Newsline for December 30, 2010

2009 COB logo w/words

Online registration opens in the first few days of January for several Church of the Brethren events. On Jan. 3, delegates to the 2011 Annual Conference can begin registering at . Also on Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. (central time), registration for the 2011 workcamps opens at . Registration for the March 2011 Christian Citizenship Seminar for high school youth and adult advisors (limited to 100 participants) begins Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. (central) at . Registration for the June 2011 National Junior High Conference will open Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. (central) at

Dec. 30, 2010

“…The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17b, NIV).

1) Manchester receives $35 million Lilly grant for School of Pharmacy.
2) Bethany Seminary receives grants for events and programs.
3) Bethany Board of Trustees holds Fall meeting.
4) Sudan Council of Churches requests prayer for upcoming referendum.
5) Mission staff give leadership for peace events in Nigeria.

6) Steve Bob ends employment with Church of the Brethren Credit Union.

7) BBT: Putting our wellness where our money is.
8) God’s timing: On disaster rebuilding in Indiana.
9) From Germany: A former BVSer reflects on living up to your beliefs.

10) Brethren bits: Corrections, job opening, IRA rollover extension, more.


1) Manchester receives $35 million Lilly grant for School of Pharmacy.

Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., has received a $35 million grant from Lilly Endowment to launch a School of Pharmacy. The grant–the largest in Manchester College history–will help the college develop its first doctoral program on a Fort Wayne campus, surrounded by regional hospitals, pharmacies, and health care facilities and services.

Responding to the national shortage of pharmacists and openings in pharmacy schools, Manchester announced last fall its plans to seek accreditation for a doctoral program in pharmacy, with the first classes beginning in fall 2012. When accredited, the School of Pharmacy will enroll 265 students in an intensive four-year Doctor of Pharmacy program.

Speaking on behalf of Lilly Endowment, Sara B. Cobb, vice president of education, said, “The school will further important efforts in Indiana to increase opportunities for education and careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines. The endowment believes this support should add significantly to the intellectual capital in northeast Indiana and enhance the vibrant life sciences sector growing throughout the state.”

“Lilly Endowment is making a powerful impact on the college’s ability to focus on the most important work before us: building a distinctive, academically strong, mission-centered School of Pharmacy,” said Manchester president Jo Young Switzer. “This grant enhances our tools to attract exceptional faculty in a highly competitive market.”

Recruiting and hiring are under way for faculty in pharmacy practice, pharmaceutics, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacy administration, and biomedical science, said Philip J. Medon, vice president and founding dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Pharmacists practicing in patient-care environments will comprise the majority of the faculty. Pharmacy students will work side-by-side with pharmacists and other members of the health care team in medical care facilities and pharmacies in the community.” (For more visit .)

— Jeri S. Kornegay is director of media and public relations for Manchester College.


2) Bethany Seminary receives grants for events and programs.

Martin Marty greets students at Bethany's Presidential Forum
Keynote speaker Martin Marty (top right) greets students at Bethany Seminary’s 2010 Presidential Forum. The seminary recently received a $200,000 grant to endow perpetual funding for the forums. Photo courtesy of Bethany Seminary

Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., has received a $200,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for financial support of its Presidential Forum. The grant will be used to establish an endowment to create perpetual funding for this event.

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations are a national philanthropic organization established through the generosity of the late American industrialist, Arthur Vining Davis, and provide grants for private higher education, religion, secondary education, health care, and public television.

The Presidential Forum, established by Bethany president Ruthann Knechel Johansen at the beginning of her tenure, brings noted speakers to campus for in-depth study and discussion of current topics. Previous years’ forums have focused on scriptures of peace from various faith traditions, the intersection of wisdom and the arts, and hospitality.

Johansen noted that in awarding the grant, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations board recognizes the excellent education that is carried out at Bethany and the high quality of the forums that have been offered. “This gift will permit Bethany Seminary to carry its witness to the church and society forward for years to come,” she said.

The seminary also has received a $25,000 grant from Barnabas Ltd. to reactivate its Exploring Your Call (EYC) program for high school juniors and seniors. Barnabas Ltd. is an Australian foundation founded by the parents of current Bethany Board of Trustees member Jerry Davis. More than 50 youth attended EYC events at Bethany during the first half of the last decade, and several current seminary students report that EYC was an important catalyst in their decisions to pursue ministry. Russell Haitch, associate professor of Practical Theology and director of the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults, will direct and staff the program. The next EYC is scheduled for June 17-27, 2011.

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


3) Bethany Board of Trustees holds Fall meeting.

Bethany president Ruthann Knechel Johansen
Bethany Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen has been named the Church of the Brethren representative to the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Jamaica next May. The convocation is the culminating event of the World Council of Churches’ Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV). Above, she addresses the delegate body at the 2010 Annual Conference. Photo by Glenn Riegel

The Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees gathered at the Richmond, Ind., campus for its semi-annual meeting Oct. 29-31. The board celebrated several significant accomplishments, including receipt of two grants (see story above), acceptance of a proposal for a distributed education track for the Master of Arts degree, and ongoing partnerships with the World Council of Churches related to the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV).

The Association of Theological Schools has approved Bethany’s proposal to launch MA Connections, a distributed education track for the MA degree. Like MDiv Connections, the seminary’s distributed education track for the master of divinity degree, MA Connections will offer courses in formats that are more conducive to the needs and desires of students in a distributed education program, such as weekend and two-week intensive classes and online and hybrid classes. The seminary will officially enroll students in the track in the Spring 2011 semester.

The Bethany board heard that seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen will represent the Church of the Brethren at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in May 2011 in Kingston, Jamaica. The convocation is the culminating event of the DOV and will celebrate the efforts of member communions around the world.

Current and emeritus faculty of Bethany have been significantly involved in the DOV including Donald Miller, a former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren and professor emeritus at Bethany, who has been a moving force in the holding of several international conferences of the Historic Peace Churches, and Scott Holland, professor of peace studies and cross-cultural studies.

Johansen was named as denominational representative by Brethren who have worked closely with the US DOV committee, Brethren advisors to the various Historic Peace Church gatherings, and by Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren.

“Ruthann’s voice of God’s shalom and Christ’s peace within the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary has encouraged us all to seek the roots of our peace church heritage,” Noffsinger said. “Her articulation of the theology of peace through Brethren eyes and experience will be critical, as this convocation will be considering an alternative voice to the Just War theory to which so many Christians subscribe. This gathering will explore what many have come to believe is a more appropriate Christian response in a Just Peace Declaration.”

In other business, the board heard a progress report on the seminary’s 2010-15 strategic plan, including curriculum review, marketing recommendations, and development of a comprehensive assessment plan; and the board approved a 2.38 percent increase for tuition for the 2011-12 academic year, to $430 per credit hour.

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


4) Sudan Council of Churches requests prayer for upcoming Referendum.

A river scene in southern Sudan
A beautiful river scene from southern Sudan, taken by Church of the Brethren mission worker Michael Wagner. The south of the country is to vote on secession from the north in a crucial Referendum scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011.

The Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) is asking partner churches to be in prayer for the Referendum in southern Sudan. The vote scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 9, is a referendum on whether southern Sudan will secede from the northern part of the country. It is a result of the comprehensive peace agreement reached in 2005 after decades of civil war between north and south.

Writing that, “It is good to keep praying for one another,” SCC director for Ecumenical Church Relations, Emmanuel Nattania A. Bandi, sent the following list of specific prayer requests to Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships for the Church of the Brethren:

“A – Those who have registered their names are facing the challenges of selling their votes out in the upcoming Referendum.
“B – Those who will cast their votes will not be influenced by other means to choose contrary to their choices.
“C – Ask God to guard the process to be peaceful, free, and fair.
“D – Ask God to grant a peaceful Referendum.
“E – After the result is announced let there be no violence among the ordinary people.
“F – Safe journey for the southerners in the North and Khartoum (the capital city) who want to come back to the South, and prayer for the means of transport.”

Church of the Brethren mission staff in southern Sudan, Michael Wagner, has been counseled to leave the country and return to the United States over the period of the Referendum. He has been working as seconded staff with the Africa Inland Church-Sudan (AIC) since July. For more about Wagner’s work: . For a photo album: .


5) Mission staff give leadership for peace events in Nigeria.

Hoslers with KBC graduating class of 2010
The 2010 graduating class at Kulp Bible College in Nigeria pose with Church of the Brethren mission workers Nathan and Jennifer Hosler (third row, center), who are teaching peacebuilding classes at the college. Photo courtesy of the Hoslers 

In an update on their work with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) mission staff Nathan and Jennifer Hosler have reported on a number of peace events and peacebuilding classes they teach at EYN’s Kulp Bible College in eastern Nigeria.

In the meantime, a recurrence of violence and bombings over the Christmas weekend killed a number of people in the city of Jos, in central Nigeria, and in the northern city of Maiduguri. The Anglican bishop for the area of Jos reported to BBC news that he believes this latest round of bombings is politically motivated, and called on new media not to link it to religious differences in the hope of preventing more retaliatory violence by Christian or Muslim mobs.

A leader of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) e-mailed a preliminary report to the Global Mission Partnerships office that at least one EYN church in Maiduguri was attacked on the 24th and there are reports that one EYN member may have been killed.

Following is an excerpt from the Hoslers’ newsletter for November/December:

“The month of November flew by, with classes and conferences and a lot of work for peace! KBC final exams started Dec. 1 and finished on Dec. 4. Twenty students in the Certificate in Christian Ministry class graduated on Dec. 10. Though we arrived about a month into the start of the semester (mid-October), we were able to get in a fair amount of teaching.

“Nate gave four lectures on restorative justice, a field of peacebuilding that attempts to change a framework of wrongdoing and justice from retribution to restoration…. Jenn taught two lectures on trauma and trauma healing, lessons that aimed to create awareness of the physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds that are caused by traumatic events like violent conflict.

“A Female Theologian’s group exists within EYN and it held its annual conference from Nov. 4-6 on ‘Women and Peacebuilding in Church and Society.’ Jenn was asked to write and present a paper, which was entitled, ‘Peace by Peace: Roles for Women in Peacebuilding.’ Looking specifically at the context of violent religious identity conflict in Nigeria, she highlighted peacebuilding roles at interpersonal, family, and church levels. Additionally, roles for women were highlighted in the realms of mediation, negotiation, trauma healing, reconciliation, advocacy and awareness-raising, and coalition building. These were explained with Nigerian examples as well as stories of women’s peacebuilding across African countries like Liberia. Nate shared the importance of women doing the theology of justice and peacemaking.

“For Jenn, writing the paper was a chance to do focused research and also have her eyes opened to the great resource for peace that exists in the ZME, or Women’s Fellowship group in EYN. We hope that new efforts of the EYN Peace Program will engage this vital group within the church, training, supporting, and encouraging them in creative grassroots peacebuilding efforts. We shall see where this goes in the future!

“One of the highlights for Nate was seeing the KBC Peace Club implement its first official event on Nov. 14. The group meets weekly for discussions on various biblical themes and topics related to peace. Another of its goals is also to plan events that build peace and encourage thinking about peace within the KBC community and local area. The group planned a forum for the Sunday evening church service at the KBC Chapel, entitled ‘What Is Peace?’ A faculty member, a student, and KBC principal Toma Ragnjiya were the presenters on the New Testament and Peace, Women and Peace, and Peace and Conflict in Nigeria, respectively. Feedback from attendees–KBC students and staff, EYN denominational staff, and community members–was positive and people were eager to attend another event or hold a similar event in another location.

“We also have been putting the finishing touches on the EYN Peace Resource Library, creating bibliographic resources for students and knowledge seekers.”

The Hoslers’ newsletter ended with several prayer requests, including for peace in Nigeria as the country faces elections. “Originally scheduled for January, they have been postponed until April,” the Hoslers reported. “Elections are typically times of tension, corruption, and even violence. The country faces many problems for which good leaders of integrity are needed. Pray for good leadership for Nigeria and for peace during tense times.” For more about the Hoslers’ work: .


6) Steve Bob ends employment with Church of the Brethren Credit Union.

Brethren Benefit Trust has announced that Steve Bob’s employment will end as director of operations for the Church of the Brethren Credit Union. “This was a difficult cost-containment measure,” said a release from BBT, which also asked for prayer for the Bob family.

Bob will work at the credit union through Jan. 31, 2011. He then will receive a severance package, career counseling, and assistance in seeking new employment. He began work for BBT on Nov. 3, 2008. During his tenure, he was instrumental in developing several new credit union services including online banking and bill pay, and he implemented procedures to bring the credit union into compliance with state and federal regulations.


7) BBT: Putting our wellness where our money is.

Brethren Benefit Trust Fitness Challenge 2
Brethren Benefit Trust sponsors the annual Fitness Challenge at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. The organization will start a new wellness initiative for its employees beginning January 1. Photo by Glenn Riegel

Regardless of whether you supported the landmark health care legislation that was passed by the Democrat-majority Congress in March 2010, one thing is for certain: leaders of the soon-to-be Republican-majority House of Representatives have stated that they want the legislation repealed.

While no one knows how this political arm wrestling will impact the nation’s health care in the years to come, there are related issues that need immediate attention. According to a 2007 study by Milken Institute more than 109 million Americans (about one in three) have cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, pulmonary conditions, mental disorders, or have experienced a stroke. At the time of the study, these health problems made a whopping $1.3 trillion annual impact on the economy, equal to about 9 percent of the US gross domestic product. With the federal government announcing in November that 59 million Americans do not have medical insurance, it is clear that these issues need immediate bipartisan attention.

In the meantime, there are many steps that can be taken to improve the health of individuals while trying to tame ever-increasing medical expenses. Brethren Benefit Trust will soon take one such step. On Jan. 1, BBT will institute a company-wide wellness initiative–an elective program that we offer to all Brethren Medical Plan employer groups.

According to numerous sources, a wellness program with an incentive improves the overall claims experience of employee medical insurance plans, which in turn helps reduce employer health care costs. Second, there is a reduction of workplace injuries. Third, there is an improvement in employee productivity. Fourth, there is a decrease in absenteeism. I also believe such a plan will result in improved corporate morale and camaraderie as people’s self esteem increases.

In mid-January, each participating BBT staff person will undergo a blood draw. Soon thereafter, each employee will receive a confidential health assessment. At mid-year, employees will undergo a second blood draw and receive an updated assessment. Beginning in 2012, staff members must participate in the blood draws and meet certain health benchmarks (or obtain a medical waiver from their physicians). Employees who choose not to participate in 2011 or who do not meet the health benchmarks in subsequent years will be assessed a wellness premium that is equal to 20 percent of BBT’s individual employee medical insurance premium.

Claims from this program will be billed through the Brethren Medical Plan’s preventive care component. While the wellness blood draw will replace other preventive blood work (because the wellness blood work is comprehensive, preventive, and the results can be shared with physicians), the plan will still allow other preventive measures like annual physicals.

To some, this program might not seem very desirable. I understand. As someone who has been overweight for most of his adult life, I too could wind up paying that 20 percent premium assessment. Nevertheless, the reality is that affordable employer medical insurance is an asset that is quickly slipping off the employer benefit landscape. Many businesses have eliminated this benefit or have greatly increased their employees’ out-of-pocket expenses.

The time is right for employees and companies to work together. Employees striving to become healthier will help mitigate the rising cost of employer-based insurance plans, which should enable employers to continue offering medical insurance plans with lower premiums and deductibles so that the employees do not experience debilitating out-of-pocket expenses from a catastrophic medical event.

Who knows how long it will take for Congress to agree on a long-term health care solution? By the time that happens, BBT staff and perhaps other Brethren Medical Plan members should be healthier, happier, and have comparatively lower insurance premiums.

— Nevin Dulabaum is president of Brethren Benefit Trust.


8) God’s timing: On disaster rebuilding in Indiana.

This reflection on God’s timing was written earlier this Fall by Brethren Disaster Ministries associate director Zach Wolgemuth after he visited a rebuilding project in Indiana, in an area affected by flooding:

“I have found the timing of my trip to Winamac to be beneficial. Certainly I did not plan things this way, but God seems to have a way of laying everything out.

“One house has been behind schedule because the old home was not torn down when it was supposed to be and the new foundation was just completed. The homeowner was on the schedule to be one of the first to be completed, but ended up at the bottom of the list because he told them that others needed the help more than he did.

“No one really checked into his situation and took his word for it. This is a man who has taken almost everything that life has thrown at him in stride, and with an attitude that I wish I had on some good days. His house was completely uninhabitable and he and his wife/partner of 20 years have been living in a very old trailer. He has been out of work and spends much time caring for a disabled son.

“To top all this off, the man’s wife/partner found out in May that she has breast cancer and is now undergoing treatments. Which means that he is left caring for everyone.

“You can tell that he cares deeply for his family. He told me that this construction on their new house will bring her joy–to be able to look out the window and see the work happening.

“Why God’s timing? Every now and then I need a wake-up call. Hearing this man tell his story, and knowing that we in Brethren Disaster Ministries are doing some good in the world and making a difference is helpful.

“Not only that, I am completely humbled. Yes, he is rough around the edges. But I am convinced I would be jagged around the edges if I were to walk in his shoes. None of us really know how blessed we truly are!”


9) From Germany: A former BVSer reflects on living up to your beliefs.

BVS Volunteer Patrick Spahn with Congresswoman Bettina Hagerdorn
Former Brethren Volunteer Service worker Patrick Spahn (right) meets with his congresswoman after his return home to Germany, to talk about his experience working with the Center on Conscience and War. Photo courtesy of Brethren Volunteer Service

Former Brethren Volunteer Service worker Patrick Spahn–a member of BVS Unit 283–has returned to Germany after carrying out a term of service at the Center on Conscience and War (formerly NISBCO) in Washington, D.C. He wrote the following reflection about his work there:

“I am already back in Germany for two months, and it feels like far longer since I edited the last ‘Reporter for Conscience’ Sake’ or answered a phone call on the GI Rights Hotline. Working at the Center on Conscience and War was a very great time for me.

“I learned a lot about the issues, such as recruiter abuse, conscientious objection, and American military culture and religion. I am aware of many problems I hadn´t been aware of previously, such as the recruitment of poor people, and the glorification of soldiers and their duty.

“On an even more personal level, I loved working at the center. Working for a cause I am passionate about and truly believe in was very fulfilling and something I want to keep doing. Prior to working at the center, I had a hard time choosing between two different college programs, Social Work or International Policy Management. After my time at the center I decided to study the last mentioned. I don´t think I would have decided on that program, and that future, without volunteering at the center.

“Working together with the staff of CCW was a big part of this decision, and part of the reason why I had such a great time. All are in different ways role models, and just by working with them I learned a lot about dedication, passion, and how to keep doing this tough work for a long time.

“I will never forget stories of the people who called CCW. A woman in the Air Force who thought about getting pregnant just to get out of the service, which doesn´t work in that branch. Or the woman who was sexually harassed by men higher up in her chain of command while deployed on a ship. Or the conscientious objector who is still struggling to get out after years of trying.

“Then there are all the conscientious objectors who turned their entire lives around with that decision, and those who even lost friends and family because of their newly found beliefs that no longer allowed them to participate in the armed forces. I have deep respect for these courageous folks. All of them are an example for me of how important it is to live up to your own beliefs, convictions, and conscience.

“The German people used to have a very skeptical relationship toward soldiers and the military based on the two world wars. Now I see tendencies in Germany that scare me. The recruiters go into schools, the armed forces get smaller but get ready for more deployments, and folks start to be less skeptical about soldiers. Additionally a very popular young politician is the current Defense Secretary, and his popularity boosts public opinion of the military a lot.

“I am already in contact with the German War Resisters League, Mennonite Counseling Network (part of the GI Rights Hotline in Germany), and Iraq Veterans Against the War to become active here in Germany as well. In mid August I met with my congresswoman to talk about my service at the Center on Conscience and War as well as German politics in regards to the military, Afghanistan, and conscription.

“I thank you for your support. Without it I could not have had all these life-changing experiences, and I could not have helped all these people. Take care and from the bottom of my heart I say, Auf Wiedersehen!”


10) Brethren bits: Correction, job opening, IRA rollover extension, more.

— Correction: A previous Newsline article gave misleading information about the 2011 National Older Adult Conference. The following organizations are helping to sponsor specific events at NOAC, but not the conference itself: the Fellowship of Brethren Homes is sponsoring an ice cream social; the Brethren-related colleges and university and Bethany Seminary are sponsoring alumni receptions; Everence (formerly Mennonite Mutual Aid) is sponsoring the address by Robert Bowman; the Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa., is sponsoring the address by David Fuchs and Curtis Dubble; and the Palms of Sebring, Fla., also is planning to sponsor an event.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has an opening for a fulltime personnel coordinator. Preferred start date is April 15, 2011. Compensation is a stipend based on need. Initial appointment will be for a period of three years. Preferred location is Chicago, Ill. Persons with the required experience and skills who have not been members of CPT are welcome to apply. If chosen as the most promising applicant, an individual will be invited to participate in a CPT delegation and month-long training and discernment process. For more information go to . Contact Carol Rose, CPT Co-Director, at with expressions of interest and nominations by Jan. 12, 2011.

— An extension of the charitable IRA rollover has been put in place with the compromise tax bill passed by the US Congress. In an alert to church members, Steve Mason of Brethren Benefit Trust and the Brethren Foundation notes that this provision allows taxpayers who are 70 1/2 years old or older to make tax-free transfers of up to $100,000 per year from a Traditional IRA or Roth IRA directly to charity. The provision originally was effective for 2006-07 and then twice extended through 2009, but was allowed to expire on Jan. 1, 2010, and had not been available since. “The new law extends the charitable IRA rollover for two years, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, (that is, through 2011),” Mason writes. “Recognizing that there is little time left to take advantage of this extension in 2010, the new law allows donors to elect to treat IRA rollover gifts made in Jan. 2011 as if they were made on Dec. 31, 2010. Taxpayers who make this election are permitted to count their gift against the $100,000 limitation on such gifts in 2010 instead of against the 2011 limitation. They may also count their gift toward fulfilling their required minimum distribution for 2010.” Individuals should consult with a financial counselor to ensure that they qualify. For more information go to .

— Dec. 31 is the registration deadline for “The Protestant Church of Germany: Past and Present,” a study abroad offering from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. The trip takes place June 13-25, 2011, with instructor Ken Rogers, professor of Historical Studies at Bethany Seminary. This ecumenical and intercultural course, taught in English, will have participants spend 11 days in and around Marburg, Germany, addressing the questions: “How do the practices and beliefs of the Protestant (State) Church of Germany compare with our own?” and “How does one’s social context shape our Christian faith and theology?” Participants will live with local families and meet with clergy, laity, and theologians. A one-day bus excursion will take the group to important sites of Brethren history including the village of Schwarzenau, where the first Brethren baptisms took place in 1708. Cost is $2,500, including airfare from Philadelphia. Go to or call 800-287-8822 ext. 1824.

— Join a faith expedition to Vietnam on March 6-20, 2011, coordinated by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships. “Are you looking for a new travel experience in 2011? Would you like to learn more about Church of the Brethren involvement overseas?” asks the invitation. “Space is limited so contact us soon!” Participants will visit historic sites and Church World Service projects in Hanoi, Hue, and Muong Te. Price per person is $3,000 and includes airfare and in-country room, board, and travel. The deadline for applications is Jan. 5, 2011. Contact Anna Emrick at or 800-323-8039 ext. 230. For more information go to .

— On Earth Peace has announced plans to expand its Agape-Satyagraha program training young people to respond in positive, nonviolent ways to the conflicts and challenges they face. Agape-Satyagraha is currently in seven sites: Harrisburg, Pa.; Canton, Ill.; Lima, Ohio; Modesto, Calif.; South Bend, Ind.; Union Bridge, Md.; and Wilmington, Del. “In the coming year, we want to make this opportunity available in three more communities. Will you help us?” said the announcement from executive director Bob Gross. Also, On Earth Peace has posted a slide show of children’s peace murals created by groups taking part in the Kids as Peacemakers program (find it at ). Over the past two years, more than 30 groups of children in 16 different communities have taken part. “In the coming year, with your help, On Earth Peace plans to support at least 10 more churches and schools to offer the Kids as Peacemakers program for children,” the report said. For more information about On Earth Peace planning for 2011, go to .

— Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., hosted a “Thou Shalt Not Kill” symposium on the death penalty on Dec. 4 with actor Mike Farrell of “M.A.S.H.” fame, currently president of Death Penalty Focus. Also on the program was Church of the Brethren member Rachel Gross, who with husband Bob Gross of On Earth Peace co-founded the Death Row Support Project in 1978. Find a report from the Fort Wayne “Journal Gazette” at .

— East Chippewa Church of the Brethren in Orrville, Ohio, is holding a benefit dinner and concert the evening of Jan. 15, 2011, for the family of Wayne Carmany, who suffered from cancer for an extended period of time and passed away Dec. 29. The concert will feature musical talents and groups including New Beginnings, Brass Ensemble, Bob Hutson, Lela Horst, Rachel King, Rick Horst, Leslie Lake, and the East Chip Vocal Band.

— The combined choirs of Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren and Olivet Presbyterian will present a benefit concert for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Network at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 9, 2011, at the Staunton Church. “Celebrate the Joy of Christmas this New Year” will be performed with accompanying orchestra, under the direction of David MacMillan.

— Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore., has been in the news for its relationship to the family of Mohamed Mohamud, the teen accused of plotting to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. A report from Religion News Service interviews former pastor Sylvia Eagan, who explained how in the 1990s Peace Church was one of the congregations that aided the family as they fled from war in Somalia and a refugee camp in Kenya. Parents Osman and Miriam Barre were offered asylum in the US and gained the sponsorship of several churches in the Portland area. “It was our responsibility to help them find a place to live, get to appointments, and get settled,” Eagan told RNS. Read “The Religious History of the Suspected Portland Bomber” at .

— Panora (Iowa) Church of the Brethren on Dec. 19 honored Esther Thompson for 76 years as a church organist. The “Guthrie Center Times” tells her story at .

— Roxbury Church of the Brethren in Johnstown, Pa., has honored Charles Allison for teaching Sunday school for more than 50 years, according to a report in the “Tribune-Democrat.”

— Codorus Church of the Brethren in Dallastown, Pa., is noting the upcoming 71st wedding anniversary of members John W. and Mary S. Keeney, who were married Feb. 3, 1940. As of the end of January, the couple both will be 96 years old.

— The Brethren Mission Fund of the Brethren Revival Fellowship is sponsoring a workcamp to Haiti on Feb. 26-March 5, 2011. On-site coordination will be by Jeff Boshart, Haiti disaster response coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries, and leaders of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). Cost is $900 including on-site meals, lodging, transportation, and travel insurance. Airfare to Port-au-Prince is an additional cost. Contact trip coordinators Doug Miller 717-624-4822, Jim Myer 717-626-5555, or Earl Eby 717-263-7590.

— World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has hailed US ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia. “Such a decision is especially meaningful in what is for Christians the season of peace,” his statement said in part. “With member churches around the world we thank God for this small but significant demonstration of progress on a problem that continues to deny the hopes of people everywhere. We also welcome cross-party support in one nation for a decision that concerns all nations. The US and other nuclear powers do not possess weapons of mass destruction in isolation. They do so against the best interests of humanity.” He concluded, “The ratification by Russia of the New START treaty would be a welcome start to 2011. We pray that the New Year will see more such news that is good news for all.” Find the full statement at .

— Church of the Brethren member Sarah Scott Kepple designed the house that was built this fall in Savannah, Ga., by “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The show will be aired Jan. 16, 2011, on ABC affiliates. Kepple is employed by Hansen Architects.

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Kim Ebersole, Anna Emrick, Leroy M. Keeney, Marilyn Lerch, Brian Solem contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other week, with special issues as needed. The next regular issue is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2011. 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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