Newsline for June 30, 2011


“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18, NIV).


Follow the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., via our online coverage: Go to  for an index page of all our reporting including news stories, webcasts of worship and business (starting July 2), a “Today at Annual Conference” page with “Brethren on the Street” interviews (also starting July 2), daily worship bulletins and sermons (July 2-6), a daily photo album, and the Church of the Brethren Twitter stream from Annual Conference (use hashtag #CoBAC2011). Facebook posts from Annual Conference can be found at

1) Conference business addresses issues related to sexuality, church ethics, climate change, decorum.
2) Ministries of reconciliation and listening will offer assistance at Annual Conference.
3) Church leader signs on to letters about Afghanistan, Medicaid budget.
4) Group is encouraging local CPS anniversary celebrations.
5) Disaster fund gives $30,000 to start Pulaski Country rebuilding project.
6) Hiroshima monument is dedicated to founder of friendship center.


7) Joan Daggett resigns from Shenandoah District leadership.
8) Jorge Rivera ends service as associate executive for Puerto Rico.
9) Pérez-Borges to serve as associate executive in Atlantic Southeast District.
10) BBT calls John McGough to serve as CFO.

11) Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, college news, more.


1) Conference business addresses issues related to sexuality, church ethics, climate change, decorum.

The 2011 Annual Conference taking place in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 2-6 will have on its business agenda items related to human sexuality, along with a report from a committee studying the need for new guidelines on congregational ethics, and two new queries on climate change and proper decorum for discussions of church business.

Annual Conference moderator Robert Alley displays to the Standing Committee of district delegates a stole he received during a visit to the Church of North India, one of his many duties as moderator of the Church of the Brethren over the past year. Photos by Cheryl Brumbaugh-CayfordBelow: The Standing Committee began its meetings on Wednesday afternoon, June 29. The committee’s consideration of Special Response business items (see story at left) is being held in closed session — no reports from those discussions will be available until the close of Standing Committee business on Saturday morning, July 2.

The two items of unfinished business related to issues of sexuality are “A Statement of Confession and Commitment” from the Standing Committee of district delegates (
), and a query on “Language on Same-Sex Covenantal Relationships” (

Beginning the evening of June 29, Standing Committee is spending time in advance of the Conference deciding on recommendations on these two business items. The two documents have been the subject of a two-year discussion across the Church of the Brethren, called the “Special Response Process.” The process has included facilitated hearings in each district, an online response option, and a Bible study and reading resources to engage the issues (go to ).

In the other unfinished business item, the Congregational Ethics Study Committee brings a report, responding to a 2010 query from Western Pennsylvania District asking if it would be helpful to develop a uniform process for districts to deal with ethical misconduct by congregations.

The Congregational Ethics Study Committee report will recommend that the 1993 “Ethics in Congregations” paper be updated and that the revisions be facilitated by Congregational Life Ministries staff in collaboration with the Council of District Executives and Office of Ministry. In addition, the committee suggests updating the 1966 “Theological Basis of Personal Ethics” paper and compiling it into one booklet with the “Ethics in Ministerial Relationships” paper and a study guide. In a final set of recommendations, the committee calls the church to follow guidelines for preventing and assessing misconduct in three categories: awareness of a congregation’s own expectations and those of its wider community, legal and fiduciary responsibilities in the life and organization of a congregation, and attention to relationships and practices of accountability in congregations. The committee includes Clyde Fry, Joan Daggett, Joshua Brockway, and Lisa Hazen.

“Query: Guidance for Response to the Changing of the Earth’s Climate” is brought by Circle of Peace Church of the Brethren in Peoria, Ariz., and Pacific Southwest District. Based on the biblical injunction to be stewards of God’s creation, the query asks, “What is the position of Annual Conference on climate change, and how can we as individuals, congregations, and as a denomination take concrete action to live more responsibly and offer leadership in our communities and our nation?” The query goes beyond the US and asks about the effects of the earth’s warming on the people of the world, pointing out that Americans are among the world’s leaders in fossil fuel consumption and yet are not responding with sufficient urgency.

“Query: Proper Decorum” is brought by Mountain Grove Church of the Brethren in Fulks Run, Va., and Shenandoah District. It asks the Conference to consider rules of proper decorum related to people’s positions on issues before the Conference. The query cites a sense of community and accountability in the church, but points out that “often our actions toward one another neither honor one another nor Jesus.”

The new and unfinished business documents coming to the 2011 Conference are available in Spanish. Translations have been provided by Nancy and Irvin Heishman, former mission staff in the Dominican Republic. Find links to the Spanish-language business documents at the index page for Conference coverage: .


2) Ministries of reconciliation and listening will offer assistance at Conference.

Many who have attended Annual Conference in past years are familiar with the yellow “On Earth Peace MoR (Ministry of Reconciliation) Observer” badges worn by skilled practitioners during Conference business sessions.

This year as particularly sensitive business is discussed, these volunteer “Ministers of Reconciliation” will offer assistance not only during business sessions but throughout the Conference, mediating conflict, facilitating communication, navigating misunderstandings, and in general helping to make sense of the proceedings.

Conference-goers may look for Ministers of Reconciliation in the “MoR Observer” areas on the Conference floor, or contact Leslie Frye at 620-755-3940. Schedule a specific appointment to talk with one of the Ministers of Reconciliation by contacting Frye, or at the On Earth Peace booth in the Exhibit Hall.

During this Conference a complementary service is available through Congregational Life Ministries, providing a “Ministry of Presence and Listening” to hear frustrations, attend to emotions, and explore questions. Staffed by trained spiritual directors and those experienced in clinical pastoral care, this ministry will be available following business sessions in the Prayer Room in Grand Gallery E in the DeVos Convention Center.

For more information or to schedule a specific time with a listener, contact Josh Brockway at 404-840-8310.

Not sure which of the above ministries might best meet your needs? Contact either one to get connected.


3) Church leader signs on to letters about Afghanistan, Medicaid budget.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has added his signature to two letters from American religious leaders, one addressing the Afghanistan war, and the other on the Medicaid budget.

On June 21 as President Obama prepared to announce the number of troops he planned to withdraw from Afghanistan, religious leaders sent him an open letter stating, “It is time to bring the US war in Afghanistan to an end.”

Noting the cost of the war in lives and property, the open letter called for increased aid to Afghanistan. “The past 10 years have shown that we cannot broker peace in Afghanistan by military force,” it said. “It is time to transition toward a plan that builds up civil society and provides economic alternatives for Afghans.”

Acknowledging that the situation the president faces is complex and involves such issues as protecting the lives of soldiers, protecting Afghan civilians, defending the rights of Afghan women, supporting democracy, and saving innocent lives, the letter said, “We humbly believe there is a better way than war to address these important issues.” 

Signers included Christian leaders representing the National Council of Churches as well as Catholic leaders and Jewish, and Muslim leaders. Find the full text of the letter on Afghanistan at .

At the request of Congregational Life Ministries staff, Noffsinger also signed on to a letter regarding Medicaid funding. The letter, also sent in June, was organized by the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC).

The letter to members of Congress urged them to protect Medicaid from drastic cuts and other harmful changes to the program, including the current Medicaid block grant proposals. The letter opposed proposals to drastically cut Medicaid spending, which benefits people with disabilities living in the community. While acknowledging the need to address the growing federal debt, the letter encouraged Congress to work toward deficit reduction strategies and changes to Medicaid that maintain the program’s integrity and enable people with disabilities to continue to be active participants in their communities and congregations.

IDAC is a coalition of 25 national faith-based organizations, including representatives from Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu traditions, with a mission of mobilizing the religious community to speak out and take action on disability issues. Find out more about the work of IDAC at .


4) Group is encouraging local CPS anniversary celebrations.

A group that has set up a new website to tell the Civilian Public Service (CPS) story is also encouraging local celebrations of 70th anniversaries of CPS camps around the country. Nearly 12,000 conscientious objectors to war chose Civilian Public Service during World War II, performing “work of national importance” rather than bearing arms.

The new website, titled “The Civilian Public Service Story: Living Peace in a Time of War,” may be found at . Living CPS men from World War II, concerned that the story would not die with them, initiated its creation according to a press release.

The website includes the origins of the CPS program, which was an historic church-state partnership designed to protect the rights of conscience and which remained in effect until 1947. The website also provides a comprehensive listing of draftees who served in CPS as well as the communities, occupations, and denominations from which they entered, and the camps and units to which they were assigned. Users may search the database of names as well as a listing and description of the more than 150 settings where CPSers served in soil conservation, forest service, public health projects, state mental hospitals, as smoke jumpers, and human guinea pigs.

The site was launched on May 15, on the 70th anniversary of the opening of the first CPS Camp in 1941, in Patapsco near Relay, Md.

The Brethren Service Committee directly operated several of the other CPS camps that also opened in 1941 and have 70th anniversaries this year: in May, the CPS Camp No. 6 in Largo, Ind.; in June the CPS Camp No. 1, Onekama, at Manistee, Mich., and CPS Camp No. 7 in Magnolia, Ark.; in July, the CPS Camp No. 16 in Kane, Pa.; in August, the CPS Camp No. 17 in Stronach, Mich.; and in November, the CPS Camp No. 21 in Cascade Locks, Ore.

Resources available from organizers at Mennonite Central Committee include a sample press release suitable for local commemorations, a listing of camp or unit openings by month and location, along with contact information for local newspapers and libraries to help facilitate publicity about local CPS celebrations. Contact Rosalind Andreas at  or 802-879-0012, or Titus Peachey at  or 717-859-1151.


5) Disaster fund gives $30,000 to start Pulaski Country rebuilding project.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has received a grant of $30,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to start a new home rebuilding project site in Pulaski County, Va., following two devastating tornadoes.

The tornadoes caused widespread damage in the towns of Pulaski and Draper in Pulaski County, Va. Local recovery officials in Pulaski have requested the Brethren ministry to establish a national project in the area to assist with rebuild efforts. BDM expects to establish the project in late summer, to repair and rebuild homes for families in need of permanent housing.

In related news, BDM also has received a grant from the Mennonite-related Everence Federal Credit Union. The credit union will donate $12,700 from its “Rebate for Missions” program to the global agencies of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Mennonite Mission Network. Each year, the credit union tithes to church and mission work 10 percent of its interchange income from the use of its Visa credit cards. In addition to the amount awarded to the two global organizations, a portion is also donated to local community charities through branch offices.


6) Hiroshima monument is dedicated to founder of friendship center.

The new monument in Hiroshima’s Peace Park is revealed: (left to right) Tony Reynolds, Larry and JoAnn Sims, Jessica Reynolds Renshaw, Jerry Renshaw, Steve Leeper, chair of the Peace Culture Foundation. Photo courtesy of Larry and JoAnn Sims. 

On June 12, a group pulled red and white chords to unveil a new monument in the Peace Park in Hiroshima, Japan, honoring Barbara Reynolds for her love of hibakusha and Hiroshima, and for creating the World Friendship Center that keeps her hope and work alive.

The group at the unveiling included several hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors, Reynold’s daughter Jessica and husband Jerry, grandson Tony, and World Friendship Center volunteer directors and Brethren Volunteer Service workers JoAnn and Larry Sims. During the ceremony, the past and present mayors of Hiroshima addressed Reynold’s accomplishments, as did a telegram from the governor of the prefecture.

In 1975, Barbara Reynolds, a 60 year old American, bowed humbly as she received honorary citizenship from the city of Hiroshima. Since returning in 1956 from a worldwide tour in a yacht christened, “Phoenix of Hiroshima,” she had become involved with both the heartache and living hope of atomic bomb survivors.

During the worldwide voyage, as her family sailed into every port on the journey, their young Japanese crew was questioned about what really happened in Hiroshima. Those repeated stories opened her family’s eyes about Hiroshima, the atomic bomb, and the plight of survivors.

Earlier, in 1951, her husband had taken the family to Hiroshima when he was employed by the US government’s Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. His three-year assignment was to document the effects of the bomb on children. The Reynolds family lived on the US military base and was relatively isolated.

During the yacht voyage, however, they realized that nuclear weapons must not be used on anyone ever again. The magnitude of the bomb and the invisible killing power of radiation that continues to maim and kill those exposed must be eliminated.

In 1956, as they pulled into Hiroshima’s harbor, the family were greeted as heroes. People thanked them for telling the world what happened, and for sailing into the restricted zone in an attempt to stop the testing of nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands.

Barbara Reynolds became alone in 1964 when her husband divorced her, and her children returned to the US to attend college or to get married. At a Buddhist temple after a week’s retreat of praying, crying, and asking God for direction, she understood that her call was to show God’s love and compassion for the atomic bomb survivors and to work toward world peace.

From that point forward she worked to provide comfort and care for hibakusha. She challenged the city of Hiroshima to honor the survivors and treat them with respect. She pleaded for city assistance for them to have health care and homes where their medical needs would be taken care of. She took several hibakusha on pilgrimages to the US and other countries to provide an opportunity for the world to hear their stories and be moved by their pleas that the bomb should never be used on any people ever again in the world.

Reynolds created the World Friendship Center as a place where hibakusha came to share their stories. Visitors from around the world came to the center to learn about what happened and about peace efforts. Reynolds helped transform the hibakusha’s shame, humiliation, and isolation into respect and honor.

Today the World Friendship Center continues to translate hibakusha stories into English, teach English classes, train Peace Park Guides, sponsor a peace choir, and on occasion assist the city of Hiroshima in translating peace efforts and documents from Japanese into English.

Visitors to the Peace Park will now know of the significant contributions of a very humble woman on her quest for justice and compassion for atomic bomb survivors and for world peace. 

— JoAnn and Larry Sims are directors of the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, serving through Brethren Volunteer Service.


7) Joan Daggett resigns from Shenandoah District leadership.

Joan Lawrence Daggett has announced her resignation as acting district executive of Shenandoah District effective Sept. 15. She has accepted a call to serve as executive director of the Valley Brethren Mennonite Heritage Center (CrossRoads) in Harrisonburg, Va.

She has worked for Shenandoah District for 13 years, having begun as associate district executive on July 15, 1998. She was named acting district executive June 1 this year. Previously she served as a pastor. In previous employment she also was director of Christian Education at a Presbyterian Church from 1994-1997. She has been serving on the CrossRoads Marketing Team for the last four years. She is a graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College and Bethany Theological Seminary.

Daggett begins her duties with CrossRoads on Sept. 19.


8) Jorge Rivera ends service as associate executive for Puerto Rico.

Jorge A. Rivera has concluded his service as associate district executive for the Puerto Rico region of Atlantic Southeast District. He is now serving as interim associate executive until Sept. 31.

Rivera has served in the position for 12 years, following vast experience as an educator working at all levels of the Puerto Rican educational system. He was licensed in 1990 and ordained in 1994 at Yahuecas (Cristo Nuestra Paz) Church of the Brethren in Puerto Rico, where he also served as pastor when he was called to the position of associate district executive.

The Puerto Rico office will remain in Castañer through the interim ministry period at P.O. Box 83, Castañer, PR 00631-0083; 787-829-4338.


9) Pérez-Borges to serve as associate executive in Atlantic Southeast District.

Héctor Pérez-Borges has accepted a call to serve the Puerto Rico churches as associate executive for Atlantic Southeast District beginning Oct. 1, when the Puerto Rico office will move to the metropolitan area of Bayamón.

Pérez-Borges was licensed in 2003 and ordained in 2006 at Cristo El Señor Iglesia de los Hermanos in Vega Baja, P.R., where he has served as pastor since Feb. 1, 2004. He also is concluding a five-year term on the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board. He teaches courses for the Theological Institute of Puerto Rico (an Academy Certified Training System) and is actively involved in the church planting movement in Puerto Rico.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, a master’s of business administration, and a master in arts in religion from Seminario Evangélico of Puerto Rico. He is retired as a chemist and has worked as an administrative dean in a post-secondary Bible college prior to his call to ministry.


10) BBT calls John McGough to serve as CFO.

John McGough starts July 1 as chief financial officer for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). He begins his service with BBT at the 2011 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich.

McGough brings over 25 years of financial experience, including financial asset management, strategic planning, and a solid educational background. He started his career in a corporate trust department, where he prepared pension asset reports for money managers. Over his career, he has worked in private banking and as a general manager/partner for a home health care supplies company where he managed its working capital. His most recent position was in Rockford, Ill., where for nine years he served as vice president of Treasury Management for Harris N.A. (formerly AMCORE).

He is a certified treasury professional and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana in Missoula, where he majored in business administration and finance, and a master’s of business administration, finance, from Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, DePaul University, Chicago.

His family is ecumenical, with memberships at St. Thomas More Catholic Church and First United Methodist Church in Elgin, Ill.


11) Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, college news, more.

About a dozen denominational staff, family members, and friends have bicycled from Elgin, Ill.–location of the Church of the Brethren General Offices–to Grand Rapids, Mich., to attend Annual Conference. The two-day bike trip took a route via Milwaukee, Wis., and the ferry across Lake Michigan, arriving in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, June 29. The bicyclers included Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) president Nevin Dulabaum and one of his daughters, along with Randy Miller, Becky Ullom, LeAnn Wine, Debbie Noffsinger, Anna Emrick, Scott Douglas, John Carroll, Joe Liu, and Jeff Lennard, among others. Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

— The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center is welcoming back Ed and Betty Runion, of Markle, Ind., as hosts of Windsor Hall for the months of July, August, and September.

— The Brethren Disaster Ministries office at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is welcoming Kailynn Clark, who is beginning a one-year term with Brethren Volunteer Service.

— Bethany Theological Seminary seeks a full-time executive assistant to the president, with application date of July 15 or until the position is filled. Candidates should have strong organizational abilities, good interpersonal and communication skills, knowledge of office technology, and attentiveness to detail. A bachelor’s degree, equivalent experience, and knowledge of the Church of the Brethren are preferred. A letter of application and resume should be sent to Executive Assistant Search, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374. A detailed position description, including list of responsibilities, is available by calling 800-287-8822 ext. 1803.

— Oregon and Washington District seeks a district executive to serve a one-quarter-time position (12-15 hours per week) available Jan. l, 2012. The district includes 12 congregations located in Washington and four in Oregon. The preferred candidate demonstrates strong administration and communication skills, initiative, adaptability, and capacity to give oversight to district work. Location of the district office is negotiable. Responsibilities include to serve as executive officer of the District Board, oversee major administrative tasks of the district, represent the district in denominational and ecumenical events/circles/gatherings, facilitate the district’s role in oversight of ministerial leadership working with area ministers and the ministry commission, facilitate the planning of district board meetings and district conference, facilitate the fiscal management of the district in collaboration with the district treasurer and stewardship commission. Qualifications include a clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant spiritual life; commitment to Church of the Brethren faith, heritage, and values; membership in a Church of the Brethren congregation; demonstrated organizational and administrative skills; communication and interpersonal skills; computer/technology skills; four-year college degree or equivalent required; minimum of four years of experience in executive or supervisory positions in social service, non-profit, or ecclesiastical settings. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to . Applicants are requested to contact three or four people who are willing to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of a resume, a candidate profile will be sent that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is Aug. 26.

— Wakeman’s Grove Church of the Brethren in Shenandoah District is hosting a special evening with Pamela Dirting, who will speak about her Brethren Volunteer Service experience in Ireland. The church’s youth band will perform and a bonfire is planned afterward. The program will begin at 7 p.m. on July 9.

— Construction has begun on Manchester College’s new Pharmacy School, located near Dupont Road and Interstate 69 on the north side of Fort Wayne, Ind. The two-story building will be approximately 75,000 square feet and will house classrooms, offices, laboratories, student meeting spaces, and more, according to Manchester president Jo Young Switzer in her June newsletter. The groundbreaking will take place at 11 a.m. on Aug. 4 at the intersection of Dupont and Diebold Roads. The “ambitious” construction timetable calls for the building to open mid-summer 2012.

— Manchester College also is constructing a $9.1 million Academic Center on its campus in North Manchester, Ind. Construction is well under way to prepare the building for students in August 2012, according to a release. In addition to 16 classrooms, the Academic Center will house faculty offices, study lounges, conference rooms, a small lecture auditorium, a peace studies library, and areas for language study, psychology research, video editing and accounting multi-media. Departments that will find permanent homes in the Academic Center include accounting and business, communication studies, economics, education, English, finance, history and political science, management, marketing, modern languages, peace studies, psychology, religion and philosophy, sociology and social work. The three-story Academic Center also will house computer labs, research labs, an atrium and café, and a Welcome Center for admissions. Find the full story at

— Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has begun a new partership with Pennsylvania Highlands Community College for a Joint Enrollment Program for high school students interested in reducing their costs for a four-year bachelor’s degree. According to a release, the program gives students the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree at Penn Highlands and then transfer to Juniata to complete a bachelor’s degree. The new program is specifically designed for students seeking a pathway to a four-year degree but who need a less expensive alternative for the first two years of study. The “2+2” plan is expected to apply to all of Juniata’s academic programs (including business administration and accounting) except biology and chemistry. The two institutions finalized the agreement May 23.

— Thirteen Brethren joined a New Community Project (NCP) tour to the Ecuadorian Amazon in mid-June, according to a release. The group spent four days in the rainforest guided by Delio, leader of the Siona people and an expert in traditional medicine. In a special ceremony, Delio presented NCP director David Radcliff with a hand-hewn canoe paddle to recognize NCP’s seven years of visits to the rainforest and its advocacy efforts in the US for the Amazon and its people. The delegation also toured a 137-acre parcel of forest being preserved by NCP, as well as oil processing centers discharging petroleum waste into Amazon waterways. In other news from NCP, in South Sudan solidarity workers are spending the summer in Nimule for the fifth year in a row. NCP has recently forwarded $10,000 in assistance to partners in South Sudan for girls’ education, women’s development, and reforestation, making a total of $25,000 in aid thus far in 2011. For more go to  or contact .

— Heeding God’s Call “continues to grow its unique faith-based and grassroots campaign to prevent gun violence,” according to a release from the organization that was begun in Philadelphia during a Historic Peace Church conference held under the same name in Jan. 2009. This year, in addition to holding regular bi-weekly vigils in two Philadelphia neighborhoods, in April the organization and its Northwest Philadelphia chapter, “Neighborhood Partners to End Gun Violence” (NPEG), hosted a Good Friday ecumenical service next to Delia’s Gun Shop. “The service drew 250 people of faith to worship, sing, pray, and call on Delia’s to adopt Heeding’s Code of Conduct. The next  morning, Holy Saturday, another 60 faithful braved a rain storm to join in worship in the parking lot of a church in Philadelphia’s Burholme/Fox Chase section and then march to Mike & Kate’s Sport Shoppe where they held a brief ecumenical service,” said a release. There are now Heeding God’s Call chapters in Harrisburg, Pa.; Baltimore, Md.; Washington, D.C.; and Columbus, Ohio, working on their own actions to encourage gun shops to follow guidelines aimed at preventing gun violence on the streets of America’s cities. Go to .

— An Ample Harvest campaign connected with the National Council of Churches is inviting congregations and church members across the US to join in making donations of excess produce from community gardens to local food pantries. The effort “is a new form of charitable giving and provides a way to care for God’s people by sharing the extra food they grow,” said an invitation from the organizers. “We believe with the help of the Church of the Brethren many more food pantries will benefit from donations made by local gardeners.” Churches are being encouraged to help local food pantries become registered for free (no fee is involved) at the coordinating website , then to urge people in the community to post  at garden shops and nurseries. Resources for church leaders are available at . A flier to help gardeners understand how to donate excess produce to food pantries is at  and is appropriate for church bulletin boards.

— The National Council of Churches (NCC) Interfaith Relations Commission seeks nominees for “Interfaith Engaged Congregations” to recognize congregations that engage with communities of other faiths. The Interfaith Engaged Congregational Initiative is receiving nominations for congregations that “have something important to share about interfaith engagement.” To receive this recognition, a congregation must be affiliated with a member communion of the NCC, such as the Church of the Brethren; by Sept. 1 complete the nomination form and a two-page essay; submit at least three letters of support, one from the congregation’s regional or national church structure, and at least two from recognized leaders of other faith communities; agree to be listed as a mentoring congregation for three years, and be available to provide advice about nurturing interfaith relations in a congregational setting. Find information at .

— The silence of the international community to the plight of millions of North Koreans facing starvation and severe malnutrition was of deep concern to the members of an ecumenical forum for peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula, which met June 16-19 in Nanjing, China. A release from the World Council of Churches reports that the group, the steering committee of the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reconciliation, Reunification, and Development in the Korean Peninsula (EFK), called on churches and the ecumenical community to advocate and lobby governments, the United Nations, and the European Union to end the strategy of using food as a political weapon to isolate the North Korean government and cause its downfall. Despite being the major donors of food aid to North Korea during the severe food crises following the famine of the 1990s, the US and South Korea have both withdrawn their food aid and imposed sanctions in response to North Korea’s policy of developing nuclear weapons and its recent military activities. “Christians in South Korea are firmly committed to support food aid to our brothers and sisters in the North who are faced with starvation,” said Kim Young Ju, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea, in the release. Recently the council sent a shipment of 172 tons of food to North Korea with the financial support of the EFK and South Korean churches, despite a government order prohibiting any civil society and religious organizations from supporting people in North Korea. “Even though the South Korean government is prohibiting us from sending food aid to North Korea, we will follow only the order of Jesus Christ, who taught us to love our suffering neighbours,” said Ju.


Contributors to this issue of the Church of the Brethren Newsline include Jordan Blevins, Allen Brubaker, Nevin Dulabaum, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Philip E. Jenks, Donna Kline, Jeri S. Kornegay, Nancy Miner, David Radcliff, Susan Snyder, Brian Solem, Ginny Thornburgh, John Wall, Roy Winter. This issue was edited by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next issue of Newsline on July 7 will feature a review of events at the 2011 Annual Conference.