Newsline for January 28, 2010


Newsline is the Church of the Brethren e-mail news service. Go to www.brethren.org/newsline to subscribe or unsubscribe.

Jan. 28, 2010

“My eyes are ever toward the Lord…” (Psalm 25:15).

1) Brethren earthquake response shapes up, feeding program begins.
2) Delegation member sends update from Haiti.
3) Emergency Disaster Fund receives more than $100,000 for Haiti.
4) DR Brethren begin aid effort, share concern for relatives in Haiti.
5) Two EYN ministers have died in Nigeria violence, crisis fades for now.
6) Brethren group visits Muslim school destroyed by Christians.

7) Carroll begins as manager of pension operations at BBT.
8) Rodeffer joins staff of Church of the Brethren Credit Union.

Brethren bits: Internship, Haiti relief, Lenten devotional, NYC prayer day, more (see column at right)

The editor apologizes to readers who are experiencing a problem with small text size or other difficulties with the Newsline e-mail format. Work is being done to find solutions. In the meantime, the online version may be more readable. Go to www.brethren.org and click on “News” at the bottom of the page to find links to current and recent issues. Or send a request to receive Newsline in plain text format to cobnews@brethren.org.

1) Brethren earthquake response shapes up, feeding program begins.

Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Response, has announced a comprehensive response to the Haiti earthquake, including a feeding program to be based with Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) in Port-au-Prince. The feeding of children already has begun through the Haitian Brethren.

Winter returned to the US on Jan. 26, after he witnessed the first weeks of recovery following the earthquake in Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12. He was part in a delegation of four representing the US Church of the Brethren, who experienced first-hand the devastation in and around Port-au-Prince.

The basic needs are great, Winter reported. To be efficient and effective, a comprehensive response for the Brethren community in Haiti is being developed. This is being done in consultation with the National Committee of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) by Winter and Brethren Disaster Ministries, the church’s Global Mission Partnerships program and executive director Jay Wittmeyer, and Jeff Boshart, coordinator of the Church of the Brethren home rebuilding program in Haiti. The rebuilding program has been working in Haiti for more than a year, responding to the four hurricanes and tropical storms that hit the island in 2008.

Winter said, “We are working on a five-stage feeding program. The first step is a school feeding program, which started on Jan. 25. The school is in Port-au-Prince and is named Paul Lochard No. 2 school. Approximately 500 children, some of which are ‘restevec’ children (children given as slaves by families too poor to feed them) are provided one hot meal a day.”

Seventeen teachers have been put back to work to help with the program. Several of the teachers are Haitian Brethren pastors, including Jean Bily Telfort, general secretary of Eglise des Freres Haitiens. The school is not officially open for teaching, but is providing food and care for the children, many of whom are now homeless.

In the coming week, food rations will be provided to communities around the three Haitian Brethren congregations in the greater Port-au-Prince area: the Delmas 3 Church, Marin Church, and Croix-de-Bouquets Church.

The Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources ministry at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., continues to respond to the earthquake with shipments of relief materials made on behalf of Church World Service (CWS), Lutheran World Relief (LWR), and IMA World Health. The ministry is led by director Loretta Wolf.

As of this morning, the Brethren Service Center’s entire stock of hygiene kits has been shipped, and there is a great need for more.

An air-freight shipment from the Brethren Service Center arrived in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 22 containing 500 lightweight blankets, 1,125 baby care kits–some CWS baby care kits and some from partner LWR; 10,595 hygiene kits–most from CWS and 325 from LWR; 720 tubes of toothpaste from LWR; and 25 flashlights with batteries.

Shipments also are going out by ocean freight to the DR with additional blankets and kits. Sixty IMA World Health medicine boxes have been shipped by air freight, each containing enough essential medicines and medical supplies to treat the routine illnesses of about 1,000 adults and children.

Church of the Brethren staff also are working to develop a new household kit for Haiti. The kit will include kitchen essentials and a simple water purification system. Information on this new kit program will be available soon.

Go to www.brethren.org/HaitiEarthquake  for more about the Brethren relief effort for Haiti, including links to video of the work at the Brethren Service Center (provided by Brethren videographer David Sollenberger); video of Winter reporting on the situation in Haiti; a Haiti blog including reports from the Brethren delegation; and more.

Also at www.brethren.org/HaitiEarthquake  are a variety of ways to help out, including instructions for donating desperately needed hygiene kits; an offering of prayers for Haiti; online donations to the church’s Emergency Disaster Fund (or send checks by mail to Emergency Disaster Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120); and a bulletin insert suitable for Sunday morning worship, to help inform congregations of the Church of the Brethren response.

— Kathleen Campanella is director of public relations for the Brethren Service Center.


2) Delegation member sends update from Haiti.

Jeff Boshart, a member of the Church of the Brethren delegation currently in Haiti representing the US church, has sent updated information. Boshart coordinates the Brethren Disaster Ministries hurricane rebuilding program in Haiti, and has been visiting the country with a group that also includes Ludovic St. Fleur, coordinator of the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti, and Klebert Exceus, Haiti consultant to Brethren Disaster Ministries.

The group is accompanied by Haitian Brethren pastor Jean Bily Telfort, who serves as general secretary of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren). Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter returned to the US on Monday (his last journal entries from Haiti appeared in the Newsline Update of Tuesday, Jan. 26–read it online at www.brethren.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=10181 ).

Earlier this week the delegation group left the Port-au-Prince area to visit Haitian Brethren in other parts of the country, and to inspect the homes that have been built by Brethren Disaster Ministries following the four hurricanes and tropical storms that hit Haiti in 2008.

“I’m now in the Central Plateau after visiting displaced Brethren in the northwest,” Boshart reported yesterday. “We arrived here in Bohoc, near Pignon, in the central plateau to a place where Peggy (Boshart) and I met and later worked with a school doing gardening projects with children in the community. There is now a Church of the Brethren church plant in this community which was started last year by a seminary student, Georges, who was one of those kids who planted trees and vegetables with us. The worship leader is a young woman, Fabnise, who was also worked with us on many of our projects.

“The worship was tremendous. We were first treated to a fabulous meal which was served to the nearly 100 people in attendance. The occasion for this feast? Our presence among them and their excitement at being part of the Church of the Brethren.”

The worship service was held under sheets and tarpaulins stretched between a cluster of trees, with a generator providing power for musicians and lights. “Choir after choir came forward to sing. We sang and danced and praised God. It was a worship of praise and healing,” Boshart wrote.

“Each one in our delegation was asked to share a few words. I shared a brief meditation on Mark 4 and the parable of the sower. Peggy and I had no idea that nearly 10 years ago when we were sowing seeds with children in the school gardens, that we were sowing the seeds of a church. What a priviledge to see these young people now. Not all of the children we invested in are still with us. Some have left to search for a better life in the DR and one even in the US. One died while still a teenager of an undiagnosed illness. One died in the earthquake. We worshiped and we mourned, and we rejoiced in what is good.”

Earlier in the day, Boshart and pastor Telfort visited with several families in the community who had lost relatives in the earthquake. “The stories were heartwrenching,” Boshart wrote. “Many of the best and brightest had moved to Port-au-Prince. Four university students from this small village were living in a house in Port-au-Prince which collapsed, killing all of them. One of them was the same age as Pastor Georges and one of his very best friends. This same student was the older brother of Fabnise, our worship leader.”

The delegation group has visited with recipients of homes built by Brethren Disaster Ministries in the city of Gonaïves and elsewhere. “They are so so thankful for their homes,” Boshart said.

The Brethren-built homes are in good shape, according to reports. One home built in Port-au-Prince for the widow of a Haitian Brethren pastor has survived the earthquake well, while buildings around it collapsed. Another of the brand-new homes built by Brethren Disaster Ministries–so new it is described by Boshart as “not yet painted”–is already sheltering two Port-au-Prince families from the Delmas 3 congregation of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, who are living there with the new homeowners.

This week the delegation also visited programs in northwest Haiti that receive sponsorship from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund, and they are “going pretty well,” he reported earlier this week.

The hurricane rebuilding work continues, Boshart wrote. During their visit, the delegation met with a representative of an organization that will work alongside the community of new home recipients to dig a well. The organization will also “set up a committee to collect monthly fees, so that when new parts are needed there will be a fund already in place,” Boshart wrote.

In addition, the delegation this week received word from Haitian Brethren leaders in Port-au-Prince that a Brethren-sponsored feeding program with children “is off to a good start.”

“We’ll return there tomorrow to see how things have or have not changed in the few days we’ve been out of the city,” Boshart concluded in yesterday’s report. “Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.”

For more reports from the delegation, go to www.brethren.org/HaitiEarthquake  to find links to a Haiti blog and video of Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter reporting on the situation in Haiti.


3) Emergency Disaster Fund receives more than $100,000 for Haiti.

The Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) has received donations totaling $102,154.54 for the church’s relief work following the Haiti earthquake. The number represents the total of both online and by-mail donations received as of yesterday morning.

Of the total, the online donations to Haiti earthquake relief have come to $66,167.07. So far, the church’s finance staff have processed $29,527.42 of mailed-in donations, with more awaiting processing.

EDF grants already given toward relief efforts following the Haiti earthquake total $55,000: a grant of $25,000 to support the Brethren response in Haiti, $25,000 for the work of Church World Service in Haiti, and $5,000 to Haitian First Church of New York–a Church of the Brethren congregation–and the New York Disaster Interfaith Services to establish a family assistance center for Haitians relocating to the US following the earthquake.


4) DR Brethren begin aid effort, share concern for relatives in Haiti.

Many Haitian Dominican Brethren have been seeking ways to get words of encouragement and support to family affected by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince. Iglesia des los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) includes several congregations of members who are of Haitian background. The Dominican Brethren also have begun working to support hospitals in their communities that have been treating Haitians wounded in the earthquake.

With limited resources, many Haitian Dominican Brethren are joining together to send people to go to Port-au-Prince on their behalf. Those chosen to go as representatives of the group are given a list of names of relatives to contact and donations of food and clothing to share with them.

It has been reported in newspapers that over 15,000 wounded from Port-au-Prince are receiving surgery and medical treatment in overwhelmed hospitals in the DR. Brethren have begun offering assistance to these patients and overwhelmed hospital staff, with the support of a grant from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF).

In San Juan de la Maguana, for example, Brethren are distributing hygiene kits consisting of a towel, undergarments, and toothbrushes to Haitian patients in their hospital. In Santo Domingo, Brethren are providing 50 meals a day to patients.

Assistance was also given to a woman who had come from Haiti with her husband for medical treatment. Her husband did not survive. Grief-stricken, she didn’t have the means to return to Haiti to be with her children, a dilemma many are facing. She was very grateful for the bus ticket the Brethren purchased for her.

Brethren mission staff have been offering airport pick up and overnight hospitality for several individuals and work teams headed to Haiti for rescue and medical work. The need for this will diminish once the Port-au-Prince airport is opened for commercial traffic, allowing teams to fly directly to Haiti. Until that is possible, mission staff have been glad to be able to help facilitate land transportation through the DR to Haiti for a number of volunteers.

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


5) Two EYN ministers have died in Nigeria violence, crisis fades for now.

Two ministers of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) died in the violence that broke out in the central Nigerian town of Jos on Sunday, Jan. 17, and continued on Jan. 19. However, the curfew in Jos has been relaxed now that the violent outbreak appears to have faded.

Ecumenical News International (ENI, related to the World Council of Churches) reported on Jan. 25 that the curfew has ended, but that the violence claimed the lives of about 500 people. ENI reported that the fighting may have been sparked by the building of a mosque in a Christian-majority area, and then spread to nearby towns and villages. “Followers of both Christianity and Islam in Jos, which has a population of about half a million people, each blamed gangs from the other’s community for sparking the violence,” ENI reported.

An update was received by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships staff on Jan. 25 from pastor Anthony Ndamsai, who serves an EYN congregation in Jos. The report included information that two ministers in EYN have died in the violence: Shadrach Dzarma (formerly reported in Newsline on Jan. 20 as Shedrak Garba), a student at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria; and Obidah Hildi, an evangelist working in Bukuru, a town close to Jos.

“Though the number of lives and property cannot be ascertained now…the damage is overwhelming,” Ndamsai reported. “While Shadrach met his death from a street bullet on his way from the town, Obidah was slaughtered and burnt with his house. This was discovered two days later….”

Ndamsai wrote that the EYN Church in Bukuru, a town near Jos, was started in Hildi’s house and worship continued there for five or six years until a sanctuary was completed in 2001. “Obidah has been a peacemaker during the previous crises in that ward before he fell prey to wicked people during the crisis. That house was burnt to ashes and Obidah’s wife was left behind a widow and homeless. I and my wife went and consoled her yesterday.” The home of another EYN member, also a widow, was burnt to ashes but she was able to escape.

Ndamsai and his family have been among the EYN leaders working for peace between Muslims and Christians, and helped give refuge to Muslims during a previous outbreak of violence in 2008. “A Muslim man that we hosted in 2008 crisis ran to us for refuge because his life was threatened,” Ndamsai wrote. “Even at the time I was writing this mail, he is still with us. We share the little food we have with him and other boys too in the neighborhood. Though hard it is to do such things and regardless of what people may say to us, we have to love everyone as Christ told us to do.”

“I write you this mail to thank you for your prayers,” Ndamsai said. “I believe you have been praying for us and God in his infinite mercy has spared us. We believe that God knows why those who died as result of this incident, because no sparrow falls to the ground without the knowledge of the creator. Please continue to pray for us in Nigeria especially the EYN Church. It is a great challenge for a peace church in Nigeria.”

Church of the Brethren mission workers Nathan and Jennifer Hosler were not in Jos at the time that violence erupted, although they were visiting just before the crisis (see report below). They work at EYN’s Kulp Bible College, located at the church’s headquarters in eastern Nigeria near the town of Mubi.

“Please pray for the city of Jos and Plateau State,” the Hoslers requested. “This is not a religious conflict per se, but has ethnicity, resources, and politics involved. There has been much destruction of lives and property, with damage to an extent that appears worse than the 2008 crisis.

“Please pray for safety and for the lives of both Muslims and Christians. Pray for those on both sides who are mourning. Pray for healing and reconciliation. Pray for truth, that rumors would not ignite more violence. Pray for mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Jos and Nigeria as a whole.”

The Hoslers added a request for safe travel, as they plan to drive through Jos later this week.


6) Brethren group visits Muslim school destroyed by Christians.

Imagine a Muslim school destroyed by people bearing the name of Christ–the students and faculty should reasonably be wary and distrustful of Christians. Yet, a recent visit proved the contrary and showed that people can overcome the fear caused by conflict and violence.

During the Nov. 2008 violent conflict in Jos (or “crisis”) following elections, rioting Christians destroyed Al-Bayan Islamic Secondary School (high school), killing six students in the process.

Under the leadership of Markus Gamache we were able to visit Al-Bayan Islamic Secondary School in order to extend words and gestures of peace to the school. Gamache is a staff member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and liaison between the Church of the Brethren and EYN. We were joined by Roger and Mim Eberly, Church of the Brethren members from Milford, Ind., who are in Nigeria for three weeks on a learning tour with EYN.

This visit to Al-Bayan was under the context of regaining the trust of those who were harmed by Christians, as trust-building is an integral part of peacebuilding.

For years, when American guests from the Church of the Brethren would visit Nigeria, they would be taken to a Christian school and presented gifts of books and school supplies. On Jan. 12, for the first time, Church of the Brethren guests visited a solely Islamic school to bring gifts to extend friendship, goodwill, and peace. The Eberlys brought with them books, pencils, and other school items and these were presented in the name of interfaith peace advancement.

Our group met with administration and faculty of the school. We also greeted a senior secondary school class, where greetings were given from students in both Arabic and English.

The visit occurred in the name of an interfaith project in development, not under the umbrella of the EYN church. In order to create the atmosphere for peace, Markus Gamache has envisioned an interfaith microfinance project, where Muslims and Christians would work together and create groups for microloans and economic development at the grassroots level. While he is an EYN member and staff, and while EYN may be involved, this project will not be launched under the umbrella of EYN in order to assure people that the project is not evangelism in disguise.

While evangelism is important for Christians in Nigeria, there are some contexts where it cannot occur due to the nature of the conflict, past violence, and the intense mistrust and abuse that has occurred between groups. Christians who engage and build relationships with Muslims in interfaith situations (like the interfaith microfinance project) help repair the damage done to the name of Jesus and his followers. Only after such relationships are repaired can any message of the love of Jesus be shared.

— Nathan and Jennifer Hosler are Church of the Brethren mission workers serving with EYN.


7) Carroll begins as manager of pension operations at BBT.

John Carroll began on Jan. 25 as manager of Pension Operations for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). He has served most recently as manager of Benefit Communications and Compliance for the Publicis Groupe, an advertising and communications company based in Chicago.

In prior pension-related work, he served as a benefits consultant providing actuarial services for clients, and as senior analyst for retirement plans with the Tribune Company in Chicago, where he was responsible in the daily operations of four different pension plans and profit-sharing plans for 30,000 union and non-union participants. Earlier in his career, he taught math to high school students.

Carroll holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and statistics from Loyola University of Chicago, and a certificate as a professionals in human resources. He and his family reside in Arlington Heights, Ill., where they belong to Our Lady of the Wayside Church.


8) Rodeffer joins staff of Church of the Brethren Credit Union.

Lynnae Rodeffer began on Jan. 25 as interim director of Special Projects for the Church of the Brethren Credit Union, in Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). The position is scheduled to continue through Dec. 31.

She is a seasoned manager with more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. Most recently she spent 17 years at Washington Mutual in Seattle, Wash., where she held the position of first vice president and senior group product manager. During her tenure at Washington Mutual she also held a variety of national roles including first vice president of Account Management, National Sales Support manager, Mortgage Training manager, and Regional Loan Operations Center manager, among others.

In previous work she was Premier Mortgage Access Program manager for PaineWebber Mortgage, Midwest Area Loan Operations administrator for First Nationwide Bank (owned by Ford Motor Credit), and Contract Mortgage underwriter for RMIC Mortgage Insurance Co.

She will work out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and from her home in Snohomish, Wash.

Joyful children receive tickets for food at a feeding point set up by Brethren in Port-au-Prince. The feeding program put in place by Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) with help from Brethren Disaster Ministries, is at the Paul Lochard No. 2 School. The program started on Jan. 25 and is serving about 500 children with one hot meal a day. Links to a photo album from Haiti plus other information, resources, and an opportunity to financially support the Brethren relief effort, are at www.brethren.org/HaitiEarthquake. Photo courtesy of Brethren Disaster Ministries

Sunday school classes at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. (above), Elizabethtown (Pa.) College students, seniors at a Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio, musicians at the University of La Verne, and churches of Virlina District are among the many across the country who are contributing to the Church of the Brethren relief effort in Haiti. For just a small sampling of Brethren making a difference, go to www.brethren.org/site/
. Photo by Joel Brumbaugh-Cayford

Roger Eberly (left) gives school supplies to the principal of Al-Bayan Islamic Secondary School in Jos, Nigeria, during a recent peacemaking visit by a Church of the Brethren group (see story below). Photo by Nathan and Jennifer Hosler


Brethren bits

Dr. Julian Choe and Mark Zimmerman of Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren have received donations of more than $3,000 from members of their congregation to support a trip to Haiti to provide medical care. Accompanied by “Frederick News-Post” reporter Ron Cassie, the two flew to the DR on Jan. 22, where they were met by Dominican Brethren pastor Onelis Rivas who is now traveling with them in Haiti. Cassie has been posting regular reports and photos from the trip at http://www.fredericknewspost.com/ . His report from Port-au-Prince on Jan. 26, “Searching in vain: Bodies remain on Port-au-Prince streets; food and water not reaching those in need,” can be found at www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/

The Brethren Historical Library and Archives in Elgin, Ill., has an opening for an archival intern beginning in July. The archive 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, libraries, and Brethren history. Work will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloging, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers. For more information contact the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at kshaffer@brethren.org  or 800-323-8039 ext. 294. To request an application packet, contact Karin Krog in the Office of Human Resources at kkrog@brethren.org .

“Thirsting for God” by Amy S. Gall Ritchie is the annual Lenten devotional from Brethren Press. This paperback booklet offers a daily scripture and meditation for each day of Lent, and is suitable for individual use or for a congregation to provide to its members. Cost is $2.50 per copy, plus shipping and handling. Or seasonal subscribers may receive both the Lent and Advent devotional booklets for only $4 per year, plus shipping and handling. Call 800-441-3712.

Registration for the Church of the Brethren’s 2010 workcamps opened online on Jan. 25. Go to www.brethren.org/site/
 for registration and information about the workcamp experiences offered this summer.

A church-wide “NYC Prayer Day” has been scheduled for June 20–the Sunday one month before National Youth Conference. “We are going to have some commissioning materials and prayers for congregations to use to ‘send’ the participants to NYC,” reported coordinators Audrey Hollenberg and Emily LaPrade. Materials will be made available at www.brethren.org/site/PageServer?pagename=grow_
, where participants also may register for NYC online.

The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has welcomed back IMA World Health staff Rick Santos, Sarla Chand, and Ann Varghese. The three received a warm welcome at the IMA offices on the center campus after a time of rest and recovery following their two days trapped in the rubble of Port-au-Prince’s Hotel Montana. For news coverage of their ordeal and return to work, read “Freed from rubble, back on the job” in the “Baltimore Sun” at www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/
; and “Aid workers recall ordeal in Port-Au-Prince rubble” in the “Frederick News-Post” at www.wtop.com/?nid=25&pid=0&sid=1874097&page=1 .

Bethany Theological Seminary’s spring courses will include offerings especially for those interested in Brethren history or church planting. Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies and associate professor of religious studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, will teach “History of the Church of the Brethren” at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center in Elizabethtown. The course will meet two weekends in March and two weekends in April. Applications are due Feb. 12. Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, will teach “Foundations of Church Growth” on May 17-28 at Bethany’s campus in Richmond, Ind. Students also will attend the denomination’s Church Planting Conference as part of their course work. Applications are due April 17. For more visit http://bethanyseminary.edu/
 or contact Elizabeth Keller, director of admissions, at kelleel@bethanyseminary.edu  or 800-287-8822 ext. 1832.

The New Windsor Conference Center on the campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is incorporating a line of environmentally responsible products for carry out from its food service and diningroom. “After research into a variety of options and consideration of both cost and performance, we have chosen to work with a company called EarthSmart products,” said a note from the Dining Services staff. The “to go” containers will be made from “bagasse,” a by-product of sugarcane. Disposable cutlery will be made from plant starches including potato and corn starch. The products are compostable and biodegradable, as well as safe for use in the refrigerator, freezer, microwave, or convection ovens.

The Church of the Brethren’s Regional Youth Conference for the plains area will be held at McPherson (Kan.) College on April 9-11 with leadership by Paul Grout, new church planter and a former Annual Conference moderator. The theme is based on John 10:10, “Fully Alive: Taking Hold of the Life that Is Really Life in Body, Mind and Spirit.” Activities will include sessions studying the theme, a campus tour of McPherson College, an evening coffeehouse with table games and a jazz pianist, and Sunday morning worship with McPherson Church of the Brethren.

The Senior High Roundtable, one of the Church of the Brethren’s regional youth conferences, will be held March 19-21 at Bridgewater (Va.) College. Senior high youth from the entire east coast region are expected to attend. The weekend will include worship, workshops, and fellowship. The theme, “Come to the Mountain,” will be led by Joel and Linetta Ballew, pastor of Lebanon (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and program director at Camp Brethren Woods, respectively.

The Polo (Ill.) Growing Project this past growing season raised $26,240 in support of agricultural programs in the developing world. Proceeds are divided between a Foods Resource Bank program in Honduras and the Church of the Brethren member account that invests in sustainable community development in a score of countries. The project is in its fifth season and is jointly supported by Polo Church of the Brethren, Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., and Faith United Presbyterian Church in Tinley Park, Ill. Jim and Karen Schmidt head the project, with farm acreage owned by Bill and Betty Hare, all members of the Polo Church.

Western Plains District is holding a series of installation services for its new district executive minister Sonja Griffith. Her first installation service took place Jan. 3 at her home congregation, First Central Church of the Brethren in Kansas City, Kan. Additional celebrations are to be held on Feb. 20 at 3:30 p.m. at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community Church of the Brethren; and March 6 at 2 p.m. at Bethel Church of the Brethren in Arriba, Colo.

The Juniata College Campus Ministry is trying a new outreach activity–a concert featuring Lucio Rubino at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, in Ellis Hall. “Lucio Rubino, one of Christian radio’s top artist/writer/producers, is the main act of the show titled ‘Rockin’ in a Winter Wonderland,’” reports a release from the college in Huntingdon, Pa. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Students who attend a Church of the Brethren student open house that afternoon and stay for the concert will be given a discounted rate. Tickets can be purchased by calling 814-641-3361. “This concert is something that will offer a great experience for Juniata students as well as area churches and their youth groups,” said campus chaplain David Witkovsky.

The Global Women’s Project is offering a 2010 Lenten Calendar “as a way to have a daily time of spiritual centering throughout Lent. This is also an important way for us to share our wealth with our sisters and brothers around the world who are working for empowerment and sustainability.” The group is related to the Church of the Brethren. Order a calendar by e-mailing info@globalwomensproject.org  by Feb. 3. Those who are interested also may receive calendar entries daily by e-mail. Go to http://www.globalwomensproject.org/  to download the daily donation log that accompanies each day’s meditation.

The National Council of Churches (NCC) is supporting a “Nationwide Faith Call-in Week for Health Care.” The effort started on Jan. 25. “After decades of work, and a historic grassroots effort this year, advocates for national health care reform have come further than ever before toward enduring and meaningful change. Congress, which had reached the final stages of passing health care reform legislation, is now at a standstill,” an NCC release said. “In this partisan climate people of faith and others of goodwill join together to remind Congress of the moral imperative of insuring that none of our brothers or sisters are left sick or dying due to insufficient access to quality, affordable to health care.”

In response to the Haiti earthquake, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on the international community to cancel Haiti’s foreign debt. An “immediate and full cancellation” of Haiti’s foreign debt would be “only an initial step,” as Haiti needs a broader “plan to support recovery, poverty eradication, and sustainable development,” said the WCC general secretary in a statement on Jan. 25. Such a plan “must be developed with the full ownership of the people of Haiti and with the support of the international community under the coordination of the United Nations…. Any financial assistance should come in the shape of grants, not loans that would burden the country with more debt,” the statement said. For the full text go to http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=7517 .

Church World Service (CWS) on Jan. 27 called for Wall Street’s financial industry leaders to tithe their bonuses for the reconstruction of Haiti. “This month’s catastrophic earthquake is not only an unforgettable tragedy but a wake-up call to rich nations of the world,” said executive director John L. McCullough. CWS is also urging complete forgiveness of Haiti’s remaining debts. Referring to the telethon for Haiti that was held on several US television channels last weekend, McCullough noted that, “Despite a continuing tough economy, persistently high jobless rate, and the alarming increase of homeless families in the US, the American people managed to contribute to the $61 million raised.” The “Bonus4Haiti” tithing call to Wall Street is available on the CWS Causes page on Facebook.

Springs of Living Water, the congregational renewal initiative led by David and Joan Young, has been invited to conduct a seminar at the Parish Resource Center in Lancaster, Pa. The seminar will be held on March 13, from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. It will offer sessions on “Rediscovering Spiritual Disciplines,” “Grounding in Servant Leadership,” and “Using Spiritual Discernment to Discover Direction.” Early registration (before March 5) costs $45 for subscribers to the center, or $55 for non-subscribers. Lunch is included. Contact davidyoung@

“Brethren Voices,” a community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, will share the short documentary “12 Stones” by filmmaker Sandy Smolan as its February edition. This evocative film documents the work of Heifer International with women of Nepal, and their journey out of poverty to self reliance. With cinematography by Jacek Laskus and narration by Diane Lane, “12 Stones” captures the transformation the women undergo and Heifer’s mission to work with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the earth. “12 Stones” has won awards for best short documentary at the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Tallahassee Film Festival. Heifer International began as the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project, since then becoming an ecumenical venture receiving widespread support from many different denominations. In March, “Brethren Voices” will take viewers to Hiroshima, Japan, and a visit to the World Friendship Center where BVS volunteers have served as hosts for more than 20 years. For more about “Brethren Voices” contact producer Ed Groff at groffprod1@msn.com . Copies of the program cost $8, with donations forwarded to Portland Peace Church of the Brethren, 12727 SE Market St., Portland, OR 97233.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is sharing the information that eligible Haitians living in the United States on or before Jan. 12 may begin applying for Temporary Protected Status. The announcement of the special status came from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services on Jan. 21. Details and procedures for applying are provided in the US government’s online “Federal Register” publication. The special status designation for Haitians came as a result of the earthquake, and will remain in effect through July 22, 2011. It means that eligible Haitian nationals will not be deported and will be eligible to apply to work in the US. A registration period to apply ends on July 20.


Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, cobnews@brethren.org  or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Ed Groff, Donna March, Ken Neher, Molly Sollenberger, Shelly Wagner, LeAnn K. Wine, Zach Wolgemuth contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other week, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue will appear Feb. 10. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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