Newsline for April 5, 2012

Quote of the week

“There’s something about being together around a table that enables the bonds of love and fellowship to grow.”

— Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey in one of two new “Moments with the Moderator” video clips posted at . For more information about the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference taking place in St. Louis, Mo., on July 7-11 go to .

“Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” (John 13:6b).

1) Ruthann Knechel Johansen to retire as seminary president.
2) Presidential and board leadership highlight Bethany trustee meeting.
3) Civilian Public Service camps mark 70th anniversaries.

4) Bridgewater’s Jesse Hopkins to direct final concert choir performance.

5) National Council of Churches provides Earth Day Sunday resources.

6) National Walk at Lunch Day April 25 reminds workers to be walkers.

7) Action Alert: Racism.

8) Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, job openings, deacon survey, and much more.


1) Ruthann Knechel Johansen to retire as seminary president.

Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president of Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., has announced her retirement, effective July 1, 2013. The announcement came in conjunction with the semi-annual meeting of the Bethany Seminary board of trustees.

Johansen began her tenure as the ninth president of Bethany Seminary on July 1, 2007, having most recently held the position of professor of literature and interdisciplinary studies and of a faculty fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

During her time at Bethany, she helped lead the development of a new mission and vision statement and a five-year strategic plan. Beginning with her inaugural celebration, she established the Presidential Forum as the premier public event at Bethany, offering the seminary’s space and resources for denominational and ecumenical exploration, learning, and discourse on important issues of faith and ethics. Her presidency also saw the hiring of a new academic dean, three new faculty members, and a new director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

In a statement to the seminary community Johansen said, “Since July 2007, together the board and faculty have analyzed the challenges facing the Christian church, the Church of the Brethren, and most theological schools; re-examined the core testimonies of the Anabaptist-Pietist traditions and the Church of the Brethren for their relevance for theological education and the needs of the world in this time; and developed a bold mission and vision that is both faithful to the gospel and a prophetic call from Bethany to the church and the world…. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with wonderful colleagues, both as board members and employees, in higher education and in serving God, the church, and the world. I call us to continue to be faithful, as I will attempt to be during this last period, and as I expect the search committee and the board will be as well.”

Carol Scheppard, chair of the board of trustees, reflected on Johansen’s presidency: “As president Johansen transitions to the projects awaiting her in retirement, she leaves a rich legacy with Bethany. From the core foundations of the vision and mission statements and the comprehensive strategic plan, to the focused, energized, and convicted operations of the seminary community, Bethany is strong. We look forward with hope and confidence to Ruthann’s leadership in the year ahead and to the growth and nurturing of the seeds she has planted under our next president.”

Bethany trustee Rhonda Pittman Gingrich will serve as chair of the Presidential Search Committee, with Ted Flory, former member and chair of the board, serving as vice chair. The additional members of the committee are trustees David McFadden, John D. Miller, and Nathan Polzin; at-large representative Judy Mills Reimer; faculty representative Tara Hornbacker; and student representative Dylan Haro.

— Jenny Williams is director of communications and alumni/ae relations at Bethany Seminary.

2) Presidential and board leadership highlight Bethany trustee meeting.

The Bethany Theological Seminary board of trustees gathered March 23-25 on the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind., for its semiannual meeting. Following the recent announcement of Ruthann Knechel Johansen’s intention to retire from the presidency of the seminary (see story above), business began with approval of the Presidential Search Committee and statements from Johansen.

Johansen reflected on the presidency going forward: “At a time of transition, it is helpful to reflect on the cloud of witnesses in whose vision heritage we stand, hundreds and thousands of women and men who went to mission fields, pastored congregations, taught school, worked in hospitals. Like us, this cloud of witnesses from across a century faced challenges, questions, and suspicions. None submitted ultimately to resignation or despair but instead sank their roots more deeply into their faith in Jesus Christ and into careful analysis, understanding, and commitment to lead the school they served to clearer vision and purpose. Our task as board, administration, faculty, and students today is the same.”

In addition, Johansen presented four challenges that can be turned into opportunities: aAssessing the opportunities and effects of technology on education; engaging the questions surrounding the changing face of Christianity; learning to live with awareness and sensitivity in a multi-faith society; and extending the witness of Brethren core testimonies through Bethany’s educational resources.

The board also named desired characteristics of potential nominees to consider during the presidential search process.

Board leadership

Appreciation was expressed to current board chair Carol Scheppard at the conclusion of her 10-year tenure, which also included serving as chair of the Academic Affairs Committee. Two other trustees also were recognized for 10 years of service: Connie Rutt, who previously chaired the Advancement Committee, and Lisa Hazen, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee. Ron Beachley, an ex-officio member representing the district executives, was commended for his service at the close of his term.

New and continuing board leadership was approved: Lynn Myers, new board chair; David Witkovsky, new board vice chair; Martha Farahat, secretary; Jonathan Frye, new chair of the Academic Affairs Committee; Elaine Gibbel, chair of the Advancement Committee; and Phil Stone Jr., chair of the Student and Business Affairs Committee. David W. Miller, Hanover, Pa., was approved as a new trustee, filling an unexpired term. Both David Miller and Miller Davis were approved as representatives to the board of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center.

Board actions

The board approved the following: the proposed budget of $2,382,060 for the 2012-13 fiscal year; Tara Hornbacker’s promotion to full professor of Ministry Formation; a review of Bethany’s compensation philosophy for faculty and staff; and the list of 16 potential graduates for 2012.

Institutional Advancement

Lowell Flory, executive director for Institutional Advancement and Gift Planning, reported that both overall giving and annual fund giving for calendar year 2011 were within the average of several previous years. Congregational giving is less overall, but some churches are resuming or increasing their giving after the economic hardships of the past few years.

Flory reviewed the goals of the three-year Reimagining Ministries campaign: evangelism and new forms of ministry, conflict transformation, and greater public access to Bethany’s resources. Giving to the campaign is currently slightly ahead of target with 52 percent of the $5.9 million goal secured. Numerous donor contacts have been made through a series of campaign meetings, and the effectiveness of various strategies are being evaluated.

Communications staff described continuing methods of promoting Bethany and communicating with constituents. Board members saw an example of the new ad series, which will be used in three national publications and two online media outlets. Tracking through technology is being used for all formats. Bethany’s ability to work with webcasting continues to be strong, and the board was encouraged to think broadly about how to make use of technology.

Academic Affairs

Steve Schweitzer, academic dean, highlighted the progress of the comprehensive curricular review to be completed by fall 2013, part of the seminary’s five-year strategic plan. In the review process, faculty needs in the areas of conflict transformation and reconciliation studies, evangelism, and Brethren studies are being discussed. Schweitzer also noted that while the seminary will remain accredited with the Association of Theological Schools, Bethany’s administration continues to evaluate whether maintaining accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission is in Bethany’s best interests.

Reports were heard from Schweitzer and Russell Haitch, associate professor of Christian Education and director of the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults, on their fall 2011 sabbaticals. Schweitzer’s experimental model of taking selected weeks throughout the semester was successful and has garnered the favorable attention of ATS. Haitch reported progress in writing, research, and expanding connections in the field of youth ministry.

The board heard from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, which is developing a new covenant for a continued partnership between Bethany and the Church of the Brethren. Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano (SeBAH) Spanish language ministerial training program is planning to launch a third cohort in Puerto Rico in early fall. As the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program concludes with its final cohorts, a proposal for future programming in continuing education is being developed.

The Brethren Journal Association reported that “Brethren Life & Thought” is now on a regular semiannual publication schedule and is exclusively available on ATLA, the premiere index for articles and writings in religious fields. It is hoped that peer-reviewed articles and a new blog will increase interest in the journal.

Student and Business Affairs

Student debt is an ongoing concern for seminary staff. Since 2004, increases in borrowing and payments made have been significant. Institutional income from tuition and fees is down this year, while annual fund income is increasing due to campaign efforts. It was noted that if stability in the stock market continues, 2012-13 will be the final year of Bethany’s three-year rolling average amount for its investment draw that dates from the economic downturn, which points to future improvements in cash flow. In addition, Bethany has acquired two residential properties through the dissolving of the Brethren Housing Organization, and potential uses for the properties are being considered.

The board was treated to an effective visual demonstration of the seminary’s accounting process by Brenda Reish, executive director of student and business services and treasurer. In learning how funds are designated and used, the board generated discussion on how financial decisions are made.

The Admissions Office reported that applications in 2012 had already reached one-third of the average calendar year number and that Bethany’s conversations with prospects indicate a possible increase in residential students. The importance of nurturing young people in the faith was noted. The Student Development Office has begun a three-year cycle of visiting distance-learning Connections students, proving to be very positive and effective in helping staff understand how these students experience seminary. Exploration of ways to include these students in seminary life continues.

Amy Gall Ritchie, director of student development, was recognized for completing the requirements for a doctorate in ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary and expressed gratitude for her sabbatical in fall 2011.

In recognition of her promotion to full professor of Preaching and Worship in 2011, Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm gave a public lecture Saturday evening, March 24. Entitled “The Reign of God in the Preaching of Jesus: Glimpses and Soundings of the World to Come,” her presentation explored how Jesus’s words and actions illuminated God’s presence during his time and how our attention to these words and to our senses can reveal God’s presence in our world today.

— Jenny Williams is director of communications and alumni/ae relations at Bethany Seminary.

3) Civilian Public Service camps mark 70th anniversaries.

Photo by: courtesy of Brethren Historical Library and Archives
In a photo from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, conscientious objector David Stewart serves patients in a senile ward at a mental hospital in Ft. Steilacoom, Wash.–one of the Civilian Public Service (CPS) camps where COs did alternative service during World War II. Fifteen CPS camps under the oversight of the Brethren Service Committee were opened in 1942.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of a number of the Civilian Public Service (CPS) camps where Church of the Brethren conscientious objectors worked during World War II. Some 15 CPS camps overseen by the Brethren Service Committee opened in 1942.

Under the agreement made between the National Service Board of Religious Objectors (NSBRO) and the US government to provide alternative service for conscientious objectors, the three Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Friends or Quakers) along with some other religious groups and organizations were given oversight of a number of the camps. However, the camps were operated by government departments or institutions like mental hospitals.

“Should local groups have energy and interest, this would provide an opportunity for local commemorations of the CPS experience and a way to reflect on issues of conscience today which were very active during the WWII era,” notes Titus M. Peachey, peace education coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee US, who provided this list of Brethren CPS camps opened in 1942. “The anniversary offers a good opportunity for local history to be remembered and to reflect on the way we tried to protect freedom of conscience…even during the ‘good war.’”

— Camp 24 in Williamsport, Md., operated by the Soil Conservation Service
— Camp 27 in Tallahassee, Fla. operated by the Public Health Service
— Camp 29 in Lyndhurst, Va., operated by the Forest Service
— Camp 30 in Walhalla, Mich., operated by the Forest Service
— Camp 34 in Bowie, Md., operated by the Fish and Wildlife Service
— Camp 36 in Santa Barbara, Calif., operated by the Forest Service
— Camp 42 in Wellston, Mich., operated by the Forest Service
— Camp 43 in Adjuntas, P.R., operated by the Puerto Rican Reconstruction Administration
— Camp 47 Sykesville, Md., at a mental hospital
— Camp 48 in Marienville, Pa., operated by the Forest Service
— Camp 51 in Ft. Steilacoom, Wash., at a mental hospital
— Camp 56 in Waldport, Ore., operated by the Forest Service
— Camp 69 in Cleveland, Ohio, at a mental hospital
— Camp 73 in Columbus, Ohio, at a mental hospital
— Camp 74 in Cambridge, Md., at a mental hospital

For more information about the history of Civilian Public Service and the experiences of conscientious objectors who took part, go to .


4) Bridgewater’s Jesse Hopkins to direct final concert choir performance.

The 32-voice Bridgewater (Va.) College Concert Choir will wrap up its spring concert tour with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15, in the Carter Center for Worship and Music on the college campus.

The Concert Choir and the college’s Chorale are directed by Jesse E. Hopkins, Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor of Music. The concert is a farewell for Hopkins, who is retiring at the end of the academic year after 34 years of teaching at the college. A reception for Hopkins will follow the concert.

Concert and reception are open to the public at no charge. In addition to the Concert Choir, the concert will feature the 20-voice Chorale and a student-directed Handbell Choir. The repertory will include works from the Renaissance through contemporary classical music.

Among the pieces the Concert Choir will perform are “Ave Maria” by Josquin Desprez, “Sing Unto God” from Judas Maccabaeus by G.F. Handel, and “Alleluia” by Stephen Paulus. The program also includes “Gloria” from Missa Criolla by Ariel Ramirez, “Mary Had a Baby” by William L. Dawson, and “May the Road Rise to Meet You” by Hopkins. Selections by the Chorale include “Easter Alleluia” by Brent Pierce, “How Can I Keep from Singing?” by Ronald Staheli, and William L. Dawson’s “Ain’-a That Good News.”

Hopkins, a 1970 graduate of Bridgewater College, holds a master of music education degree from James Madison University and a doctorate in choral music education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined the Bridgewater faculty in 1977.

— Mary Kay Heatwole is editorial assistant for Media Relations at Bridgewater College.


5) National Council of Churches provides Earth Day Sunday resources.

“This year, 2012, we are entering into a spirit of reflection regarding Ethics of Energy. This is the theme of our Earth Day Sunday resource and a series of six webinars we will host throughout the year,” reports the National Council of Churches (NCC) Eco-Justice program.

The Eco-Justice program is designating 2012 as a year to consider the ethics of energy use. “As people of faith, how do we use energy wisely, sustainably, and in keeping with our biblical teachings?” said a release. “It’s a challenging question with no easy answer.”

The free Earth Day Sunday resource provides both worship and Christian education resources. It features stories of congregations and communities undertaking creative responses to energy use and in turn helping others gain understanding of the hard questions about energy use.

The series of six webinars exploring different energy challenges and opportunities began with a first webinar on Feb. 12 titled “Smart Grid: Using Emerging Technologies for Energy Stewardship.” A recording of the webinar is at .

The second webinar is scheduled for April 12 at 1 p.m. (eastern) on the issue of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” a process used to extract natural gas from underground rock formations. Gas companies are fracking in 28 states from Colorado to Pennsylvania. To register or learn more about the webinar go to .

Go to to download the “Earth Day Sunday 2012: Ethics of Energy” resource and find out more about the Eco-Justice theme for the year as well as upcoming webinars.

The NCC program also is requesting stories from churches that take part in this year’s theme emphasis. E-mail to share your Earth Day and “Ethics of Energy” stories.


6) National Walk at Lunch Day April 25 reminds workers to be walkers.

Use your lunch break for burning calories instead of consuming them.

On April 25 at noon, “National Walk @ Lunch Day” provides an opportunity to learn how easy it can be to fit exercise into your busy schedule. For the third year in a row, Brethren Insurance Services is partnering with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to host a coordinated walk at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and encouraging Brethren-affiliated workplaces across the nation to join in. Brethren Insurance Services is a ministry of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT).

Exercise doesn’t need to involve a gym, a trainer, special clothing, or expensive equipment. All it takes is some comfortable shoes and two-and-a-half hours a week of walking, as suggested by the Centers for Disease Control. Mayo Clinic reports a variety of findings regarding the benefits of walking and other forms of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, including lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, improving one’s mood and cholesterol balance, and more.

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.

Do you live near the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.? Join Brethren Insurance Services as it hosts a walking event on April 25 at noon at 1505 Dundee Avenue. Suggested walking maps, healthful snacks, and water will be provided.

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.


7) Action Alert: Racism.

Haven’t we finished talking racism yet? What more can there be to say? There is a Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial at the heart of the national monuments in Washington, D.C. I saw it, just this past week. There was King looking across the cherry blossoms and tidal basin toward the Jefferson memorial.

A few weeks prior Jenn and I went to the National Museum of American History. We learned that Jefferson, while condemning slavery, owned 600 human beings in his life time. Today, none other than Martin Luther King, Jr. looks across the water at Jefferson. Both honored for their work and lives. It would seem that we have overcome our racism and its stereotypes.

However–Shaima Alwadi, an Iraqi-American, was beaten to death and left with a note “go back to your country, you terrorist.”

However–Trayvon Martin, an African-American youth, was shot.

While some argue that the situations surrounding these deaths are unclear, our sisters and brothers from minority groups can tell us of prevalence of racial prejudice. We are certainly not beyond racism.

Many people have done a lot of good work. We should be thankful for their witness. We, however, must take seriously the call to embrace all cultures. No one culture has all that it needs to appreciate the beauty of God and God’s world.

In Revelation 7:9 we read, “After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb….” Recently I heard someone comment on this saying, “If this is how it is going to be in heaven, we better get started here on earth.” The 2007 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Query: “Becoming a Multi-Ethnic Church” is part of the process that our denomination has done to begin realizing the vision of Revelation 7:9. This statement even notes that in the Annual Meeting of 1835 we were instructed to “make no difference on account of color.”

While there has been progress, we still have work to do. The 2007 Query and earlier documents make a number of recommendations about what we can do and observations about where we are. Among these are:

— seek to be multi-ethnic by truly including persons of different cultural background into our church body,

— seek to understand how we still have racism and racial stereotypes within ourselves despite our good intentions, and

— seek to deeply know people of different cultural backgrounds.

May God grant us joy, wisdom, and courage as we embrace those who represent the beauty of many cultures.

In God’s peace,
Nathan Hosler
Advocacy Officer and Ecumencial Peace Coordinator
Church of the Brethren and National Council of Churches

— For more information about the advocacy and peace witness ministry of the Church of the Brethren contact Nate Hosler, c/o National Council of Churches, 110 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002;; 202-481-6943.

8) Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, job openings, deacon survey, and much more.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Volunteers from Mount Morris (Ill.) Church of the Brethren gathered at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., this week to assemble the May Source mailing. Source is a packet of flyers, brochures, newsletters, and other information and resources that is mailed to each congregation on a monthly basis. Jean Clements (third from left), an employee at Brethren Press, organizes the Source mailings and hosts the volunteer groups that help put it together.

— Correction: The name of MaryBeth Fisher, Brethren Volunteer Service worker in Unit 296, was misspelled in the Newsline of March 22.

— Remembrance: Southern Ohio District has made a special request for prayer following the sudden death of youth pastor Brian Delk of Castine Church of the Brethren in Arcanum, Ohio. He died the morning of April 3. “The youth pastor at our Castine congregation was killed in a car accident,” said the district e-mail. “Please be in prayer for Brian’s wife, Cindi, and the rest of his family as well as the Castine church, especially their youth group.”

— Mary Alice Eller has submitted her resignation as administrative secretary for the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Her time at the academy began with assisting with a transition and continued in three-plus years of growth, challenges, and opportunities. She has juggled a 30-hour work week while enrolled as a master of divinity student at Bethany Theological Seminary. She anticipates beginning Clinical Pastoral Education or a ministry placement in late spring, and continuing her academic career as a fulltime student. Her last day of work with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership will be April 27.

— Diane Stroyeck has accepted the position of customer service inventory specialist for Brethren Press starting April 9. She will combine this part-time assignment with her current part-time role as “Messenger” subscriptions specialist. She has served the Church of the Brethren for nine years, and her experience in customer service, purchasing, and inventory control will be an asset for Brethren Press.

— Hillcrest ( ) roots were planted in 1947, when residents of La Verne, Calif., partnered with the Church of the Brethren to create a retirement home for the community. Now on 50 acres, Hillcrest provides a remarkable retirement community experience. Hillcrest seeks a well-organized fundraising professional to provide major and planned gift leadership while managing the organization’s comprehensive fundraising programs. Interested candidates should contact Rich Talmo with Talmo & Company at rich@talmoandcompany or 760-415-6186.

— The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership seeks a fulltime administrative assistant to work 37.5 to 40 hours per week and to begin May 14. The academy office is on the campus of Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. The administrative assistant provides secretarial and administrative support to the staff, programs, and projects of the academy and its students, and works collegially with staff and faculty of the seminary. Candidates should possess the following qualifications and abilities: computer skills (e-mail, Internet, word processing, desktop publishing, database management, Contact Plus software, spreadsheets, website management); good verbal and written skills; basic accounting; ability to set priorities and follow through on tasks with minimal supervision; ability to multitask; good organizational skills; office skills (accurate message taking, record keeping, filing); experience with office equipment (photocopier, fax, scanner, telephone, transcription). Applications and a more complete job description are available from the executive assistant to the president of Bethany Seminary and will be accepted until April 5, or until the position is filled. Interested candidates should send their resumes to Shaye Isaacs, Executive Assistant to the President, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374; or by e-mail to .

— The Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry is looking for help from deacons in church congregations to plan for next steps. Questions provided by director Donna Kline include: Do we continue with training as it’s currently offered? What options for online resources might make sense? How can our ministry best help you with your ministry? Deacons are invited to complete the brief survey at .

— Church website staff are aware of a problem with “suggested” videos in YouTube. Complaints have been received from Brethren that after viewing church videos on YouTube, the site automatically suggests other videos on what it considers related topics. Those suggestions and links are not under the control of church staff. “We are sorry about any inconvenience or discomfort from the suggested videos,” said website producer Jan Fischer Bachman. Viewers may be able to avoid the suggested videos and links by viewing church videos on the denominational website instead of going directly to YouTube.

— Dedication services for the Lake Side Church sanctuary, a new church development in Virlina District, will be held April 15 at 4 p.m. in Moneta, Va. Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, will be the keynote speaker. Pastor John N. Neff will be installed on Sunday, April 22.

— First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va., is co-hosting an Easter Sunrise Service on the hilltop of the CrossRoads campus in a cooperative effort with Weavers Mennonite Church. CrossRoads is a Brethren and Mennonite heritage center in the Shenandoah Valley. The service on Easter Sunday, April 8, begins at 6:30 a.m. “If your church does not have a sunrise service, please consider joining us on the hilltop for worship!” said an invitation from Shenandoah District.

— The Peacemaking for Peacemakers events series in the Denver area is featuring Church of the Brethren member Cliff Kindy speaking about his experience as a “reservist” with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). Kindy has served with CPT in Iraq, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Colombia, and First Nation communities in New Brunswick, South Dakota, and New York. He is an organic market gardener in Indiana. Kindy will speak April 14, 6:30-9 p.m., and on April 15 at 10 a.m. at Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo. On April 15 at 5-7 p.m. he will speak at the Whittier Neighborhood Community Center in Denver, Colo. For information contact Jeff Neuman-Lee at or 303-945-5632.

— Shenandoah District’s Disaster Ministries Committee is sponsoring a day trip to Pulaski, Va., on April 7 to join the community’s one-year Celebration of Recovery. “It was a year ago, just before Easter, that tornadoes struck Pulaski,” said a note in the district newsletter. The event on April 7 will combine a picnic, music, and recognition of the volunteers who have been helping residents move toward full recovery.

— Youth in Middle Pennsylvania District are participating in a “Soup Kitchen and Service Workcamp” in Washington, D.C., on April 15-17.

— Northern Plains District is reflecting on three challenging questions through a district-wide “Sending of the Seventy” process inspired by Luke 10:1-12, reports district executive minister Tim Button-Harrison in a recent newsletter. The questions are: “Where are you seeing or discovering God’s gift of life and vitality in your congregation?” “How do you imagine your congregation becoming more vital, with God’s help, over the next several years?” “What could we create together or do together to help each one of our sister congregations in the district to realize its hopes and dreams?” Two scriptures are being prayerfully considered: John 15:5, which refers to the vine and the branches; and Hebrews 10:24, which calls Christians to “consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” The process includes visitors called from the congregations and trained to visit a sister congregation. After the visits are completed, follow-up gatherings will be held in five places around the district and a district-wide workshop on congregational revitalization will be held at Camp Pine Lake.

— Camp Bethel’s 11th annual Sounds of the Mountains Festival of Music and Storytelling will be held April 20-21. The festival features Emmy winner Bobby Norfolk, nationally known tellers, Michael Reno Harrell, Bil Lepp and Kim Weitkamp, plus music from the Wright Kids and Wayne Henderson, according to an announcement. The camp is located near Fincastle, Va. More information and ticket sales are at .

— Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa., is having a “Manly Man Day” on April 28, featuring Steve McGranahan, “the world’s strongest redneck” according to the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter. The day will include redneck olympics, manly prizes, and a meat and potatoes supper. Cost is $20 with a $5 discount for additional family members. Go to .

— The Brethren Home Community in Windber, Pa., has received a $2,000 grant from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies to continue outdoor repairs on the original 1921 building. The grant will help complete restoration of the manor, and is the fourth that the home has received from the Community Foundation, said the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter.

— The Global Women’s Project Steering Committee met recently in West Alexandria, Ohio, to continue the visioning and administrative work of this Church of the Brethren women’s empowerment group, started over 30 years ago. Meeting were Anna Lisa Gross, Emily Matteson, Kim Hill Smith, Nan Erbaugh, and Carrie Eikler. The weekend began with prayerful focus and ended with worship at Trotwood Church of the Brethren, where the group helped lead worship. “The energy of the weekend was uplifting as the steering committee continues to look towards the possibility of new projects, celebrating our current projects, and brainstorming educational and fundraising opportunities,” said a release. “We also had the bittersweet moment of saying goodbye to Nan Erbaugh, a dedicated steering committee member of six years.” Erbaugh served as Global Women’s Project treasurer and traveled multiple times to South Sudan visiting sister projects there. The release also welcomed a new steering committee member, Sharon Nearhoof May, who will join the committee at its next meeting in September in Morgantown, W.Va.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
A book Elder John Kline used in his medical practice, with one of his handwritten notes on the use of herbs. The book and notes are part of the John Kline collection at Linville Creek Church of the Brethren, just down the street from the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va.

— The 2012 John Kline Lecture will feature Alann Schmidt, park ranger and museum curator at the Antietam National Battlefield. The lecture and a dinner starts at 6 p.m. on April 14 at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren. Tickets are $30. Reservations are required. Call Linville Creek Church of the Brethren at 540-896-5001 or send payment to John Kline Homestead, P.O. Box 274, Broadway, VA 22815. Schmidt’s lecture is titled, “Beacon of Peace: Antietam’s Dunker Church,” and is the second of five annual lectures commemorating the Civil War sesquicentennial.

— The practice of herbal medicine in the Shenandoah Valley in the late 1800s and specifically the medical practice of Brethren Elder John Kline will be a focus of the CrossRoads Spring Lecture to be held at 4 p.m. on April 15 at Lindale Mennonite Church in Linville, Va. Christopher Eads will present the lecture. The event also will remember the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, its impact on Shenandoah Valley Brethren and Mennonite families, and the strength with which they endured the horror of the war and the testing of their faith.

— Gene Sharp has been named Manchester College’s 2012 Innovator of the Year, reports a release from the college. Nominated in 2012 and 2009 for the Nobel Peace Prize, he is author of the book “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” which lists 198 nonviolent weapons for toppling dictators. “Gene Sharp’s tactics for peaceful removal of powerful dictators and how he made his work available to the Arab Spring citizen revolutionaries is truly innovative,” said Jim Falkiner, the Mark E. Johnston Professor of Entrepreneurship. Sharp is an Ohio native, founder and senior scholar of the Albert Einstein Institution, who held a research appointment to Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs for more than 30 years and is professor emeritus of political science for the University of Massachusetts A multi-media convocation celebrating Sharp begins at 3:30 p.m. on April 10 in Cordier Auditorium on the college campus in North Manchester, Ind. (the 84-year-old Sharp is unable to make the trip in person). The convocation is free and open to the public, sponsored by the Mark E. Johnston Entrepreneurship Program. For more about Manchester College, or about studying for a Certificate in Innovation, visit

— In more news from Manchester, the college will become a tobacco-free workplace on July 1 according to a recent “Notes from the President” e-mail from president Jo Young Switzer. “We are offering a variety of smoking cessation programs to faculty, staff, and students,” she reported. Senior Estefania Garces, a biology-chemistry major, has received a $1,500 incentive from the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission at the Indiana Department of Health, selected randomly from the 4,800 determined-to-be-non-smokers who entered the pool. “She stopped smoking this year, and we are very proud of her,” Switzer wrote.

— Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., is one of five institutions to receive the 2012 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization from the National Association of International Educators. A release reports that Juniata will be profiled in the upcoming NAFSA publication, “Internationalizing the Campus 2012: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities.” Members of Juniata’s international office will accept the award at a Capitol Hill event during International Education Week in November. Juniata programs and initiatives that were recognized by the association include establishing a Global Engagement Initiative that led to the formation of an intercultural learning assessment committee and the Global Village Living and Learning Community, and the dedication of faculty and staff to provide students with transformative international experiences such as teaching and advising international students and traveling to international campuses for study-abroad or summer programs.

— In addition to Bridgewater (Va.) College (reported in Newsline on March 22) two more Brethren-related colleges report being named to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll: Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The honor roll reflects all service done by colleges in the previous year, and is given by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College celebrated Founder’s Day on April 3, marking 132 years since the founding of the school. The college presented three awards to faculty: James D. Bowling, associate professor of mathematics, received the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award; Barbara H. Long, chair and assistant professor of health and human sciences, received the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award; and history professor Brian M. Kelley, associate professor of psychology, received the Faculty Scholarship Award.

— The 10th annual Open Door Recital, a unique experience for children with and without special needs and their parents, will be performed at 11 a.m. on April 14 in Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Zug Recital Hall. Students in the college’s music therapy program perform interactive short pieces, in which all expressions of joy are welcome. A reception follows the concert so children can meet the performers. This event, sponsored by the Department of Fine and Performing Art, is free and open to the public. Call 717-361-1991 or 717-361-1212 to reserve tickets.

— “Join us for a virtual 24 hour prayer-a-thon for peace in Colombia,” invites Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). The vigil is being held in coordination with the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia. Organizers want to gather people in prayer from all over the world over the course of a full day. To sign up for an hour of prayer, alone or with a group, between 6 p.m. Saturday, April 14, and 6 p.m. Sunday, April 15, go to . Prayer resources in Spanish are available at .

— The National Council of Churches (NCC) is moving forward in the development of a project to eliminate racial disparities in maternal health. “Due Season: A Faith-Filled Roadmap Toward Eliminating Racial Disparities in Maternal Health,” will develop congregational materials exploring the intersection of maternal health and race within the US and moving people to advocate for change. The NCC has received a $25,000 grant from Aetna to support the initiative, along with $2,500 from Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, allowing a unique intersection of conversations from both a medical and faith perspective. According to a 2010 report by Amnesty International, African-American women are four times more likely to die of pregnancy related complications than their white counterparts, while at the same time white US women already have a significantly higher maternal mortality rate than women in 24 other industrialized countries. “The fact that we continue to see such vast disparities in maternal health along racial lines is deeply troubling,” said Ann Tiemeyer, program director of the NCC’s Women’s Ministries. “We are living in the wealthiest country in the world in the 21st century. Pregnancies should be healthy and safe, regardless of the mother’s race.”

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deborah Brehm, Carrie A. Eikler, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Elizabeth Harvey, Mary K. Heatwole, Philip E. Jenks, Donna Kline, Jeri S. Kornegay, Amy J. Mountain, Rich Talmo, 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 April 18. 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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