Newsline for January 14, 2010


Newsline is the Church of the Brethren e-mail news service. Go to to subscribe or unsubscribe.
Jan. 14, 2010 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5).

1) General secretary calls Brethren to a time of prayer for Haiti; Brethren Disaster Ministries prepares for relief efforts.
2) BBT Board approves five new investment options, expands SRI guidelines.

3) Bridgewater College names new president.

4) Brethren Volunteer Service 287th orientation unit is announced.
5) New online seminars announced by Congregational Life Ministries.

6) An interview with Nigerian church leader Toma H. Ragnjiya.
7) A reflection on peace and the Gospel.

Brethren bits: Remembrances, job openings, CDS volunteer workshop, and more (see column at right).


1) General secretary calls Brethren to a time of prayer for Haiti; Brethren Disaster Ministries prepares for relief efforts.

“In the darkest times, we can turn toward the Creator God and admit our frailty as part of this creation,” said Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger in a call for the entire denomination to enter into a time of prayer for Haiti.

“It is an interim step until the way is clear for us to individually take action. The call of the whole church to prayer is traditional Church of the Brethren, where together we discern what it is that God would have us do,” he said.

Noffsinger emphasized that prayer for Haiti in the current disaster situation “has a new element for us…. We have members of our church family we have not heard from and we don’t know their wellbeing and safety. And so a part of us is at risk.”

He called church members who are eager to personally take part in a relief effort to be patient and wait “until the right pathway to be involved emerges,” emphasizing that the Church of the Brethren is committed to a longterm relief effort in Haiti. “We’ll be in Haiti for the long haul.” Brethren Disaster Ministries executive director Roy Winter also stated that at this time volunteers are not yet needed.

Brethren Disaster Ministries plans relief effort
Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are continuing to monitor the situation in Haiti and consulting with ecumenical colleagues and groups including Church World Service (CWS).

In the initial phase of response, “we can be much more efficient working with CWS and other partners,” Winter said. Brethren Disaster Ministries is to participate in the relief work of ecumenical organizations such as CWS and local partners such as SSID (Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas), a church organization in the Dominican Republic.

“It may be quite awhile before rebuilding begins to respond to the earthquake,” Winter reported in a conference call with several denominational staff yesterday morning. At this time volunteers are not yet needed. “We will wait until we have plans in place and until understandings about travel are much clearer. At some time (in the future) we expect to need volunteer groups working. That will come.”

Plans for a longterm Church of the Brethren response to the earthquake in Haiti include support for Haitian Brethren and the most vulnerable in the Port-au-Prince area, Winter said. It also may include the involvement of Children’s Disaster Services in helping children affected by the earthquake learn resiliency and become comfortable with the new situation in Port-au-Prince, he added.

Brethren Disaster Ministries will continue its ongoing project in Haiti to finish rebuilding homes damaged by the hurricanes that hit the island in 2008, Winter announced. Jeff Boshart, who is coordinating the project, concurred, saying, “There are still people living in terrible conditions in Gonaives.” That city suffered severe flooding in the storms of 2008.

An additional allocation of $60,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund for the current rebuilding project in Haiti was given today. The grant is expected to be the final allocation for the project, to support “phase three” of construction of homes in Gonaives. Previous grants to this project have totaled $445,000.

Updates from the situation in Haiti
Church of the Brethren staff and Brethren Disaster Ministries have received a number of updates from Brethren and others related to the church who have been affected by the situation in Haiti since an earthquake hit near the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

However, as of yesterday evening staff have been unable to contact leaders of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti), and have received reports that many Haitian members of Brethren congregations in New York and Florida have been unable to contact family in Haiti.

Brethren congregations in New York who have a number of members of Haitian background–including Haitian First Church of New York and Brooklyn First Church of the Brethren–have been in prayer for family members living in Haiti. “They’re kind of sitting on pins and needles right now,” said Brooklyn First pastor Jonathan Bream, who called to check in with denominational staff this morning. “They just don’t know because of the lack of communication.”

Verel Montauban in Brooklyn has yet to hear from family members in Haiti, he told Jeff Boshart, coordinator of the Brethren Disaster Ministries’ current rebuilding project in Haiti. But one of his church members, a deacon, has lost two family members as a house collapsed on them.

At least one licensed minister in Atlantic Southeast District has received word of the death of a close family member in the earthquake.

Brethren Disaster Ministries reports that the US State Department Operations Center has set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 888-407-4747.

Mission groups in Haiti
There have been at least three mission groups from US Church of the Brethren congregations either in Haiti currently, or there earlier this week or planning to travel later this week. A group of young adults from Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren are in Haiti currently on a mission trip. The group has reported that they are okay.

In Shenandoah District, one church group returned from Haiti Tuesday morning before the earthquake happened, and one was planning to arrive in Haiti later this week, according to a prayer request from district executive Jim Miller and associate executive Joan Daggett.

Their e-mail reported that Doug Southers of Rileyville (Va.) Church of the Brethren is in Haiti but has called home by cell phone and is safe. He had traveled to Haiti last weekend to make preparations for a group from the Rileyville church that was to travel to Haiti later this week.

“We are glad for the safe return of Henry and Janet Elsea and volunteers from the Mount Pleasant Church (in Harrisonburg, Va.) who arrived home early Tuesday morning,” the Shenandoah District leaders wrote.

They also wrote that at least one Brethren-related church building has been destroyed; this has yet to be confirmed by denominational staff.

Prayer requests from ecumenical partners
IMA World Health has requested prayer for three staff who work out of the organization’s headquarters at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.–Rick Santos, Sarla Chand, Ann Varghese–and IMA’s five local national staff in Haiti–Abdel Direny, Giannie Jean Baptiste, Execkiel Milar, Ambroise Sylvain, and Franck Monestime. As of yesterday evening all were unaccounted for in Port-au-Prince.

“Our staff were involved in partner meetings connected with our Neglected Tropical Disease Program and working from our offices in Port-au-Prince,” said the prayer request from Carol Hulver, assistant to the president of IMA World Health. “IMA has been actively reaching out for additional information on our staff’s well-being and safety through various channels but have received no confirmation as yet. We would appreciate the prayers of our Church of the Brethren community for the safety of our staff members and for comfort, healing, and restoration for the city of Port-au-Prince and the entire nation of Haiti.”

SERRV president and CEO Bob Chase has passed along word from Gisele Fleurant, a former member of the SERRV Board whose CAH artisan enterprise in Port-au-Prince has been a long-time producer for SERRV. SERRV is a nonprofit alternative trade and development organization originally begun by the Church of the Brethren with warehouses and a store at the Brethren Service Center.

Fleurant spoke last September at the 60th anniversary celebration of SERRV at the Brethren Service Center. A work group of Brethren visited her operation in Port-au-Prince in November.

She wrote from Haiti: “It is total chaos! CAH has only fence walls that are down! My house same thing with a lot of crackling which makes it impossible to live in unless major repairs! …So far most of cell phones are working but with a lot of difficulties. I know only of two CAH employees that lost their houses completely and are with their families in public places…. In my neighborhood we had a lot of deaths, mostly children trapped when the houses were falling. Please pass the news to all as I do not know how long that Internet will work. I will try to keep in touch! Thanks for caring and keeping us in your prayers!”

UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief) is expressing concern for Sam Dixon, its top executive, who has been in Haiti along with Clinton Rabb, head of the United Methodist denomination’s Mission Volunteers; and James Gulley, an UMCOR consultant.”No one has been able to reach the three men since the earthquake occurred and communications with Haiti have been difficult,” said the United Methodist release today.

In news from other denominations, the Roman Catholic Church has reported to CNN that Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, died in the earthquake.

How to contribute to the relief effort in Haiti
The Emergency Disaster Fund is now receiving donations toward earthquake relief work in Haiti. Find the online donation page at

A special web page “Prayers for Haiti” has been created for church members, congregations, and others concerned about the people of Haiti to express their prayers following the earthquake, go to

An online updates page offers updates on the Haiti earthquake relief effort, find it at .

Donations of relief supplies also are needed. Brethren Disaster Ministries is requesting donations of Gift of the Heart Hygiene Kits and School Kits, which will be in large demand in the area affected by the earthquake. The kits should be sent to the Brethren Service Center, P.O. Box 188, New Windsor, MD 21776. For instructions to make the kits, go to .


2) BBT Board approves five new investment options, expands SRI guidelines.

In order to provide its members and clients with a wider array of investment options, the Board of Directors of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has approved the addition of five additional fund choices for both Brethren Pension Plan and Brethren Foundation.

At its annual fall meeting, held Nov. 19-21 in Greenville, Ohio, the board approved the addition of a Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities Fund, a High-Yield Bond Fund, an Emerging Markets Stock Fund, a Public Real Estate Fund, and a Commodities-Based Fund to the investment guidelines of both entities. In the next few months, staff will be working with investment consultants to determine which funds are appropriate to offer to members and clients at this time, and the implementation of these funds will be completed as quickly as possible in 2010.

The board also approved staff recommendation that the Brethren Pension Plan’s Common Stock Fund be unbundled, which means staff may now consider also offering one or more of the five investment components of the Common Stock Fund as individual investment options. These include Value, Growth, Core, Small-Cap, and International investments.

“Our members and clients have been asking for additional investment options, and we are committed to developing new investment choices that complement those already offered by Brethren Pension Plan and Brethren Foundation,” said Nevin Dulabaum, BBT president. “We do believe that the increased selection will bring an increased demand for asset allocation assistance, and so we are working to develop such a service that we anticipate providing in some form.”

The board also accepted a significant revision of its socially responsible investing guidelines, as prompted by statements of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. These include prohibitions against companies generating 10 percent or more of their income from firearms and weapons of mass destruction (“Violence and the Use of Firearms,” 1978 Annual Conference, and “Children and Violence,” 1999 Annual Conference); and abortion procedures or the manufacture or sale of products used primarily to complete abortion procedures (“Statement on Abortion,” 1984 Annual Conference).

Additionally, restrictions now apply to both domestic and international companies with a history of child labor (“Statement on Child Exploitation,” 1997 Annual Conference); slavery (“Resolution on Slavery in the 21st Century,” 2008 Annual Conference); violations of human rights; and violations of environmental regulations.

Brethren Pension Plan and BFI’s SRI guidelines continue to restrict investments in companies that generate 10 percent or more of their income from the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco; the production, sale, or distribution of pornography; the manufacture or operation of gambling devices; or through contracts with the US Department of Defense. Publicly traded companies holding the 25 largest Defense contracts are also excluded from BBT’s investment portfolios.

“The previous guidelines served us well, but we wanted to be certain that they are seated in the positions of the Church of the Brethren as defined by Annual Conference statements,” said Steve Mason, director of Brethren Foundation and coordinator of socially responsible investing activities for BBT. “We discovered a few gaps in our SRI policies, and we have now filled them.”

One of BBT’s strongest allies in its socially responsible investing program has been Boston Common Asset Management, one of BBT’s eight investment management firms. Geeta Aiyer, Boston Common’s president and chief investment officer of US Equities, and Matt Zalosh, CIO of International Equities, reported on the firm’s management of BBT and BFI’s US large-cap core equity and international equity funds over the last three years. Because it continues to meet BBT’s performance standards–staying in the top quartile among its peers and meeting or exceeding relevant benchmarks–the board voted to keep Boston Common as the manager of these funds.

In other business, the BBT board worked on improving insurance and pension services. As BBT’s Brethren Medical Plan becomes a stand-alone provider starting Jan. 1, 2010, the board recognized the need for an additional management position in that department and moved to create a manager of sales for health and welfare benefits position. Similarly, the board approved a BBT staff recommendation to create a manager of Pension Operations position, so that Brethren Pension Plan director Scott Douglas can spend more time meeting with members and addressing increased regulatory requirements. This latter move will return Pension Plan staffing to the level it had for most of this decade.

These positions are reflected in the approved 2010 BBT budget, which reflects total expenses of $3,730,195.

The Church Workers’ Assistance Plan was the subject of much discernment at the two-day meeting. The plan provides financial assistance to any active or retired Church of the Brethren pastor or church worker through grants; $147,567.59 was distributed through this program in 2009. Congregations that participate in the Pension Plan contribute one percent of their total employee compensation to the plan; an Annual Conference resolution mandates that congregations not in the Pension Plan contribute a similar amount.

The board approved a resolution declaring that 100 percent of Church Workers’ Assistance Plan grants and Pension Plan income can be considered housing allowance. This resolution includes a statement indicating that, because the Internal Revenue Service has not declared the eligibility of this grant as housing allowance, to do so could be treated as a violation of code; grant recipients are directed to consult with a tax adviser before designating a grant as housing allowance.

BBT staff members will further examine the Church Workers’ Assistance Plan, including issues related to eligibility, the intended use of the plan, and funding, with the Council of District Executives and the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee in 2010. Proposed changes to the plan are expected to be presented to the board at its July meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa.

In an effort to increase communication between BBT and its constituents, the staff and board met with 40 local members at a luncheon at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio, on Nov. 20.

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.


3) Bridgewater College names new president.

The Board of Trustees of Bridgewater (Va.) College announced in a special on-campus meeting earlier this week that it has unanimously selected George Cornelius as the 8th president of the college. The announcement was distributed as a press release from the college.

Described as “a seasoned leader in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors,” Cornelius will assume the presidency of Bridgewater College on July 1. He currently is secretary of Community and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where he oversees a department of approximately 350 employees and 90 state and federal programs and works closely with many of Pennsylvania’s universities, colleges, and communities.

A native and lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, Cornelius has been a member of Church of the Brethren congregations at Knobsville, Mechanicsburg, and Ridgeway in Pennsylvania, and Wilmington (Del.) Church of the Brethren. For some years he was a licensed minister in Southern Pennsylvania District and Atlantic Northeast District.

“Our national search has led us to an individual of extraordinary experience, achievement, and commitment to excellence,” said G. Steven Agee, Bridgewater trustee and chair of the search committee. “We are confident that the vision, enthusiasm, and leadership George Cornelius brings to the presidency will foster the values and mission of the college and continue to build a bright future.”

“Bridgewater College is very fortunate to attract a person of George Cornelius’s experience and ability as its eighth president,” said President Phillip C. Stone in the press release. “I am certain that George will provide great leadership to the College in the years ahead.”

Cornelius is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a juris doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Penn State Dickinson School of Law. In previous positions he has been president and CEO of Arkema Inc., a chemical company based in Philadelphia with operations throughout the Americas; and has been vice president and general counsel of Atofina (predecessor to Arkema Inc.). Earlier he was a partner at Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellott, a national law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh. His civic and community service has included leadership fundraising roles with United Way, Penn State, and various church-related teaching and leadership roles.

“The Bridgewater opportunity was attractive because it combines my passion for education and my interest and abilities in organizational leadership and development. The Church of the Brethren has played a major role in my life, so the fact that the college is grounded in the tradition and values of the church makes the opportunity even more special,” commented Cornelius in the release from the college.

(This report is taken from a Bridgewater College press release by Mary K. Heatwole. Photos are available at .)


4) Brethren Volunteer Service 287th orientation unit is announced.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has announced the start of the 2010 Winter Orientation, to be held Jan. 24-Feb. 12 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. This will be the 287th orientation unit for BVS and will consist of 15 volunteers from across the US and Germany. Several Church of the Brethren members will attend, and the remaining volunteers come from varied faith backgrounds.

A highlight of the three weeks will be a weekend trip to southern Florida. During orientation, the group will have the opportunity to work at area food banks, a rehabilitation facility, and other various non-profits.

A BVS potluck is open to all those who are alumni, friends, and supporters of BVS on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m. at Camp Ithiel. “Please feel free to come and welcome the new BVS volunteers and share your own experiences,” said an invitation from the BVS Office. “As always your thoughts and prayers are welcome and needed. Please remember this new unit and the people they will touch during their year of service through BVS.” For more information contact the BVS Office at 800-323-8039 ext. 423.


5) New online seminars announced by Congregational Life Ministries.

Two new “webinars” have been announced by the Transforming Practices office of the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries: an online seminar on Feb. 2 and 4 led by Chip Arn, president of the Church Growth Institute; and an online seminar on Feb. 16 and 18 led by Celia Cook-Huffman, professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., where she also is associate director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies and director of Baker Mediation Services.

The webinars are a collaborative resource offered by Congregational Life Ministries, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. No pre-registration is required and there is no fee for participating. Participants are requested to connect 10 minutes before the start of each webcast. Link to .

Arn will lead a webinar titled, “Building Bridges: Connecting with New People” as Part Two of an “Effective Evangelism” series of workshops that began last year. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 12:30-1:30 p.m. Pacific standard time (or 3:30-4:30 p.m. Eastern); and Thursday, Feb. 4, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Pacific (8:30-9:30 p.m. Eastern). A continuing education credit of .1 is offered for those who attend the one-hour session either Tuesday or Thursday.

Cook-Huffman will lead a webinar titled, “Developing Conflict Healthy Congregations, Part 1: Understanding Patterns of Congregational Conflict.” The seminar will be offered on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 12:30-1:30 p.m. Pacific time (3:30-4:30 p.m. Eastern), and on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Pacific (8:30-9:30 p.m. Eastern). A continuing education credit of .1 is offered for those who attend the one-hour session either Tuesday or Thursday.

Go to  to participate in webcasts. For more information contact Stan Dueck, director for Transforming Practices, at 717-335-3226 or .


6) An interview with Nigerian church leader Toma H. Ragnjiya.

Toma H. Ragnjiya is a leader in Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) serving in a dual position as principal of Kulp Bible College (KBC) and director of the EYN Peace Program. In the following interview by mission workers Nathan and Jennifer Hosler, he talks about the EYN Peace Program and the sectarian and inter-religious violence that has broken out repeatedly in areas of northeastern and central Nigeria:

Q: What are your hopes for the peace and reconciliation curriculum at Kulp Bible College?

A: My hope and my vision are to have students know the basics of peace when they graduate and go to their communities. Throughout Nigeria, it is obvious that Muslims and Christians live side-by-side. We want students to have the basic concept of peace so that they can participate in the community as peacemakers at their own level.

I was so glad to have Nathan and Jennifer to be the supporting staff here at KBC. Being young and new, you are well-received by students. [Peace and Reconciliation] is a new thing that we do not have in our curriculum and so we want to develop it. This way, it will be a continuous thing that can be shared with other Bible schools and other church schools. Gradually it will expand further; we have to start at the base which is the center of leadership training for EYN. If [students] have it, then soon the whole church will have it gradually.

Q: What do you see the role of the EYN Peace Program is in equipping the church as a whole?

A: You see, EYN does not have the real basis as a peace church because when the missionaries came they [taught peace] but not directly as we have now. They had a lot of problems, conflicts in the communities, so their main emphasis was preaching the gospel. It was really a holistic approach because [the missionaries brought] not just the gospel but they also brought education, medical care, and a new method of agriculture. These things touched lives. While there was no specific subject of peace as we are doing now, we are building on [their] foundation.

When we started [the EYN Peace Program], we had the District Church Council, chairmen, and secretaries attend Peace Seminars because they are the ones closer to the grassroots. They have gone through the basic concept of peace, introducing to them or reminding them that our church was founded on peace. It is one of the pillars of the church’s teaching. We have tried that with the aim that gradually the members will all come to appreciate peacemaking and be peacemakers at their own level in the society.

Q: I know the US church is interested in what has happened since [the violence in] Maiduguri and Jos. Can you tell me about what you’ve seen in those communities since you’ve done some research in the aftermath?

A: You know the Middle Belt, the Plateau, has been the center of Christianity [in Nigeria]. Also, those who have been opposing Christianity have had their eyes on Jos [in Plateau State]. There have been crises between Muslims and Christians, not necessarily based on religion as such but a question of indigene-ship, a question of economy, who controls what. It happens that [the ethnic indigenes of the Jos plateau] are not Muslims, they are Christians. And then the Hausas–as a people, as a tribe, as an ethnic group–happen to be Muslims. So religion had to come in [to the conflict]. It is not that there is no freedom of worship. Nobody stops you from preaching Christ. Nobody stops you from preaching Islam.

I and my colleagues have gone around and seen the destruction that happened especially on Nov. 28, 2008. It was a really terrible thing that happened when Christians and Muslims clashed and destroyed lives and properties. What I suggest is the government and the community leaders–both Muslims and Christians–have to come together to address this issue of indigene-ship because when the Muslims say they want to control [the government], it is going to be impossible.

Q: Ethnic Hausas, Muslims by religion, have lived in the central Nigerian city of Jos for generations but are not permitted to take part in government.

A: The government should give [the Hausas] their own share [in governing] because they have been there for a long time. It is a sin like it was in South Africa, really. The Hausas settled there a long time ago but [there were existing residents], indigenes there. It is a question of politics really, rather than religion.

Many have been traumatized. I have interviewed, personally, pastors and their spouses and you see how terrifying it was. There is a need for trauma healing workshops, seminars, especially in the northeastern zone around the Maiduguri area, even [with] Muslims and Christians–because trauma is all around. It’s not just one side. The effect, it’s terrible.


7) A reflection on peace and the Gospel.

Does focusing on peace undermine preaching about the work of God through Jesus? Does preaching Jesus without discussing peace truly articulate the full meaning of the Gospel? For members of a Historic Peace Church and ones employed as “Teachers and Workers of Peace and Reconciliation,” these are important questions that we have had to consider in our spiritual life and our vocation. These are also issues that we have heard brothers and sisters struggle with in a variety of churches and theological backgrounds in the United States.

Jesus came to bring peace between humanity and God. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are reconciled to our Creator. This established peace also enables us–by the Holy Spirit–to establish peace within humanity. Enmity in the human family has existed since the first few chapters of the Bible, but the many following pages illustrate that Yahweh’s final goal is that of shalom (peace), of harmony and reconciliation.

Through Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, but one body. Wealth disparities, racial and gender inequalities–these are all to be made void and null within the body of Christ.

The Kingdom of God is one of righteousness, justice, and wellbeing for all humanity. We believe that Jesus has called us to demonstrate what his Kingdom looks like (“Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”) by working for justice for all people, by working for peace and reconciliation between warring communities and ethnic groups.

Working for peace is essentially living out one’s love for God and neighbor. Working for peace is seeing that violent conflict has underlying roots of injustice and hatred. It is attempting to address root problems. Working for peace is understanding that traumatic events wound communities. It is attempting to bring healing and forgiveness, a slow and arduous process that requires much grace.

Peace–articulated through the biblical definitions of wholeness, wellbeing, righteousness, and justice–is not contrary to the Gospel. Rather, it is the fruit of receiving reconciliation with God.

— Nathan and Jennifer Hosler are Church of the Brethren mission workers serving with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).





A photo from happier times in Haiti shows a gathering of Brethren leaders of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti). A call for the entire Brethren community to be in prayer for the Haitian people and the church there has come from Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger (see story at left). Brethren Disaster Ministries is one of the organizations beginning the work of disaster relief in Haiti. The church’s Emergency Disaster Fund is receiving donations toward the effort at . Prayers for Haiti are begin gathered at . Updates from the Brethren involvement with Haiti will be offered at . Brethren Disaster Ministries also is requesting donations of Gift of the Heart Hygiene Kits and School Kits, which should be sent to the Brethren Service Center, P.O. Box 188, New Windsor, MD 21776. For kit instructions go to


The church’s Caring Ministries seeks nominations for the annual Open Roof Award to a Church of the Brethren congregation or district that has done something extraordinary to become more accessible to those with disabilities. “Tell us about it, even if it’s your own!” says the invitation from Donna Kline, director of Deacon Ministries. The award is sponsored by the denomination’s Disabilities Group, based on Mark 2:4–the story of the group who broke open a roof to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing. Go to  for the nomination form. Nominations are due Feb. 1. For more information contact  or call 800-323-8039 ext. 304.


Brethren bits

Remembrance: The Church of the Brethren’s Caring Ministries has received word that Jefferson Crosby of Lititz, Pa., died on Jan. 5. Crosby was an attorney and a former member of the Association of Brethren Caregivers disabilities ministry group. He received the Caregiving Award from ABC in 2007 for his work related to disabilities. He was recognized for a career spent as an attorney advocating for children and individuals with disabilities, despite battling his own illness–progressive multiple sclerosis. In spite of mobility difficulties, he remained an active member of Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren where he served on various committees and actively participated in Sunday school. He was able to share his knowledge with the congregation when it did a major renovation to make the Lititz church fully handicapped accessible. As his own health deteriorated, he contributed greatly to the “Resolution on the Americans with Disabilities Act” that was unanimously endorsed by the delegates at the 2006 Annual Conference. A memorial service was held on Jan. 9 at Lititz Church of the Brethren.

Remembrance: Myrna Long Wheeler, 70, passed away on Jan. 9 at her home in San Dimas, Calif., following several months of struggle with acute myeloid leukemia. Up until her illness in the last half of 2009, she was serving as chair of the board for Pacific Southwest District, and as chaplain for Brethren Hillcrest Homes in La Verne, Calif. She was diagnosed with leukemia on June 29 of last year, and wrote about her experience for the most recent issue of the “Caregiving” magazine of the Church of the Brethren’s Caring Ministries. In an article titled “Dawn Is Coming Soon,” she wrote, “This is a magical time–this journey that leads to the next life. To see God and to rest in Jesus’ arms is the most comforting place I can imagine.” In her volunteer service to the church, Wheeler twice served as moderator of Pacific Southwest District and also served on Standing Committee as a district delegate. At the time of her illness she had been newly confirmed as an officer of the Ministers’ Association. She preached for the 2006 Annual Conference, mentored Training in Ministry (TRIM) students, served for 25 years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of La Verne, served on the planning committee for the National Older Adult Conference, and was a member of the Older Adult Ministry Group. She was a longtime board member with the YWCA of Greater Pomona Valley and the American Association of University Women-Pomona Branch. Her honors include the Centennial Citation of Distinction in 1991 from the University of La Verne, being named ULV “Alumna of the Year” in 1993, and being selected a “Woman of Achievement” by the YWCA of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties in 1995. Hillcrest Homes nominated her as “Philanthropist of the Year” in 2009. In previous work, she had taught in the Covina Valley Unified School District for 37 years, retiring in 2001. She is survived by son Alan Wheeler, daughter Julia Wheeler, and three grandsons. Memorial contributions are being received for the Myrna Wheeler Chaplaincy Fund at Hillcrest Homes, 2705 Mountain View Dr., La Verne, CA 91750. A memorial service will be held on Feb. 6 at 10:30 a.m. at La Verne Church of the Brethren.

The Church of the Brethren seeks candidates for the position of editor of “Messenger,” the official magazine of the denomination. The editor is responsible for planning content, assigning and editing articles, supervising design and subscriptions, working with production, and managing the budget. The editor also works closely with other members of the Church of the Brethren Communication Team to communicate the mission and ministry of the church using all appropriate channels. Those interested in being considered should have proven experience in communications and be comfortable with digital media. They should have superior skills in writing and editing, and the relational skills to collaborate with others. Candidates should have a deep understanding of the Church of the Brethren, be active members of the church, and bring experience with the denominational scope of the church’s life and work. This position, located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., is part of Brethren Press. Applications will be received immediately and will be considered until the position is filled. To request a position description and an application contact Karin Krog, Office of Human Resources, at  or 800-323-8039 ext. 258.

Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village in Boonsboro, Md., seeks an administrator. This position is responsible for the day-to-day operations of 97 skilled bed and 32 assisted living bed units in accordance with regulations that govern long-term and assisted living facilities. Candidates must hold a current, unencumbered nursing facility Administrator’s License for the State of Maryland. For additional information visit . Send resumes or applications to Cassandra Weaver, Senior Director of Administrative Services, 301-671-5014 or .

Manchester College has opened a nationwide search for a founding dean for its new School of Pharmacy in Fort Wayne, Ind. The dean will lead the accreditation process, faculty hiring, and curriculum development for the four-year doctoral program. The program will offer its first classes in fall 2012 as the first school for pharmacists in northern Indiana. The search committee hopes to interview finalists in late February and hire the new dean as soon as possible afterward. The School of Pharmacy located in the Randallia neighborhood of central Fort Wayne expects to enroll 265 students, with 30 faculty and 10 staff members. The school will work closely with health-care organizations in northeast Indiana, especially in providing practicum experience for the pharmacy students. It is Manchester College’s first doctoral program and first satellite campus. Manchester offers a two-year pre-pharmacy program on its North Manchester campus, a prerequisite for admission to the doctoral program. The Manchester doctoral program will welcome students from other pre-pharmacy programs. Fund-raising is under way for the estimated $10 million in start-up costs. Candidates must possess a doctoral degree, preferably in pharmacy, and a record of pharmacy leadership, teaching, scholarship, and service. To apply, go to
. More about the School of Pharmacy is at .

The Brethren Historical Library and Archives has an opening for an archival intern beginning July 2010. The archives, located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., is the official repository for Church of the Brethren publications and records. The one-year internship seeks to develop interest in vocations related to archives and libraries and/or Brethren history. Work assignments will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloging, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers in the library. For more information about the position contact the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at  or 800-323-8039 ext. 294. To request an application packet, contact Karin Krog in the Office of Human Resources at .

Lybrook (N.M.) Community Ministries, related to Western Plains District, urgently needs volunteers for a resident directorship position. Volunteers provide the campus with administrative and leadership qualities as well as working directly with community people through community development and organization, organizational programming, the church, and campus maintenance. Requirements include flexibility and adaptability to cultural differences, self initiative, management skills, organizational skills, willingness to participate in worship leading, and a desire to work in a remote, small, rural, mixed-cultural setting. Ideally, volunteers will commit to 1-2 years of service, but shorter terms of service will be considered. The hope is to have two separate family units with overlapping terms. Lybrook Ministries is a not-for-profit organization with a mission “to develop and support Christ-centered community ministries in the Lybrook area that are life sustaining and encourage persons to encounter the redeeming love of God” on the campus of the former Lybrook Navajo Mission in New Mexico. The organization strives to strengthen the community through community organization, development, relations, and outreach, as well as providing Christian presence through Tokahookaadi Church of the Brethren. For more information go to . Interested persons should contact Ken or Elsie Holderread at 620-241-6930 or .

The On Earth Peace delegation to Israel and Palestine is continuing despite the deportation of its leaders including Bob Gross, executive director of On Earth Peace, who has returned to the United States. The delegation is co-sponsored by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), which has had teams in the area for many years. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has shared the report of the deportation experience with the executive committee of the National Council of Churches in the USA. The NCC “has distributed the report to all members and communions represented on the executive committee, calling for a prayerful state of mind that peace may prevail,” Noffsinger said. The delegation has been blogging about their experience at . Today’s entry by Shannon Richmond reports on a visit to the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills, where the delegation was “welcomed with kindness, hospitality, and a pride for this land that could not be taken away.”

Children’s Disaster Services is offering a Volunteer Workshop on Feb. 26-27 at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, Minn. The local contact for the event is Kristyn Ebert at 612-435-1305 or Cost is $45 for early registration, or $55 after Feb. 5. Children’s Disaster Services volunteers provide a calm, safe and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos that follows disaster by setting up and operating special child care centers in disaster locations. Once the training is completed, participants have the opportunity to become a certified Children’s Disaster Services volunteer by providing two personal references and a criminal and sexual offender background check. CDS workshops are open to anyone over 18 years of age. For more information contact the CDS office at 800-451-4407 ext. 5 or .

Shiloh Church of the Brethren near Kasson, W.Va., which lost its church building to a fire on Jan. 3, has sent a note expressing thanks to the denomination. “Thank you for your concern over the loss of our old friend, Shiloh Church. The outpouring of support, love, and prayers has been overwhelming,” said the note from deacon Delores Freeman and clerk Sharlene Mills. The church is receiving donations for rebuilding at: Shiloh Rebuilding Fund, c/o Doug Mills, Financial Secretary, Route 1 Box 284, Moatsville WV 26405.

Community Church of the Brethren in Twin Falls, Idaho, which was vandalized on Dec. 18, has received the gift of a new organ to replace one destroyed in the incident reports KTRV-TV Fox 12 Idaho. “There’s music filling the Community Church of the Brethren in Twin Falls again,” the report said. Church organist Delores Humphrey told the reporter that the organ “is in excellent condition and is a blessing for the congregation.” For the full report go to

New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is hosting an event with Tony Campolo, a popular preacher, educator, and founder of Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. Campolo will lead a weekend workshop on March 19-20. A release from the church reported that “through EAPE, Dr. Campolo has developed and nurtured elementary and secondary schools, universities, adult and child literacy centers, tutoring programs, orphanages, AIDS hospices, urban youth ministries, summer camps, and long-term Christian service programs in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Africa, Canada, and throughout the USA.” For more information about these ventures and about Dr. Campolo himself, visit the EAPE web site at . Contact the church office for tickets at 937-845-1428 or register at . Pre-registration is required.

Thirteen Brethren from six states and Singapore are on a Jan. 9-21 Learning Tour to Myanmar (Burma) sponsored by the New Community Project. The group is exploring the social, cultural, and religious dynamics of the country and visiting the southwestern delta area devastated by 2008’s Cyclone Nargis, as well as the Inle Lake district and Paloung hill tribe communities. The New Community Project has given grants to assist children in the delta area in returning to school following the storm, with facilitation from Burmese Baptist churches. The delegation is led by director David Radcliff and Nyan Min Din, a Burmese Baptist tour director. Upcoming Learning Tours are planned for El Salvador, the Ecuadorian Amazon, Guatemala, and Denali/Kenai Fjords in Alaska. Go to
 or contact  or 888-800-2985.

The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is scheduled for Jan. 18-25. “Christians throughout the world will be listening together to the promise and commission that are part of Christ’s final words before his ascension: ‘You are witnesses of these things,’” said a release from the World Council of Churches. The week of prayer is jointly coordinated by the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission and the Roman Catholic Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The theme for 2010 was chosen in Scotland, where churches are preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the 1910 World Mission Conference which marked the beginnings of the modern ecumenical movement. Resources are available in English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish at .



Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues as needed. Stan Dueck, Jeri S. Kornegay, Karin Krog, Michael Leiter, David Radcliff, Howard Royer, Ken Shaffer, Callie Surber, Debi Wright contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for Jan. 27. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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