Newsline for February 25, 2010


Newsline is the Church of the Brethren e-mail news service. Go to to subscribe or unsubscribe.

Feb. 25, 2010

“…Stand firm in the Lord…” (Philippians 4:1b).

1) Christian denominations issue joint letter urging immigration reform.
2) Brethren medical/crisis counseling group is to go to Haiti.
3) Winners of NYC music and speech contests are announced.
4) Dominican Brethren hold 19th annual conference.
5) Grant given for hunger relief in Sudan, mission executive visits.
6) New issue of ‘Brethren Life and Thought’ sent to wide audience.
7) Christian Churches Together holds meeting on evangelism.

8) Pete and Martha Roudebush retire from Southeastern District.
9) Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 287 begins service.

10) On Earth Peace offers community change training for churches.

11) Nigerian Brethren hold Interfaith Conference on Peaceful Coexistence.
12) Hearts forever bonded: A reflection on visiting EYN in Nigeria.

Brethren bits: Corrections, personnel, job opening, Annual Conference, more (see column at right).


1) Christian denominations issue joint letter urging immigration reform.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has joined in signing a letter urging immigration reform. The letter has been signed by a number of the leaders of Christian denominations that are part of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Church World Service (CWS).

“The issue of immigration reform is of urgent concern and this letter calls for action by our churches,” said Noffsinger.

“We have had broad support from the church leadership of the initiative of the National Council of Churches/Church World Service Taskforce on Immigration Reform,” NCC general secretary Michael Kinnamon wrote in a cover letter to the denominations that are taking part.

Quoting from Deuteronomy 10:19–“You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”–the letter written on the eve of Lent calls for comprehensive immigration reform and builds on a resolution that was adopted by the 2008 General Assembly of the NCC and CWS. It claims immigration reform as a “patriotic act in the spirit of our nation’s best values and traditions.”

“Today, more than 12 million immigrants living in the United States find themselves without the hope of becoming citizens, reuniting with family members, or enjoying the legal protections that most of us take for granted,” the letter said. “Yet many of these people have lived and worked in our communities for years, becoming our friends and family, and often performing the daily tasks that enhance our quality of life. Unless there are major policy changes enacted by the US Congress, many of these people will continue to languish in the shadows and be subjected to abuse, discrimination, and hardships that are contrary to the Gospel values of love, unity, and the affirmation of the dignity of all people.”

Through this joint letter, the denominations that are a part of the NCC are taking a stand for immigration reform alongside the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the National Hispanic Leadership Conference.

The letter also included a list of actions or witnesses that local congregations are requested to consider making in their own communities. The list includes activities such as hosting a prayer vigil or community event to pray for immigrants and call for immigration reform, dedicating a sermon or Bible study series to Christ’s teachings to welcome the stranger, and organizing church members to attend the Ecumenical Advocacy Days on the subject of immigration, which will take place in Washington, D.C., on March 19-22.

Resources for hosting a prayer vigil and other events can be found at  and . Information about Ecumenical Advocacy Days is at .


2) Brethren medical/crisis counseling group is to go to Haiti.

A Church of the Brethren medical/crisis counseling group is to go to Haiti next month to provide a short-term medical presence and to offer primary health care and emotional and spiritual care to Haitian Brethren congregations and surrounding communities affected by the earthquake. The trip is scheduled for March 21-27.

The group is traveling under the auspices of Brethren Disaster Ministries. Organizers plan to provide daily or half-day clinics at locations near the three congregations of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren) in the Port-au-Prince area.

The group of three medical doctors, two nurses, and a therapist with training in crisis work, will be accompanied by Haitian-American Brethren leaders, the coordinator of the Brethren Disaster Ministries Haiti response, and Church of the Brethren communications staff. Once in Haiti it is expected that the group will be joined by some of the Haitian Brethren pastors and National Committee members. The leadership of the Haitian Church of the Brethren will organize and plan the clinics.

In another update on the Church of the Brethren earthquake response, as of yesterday Feb. 24 giving to the work in Haiti has topped $531,150. This includes a total of $84,678 received in online donations and $446,479 received through mail-in donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund designated for Haiti earthquake relief.

This generosity is paying for the Brethren response that includes feeding programs for children, food relief for communities around the three congregations of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Port-au-Prince, temporary shelters for Haitian Brethren families who are homeless and preparations to build more permanent homes, and shipments of Family Household Kits, Water Filtration Buckets, Hygiene Kits, Baby Care Kits, and other relief materials. The donations also have made it possible for the Church of the Brethren to give thousands of dollars to support the wider ecumenical response by Church World Service (CWS) and ACT International in Haiti.

Go to  for more about the church’s earthquake relief effort; go to  to contribute.


3) Winners of NYC music and speech contests are announced.

The winners of the National Youth Conference (NYC) Music Contest and Speech Contest have been announced by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office.

Jacob Crouse from Warrensburg, Mo., is the winner of the Music Contest with his song, “More than Meets the Eye.” Born in Virginia and raised in the Dominican Republic, Crouse is a full-time student at the University of Central Missouri. While pursuing a degree in music technology, he also commits himself to the local music scene and participates in various ensembles ranging from the university’s Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band to performing in a few of his very own bands. He is very involved at Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren where, in addition to providing music for church services, he participates as a youth, is a part of the leadership team, and finds several opportunities to provide community service on behalf of the church.

There are three winners of the Speech Contest. The duo Renee Neher and Arbie Karasek from Lombard, Ill., will give a speech together. Both are members of the youth group at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard and attend Willowbrook High School. Neher is a 16 year old, and in the fall will be a junior at Willowbrook High. Karasek is 14 years old and also is active in the Youth Cabinet of Illinois and Wisconsin District.

The other speech will come from Kelsey Boardman of Modesto, Calif. She is a fourth generation member of the Church in the Brethren in Modesto, and during the 300th Anniversary of the Church of the Brethren was part of the Youth Heritage Travel Team for Pacific Southwest District. She plans to graduate from Fred C. Beyer High School this year, and will study biology at California State University, Stanislaus, in the fall.

“Winning this speech contest was very important to Kelsey because of the recent death of her great grandmother,” reports Audrey Hollenberg, one of the two NYC coordinators. “Her great grandmother was a strong advocate for female preachers in the Church of the Brethren. Kelsey considers it a great tribute to her great grandmother to be a speaker at National Youth Conference.”


4) Dominican Brethren hold 19th annual conference.

La Iglesia de Los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) celebrated its 19th Annual Conference on Feb. 19-21 at the Mennonite campground (Betel) near San Juan de la Manguana. The theme for the conference, chosen by moderator Felix Arias Mateo, was “More than Conquerors” based on Romans 8:37.

Three new churches were accepted into the denomination, for a total of 21. A budget for 2010 also was approved. Catalice Mardochee was chosen to be moderator-elect.

Speaking for the new Brethren congregations in Haiti, pastor Altenor Jean from Port-au-Prince shared moving words of faith in the midst of suffering following the devastating earthquake. He thanked Dominican Brethren for their visits and prayers.

Tension was evident during the meetings as leaders struggled with financial and administrative concerns. Shawn Flory Replogle, representing the US Brethren as the moderator of Annual Conference, led in a closing service of anointing.

— Irvin Heishman is the Church of the Brethren’s mission co-coordinator in the DR.


5) Grant given for hunger relief in Sudan, mission executive visits.

A grant of $20,000 to help relieve hunger in the Easter Equatoria State of southern Sudan has been given by two Church of the Brethren ministry areas. A grant of $15,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund was requested by Brethren Disaster Ministries, and the church’s Global Mission Partnerships also gave $5,000.

The grant followed a trip to southern Sudan by Global Mission Partnerships executive Jay Wittmeyer, who visited the area in which hunger-related deaths are being reported. He also visited with the Africa Inland Church and its Community Organization for Rehabilitation and Development (AIC-CORED), which will administer the grant money.

AIC-CORED reports that during the month of December, hunger killed at least 14 people in LOPA County of the Eastern Equatoria State, and hunger-related cases have been reported in the city of Torit where the Church of the Brethren had been planning to base a mission effort. The Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Torit has issued a hunger alert.

The grant request from AIC said, “Many children and elderly people are in the advanced stages of malnutrition; there is high need of life-saving assistance.” The food shortage results from two years of failed rains or drought. A related issue are the people who are returning to southern Sudan after having been displaced from their own homes by the civil war, which took place over a period of 21 years.

“December is typically a good time for food, so if there is hunger in December, then hunger grows worse through the months of January through March and then into April,” Wittmeyer said.

The AIC-CORED budget for the emergency food relief includes money to pay for food items such as sorghum and beans, non-food items like clothes, blankets, and cooking utensils, along with “rehabilitation tools” such as hoes and axes.

In another new grant from the Emergency Disaster Fund, $2,500 responds to a Church World Service appeal following severe winter storms across the United States. The money will help defray the cost of shipping hygiene kits and blankets to affected families, and will support the work of CWS as it aids recovery efforts in communities affected by the storms.


6) New issue of ‘Brethren Life and Thought’ sent to wide audience.

The current issue of “Brethren Life and Thought”–Vol. 54, No.1 and 2–is in the mail to a wide audience, said an announcement from the Brethren Journal Association. The journal is published jointly with Bethany Theological Seminary.

With Lilly Endowment Inc. funding, the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership partnered with the Brethren Journal Association to publish this double edition and make it available to pastors throughout the denomination. This issue features articles by eight pastors who participated in the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) program.

The SPE program is designed to bring pastors together to worship, study, participate in theological reflection, and travel as a way to grow professionally. The articles in this issue share some of their findings and reflections. The issue also includes a report by Steve Clapp on the “Church of the Brethren 2008 Pastoral Study Project,” a study designed to better understand the needs, concerns, and effectiveness of pastors.

Study questions and other resources for individuals and groups to use with these articles can be found at .

In addition, this volume begins a series of 12 new “Texts in Transit” studies by Graydon Snyder and Kenneth Shaffer as a way to publish revisions to their books “Texts in Transit I” and “Texts in Transit II,” originally published by Brethren Press.

The Brethren Journal Association notes that subscribers will notice the absence of color text inside the journal in the future. Eliminating color text is one decision the association has made to publish within budget limitations. Double issues also are more economical, so there will be an increase in the use of double issues with the possibility of several months between publication of the issues. At the same time, the association remains committed to finding a way to get publication of the journal onto a current schedule.

— Karen Garrett is managing editor of “Brethren Life and Thought.”


7) Christian Churches Together holds meeting on evangelism.

When Christian Churches Together (CCT) held its annual meeting, the group talked about evangelism and met in the Pacific Northwest. When research groups explore religious attitudes in the US, asking what religious group people are affiliated with, this region scores the highest anywhere answering “none”–about 63 percent. So it’s been dubbed “the None Zone.” What better place to explore the contemporary challenges and understanding of evangelism.

It is the first time this young but growing organization has focused on evangelism. With Catholic, historic Protestant, Orthodox, evangelical/Pentecostal, and historic Black church participants–the five “families” that make up CCT00this dialogue on evangelism was the richest I’ve experienced in so broad a gathering. To put it bluntly, the main ecumenical institutions like the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches rarely put this topic on their agendas, and the evangelical and Pentecostal communities talk about evangelism mostly among themselves. So this was a fresh encounter.

Mel Robeck, a Pentecostal scholar from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., reminded us that the mandate to “make disciples” had never been withdrawn, and that common witness by divided church families requires the building of trust. That’s what has been happening within CCT.

We looked historically at evangelism with the help of Douglas Strong, professor of the History of Christianity at Seattle (Wash.) Pacific University School of Theology. In the time of the “Great Awakenings” in America in the 1800s, free and open commerce and a common language in the emerging continent provided a social infrastructure similar to conditions enabling the growth of the early church. Plus, revivals were related to movements of justice like the abolition of slavery, and many groups and camp meetings were bi-racial.

What does that mean for today when we say the “world is flat,” and we are participating in a communications revolution certainly as radical as the advent of the printing press? And where, by 2030, there will be no racial or ethnic group constituting a “majority”–more than 51 percent–of the population? Meanwhile, participation in religious institutions across denominational lines is mostly in decline.

So the recovery of the church’s missional mandate is essential. Doug Strong argued that we need to be “reinvigorated by the idea that God’s mission of the church is to be a sent community to restore the world….” And such a call means immigrants and people of color are essential partners in building a faithful and fruitful future. Hearing this affirmed in a setting like CCT was deeply encouraging.

CCT will continue its exploration of evangelism. Difficult areas have to be addressed, like proselytism, the challenge of interfaith relations, our theological understandings of salvation, and what evangelism looks like in a post-modern context. But we have discovered a place where leadership from the diversity of the Christian community can have an honest and engaging encounter about the meaning and practice of evangelism in contemporary culture.

— Wes Granberg-Michaelson is general secretary of the Reformed Church in America and president of the “Historic Protestant Family” of denominations in CCT.


8) Pete and Martha Roudebush retire from Southeastern District.

Pete and Martha Roudebush have announced plans to retire as executive ministers of Southeastern District, effective Aug. 1. They plan to begin retirement by camping their way to Alaska in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary.

The Roudebushes began their ministry as co-district executives on April 1, 2001. During their tenure, Southeastern District established its first Hispanic church and is working on its second, began an ACTS (Academy Certified Training System) ministry training program called School of Spiritual Leadership, called ministers to serve as directors of Outdoor Ministries at each of the district’s camps, and made advances in the utilization of technology.

Pete Roudebush was called to the ministry in 1998 by Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, where the couple both served as deacons for 20 years. Martha Roudebush served on the staff of the Eaton Church as director of Lay Ministry for 10 years. They moved to Southeastern District in 2000.


9) Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 287 begins service.

Members of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 287 have begun their terms of service at a number of projects in the United States and Europe. Following are the 15 volunteers, their home congregations or hometowns, and project sites:

Alex Bahn of Codorus Church of the Brethren in Dallastown, Pa., is going to serve at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind. Michael Camps, First Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla., to Camp Courageous in Monticello, Iowa. Pam Dirting, Wakeman’s Grove Church of the Brethren in Edinburg, Va., to Quaker Cottage in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Erin Duffy, Hempfield Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., to Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Va. Ashley Eckert of Folsom, Calif., to Bridgeway in Lakewood, Colo. Kendra Johnson of Waterloo, Iowa, to Peace Brigades International in Hamburg, Germany. Michael Kramarczyk of Bad Driburg, Germany, to Brethren Nutrition Program in Washington D.C. Andy Loos of Salzgitter, Germany, to Boys Hope Girls Hope in Kansas City, Mo. Lucy and Micah Loucks of Goshen, Ind., to L’Arche in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Jeremy McAvoy of Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, to Brethren Disaster Ministries in New Windsor, Md. Lacey Perfors of Elgin, Ill., and David Reger of Herrenzimmern, Germany, to Abode Service in Fremont, Calif. Dane Sollenberger of Rochester, N.Y., and Ian Sollenberger of Los Angeles, Calif., to CooperRiis in Mill Spring, N.C.


10) On Earth Peace offers community change training for churches.

A training event titled “You Can’t Stop the River: Community Change for Congregations,” is offered by On Earth Peace on April 15-18 at First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa. Leadership will be given by Matt Guynn, program director for On Earth Peace.

“Many congregations are ready to take a next step in community outreach and leadership for justice and peace, but aren’t sure what’s next,” said an announcement from On Earth Peace. “What does proactive, hopeful action look like? Efforts to improve the community, reduce violence, build peace all too often dry up or get stopped along the way. If you believe God yearns for more peace and less violence–and you want your congregation to have a powerful ministry for justice and peace, focused on real change in the communityjoin us for ‘You Can’t Stop the River.’”

Goals for the training are to build skills and confidence for community leadership, worship together and study scripture as a source of strength for community change, explore the history and philosophy of nonviolent community organizing and mobilization, reflect on the experience that congregations bring and exchange stories and wisdom with others, with God’s help prepare plans for what happens next in a church’s community. Teams of two-to-four people from each participating congregation are recommended.

Cost is $100, plus a participant offering to be taken during the event. Participants are responsible for their own travel costs. Some travel assistance and scholarships are available. Simple home stays will be provided in private homes. Meals will be provided, including a vegetarian option. “No one will be turned away because of funds,” On Earth Peace said. “We are committed to making this training available and building grassroots capacity.”

To apply, write a one-page letter including your congregation’s story and how this training would support your ministries, a description of your team, and the reasons why you want to attend the training. A letter of blessing and support should be provided from the congregation’s leadership team. Both letters should be sent to Matt Guynn at . The application deadline is March 15.


11) Nigerian Brethren hold Interfaith Conference on Peaceful Coexistence.

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) recently held an Interfaith Conference on Peaceful Coexistence at its headquarters in Kwarhi. The conference happened to fall immediately after violence broke out in the city of Jos, where at least two EYN ministers were killed. Following is a report from Nathan and Jennifer Hosler, Church of the Brethren mission workers serving with EYN:

“Monday, Jan. 11: visited an Islamic Secondary school in Jos. Thursday, Jan. 14: traveled from Jos to Kwarhi. Sunday, Jan. 17: fighting broke out in Jos. Wednesday, Jan. 20: participated in an interfaith conference on peaceful coexistence.

“In the span of just over a week, we participated in two peace initiatives and narrowly missed the Jos crisis and corresponding 24-hour curfew. This highlights two things: peace is tenuous and peace work is of necessity.

“Finding out what happened after a crisis is a difficult task. Causes of such conflicts are complicated to determine and often distorted as they are conveyed through communities. Imagine a game of ‘Telephone’ in which participants may not like or agree with what they are hearing and repeating. When people are convinced that all Christians are like this or that all Muslims are like that, they are more likely to distort or conveniently overlook certain factual details. One such detail is that at the end of the crisis, both Christians and Muslims were hurt.

“As violence escalated, calmed, and re-escalated, we began our peace conference. Someone asked, ‘How can we have a peace conference while Jos is burning?’ The EYN Peace Coordinator replied, ‘A doctor doesn’t stop treating someone when they get sick…. We continue to treat them and pray that God will heal them.’ With this hope and goal we proceeded with the conference.

“The conference was held at the convention center adjacent to EYN headquarters and was attended by approximately 50 participants. The participants were from EYN, Christians from the government and Christian organizations, Muslims from the government and Muslim organizations, a Muslim professor of Islamic studies and Arabic from the University of Maiduguri, two Muslim school teachers, two Church of the Brethren workcampers Roger and Mim Eberly, and fraternal workers from the Church of the Brethren and Mission 21.

“Two presenters (one Christian and one Muslim) from Jos were unable to attend because of the crisis. While leaving Jos, their car was attacked. Although they were not injured, their car was damaged and they were unable to attend.

“Presenters gave talks on various elements of peaceful coexistence. The conference was envisioned as a way to build trust between communities, as a forum to discuss issues surrounding inter-religious coexistence, and as a platform on which to build future initiatives. It was not merely a time to discuss nice ideas but a beginning point for creative peace work between Muslim and Christian communities. In this vein, Jennifer presented a paper on trauma healing for which she received very positive feedback. Many participants expressed their eagerness to implement the ideas and tools of trauma healing into their work.

“While the conference was deemed a success, it is only a starting point for future relationships and initiatives. One such relationship was between us and two Muslim school teachers. One of the first things they said after meeting us was, ‘You must come to visit us at our school.’ We hope to take up the invitation soon.”


12) Hearts forever bonded: A reflection on visiting EYN in Nigeria.

Mim and I expected a faith venture/learning tour to Nigeria to be a stretching experience. We went to cultivate our sister relationship with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). We were not disappointed. A part of our hearts have been planted in Nigeria, and we will never be the same.

Our time there was not all glory. There were also bumpy roads–literally–and the challenge of trying to take in so much. We learned something of the deep challenges and struggles in Nigeria.

The question of how to be peacemakers in the midst of conflict was very real, with the outbreak of violence in the city of Jos only three days after we had been there.

When we were in Jos, we visited the Al-Bayan Islamic Secondary School. Would we have been able to visit the school, had Jos been scheduled later on our tour?

Although some EYN members will be involved in this peacemaking endeavor as it progresses–it is envisioned to include things like an interfaith microfinance project–it is not under the umbrella of EYN, so as not to be seen as evangelism in disguise. As important as evangelism is for Christians in Nigeria, there are times to humbly work at repairing the damage that has been done in the name of Jesus before the message of the love of Jesus can be heard.

Some members and leaders of EYN shared with us how hard it is for them to trust Muslims, while others talked about their courageous work as peacemakers and how they are cultivating relationships and programs with Muslims. These dynamics are wrestled with in two books: “Turn the Other Cheek” by pastor Ephraim Kadala and “Are There Limits to Pacifism: The Nigerian Dilemma” by professor Musa A. Mambula. We returned from Nigeria with books personally signed by these two authors, and hope they are widely read both in Nigeria and the US.

A trip to Maiduguri, where the largest EYN church was bombed on July 26, 2009, by Muslim fundamentalists was sobering, but the church has grand plans for rebuilding. It is the mother church of some 20 congregations in the area. I felt a tragic sadness as we walked on the ground where the Nigerian military forces had later crushed and destroyed the whole complex where the headquarters of the fundamentalist Muslim sect had been.

Our last two nights in Nigeria we again stayed in Jos, where there was still a curfew from 6 p.m.-6 a.m. and many military and police check points around the city. Sitting under a tree on that last evening with James, a pastor, and EYN district secretary Daniel, I asked what we in the Church of the Brethren could do that would be helpful to them.

The answer: have more conversations like the one we were having. Yes, all those conversations with Markus, Nate and Jenn, Filibus and Jinatu, Toma, Anthony, John, and others–our hearts will be forever bonded.

— Roger and Mim Eberly recently returned from a visit to Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria.

The Theological Program of the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic held its third graduation on Jan. 23. Twelve students graduated from the program after a period of four years of study. The graduating class includes five pastors and three members of the current Executive Committee of the national church. The DR Brethren also recently held their 19th Annual Conference (see story). Photo by Nancy Heishman

New screensavers are offered for Lent. Go to for the free download. Quotes from the Brethren Press devotional “Thirsting for God: Devotions for Ash Wednesday Through Easter,” written by Amy S. Gall Ritchie, highlight a series of images by Brethren photographers. The devotional booklet may be ordered from Brethren Press for $2.50 plus shipping and handling, and is suitable for individual use or for congregations to offer to members as a tool to prepare spiritually for Easter. Call 800-441-3712 or go to www.brethrenpress.comPhoto by Chris Detrick


Brethren bits

— Correction: The Conference Office is making a correction to the listed price of tickets for the McPherson College Alumni Luncheon at Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., this July. The correct price for the McPherson luncheon is $8 per ticket. The price has been corrected for those purchasing tickets online.

— Brethren Disaster Ministries has welcomed Jeremy McAvoy of Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren as a new Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker. He will be staying on campus at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for the next few weeks learning more about Brethren Disaster Ministries and preparing for his work on disaster projects.

— The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center is thanking volunteer hosts Dick and Erma Foust, who return home to New Lebanon, Ohio, on Feb. 28. They served as hosts of the Old Main building for the months of January and February.

— Shenandoah District has called Janet Elsea as a volunteer Mission Servant to help the district coordinate and share support and information between members and congregations that are joining in the denominational response to the earthquake in Haiti, and those that have long-established relationships with other mission and service efforts in Haiti. Elsea will work with a Mission Servant Advisory Team in an initial six-month process. For more information contact Janet Elsea at  or 540-271-3000.

— Tony Keck is the new food service director at Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind. He is a member of Maple Grove Church of the Brethren in New Paris, Ind., and brings years of experience in the Food Service Industry. Also, Camp Mack recently welcomed Alex Bahn as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker. Bahn comes from York, Pa.

— The Church of the Brethren’s Southeastern District seeks a district executive minister to fill a half-time position. The position can be filled by an individual or a team. The position is available Aug. 1. Southeastern District includes 41 congregations in Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and portions of North Carolina and Virginia. The churches are in rural settings, with many small congregations. The district also has two camps, one in Linville, N.C., and the other in Blountville, Tenn. The preferred candidate is someone who upholds the teachings of the New Testament and recognizes that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Responsibilities include serving as executive officer of the District Board, giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of the ministries as directed by District Conference and the District Board, providing linkages to congregations and other denominational agencies and ministries, assisting congregations and ministers with pastoral placement, encouraging pastors and congregations to have open communication and good working relationships, articulating and promoting the vision and mission of the district, facilitating and encouraging the calling and training of people to set-apart ministry and lay leadership. Qualificiations include a strong personal faith expressed through membership in and commitment to the Church of the Brethren, ordination, a minimum of five years of pastoral experience, commitment to the New Testament and its values, experience in leadership development and church growth, and skills in communication, mediation, and conflict resolution. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume to . Applicants are requested to contact three or four people who are willing to provide a letter of reference. A candidate profile must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is April 12.

— “Brethren are coming to Pittsburgh!” reports the Conference Office. As of this morning, 65 percent of hotel rooms have been reserved for the Annual Conference to be held in Pittsburgh, Pa., on July 3-7. Sold out locations include the Westin, Courtyard, and Renaissance hotels. Rooms are still available at the Omni, Marriott, and Hilton. Register at .

— The ‘early bird’ registration fee of $425 for National Youth Conference (NYC) has been extended to March 1. The fee will increase to $450 after that date. This Church of the Brethren conference for senior high youth and adult advisors will be held in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 17-22. Register by logging in to  and then going to . Questions should be directed to the Youth and Young Adult Office at or 800-323-8039 ext. 246.

— The spring issue of “A Guide for Biblical Studies” is now available from Brethren Press. This quarterly Bible study for adults is one of the longest-running curricula from the Church of the Brethren publishing house. The March-May book on “Teachings on Community” is written by Eugene Roop, president emeritus of Bethany Theological Seminary. Frank Ramirez writes the “Out of Context” column. Order from Brethren Press for $4 each, or $6.95 for large print, plus shipping and handling; call 800-441-3712.

— Nursing scholarships are available from the Church of the Brethren’s Caring Ministries. The program awards a limited number of scholarships each year to individuals enrolled in an LPN, RN, or nursing graduate program who are members of the Church of the Brethren. Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates will be awarded. A preference is given to new applications, and to individuals who are in their second year of an associate’s degree or third year of a baccalaureate program. Scholarship recipients are eligible for only one scholarship per degree. Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted by April 1. Candidates who are awarded scholarships will be notified in July and funds will be sent directly to the appropriate school for the Fall term. To apply, print or download the instructions and application from

— Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., is holding a Campus Visit Day for prospective students on March 5. Register at .

— Two volunteer workshops are offered by Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) in April/May, and June. A workshop on April 30-May 1 will be held at Los Altos (Calif.) United Methodist Church (local contacts are Janice Maggiora and Patricia Parfett at 650-383-9322). Another workshop on June 11-12 will be held at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in East Aurora, N.Y. (local contact is Rick Koch at 716-652-0500). Early registration cost is $45. Children’s Disaster Services volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos that follows disasters by setting up and operating special child care centers in disaster locations. Workshop participants will experience a simulated shelter, sleeping on cots and eating simple meals. Once the training is completed, participants have the opportunity to become certified CDS volunteers by providing two personal references and a criminal and sexual offender background check. Workshops are open to anyone over 18 years of age. Children’s Disaster Services has been meeting the needs of children since 1980, and is a Church of the Brethren ministry. For more information contact the CDS office at 800-451-4407 ext. 5 or , or go to http://www.childrensdisaster

— The Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) is celebrating 20 years with On Earth Peace. “When limited staff and budget resources for the Church of the Brethren General Board World Ministry Commission’s Peace Consultant became stretched beyond capacity, something had to give. So it was decided that the young Ministry of Reconciliation program would be handed over to the On Earth Peace Assembly. The year was 1990,” explained an announcement from MoR coordinator Leslie Frye. She is requesting interested people to contact her with a “favorite MoR story or to suggest how MoR could be even better in the next 20 years.” Contact .

— New from On Earth Peace and Kids as Peacemakers Inc. is a program suitable for a one-week summer camp, summer Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, or a Fall kick-off to the next year’s Christian education program. The program culminates in a Kids as Peacemakers Mural Project that invites children to envision peace and create a mural to share with their community. A faith-based curriculum accompanies the mural project, to help children connect what Jesus says about peacemaking to their own lives. The program offers five two-hour sessions that can be adapted to 10 one-hour sessions. For more information contact Marie Rhoades, On Earth Peace program coordinator for peace education, at 717-917-9392 or .

— COBYS Family Services is holding its 30th Anniversary Banquet on March 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in Lititz, Pa. “Jimmy Carter was president, hostages were languishing in Iran, Mount Saint Helens was spewing ash, the government was bailing out Chrysler (hmm), CBS News icon Walter Cronkite called it quits, KFC’s Colonel Sanders ate his last drumstick…and the US Olympic hockey team defeated the heavily favored Soviets in the ‘Miracle on Ice.’ With so much happening, who could have guessed that the founding of COBYS Family Services would end up being the most significant event of 1980?” said an announcement from director of development Don Fitzkee. COBYS is a family service agency with an annual budget of $3.3 million, affiliated with the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Northeast District. It offers adoption and foster care services, including a specialized permanency unit in Lancaster, Pa., as well as counseling, family life education, and a home for teen mothers and their children. The banquet also will commission recently named executive director Mark Cunningham. Banquet invitations with directions to Middle Creek Church are available at . While there is no cost to attend, reservations are required and an opportunity to support COBYS ministries will be given. To reserve a place contact Fitzkee as soon as possible at 800-452-6517 or . The registration deadline is March 4.

— Church World Service (CWS) is seeking congregations to help assist Haitians who have been brought to the US to receive medical treatment for injuries suffered in the earthquake. Receiving communities should be prepared to make at least a three-month commitment to assist with rides (or funds for transportation) to the hospital and appointments, funds for housing and food for the accompaniers and for the medical evacuees upon release from the hospital, clothing and footwear, translation services, and emotional support. “Severely injured Haitians airlifted to US hospitals need not only urgent medical care, but also material, logistical, and social support. Church World Service has stepped forward to organize that support,” said a release. CWS’s affiliate Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta, Ga., has received 45 medical evacuees including their accompaniers; the CWS Durham (N.C.) Office has received five; and the CWS Miami (Fla.) Office has received 62. To ensure proper coordination, CWS asks that offers of assistance be communicated directly to its New York Office at 212-870-3300 or .

— The “Brethren Voices” program for March features the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan. BVS has provided volunteer co-directors for the World Friendship Center for 22 years. In 1964, Barbara Reynolds founded the center to serve survivors (Hibakusha) of the atom-bomb attacks. WFC also has been a witness for a peaceful world without nuclear weapons. Today, the center also provides hospitality to visitors from all over the world who come to Hiroshima and its Peace Park. “Brethren Voices” features an interview with the current BVSers serving at WFC, Ron and Barbara Siney of West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City, Ohio. Copies of this community TV program are available from Portland Peace Church of the Brethren for an $8 donation. Contact Ed Groff at .

— An upcoming event held by the Center for Parish Development is recommended by Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren. A Missional Church Convocation on July 22-24 in the Chicago area is designed to help congregations make connections between church and world. The theme is, “Contrast and Companionship: The Way of the Church with the World.” Featured speaker is George Hunsberger, coordinator of the “Gospel and Our Culture Network” in North America and a past president of the American Society of Missiology. More information is at

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren,  or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jordan Blevins, Chris Douglas, Don Fitzkee, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Ed Groff, Cori Hahn, Audrey Hollenberg, Gimbiya Kettering, Jon Kobel, Phyllis Leininger, LethaJoy Martin, Callie Surber contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other week, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue will appear March 10. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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