Newsline for Sept. 21, 2011


Quote of the week
“As Brethren, we are a living peace church, but all believers certainly strive for peace in our daily living, and we need to be praying for peace together… Let’s show the world there is another way–a peaceful way.” — Pastor Scott Duffey of Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren, in the Shenandoah District newsletter. The church is sponsoring an interfaith community service for the International Day of Prayer for Peace at 7:30 p.m. in Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park. Speaker is from the Gandhi Center at James Madison University, a choir from Mary Baldwin College will sing, the Bittersweet Band will play, and people from eight different religious backgrounds will bring remarks.

“As shoes for your feet, put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).

1) Day of prayer for peace brings communities together.
2) World Council of Churches posts Peace Prayer Wall.
3) Justice and peace are on the global agenda says WCC leader.

4) Brueggemann to preach for 2012 Annual Conference.
5) Next Brethren webinar is on ‘Befriending a New Vision.’

6) Order Advent Devotional by Oct. 1 to receive discounted price.

7) Brethren representative attends UN conference in Bonn.

8) Brethren bits: Dunker service at Antietam, federal budget, NOAC, much more.


1) Day of prayer for peace brings communities together.

Today the International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDPP) observance takes place around the world, as an initiative of the World Council of Churches. On Earth Peace is holding its annual IDPP campaign this year with the goal of involving 200 congregations and groups on the theme, “Seek the Peace of the City.”

On Earth Peace reported that as of Monday, 110 congregations and community groups had registered an event at . There were 21 US states and 10 countries represented on the list. Organizers were affiliated with at least 11 different denominations or religious traditions. The agency also reported that the National Council of Churches will mark the day during meetings this week in New York City.

“Please let us know if you are observing IDPP in your worship service by sending us a quick note at !” On Earth Peace invited.

On Earth Peace is encouraging congregations to consider how youth can lead observances, and how to support youth as leaders for peace in their communities. Suggestions have included presenting a children’s message on peacemaking, focusing on specific acts of violence children may encounter and their role to stop violence, and working with small groups to name specific acts of violence in a community and around the world, following up with prayer for victims, perpetrators, and those working for peace in named situations.

The Church of the Brethren’s advocacy and peace witness office will share regular IDPP updates today at several places online:!/cob_peace , , and .

Here is a sampling of Brethren congregations and districts, and Brethren-related groups, taking part in today’s observance:

— This morning the staff at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., met for a chapel service on peace.

Timbercrest Community in North Manchester, Ind., is holding a Peace Day observance in its chapel from 3-4 p.m.

Heeding God’s Call, the Philadelphia-based initiative against gun violence, holds a vigil at 4 p.m. today at the site of one of almost 200 Philadelphia gun deaths this year–1600 Catharine St. A procession will then take participants to Dilworth Plaza, carrying t-shirts symbolizing each life lost to guns this year. At the plaza a public witness and prayer begins at 5:15. (For more information contact Heeding God’s Call at 267-519-5302.)

— The Heeding God’s Call Harrisburg (Pa.) Chapter holds a Prayer Vigil in uptown Harrisburg beginning at 5:30 p.m., in an announcement shared by Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren pastor Belita Mitchell.

— The Church of the Brethren’s Virlina District held its first IDPP event this past Sunday at Lighthouse Church of the Brethren in Boones Mill, Va. An additional district peace service will be this evening at 6 p.m., sponsored by West Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

— An event at 7 p.m. at Cedar Lake Church of the Brethren in rural Auburn, Ind., will include prayers for peace interspersed with media clips that speak to several levels of peacemaking including inner peace, forgiveness, and courageous leadership.

York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren opens its chapel today for those wishing to pray for peace. “Prayers can be offered for non-violence in many areas,” said an invitation from the Witness Commission. “Prayers for healing between individuals, in families, in cities, and between nations is being stressed.”

— A community worship service hosted by Lafayette (Ind.) Church of the Brethren will gather around the congregation’s Peace Pole.

— A Peace Walk in Bridgewater, Va., is being publicized by Shenandoah District. It starts at Bridgewater United Methodist Church at 7:30 p.m. Each walker is to bring a candle. Donations will be accepted for “Invisible Child of Uganda,” a program that rescues children who have been recruited or abducted into military service. Contact Roma Jo Thompson at 540-515-3581.

— A public lecture by Jeffrey Helsing of the US Institute of Peace, sponsored by the Mahatma Gandhi Center, is being publicized with help from Shenandoah District. Preceding the 7 p.m. lecture at the Lucy F. Simms Center in Harrisonburg, Va., a dinner and peace pole dedication is planned. The event closes with a candlelight vigil. Contact LaDawn Knicely of the Gandhi Center board at 540-421-6941 or

“10 Days of Prayer for Peace” in Richmond, Ind., has been sponsored by the interfaith group Children of Abraham, with participation from Brethren in the area. The observance began on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and concludes today. Amy Gall Ritchie reported on Facebook that Bethany Theological Seminary participated as vigil No. 8 in the series of 10 citywide vigils from Sept 12-21. “We prayed inside then went outside and stood along US 40 as it drizzled, holding our candles, praying for peace.”


2) World Council of Churches posts Peace Prayer Wall.

“From Fiji to Rwanda, prayers and signs of commitment are being offered for the annual International Day of Prayer for Peace,” reported the World Council of Churches in a release earlier this week. The WCC offered a Facebook link at , where prayers are being posted by people who attended the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC).

“Use me, Lord, to build bridges of hope,” is Edelberto Valdés Fleites’s prayer in Cuba.

“Make us artisans of peace in the example of Christ, women and men of courage and discernment. Rather than fleeing from conflict, make us willing to identify, to denounce, and to dare to become mediators for peace and justice,” asks Father Bernard Ugeux, a missionary in Rwanda.

In the UK, Stefan Gillies’ peace day prayer is for a man in prison, naval medic Michael Lyons, who is a conscientious objector in detention for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan. Churches Together in Britain and Ireland are publicizing his case.

Noting the military drones that have begun appearing in local skies around the world, the WCC release highlighted a prayer from Wales that begins in Welsh: “Mewn byd lle mae mwy a mwy o sylw’n cael ei roi i ryfe.” The prayer translates: “In a world where increased attention is being given to war, in a country where there is an increase in military activity…it’s essential that the people of Wales continue to work for peace and reconciliation.”

The Peace Prayer Wall is at . More about the WCC’s International Day of Prayer for Peace emphasis is at .


3) Justice and peace are on the global agenda says WCC leader.

The theme of peace and justice is on the global church agenda with new energy at a time when more and more societies are experiencing conflict, intense poverty, drought, and injustice, says the World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit.

WCC general secretary Tveit (center) at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation held in May in Jamaica. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

In a release from the WCC, he cites recent world ecumenical events including the choice of the theme “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace” for the Tenth WCC Assembly in 2013 in Korea; and the nearly 1,000 church leaders and peace activists who gathered in May for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation.

His remarks were given to the WCC Executive Committee during meetings last week in Ethiopia. “Let me, as I report to you, share how I see that we are already on our way towards a deeper reflection and a stronger commitment to justice and peace,” said Tveit. “We now have a new momentum given through the moment we had together in Jamaica.”

Tveit spoke at length about an emerging discussion on the role and commitment of the churches in peace and justice. He also reported on the ongoing work of the WCC and his visits and interactions with member churches around the world over the past six months.

According to Tveit the WCC is moving in a definite direction with member churches around the world calling for Just Peace. “And that movement is more than a slogan,” the release said. “It is a real move toward changing how the church interacts with the world and addresses issues of justice and peace.”

Member churches’ voices come from the Pacific region, the Middle East, North and East Africa, South and East Asia, the Americas, and even Tveit’s home country, Norway, which experienced a deadly terrorist attack in July. “As churches, our focus should be not on legitimizing actions of war, but on how nonviolent actions can replace the use of military force, how we can build peace from below and from within, and how we can give political leaders moral support and standards to protect their own citizens without using violence,” Tveit said.

“But we also need to work, to act, and to create Just Peace in all places as we go on with our reflections and discussion, and also give the reflections realistic and constructive inputs and direction.”

Tveit acknowledged that the ecumenical movement has been debating the role of the church in peace and justice for decades. “It is an unfinished debate which will not lead to easy answers disconnected from the day-to-day realities in which many churches wrestle with their Christian calling to justice and peace.” The full text of the report is at .


4) Brueggemann to preach for 2012 Annual Conference.

Preachers, worship leaders, and music leadership for the daily worship services at the 2012 Annual Conference have been announced by the Conference Office. The 2012 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren takes place in St. Louis, Mo., on July 7-11 next year.

Renowned Lutheran scholar, preacher, and writer Walter Brueggemann will speak for the opening worship service of the Conference on Saturday evening, July 7. Manchester College campus minister and former “Messenger” editor Walt Wiltschek will be worship leader for the service. Brueggemann is a leading interpreter of the Old Testament, currently William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary. Among his numerous books are “Journey to the Common Good,” “The Prophetic Imagination,” and “Disruptive Grace: Reflections on God, Scripture, and the Church.”

Annual Conference moderator Timothy P. Harvey, pastor of Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., will preach on Sunday morning July 8, with moderator-elect Bob Krouse as worship leader.

Becky Ball-Miller, an ordained minister and businesswoman from Goshen, Ind., and a member of the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board, preaches Monday evening July 9. David A. Steele, district executive minister of Middle Pennsylvania District, will lead worship that evening.

On Tuesday evening, July 10, Jennifer Leath of New Haven, Conn., will preach. Katie and Parker Shaw Thompson of Richmond, Ind., will lead worship. Leath is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the USA and an ecumenical leader in the field of ethics. Earlier this year she was one of the speakers at a World Council of Churches Central Committee meeting where she shared a strong testimony on issues related to youth and the ecumenical movement.

The closing worship of the Conference on Wednesday morning July 11 will hear a message from Daniel D’Oleo, a leader in the Renacer movement that is planting Spanish-speaking congregations of Brethren in the Virginia area. Angie Lahman Yoder of Peoria, Ariz., will lead worship for the closing service.

Music leadership for the Conference will be provided by music coordinator Dean Sensenig of Ephrata, Pa., along with Conference Choir director Raechel Sittig-Esser of Waterloo, Iowa, and organist Loren Rhodes and pianist Donna Rhodes of Huntingdon, Pa. A children’s choir director is yet to be named.

In other Annual Conference news, the Program and Arrangements Committee has voted to increase by $10 the registration fee for delegates and non-delegates for the 2012 Conference. Districts are mailing the information to their congregations. For more about the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference go to .


5) Next Brethren webinar is on ‘Befriending a New Vision.’

“Befriending a New Vision” is the next in the Church of the Brethren’s webinar series. The online event is Sept. 27 from 3:30-5 p.m. eastern time (12:30-2 p.m. Pacific).

The webinar will feature “candid discussion about leading an established church through the process of renewing itself without dishonoring the past or the people who still find meaning in it,” according to an announcement. Presenter is Roger Shenk, pastor of Bahia Vista Mennonite Church in Sarasota, Fla., a 60-year-old church that in 2009 began to take bold yet thoughtful steps in revitalizing its approach to ministry.

Ministers may receive 0.1 continuing education units for the live session, offered by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Connect at . For more information go to  or contact Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices, 717-335-3226 or .


6) Order Advent Devotional by Oct. 1 to receive discounted price.

The 2011 Advent Devotional from Brethren Press is now available at pre-production prices. The devotional on the theme “In the Beginning Was the Word,” written by David W. Miller, offers a devotion, scripture reading, and prayer for each day of Advent.

The pocket sized paperback may be purchased before Oct. 1 for $2 each, or $5 for large print. On Oct. 1 the price goes up to $2.50 each, or $5.95 for large print. Shipping charges will be added to the invoice. Seasonal subscriptions to both the Advent and Lent devotionals from Brethren Press are also available at the discounted price.

The devotional is designed both for individual reading and for congregations to provide to their members as a spiritual resource for the season. Order by calling 800-441-3712.


7) Brethren representative attends UN conference in Bonn.

Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, Doris Abdullah, earlier this month attended a conference for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the topic “Sustainable Societies, Responsive Citizens: Commit-Encourage-Volunteer.” She is chair of the UN NGOs’ Human Rights Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, and is a board member of On Earth Peace. Following are her observations on the conference:

Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren’s representative to the United Nations, at the 64th United Nations DPI/NGO Conference in Bonn, Germany, early this month.

From Sept. 3-5 over 1,400 citizens from 70 different countries came together in Bonn, Germany, at the 64th United Nations DPI/NGO Conference. On Dec. 5, the UN General Assembly will consider a resolution declaring 2012 the Year of International Volunteers. The volunteer citizen will be at the heart of sustainable development from this day forward.

Brethren will not need a UN resolution to become volunteers, for volunteering remains a core value in Brethren commitments to love, peace, and justice. I felt a familiar comfort in the roundtable discussions on the “Role of Civil Societies in a Fast Changing World” and workshops such as the one on “Strengthening Social Cohesion through Voluntary Civil Engagement.”

I gathered new information at workshops on “Sustainable Farming in El Salvador” and “Unknown Volunteers,” which I deemed helpful to understanding gender, war, and poverty. Three shorts films produced by ATD Fourth World, set in Guatemala, France, and Rwanda, depicted the relationship of poverty and gender, and the correlation between war, peace, and development.

A big disappointment was that human rights were hardly mentioned, and there was a shortage of participation by the corporate world. A sustainable developed future will depend heavily on the responsive policies of industry acting in concert with governments, plus citizen volunteers.

This conference was the beginning of international discussion on building “Sustainable Societies, Responsive Citizens.” The conversation will continue in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, where projections are for upwards of 50,000 people to attend.

I was struck by a moment during the opening ceremony in Bonn. A young girl of 13 put her hands over the mouth of the mayor and told him, “Stop talking. Start acting.” Whether 1,400 or 50,000 people gather for a conference, it will not make a dime’s worth of difference if no actions are taken from these meetings to reduce poverty, empower women, stop racism and gender discrimination, find a solution to lessen dependency on carbon energy, stop the selling of weapons to the underdeveloped world, respect justice, and respect all life.

Some have said that volunteer is a term that means nothing to people in less developed countries. However, all societies value helping their neighbor, when the neighbor is in trouble and cannot do for themselves. For volunteering is an action taken by one person on the behalf of another, and is not just talk.


8) Brethren bits: Dunker service at Antietam, federal budget, NOAC, much more.

Stanley J. Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, spoke for Sunday’s packed worship service in the Dunker Church at Antietam National Battlefield. He is shown here speaking with attendees after the service (photo by Eddie Edmonds). The event was the 41st annual service in the old Brethren meetinghouse on the Civil War site. A report in the “Herald-Mail” newspaper reviewed Noffsinger’s remarks highlighting a new way of life through the peace found in Jesus Christ in a nation where large amounts of money are spent on war and weapons. Several ministers helped lead the service including Eddie Edmonds of Moler Avenue Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, W.Va.; Tom Fralin of Sharpsburg (Md.) Church of the Brethren; Ed Poling of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren; and Mid-Atlantic District executive Gene Hagenberger. Read the story at,0,4006749.story . Video is at .

— “Few know that in the 2012 federal budget, development assistance has to compete with military spending,” said Global Food Crisis Fund manager Howard Royer, highlighting an urgent request from partner organization Bread for the World. The organization is asking concerned citizens to contact their representatives in Congress to support fiscal year 2012 funding for poverty-focused development assistance. Bread president David Beckmann reported that “Congress passed a debt deal in August that enabled our country to avoid defaulting on its bills. Under the deal, development assistance that is focused on alleviating poverty–such as aid to small farmers so they can feed their families, and nutrition programs for mothers and children in poor countries–will now have to compete with military spending for federal dollars in the fiscal year 2012 budget. Poverty-focused development assistance could bear the brunt of the budget cuts under the new spending plan, set to start Oct. 1.” More at .

— In an update on National Older Adult Conference, the total offering received for the denomination’s Core Ministries was $26,174.33. Full news coverage of NOAC is at . To order videos of many of the NOAC sessions on DVD, along with the conference summary DVD that includes NOAC News segments, either call 800-323-8039 ext. 302 or e-mail  to request an order form, or go to the link at .

— New on the “Hidden Gems” webpage of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives are photographs from Ernestine Emrick Hoff’s family album. Virginia Harness, archival intern, writes that “a few weeks ago, the BHLA received a rather unique donation: the personal family photo album of Ernestine Hoff Emrick, granddaughter of Emanuel B. Hoff…. E.B. Hoff, along with A.C. Wieand, founded the school that would become Bethany Theological Seminary in 1905. The photographs chronicle the family’s development over four generations.” Go to .

— A new e-mail address has been announced for those interested in next year’s National Young Adult Conference, to take place at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville on June 18-22. The address is . More information is at .

Brethren Volunteer Service holds its Fall orientation Sept. 25-Oct. 14 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. This will be the 295th unit of BVS and will consist of 30 volunteers–12 from Germany, 1 from Ireland, and the remaining 17 (8 of whom are Brethren) from around the US. The group will spend three weeks exploring project possibilities and topics of community building, peace, social justice, faith sharing, vocation, and more. They will have several work days in the community and in Washington, D.C. A potluck for friends and alumni of BVS is Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. at Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren. Please bring a dish to pass. Call 800-323-8039 ext. 425 for information.

— Virlina District executive and former Annual Conference moderator David K. Shumate writes this quarter’s “Guide for Biblical Studies,” the Brethren Press curriculum for adults. The guide offers a weekly study from Sept. 4 through Nov. 27. Texts on “Tradition and Wisdom” come from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, and Matthew. Order for $4.25, or $7.35 for large print, plus shipping and handling. Call 800-441-3712 or go to .

— The New Church Development Advisory Committee is accepting workshop proposals for the church planting conference next May in Richmond, Ind. Workshop selections will be made beginning Oct. 15. Go to .

Wakeman’s Grove Church of the Brethren near Edinburg, Va., celebrates 110 years Sept. 25.

— All 12 of the active churches in the Martinsburg (Pa.) Ministerium–including Brethren congregations–held a joint worship service to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Curryville Church of the Brethren pastor David Stiles is president of the ministerium and sent a link to a YouTube video promoting the service: .

Upcoming district conferences include South/Central Indiana District Conference at Logansport (Ind.) Church of the Brethren on Sept. 24, and Oregon and Washington District Conference at Camp Koinonia in Cle Elum, Wash., on Sept. 23-25.

— “US News & World Report” has ranked Manchester College fourth in the Midwest for Best Value, according to a release from the school. The college moved up from a ranking of eighth as a Best Value last year.

McPherson (Kan.) College is starting a mentoring program for freshman called “Serve 2 Succeed” which will help the community through service at the same time it gets freshmen active and involved, leading to better retention, said a release. A grant from Kansas Campus Compact, funded by AmeriCorps, is supporting the program. Serve 2 Succeed Corps will match students to a peer mentor to help them connect in academics, social life, and service learning.

— Bruce Davis, recently retired executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, returns to Juniata College Oct. 3 for a week-long residency. The Juniata alum and former professor who taught at the college in 1968, will host showings of classic movies at the Clifton Theater in Huntingdon, Pa. Free tickets are at the Information Desk in Ellis Hall in the days prior to the movie. After each showing, Davis will preside over a question-and-answer session: “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m., Federico Fellini’s “81/2” Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m.

— The Global Women’s Project steering committee met in August, sharing stories and successes from project partners in Rwanda, Nepal, Sudan, Uganda, and Indiana. The committee joined in worship with York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., and Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. It welcomed newest member Emily Matteson, a sophomore at Scripps College in California, who joins Nan Erbaugh, Carrie Eikler, Kim Hill Smith, Emily Matteson, and Anna Lisa Gross on the steering committee.

— The Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) held its annual meeting Sept. 10 at Shiloh Church of the Brethren near Kasson, W.Va., on the theme, “Identifying Our Loyalty in Turbulent Times.” In other news from the BRF, the group’s Brethren Mission Fund along with the Brethren World Mission group is sponsoring a year of theological training for two church leaders in Spain. The two are leaders in a group that is requesting recognition from the Church of the Brethren. The $5,000 is being provided in cooperation with the denomination’s Global Mission Partnerships. The fund also is contributing $5,000 to a piece of land for the Cape Haitian Church of the Brethren, working with the Haitian National Committee of Brethren in Haiti.

Two short films have been released by the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests: “On the Male Side of Middle” ( ) the story of Calvin Neufeld and his Canadian Mennonite family and his transition from Caitlin to Calvin, and “In-Between” ( ) the story of Carrie Fry-Miller, a Brethren woman whose license for ministry was rescinded when she came out as a lesbian to her district committee.

Three Church of the Brethren camps are holding festivals. On Sept. 24 Camp Blue Diamond holds its Heritage Fair-30th Anniversary, which also supports Middle Pennsylvania District. On Oct. 1, Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., is having its 27th Brethren Heritage Day Festival, preceded by an “Apple Butter Overnight.” The Camp Mack Festival at the camp in Milford, Ind., also is Oct. 1 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. with dedication of the John Kline Welcome Center at 3 p.m.

— “Pressing on, No Turning Back” is the theme for the Progressive Brethren Gathering on Nov. 11-13 hosted by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. The gathering is sponsored by Womaen’s Caucus, Voices for an Open Spirit, and the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests. Keynote speaker Sharon Welch is professor of Religion and Society at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, and author of five books including “Real Peace, Real Security: The Challenges of Global Citizenship” and “After Empire: The Art and Ethos of Enduring Peace.” Registration is $100, with daily rates and reduced rates for students and children. Go to .

— Peggy Gish was the resource leader for the 5th Annual Family Peace Camp in Atlantic Southeast District. The event was at Camp Ithiel on Sept. 2-4, on the theme, “Dare to Act for Peace.” Gish told stories from her experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel with Christian Peacemaker Teams. The 53 participants–children, youth, and adults–represented four Church of the Brethren congregations plus Mennonites, Quakers, Roman Catholics, and a non-denominational group named “The New Way.” The event is co-sponsored by the Action for Peace Team of the district and Camp Ithiel.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams’ Peacemaker Congress XI is Oct. 13-16 in Chicago, Ill., celebrating the organization’s 25th anniversary. More information is at .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Kim Ebersole, Carol Fike, Anna Lisa Gross, Jeri S. Kornegay, Phil Lersch, Berwyn Oltman, Adam Pracht, Jonathan Shively, Callie Surber, John Wall, Carol Wise, Ed Woolf, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue Oct. 5.

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