Newsline for June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010

“…And I will be their God, and they shall be my people,” (Jeremiah 31:33b).

1) Bethany Seminary celebrates 105th commencement.

2) Hundreds of deacons trained in 2010.

3) Haitian Family Resource Center is hosted by New York Brethren.

4) Workcamper to share Beanie Babies with children in Haiti.

5) New webinar series to focus on money leadership.

6) ‘A Future and a Hope’ is theme for Day of Prayer for Peace.

7) Noffsinger Erbaugh to serve S. Ohio District as interim executive.

8) Spicher Waggy to be interim executive for South Central Indiana.

9) Kettering named seminary’s assistant professor of Brethren studies.

Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, Annual Conference, more (see column at right).

A note to readers: The editor has been out of the office this week because of family health concerns, and apologizes for the delay in sending this week’s issue of Newsline. Also, the Newsline survey announced for May will not be available until later in June. All readers will be invited to participate.
June 7 is the last day to register online for the Church of the Brethren’s 2010 Annual Conference, to take place July 3-7 in Pittsburgh, Pa. Those who register online pay an advance price of $95. After June 7, the next opportunity to register will be onsite in Pittsburgh, where the fee increases to $120. Go to

1) Bethany Seminary celebrates 105th commencement.

On May 8, Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., celebrated its 105th commencement, awarding nine students a master of divinity degree and one student a certificate of achievement in theological studies.

Ted Flory of Bridgewater, Va., chair of the seminary’s board of trustees, gave the address at the academic ceremony titled “An Incarnational Education.” Flory ends his 10-year term on the board July 1. Scott Holland, professor of theology and culture and director of peace studies and cross-cultural studies, shared a sermon at the afternoon worship service titled “We Live Only What We Imagine.”

Those who received a master of divinity degree are Barbara Leininger Dickason of Frederick, Md.; Seth D. Hendricks, Englewood, Ohio; Judith A. Hollandsworth, Parker City, Ind.; Roland D. Johnson, Live Oak, Calif.; Denton Eugene Krietz, Thurmont, Md.; Travis Edward Turner Poling, Richmond, Ind.; Rebecca O. Rhodes, Roanoke, Va.; Tracy Ann Stoddart, Dayton, Ohio, with emphases in peace studies and youth and young adult ministry and distinction in ministry studies; and Joseph Campbell Tolton, Midland, Mich. One graduate received a certificate of achievement in theological studies: Laura Kelsey of Fishers, Ind.

Graduates’ future endeavors include careers in pastoral and congregational ministry, chaplaincy, spiritual direction, and additional graduate study.

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


2) Hundreds of deacons trained in 2010.

“I suppose it’s time to have deacon training in our district again–it’s been a few years. Is that something you can help us with?” Those words, or variations on them, have been repeated numerous times in these first months of 2010, resulting in more than 300 deacons and other church leaders participating in training sessions in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois.

And that’s just through May.

The trainings are offered by the Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry. “Our deacons need to know why they exist,” one pastor commented when asked about issues that should be covered during training. “They exist in name, but not in function. [Some] feel that it is an old idea whose time has passed.”

Another common sentiment reflects the trend for deacons to be the older adults in many congregations: “I am concerned about care and pastoring of the older deacons, as well as how to initiate younger men and women into the fold…. Like many other churches [in our district] our future will be bleak unless we can attract more young families.”

District executives often see things from a different perspective: “Some of our pastors are not always willing to pass on work…that deacons could be doing. Sometimes it is ego; sometimes they may think the deacon is not capable…. They should be educating their deacons for some of those tasks.”

The needs expressed for deacon training are many, and the workshop topics are just as varied. The most popular workshop, generally offered as a plenary session but with significant participant involvement, is called “What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway?” based on the four functions of deacons as set out in the 1997 Annual Conference statement on the role of deacons in the Church of the Brethren.

Other often requested topics are listening skills, conflict resolution, the pastoral care team, and providing support in times of grief and loss. Consultation on topics such as the calling of deacons is also available.

So far six training sessions are scheduled for the fall, to be held in a variety of locations from California to Pennsylvania. In addition, the Deacon Ministry is offering for the first time ever a pre-conference deacon training event on Saturday, July 3, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

For information on deacon workshops, the fall schedule for deacon training, or to register for the pre-Annual Conference training events, visit . For more information contact Donna Kline, director of the Deacon Ministry, at  or 800-323-8039.

— Donna Kline is director of the Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry.


3) Haitian Family Resource Center is hosted by New York Brethren.

A Haitian Family Resource Center hosted by Haitian First Church of New York–a Church of the Brethren congregation–has become a primary resource service for Haitians displaced by disaster and living in the New York area.

Directed by church member Marilyn Pierre, the center located on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn is a cooperative endeavor with New York Disaster Interfaith Services. It has been recognized by city and state officials, and has been awarded a $20,000 grant by the Brooklyn Community Foundation and the Hope and Healing Fund of United Way of New York.

Over the past few weeks, the center has received supportive visits from NY Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, New York City Council member Jumaane D. Williams, and an advisor to the United Nation’s donor conference on Haiti.

“The demand (for services) is just tremendous,” said Pierre in a telephone interview. “The trauma the people having been facing…. They know there is a place to come to.”

Set up soon after the earthquake hit Haiti in January, the center has become a clearinghouse for Haitian immigrants’ needs. “The earthquake was on the 12th. We began on the 18th,” Pierre said. In the period immediately after the earthquake the Red Cross was at the center regularly. “People who were searching for loved ones would come in to register,” Pierre said. The Red Cross also provided clothing and vouchers for other needs.

The focus on immediate disaster needs is slowly ending, Pierre said, and more recently the center has focused on providing social services support, legal advice on immigration issues, and help to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)–a special immigration status offered by the US government since the earthquake. Other services provided include sponsoring of relatives, medical assistance/resources, food stamp benefits, translation services, housing assistance, educational resources, clothing and other related needs, transportation assistance, Social Security assistance and assistance with filling out various application forms.

An immigration clinic every Thursday evening has drawn between 35-40 families each week. They come seeking legal advice and help to apply for TPS. Many want to bring family members from Haiti, or are concerned about their own visas. “There are a lot of families that have migrated here on visas, some for just six months, some for one month,” Pierre said.

In addition, the center has been doing case management, providing translation services, and assisting with applications and forms such as medical forms, job applications, and letters of recommendation. Many of the clients do not speak English, Pierre explained. Another offering has been pastoral counseling for the grief and healing process of those who lost loved ones in the earthquake.

Among the more than 1,200 who have used the center’s services a mix of people, Pierre said, including Haitians who were already living in New York at the time of the earthquake and people who have come to the US since then. For example, the center has been able to help people newly arrived from Haiti go a hospital for the first time in their lives. Others simply have never known about the services available to them in New York.

She told the story of a woman and her three-year-old son who is a US citizen, who were living with a family member. The center helped the mother receive support for her son through the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program. “She was just so excited that she was able to receive assistance,” Pierre said, “because a lot of (Haitian immigrants) come here and now are a burden to a family member.”

Brethren Disaster Ministries has been working with Atlantic Northeast District, the leadership of the center, and pastor Verel Montauban of Haitian First Church to coordinate support services, and recently requested a second grant of $7,500 from the Emergency Disaster Fund to continue Church of the Brethren support for the center.

Other groups who have been working with the center or have helped provide services there include Lutheran Immigration Services, the American Red Cross, World Vision, Mennonite congregations in Manhattan, and Lutheran Social Services of New York, among others.

“Without the assistance of the church and other partner agencies, we would not be able to do this,” Pierre said.

Her current concerns are the center’s need for volunteers to keep the work going; and for Haitians who have not yet applied for TPS status, which has a July application deadline. Haitians who are awarded the special status will be allowed to stay in the US legally for 18 months, and be provided working papers, Pierre said.

“I don’t know if there will be an extension” of the TPS status, she added. “We’ve noticed there is a lot of fear” among clients. Some of those who come to the center are fearful even of making the application, and others are waiting to see if the status will be extended beyond 18 months before they decide to apply, Pierre said. She foresees the work of the center extending to immigration advocacy in the future, commenting, “This is not something that’s going to go away in a year.”

The Haitian Family Support Center welcomes offers of volunteer help. Contact Marilyn Pierre at .


4) Workcamper to share Beanie Babies with children in Haiti.

When Katie Royer departed for Haiti this week, 250 Beanie Babies went along. She filled two large suitcases with the stuffed animal toys, in order to give one to each of 200-plus children at the New Covenant School in St. Louis du Nord, Haiti.

Royer is one of 19 young adults from across the United States and 2 young adults from Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren) in Port-au-Prince who are part of the week-long workcamp, June 1-8. A student at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania, she is back home in Elgin, Ill., for the summer.

This is the first Church of the Brethren workcamp of the summer, and is specifically for young adults. Jeanne Davies, who coordinates the Workcamp Ministry, is accompanying the group. The workcamp is directed by Michaela and Ilexene Alphonse, Church of the Brethren members from Florida who founded New Covenant School.

Family and friends have been helping Royer collect the Beanie Babies since she made the decision to attend the workcamp. A total of 500 toys have been donated to the effort, but Royer could fit only half in the two suitcases she was allowed to check for free on the airplane. She is still working out where to donate the other half of the toys she has received.

New Covenant School is currently housed in a rented property but is in the process of constructing a new school building. Workcamp participants will work alongside members of the community on the new building, and also will lead crafts and games at a Vacation Bible School.

St. Louis du Nord is a day’s drive north of Port-au-Prince and was not affected by the January earthquake. However, along with disaster response and crisis intervention, there also is a need for longterm mission in Haiti. One way the Church of the Brethren is attempting to do this is through support of education.

Although there are some public schools in Haiti, 90 percent of primary schools are private. Even in public schools, the cost of fees, uniforms, and books is too expensive for the families of many Haitian children. New Covenant School was founded to give neighborhood children the opportunity of a basic education. The school also holds Christian education classes on Sundays.

A commissioning litany for workcamp participants is available at .


5) New webinar series to focus on money leadership.

A webinar series titled “Money Leadership: From ‘OH MY!’ to ‘A-MEN’” is being planned to help pastors and other church leaders address issues of stewardship. The series of webcasts is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s offices of Stewardship Formation and Transforming Practices. Bethany Seminary staff are providing the webcast link.

Mark Vincent, CEO of Design Group International, a set of consulting networks concerned with organizational development, will be the presenter. Webcasts will focus on the fact that church leaders and pastors serve as leaders in money matters for their congregations. “When times are prosperous, the spiritual agenda stands against greed. When economies crumble, the spiritual agenda battles fear. In fat years and lean years, the opportunities to fully live our faith in God starts with leadership,” said an announcement.

Three sessions are planned to equip pastors and leaders to show the way at the intersection of faith and money. Each session will conclude with discussion and action steps for congregational working teams.

Session 1 on the topic, “Get Centered,” is offered on June 22 at 4 p.m. (eastern time); and on June 24 at 8:30 p.m. (eastern). Session 2 on the topic, “Get Savvy,” will be held on July 15 at 4 p.m. (eastern) and on July 19 at 8:30 p.m. (eastern). Session 3 on the topic, “Get Conspiratorial,” is planned for Aug. 4 at 4 p.m. (eastern) and Aug. 5 at 8:30 p.m. (eastern).

Go to  for more information about the webinars and to log in and participate in webcasts. For more information contact Carol Bowman, coordinator for Stewardship Formation and Education, at .


6) ‘A Future and a Hope’ is theme for Day of Prayer for Peace.

In 2010, On Earth Peace invites individuals, families, and faith and community groups to participate in the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21, on the theme, “A Future and a Hope” (Jeremiah 29). On Earth Peace is an agency of the Church of the Brethren empowering people to discern the things that make for peace.

Together with ecumenical partners including the Lutheran Peace Fellowship and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program of the Presbyterian Church (USA), On Earth Peace calls all people of goodwill to consider observing the International Day of Prayer for Peace. An initiative of the United Nations and the World Council of Churches, the International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDOPP) is intended as a time for guns, armies, and militias to go silent through 24-hour ceasefires observed around the world.

This year marks On Earth Peace’s fourth annual campaign for the IDOPP. Hundreds of participating groups in previous years have prepared public prayer vigils, prayerful community walks, vesper services, rallies, public art displays, and events ranging from a few minutes to 24 hours of coordinated prayer for peace.

Highlights of the 2010 IDOPP campaign include online registration for individuals, families, and faith and community groups at , a website offering activity ideas, links to partner organizations, and a community organizing handbook for IDOPP participants; and Nonviolence Leadership Seminars via conference call on topics including listening initiatives, planning an effective vigil, and attracting publicity for an event. Conference calls are scheduled for June 10, 10-11 a.m. (Pacific time); June 22, 3-4 p.m. (Pacific); July 14, 1-2 p.m. (Pacific); and Aug. 5, 10-11 a.m. (Pacific). For more about the conference calls contact Michael Colvin at  or 626-802-5900.

This year, for the first time, On Earth Peace is requesting a participation fee to help cover the costs of organizing the campaign. Starting at a minimum of $1, the suggested fee for individuals and families is $20, with other suggested fees for faith and community groups of 35-100 depending on the size of the group.

Individuals and groups also are invited to participate in Change for Peace, a few moments of daily reflection and prayer when participants deposit their daily pocket change in an offering for peace, and pray for strength, inspiration, and courage to engage the many faces of violence. Some congregations plan to do this as a group activity.

On Earth Peace is seeking 10 faith and community groups who will commit to do a listening initiative as part of the preparation for a Sept. 21 prayer vigil. Listening initiatives are a focused time of gathering up stories and information, and can lead to deeper relationships and opportunities for real community change.

Follow-up trainings include “You Can’t Stop the River: Nonviolent Community Leadership,” on Oct. 28-31, in Harrisburg, Pa.;, and Salt and Light, a seven-month extended learning program focused on nonviolent community mobilization to take place from Oct. 2010-May 2011.

Through the 2010 IDOPP campaign, On Earth Peace hopes to connect with many individuals and emerging leaders for peace and nonviolence, in order to walk and work together to build more peaceful communities and organize alternatives to violence, oppression, and poverty. For more information go to  and .


7) Noffsinger Erbaugh to serve S. Ohio District as interim executive.

Wendy Noffsinger Erbaugh has been appointed interim district executive for Southern Ohio District, a quarter-time position from July 1-Dec. 31. She is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren currently serving as a freelance curriculum editor for the Gather ’Round Christian education curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and the Mennonite Publishing Network.

Previously she has served as pastor of children’s ministries at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio, and as administrative secretary at the district office. She holds an associate of arts degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., and a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

The district office continues to be located at 1001 Mill Ridge Circle, Union, OH 45322; 937-832-6399 or 937-475-6377.


8) Spicher Waggy to be interim executive for South Central Indiana.

Carol Spicher Waggy has been appointed to serve as interim executive for South Central Indiana District, a part-time position from May 14-Dec. 31. She is an ordained minister and a network practitioner of the Ministry of Reconciliation.

She has served at all levels of the church including congregation, district, denomination, and international mission. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Services from Goshen (Ind.) College, a master’s degree in Social Work with an Interpersonal Services track from Indiana University School of Social Work, and a master of divinity degree in Pastoral Counseling from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary.

The district office will continue to be located at 604 N. Mill St., N. Manchester, IN 46962; 260-982-8805 or 877-730-9315. Spicher Waggy may be contacted at  or 574-903-3597.


9) Kettering named seminary’s assistant professor of Brethren studies.

Denise D. Kettering has been named assistant professor of Brethren Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. She will begin in this part-time position July 1.

Kettering received a master’s degree in theological studies from the Candler School of Theology and a doctor’s degree from the University of Iowa in 2009. Her dissertation was entitled “Pietism and Patriarchy: Spener and Women in the 17th-Century Pietist Movement.”

In 2002-03 and again in 2009-10 she worked in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She served as an adjunct professor at Bethany Seminary during the past academic year.

The 2010 graduates from Bethany Theological Seminary: (front, from left) Laura Kelsey, Tracy Stoddart, Rebecca Rhodes, Judith Hollandsworth; (back, from left) Seth Hendricks, Denton Krietz, Joseph Tolton, Roland Johnson, Travis Poling, and Barbara Dickason. Photo courtesy of Bethany Seminary

Participants at one of the deacon training workshops that have been held in a variety of locations, and have trained some 300 deacons and church leaders so far this year. The workshops are sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry and will continue this summer and fall. Above, a workshop held at New Fairview Church of the Brethren in Pennsylvania. (See story at left.) Photo by Donna Kline

A weekly immigration clinic at the Haitian Family Resource Center, which is hosted by a Church of the Brethren congregation in New York, was begun after the January earthquake. Starting as a response to disaster, the center now offers a wide variety of resources for Haitian families. (See story at left). Photo courtesy of Marilyn Pierre

Katie Royer (right) and workcamp coordinator Jeanne Davies with just a few of the 250 Beanie Babies that Royer has taken along with her to the first Church of the Brethren workcamp of the summer. She is one of 21 young adults who are working this week at a school in the north of Haiti (see story at left). Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford


Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) staff are remembering the life and work of David Stevens, who died in late May. Stevens was the leader of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland ( ). He had a long history with BVS in Northern Ireland, where BVS volunteers have been placed since 1972. Through his work at the Irish Council of Churches, where he eventually became general secretary, Stevens started a support committee for BVS in 1975. “That’s 35 years of accompaniment of Northern Irish BVS volunteers, in one form or another!” wrote Kristin Flory, who coordinates BVS placements in Europe. “At the beginning and during the height of the Troubles this was vital; he would make suggestions for project placements and advise about volunteer selection, as well as visiting the volunteers on site.” Along with Harold Good, a Methodist pastor who invited BVS to send a volunteer to the Shankill Road in 1972, Stevens spoke at the BVS 30th anniversary event at the Forthspring project in Belfast in 2002. “He talked about the courage and imagination required for peacemaking,” Flory wrote, and that “peace requires you to work with people you might not like to associate with.” In his comments, Stevens commended the long-term perspective and quiet and powerful witness of BVS. “In response to Harold Good’s remark that ‘when the full story of all these years in Northern Ireland is written, sadly BVS probably won’t be mentioned,’ David said that we would be ‘recorded in a greater book,’” Flory wrote. “I know that David himself is in that greater book.” For more about David Stevens’ life and work go to

— James Ward begins June 7 as a summer intern at the Church of the Brethren Credit Union. He is a senior at Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., on track to receive a degree in Accounting and Finance with a minor in Economics this December. He spent the previous two summers working in Chase’s student loan division in Indianapolis, and recently led a student team that developed a business plan for a new aquatic and fitness center under consideration by the North Manchester Parks and Recreation department.

— A change of date has been announced for the annual Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) 5K Fitness Challenge at Annual Conference. To accommodate 4th of July activities in Pittsburgh, the race will now take place at 7 a.m. on Monday, July 5. Since this is a recent change, the date published in the Conference booklet is not correct. Because of this change, the BBT Congregational Contact breakfast has been moved to Sunday, July 4, at 7 a.m. in Room 317 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The early bird deadline to register for the Fitness Challenge has been extended to Monday, June 7. That special rate is $18 per person and $55 per family. After June 7, the registration fee increases to $20 per person. Find a pre-registration form at
 and mail the bottom portion to, along with payment, to Brethren Benefit Trust, Attn: Mandy Garcia, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Contact  with any questions or to request a copy of the pre-registration form by mail. Participants also may register onsite in Pittsburgh at the BBT booth at Annual Conference through Sunday, July 4.

— Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed on to a letter to members of Congress supporting legislation requiring all federal agencies to notify the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) of all US-held detainees and to allow the ICRC access to them. The letter dated May 25 noted that “this requirement was included in President Obama’s executive order on interrogations; however, legislation is required to codify this requirement so that it remains permanent US policy.” An independent neutral observer, the ICRC has a mandate to visit detention facilities around the world to ensure that prisoners of war and other detainees are treated humanely as required by international law…. By passing legislation permanently providing the ICRC with access to US-held detainees we can prevent secret detentions, strengthen America’s ability to advocate for the appropriate treatment of Americans detained overseas, and restore US credibility on the issue of torture.” The letter was signed by leaders of Christian denominations and organizations along with leaders from other religious traditions and was sponsored by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

— A grant of $10,000 has been given by the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) in response to a Church World Service (CWS) appeal for assistance following flooding and multiple tornado outbreaks across the southern US, including record-breaking flooding in Nashville, Tenn. The grant will support material aid shipments as well as resources and training in the development of long-term recovery groups in affected communities.

— Mission workers in Nigeria have begun a Peace Club for students at Kulp Bible College. Nathan and Jennifer Hosler reported the development in May. They are teaching peace classes and working in a Peace Program at the school, which serves as a training college for pastors of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). “While the Church of the Brethren is a Historic Peace Church, peace has not been a large part of EYN’s theological teaching (though that is changing),” the Hoslers reported. “As can be expected, the students have had many questions…. Students routinely struggle with how it is possible to work for peace in their context. Students have expressed fear that if they work for peace they will become marginalized in society and politics. They try to understand how they can move toward peace while protecting their churches, families, and property. There is no easy or straightforward answer to this dilemma. In an effort to assist concerned students in understanding and acting for peace we have started a KBC Peace Club.” The club provides a venue for students to engage in discussion of peace topics beyond the classroom and assists students in working for peace while they are studying. As of mid-May the group met weekly and included nine students and three faculty. “Ideally, the Peace Club will provide an opportunity for students to put the class material into practice,” the Hoslers wrote.

— The Annual Members’ Meeting of the Church of the Brethren Credit Union is scheduled for 2 p.m. on July 3 in Pittsburgh, Pa., prior to the opening of Annual Conference. The meeting will be held in Room 317 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The meeting is open to all Credit Union members and all attendees of Annual Conference. Board members and staff will be present for questions and dialogue. For more information contact 888-832-1383 or go to .

— Overseas mission workers from Asia were hosted at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., last week. The group included Steve Cutting, ecumenical relations officer for the Asian Rural Institute in Japan, and Church of the Brethren mission workers Robert and Linda Shank, who have served the past three months at Yanji University of Science and Technology in northern China. The Shanks plan to teach at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea when it opens this fall.

— East Chippewa Church of the Brethren has reported on its 5th Annual Fishing Derby for children, held in late May and sponsored by the church’s youth group. The event was “a success,” according to a release from the church, located north of Orrville, Ohio. “The public was welcomed and nearly 100 showed up to cast their lines.”

— The Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Southeast District is inviting visitors to its new website: .

— Students at McPherson (Kan.) College this spring collected 1,005 pairs of used shoes for the organization SOLES4SOULS, an international agency based in the United States that gives away millions of pairs of used shoes each year, reports Tom Hurst of the college’s Campus Ministries. Students also coordinated efforts with several McPherson County churches and schools to raise money and purchase items to donate 903 Hygiene Kits for Haiti, and money was raised for International Action’s HaitiWater project, which provided a chlorinator for one of the country’s water distribution centers. In addition, 16 faculty, students and staff members worked with Brethren Disaster Ministries in the Hammond, Ind., area over spring break to help clean up, repair, and paint houses flooded in Sept. 2008.

— Church World Service (CWS) executive director John L. McCullough has pressed President Obama to convene a bipartisan summit with the goal of enacting comprehensive immigration reform this year. “Federal immigration reform has become all the more urgent,” said a CWS press release, “as Arizona and at least 12 other states move to introduce their own ‘fixes,’ which threaten to create an unworkable and contradictory patchwork of local immigration laws that don’t serve national security, economic recovery, or human rights.” McCullough’s letter to President Obama noted that, “This is a worrisome trend that may not be easy to reverse if we don’t act now. The worst thing the federal government can do right now is stand by and do nothing as other states follow Arizona’s example.” He also wrote all members of Congress urging them to support and participate in a bipartisan summit on immigration, saying, “This is a critical, historic time for the President and Congress to put politics aside, act decisively, and exhibit the moral courage necessary to do what’s best for America and enact immigration reform.”

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued a call for Christians to pray and act for a just peace in Palestine and Israel following the killing of peace activists after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. The WCC release noted that the event fell at the beginning of the annual World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel. Speaking at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva to mark the start of the week’s observances on May 31, WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, said, “This year again we need even more than before to point to how settlements and occupation are real obstacles to a just peace. All parties must stop violence and find the way forward.” Pointing to the message of the Kairos document written by Christians in the Middle East and launched last December, Tveit reiterated its call to churches and Christians throughout the world to respond to the conflict “with prayer, witness, and hard work…. It is remarkable that in this situation people are prepared to talk about love. We are not against anybody; we are for peace for all peoples.” Find the website of the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel at .

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren,  or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Michael Colvin, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Matt Guynn, Nancy Miner, Howard Royer, Brian Solem contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other week, with special issues as needed. The next issue is scheduled for June 16. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to .

Forward Newsline to a friend

Subscribe to Newsline

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]