Newsline for Jan. 11, 2012

“Who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord” (Proverbs 19:17).

Quote of the week: “I felt like a bird with two wings but could not fly to avoid danger.” — Ilexene Alphonse describing his feelings when a 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010–two years ago tomorrow. Alphonse is manager of the new Ministry Center and Guesthouse of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren). See below for his letter from Port-au-Prince.

1) Brethren mark the second anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake.
2) An overview of Brethren accomplishments in Haiti, 2010-2011.
3) A reflection on the Haiti earthquake: Two years of recovery.
4) Dear beloved Church of the Brethren: A letter from Port-au-Prince.
5) Thoughts from Haiti on the new year.

6) BBT members, clients invest $700,000 in low-income communities.
7) Dueck offers coaching, resources on ‘Emotional Intelligence.’

8) Gross moves into new role at On Earth Peace.

9) Church’s Elgin warehouse to be collection point for MLK food drive.
10) Brethren colleges hold events honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

11) Schedule, workshop topics, DVD available for congregational workshop.
12) New Church Development Conference registration opens Jan. 17.

13) New from Brethren Press: Devotions for Lent, hymn plaque, more.

14) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, prayer for Nigeria, and more.


1) Brethren mark the second anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake.

Photo by Roy Winter
A deacon of the church plays his accordion in the ruins of the Delmas 3 Church of the Brethren, Jan. 20, 2010. This photo was taken by Brethren Disaster Ministries director Roy Winter just a week after the 7.0 quake that devastated the capital city of Haiti. Winter traveled to Haiti just days after the earthquake with a small delegation from the US that also included Pastor Ludovic St. Fleur of Miami, Fla., Klebert Exceus, and Jeff Boshart.

The Church of the Brethren in Haiti this week is remembering the earthquake that devastated the Caribbean island nation in early 2010. Tomorrow, Jan. 12, is the second anniversary of the earthquake.

The powerful 7.0 earthquake hit at 4:53 p.m. on a weekday afternoon. Its epicenter was Léogâne, a town 15 miles from the capital city Port-au-Prince. It caused the deaths of as many as 200,000 or more people, with thousands more injured. There were numerous aftershocks, as well as the aftereffects of injuries, illness, homelessness, lack of sanitation, and other privations that caused yet more deaths. More than a million people in Port-au-Prince and surroundings areas were left without shelter. Rubble filled the streets. Tent cities and encampments sprang up. A cholera outbreak many months after the earthquake was linked to a continued widespread lack of shelter, sanitation facilities, and clean water. Two years later, many Haitians still struggle to regain homes and employment.

Since the earthquake the Church of the Brethren has been heavily involved in disaster response in Haiti. The collaborative response joins together efforts of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Global Mission and Service program of the US church with Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti).

At first, Brethren focused on immediate needs: food and water, medical care, temporary housing, and those suffering psychological trauma. Building of permanent homes for earthquake survivors then started, and longer term needs of Brethren congregations and their communities began to be addressed. The effort has included building a new Ministry Center and Guesthouse complex for Eglise des Freres Haitiens in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood Croix des Bouquets. Work groups from the US also have been traveling to Haiti to help out.

In these two years, the Emergency Disaster Fund has expended $1 million in grants for Haiti, supporting both Church of the Brethren and ecumenical disaster response. (See articles below for an overview of Brethren accomplishments in Haiti and reflections from leaders in the effort.)

Tomorrow a number of Haitian Brethren congregations will fast and hold prayer meetings, said Pastor Ludovic St. Fleur of Miami, Fla., who has been a guiding force in establishing Eglise des Freres Haitiens. The Brethren in Croix des Bouquets, whose church building is located at the new Ministry Center complex, for example, will remember the day by fasting from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., reports Ilexene Alphonse, who is managing the Ministry Center and Guesthouse. “They said they will spend the time thanking God for life,” he reported by e-mail.

The Haitian Brethren prayer and fasting will “thank God for those who are alive, saved from that tragedy,” said St. Fleur.

Haitian Brethren in the US commemorating the anniversary will include members of Haitian First Church of New York. The church, located in Brooklyn, also houses the Haitian Family Resource Center that started up two years ago to aid Haitians who had lost loved ones or were otherwise affected by the earthquake. The center is continuing to offer services to the Haitian community in New York, Pastor Verel Montauban reported by telephone.

Haitian First Church is holding a prayer service tomorrow evening, 7-10 p.m. Visitors are welcome. During the service, pictures of the earthquake and damage will be shown on a large screen, as the church did for the one-year anniversary last January–but images like the removal of bodies won’t be shown because they would be too disturbing for a congregation that had at least 50 relatives in Haiti affected by the earthquake, Montauban said. “Some of them are still in crisis,” he added.

For IMA World Health the anniversary is a special occasion. The organization, which has its offices at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is holding a “Happy Hour for Haiti” hosted by CEO and earthquake survivor Rick Santos. Santos and two IMA colleagues were in Port-au-Prince at the time of the earthquake and were trapped for days in the rubble of the Montana Hotel, before they were rescued without serious injury. The IMA gathering is 4:30-7 p.m. tomorrow, Jan. 12, at Hudson Restaurant and Lounge in Washington, D.C. A $10 suggested donation will support health and development programs in Haiti.

2) An overview of Brethren accomplishments in Haiti, 2010-2011.

Photo by: File map
This map shows the locations of some of the main Church of the Brethren congregations in the area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Circled in red at center right is Croix des Bouquets, the neighborhood where Eglise des Freres Haitiens has its new Ministry Center and Guesthouse complex, and where the Croix des Bouquet Church is now meeting in a new building.

This listing of work and achievements of the Brethren in Haiti 2010-2011 was compiled by Klebert Exceus, who has led the Brethren Disaster Ministries building projects there (translated from French with the help of Jeff Boshart). All disaster related relief and response programs were funded by Brethren Disaster Ministries via the Emergency Disaster Fund including support for strategic partnerships and much of the agricultural work, except where it is noted that the Global Food Crisis Fund supported the project. All of the church building was made possible through special donations from congregations and individuals to the Emerging Global Mission Fund.


— seed distribution in 20 areas of the country
— support (through the Global Food Crisis Fund) for an agricultural program in Bombadopolis distributing goats
— water filters in more than 15 areas of the country to combat cholera
— distributions of food in Port-au-Prince during six months following the earthquake for around 300 families
— household kits to more than 500 beneficiaries across the country
— distributed cases of canned chicken in more than 12 areas of the country after the earthquake, approximately 5,000 cases

— built temporary homes for around 50 families, a temporary village constructed on a plot of land
— a community cistern and a water retention pond on the island of La Tortue (Tortuga) with support from the Global Food Crisis Fund
— a security wall around land purchased for a Ministry Center

— the Paul Lochard School in the Delmas neighborhood of Port-au-Prince for one year by paying teachers, providing food, and temporary classrooms
— three other schools in Haiti: Ecole Evangelique de la Nouvelle Alliance de St. Louis du Nord, Ecole des Freres de La Tortue aux Plaines, and Ecole des Freres de Grand Bois Cornillon
— mobile health clinics in six locations after the earthquake (now continuing in more than five areas of the country)

— a Nissan Frontier pick up truck for transportation, etc.
— land in Croix des Bouquets for a Ministry Center, guesthouse, and church offices


— 50 homes, 45 square meters, following anti-seismic standards
— guesthouse built on the Ministry Center land to receive volunteers
— 5 churches (supported through the Emerging Global Mission Fund): Eglise des Freres de Gonaives, Eglise des Freres de Saut d’eau, Eglise des Freres de La Feriere, Eglise des Frères de Pignon, Eglise des Freres de Morne Boulage
— 5 church shelters (supported through the Emerging Global Mission Fund): La Premiere Eglise des Frères de Delmas, Eglise des Frères de Tom Gateau, Eglise des Frères de Marin, Eglise des Freres de Croix des Bouquets, Eglise des Freres de Canaan
— currently around 23 churches or preaching points in the country of Haiti

— financing for a micro-loan program for those families who could not find land upon which to build a permanent home, and paid rent for one year for those families
— supported other agricultural programs in 12 areas of the country
— created 500 jobs through all of these activities
— provided civic, social, and Christian education for over 500 children in Port au Prince (through Vacation Bible School)
— supported other organizations working in Haiti (including IMA World Health and Church World Service)
— sent groups of mission volunteers to work in the country

Additional information provided by Brethren Disaster Ministries:

Strategic partnerships have provided relief work in areas where Brethren Disaster Ministries does not have the proper expertise or capacity, but are areas considered critical for this response.

Health services partner IMA World Health:
As a member communion of IMA World Health, Brethren Disaster Ministries supporting ACCorD (Areas for Cooperation and Coordination of Development), a program demonstrating how faith-based organizations can co-manage health and development programming to improve service delivery, utilization, and community health in Haiti. Project objectives focus on strengthening health interventions through: 1. Maternal, newborn, and child health: antenatal care visits, assisted deliveries, immunizations and growth monitoring; 2. Addressing malnutrition: nutrition demonstration center and therapeutic food distribution; 3. Community development: constructing latrines and wells.

Emotional and spiritual care partner STAR Haiti:
Also called Twomatizasyon ak Wozo, STAR Haiti is a program of Eastern Mennonite University. “Of all the many things that have come to Haiti following the earthquake, STAR is the best of all of them,” stated Freny Elie, a Church of the Brethren pastor and teacher, after attending Advanced STAR training in February 2011. The program provides knowledge and skills for Haitian church and community leaders to assist them in dealing with the effects of trauma in their congregations and communities. Two Brethren leaders participate on the advisory council and as STAR trainers. Brethren leaders train others and the information is shared throughout the church and the local communities. This process is replicated in other participating churches and communities.

Ecumenical response partner Church World Service (CWS):
Partnering with CWS supports a large-scale ecumenical response, expanding the response beyond what Church of the Brethren resources allow. CWS provides: 1. Material and aid for two camps of internally displaced people; 2. Reconstruction of permanent housing; 3. Repairing of institutional centers; 4. Support for agricultural sustainability; 5. Programs addressing the needs (education, nutrition, counseling) of vulnerable children; 6. Support for  economic recovery within Haiti through empowering and supporting people with disabilities and implementing disaster risk reduction strategies.

3) A reflection on the Haiti earthquake: Two years of recovery.

Photo by Jeff Boshart
Roy Winter (left), director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, traveled to Haiti just days after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake with a small delegation from the US church. He is shown here with Pastor Ludovic St. Fleur (at center in red) of Miami, Fla, meeting with members of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) who were affected by the disaster.

Roy Winter is associate executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren and director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. He provided the following personal reflection to mark the second anniversary of the earthquake:

When I learned of the terrible earthquake in Haiti my mind started racing, while my voice trembled and emotions peaked. I searched the Internet, e-mails, and news for more information. My heart wept as I thought of the fledgling Church of the Brethren in Haiti, some members whom I had the pleasure to work with. Did the church leaders survive? Would the church survive?

Yet, in the midst of this chaos that quiet voice repeated: “Respond boldly, be creative in the response, but do no harm.” Don’t let the response, all the finances and all this activity, harm the Haitian people or this fledgling church.

The Haitian Church of the Brethren not only survives, it has continued to grow and share an uncommon faith found in a land filled with hardship and poverty. The church leadership has grown from victims of the earthquake to leaders in the response, while still leading the church. So often I am surprised, even astounded, and completely inspired by the Haitian Brethren. They come to God with thanks, with hope, with a deep faith, even as they live in the deepest poverty and unemployment found in the Americas. They want to thank me for the support from the US church, but I thank them for their faith, which has touched me in ways I can’t describe. It gives me a whole different perspective on life.

Another surprise has been how smoothly the early disaster relief and now recovery programs have gone. When working in Haiti we expect to encounter major obstacles with supplies, logistics, leadership, the government, local town officials, and even the real possibility of violence or theft. Under Klebert Exceus’ and Jeff Boshart’s leadership so many obstacles have been avoided or navigated without major delays, and I am astounded.

When other agencies are seeking expensive housing for expatriate staff, we are hiring and mentoring unemployed Haitians. When a shortage of US dollars means other relief agencies can’t pay staff, we continue to pay staff in Haitian dollars. When Klebert was under threat of kidnapping or violence, the local Brethren helped him leave by a different route. He knew to send others to supervise the home construction or travel in unexpected ways.

Our work in Haiti is sometime dangerous, always challenging, and in an extremely difficult setting, but each step of the way guidance has been provided. So once again I am amazed at how God is working through people to make all this possible!

So often North Americans rather arrogantly believe they have the right answers for people of developing countries like Haiti, especially on issues of faith. While certainly education, medical care, food security, and jobs with dignity should be shared with all people, we are the ones with much to learn. Even more we need to experience the extraordinary faith of the Haitian Brethren.

I have much gratitude for the Haitian people and especially the Haitian Brethren in how they have embraced us North Americans. I have been impressed with the humility and faith of US Brethren workcampers as they work beside and under the leadership of Haitian “bosses.” I am profoundly grateful for all the material, prayer, and financial support of the US church; this is the foundation for our response. We should all celebrate the inspired leadership of Klebert Exceus (response director in Haiti) and Jeff Boshart (response coordinator based in the US). It is their leadership, guided by faith, respect, and wisdom, which sets us apart from other response organizations, and really made this response possible.

We can all celebrate and thank God for what has been accomplished in these last two years, both things of the world and of faith. However, the greatest tragedy in Haiti continues: extreme poverty. I wonder if we, the US church, will walk away as response funds dwindle and the headlines are long forgotten? Or will we feel compelled–or even better called–to continue this journey of faith and hope with the Haitian people?

4) Dear beloved Church of the Brethren: A letter from Port-au-Prince.

Ilexene Alphonse is manager of the Ministry Center and Guesthouse of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, where he serves as a program volunteer for the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service program. He sent this letter to the Church of the Brethren in the US:

Port au Prince, Haiti
January 5, 2012

Dear beloved Church of the Brethren,

January 12 is my wedding anniversary to my wife Michaela. January 12 is the day I saw my country falling, my people dying, and my hopes for my people fading. I lost family members and friends. I felt like a bird with two wings but could not fly to avoid danger. I imagine on January 12, 2012, there’ll be mourning, praying, singing. People will light candles, visit mass graves to remember loved ones. People will give speeches. People will again make a lot of promises. As for me I will remember this day in prayer thanking God for life and thanking God for the Church of the Brethren.

Some people prefer not to know what’s going on, because information might bring obligation. The old saying is “What you don’t know doesn’t hurt.” Nehemiah asked about Jerusalem and the Jews living there because he had a caring heart. When you care about people, you want the facts, no matter how painful they may be.

Church of the Brethren, you did not rebuild Haiti in 52 days, but the rebuilding, restoring, and healing started two days after the earthquake. When brothers Roy Winter, Jeff Boshart, and Ludovic St. Fleur showed up the people saw a very small but very bright light coming out of the dark. They had hope.

Church of the Brethren, you didn’t just ask about the Haitian remnant, you didn’t say: You are Haitian, you are strong, you are a resilient people you’ll survive. But you stayed. You’re touching lives, giving hope to a hopeless people, feeding school children, providing hygiene kits, mobile clinics, building houses, building relationships, and still doing these things today. I have seen school children rejoicing after a hot meal, people receiving medical treatment, moving from homelessness to a beautiful home. The smiles are incomparable. All this happened because you care, and you asked for the facts.

I don’t have the right words to thank you for what you’ve done for the people of Haiti. For the love you’ve shown, for the peace you brought, THANK YOU. Thank you for answering God’s call when you came to our rescue. Thank you for saying yes. Jesus will never take what you did for granted. When you do it to the least you do it to Him. “Who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done” (Proverbs 19:17).

Ilexene Alphonse

5) Thoughts from Haiti on the new year.

Jean Bily Telfort is general secretary of the Comité National of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, the National Committee of the Haitian Church of the Brethren. He wrote the following on Dec. 31, as 2011 transitioned into 2012 (translated from Kreyol by Jeff Boshart):

To: Church of the Brethren USA

The peace of God be with you.

I am extremely happy today to give you this year-end greeting.
2011 – What a support and comfort 2011 was for me.
2011 – Well done in the way in which you helped my country Haiti.
2011 – We will be saying goodbye to 2011 in 7 hours.

2011+1=2012 – By faith in Jesus I’m wishing you a great 2012.
2012 – May you have blessings in your lives.
2012 – May you have progress in your lives.
2012 – In 2012 may God’s protection be with you.
2012 – May 2012 bring you good things that you have never seen in your lives.
2012 – May you have a year of good health for your families.
2012 – May this be a year in which God spares his children from danger, as he says, “I am with you always until the end,” and in Psalm 23, “The Lord is our shepherd, we shall not fear anything.” May his grace cover you each day of your life.

All that comes tomorrow will be good for you because the bride is waiting for her bridegroom. All will be well as we already have the oil or gas (Holy Spirit) in the lamp, therefore we need not fear for tomorrow.

I will finish by saying that I love you and thank you for how you all helped my country, my church, and my family.

A special thank you to Brother Roy (Winter) for the size of the love that God placed in your heart so that your thoughts and your work could help my country. I remember the condition my country was in. I saw how you were crying and that made me feel that in God’s family there is no discrimination. With your interventions, Br. Roy, the social condition of the lives of many people changed. Thank you because you agreed to support me with a salary as part of BDM’s (Brethren Disaster Ministries) activities. That helped me a great deal with my family. Thank you Br. Jeff (Boshart), Br. Jay (Wittmeyer), and everyone else. May God bless you greatly.

Happy New Year 2012.

La pe Bon Dye ak nou.

Mwen reyelman kontan jodi a poum ba nou denye salitasyon sa a.
2011 – Se te 2011 sipo ak sa te ye pou mwen.
2011 – Byenfe nan fason ke nou te ede Ayiti peyi pa m lan. Mwen pwofite di nou.
2011 – Remesiman pou tout sa nou te fe mwen pandan ane 2011 lan.
2011 – 2011 ap di nou babay apre 7h de tan.

2011+1=2012 – Pa la fwa nan jezi map deklare Bon ane 2012.
2012 – Benediksyon sou la vi nou.
2012 – Pwogre sou la vi nou.
2012 – Se 2012 pwoteksyon k’ap soti nan Bon Dye.
2012 – Se 2012 bagay ki bon ke nou pat janm fe nan lavi nou.
2012 – Yon ane de sante pou fanmi nou.
2012 – Yon ane ke Bondye va epanye  pitit li yo de 2012 danje, ka li di. Mwen avek nou jouk sa kaba epi nan som 23 senye a se Beje nou nou pap pe anyen gras li va kouvri nou  chak jou nan lavi nou. Tout sa ki va vini demen mwen ak ou lap bon pou nou paske nou se yon demwazel kap tan n menaj nou. Sa ki pi bon seke nou gen deja lwil ou byen gaz (Sentespri) nan lan lanp nou deja donk ke nou pa sote pou demen.

Ma fini pou mwen di nou kem renmen nou anpil e mesi pou tout fason nou te edem swa se peyim legliz mwen fanmiy mwen mesi.

Yon mesi espesyal pou fre Roy pou yon gwose lanmou Bondye te mete nan ke w pou te kapab panse anpil travay anpil pou w te ka edepeyim. Mwen sonje nan sitiyasyon peyim te ye. Mwen te we jan ou tap kriye mwen te fremi we sa. Sa te fem santi nan fanmi Bondye a pa gen diskriminasyon. Ak entevansyon ou yo fr Roy lavi sosyal anpil moun te chanje mesi paske nou te dako sipotem ak yon sale nan aktivite BDM. Sa te edem anpil ak fanmi m. Mesi fr Jeff, FR JAY, AK TOUT LOT MOUN. Ke Bondye beni nou anpil.

Bon ane 2012.
–Fr. Telfort Jean Bily


6) BBT members, clients invest $700,000 in low-income communities.

From soup kitchens to small businesses in the US and abroad, Brethren Benefit Trust’s member and client assets are making a positive impact on projects that serve low-income areas. In 2011, Brethren Pension Plan members and Brethren Foundation clients provided $735,776 in loans to projects that serve the needs of at-risk communities through BBT’s Community Development Investment Fund (CDIF).

“Our members and clients should celebrate the support they’re offering to qualified community development institutions around the world through the CDIF,” said BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. “This fund reflects the Brethren principle of mutuality, and those who place assets in this fund are helping low-income communities grow stronger and enriching people’s lives.”

BBT member and client assets invested in the CDIF are used to purchase Community Investment Notes at a fixed interest rate through Calvert Foundation. These notes are used to provide loans in the areas of community development, affordable housing, microcredit, and small business development.

In total, Calvert Foundation reported that BBT member and client assets helped build or rehabilitate 13 affordable housing units and financed three not-for-profit organizations, cooperatives, or social innovations in 2011. CDIF assets also funded 120 new enterprises and created 175 new jobs in 2011.

Through Calvert Foundation, the CDIF supports projects like Boston Community Capital, an organization that buys foreclosed properties and resells them to the original owners–often with reduced mortgages. A Calvert Foundation borrower provided $7 million of its tax credit allocation to support expansion of St. John’s Bread and Life, a Brooklyn soup kitchen and nutritional counseling center, so that it could serve a total of 450,000 meals annually. Internationally, investments in the CDIF help projects like KREDIT, a small loans provider that helps support entrepreneurs in Cambodia.

Pension Plan members and Brethren Foundation clients who are interested in investing in the CDIF are encouraged to allocate no more than one percent of their portfolio to this fund. For more information, Brethren Foundation clients should contact Steve Mason, director, at 800-746-1505 ext. 369, or at . Brethren Pension Plan members should contact John Carroll, manager of Pension Operations, at 800-746-1505 ext. 383 or .

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

7) Dueck offers coaching, resources on ‘Emotional Intelligence.’

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh Cayford
Stan Dueck discusses coaching and mentoring at the Intercultural Consultation and Celebration

Emotional intelligence accounts for more than 50 percent of a person’s leadership capacity. In 2011, Stan Dueck, the Church of the Brethren’s director for Transforming Practices, completed the certification process in “Emotional Intelligence with Multiple Health Services.” Emotional intelligence is an important companion to a pastor’s or church leader’s spiritual foundation, especially while serving congregations during this time of profound change for many churches, he reports.

Emotional intelligence is an awareness of the interaction between a person and the environment in which he or she operates. Emotional intelligence is a set of personal and social skills that influence how we relate with others, cope with challenges, and achieve our potential.

Dueck’s training supports Congregational Life Ministries’ expanding capacity to utilize reliable resources that help church leaders identify key skills and growth potential. Emotional intelligence surveys such as the EQ-i2.0 and EQ 360 benefit an individual’s understanding of how he or she interacts within various personal and vocational contexts along with insightful feedback from others. This, in turn, can lead to increases in the person’s interaction with others and leadership potential when used as a development tool.

Coaching along with leadership resources pertaining to emotional intelligence are one of several instruments and strategies available to pastors and church members through Congregational Life Ministries and the office of Transforming Practices. Dueck has used EI resources when coaching pastors and church leaders and in consultations and leadership training events with congregations.

Contact Stan Dueck for more information about the benefits you and your congregation can receive from coaching and leadership resources: 717-335-3226, 800-323-8039, .


8) Gross moves into new role at On Earth Peace.

On Earth Peace is launching a search for a new executive director. Bob Gross, who has served as director of On Earth Peace since October 2000, will be moving to another role in the organization.

“We have been planning for this transition for the past two years,” said Gross, “and we look forward to strengthening our staff team with the addition of a new organizational leader. As our ministries grow in scope and depth, it is time for fresh leadership, and I look forward to a new set of responsibilities.”

Gross has served in leadership of On Earth Peace for more than a decade, for a number of years serving as a co-executive director alongside former co-executive Barbara Sayler. His tenure with On Earth Peace has included notable service to the denomination in the area of mediation work and training, including mediation work in India during conflict over former mission properties there, and most recently facilitating a special session of the Mission and Ministry Board as a part of denomination-wide conversations on sexuality, as the Church of the Brethren was preparing for the 2011 Annual Conference.

He also has led several delegations to Israel and Palestine in cooperation with Christian Peacemaker Teams, but during the last delegation in January 2010 was detained by Israeli airport security and refused entry to the country, presumably because of his peacemaking work with Palestinian partners.

Gross has engaged in peacemaking work in a number of areas throughout his life, starting with his witness as a conscientious objector and draft resister. He and his family are part of a longstanding simple living community and farm near North Manchester, Ind., where his wife, Rachel Gross, leads the Death Row Support Project originally formed by concerned Church of the Brethren members in 1978.

On Earth Peace plans to have a new director on board this spring, and to introduce the new staff leader at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in St. Louis in July. (The position opening announcement appears below in the “Brethren bits” section of this issue of Newsline.)


9) Church’s Elgin warehouse to be collection point for MLK food drive.

For Elgin’s Martin Luther King Day commemorations the church is lending for display a large poster of this photograph of the Wales Window from the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., taken by Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden during a Christian Churches Together meeting. The window was a gift from the people of Wales, U.K., to the church two years after the bombing there that killed four girls in 1963. Created by Welsh artist John Petts, the window depicts Christ who with one hand rejects injustice and with the other extends forgiveness. The text, “You do it to me,” was the Sunday school lesson the morning of the tragedy. This image became a powerful symbol for the CCT leaders who met in Birmingham prior to Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday last January.

The warehouse at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., is to be the collection point for the city’s food drive commemorating Martin Luther King Day. Food collected over the weekend by churches and schools will be brought to the warehouse at 1451 Dundee Ave. for sorting and distribution to area food pantries and the Community Crisis Center that serves families affected by domestic violence.

Youth from across Elgin also are invited to make Monday, Jan. 16, a day for service to the community, with the food collection at the church’s warehouse as one option for youth groups to take part.

Brethren Volunteer Service workers Rachel Witkovsky and Catherine Gong will be two of the workshop presenters at the afternoon Youth Leadership Conference that will follow the morning’s service projects.

This year is Elgin’s 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. Additional elements of the weekend–which are being planned with input from the Elgin Human Relations Commission and church congregations along with other community organizations–are a Friday evening Gospel Talent Show Kick Off at Elgin Community College, an Annual Prayer Breakfast on Saturday morning, and a public program featuring a community choir on Sunday afternoon. More information is at .

10) Brethren colleges hold events honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

A number of colleges related to the Church of the Brethren are holding special events to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, including Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and Manchester College in N. Manchester, Ind. (information is from college press releases):

Elizabethtown College marks Martin Luther King Day Jan. 16 with a day dedicated to service and a series of events, most open to the public (a complete list is at ). All day Jan. 16 there will be no classes, but community service activities will be offered for the campus community. At 10:30 a.m. is the MLK Program Kick Off in Brossman Commons, Blue Bean Café. At 11 a.m. the commons holds an MLK-themed lunch in its Marketplace hosted by the Office of Diversity with traditional southern fare. That evening at 6:15 p.m. is a Candlelight March starting at the commons, re-enacting the Civil Rights March to remember the struggles of the civil rights movement. At 7 p.m. an MLK Gospel Extravaganza and Awards in Leffler Chapel will feature community and college performers including Harris AME Zion Church Choir, the Elizabethtown College Concert Choir, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Choir, and Jamal Anthony Gospel Rock. Awards will be given to faculty and staff members for contributions to diversity and inclusion.

On Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. a presentation, “Black History of the White House,” will be given at Leffler Chapel by Clarence Lusane, associate professor at the School of International Service, American University, and an author on race, human rights, and electoral politics. Also Jan. 18 at 8:30 p.m. in the Blue Bean Café will be a “Stand Up” session about what students stand for in terms of justice and service.

At Juniata College, Imani Uzuri will lecture and perform on Jan. 16-17. She will showcase and discuss her upcoming album, “The Gypsy Diaries,”  at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 16, in Rosenberger Auditorium. She also will facilitate an inclusion-focused workshop, “Hush Arbor: Living Legacies of Negro Spirituals” at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 17, in Sill Boardroom in the von Liebig Center for Science. Admission to both events is free and open to the public. Featuring vocals, violin, cello, acoustic guitar, sitar and daf, Uzuri’s music is both spiritual and meditative. She has performed in venues as varied as the Apollo Theater, Joe’s Pub, the Whitney Museum, and the UN. The “Hush Arbor” workshop will discuss the history of African-American spirituals. Hush Arbors were wooded areas where slaves would gather to mourn, worship, or sing. The workshop focuses on the conditions in which the songs were created and how they were pathways to catharsis, revolt, and freedom.

Manchester College celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with two special events on Jan. 13 and Jan. 16. The public is welcome and reservations are not necessary at both free events.

“Eyes on Economic Justice, the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” is the topic of a speech by Christopher M. Whitt, founder of the Africana Studies program at Augustana College, at 7 p.m. this Friday, Jan. 13, in the upper College Union. The talk focuses on King’s push for economic justice, what he saw as the next frontier in the Civil Rights Movement. Whitt will deliver his message from the same podium Dr. King used on Feb. 1, 1968, at Manchester College as he gave his final campus speech, two months before his assassination.

Manchester continues its celebration at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 in Petersime Chapel with an interfaith gathering featuring a hypothetical conversation among influential leaders about King’s dream. The Martin Luther King events are sponsored by the college’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and Campus Ministry. Find the full news release at .


11) Schedule, workshop topics, DVD available for congregational workshop.

Government regulations, basic operations and compliance tips, and the potential impact of health care reform will be examined at an interdenominational tax and benefits workshop titled “Best Financial Practices for Your Congregation: Accountability, Transparency, and Integrity” on Saturday, Feb. 4, in Kansas City, Mo. The event, co-sponsored by Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), is designed for pastors, church treasurers, financial secretaries, stewardship and finance committee members, and others involved with church finances.

Questions that will be discussed include: What can churches expect regarding government regulations for congregations in the future? Why is it important to work together as faith-based communities in areas of compliance and regulation? What do we know and what don’t we know about health care reform? Where does one go for help when trying to stay current?

The day-long seminar will be led by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), a Christian financial educational organization. A group of member denominations affiliated with the Church Benefits Association, including BBT, is sponsoring the event. The Church Benefits Association is an association of approximately 50 church pension boards, religious orders, and denominational benefit programs for clergy and church professionals.

“Best Financial Practices for Your Congregation: Accountability, Transparency, and Integrity” will be held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Kansas City (Mo.) International Airport Marriott. Registration information is available at (scroll down to the “Best Practices Resource Workshop” and click on “Register now”). The registration fee of $50 includes lunch.

A DVD with highlights from the workshop will be offered to Church of the Brethren leaders and members who are not able to attend the event. This DVD will be available free to the first 200 interested individuals or congregations. The remaining DVDs will be available to purchase for $19.95 each. To order a copy, contact BBT at or 800-746-1505 ext. 376.

Find a flyer giving details about leadership and schedule for the workshop at .

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

12) New Church Development Conference registration opens Jan. 17.

Registration for the Church of the Brethren’s New Church Development Conference opens online Jan. 17 at noon (central time) at . Conference information including a schedule, workshop list, and logistical details, is available now at the same web address.

The conference takes place May 17-19 at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., on the theme, “Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully.” Scripture theme is from 1 Corinthians 3:6: “I (Paul) planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” Onsite registration and pre-conference activities begin May 16. Sponsors are the New Church Development Advisory Committee and Congregational Life Ministries, with Bethany Seminary serving as host.

The conference is for church planters, those considering church planting, core team members, district leaders, churches planting churches, and anyone interested in considering how to further God’s mission through new communities of worship and service. Workshops for Spanish speaking leaders are also offered and Spanish translation is available. Keynote leaders are Tom Johnston and Mike Chong Perkinson of the Praxis Center for Church Development ( ).

An early registration fee of $169 is available through March 15. After March 15 and until the conference begins, registration is $199. Students registered for either the Brethren Academy course or the Bethany Seminary course M245 “Foundations for Church Growth” can register for $129. Lodging is not guaranteed for registrations received after May 5. Lodging for the nights of May 16, 17, and 18 is included in the registration fee, as are breakfasts and lunches. The Quality Inn provides double occupancy accommodations. Single rooms are available for an addition fee. Breakfasts and lunches are provided in the fee. For more information go to .


13) New from Brethren Press: Devotions for Lent, hymn plaque, more.

A number of new resources are being offered by the Church of the Brethren publishing house. To order any of those listed call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712 or go to .

“A Community of Love: Devotions for Ash Wednesday Through Easter”: The 2012 Lenten devotional booklet, offering devotions for Ash Wednesday through Easter, is written by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Each day features a scripture, meditation, and prayer in a pocket-sized booklet suitable for individual use or for congregations to offer to members. Order for $2.50 per copy, plus shipping and handling, or $5.95 for large print. Become a seasonal subscriber and receive both annual devotionals–Advent and Lent–at the pre-production price of $2 or $5 for large print. Seasonal subscriptions are automatically renewed each year and can be cancelled or changed at any time.

“Move in Our Midst” hymn plaque: One of the most beloved Brethren hymns of all time is laser etched into a solid block of alder wood. The finished plaque has coved edges and looks like it was taken directly from the Hymnal. “Makes a perfect gift for music lovers,” notes Brethren Press. Dimensions are 9 inches high by 7 inches wide. Order for $24.99 plus shipping and handling.

Inglenook apron and mug set: As the countdown to a new Inglenook cookbook gets underway, Brethren Press is offering a set of Inglenook mugs and an Inglenook apron. The set of four 11-ounce dinner mugs features woodcut imprints and the Inglenook cookbook logo. Order the set and save 20 percent off the individual price ($35 plus shipping and handling). The apron is adjustable, made of heavyweight poly/cotton, with three patch pockets to hold cooking essentials. It measures 25 inches wide by 34.5 inches long. Order for $24.95 plus shipping and handling.

2012 Brethren Reminder: The 2012 Brethren Reminder pocket calendar for church leaders also is now in stock. Pastors will receive their complimentary copy by mail.

14) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, prayer for Nigeria, and more.

— Correction: Following is an update to a previous Newsline announcement about the Annual Meeting and Dinner of CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va.: The CrossRoads Annual Meeting and Dinner will take place Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Shady Oaks at Weavers Mennonite Church. All are invited to join in a meal prepared by the Rhodes sisters and provided by a generous donor. Highlights will include “A Walk Down Memory Lane” slideshow compiled by Allen Brubaker and “Voices from the Courthouse Prison,” a re-enactment of the imprisonment of Mennonite and Brethren leaders in the early spring of 1862.

— Remembrance: Ruth Ellen Early, 94, the Church of the Brethren’s first Washington representative and a former director of Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services, died Dec. 17, 2011, in Richmond, Mo. She was born Nov. 1, 1917, in Hardin, Mo., to Jesse and Maggie (Mason) Early. She first became an employee of the Church of the Brethren as regional representative for the western area, centered in McPherson, Kan. She then moved to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., to direct the refugee settlement program for several years. She was involved in peace work that saw the beginning of what is today On Earth Peace. Moving to Washington, D.C., she returned to school at the American University where she also worked in the field of international relations, then took a position with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, became the first woman to serve as associate director of the National Service Board for Religious Objectors, and followed that appointment with her service as first Washington representative for the denomination. She opened the Washington office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 1, 1962, in response to an action of Annual Conference asking for the establishment of a church office in the nation’s capital. For a short time, she also was associate director of the Disarmament Campaign in Nyack, N.Y., and her career included service on committees of Church World Service, namely the Operations Committee of Immigration Service. She earned a master’s degree in psychology and counseling from American University and spent the last of her working years as an academic counselor there. In 1985, she retired and moved to the Palms in Sebring, Fla., for the next 15 years, then returned to her home state of Missouri where she lived in the Kansas City area. A memorial service Dec. 31 was led by Western Plains District executive minister Sonja Griffith. The family suggests memorial contributions to On Earth Peace and the Church of the Brethren.

— Randi Rowan started Jan. 2 as program assistant for Congregational Life Ministries, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Her responsibilities include general support for the staff and breadth of programming related to Congregational Life Ministries. Previously she was office coordinator for the director of Health Professions at Wheaton (Ill.) College, and has worked with the Evangelical Alliance Mission’s US office in Wheaton. She also has been active at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill. She majored in graphic design at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She and her family live in Carol Stream, Ill.

— In district staff changes, Ed Kerschensteiner has begun as interim district executive for the Church of the Brethren’s Idaho District. Jennifer Jensen has resigned as district youth coordinator in Western Plains District, effective Jan. 1. She had served in the position for seven years.

— On Earth Peace, an agency of the Church of the Brethren, is seeking a full-time executive director. The executive director has the overall strategic and operational responsibility for On Earth Peace’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission. S/he will have a deep knowledge of the organization’s core programs, operations, and business plans. Interested applicants may check the On Earth Peace website for details of the mission and program: . The responsibilities and duties will include longterm strategic planning, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent quality of finance, administration, fundraising, and resource development, marketing, and communications. The executive director will engage and energize On Earth Peace staff, board members, volunteers, donors, and partnering organizations, and represent OEP to the larger church and ecumenical gatherings. S/he will develop and implement fundraising and revenue generating plans and goals, and establish and maintain relationships with top donors and volunteers. Qualifications and experience: A bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree preferred; at least 10 years of experience in nonprofit senior management, including in the areas of human resources, marketing, public relations, and fundraising/resource development; solid business and financial experience, including the ability to set and achieve strategic objectives and manage a budget; strong marketing, public relations, and fundraising experience with the ability to engage a wide range of constituents; and knowledge of the Church of the Brethren denomination desired. Skills will include excellent oral and written communication skills and computer literacy. The deadline for applications is Feb. 29. Send a cover letter and resume to Ralph McFadden, Search Consultant, . Or contact McFadden at his home/office telephone 847-622-1677.

— Prayer is requested for Nigeria, where terrorist-type violence has prompted the government to declare a state of emergency in parts of four northern states. In recent weeks, attacks perpetrated in the name of the Islamist group Boko Haram have shifted from targeting government facilities to targeting people of the southern Igbo tribe who are living in the north, as well as Christian churches. Christians in the southeast have begun threatening and attacking Muslims from the north living in their areas. Many Igbo are fleeing the north and Muslims have been leaving the southeast. Unlike previous episodes of interfaith mob violence that have plagued northern cities like Maiduguri and Jos, church leaders report the new violence echoes Nigeria’s civil war of the late 1960s and is rooted more in economics, ethnic and political struggles, and control of oil. The majority of Christians and Muslims in Nigeria condemn Boko Haram’s activities, and the church leaders request that the violence not be treated as a conflict between Christians and Muslims. Prayer is requested for the Nigerian Brethren, their congregations, pastors, and denominational leaders, and for Church of the Brethren mission worker Carol Smith.

— This week’s Action Alert from the church’s advocacy and peace witness office calls attention to Jan. 11 as the 10th anniversary of prisoners being detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The alert invites Brethren to join the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) in urging President Obama to live up to a promise he made three years ago to close the prison camp. The alert follows up on the 2010 Annual Conference “Resolution Against Torture” and includes a responsive prayer for the closing of Guantanamo. Find the Action Alert at .

— Jan. 11 also is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, declared by an act of the US Congress. Faith-based organizations are calling on Americans to become more aware of the millions who are victimized by trafficking, and more involved in finding ways to stop it. A release from the National Council of Churches said “the US Government recently reported that 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year; 80 percent of them are female and almost half are minors. These figures do not include the millions who are trafficked into labor and sexual slavery within national borders.” Find the 2008 Annual Conference resolution on modern-day slavery and more resources at .

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is announcing the start of its 2012 Winter Orientation, to be held Jan. 19-Feb. 17 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. This will be the 296th BVS unit and will include 15 volunteers from across the US and Germany. Several Church of the Brethren members will attend, and remaining volunteers come from varied faith backgrounds adding a healthy diversity to the orientation experience. A highlight will be a weekend immersion in Miami. In both the Miami and Orlando areas, the group will have the opportunity to work at area food banks, Habitat for Humanity, and various nonprofits. The group also will experience a “Toxic Tour” showing the devastation of agricultural chemicals on the land and water of Lake Apopka and its farmworkers. A BVS potluck is open to all those who are interested on Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. at Camp Ithiel. “Welcome the new BVS volunteers and share your own experiences,” said an invitation from orientation coordinator Callie Surber. “As always your thoughts and prayers are welcome and needed. Please remember this new unit and the people they will touch during their year of service through BVS.” For more information contact the BVS office at 800-323-8039 ext. 425.

— The Outdoor Ministry Association is accepting environmental grant proposals from camps, outdoor ministry centers, and congregations. OMA also seeks nominations for Outdoor Ministry Volunteer and Staff Person of the Year, to be honored at aluncheon at the 2012 Annual Conference. Forms and information are at . All forms are due by Feb. 20.

— In November, McPherson (Kan.) College announced “Jump Start Kansas,” offering a $5,000 grant to the Kansas high school student who comes up with the best new commercial venture with another $5,000 for the team of students who present the best entrepreneurial idea–one in the area of commercial entrepreneurship and one for social entrepreneurship. Grants come with no stipulation that the students attend McPherson College. In addition, the college is offering scholarships for the winners and 10 finalists. A recent release notes that the deadline for Kansas high school students to take advantage of this opportunity is Jan. 25. Enter ideas at An independent panel will select finalists to attend a pitch competition on Feb. 15 for the top prize of a $5,000 grant to develop the idea, as well as a $20,000, four-year scholarship to McPherson. The other eight finalists also will receive a $4,000 scholarship to the college.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jordan Blevins, Jeff Boshart, Joan L. Daggett, Kendra Flory, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Gieta Gresh, Sonja Griffith, Elizabeth Harvey, Jeri S. Kornegay, Ellen Santa Maria, Adam Pracht, Callie Surber, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue on Jan. 25. 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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