim Ebersole serves as director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministries.

3) Grants support hunger relief in Sudan and Honduras.

The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) has given two grants totaling $35,080 for a hunger program in Honduras and an agriculture project in Sudan.

In Honduras, a grant of $25,000 will support food security for Lenca Indian families. The allocation is going a new hunger program in cooperation with Proyecto Alden Global (PAG). The grant will underwrite development of family microbusinesses through the purchase of fish, pigs, cows, and chickens. Beyond those families benefitting at the outset, others will gain access to quality offspring and to the availability of livestock products at lower prices.

“Essentially the program seeks to improve food security and economic opportunity for Lenca Indian families living in remote areas of Cerro Azul Meambar National Park,” said the grant request. “The goal is to reach 60 families a year over a two- or three-year timeline. Nearly three-quarters of the families in and around the park’s buffer zone live in poverty.”

A grant of $10,080 has been received by the African Inland Church for the Agriculture Project for Sustainable Development in Sudan. The funds will purchase hand tools, spray materials, a variety of vegetable seeds, and mango and guava seedlings to be used in training 500 youth for gardening as an income-generating enterprise.

The project was “scouted out” by Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer. The African Inland Church is an indigenous evangelical body which has had a presence in southern Sudan since 1949. “The integration of agriculture with Bible school programs is a new venture of African Inland Church-Sudan,” said the grant request. “Two of the church’s Bible schools in Eastern Equatorial State will train 500 youth for gardening as an income-generating enterprise. Directly aimed at alleviating poverty, the project focuses on marginalized and unemployed youth who have received little or no basic education.

“Upon meeting and talking with staff at one of the Bible schools…Wittmeyer discovered that the schools in their teaching of the Bible lift up peace, reconciliation, and post-trauma healing–themes crucial to the rebuilding of post-war Sudan,” the request continued. “The intent for the students upon graduation, Wittmeyer learned, is that they return to their home villages and engage in farming on a small scale.”

4) Brethren part of effort for flood-affected Cedar Rapids.

The sounds of hammers and saws echoed along the Cedar River in Iowa on April 12 as volunteers from across the US and Canada started work to help families return to their homes in a new rebuild project directed by humanitarian agency Church World Service (CWS) and carried out in partnership with a number of denominational disaster relief programs.

National partners include Brethren Disaster Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA, Catholic Charities USA, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Lutheran Disaster Response, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and Week of Compassion.

“It’s been almost two years since the Cedar River flood forced out these families. No one knows more than they do that that’s just too long to be away from home,” said Bonnie Vollmering, CWS associate director for domestic emergency response. “We’re working as hard as possible to help in such a trying time.”

Dubbed “Neighborhood: Cedar Rapids,” the Iowa project builds on the award-winning CWS rebuilding project, “Neighborhood: New Orleans.” That effort completely repaired more than a dozen families’ homes following Hurricane Katrina in a historic Lake Pontchartrain community.

Together with Iowa-based partners Block by Block, the Linn Area Long-Term Recovery Coalition, the Presbytery of East Iowa, and Lutheran Services in Iowa, 10 national faith-based disaster response agencies including Brethren Disaster Ministries will bring more than 700 volunteers to Cedar Rapids over six weeks.

Many of the rebuilding and repair efforts will focus on the hard-hit Cedar Rapids neighborhood of Time Check, where the local longterm recovery partners still have extensive cases of need. Despite ongoing efforts to help families put the flood behind them, there are still plenty of bare walls and water lines serving as reminders of June 14, 2008.

“There are many Cedar Rapids families who could return home but for a few major repairs,” Vollmering said. “We intentionally haven’t set a specific number of homes to be completed because we want to see exactly how many we can repair well in six weeks’ time.”

Block by Block and LALTRC identified the homes to be repaired. CWS and its national disaster response partners are providing volunteers, some donated materials, and other support.

“We had such a success in New Orleans that we had to try it in Cedar Rapids,” CWS executive director John L. McCullough said. “Our hope is that the people of Cedar Rapids will feel like they haven’t been forgotten, and we can help at least some of those affected find a new sense of normalcy after such a devastating disaster.”

— This release was provided by Lesley Crosson and Jan Dragin of Church World Service.

5) Brethren Disaster Ministries releases 2009 statistics.

Statistics released by Brethren Disaster Ministries, Children’s Disaster Services, and the Material Resources program reveal the extent of Church of the Brethren disaster relief work in 2009.

Working at five rebuilding sites in Louisiana and Indiana, 1,505 volunteers with Brethren Disaster Ministries served 108 families and put in a total of 11,164 workdays–an estimated $1,808,568 worth of volunteer labor. At six Children’s Disaster Services project sites–including a response to an airplane crash in New York–39 volunteers cared for 195 children. “We are grateful that fewer children were impacted by disasters last year,” said the report. In addition, Children’s Disaster Services held nine workshops training 201 volunteers.

Material Resources, which warehouses and ships disaster relief materials out of facilities at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., also released stats for 2009: 97 shipments of kits, quilts, and blankets representing a total 1,451,190 pounds of materials valued at $7,136,344.72; 3,364 shipments of medical goods representing a total of 546,571 pounds of materials valued at $4,602,273.44.

6) Intercultural Consultation and Celebration to be webcast.

Have you wanted to attend the Church of the Brethren’s annual Intercultural Consultation and Celebration but are not able to make the trip? There’s no need to miss it: join online!

In partnership with Bethany Theological Seminary, the 12th Intercultural Consultation and Celebration from April 22-24 will once again be webcast live. Webcasts begin today at 6:30 p.m. (eastern time).

This event is open to all church members and provides a time of fellowship with participants from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, support for intercultural ministry and mission, and an educational opportunity to build up intercultural efforts in church communities.

With a theme of “Celebrating Diversity in Harmony” based on Romans 12:15-17, highlights of this year’s schedule include:
— This evening’s opening worship service featuring Richard Zapata and Samuel Sarpiya.
— Friday and Saturday’s education sessions, a main session on “Diversity in Harmony” led by Barbara Daté, and additional workshops on coaching and mentoring and listening skills.
— Friday evening worship featuring Leah Hileman and Ray Hileman, and presentation of the third Revelation 7:9 Diversity Award.
— Saturday evening’s closing, a musical worship service led by Don Mitchell with attendees celebrating and sharing their cultural backgrounds in song and appearance.

To join the live webcast, participants need access to an Internet-connected computer installed with Adobe Flash. Webcast participants will be to watch a live feed and interact with the gathering using a chat pod.

Check the online schedule at  for daily worship and session times and follow the login instructions to participate. We hope to “see” you there!

— Nadine Monn is a member of the Church of the Brethren’s Intercultural Advisory Committee.

7) Webinar series continues with Cook-Huffman and Roxburgh.

A series of webinars continues for pastors and church leaders this spring, offered as a collaborative resource by the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Link to the webinars by going to .

The third in a series on “Developing Conflict Healthy Congregations” led by Celia Cook-Huffman will be offered on two dates in early May. Cook-Huffman is professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., where she also serves as associate director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies and directs the Baker Mediation Services.

Part 3 of Cook-Huffman’s webinar series is on the topic, “Take Charge: Solve the Conflict.” It is offered on May 5 at 12:30-1:30 p.m. (Pacific time) or 3:30-4:30 p.m. (eastern time); and will be repeated on May 6 at 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Pacific) or 8:30-9:30 p.m. (eastern).

No pre-registration is required and there is no fee to participate. Participants are requested to connect 10-15 minutes before the start of the webcast. Those who have a webcam or microphone available will be able to connect and talk to the presenter. Participants may earn a 0.1 continuing education credit for attending the live session.

Alan Roxburgh will present webinars focused on developing leadership to transform congregations into missional communities. Roxburgh is a pastor, teacher, writer, and consultant with more than 30 years experience in church leadership and seminary education. His books include “Reaching a New Generation,” “Crossing the Bridge: Leadership in a Time of Change,” “The Sky is Falling–Leaders Lost in Transition,” “Introducing the Missional Church,” and “Missional Map Making.” He was a member of the writing team for the book “Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America.”

The first two webinars by Roxburgh are scheduled for May 25 at 12:30-2 p.m. (Pacific) or 3:30-5 p.m. (eastern) on the subject “Leading in an Un-Thinkable World”; and on June 7 at 12:30-2 p.m. (Pacific) or 3:30-5 p.m. (eastern) on the topic “Forming Missional Community: Practical Steps.” (The second Roxburgh webinar has been rescheduled to June 7 from the formerly announced June 8 date)

The topic of the second webinar builds on the first event. No pre-registration is required and there is no fee to participate. Participants are requested to connect 10-15 minutes before the start of the webcast. Participants may earn 0.15 continuing education credit for attending each live session.

Go to  to participate in a webinar or for links to recordings following the events. For more information prior to the webinar events contact Stan Dueck, the Church of the Brethren’s director for Transforming Practices, at 717-335-3226 or .

8) ‘Peace Among the People’ to gather N. American peacemakers.

An ecumenical peace conference, “Peace Among the Peoples: Overcoming the Spirit, Logic, and Practice of Violence,” will be held July 28-31 at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind. The meeting will focus on contemporary North American responses to war. Christian peacemakers of all traditions and disciplines are invited.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger is serving on the Advisory Committee, and On Earth Peace executive director Bob Gross and Bethany Theological Seminary professor Scott Holland also have a part in planning the event.

Because of the venue’s capacity, only a total of 160 registrations will be accepted for the meeting. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register as soon as possible; go to .

“Peace Among the Peoples” is a preparatory meeting for the World Council of Churches International Ecumenical Peace Convocation–the culminating event of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) to be held in Jamaica next year. Participants will dream, discern, and strategize next steps for creating a more unified peace witness in North,America as well as encouraging churches to become peace churches. Results of the meeting will be presented at the NCC’s General Assembly in Nov. 2010 and at the 2011 Peace Convocation.

Presentations will be given by leading thinkers such as Stanley Hauerwas, Rita Nakashima Brock, and Brian McLaren. Discussions on contemporary issues will include exchanges between presenters and listeners. There will be deliberative working sessions on current ecumenical efforts like the Truth Commission on Conscience in War, conciliar peace dialogue, and the formation of a North American Ecumenical Peace Center. Morning prayer and evening worship will frame the beginning and the ending of each day with preachers including Vincent Harding, Mary Jo Leddy, Leonid Kishkovsky, and John Perkins.

Sponsors of the meeting include the Church of the Brethren, Bridgefolk, the Catholic Peace Network, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Historic Peace Church Consultative Committee, the Institute of Mennonite Studies, the Kroc Institute and Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, Mar Thomas Orthodox Church, Mennonite Central Committee, the National Council of Churches, the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, and the United Church of Christ.

Go to  or  for schedule and detailed program information and conference registration links. The registration fee is $225 ($250 after April 30), plus meal costs (full meal package is $71.50). Participants arrange their own housing, or may request to stay in a local home. For more information contact Peace Among the Peoples, 3003 Benham Ave., Elkhart, IN 46517;  or 574-296-6203.

9) Christians celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Congregations across the country are observing Earth Day by celebrating the goodness of God’s Creation, recognizing that stewardship begins in the sacred spaces of our church buildings and grounds.

To aid congregations in honoring Creation, the National Council of Churches (NCC) developed an Earth Day Sunday resource titled “Sacred Spaces and an Abundant Life: Worship Spaces as Stewardship.” The resource includes ideas on energy and water conservation, and toxics reduction.

Across the country, congregations are answering the call to stewardship of their sacred spaces, by taking action to green their congregations.

For example, Riverside-Salem United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ in Grand Island, N.Y., is in the process of building a sustainable building with straw bale insulation. First Universalist Church in Minneapolis started a comprehensive recycling program that reduced the congregation’s trash by 65-75 percent.

Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church in Kensington, Md., installed programmable thermostats and weather-stripping, purchased copy paper with recycled content, switched to an energy conservative copier, eliminated the use of Styrofoam serving ware, and ensured that 50 percent of the funds spent on electricity supports wind power. Their motto: “We may be a red brick building, but we are working to be a ‘green’ church!”

Here are other Earth Day Sunday stories from congregations around the country:

On April 18, St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, Calif., celebrated Earth Day using the NCC Earth Day theme. According to member Mary Roberts, “It worked well with our goals for the year of reexamining the environmental features of our campus.” Between worship services they offered family fun activities, green lifestyle displays, and a guided tour of their certified Audubon International Signature Sanctuary and grounds.

Forest Lake Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C., is celebrating “ALL GOD’S CREATURES, GREAT AND SMALL …Their Environment Is Our Sacred Space.” Their Earth Sunday celebrations will include special Sunday school programs and service projects.

Westminster Church of the Brethren in Westminster, Md., will make a joyful noise on Earth Day Sunday with hymns taken from the NCC’s Stewards of the Bay resource for congregations in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

St. Mark United Methodist Church in Seneca, S.C., shows the movie “Kilowatt Hours” every year on Earth Day Sunday for the confirmation class. They also have a special class on the environment with tips on being good stewards of God’s Creation and encourage members to bring their own dishes and silverware when they have church meetings, rather than use disposable products.

The Church of Reconciliation, a Presbyterian congregation in Chapel Hill, N.C., has celebrated God’s Creation all month long with adult education classes and environmental Sabbath art projects, culminating in an outdoor worship service on April 25.

Read more about the Earth Day celebrations of these and other congregations on the NCC Eco-Justice Programs website at . The resources mentioned in this article can be downloaded from .

— This release was provided by Philip E. Jenks of the National Council of Churches.

10) A meditation: God’s dwelling place.

“Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young, at thy altars, O Lord of hosts…. Blessed are those who dwell in thy house, ever singing thy praise!” (Psalm 84:3-4, RSV).

The great west door of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London swung open to admit a colorful and stately procession. The year was 1958, and all the bishops of the Anglican communion, more than 300 of them from around the world, were on hand for the beginning of their Lambeth conference, held once every 10 years.

I watched as the verger and cross bearer led the procession of bishops robed in red and white, followed by the choir, the primate and metropolitans, finally by the Archbishop of Canterbury–all moving to the front of the nave to stand before the high altar. Such an occasion must have been in the mind of the architect, Sir Christopher Wren, when he designed a church so rich in symbolism, gleaming in glass and stone, in wood and metal, topped by a dome that would dominate the London skyline.

Just a few weeks later that same summer I attended another convocation, composed this time mostly of a few hundred Americans who had come to Schwarzenau in Germany to join with German friends there on the 250th anniversary of the beginning of the Church of the Brethren. Perhaps it was appropriate that, of the three major services then, two were held in a tent provided alongside the Alexander Mack School in the village, the other on the banks of the River Eder where the initial service of baptism of eight persons launched the new church.

There were some church dignitaries at Schwarzenau: Bishop Ernst Wilm of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Dr. W.A. Visser’t Hooft, then secretary of the World Council of Churches, as well as Brethren officials. And there were printed orders of service in both German and English. But somehow the occasion did not require a vast sanctuary with stained-glass windows. The temporary tent, the soft sunlight, the view of tree-lined mountains, and the quiet movement of the stream nearby–all of these contributed to an awareness of God’s presence and a tie with a past day when some Christians separated themselves from their imposing church buildings to seek for a deeper sense of God’s dwelling in a community of believers.

— This excerpt from “Move in Our Midst,” Kenneth Morse’s book on the nature of worship published by Brethren Press in 1977, is reprinted here with permission. This small paperback book is available to order for $1.50 plus shipping and handling; call 800-441-3712. More resources related to church and environment are available from Brethren Press at .


Above: at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., this week, the stone chapel and cross are framed by budding trees and spring blossoms. (Photos by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford)

Alan Roxburgh will lead two upcoming webinars in a series sponsored jointly by the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership (see upcoming events below).

“Basin and Towel” is a new publication from Congregational Life Ministries, the successor to the “Caregiving” magazine. For a preview copy online go to

Brethren bits:

— Remembrance: Lois I. Shull, 92, a former Church of the Brethren missionary in India, passed away on April 7. She was a resident of Timbercrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in North Manchester, Ind. She was born June 15, 1917, in Union City, Ind., the daughter of William E. and Lula M. (Jackson) Netzley. She married Ernest M. Shull (deceased) on Aug. 17, 1937. With her husband, she spent from 1946-64 as a Brethren missionary among the hill people of the Western Ghats in India. There she was a pastor’s wife, school principal, and nurse. Returning to the United States in 1964, she taught for many years at the Akron and North Manchester High Schools. She retired from teaching in 1982. She also wrote numerous articles and a filmstrip called “A Chance to Live.” She wrote the scripts for, and directed three movies called “Shepherd of India,” “To Meet the Sun,” and “The Turn of the Tide,”; a radio play titled “Valley of the Sun”; and a book called “Women in India Who Kept the Faith.” Last year at the age of 91, she finished her book, “Splendor in the Dust,” with the help of her son James Shull. She and her husband were long time members of the North Manchester Rotary Club and attended the Church of the Brethren since returning from the missionary field. She is survived by daughter Linda (Shull) Fisher of Liberty, Ind.; sons James Shull of North Manchester, and Daniel Shull of Zionsville, Ind.; eight grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. A celebration of her life was held April 10 at Manchester Church of the Brethren. Memorial contributions may be made to donor’s choice. Online condolences may be expressed at .

— Cori Hahn began as part-time coordinator of Human Resources for the Church of the Brethren on April 13. She is serving at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Hahn also continues serving as conference coordinator at the New Windsor Conference Center.

— The Children’s Aid Society seeks a seasoned and dynamic fulltime executive director to lead the organization to new levels of growth in its mission to help children become healthy, productive adults. The executive director works with the Board of Directors to carry out the strategic goals of the Children’s Aid Society. An overview of responsibilities includes managing personnel and fiscal operations, assuring compliance with all state and federal regulations, assessing organizational needs, and implementing improvements. The executive director will serve as the lead staff professional of the organization, oversee all functional areas including but not limited to administration, finances, fundraising, fund distribution, agency relations, community initiatives, communications, buildings and operations maintenance. The executive director will foster the development and implementation of the organizational strategic direction, reporting directly to the Board of Directors and nurturing a strong relationship with the Southern Pennsylvania District of the Church of the Brethren. The Children’s Aid Society is a not-for-profit organization committed to helping children and their families build strong, healthy lives through the provision of compassionate, professional services. As a ministry of the Southern Pennsylvania District, Children’s Aid Society is a faith-based agency grounded in the values and beliefs of the Church of the Brethren. It operates out of three locations in Pennsylvania, at the Frances Leiter Center in Chambersburg, the Lehman Center in York, and the Nicarry Center in New Oxford. The range of services includes a crisis nursery, counseling services with specialization in art and play therapy, case management, referrals, parent support, community education, and a 24-hour hotline. The management philosophy is grounded in a Christian perspective with a holistic orientation that is exhibited in the manner the organization relates with its staff, clients, constituents, and the general public. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to lead an organization that has been rooted in Central Pennsylvania’s history for nearly 100 years and whose future will build upon the agency’s exemplary record of service and care for the youth it serves. Qualifications and required skills: a master’s degree preferred, bachelor’s degree required; 3-5 years of management experience in a multi-program, not-for-profit organization; strong interpersonal, listening, public speaking, facilitation, and organizational skills; comfortable across economic, social, and gender lines; strong background in finance and fundraising with knowledge of 501(c)(3) rules and regulations; proficiency in relevant computer skills; advanced communication skills. Submit a cover letter, resume, and three professional references along with salary expectations to Christian Miller, 137 East Philadelphia St., York, PA 17401. Deadline for submissions is May 17.

— Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger is one of 123 religious leaders who have signed the “Covenant for Civility,” an effort to encourage civil discourse led by the Sojourners Christian community in Washington, D.C. Thousands more people of faith have joined in by signing the statement online. The covenant is based on New Testament scriptures and pledges to “model a better way” and “lead by example in a country where civil discourse seems to have broken down.” An invitation from Sojourners leader Jim Wallis said, “The political polarization of our society has now reached a new and dangerous level. Honest disagreements over policy issues have turned into a growing vitriolic rage against political opponents, and even threats of violence against lawmakers…. Political debate, even vigorous debate, is a healthy thing for a democracy; but to question the integrity, patriotism, and even faith of those with whom we disagree is destructive to democratic discourse, and to threaten or even imply the possibility of violence toward those whose politics or worldview differs from ours is a sign of moral danger, and indeed, a sign of democracy’s unraveling.” He reported personal conversations with members of Congress and others of varying political points of view who share the concern and are asking for help from the faith community. Go to  to read the covenant and for a list of initial signers.

— “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Poland as they mourn the tragic loss of their president, his wife, and numerous Polish officials in the plane crash,” writes Kristin Flory in the current issue of the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Europe newsletter. Flory is coordinator of Brethren Service (Europe). Although the Church of the Brethren no longer has BVS project connections in Poland, Brethren were part of an agricultural exchange with Poland from the 1950s through the early 1990s. The exchange “saw many BVS volunteers heading there to teach English in agricultural institutes and schools, and Polish scientists and fruit farmers heading to the USA,” Flory said.

— “Basin and Towel” debuts this month as a new publication of the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries. It is the successor to the “Caregiving” magazine of the Caring Ministries. Organized around the ministry areas within congregational life, the three issues published each year will offer insights and practical resources for the development of church leaders in the areas of church planting, deacon ministry, disabilities, family life, intercultural ministries, older adults, spirituality and discipleship, transforming practices, and youth and young adults. The charter issue is scheduled to ship to all current “Caregiving” subscribers by the end of this month. A preview copy is available at . A subscription order form can be printed from the web page, or contact Diane Stroyeck at  or 800-323-8039.

— Sunday, May 2, is National Youth Sunday in the Church of the Brethren. Resources for a youth-led worship service are available at . Downloadable resources include calls to worship, prayers, a scripture jam, ideas for offering and children’s time, sermon outlines, a benediction, and resources for celebrating and commissioning youth who plan to attend this summer’s National Youth Conference (NYC). The theme is the same as for NYC: “More than Meets the Eye” (2 Corinthians 4:6-10 and 16-18).

— National Council of Churches (NCC) president elect Kathryn Lohre is calling for essays written by emerging ecumenists ages 35 and younger. Essays must address the theme, “Moving Forward Together: Visions of Young American Ecumenists.” Selected essays will appear in an anthology to be presented at the NCC CWS Ecumenical Centennial Gathering in November. The project is intended to cultivate emerging ecumenical leaders, increase the visibility of the work of the NCC among younger generations, and provide a resource for intergenerational dialogue. Essays should focus primarily on one of the themes listed below, and should seek to convey the author’s ecumenical vision in both theological and practical terms: unity, mission, the Creation, the economy/cultures of greed, Christian identity and interfaith relations, overcoming violence/living in peace, overcoming poverty, overcoming racism, overcoming sexism/gender justice. For submission requirements and more information go to . Complete submissions must be received in both hard copy and electronic form by May 1, 12 p.m. (eastern time).

— Children’s Disaster Services associate director Judy Bezon has been invited to a number of special speaking engagements this spring, including an invitation by the American Red Cross director of Mass Care to be part of a panel at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Fla., on March 31. The title of the panel was “Children and Disasters: Ensuring Needs are Met.” Children’s Disaster Services also has been invited by FEMA to be part of a plenary session panel on “Meeting the Unique Needs of Children During Disasters” at a conference on April 28. In May, Bezon will provide a webinar for Church World Service on “Children, Youth, and Disaster” on May 4; and will coordinate reports on the topic “Children in Disaster–Where Do They Stand Today? What’s Ahead?” at the National VOAD Conference of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster on May 13.

— New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is offering a Leadership Academy Event on the theme, “Missional Evangelism: Being and Making Disciples,” on May 14-16. The worship and workshop event will explore what it means to be mission-minded as Christians share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples in the 21st century. The workshop will be lead by Dick Shreckhise, associate pastor at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Schreckhise has completed the Vital Pastors program, in which he studied the emerging church in New Zealand and Australia. The schedule includes worship and teaching on Friday evening beginning at 7 p.m., and a workshop session on Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for a registration fee of $20. For more information contact 937-845-1428 or .

— Vinton (Va.) Church of the Brethren celebrated its 60th anniversary on April 18.

— A deacon training on congregational peacemaking will be held June 5 at Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The day-long session on topics of conflict resolution and reconciliation for deacons, pastors, and other congregational leaders will include how deacons can serve as “first responders” in a time of conflict, enhancement of listening and communication skills, and learning to take advantage of opportunities for spiritual growth and transformation when conflict occurs. Leadership will be provided by Bernie Fuska, pastor of Timberville (Va.) Church of the Brethren, Shenandoah District moderator, and a member of the Ministry of Reconciliation Practitioners Network. To register contact 814-652-5710 or .

— The churches in Atlantic Southeast District have channeled $5,000 through the District Office to be sent to the Emergency Disaster Fund for Haiti.

— Shenandoah District offerings for Haiti earthquake relief totaled $88,811.50 as of mid-month. The total represents donations from individuals and offerings collected by 41 congregations.

— The 30th Annual Mid-Atlantic District Disaster Response Auction will be held on May 1 at the Carroll County Agricultural Center in Westminster, Md. General items will be auctioned at 9 a.m. and the quilt auction is at noon. Information booklets are available at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., will host a Spring Open House on May 15 from 1-4 p.m. Guests will receive tours of the village and community, and meet the staff and several of the residents. Entertainment and an informational seminar will be presented by residents and business partners from the community. Gourmet refreshments will be provided. RSVP or obtain additional information by contacting 301-671-5015 or 301-671-5016 or visiting .

— Manchester College and Heifer International are establishing a permanent display to honor Dan West, a Manchester alumnus who in 1944 founded the Church of the Brethren’s Heifers for Relief Committee. Over the years the program grew into the Heifer Project, and then became the independent organization Heifer International. Dedication of the display begins with a 1 p.m. program on May 10 in Cordier Auditorium on the North Manchester, Ind., campus. An unveiling of the display and reception will follow at 2 p.m. in Funderburg Library. The display features memorabilia from West’s life, from his years as a conscientious objector during World War I to his service as an aid worker in the Spanish Civil War to his work with Heifer Project. He died in 1971, a lifelong member of the Church of the Brethren. Special guests will include West’s daughter Jan Schrock, a former director of Brethren Volunteer Service; and Ray Bowman, one of the “seagoing cowboys” who escorted Heifer Project animals to overseas destinations.

— The Peter Becker Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Harleysville, Pa., has thanked its local fire company with a $5,000 donation. On March 29, Peter Becker president/CEO Carol Berster, met with Harleysville Community Fire Company chief Todd Burns to present the donation. According to Berster, “Every day, we are rewarded with peace of mind knowing that the members of the Harleysville Fire Company stand ready to serve and are committed to saving lives. We hope this donation serves to further their efforts and remind members of the Fire Company that the residents of Peter Becker Community value the vital services they provide.”

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren,  or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Colleen M. Algeo, Ruben D. Deoleo, Stan Dueck, Joedy Isert, Donna Kline, Jeri S. Kornegay, Karin L. Krog, Nancy Miner, John Rempel, Howard Royer, and Kent Yoder contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for May 5. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to

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