Newsline for May 5, 2011

“Give us today our daily bread” Matthew 6:11 (NIV)

Coming soon: a Newsline Special Report from the Church of the Brethren’s 13th Intercultural Consultation.

Also to come in Newsline on May 16:  A full report on the merger of the Church of the Brethren Credit Union with the Corporate America Family Credit Union, approved by a special members’ meeting April 29.


1) Christian Citizenship Seminar connects food and faith.
2) Dominican church holds 20th annual assembly.
3) Church program in DR experiences financial, administrative problems.
4) Brethren students and chaplains meet from East and Midwest colleges.
5) Mission staff report on Nigeria’s post-election violence.


6) Bethany Seminary to celebrate 106th commencement.
7) Older Adult Month is observed in May.
8) 70th anniversary of Civilian Public Service is to be celebrated.


9) A prayer response to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
10) NCC: Death of bin Laden must be a turning point for peace.

11) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, jobs, call for photos, more.

Save $35 by registering for Annual Conference before June 6 at . The 2011 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren takes place in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 2-6. Online registration and housing reservation sites will be taken down the evening of June 6, after which participants must register on arrival in Grand Rapids. For nondelegates, online registration is $95, but will cost $130 onsite. Conference booklets have been mailed to delegates and to nondelegates who paid for mailing. Others will pick up booklets at the “Will Call” table in the registration area of the DeVos Place Convention Center. Name tags and pre-ordered meal tickets also may be picked up at “Will Call.” More information is at .

1) Christian Citizenship Seminar connects food and faith.

What does food have to do with faith? How does “our daily bread” become “The Bread of Life?” At Christian Citizenship Seminar 2011, 55 high school youth and adults considered these questions in depth, using scriptures from the Old and New Testaments as guides.

Beginning on March 26 in New York City, participants heard the testimony of two Brethren young adult seminarians, Angela and Nathan Inglis of Brooklyn (N.Y.) Church of the Brethren, who have made radical personal food choices based on their faith. Participants also learned about international hunger relief projects of Church World Service (CWS) from Ann Walle, director of Innovation and Strategic Affairs. Nelly Gyebi, an exchange student from Ghana currently studying in Moundridge, Kan., shared personal experiences of carrying water and of gender discrimination. Prior to touring the United Nations, participants studied the hunger related portions of the Millennium Development Goals through the leadership of Phil Jones, director of refugee resettlement of the CWS affiliate office in State College, Pa.

In Washington, Brethren farmer and sustainable living advocate Tom Benevento challenged the group on a number of issues related to typical US consumption patterns. A highlight of the week was a meeting with Max Finberg, director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Agriculture.

Christian Citizenship Seminar participants typically compose the largest group of Brethren who lobby Congress through personal visits on a single day in any given year. On March 30, the tradition continued as youth and advisors visited their congressional representatives after receiving training from Wendy Matheny, a Brethren young adult who works in Washington as leadership coordinator for the American Association of University Women.

“When you go to Capitol Hill, you realize that the people there are actually people and it’s not just this big government machine. They listen to you–for the most part,” reflected CCS participant Kinsey Miller, Black Rock Church of the Brethren, Glenville, Pa.

“I came to CCS because it combines my two favorite things–the Church of the Brethren and politics!” reported CCS participant Evan Leiter-Mason of Glade Valley Church of the Brethren, Walkersville, Md.

Considering the theme, it was fitting that the gathered community shared communion during worship on the final evening. “CCS is about identifying and reinforcing connections between the faith we speak and the lives we live. This year, I wanted participants to tackle a topic that is both universal and also very personal. Food is one of the most basic elements of life, and we have complicated relationships with it. I hope participants discovered a new appreciation for the complex justice issues surrounding food and for the questions those issues ask us as faith-filled people,” said Becky Ullom, director of youth and young adult ministry for the Church of the Brethren.

Ullom, who provided this report, coordinated the event with Jordan Blevins, advocacy officer, and Mandy Garcia, coordinator of donor invitation. Christian Citizenship Seminar is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren, and takes place each spring.

2) Dominican church holds 20th annual assembly.

The 20th annual assamblea of Iglesia de los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) opened at Camp Bethel near San Juan, D.R., on Feb. 17 and concluded Feb. 20. Pastor Onelis Rivas presided as moderator. About 150 persons including 70 delegates from 28 congregations met together in business sessions and in Bible study and worship.

Earl K. Ziegler of Lancaster, Pa., was the main speaker for the conference theme on “Receiving the Promise” based on Luke 24:49. Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the Church of the Brethren Global Mission Partnerships, was the official representative from the US church. Marcos Inhauser, a leader the Church of the Brethren in Brazil, also participated in the assembly.

Each session began with spirited singing supported by loud music involving drums, guitars, and vocalists. The singing was a way of gathering the people who came from all areas of the camp to attend the assembly, in an open air structure with a tin roof. Evening services continued to 10:30 p.m., with one night’s service ending at 11 p.m.

The three basic concerns of the conference were the need for a stronger youth program, lack of finances, and leadership issues. Called to serve as the 2012 moderator-elect is pastor Isaias Santo Teña of the San Luis Church, with pastor Mardouche Catalice of the Boca Chica church serving as moderator for the next year.

Attendance was less this year due to the geographical location of the conference and the threat of deportation for undocumented Haitian Brethren who have come to the DR to work in sugar cane fields and farm fields and in construction. The Haitians are invited to come to the DR and work but are not given any permanent status. The tension around this issue is greater since the Haitian earthquake in 2010. About one-third of the congregations of Iglesia de los Hermanos are Haitian.

The Holy Spirit was alive and well in the assembly and the singing was a foretaste of heavenly music. Pray for Iglesia de los Hermanos en la Republica Dominicana.
— Earl K. Ziegler provided this report.

3) Church program in DR experiences financial, administrative problems.

The Church of the Brethren mission in the Dominican Republic and Iglesia de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the DR) have been facing financial and administrative problems in recent years. The program in the DR did not receive a clean audit report in its most recent annual financial audit, reported Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer.

“We’ve been working toward a clean audit and have been getting closer to that goal,” Wittmeyer said.

One of the main problems has been the intermingling of the microfinance community development funds with church funds, he reported. A large amount of money is outstanding in uncollected or unrecoverable loans given as microloans. Another problem has been undocumented expenses. Also donations from US congregations have gone directly to Dominican congregations without an accounting through the national church, and the practice has led to conflict.

The remaining amount in the community development fund, about $84,000, has been returned to the US, Wittmeyer said. The amount of outstanding, uncollected, or unrecoverable loans comes to more than $52,000, according to the audit. From 2001 to 2009 the fund received grants from the Global Food Crisis Fund totaling $515,870. The grants from the GFCF also provided support for salaries and program expenses of staff managing the microloan program as well as the loans.

Global Mission Partnerships has been making efforts to improve administration of the program in the DR, sending former Nigeria mission workers Tom and Janet Crago to work with the financial system for several months. The couple helped arrive at a recommendation that the community development program be registered outside the Church of the Brethren.

Irvin and Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, who finished up as mission coordinators at the end of 2010 after close to 8 years in the DR, worked hard to facilitate a clean audit and establish accountability structures, Wittmeyer said. They also encouraged stewardship and encouraged the DR church to overcome issues of dependency on the US church. In addition, Brazil mission coordinator Marcos Inhauser has been helping engage in the conversations with the DR church, in particular on spiritual growth.

“We’ve been working to get the microloan program registered” as a separate nonprofit in the DR, Wittmeyer said. “We don’t have that program running yet but we’re working on it.”

At the root of the problems is that “Global Mission Partnerships tried to set up institutions that were beyond the capacity of the local church to administer,” Wittmeyer explained. “In fact, they were institutions that were beyond the Global Mission Partnerships’ capacity to administer.”

Iglesia de los Hermanos has begun to recognize and deal with issues of administration and accountability, he said, chief among them financial accounting practices and conflicts of interest caused when leadership functions such as that of moderator or pastor have been combined with functions ordinarily associated with a church staff or treasurer. The church also has been dealing with power struggles among leadership.

At this year’s asamblea, an audit report was presented that Iglesia de los Hermanos also must begin making annual audited financial reports to the DR government. The church was registered in 2003 but has yet to make a report. Most of those in attendance at the asamblea had not been aware of problems with administration of the church or that its registration might be in jeopardy, Wittmeyer said.

“At the asamblea I saw signs of strength and growth in the church in the DR,” he said. “There were a number of contributions from congregations to the national church body, and questions about how to set that amount. It was a good conversation and showed people taking ownership.” Another strength of the church is its strong support for Haitian immigrants and evidence of Haitian-Dominican equality within the church.

Global Mission Partnerships plans to move away from a long-standing practice of directly paying the salaries of Dominican pastors. The shift is necessary to help the church in the DR become self sufficient, Wittmeyer said, as he acknowledged that many US Brethren who have lived or worked in the DR will have continuing legitimate concern for the people’s needs.

“The Church of the Brethren wants to help support the ministries that address poverty and provide for needs like clean water, schools, help with immigration issues, theological education, etc. But this needs to be done in ways that are both accountable and build the capacity of the church.”

For questions about the mission in the Dominican Republic contact Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships, 800-323-8039 or .

4) Brethren students and chaplains meet from East and Midwest colleges.

What does it mean to be Brethren today? About 20 Brethren students and the campus chaplains from Bridgewater (Va.) College, Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., explored that question as they met April 1-3 at Grand Vue State Park in Moundsville, W.Va.

The idea of a joint retreat for Church of the Brethren colleges in the East and Midwest grew out of student brainstorming and gradually materialized over the past year. The West Virginia spot, just south of Wheeling, was chosen as a central point for the colleges attending.

Students led informal discussions on topics including peace, justice, simplicity, sustainability, and community during the weekend. Each of the three college groups also planned and led a worship service. Free time offered opportunities for hiking, disc golf, games, and further conversation. Juniata chaplain Dave Witkovsky contributed his culinary abilities in the kitchen for on-site meals.

The retreat ended with a mountaintop closing circle and hopes of doing another such gathering in the future. The schools are among six colleges/universities affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, stretching from eastern Pennsylvania to California. According to “Church of the Brethren Yearbook” statistics, they enroll a combined total of more than 300 Brethren students.
— Walt Wiltschek is campus pastor at Manchester College.

5) Mission staff report on Nigeria’s post-election violence.

A choir from EYN’s women’s fellowship, known as ZME, in a recent singing competition in Nigeria. Photo by Nathan and Jennifer Hosler

In their April newsletter, Church of the Brethren mission staff Nathan and Jennifer Hosler report on post-election violence in Nigeria. The Hoslers are serving in peace and reconciliation positions with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), teaching at Kulp Bible College (KBC) in northeastern Nigeria near the city of Mubi.

“Nigerian presidential elections occurred on Saturday (April 16) and there has been violence Sunday and Monday,” the Hoslers wrote. “Supporters of one party are angry that their candidate did not win. Rioting has occurred in Mubi (30 minutes drive south) and Michika (40 minutes drive north), along with other main cities in northern Nigeria. This is the first time Adamawa State (the state we live in) has experienced violence like this. Stores and cars have been burnt. People were shot. Churches in Mubi including a main EYN church were targeted but the army was able to intervene before the attack occurred.”

The Hoslers share a prayer request “for safety and a restoration of calm and order. Pray for peace of mind for us and our families in North America. Please pray for wisdom and accuracy in information.”

The Hoslers have recently begun work with a KBC Peace Club, which successfully completed its first outreach program outside of the college. In March the club traveled to EYN Gi’ima–a large church in Mubi–to present a program on youth and young adults and peace. “Youths, aimless and without jobs to occupy their time, are often and easily persuaded to take up arms as thugs for politicians or others who wish to cause havoc. The program included two dramas and two speakers. The message, given to the 750 people in attendance, was simple but relevant: youth should avoid being used by politicians for violence and instead work for peace.”

The couple also have been working on a peacebuilding partnership with the Women’s Fellowship of EYN, known as ZME, one of the strongest groups within EYN. “One of the requests from the ZME Director is for the EYN Peace Program to teach peacebuilding topics during the annual national women’s training seminars,” the Hoslers wrote. “Women from every church district gather together and learn topics that range from health and sanitation, skills acquisition (jewelry making, batik, etc.), and biblical and theological topics. The women attendees then return to their districts as resource persons to teach others what they learned…a very effective way of spreading awareness and skills for peacebuilding.”

Find more reports from the Hoslers at .

6) Bethany Seminary to celebrate 106th commencement.

On May 7, Bethany Theological Seminary will celebrate its 106th commencement, at the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind. Two observances will mark the occasion. A ceremony for conferring degrees will take place in Nicarry Chapel at 10 a.m. Admittance to this ceremony is by ticket only. A worship service, open to the public, will be held in Nicarry Chapel at 2:30 p.m.

Commencement speaker and former “Messenger” editor Fletcher Farrar will give an address titled “Nicodemus at Dawn,” based on Isaiah 59:9-19 and John 3:1-10, at the academic ceremony. Three members of the graduating class will speak at the afternoon service: Anna Lisa Gross, Kimberly Koczan Flory, and Larry Taylor.

Ten students will receive master of divinity degrees, eight will receive master of arts, and two will receive a certificate of achievement in theological studies.

Those who will receive a master of divinity are Craig L. Gandy of Peru, Ind.; Anna Lisa Gross, Richmond, Ind.; Rebecca M. Harding, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Kimberly C. Koczan Flory, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Benjamin R.G. Polzin, Richmond, Ind.; Daniel L. Rudy, Richmond, Ind.; Lee D. Saylor, James Creek, Pa.; Christine Ann Sheller, Des Moines, Iowa; Justin Trent Smith, New Lebanon, Ohio; and Lawrence Russell Taylor, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Those who will receive a master of arts degree are Jabani Adzibiya, Adamawa State, Nigeria; Matthew Boersma, Greensburg, Ind.; Laurie J. Diaz, Chambersburg, Pa.; Christopher D. Fretz, Richmond, Ind.; Lindsey Kate Frye, Richmond, Ind.; Travis Edward Turner Poling, Richmond, Ind.; Monica Rice, Richmond, Ind.; Karen Roberts, Richmond, Ind.

Those who will receive a certificate of achievement in theological studies are Gieta M. Gresh, Denton, Md., and Renee Jeane Vrtiska, Gibsonia, Pa.
— Jenny Williams is Advancement Office coordinator at Bethany Seminary.

7) Older Adult Month is observed in May.

The theme for the 2011 Older Adult Month is “Grounded and Growing” based on Psalm 92 and Colossians 1:9b-12. Each May, the Church of the Brethren observes Older Adult Month, a time to celebrate and give thanks for God’s good gift of aging.

“As people of faith, Brethren are grounded in our faith in many ways: through God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and through our families, friends, and our faith communities,” said an invitation from the Older Adult Ministry. “This grounding serves as both a firm foundation and as fertile soil for continued understanding, growth, and revelation throughout our faith journey. No matter our age, we are called by God to continue to grow, to show new life, and to flourish.

Materials have been created for individual and communal meditation and worship during May and throughout the year. The resources that are available include five different meditations, a variety of worship resources, and a plan for an entire worship service based on the theme. Visit to download resources or contact Kim Ebersole, director of family life and older adult ministries, at 800-323-8039 ext. 302 or .

8) 70th anniversary of Civilian Public Service is to be celebrated.

May 15 is the 70th anniversary of the first Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp opening in Patapsco, Md. A special celebration is being planned and is open to the public. Sponsors are the Church of the Brethren, the Mennonite Central Committee US, the Center on Conscience and War, the American Friends Service Committee, and the Kansas Committee for a CPS Memorial.

The event will include a picnic lunch, the launch of a new CPS website featuring a database of all CPS workers and camps, brief remarks by sponsoring agencies, CPS alumni and historians, and a visit to the Patapsco CPS Camp site in Patapsco Valley State Park. The picnic will begin at 1 p.m. at Relay Town Hall, 1710 Arlington Ave., Relay, Md.

The CPS Memorial Website Project team of archivists includes Terrell Barkley, director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives; the late Ken Shaffer, former director of the BHLA; Wendy Chmielewski, George Cooley Curator of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection; Rich Preheim, director of the Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee; John Thiesen of the Mennonite Historical Library and Archives; Anne Yoder, archivist for the Swarthmore College Peace Collection; and from Lewis & Clark College, Paul Merchant and Doug Erickson. Others doing content review include J. Kenneth Kreider, professor emeritus, History, at Elizabethtown College. Jonathan Keeney, a Brethren member from Elgin, Ill., was hired by the project to scan images for all the CPS units/camps from the CPS photo collection in the BHLA.

Those interested in attending the celebration are requested to RSVP by May 11 to Titus Peachey at or 717-859-1151. For detailed directions, see .

9) A prayer response to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The following prayer is offered by Joshua Brockway, Church of the Brethren director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship:

God of the empty tomb, whose life and resurrection we celebrate in this season of Easter, we are confronted by so much death–from the demise of thousands of nameless individuals to celebrations over the killing of notorious criminals–while knowing in our hearts that the death of one of your children is never a cause to rejoice.

As we gather proclaiming the truth of Easter, hear our wondering thoughts of the future, and our visions of your peace, so that our lives may reflect your way of life within a world falling into terror and death.

For it is in the confession of fears and hopes, anxiety and relief that the world knows us to be fully human and fully alive in you. Multiply our witness through our praise and service so that our prayers for “your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” might become manifest in our midst.

In the name of the one who died and yet rose again, Jesus the Christ, we pray. AMEN

10) NCC: Death of bin Laden must be a turning point for peace.

The death of Osama bin Laden does not “eradicate the scourge of terrorism,” but it should stimulate the churches to commit themselves “to moving forward together as witnesses for God’s love and peace,” said a statement released Tuesday on behalf of the National Council of Churches (NCC) member communions. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger is one of the church leaders who have signed the statement.

Following is the NCC statement in full:

The death of Osama bin Laden is a significant moment in the turbulent history of the past decade. It does not eradicate the scourge of terrorism nor does it bring closure to the grieving and pain the world has endured since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, for which he was the primary architect. The National Council of Churches deplores and condemns the extremism he personified, the twisted illusions that wrought years of violence and evil in the world.

Now the member communions of the National Council of Churches pray for God’s help as we commit ourselves to moving forward together as witnesses for God’s love and peace. In Nov. 2001, as the world reeled from the terror attacks, the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service challenged their communions to take the lead:

“It is time (we said then) for us as an ecumenical community to make a renewed commitment to a ministry of peace with justice, and to make real in these days the call of Jesus, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44). In his Beatitudes, Jesus calls us,

his followers, to be merciful if we are to receive mercy; he reminds us that the peacemakers are blessed and will be called children of God. And, he proclaims us ‘the light of the world’; our good works should be a beacon to others so they may give glory to God (Matthew 5:14-16).

“We lift up ‘Pillars of Peace for the 21st Century,’ a 1999 Policy Statement of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. We reaffirm and highlight the statement’s call to build a culture of peace with justice characterized by these convictions:

1. The transcending sovereignty and love of God for all creation and the expression of that love in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, whose mission was to reveal understanding about that divine presence, to proclaim a message of salvation and to bring justice and peace;

2. The unity of creation and the equality of all races and peoples;

3. The dignity and worth of each person as a child of God; and

4. The church, the body of believers, whose global mission of witness, peacemaking, and reconciliation testifies to God’s action in history.”

Osama bin Laden is dead. Just as Christians must condemn the violence of terrorism, let us be clear that we do not celebrate loss of life under any circumstances. The NCC’s 37 member communions believe the ultimate justice for this man’s soul–or any soul–is in the hands of God. In this historic moment, let us turn to a future that embraces God’s call to be peacemakers, pursuers of justice, and loving neighbors to all people.

— Find the NCC statement and list of signers at . For an action alert from the Peace Witness Ministries of the Church of the Brethren go to . To join in discussion with Peace Witness Ministry staff and other Brethren about what the church should say about the war in Afghanistan and the war on terror, go to .

11) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, jobs, call for photos, more.
Brethren employees join in National Walk at Lunch Day April 2011
Brethren Benefit Trust and its Brethren Insurance Services ministry sponsored a National Walk at Lunch Day event on April 27 for employees at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Shown here, a group of BBT and Church of the Brethren staff enjoy a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood. Photo by Patrice Nightingale.

— Remembrance: C. Wayne Zunkel, author of the popular Brethren Press book, “To Follow in Jesus’ Steps,” passed away on April 21 at Brethren Village, Lancaster, Pa., after residing there six years. Born on March 4, 1931, in Lima, Ohio, he was the son of the late Charles and Cleda Zunkel. He was the husband of Linda Zunkel of Elizabethtown, Pa., and former husband of Grace (Schrock) Morentz. He held degrees from Manchester College, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary. He was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, serving pastorates in Pennsylvania and California. He was a published author of seven books relating to church growth and ministry. His final book, “To Follow in Jesus’ Steps,” has been published in five languages: English, Spanish, Creole, Korean, Hausa. In volunteer positions in the church, he was a delegate to the National Council of Churches 1963-68, chairing the Brethren delegation 1966-68; served on the denomination’s Parish Ministries Commission 1968-71, and in 1974; and on the General Board in the early 1970s. He was founder and editor of the Brethren Peace Fellowship newsletter 1967-97. He is survived by his wife, Linda; children Lynn Shire, Debra (Roy) Peters, Jan Zoya, Dave Zunkel, and Jonathan Zunkel; and three grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. on May 7 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Memorial contributions are received to the C. Wayne Zunkel Memorial Fund for the translation of Brethren materials, care of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

— The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center ( ) in Harrisonburg, Va., invites applications for the position of full-time executive director. The successful candidate will have expertise in fundraising, marketing, administration, public relations, volunteer coordination, and interpreting the vision of the center to the church and community. The director should be committed to the heritage that Brethren and Mennonites share, especially in the Shenandoah Valley. Salary and benefits as determined by the Board of Directors. Send letter of application, resume, and three recommendations to Beryl H. Brubaker, Chair, Search Committee, 965 Broadview Dr., Harrisonburg, VA, 22802 ( ). Position open until filled.

— The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has announced a Fellowship Program for People of African Descent, from Oct. 10-Nov. 4, 2011. The program is recommended to Brethren by the denomination’s UN representative, Doris Abdullah. The program will provide the opportunity to deepen understanding of the UN human rights system, with a focus on issues of particular relevance to people of African descent. The candidate must be an African descendant, have a minimum of four years of experience dealing with Afro-descendant or minority issues, be fluent in English, and have a letter of support from an Afro-descendant organization or community. All documents submitted must be in English. The selected candidate is entitled to a stipend to cover accommodation, basic living expenses in Geneva, Switzerland, basic health insurance, as well as a return economy class plane ticket. Submit applications by e-mail to or by fax to 004122-928 9050 with a cover letter clearly indicating “Application to the 2011 Fellowship Programme for People of African Descent” with the following documents: application form; curriculum vitae; letter of motivation (max. 1 page) in which the candidate explains his/her motivation for applying, what he/she hopes to achieve through this fellowship, and how he/she will use what they learn to promote the interests and rights of Afro-descendents; and aA letter of support from an organization/entity the candidate is affiliated with. Download the application form at . The deadline is May 31.

— Photographs of Brethren “extending the table” are sought for a presentation during the closing worship service of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. The service is July 6 in Grand Rapids, Mich., on the theme, “Jesus Extends the Table to Us.” Photographs will be displayed on large screens during an act of commissioning for the congregation. The worship planning team seeks help from Brethren photographers in acquiring photos of ways in which congregations extend hospitality and welcome others, because Jesus welcomed us. Images may be from celebrations of Love Feast, but also may show ways congregations greet people as they arrive for worship, reach out into the community, and engage in service ministries. Photographers are requested to contribute only their own original works, and to have the permission of people pictured in any photos submitted. Send photographs as jpg attachments to an e-mail to Rhonda Pittman Gingrich at , along with credit information and written permission for their use by the Annual Conference.

— General secretary Stan Noffsinger is among 50 Christian leaders signing a joint statement on the federal budget–called “the strongest and most unified Christian voice in the budget debate,” in a release from the National Council of Churches. The document attempts to “form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.” It outlines eight principles for ethical decision-making to be considered in a moral budget including protecting and improving “poverty-focused development and humanitarian assistance to promote a better, safer world” and ensuring that budget discussions “review and consider tax revenues, military spending, and entitlements in the search for ways to share sacrifice and cut deficits.” It also calls for creating jobs. Go to .

— Over 30 congregations answered a call from the Workcamp Office and blessed youth workcamp participants with nearly 2,000 small gifts as a token of their support. “That’s enough for each workcamper to receive at least one small gift and a bookmark,” reports coordinator Jeanne Davies. “We are grateful for this tangible demonstration to our youth of the Body of Christ!” Summer workcamps begin in early June.

— The final Spring deacon workshops are this month. Southern and Western Pennsylvania Districts are hosting deacon workshops in mid-May: on May 14 at Sugar Valley Church of the Brethren in Loganton, Pa.; on the afternoon of May 15 at County Line Church of the Brethren in Champion, Pa. Both sessions will include the workshop, “What are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway?” “Deacons and Pastors: The Pastoral Care Team” will be the second workshop offered at Sugar Valley. For more information and to register, visit . The deadline is May 9. Go to the website also for details about the pre-Annual Conference deacon workshops on July 2 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

— The Church of the Brethren “Messenger” magazine won an Award of Excellence from Associated Church Press (ACP) for Ken Gibble’s poem “Entry Room.” The poem appeared in the Dec. 2010 issue. The Award of Excellence is the equivalent of a first-place award from ACP.

— The Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, Doris Abdullah, attended the UN Commission on the Status of Women earlier this year. In a follow up report, she notes helpful new websites for information on women’s issues: and . In a new appointment at the UN, Michelle Bachelet, a medical doctor and former President of Chile, has been named Under-Secretary General of the UN and director of UN Women. This appointment “gives women a seat at the table of world government policy and decision making for the first time in history,” Abdullah said.

— A university student Social Media Club has posted a YouTube video about Grace Mishler’s disabilities ministry in Vietnam. Mishler teaches in the Department of Social Work at National Vietnam University of Social Sciences and Humanities, supported in part by the Church of the Brethren Global Mission Partnerships. Go to .

— May’s edition of “Brethren Voices” community television program from Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, honors the Haitian Church of the Brethren. Host Brent Carlson joined a Brethren Disaster Ministries workcamp in Haiti building homes with Haitian Brethren for families who suffered from the earthquake. Carlson filmed building efforts and interviewed recipients of homes. For its April edition, “Brethren Voices” featured “The Peace Church Journey to Becoming a Welcoming Congregation,” the story of the Portland church. June will feature an interview with Annual Conference moderator Robert Alley. Contact . A donation of $8 is requested.

— Two district disaster auctions in May benefit Brethren Disaster Ministries. The 31st Annual Mid-Atlantic District Disaster Response Auction will be May 7 at the Carroll County Agricultural Center, Shipley Arena in Westminster, Md. The 19th Annual Disaster Ministries Auction is scheduled for May 20-21 at Rockingham County Fairgrounds in Harrisonburg, Va.

— All is well at Pleasant Hill Village, a Brethren retirement center in Girard Ill., after a tornado struck the area April 19. “Our neighbors did not fair so well as the path of the twister ran across the field just north of the facility,” said a note from chaplain Terry Link. “The outbuildings and home of some elderly neighbors were hard hit. We have given them shelter here at the home as clean up and repairs are underway. The home itself was passed over on Passover Tuesday and thankfully there were no reports of deaths from the storm. Praise God.”

— In another tornado update, Heifer Ranch in Perrysville, Ark., sustained damage in the strong storms that moved through the state. Several buildings including the horse, dairy, and lambing barns were destroyed, as well as a pump house and yurts in the Global Village section. Several roofs were damaged as well. “All Heifer Ranch employees, residents, volunteers are safe,” said an e-mail forwarded by Brethren member and Heifer supporter Florence Crago. Photos are on the Today’s THV Channel 11 website .

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., hosts a Spring Open House on May 14 from 1-4 p.m. Guests will receive tours, meet the staff, and have the opportunity to take a horse-drawn carriage ride. To RSVP or for more information call 301-671-5015 or 301-671-5016 or visit .

— A “Homeless Horizons Bike Tour” began May 1 as Brethren Housing Association director of development Christopher Fitz spends a week touring Dauphin, Lebanon, Lancaster, York, Adams, and Cumberland Counties of Pennsylvania via bicycle highlighting the plight of the homeless. The association is a Brethren program based in Harrisburg, Pa. The tour kicked off with a block party, where the Ray Diener House was dedicated. The house is named for a long-time supporter of the association, who was murdered in 2007. “The legacy of compassion and redemption that he embodied…will live on in this former crack house, soon to be a home for two more homeless families,” said a release. Contact 717-233-6016 or .

— The University of La Verne, Calif., is celebrating outgoing president Steve Morgan with an “Ann and Steve Morgan Out the Door BBQ and Dance” on May 14 at 4 p.m. Register at .

— David Goodman Jr., CEO of D.C. Goodman and Sons and a trustee on the Juniata College board, will receive an honorary degree during the college’s 133rd commencement ceremony May 14. The commencement address will be given by Maryanne Wolf, professor of child development and director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University. Beulah Baugher, former director of housekeeping at Juniata, received an honorary doctor of humane letters at a special dinner April 30.

— Paul Fike Stutzman of Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren and a member of the Virlina District Board, is the author of “Recovering the Love Feast: Broadening our Eucharistic Celebrations” (Wipf and Stock). The book will be a resource for an insight session on the Love Feast at Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., at 9 p.m. on July 5.

Contributors to this issue of the Church of the Brethren Newsline include Doris Abdullah, Terry Barkley, Jordan Blevins, Carol Bowman, J. Allen Brubaker, Chris Douglas, Kim Ebersole, Ed Groff, Philip E. Jenks, Donna Kline, Grace Mishler, Barb Myers, Howard Royer, Glen Sargent, John Wall, Jay A. Wittmeyer. Newsline is edited by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at . Newsline appears every other week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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