Newsline for September 23, 2010

New at  is a photo album from Sudan, providing glimpses into the work of Michael Wagner, Church of the Brethren mission staff seconded to the Africa Inland Church-Sudan. Wagner began work in southern Sudan in early July. His home congregation is Mountville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Find the album at

“If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” (Luke 19:42a).


1) Day of prayer for peace brings hope for a future beyond violence.
2) ‘Reach Deep’ fundraising challenge meets its goal.
3) Bethany Seminary’s Peace Forum is now being webcast.

4) Hisey Pierson to direct insurance services for BBT.

5) National teleconference on gun violence is held today by NCC.
6) Districts continue Special Response hearings.

7) Large-print Advent devotional, more new resources from Brethren Press.

8) Florida campers learn what it means to be a hero like Jesus.

9) Brethren bits: Personnel, N. Korea, Haiti, India violence, anniversaries, and more.

1) Day of prayer for peace brings hope for a future beyond violence.

More than 90 congregations and community organizations participated in the International Day of Prayer for Peace with vigils, interfaith worship services, prayer drop-ins, Kids as Peacemakers murals, installation of peace poles, and more. Photo courtesy of On Earth Peace.

More than 90 congregations and community organizations in 20 states and three countries took part in the International Day of Prayer for Peace as partners with On Earth Peace. These communities joined tens of thousands of people on five continents who have been participating in events in the week surrounding Tuesday, Sept. 21–the sixth observance of the World Council of Churches’ International Day of Prayer for Peace, which joins the United Nations’ 25-year commitment to an International Day of Peace.

On Earth Peace’s more than 90 partner groups planned public vigils, interfaith worship services, prayer drop-in times, childrens’ mural making, installation of peace poles, and many other events.

As part of the activities, Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) launched an effort in Jos, Nigeria, to build bridges among Christians and Muslims as they shared their mutual concerns for peace following sectarian violence. This week’s prayer services in Jos included both Muslims and Christians praying for peace in the wake of church burnings, looting, and killings.

In Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Breakthru Church International sent 30 people door-to-door wearing bright orange t-shirts to ask about obstacles to peace and to point to signs of hope in preparation for a prayer service and a later public meeting to build hope and investment in their community.

Several prayer services in the United States brought people of different faiths together to pray, an action that seems prophetic in the face of rising anti-Muslim sentiment in this country.

“Observing the International Day of Prayer for Peace is more than a day. It is a process,” said Matt Guynn of On Earth Peace. “Wherever there is hard-heartedness, violence, or poverty, there is a crooked path that God can make smooth. That doesn’t happen overnight or in a year, but over time, in each heart, in each village, town, and city, in each society, as we work to build a culture of positive peace and active nonviolence.

“In local group after local group, we see that each year, there is a growing sense of possibility for God’s peace. The prayers offered up each Sept. 21 are an opportunity for community members to ask God for help, for inspiration, for guidance for overcoming evil with good.”

— On Earth Peace provided this release. For more information contact Matt Guynn, Program Director and Coordinator of Peace Witness, at or 503-775-1636.

2) ‘Reach Deep’ fundraising challenge meets its goal.

Mandy Garcia of the Stewardship and Donor Development staff says “THANKS”. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

A letter headed “Urgent Need–A Landmark Challenge” was mailed out to Church of the Brethren prospective donors on Aug. 6 as the start of a “Reach Deep” fundraising challenge to meet a mid-year budget shortfall of $100,000 in the denomination’s Core Ministries Fund.

The generosity of one Brethren family who anonymously gave $50,000 in response to the need sparked the special funding drive. This family’s gift was offered as a challenge to others to “Reach Deep” to make up the remaining $50,000 by Sept. 15.

That challenge has now met its goal, having received a total of $74,869.18 in online giving and donations in response to the direct mail request, in addition to the original gift of $50,000.

The Stewardship department announced that the $100,000 goal was met on Sept. 1, and exceeded in the following days. “I am certainly grateful for the inspirational response of our donors when invited to ‘reach deep’ this past month,” said director Ken Neher.

The Core Ministries budget funds church programs ranging from Congregational Life Ministries and Caring Ministries, to Global Mission Partnerships and Brethren Volunteer Service, among others–as well as operating ministries including human resources, the finance department, communications, and more.

And there are still financial goals to meet before the end of the 2010. “I am looking forward to the continuing response of our donors to God’s generosity as the year winds down,” added Neher. “I am confident that all our goals for the year can be met if everyone continues to reach deep!”

— Mandy Garcia is coordinator of Donor Invitation for the Church of the Brethren.

3) Bethany Seminary’s Peace Forum is now being webcast.

The weekly Peace Forum lunch and speaker series held by Bethany Theological Seminary and Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Ind., can now be viewed live online or in archived form. Webcasts are coordinated by Enten Eller, the seminary’s director of Electronic Communications and Distributed Education. Online participants can even pose questions and comments to the presenter.

Attendance for the event is growing, according to the report from Anna Lisa Gross, Bethany’s student coordinator for Peace Studies. “Not only are participants sitting on the floor because the room’s 90 chairs are full, the crowd is gathering online. Accessibility is essential as we build cultures of peace. We are delighted to have people joining us online for Peace Forum.”

Gross added, “The Bethany Seminary, Earlham School of Religion, Earlham College, and Richmond communities join together each week over a free, delicious lunch and rich conversation. This is the only weekly place that these communities come together to share food, friendship, and matters of faith and intellectual pursuit.”

She reported that making the Peace Forum accessible to students from a distance also opens doors for the seminary’s “MDiv Connections” students to pursue a Peace Studies Emphasis. Connect to Peace Forum webcasts and a list of the fall’s speakers and topics at .

4) Hisey Pierson to direct insurance services for BBT.

Willie Hisey Pierson has accepted the position of director of Insurance Services for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), filling a position to be vacated by Randy Yoder on Dec. 31. Hisey Pierson began his duties on Sept. 21, and will work with Yoder during the transition period.

Hisey Pierson has been a business owner in the home health field and has more than 16 years of experience in the insurance industry, including underwriting–essential knowledge to undergird the Brethren Medical Plan’s self-insured arrangement currently administered by BBT. Additionally, while working for American Family Insurance, he was credited for developing and executing marketing strategies that incorporated multicultural awareness.

He holds a bachelor of science degree from National-Louis University in Wheaton, Ill., and an Illinois Insurance Producer License in Property, Casualty, Health, Accident, and Life. He has sat on the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board and currently is on the Board of Directors for Athletes Against Drugs (Chicago). He and his family reside in Plainfield, Ill., and belong to Neighborhood Church of the Brethren.

At the end of December, Yoder retires as director of Insurance Services and begins a part-time position as client development representative for BBT.

5) National teleconference on gun violence is held today by NCC.

First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa.,
helped host a “Prayer Vigil to End Gun Violence” on Sept. 21 as part of the International Day of Prayer for Peace. The congregation also is part of the Heeding God’s Call movement against gun violence in America’s cities. According to a release, a multi-faith coalition of Harrisburg area faith communities gathered in one of the city’s crime-ridden neighborhoods for the vigil. “In 2008, Harrisburg’s per capita crime rate was the highest in Pennsylvania,” the release said. The last murder in Harrisburg took place a just few blocks from where the vigil was held. “Join our cries for a ceasefire from the frequent gunshots in Harrisburg,” said pastor Belita Mitchell in the release. “Join us. Be a voice for the children as we raise our voices in anguish and anger and prayer.” Photo from Heeding God’s Call taken by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

The National Council of Churches (NCC) invites participation today in a “common witness on eliminating gun violence” through a Sept. 23 National Teleconference for Prayer and Action. The call-in event this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. (eastern) is planned for clergy and lay leaders in the member denominations of the NCC.

The teleconference is to “discuss some of the work we can do together on this crucial issue,” said a letter to denominational leaders from general secretary Michael Kinnamon and NaKeisha S. Blount, Washington policy advocacy officer for Racial Justice and Human Rights.

The teleconference follows on a resolution on gun violence adopted by the NCC Governing Board this summer ( ). In July, the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board endorsed the NCC resolution and encouraged church members to engage in action on the issue.

Citing John 14:27 and Matthew 22:39, invitations to the teleconference state, in part, “As Christians striving to emulate the model of the Prince of Peace, we cannot avoid the painful truth that we live in an increasingly violent world. Every day in our nation, guns are being used to destroy lives. Gun violence affects all of us; but, African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionately impacted. To remain silent as so many of our neighbors suffer the effects of gun violence would abdicate our commitment to the gospel.”

The NCC also has a letter to local congregations describing actions they can join in immediately. Suggestions include taking direct action against irresponsible gun sellers in partnership with organizations like Heeding God’s Call ( ), and helping to close the gun show loophole. “While federal law requires licensed gun sellers to perform criminal background checks on everyone they sell a gun to,” the letter explains, “a gap in federal law currently permits private sellers, who often congregate at gun shows, to sell guns without background checks or recordkeeping of any kind.”

To participate in the teleconference go to .

6) Districts continue Special Response hearings.

In an update on the district hearings that are part of the denomination’s Special Response process on issues of sexuality, several districts have announced upcoming dates:

Virlina District has announced its first five hearings for Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va.; Oct. 9 at 10 a.m. at Topeco Church of the Brethren in Floyd, Va.; Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at Cloverdale (Va.) Church of the Brethren; Oct. 23 at 2:30 p.m. at West Richmond Church of the Brethren in Henrico, Va.; and Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at Bassett (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

Northern Indiana District will hold hearings on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. at Creekside Church of the Brethren in Elkhart, Ind.; Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at Agape Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Oct. 17 at 3 p.m. at Bremen (Ind.) Church of the Brethren; Oct. 24 at 3 p.m. at Osceola (Ind.) Church of the Brethren; and Oct. 31 at 3 p.m. at Bethany Church of the Brethren in New Paris, Ind.

South Central Indiana District holds hearings on Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Peru (Ind.) Church of the Brethren; Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Buck Creek Church of the Brethren in Mooreland, Ind.; Oct. 30 at 9:30 a.m. at Grandview Church of the Brethren in Pendleton, Ind. (tentative); and Oct. 31 at 2:30 p.m. at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind.

Northern Plains District holds hearings on Oct. 24 at Ottumwa (Iowa) Church of the Brethren; Nov. 6 at Panther Creek Church of the Brethren in Adel, Iowa; Nov. 7 at Worthington Church of the Brethren in Reading, Minn.; and Nov. 20 at South Waterloo (Iowa) Church of the Brethren (all scheduled for 2 p.m.).

Shenandoah District holds hearings on Nov. 2 at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va.; Nov. 16 at Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren; Nov. 30 at Mt. Pleasant Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va.; and Dec. 2 at Mathias (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren (all scheduled for 7 p.m.). The date and location of a fifth hearing in the eastern section of the district will be announced.

Pacific Southwest District holds hearings on Jan. 16, 2011, at Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; Jan. 22 at Pomona (Calif.) Fellowship Church of the Brethren; Jan. 30 at Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren in Scottsdale, Ariz. (all scheduled for 3 p.m.).

Shenandoah District also has thanked the 136 people from a variety of congregations who already attended a “Conversations on Homosexuality Training Session” at Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va. District representatives to the Standing Committee were on hand to facilitate a demonstration of one of the Bible study sessions and answer questions about the study resources and Special Response process, according to a report in the district newsletter.

For more about the Special Response process see .

7) Large-print Advent devotional, more new resources from Brethren Press.

Brethren Press is offering a large-print version of its annual Advent devotional as a brand-new partner to the regular-print devotional. The 2010 Advent devotional “Emmanuel: God Is with Us,” is written by Edward L. Poling. Congregations and individuals who order by Oct. 1 will receive pre-publication prices.

The devotional is available in two sizes: regular print in a pocket-size paperback booklet; and the new large-print 7- by 11-inch booklet. The text of the large-print version will be 14 point. The price is $2.50, or $5.95 for large print. Orders received by Oct. 1 will get a special discount price of $2, or $5 for large print. Shipping charges will be added to the invoice.

Brethren Press also offers these discounted prices to regular seasonal subscribers who sign up to receive both annual devotionals–Advent and Lent–as a series. Subscriptions to the devotional series are automatically renewed each year and can be cancelled or changed at any time. Churches can customize their subscriptions to the devotional series based on need, for example by ordering 25 regular and 10 large print.

More new Brethren Press resources:


“The Witness of the Hebrew Bible for a New Testament Church,” a book edited by Christina Bucher, David A. Leiter, and Frank Ramirez, is a collection of 13 essays by Brethren scholars published in honor of Robert W. Neff in the academic tradition of the “festschrift.” Neff has served as general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, president of Juniata College, and has taught at Bethany Theological Seminary. Each chapter includes study questions and recommended resources. Essays range from “Christians Reading the Old Testament” by Robert C. Bowman to “Is There Peace in the Old Testament?” by David A. Leiter to “Suffering in the Book of Job and Psalms” by Neff himself. Order for $27.95 plus shipping and handling.

The Fall quarter of “A Guide for Biblical Studies”–the Brethren Press Bible study curriculum for adults–is written by David W. Miller on the theme, “The Inescapable God.” The study addresses the nature and character of God, and God’s relationship with human beings. Order for $4 per copy, or $6.95 for large print, plus shipping and handling.

The Gather ’Round Sunday school curriculum this fall focuses on “God and the First Families: Stories from Genesis.” Gather ’Round is a Brethren and Mennonite curriculum for Preschool, Primary, Middler, Junior Youth, Youth, Multiage, and the Talkabout resource for families.


“Got Spirit?: Finding God in the Everyday” is the outdoor ministry resource for summer 2011. This Christian camping resource is supplied by New Earth. Brethren Press is one of a consortium of denominational publishers that publish in cooperation with the Committee on Outdoor Ministry of the National Council of Churches. Campers will hear daily “Got Spirit?” stories such as the 10 lepers from Luke 17. Six “Daily Discovery” sections are provided for each of five age groups: younger children, older children, younger youth, older youth, and intergenerational/family. An extra section of “Spiritual Practices” is new this year. 200 pages with CD-ROM. Order for $325 plus shipping and handling.

Order any of these resources from Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

8) Florida campers learn what it means to be a hero like Jesus.

Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla., is one of the Church of the Brethren camps that used the Outdoor Ministry Resource curriculum “Be a Hero: Living Like Jesus” for camping programs this past summer. The curriculum is from New Earth, offered through eight different denominations including the Church of the Brethren’s publishing house, Brethren Press. An issue of “Camp Ithiel News” reported some of the things children in different age groups learned from the curriculum. Here are some excerpts:

What did you learn about being a hero?
“You need more than super powers to be a hero. You need faith.” (Junior Camp)
“It starts by doing the smallest things.” (Junior Camp)
“Sacrificing.” (Junior Camp)
“You can save people’s lives by telling them about Jesus.” (Junior Camp)
“I learned that sometimes you have to take risks.” (Jr. High Camp)
“That you don’t have to have a superpower to be a hero.” (Jr. High Camp)
“I learned that being a hero is that you get your power from God.” (Jr. High Camp)
“There are lots of them in the Bible and they’re just ordinary people.” (Youth Camp)
“We are all called to step up.” (Youth Camp)
“How God’s love stays the same no matter what you do.” (Youth Camp)

What did you learn about yourself?
“I am loved.” (Junior Camp)
“I like fishing.” (Junior Camp)
“We may be all different, but we’re a family.” (Junior Camp)
“I am stronger than I thought I was.” (Jr. High Camp)
“I can let my burdens go.” (Jr. High Camp)
“I need to go to church more to get closer to God.” (Jr. High Camp)
“I love to pray.” (Youth Camp)
“That I need to open up more.” (Youth Camp)
“I’m changing into a more respectful and responsible person.” (Youth Camp)

What did you learn about God?
“God told people to write the Bible.” (Junior Camp)
“God never gives up on us so we shouldn’t give up on Him.” (Junior Camp)
“He gave his Son.” (Junior Camp)
“God is the Almighty.” (Jr. High Camp)
“He is always with me.” (Jr. High Camp)
“He does many things for us that some people don’t even know about.” (Jr. High Camp)
“That He is the hero for the whole world.” (Youth Camp)
“He gets angry, too.” (Youth Camp)
“He even hears your silent prayers.” (Youth Camp)
“He created/inspired Proverbs to help youth learn.” (Youth staff)
“God saves.” (Youth Camp)

9) Brethren bits: Personnel, N. Korea, Haiti, India violence, anniversaries, and more.

— J.E. McNeil has resigned as executive director of the Center on Conscience and War, following over a decade of service to the faith-based organization that advocates for the rights of conscience, opposes military conscription, and serves conscientious objectors. The center’s offices are located in Washington, D.C. Formerly the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO), it was formed in 1940 by an association of religious bodies including the Church of the Brethren. McNeil has served as executive director since Sept. 1999, and plans a departure date of no later than Aug. 31, 2011. The center’s board of directors, which is chaired by Church of the Brethren member Phil Jones, in a release stated that “J.E. has been the spirit, voice, and face of this important work for over a decade. Her leadership has shaped this organization into a nationally, and internationally known body, that supports men and women of conscience in their opposition to war and its violence.” A search committee has been formed and applications to fill the position will be accepted beginning Oct. 1. The executive director position is full-time and salaried, with benefits including health insurance and a retirement plan. Candidates are encouraged to submit a cover letter, resume, writing exhibit (some form of writing/publication associated with previous work or vocation), three letters of reference (at least one being unrelated to professional work), salary expectations, and a one-page summary of why the candidate is attracted to this position. The full job description is available on request and at . The new director will be expected to begin no later than July 1, 2011.

— Prayer is requested for the people of North Korea and for Robert and Linda Shank, a Church of the Brethren couple preparing to teach at a university there. Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer is requesting prayer following news of a Sept. 28 convention of the Korea Workers’ Party to appoint a new leader for the country. According to CNN, it is the first gathering of party delegates in several decades and may be a crucial event for the people of North Korea. The Shanks have been teaching in China at a university close to the border with North Korea, preparing to be among the first group of teachers at the new Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. Robert Shank holds a doctorate in wheat breeding and has conducted rice research. Linda Shank holds a master’s in counseling and learning disabilities, and will be teaching English.

— The Church of the Brethren has signed on to two public letters on Haiti, through the General Secretary’s office and Witness and Advocacy staff. A letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sponsored by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, recommends measures for the US government to help ensure that upcoming elections are “free, fair, and inclusive.” Parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for Nov. 28. The letter expresses concern that more than a dozen political parties have been barred from presenting candidates in the elections without serious justification, and notes that “no serious measures appear to have been taken to guarantee that the over one million Haitians that have been displaced by the earthquake will be able to vote.” The second letter went to members of Congress requesting support and co-sponsorship of the Haiti Empowerment, Assistance, and Rebuilding (HEAR) Act of 2010.

— Doris Abdullah, United Nations representative for the Church of the Brethren, attended the opening of the UN General Assembly’s 65th session in New York on Sept. 14. She also attended a panel discussion on “The Role of the Rule of Law in the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.” This is the 10th year since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted in 2000, and Abdullah noted that they still “represent a big challenge.” The goals set a date of 2015 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental stability, and develop a global partnership. The 2006 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference adopted a resolution in support of the goals, go to .

— The Conference Office has sent space requests to Brethren agencies and other groups for the 2011 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. These include forms for Insight Sessions, catered meals, exhibit booths, and meeting space. All forms are due by Nov. 1. If you have not received these forms and need one, please contact the Conference Office at 800-323-8039.

— “Where the Designer and design artfully awakens…” is the theme for Bethany Theological Seminary’s Campus Visit Day on Nov. 5. “Perhaps you feel clearly called to set-apart ministry,” said an invitation, “perhaps you are a lay leader thirsting for deeper study; perhaps you are uncertain about your vocation, but definitely seeking theological questions. If so, then come!” Participants will engage current students and faculty through theological discussion and worshipful work, tour the campus, share a meal, and learn more about the call to leadership and scholarship in the church and the world. Visit or contact Elizabeth Keller, director of Admissions, at .

— The annual Global Mission Offering in support of Church of the Brethren mission efforts worldwide, as well as other ministries of the denomination, is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 10. This year’s theme is “Turn the World Upside Down” (Acts 17). For resources in English and Spanish go to .

— IMA World Health welcomed Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and three members of his staff to its headquarters at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., on Sept. 8. IMA expressed its deep gratitude to Cardin, whose office made calls and joined the effort to locate three IMA staff members who were trapped in the rubble of the Hotel Montana after the January earthquake in Haiti. IMA president Rick Santos, one of the three survivors, presented the senator with a framed letter and plaque in appreciation. In other events during the day, Loretta Wolf, director of the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program, led a tour of the Distribution Center where a large shipment of medical supplies had been packed and sent to Haiti just a few days previously. A lunch reception was prepared by the New Windsor Conference Center.

— On Earth Peace has announced a Middle East Delegation co-sponsored with Christian Peacemaker Teams, scheduled for Jan. 4-17, 2011. “Join passionate, committed peacemakers on a journey to and through Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron,” said an invitation. “This is a unique opportunity to meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights workers; additionally, delegates will visit Palestinian familes whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by expanding Israeli settlements.” Contact Rick Polhamus, delegation leader, at 937-313-4458 or .

— McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is marking its 125th anniversary with a series of events starting with an anniversary worship service Sept. 26 led by Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president of Bethany Theological Seminary, and the McPherson College Concert Choir.

— Newton (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a presentation by Dr. Paul Ullom-Minnich, who will speak on Sept. 26 about his experiences with a Church of the Brethren medical mission to earthquake-stricken Haiti. In March the medical team held clinics in five different locations in five days, and saw close to 1,300 patients. The event begins at 6 p.m. with an ice cream social, followed by Ullom-Minnich’s presentation at 7 p.m.

— East Chippewa Church of the Brethren in Orrville, Ohio, honored Beulah Maurer on her 90th birthday, along with other members of a “90-plus club”: Florence Martin, 91; Norman Hostetler, 91; Elizabeth Leatherman, 90; and Carl Hochstetler, 91.

— The nursery school at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Oct. 3.

— A workshop on the changing landscape of the church, “Job’s Lament, Job’s Friends, and Us: Re-Imagining the Kingdom of God,” on Sept. 25 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., is hosted by First Central Church of the Brethren in Kansas City, Kan. Led by Bethany Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen, the workshop and lunch is provided at no cost to participants. For pastors, 0.5 continuing education credit is available for a $10 fee. Contact .

— A benefit concert by Mutual Kumquat at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren netted $1,176.16 for the “Back to School: Burma” campaign of New Community Project. A generous matching fund grant was given by Rodney Smith of Midland (Va.) Church of the Brethren, who participated in a 2008 learning tour to Burma.

— The Brethren Disaster Relief Auction at Lebanon (Pa.) Valley Expo Center is this weekend, Sept. 24-25.

— The Indiana Camp Board has announced a decision to construct a new dining facility and welcome center at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind., following a fire that destroyed the camp’s Becker Lodge. “It was decided to construct the Welcome Center (which will be the administrative offices) and the Dining Center/Kitchen as two buildings joined by a ‘Commons’ area or ‘Gathering Area,’” said a status report distributed by South Central Indiana District in early September. The “foot print” of the new building will be marked out at the Camp Mack Festival on Oct. 2. Planning for a retreat center to replace lost lodging facilities is still underway.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College will inaugurate George E. Cornelius as its eighth president on Oct. 7 with a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. (eastern) on the campus mall. Cornelius, who took office July 1, selected the inaugural theme, “Making a Difference,” to affirm Bridgewater’s commitment to honoring the past, living the present, and shaping the future. A week of activities complement the ceremony, which itself kicks off Homecoming. On Oct. 3, students can participate in a 15- to 20-mile bicycle ride with Cornelius, who is an avid bicyclist. On Oct. 4-8 the college will hold a food drive for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. On Oct. 4, Cornelius will participate in dorm receptions. On the day of inauguration, the college hosts a reception, an inaugural festival for students, and a concert by the Symphonic Band. On Oct. 8, there will be an inaugural seminar. Activities conclude Oct. 9 with a joint worship service with Bridgewater Church of the Brethren.

— Enrollment at the University of La Verne (Calif.), a Church of the Brethren-related school, has set records this fall, according to a release. “Coming into this, its 119th academic year, La Verne’s enrollment had never exceeded 1,700 traditional undergraduate students,” the release said. “Although final figures will not be available for several weeks, university officials have determined this year’s enrollment has surpassed 1,875 students.” The figure represents a 23 percent increase from last year. In addition, the initial count for this year’s entering class shows more than 770 new undergraduate freshmen, transfer, and international students present during the first week of classes, “a 70 percent increase from the 453 of a year ago.”

— McPherson (Kan.) College is celebrating a new Motorcycle Major with a “Bikes on the Lawn” motorcycle rally on Sept. 25, said a release that named McPherson as “the nation’s premier automotive restoration college.” A complimentary barbecue lunch will be served. At 12:45 p.m., Automotive Restoration students are scheduled to turn a pile of parts into a fully assembled and running Ford Model T in less than 20 minutes.

— “Seeking God’s Grace for the Gulf” has been announced by the National Council of Churches as a day of worship, reflection, and healing for the destruction caused by the oil spill. On Sunday, Oct. 3, congregations across the country are invited to use the worship resources offered at .

— The Church of North India (CNI) has called on the Indian government to protect Christians after schools and churches were attacked in “Quran anger violence,” according to an Anglican news report. A mob burned down the Tungmarg Tyndale Biscoe branch school after hearing reports of a man desecrating the Quran in America. The school provided education to 550 children from 150 villages. The release noted that when the school library was burned, among other books copies of the Quran were destroyed. None of the staff were injured and all managed to escape. Other Christian institutions that came under attack included the Roman Catholic Good Shepherd High School at Pulwama, the CNI hospital at Anantnag, a CNI church in Malerkotla, Chandigarh Diocese, and a Roman Catholic Church in Poonch, Jammu. “It is a time to pray and act together,” said a report in the CNI newsletter. CNI leaders had condemned the plans by a Florida pastor to burn a Quran, the report said, and are now urging the Christian community to stay calm and maintain peace.

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Charles Bentley, Kathleen Campanella, Charles Culbertson, Chris Douglas, Emily Esworthy, Phil Jones, Adam Pracht, Marcia Shetler, Brian Solem, Christopher W. Zepp contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other week, with special issues as needed. The next regular issue is scheduled for Oct. 6. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to .

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