Newsline for April 19, 2012


Quote of the week
“We do believe that Jesus left the table for the church, as a place of communion.”

— Marcos Inhauser, who with his wife, Suely, is a leader of Igreja da Irmandade (Church of the Brethren in Brazil) and serves as coordinator of the Church of the Brethren mission in Brazil. Shown above Alexandre Goncalves, president of Igreja da Irmandade, says the prayer for the Love Feast meal at a congregation of Brazilian Brethren.

“…And whatever is right I will give you” (Matthew 20:4b).

1) Seminary forum discusses intersection of sexuality and spirituality.
2) Disciples and Brethren leaders explore partnerships in mission.
3) EDF grant supports Brethren disaster rebuilding site in Virginia.
4) Christians and Muslims meet to pursue peace and understanding.

5) Juniata College president Tom Kepple to retire.
6) Jantzi to serve as executive minister for Shenandoah District.

7) Revised Deacon Manual to be published in two volumes.
8) Video documents Nigerian Brethren experience of violence, peacemaking.

9) Track your steps at National Walk @ Lunch Day–and every day.

10) Honoring those who said no to war.

11) Brethren bits: Personnel, job, OEP board, Open Roof award, Youth Sunday, 100th anniversaries, college news, and more.


1) Seminary forum discusses intersection of sexuality and spirituality.

Bethany Seminary’s Presidential Forum on “Joy and Suffering in the Body: Turning Toward Each Other” brought more than 160 people to the campus in Richmond, Ind., on April 12-14. Headlining the event was James Forbes, senior minister emeritus of New York’s Riverside Church and Harry Emerson Fosdick Adjunct Professor of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary.

The forum was the fourth in a series inaugurated by Bethany president Ruthann Knechel Johansen, who said in her introductory remarks that this year’s topic was sparked by controversy in the church and society over what it means to be sexual and spiritual beings made in the image of God.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Dr. James Forbes (left) and Bethany president Ruthann Knechel Johansen (at center) during a time of prayer in small groups at the Presidential Forum. The event brought some 160 or more people to the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind.

“The Presidential Forums suggest another way of being in the world and publicly open the witness of Bethany Seminary to a church and world hungering for compassion, justice, and peace,” she said. “The roots of this witness lie in several core practices of our Anabaptist-Pietist heritage. These include the study of scripture in community, the expectation that the Holy Spirit guides and continues to reveal God’s truth to us, and the belief that loving our neighbor or the stranger, even our enemies, embodies Christ’s way in the world.”

Forbes’ sermon-like presentations offered more questions than answers at the intersection of sexuality and spirituality. Asking the group to remember there was a time when you could not talk about sex in church, his opening presentation included a long list of questions from many different points of view–seemingly intended to give permission to participants to ask any question of their own.

“We aren’t going to solve this one,” he said at one point. Although conversation about sexuality “has held the church in bondage for the last 50 years,” Forbes said the church must continue the struggle. “It’s not the achievement (of a conclusion) that’s going to be impressive to God,” he said. “It’s in trying our best that God sees frail human beings pulled toward perfection.”

There were also presentations by panelists from a variety of academic fields. Presentations ranged from a clinical medical approach to variations in human sexuality by David E. Fuchs, medical director for the Brethren Village Retirement Community in Lancaster, Pa.; to reinterpretation of St. Augustine’s writings on sexuality and original sin by David Hunter, Cottrill-Rolfes Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Kentucky; to the psychological and symbolic significance of sexuality from a Jungian perspective by Amy Bentley Lamborn, assistant professor of Pastoral Theology at General Theological Seminary, who asked people to consider what gift may be sheltered in the “other” whom we fear or reject.

Also panelists were Ken Stone, academic dean and professor of Hebrew Bible, Culture, and Hermeneutics at Chicago Theological Seminary, who argued for alternate “queer” readings of Bible texts as a tool for preaching; and Gayle Gerber Koontz, professor of Theology and Ethics at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, who for years has taught sexuality to ministry students.

Recommendations to the church were part of the presentations by Fuchs as well as Koontz. Fuchs urged participants to remember that when a family or a church rejects a person because of sexuality that serious harm is done, telling the story of losing a childhood friend to suicide. The church’s response to sexuality should have the goal of reducing harm and working against violence, he said.

Among her recommendations, Koontz called for the church to promote “sexual shalom” or “holy love” that is obliged to treat other people as sacred to God. She called for valuing singleness as a valid spiritual choice alongside marriage, called Christians to remember true family is not biological but found in the church community, and called for openness to conversation about sexuality in the church in a variety of ways including sex education from a Christian perspective. A lack of ability to talk gracefully about sexuality has led to anger, conflict, and self-righteous attitudes in the church, she said.

Forbes closed the forum in an attitude of prayer and praise, calling on the presence of the Holy Spirit. The absence of God may be the reason for a less than satisfactory experience of love in human life, he said, adding that the intimacy of one person with another may be a gift intimating the ultimate experience of the presence of God. “I want to know God through God’s Spirit, such that there is nothing stronger,” he declared.

After Forbes led in prayer, a closing worship invited participants to a service of communion. Each day of the forum featured worship led by students, faculty, emeritus faculty, and alumni. A concert by Mutual Kumquat rounded out the evening on Friday.

A Pre-Forum Gathering for alumni featured presentations by faculty of Bethany and Earlham School of Religion. Topics included the relational costs of pornography–with statistics on its growing use, influence, and addiction even among church members and pastors; pastoral care that is sensitive to sexuality; the ways young adults search for intimacy; and small group sharing around a Bible text. Presentations were by Julie Hostetter, director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership; Jim Higginbotham, ESR assistant professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling; Russell Haitch, director of Bethany’s Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults; and New Testament professor Dan Ulrich, who led the devotional reading of Matthew 20 with Edward L. Poling.

Excerpts from the forum presentations will appear in the Summer issue of Bethany’s magazine “Wonder & Word.” In addition, DVDs of the forum sessions will be made available for purchase. For more information contact Jenny Williams at .

2) Disciples and Brethren leaders explore partnerships in mission.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Leaders of the Church of the Brethren and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have been meeting to learn about each other’s traditions and look for possibilities opportunities for collaborative work. Participants in both of the meetings held to date were (from right) Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger; Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Disciples of Christ; Mary Jo Flory-Steury, associate general secretary of the Church of the Brethren; and Robert Welsh, president of the Council on Christian Unity for the Disciples.

Leaders of the Church of the Brethren and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are meeting together to learn about each other’s traditions, find commonalities of theology and practice, and look for possibilities opportunities for collaborative work and mission in the future.

The leaders met on Feb. 9 at the Disciples Center in Indianapolis and March 21 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Participants in both sessions were Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Disciples of Christ; Stanley Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren; Robert Welsh, president of the Council on Christian Unity for the Disciples; and Mary Jo Flory-Steury, associate general secretary of the Church of the Brethren. Other Brethren and Disciples national/general staff leadership also participated in the conversations on congregational life, women’s ministry, new church planting, and global mission.

“The spirit I sense between us…isn’t about our two churches; it is about the one Church and the one Church’s mission,” commented Welsh during the March 21 meeting.

The Brethren and the Disciples already collaborate ecumenically through organizations like the National Council of Churches and Church World Service, and participate together in ministries of global missions and disaster response.

The leaders from the two communions agreed to pursue several collaborative ventures, including: having representatives at major meetings and assemblies in each other’s life; exploring greater opportunities for service and hands-on mission together; looking to each other as primary partners in a shared commitment to peacemaking and justice; and resourcing one another in the areas of new church establishment and congregational transformation.

The Indianapolis visit was marked by a time of sharing the history and background of the Disciples of Christ, an overview of the structure and major program areas in the life of the church, a tour of the Disciples Center, and a chapel service that was open to all Disciples Center staff during which Watkins presided at a celebration of Holy Communion.

The visit in Elgin included a chapel service led by the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries, and employees who work at the Brethren offices also attended. The service invited the Disciples leaders to join in ordinances that are central to the Brethren tradition of Love Feast: a time of spiritual self-examination, footwashing, and a service of communion.

Washing each other’s feet, especially as Easter approaches, is a hallmark of Brethren life, while celebrating communion at a common Table has special meaning for the Disciples’ tradition. Watkins and Flory-Steury washed each other’s feet, while Noffsinger and Welsh also shared in the ordinance. The whole congregation then shared in receiving communion together.

“It has been wonderful to explore points our traditions have in common. Especially meaningful was to share in the ordinance of feetwashing together,” said Noffsinger.

“I’m just really delighted with this initiative,” said Watkins at the close of the visit to the Brethren offices. “There is a sense in which ecumenical efforts move well when there is a connection made, individual to individual.”

— Cherilyn Williams of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) communications staff contributed to this joint release.

3) EDF grant supports Brethren disaster rebuilding site in Virginia.

Photo by Jim White
Three volunteers help rebuild a house in Pulaski, VA.

A grant of $30,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) continues support for a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding site in Pulaski County, Va. This is an additional allocation for the project site, with previous allocations totaling $30,000.

The Brethren rebuilding effort follows two devastating tornadoes in the towns of Pulaski and Draper, Va. Since late summer 2011, more than 400 volunteers have completed five new homes and helped repair dozens more according to the grant request.

The grant will underwrite operational expenses related to volunteer support, including housing, food, and travel expenses incurred onsite as well as volunteer training, tools, and equipment needed for rebuilding and repair.

Recently Brethren Disaster Ministries was asked to participate in a pilot project coupling its volunteer labor with block grant funds received by a local partner organization. The request includes the need to build three more homes for disaster survivors. Brethren Disaster Ministries anticipates that with the current caseload and upcoming projects, work will continue at the Pulaski County site through the summer.

4) Christians and Muslims meet to pursue peace and understanding.

On March 10, a meeting of Christians and Muslims took place at Camp Ithiel in the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Southeast District. Initiated by the district’s Action for Peace Team, the event was planned with leaders of the Turkish Cultural Center in Orlando. Over 40 people attended, including 35 Brethren along with 8 Turkish who live in the area.

The intent of the meeting was to begin an open conversation about relationships between persons of both religions and to work toward understanding and peace. Dr. Eren Tatari, a professor at Rollins College, and Merle Crouse of the Action for Peace Team, coordinated the event. Following personal introductions, Eren presented the basics of Islam. Then came questions and comments about the Muslim faith and how to take responsibility for peaceful attitudes and relationships.

Both Turkish and Brethren people have a strong heritage of hospitality and visiting at a table of good food. So, at break time, home-prepared Turkish food was served for refreshments. A warm invitation was given to visit in Turkish homes and continue to build friendships.

The meeting was closed with prayer led by Imam Omer Tatari, a professor at the University of Central Florida.

The time together felt like the beginning of a new adventure beyond our normal comfort circle. Our challenge is to take another step soon, as individuals and as a faith community, to build trust and to find common ground for peacemaking.

— This article is excerpted from a report prepared by Merle Crouse for the Atlantic Southeast District newsletter.


5) Juniata College president Tom Kepple to retire.

Thomas R. Kepple, under whose presidency the campus of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., was transformed by an ambitious building plan and the most successful capital campaign in the college’s history, plans to retire May 31, 2013. Kepple was named president July 1, 1998, and will have finished his 15th year leading Juniata by 2013.

Kepple came to Juniata from the University of the South, where he specialized in overseeing large-scale construction and renovation projects and longterm strategic planning. In the 15 years he led Juniata, the college’s central campus has been reimagined, renovated, and in some cases rebuilt to consolidate arts, sports, and classroom instruction around a central quadrangle. Among the transformative changes:
— Construction of the 88,000-square-foot William J. Von Liebig Center for Science.
— Construction of the renovated and improved Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.
— Renovation of historic LEED-certified Founders Hall, the 1879 building that was Juniata’s first campus building.
— Closing of 18th Street, which established a central quad and central walkway that links almost all of the main buildings on campus.
— Creation of a new multimillion-dollar Raystown Field Station, transforming the original field station into a major instructional site for the environmental science program.

Kepple points to Juniata’s student accomplishments as his personal touchstone, including a marked uptick in national and international awards received by Juniata students. Juniata’s athletic teams also have been successful during Kepple’s tenure, earning six of Juniata’s seven national championships in the past 15 years.

The completion in 2005 of Juniata’s largest capital campaign, the Uncommon Outcomes Campaign, raised more than $103 million, making it the largest capital campaign in Juniata’s history. Last year, Kepple also initiated the “Changing Lives to Change the World” endowment initiative, which is focused on raising Juniata’s endowment to more than $100 million.

Academic programs have been significantly expanded, including reinstating a theater department and reconfiguring an existing computer science program into a more widely specialized information technology program. Additionally, renovation of the college’s former science center into Brumbaugh Academic Center transformed one wing into Dale Hall, a wing designed to generate collaboration and synergy between the business, IT, and communication departments.

The college’s business department introduced a major program in entrepreneurial instruction, much of it focused on the Juniata Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and the Bob and Eileen Sill Business Incubator.

Juniata also embarked on two major initiatives to diversify the college’s student body demographically and geographically. First, the college started a Global Engagement Initiative that established a Global Community Living Community, international student clubs, introduction of more international courses into the college’s core curriculum, an international language outreach program and helped establish international student exchanges. Secondly, the enrollment office made a concentrated effort to expand its recruiting of domestic minorities. Today about 12 percent of the student body represent minority groups.

Many of Juniata’s innovative academic programs and improvements to the college’s infrastructure have made news on a national scale, which subsequently has helped raise the college’s national profile. The Princeton Review noted in 2010 that “Juniata College has catapulted from regional to national status in the last decade.”

Kepple and James Lakso, Juniata provost, also oversaw a faculty turnover of nearly 60 percent during the Kepple presidency. As a result the college dramatically expanded successful academic programs in theater, environmental science (now Juniata’s fastest growing major), and information technology. Juniata also added faculty in digital media, art, and instrumental music. The college also added or hired new faculty to bolster the institution’s established strengths in the sciences, business, religion, peace and conflict studies, and history.

President Kepple is founding chair of the Tuition Plan Consortium, vice chair of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell’s higher education transition team, founding chair of the new Landmark NCAA Division III athletic conference, and has chaired the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the New York Times/Chronicle of Higher Education President’s Cabinet, NCAA Division III Presidents Advisory Committee, Brethren Colleges Abroad, Princeton Review (Advisory Board), He was awarded the Westminster College Outstanding Alumni Citation in October 2000. In 2011 he was awarded the honorary degree doctor of humane letters from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.

— John Wall of the Juniata College staff provided this release.

6) Jantzi to serve as executive minister for Shenandoah District.

John Jantzi has accepted the call to serve the Church of the Brethren’s Shenandoah District as district executive minister beginning Aug. 1. Since 2003 he has been pastor of Mt. Bethel Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va.

Previously he worked for Choice Books as a development/marketing consultant 1995-2003 and also as a district manager for Choice Books of Northern Virginia 1981-95. In 2011 he became an adjunct instructor at Eastern Mennonite University, teaching history of the Bible and Old Testament themes. For nine years from 1980-89, he was on the pastoral team at Broad Street Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Va.

Since 2004 he has been actively involved in district leadership, having served on the Shenandoah District board, as chair of the nurture commission, as a member of the district Mission Review Committee, and as an instructor of biblical studies for the Christian Growth Institute (ACTS) assuming the role of dean in 2011.

He holds a doctor of ministry degree from Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, a master of divinity from Eastern Mennonite Seminary, and a bachelor of science in sociology from Eastern Mennonite College.

He and his family live in Harrisonburg, Va. The Shenandoah District Office will continue to be located in Weyers Cave, Va.










7) Revised Deacon Manual to be published in two volumes.

A newly revised and expanded “Deacon Manual” is nearing completion, with delivery scheduled for this summer, reports Donna Kline, director of the Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministries. The new two-volume set offers one volume for individual and group study, while the second volume is designed to accompany deacons as they minister in homes, hospitals, and the many other places they serve.

The two volumes are:
— “Calling,” a definitive reference that helps users understand the work of the deacon and prepares deacons for service; and
— “Caring,” a comprehensive set of prayers for many situations, as well as hymns, scriptures, and other service helps for the ordinances, congregational care, and interpersonal ministry.

The new manual is available now for pre-order from Brethren Press. Each volume may be purchased separately for $16.99, or the two-volume set may be bought for $28. A shipping and handling charge will be added to the price. Call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712 or go to or download an order form at .

8) Video documents Nigerian Brethren experience of violence, peacemaking.

Photo by: courtesy of David Sollenberger

A new video has been made about the experience of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and its efforts at peacemaking in an environment of conflict and increasing violence.

Footage for “Sowing Seeds of Peace” was taken by Brethren videographer David Sollenberger during a trip to Nigeria late last year. Sollenberger also edited and narrates the video, which will have a showing at the 2012 Annual Conference. Making of the film was sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service office.

The Nigerian experience of violence–much of it having roots in interfaith conflict, as well as terrorist groups–and the church’s efforts at peacemaking are highlighted with interviews of church members and church leaders. Also granting interviews for the film were Muslim faith leaders and business people who are collaborating with the Nigerian Brethren in peacemaking efforts in places like the city of Jos, which has suffered recurrent waves of violence.

The video in DVD format is available free of charge through Global Mission and Service, but will not be available online out of concern for the personal safety of the people who are featured. For a copy contact Anna Emrick, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 363; or . Or go to to submit a request for a copy.

A study guide is being created to help churches use this video as a resource for Sunday school and small group study.


9) Track your steps at National Walk @ Lunch Day–and every day.

Tennis shoes, water bottle, climate-appropriate clothing–what else do you need to walk your way to a more healthful lifestyle? Maybe a way to keep track of the steps you’ve taken.

If you’re going to participate in National Walk @ Lunch Day, which takes place on April 25 at noon, or if you have already started a fitness walking routine, tracking your exercise progress can help you stick to an exercise routine and show you how much you’ve accomplished.

One way to track your steps is by wearing a pedometer all day–or just during your fitness walks. You can then record the number of steps you’ve taken and monitor your progress. Go to to download a Microsoft Word file that contains a weekly tracking chart for your miles walked, time, and number of steps.

For the more technologically savvy, there is another option. Websites like Map My Walk ( ) can help you create a walking path using Google Maps, track your completed walks, and share your fitness successes with friends online. And yes, there’s an app for that–iPhone, Blackberry, and Android users can download a Map My Walk application for use on their smart phones. The app will record the walking route using GPS technology when the smart phone is brought along for the journey.

National Walk @ Lunch is a week away! For the third consecutive year, Brethren Insurance Services is partnering with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to host National Walk @ Lunch Day on April 25 at noon, a coordinated walk at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and at participating Brethren-affiliated workplaces across the nation.

If you want to help your church, organization, or retirement community join in National Walk @ Lunch Day, send a message to for informational materials and guidance about hosting a walk.

If you live near the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., join Brethren Insurance Services at its walking event on April 25 at noon at 1505 Dundee Ave. Suggested walking maps, healthful snacks, and water will be provided (bring your water bottle).

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.


10) Honoring those who said no to war.

The following article by Howard Royer, who recently retired from the denominational staff, was written for the newsletter of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.–and may provide a model for how other congregations remember and honor conscientious objectors:

Photo by: courtesy of BHLA
Conscientious objectors in the dining area of the Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp in Lagro, Ind., during World War II. A photo from the collection of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

In recognition of Civilian Public Service (CPS) camps and projects launched 70 years ago, the website is collecting and posting stories on each of the 152 camps and projects that operated in 34 states during World War II. The camps became home to 12,000 conscientious objectors who worked in mental hospitals, maintained state forests, fought forest fires, built roads, dams, and lodges, or subjected themselves to scientific research.

As World War II dawned, the peace churches–Brethren, Friends, and Mennonites–negotiated with the government to establish a system in which conscientious objectors could perform alternative nonmilitary service. The peace churches assumed responsibility for administering and funding the program, toward which Brethren contributed more than $1.3 million plus extensive amounts of food and clothing. The program received conscientious objectors from 200 religious groups, of whom about 1,200 were Brethren.

At the outset of the program in 1940, Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., granted its pastor, Clyde Forney, a six-month leave with salary to organize the CPS conservation project at Lagro, Ind. In 1942, W. Harold Row was called to direct the Church of the Brethren CPS program nationally.

The Brethren headquarters in Elgin was assigned a score of young conscripts during the war. Among them were J. Aldene Ecker, Robert Greiner, and Roy Hiteshew, all of whom remained or returned to Elgin and became long-time members of the Highland Avenue church.

Two who served in CPS and are currently part of the Highland Avenue family are Merle Brown, 94, and Russell Yohn, 88. Brown served in programs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; Yohn in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Oregon, and Virginia. At the end of the war both men volunteered as “sea-going cowboys,” transporting relief animals to war-torn communities in Europe.

With the peacetime conscription that followed World War II, alternative service was extended, assigning 1-W draftees to Elgin to work in the state mental hospital and church headquarters as well as in tasks throughout the US and overseas.

Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, who headed Selective Service from 1940-70, described Civilian Public Service as an experiment “to find whether our democracy is big enough to preserve minority rights in a time of national emergency.” Unpopular and disparate as the conscientious objectors were, CPS as a community signified a measure of respect for conscience and a willingness for compromise by both church and state.

11) Brethren bits.

— Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, Ill., welcomes Diana Roemer of Lake Summerset, Ill., as director of Advancement and Marketing. Roemer most recently worked for four years as executive director for the American Red Cross Northwest Illinois Chapter, and also was an interim executive director for the American Red Cross Rock River Chapter. She holds a degree from Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., and a bachelor of arts in political science with postgraduate studies in mass communication and journalism from California State University, Northridge, and UCLA. Her work at Pinecrest Community began March 30.

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., seeks a director of Pastoral Care (chaplain) to cultivate the spiritual support and pastoral requirements of the Fahrney-Keedy community, and assist with establishing an environment that acknowledges a wide range of personalities, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and lifestyles to promote spiritual growth of all in the community. Required skills and experience include ordination, association with the Church of Brethren preferred, and experience in pastoral counseling, senior living, and ministry preferred. Contact Cassandra P. Weaver, Vice President of Operations, at 301-671-5014 or via e-mail at .

— During its Spring meeting, the On Earth Peace board of directors discussed next steps in the organization’s search for a new executive director. The agency hopes to fill the position in the coming months, and to introduce the new executive director at the upcoming Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in St. Louis, Mo. The biannual board meeting took place on March 16-17 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Other items of business included reports from staff and board committees, as well as receiving results of the organization’s recent financial audit. In addition, board members made plans for continued work regarding the elimination of racism within and outside of the organization. The On Earth Peace board of directors conducts business and decision-making using a formal consensus process, led by board chair Madalyn Metzger.

— Nominations are being accepted for the 2012 Open Roof Award. The annual award is Congregational Life Ministries’ recognition of congregations, districts, or individuals working to ensure that all–regardless of differing abilities–may worship, serve, be served, learn, and grow in the presence of God as valued members of the Christian community. A form is available at along with information about past recipients. Nominations will be accepted until June 1.

— May 6 is Youth Sunday in the Church of the Brethren. The theme for 2012 is “Bridging the Gap” (Romans 15:5-7). Worship resources along with a poster, congregational activity guide, bulletin covers, and much more are available to download from .

— An Action Alert from the denomination’s Advocacy and Peace Witness Office highlights the “Priorities for a Faithful Budget” unveiled by faith leaders meeting in the nation’s capital. The priorities document states in part, “Our message to our national leaders–rooted in our sacred texts–is this: Act with mercy and justice by serving the common good, robustly funding support for poor and vulnerable people, both at home and abroad, and exercising proper care and keeping of the earth.” Read the full text at . “We as Christians and the Church of the Brethren may not all come to agreement on how we should reconcile the budget crisis with our priorities, but since we desire to follow Jesus in all things, we should urge our political leaders to act justly and love mercy as we are urged in our scripture,” said the alert, citing the 1977 Annual Conference Statement on Justice and Nonviolence. For more information contact Nate Hosler, Advocacy Officer, or 202-481-6943.

Photo by Marcos Inhauser
Brazilian Brethren gave Christmas care packages to residents of a “favela” or shanty-town in the area of Hortolandia this past winter, 2011.

— Brethren in Brazil are developing a ministry to a favela (shanty town) in the area of Hortolândia. “It started when a church member (Regina) discovered that she could help them giving classes on how to cook and how to get some extra income cooking for events,” according to an e-mail report from Marcos Inhauser. He and his wife, Suely, are leaders in Igreja da Irmandade (the Church of the Brethren in Brazil). “After a time we started having worship services and bibliotherapy. In addition, we worked helping them with some concepts and training on community development, which resulted in the transfer of the favela to brand new urbanized area. We are now in the process of education for prevention of domestic violence and sexual abuse of children. This ministry is done under authorization of the Education Authority and around 25 children are weekly receiving training to avoid domestic and sexual violence. We have also provided food baskets and a Christmas celebration.” For more about the Brethren in Brazil go to .

— This week’s Facebook post from Inglenook Cookbook and Brethren Press: “It’s springtime, so here’s an easy recipe for fresh asparagus. Enjoy!” This recipe for asparagus with white sauce is from the 1911 Inglenook Cookbook, submitted by Sister Katie E. Keller of Enterprise, Mont.: “Cook 1 bunch of asparagus 1 hour or less, according to age, then drain off all the water, season with pepper and salt. Add a spoonful of butter and a dressing made of 1 tablespoonful of flour and 1 cup of sweet cream. Serve on buttered toast.” For more about the new Inglenook Cookbook and heritage recipes and wisdom from previous editions, go to .

— Girard (Ill.) Church of the Brethren celebrated 100 years in February. In a newspaper report about the celebration, noted in the Illinois/Wisconsin District newsletter, pastor Ron Bryant is shown introducing the church’s oldest member, Avis Dadisman, 94.

— Mt. Lebanon Fellowship Church of the Brethren in Barboursville, Va., celebrates its 100th anniversary with a revival April 19-21. The 7 p.m. services feature Terry Jewel of Knights Chapel and include special music and a children’s story. Mt. Lebanon will have homecoming April 22 beginning with 10 a.m. worship, followed by a covered dish meal. Please bring lawn chairs for the homecoming meal, said an announcement in the “Orange County Review” online.

— The first deaf love feast in the Church of the Brethren was held April 4 by the Deaf Fellowship at Frederick Church of the Brethren in Maryland. Find out more about the Frederick deaf fellowship at .

— Quinter (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a “Faith, Family, and Finances Workshop” on April 28, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (registration at 8:30 a.m.) Led by On Earth Peace on the theme, “How to Live Faithfully Within Your Means and Keep Peace in the Family,” the workshop is presented in cooperation with Brethren Benefit Trust. Lunch and child care will be provided. To attend, please call 785-754-3630 by April 23. A free will offering will be collected to cover expenses.

— Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., is hosting “Voices from the Courthouse Prison,” a play presented by CrossRoads, the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center on April 29, at 7 p.m. The play depicts events of the winter of 1862, when Mennonite and Brethren leaders were imprisoned in the Rockingham County courthouse for resisting the Civil War. It features the voices of John Kline, Gabe Heatwole, and others sharing their beliefs and struggles–and the women who visited and cared for them while imprisoned. A free will offering will benefit the work of the center.

— Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger will preach at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Sunday, April 22, and at Panora (Iowa) Church of the Brethren on Sunday, May 6. The Panora worship service begins at 10 a.m., preceded by a question and answer session during the 9 a.m. Sunday school, with a potluck meal closing out the morning. “All are welcome,” said an invitation in the Northern Plains District newsletter.

— Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., on April 13 hosted an “Empty Bowls” dinner featuring hundreds of bowls created by the Juniata College art department. The dinner raised money for various Huntingdon County food banks. According to a release from the college, participants got “not only soup and bread, but also a hand-made ceramic soup bowl from the college’s renowned pottery program.” Sponsors included the Mud Junkies, the college’s ceramics club, the Art Alliance, PAX-O, the college’s peace studies club, and the Catholic Council. A 4-H group and a Girl Scout troop also created bowls for the event. The release noted this is the sixth year Juniata has been involved in Empty Bowls, a nationwide event designed to focus attention on world hunger.

— “Extending Care…in All Seasons” is the title of a Deacon Training Event with Curtis W. Dubble, on April 28 at the Village at Morrisons Cove in Martinsburg, Pa. Dubble will share the story of his wife Anna Mary, and speak about end-of-life decision making, the need for communicating advance directives, a support system of caregivers, and a life of faith and prayer during difficult times. Cost is $5 and includes lunch. Continuing education credit is available for pastors. Registration deadline is April 20. Find out more at .

— Deacon training will be part of the Illinois and Wisconsin District Potluck at Peoria (Ill.) Church of the Brethren on April 28. In addition to potluck lunch, the day includes workshops and opportunity for ministers to gain continuing education. Workshops on “Deacon Spirituality,” “Helping the Hurting,” and “Building Blocks of Deacon Ministry” will be led by Donna Kline, director of the Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry. Annual Conference director Chris Douglas will lead “Praying with Scripture,” “Praying with Music, Art, and Journaling,” and “Prayer Walking.” Other sessions will teach participants to memorize scripture and tell a memorable Bible story. Registration is $5. Each participant is invited to bring a dish to share.

— The World Hunger Auction Hunger Walk will be April 22 starting from Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., at 3 p.m. Other upcoming events that are part of the annual World Hunger Auction in Virlina District include a May 12 Golf Tournament at the Mariner’s Landing course; a June 2 Bike Ride starting from the Antioch Church at 8 a.m.; a June 10 organ and choral presentation with Jonathan Emmons; and the Auction itself on Aug. 11. For more information and registration forms go to .

— Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center near Keezletown, Va., holds a Spring Festival on April 28, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Activities raise money to support the outdoor ministry program of Shenandoah District including a fishing contest, pancake breakfast, craft demonstrations, paddle boat rides, hike-a-thon, children’s games, petting zoo, zip line rides, an auction, barbecue, Dunk the Dunkard Booth, Kiss the Cow contest, and more. Go to .

— In more news from Brethren Woods, registrations are due April 27 for the camp’s Canoeing Adventure Day on May 5. The canoe experience on the Shenandoah River starts at Mountain View Church of the Brethren in McGaheysville, Va., at 9:30 a.m. Camp staff, including a certified canoe instructor and lifeguard, will provide orientation. Cost is $30 and includes lunch, canoe, paddle, lifejacket, and additional gear. A packing list and permission slips/waivers will be sent by e-mail after registration is received. The registration form is at .

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren continuing care retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., hosts its third annual Spring Open House on May 12 from 1-4 p.m. A release invited guests to take tours of the village, chat with staff members and residents, ride a horse-drawn wagon through the community, enjoy gourmet refreshments and a slide show about the people and places of Fahrney-Keedy, and see work nearing completion on the expanded wastewater treatment plant and plans for a larger physical therapy area as well as two walking trails. “There is a lot of work in progress here at Fahrney-Keedy as we move forward,” said Keith R. Bryan, President/CEO. “Guests will be very impressed not only with the full range of retirement opportunities here but also how we are working toward the future.” To RSVP for the open house or more information call 301-671-5015 or 301-671-5016 or visit

— Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind., is presenting a seven-month educational series on “Successful Aging” on the third Thursday of the month. The series started today, April 19. The one-hour sessions begin at 9 a.m. and include free interactive workbooks and refreshments. Several area organizations will be involved to present on a range of topics, such as in April, Zimmer Corporation discusses joint health, and in May, a retired Indiana State Police officer will share how to defend oneself against scams. For more information contact 260-982-3924 or .

— Manchester College’s Student Financial Services has shared a notice about its Church Matching Grant Program. The college is located in North Manchester, Ind. Churches planning to participate in the program need to access the recipient roster for the 2012-13 academic year, the notice said. Go to . Click on “Church Matching Recipient Roster.” Complete and submit the roster no later than June 1 to be guaranteed Manchester College matching funds. The notice asked churches to be aware that they must follow IRS regulations regarding contributions that flow through charitable organizations, and that “this program is not intended to allow families to pass money through a church so that their child can receive the matching scholarship.” For more information contact Student Financial Services at 260-982-5066 or .

— Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced a search committee for its next president. President George Cornelius announced March 6 that he will let his contract with the college expire at the end of this academic year. Executive vice president Roy W. Ferguson Jr. will serve as interim president. The search committee includes Judy Mills Reimer, former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, along with chair G. Steven Agee, judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; Debra M. Allen, certified public accountant and treasurer of Sidney B. Allen Jr. Builder Inc.; William S. Earhart, certified public accountant and treasurer of Heatwole/Miller real estate management and development company; Michael K. Kyles M.D., orthopedic surgeon on the staff of Halifax Regional Hospital; Robert I. Stolzman, partner in the law firm of Adler, Pollock & Sheehan; James H. Walsh, partner with the law firm of McGuireWoods LLP; W. Steve Watson Jr., Lawrence S. and Carmen C. Miller Chair of Ethics and associate professor of philosophy and religion; and Kathy G. Wright, logistics coordinator for Philip Morris USA Inc.

— In more news from Bridgewater College, five alumni including three Church of the Brethren members will be honored as part of the annual Alumni Weekend celebration April 20-22. At the annual banquet of the Ripples Society on April 20, Dr. J. Paul Wampler (class of 1954) and Doris Cline Egge (1946) will receive the 2012 Ripples Society Medals. At the Alumni Awards ceremony on April 21, the Distinguished Alumna Award will be presented to Dr. Elizabeth Mumper (1976). The Young Alumna Award will be presented to Emila J. Sutton (2002). The West-Whitelow Humanitarian Award will be presented to Dr. Kenneth M. Heatwole (1979).

— The McPherson (Kan.) College Bulldogs recently celebrated a first Final Four appearance. “With a come-from-behind victory with less than a minute to go against Dordt College in the NAIA DII Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Men’s Basketball Team logged the first Final Four appearance for Bulldogs Basketball,” said an e-mail newsletter for McPherson alumni. “They lost to the No. 1 seed Northwood University in the semifinals, but achieved a run that will go into the record books of MC Athletics.” Watch the comeback at .

— “The thing to remember about zombies is that they’re brain-dead hulks prone to staggering around aimlessly,” reports a release from Juniata College, “so it’s doubly amazing that a group of Juniata College filmmakers were able to enliven the living dead long enough to complete a movie that won the college a $12,000 prize.” Juniata earned first place recognition for “Showtime,” a zombie film created for “Show Us Your ETC,” a contest sponsored by ETC Inc. (Electronic Theatre Controls). The company specializes in theater lighting. For first prize the firm bestowed a theatrical lighting board on Juniata’s film team, which will control lighting and effects lighting in the Suzanne von Liebig Theatre. The equipment is worth more than $12,000. “This was filmed right before finals in December so many people on campus were walking around like zombies anyway,” says Gus Redmond, a sophomore from Bethesda, Md., who originated the project when he discovered the online contest on the ETC website.

— Several Juniata College professors and a documentary film producer will discuss how theatrical performances and dramatic rituals can become a tool for peace and resistance in regions afflicted by violence, poverty and oppression. The panel discussion takes place after screening of the documentary “Acting Together on the World Stage” at 7 p.m. April 25 in Neff Lecture Hall on the Juniata campus in Huntingdon, Pa. The film and panel discussion is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Baker Center for Peace and Conflict Studies and moderated by Celia Cook-Huffman, the Burkholder Professor of Conflict Resolution.

— Global Women’s Project is inviting participation in its annual Mother’s Day Gratitude Project. “Simply send a donation to GWP in honor of a woman you know and love (including your name and address as well as the recipient’s name and address), and we will send her a lovely handwritten card indicating that a gift has been made in her honor. Donations will be used to fund our partner projects in Rwanda, Uganda, Nepal, South Sudan, and Indiana–all of which focus on improving the lives of women.” Memorial donations are also welcomed. To participate in the Mother’s Day Gratitude Project send donations to Global Women’s Project, c/o Nan Erbaugh, 47 South Main St., West Alexandria, OH 45381. Gratitude cards will be mailed in time for Mother’s Day if requests are received by May 6.

— A panel discussion on gun violence will be held in Devon, Pa., on Sunday afternoon April 22 sponsored by Heeding God’s Call, an initiative against gun violence in America’s cities that started at a conference of the three Historic Peace Churches. The event at Main Line Unitarian Church features Superintendent Michael Chitwood of Upper Darby, Pa.; Dr. Fred Kauffman, retired emergency room doctor from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia; Max Nacheman, executive director of CeaseFire Pennsylvania; and Jim McIntire, president of the board for Heeding God’s Call. Lunch at 12:30 p.m. is followed by the panel discussion 12:50-2 p.m. To reserve a seat and lunch, contact Sue Smith at by April 21.

— Jordan Blevins, former advocacy officer for the Church of the Brethren and the National Council of Churches (NCC), is serving as co-chair of the Task Force on Re-envisioning and Restructuring the NCC. He is serving alongside co-chair and NCC president Kathryn M. Lohre. The work of the task force coincides with the NCC’s search for a transitional general secretary.

— The World Council of Churches and All African Conference of Churches are expressing concern over escalating conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, according to Ecumenical News International (ENI), reacting to some of the worst fighting between the two countries since South Sudan achieved independence last July. The oil town of Heglig in Sudan has been occupied by South Sudan’s armed forces, but both countries claim the territory. It is not known how many have been killed during two weeks of fighting, ENI said.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include James Deaton, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Bob Gross, Mary Kay Heatwole, Donna Kline, Michael Leiter, Phil Lersch, Ralph McFadden, Nancy Miner, Glen Sargent, John Wall, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue on May 2. 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. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to

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