Newsline for June 14, 2012

“I will pour out my spirit upon everyone; your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28, CEV).

Quote of the week:“We are thanking God for Cat Gong, Jered Hannawald, Margie Smith, Brooke Vogleman, Erin Higgins, Krista Bussard, Kim Schwaner, Marco Balan, and James Guerrier for taking the time to come and serve us. Thank you very much for coming! May the good Lord bless you all!”

— A Facebook posting from New Covenant School of St. Louis du Nord in Haiti names and thanks the young adults who served there May 27-June 4. It marks the start of Church of the Brethren workcamp season. This summer, 23 groups of junior and senior high youth, young adults, and intergenerational groups will each give a week of service at workcamp locations across the US and Caribbean. The first of 13 senior high workcamps started June 11 at Innisfree, Crozet, Va. The first of seven junior high workcamps begins June 20 in Harrisburg, Pa. Two intergenerational workcamps round out the denominational program, one at Idaho Mountain Camp, and one in Haiti with co-sponsorship from the Brethren Revival Fellowship. See for more.

1) A large group prepares for licensing to the ministry in Haiti.
2) Church staff involved in ecumenical prayer service for peace in Syria.
3) BVS director participates in conference call with Selective Service.
4) Grants are given to start new Brethren disaster project sites.
5) Nigerian Brethren are among those killed, injured in Sunday attacks.

6) Webcasts offer opportunity to worship with Conference, from a distance.
7) Conference blood drive is a way to reach out to host city.

8) MSS interns begin a summer of service to the church.

9) Brethren bits: District contact info., NYAC webcasts, new peace witness logo, Elder John Kline birthday party, and much more.


1) A large group prepares for licensing to the ministry in Haiti.

In late May, Church of the Brethren leaders from the US and Haiti interviewed a large group of people preparing for licensing to the ministry, to serve in Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti).

Nineteen men and women were interviewed by Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren; Mary Jo Flory-Steury, executive director of Ministry and the denomination’s associate general secretary; Ludovic St. Fleur, coordinator of the Haiti mission and pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla.; and members of the National Committee of the Haitian Church of the Brethren including pastors Ives Jean, Jean Bily Telfort, and Freny Elie.

The interviews took place in Croix des Bouquets, a neighborhood of the capital city Port-au-Prince, at the Ministry Center of the Haitian Church of the Brethren. Ilexene Alphonse, who helps staff the Ministry Center, served as translator.

Interview questions related to the candidates’ family and background, education, spiritual journey, role in the local church, and understanding of Brethren beliefs and practices, reported Wittmeyer. Each of the 19 individuals interviewed identifies with a specific member of the National Committee as a mentor and spiritual leader and came with a recommendation for licensing from that member of the National Committee.

“Each was deemed to be uniquely prepared to receive the set apart status that licensing denotes and to be empowered to serve the denomination in this capacity,” Wittmeyer said. “Each individual has demonstrated a strong commitment to the local church and to the denomination. They have been very active in local churches and serving as the backbone of the denomination.”

Those interviewed are already active in leading worship, starting preaching points, ministry with children, outreach activities, and other ministries in their communities. The group is now expected to examine their calling and work toward ordination. Some are already qualified for ordination according to national requirements, and one of the candidates is ordained in a different denomination.

In 2009, a similar process occurred, when 10 people were interviewed for licensing in Haiti. Of that group, seven have served the Haitian church on its National Committee since then.

The 19 people interviewed in May include 4 women and 15 men, and come from congregations located in various areas of Haiti including Bohoc, Cap Haitian, Gonaíves, Grand Bois, Leogâne, Mont Boulage, as well as the Croix des Bouquets and Delmas neighborhoods in the Port-au-Prince area, and other smaller towns and villages.

2) Church staff involved in ecumenical prayer service for peace in Syria.

Photo by Jonathan Stauffer
His Eminence Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim speaks at the ecumenical prayer service for peace in Syria. The special worship service was held in Alexandria, Va., at Saint Aphraim Church of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.

On Tuesday, June 12, at 7:30 p.m. an ecumenical prayer service for peace in Syria took place with involvement from Church of the Brethren staff. The program was initiated and organized by Nathan Hosler, ecumenical peace coordinator for the National Council of Churches (NCC) and advocacy officer for the Church of the Brethren, in collaboration with Father Fady Abdulahad, a Syrian priest ministering in Alexandria, Va.

About 70 people met at Saint Aphraim Church of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch to pray and fellowship together. His Eminence Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim planned the order of worship and led in prayers and a sermon. The joint service was organized in response to the ongoing and intensifying violence in Syria. While the leaders of the church wished to avoid a particular political stand, it was agreed that the group should come together in prayer.

Sermons by the Archbishop and Hosler focused on the need to pray and our call as Christians to work for peace. Emphasis was placed on the call to end violence and standing in solidarity across church or religious lines. In addition to a number of chanted prayers and songs in Syriac, Arabic, and English, Gwen Miller from Washington City Church of the Brethren led a hymn, “Move in Our Midst.”

3) BVS director participates in conference call with Selective Service.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) director Dan McFadden yesterday participated in a telephone conference call with the Selective Service System. The Selective Service System hosted the call to update participants about Alternative Service plans in the event that a military draft is ever called for by the US Congress.

The call was hosted by Cassandra Costley, manager of the Alternative Service Program for SSS.

At this point the SSS does not anticipate a draft, McFadden said. The Selective Service office hosts calls such as this a couple of times a year to stay in touch with the various groups that have interest in Alternative Service options in the event of a draft.

During the call, Costley announced that another memorandum of understanding with the SSS has been signed by the Church of God in Christ Mennonite. This is the eleventh group or denomination to sign an MOU. The Church of the Brethren signed an MOU with Selective Service in June 2010.

Yesterday’s call focused on becoming an alternative service employer. In the event of a draft the SSS will look to faith groups such as the Church of the Brethren and BVS to host alternative service workers for two-year placements. During the Korea and Vietnam wars BVS hosted alternative service workers and would do so again.

McFadden asked about the numbers Selective Service anticipates during any given year. Based on a 1984 study, Costley reported an estimated 30,000 young men a year would be looking for alternative service placements in the event of a military draft. She added that it is possible the numbers might have doubled since then.

BVS also participates in a conference call twice a year with Anabaptist groups and the Center on Conscience and War to stay in contact in the event that there is a draft.

4) Grants are given to start new Brethren disaster project sites.

Two grants have been given from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to start new Brethren Disaster Ministries project sites in New York State and Alabama. Other recent EDF grants also have been announced in response to Church World Service (CWS)  appeals for Pakistan and northern Africa.

In related news, the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) also has announced a grant to a Rural Development Program in Nigeria.

An allocation of $30,000 from the EDF will aid recovery efforts in Prattsville, N.Y., following flash flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in Aug. 2011. On July 1, Brethren Disaster Ministries will open a repair and rebuilding project in Prattsville, in one of the lowest income regions of New York State. Many residents of the nearly 300 flooded homes were uninsured or elderly. This grant will provide the opportunity for volunteers to assist in repairing and rebuilding homes for qualified individuals and families. Funds will underwrite expenses related to volunteer support including housing, food, travel expenses incurred onsite, training, tools, and equipment.

An EDF grant of $30,000 for tornado recovery work in Town Creek, Ala., follows the April 2011 “Super Outbreak” of tornadoes that claimed 346 lives in 21 states. Brethren Disaster Ministries has been present in Alabama since Nov. 2011, and will move its operations from the town of Arab to Town Creek on July 1. Working closely with a long-term recovery group in the area, the ministry will continue to repair and rebuild homes for qualifying families still in need of permanent housing. The grant will be used for expenses related to volunteer support including housing, food, travel expenses incurred onsite, training, tools, and equipment.

In other recent grants, the EDF has given $27,000 to a Church World Service (CWS) appeal for the Sahel region of northern Africa. The appeal follows unusually low rainfall, low crop production, food insecurity, and political strife and violence, which have resulted in a complex humanitarian crisis affecting more that 15 million people. The initial EDF grant toward this appeal–$8,000 given in May–was based on the relatively small size of the initial CWS appeal. Since then, CWS has indicated a much greater need. The grant supports the work of CWS and partner agency Christian Aid in providing food, seeds, and other emergency assistance to more than 83,000 people in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal.

An EDF grant of $20,000 responds to a CWS appeal follows increasing military operations against militants in tribal regions and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in northern Pakistan. The situation has resulted in the evacuation of residents to safer regions. A needs assessment by CWS indicates poor living conditions, low food intake, and vulnerability to a number of communicable and non-communicable diseases.  In addition, displaced people in the host communities of Peshawar and Nowshehra do not have easy access to emergency and primary health care. Without assistance, the humanitarian crisis could spread to a larger region. The grant supports the provision of emergency food assistance, household supplies, and medical care for families who have been repeatedly displaced over the last several years.

The GFCF has given a grant of $10,000 (or 1.5 million Nigerian Naira) to support the Rural Development Program of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The head of the program requested the grant to help purchase improved seed.

5) Nigerian Brethren are among those killed, injured in Sunday attacks.

A congregation of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) was one of those attacked on Sunday by Islamist extremists. At least one EYN member was killed and several more injured. Nigerian church leaders have been requesting prayer for the situation in their country, where the Boko Haram sect has been targeting churches as well as government facilities and police stations with terrorist-type violence.

Media reports indicate that two attacks were made against churches this past Sunday, June 10. In Biu, a city in northeast Nigeria, gunmen opened fire at the Church of the Brethren killing at least one person, and injuring others. Also attacked the same day was Christ Chosen Church of God in Jos, a city in central Nigeria. The second attack was carried out by a suicide car bomber who was killed along with four other people. Some 40 people were injured in the Jos incident.

EYN leadership reports that the attack in Biu was carried out by five gunmen who came and surrounded the church, and started shooting indiscriminately. An alert watchman closed the gate to the church, but the gunmen then began shooting into the church through the walls. At the time there were about 400 people in the church service, including children. One woman was killed and a number of people were injured, but of the injured only two church members sustained major injuries.

An e-mail from EYN leadership noted the relatively few serious injuries as a matter for thanksgiving, given the circumstances. “So, continue to pray for us and for Nigerian Christians,” it said.


6) Webcasts offer opportunity to worship with Conference, from a distance.

Webcasting from Annual Conference
Photo by Glenn Riegel
The webcasting of worship services and business sessions from Annual Conference is made possible by a group of dedicated people including Enten Eller (shown here, working at webcasting from the 2011 Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich.), David Sollenberger and a team of videographers, and Church of the Brethren communications staff who are responsible for the denominational website at

Join the gathered Brethren for Sunday worship in St. Louis–from your own sanctuary! For a second year, the Annual Conference officers are inviting congregations to join in Sunday morning worship with the church gathered in St. Louis, Mo., for Annual Conference. The invitation is for as many Brethren as possible–across the denomination and across the country–to worship together on July 8.

While each worship and business session of the Conference from July 7-11 will be webcast, and will be available to view either live or as a recording, congregations are particularly encouraged to stream the live webcast of the Sunday morning worship service.

The webcast on July 8 will be webcast live beginning at 9 a.m. central time (10 a.m. eastern). Congregations with a projector and Internet service should be able to participate. Because the webcast also is being posted as a DVR, congregations will be able to start the broadcast of the worship service at any time after the live webcast begins.

Moderator Tim Harvey will bring the message on July 8, with moderator-elect Bob Krouse as worship leader. The message is titled, “Continuing the Work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together.”

Find a link to the webcasts at , the index page for online coverage of the 2012 Conference where a variety of news reports, photo albums, worship bulletins, sermon texts, and more will be made available throughout the event. Or go directly to . For technical questions or assistance with webcasts contact Enten Eller at .

7) Conference blood drive is a way to reach out to host city.

The annual blood drive is being planned again for the 2012 Annual Conference in St. Louis, as a way Brethren may give back to the host community.

“We Brethren have been quietly giving blood at Annual Conference for years, leaving over 220 pints in Pittsburgh and just over 140 in Grand Rapids,” said coordinator Bradley Bohrer, pastor of Crest Manor Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind.

Bohrer has been told by host locations that the Brethren who attend Annual Conference “always give far more blood than any other groups that come to the city, including other church groups!” he reported. “Last year, we outgave one of the local hospitals” which was having a blood drive at the same time as the Conference drive. “The Michigan Blood people had to shift staff from the hospital to us due to volume, even with our lower numbers,” he added.

The Annual Conference blood drive is carried out in cooperation with the American Red Cross and Brethren Disaster Ministries. A Red Cross release that has gone out to publicize the blood drive was titled, “Hop in the Pool this Summer, the Blood Donor Pool. Don’t Sweat it!”

“Currently, only 38 percent of the United States population is eligible to donate blood,” the release said. “Of those eligible donors, only about eight percent actually give blood. . . . Someone in the US needs blood every two seconds and 44,000 units of blood are needed for transfusions daily. That’s why it’s important to attract new donors to the donor pool and encourage current donors to give blood every 56 days.”

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required. Donors must be in general good health, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be at least 17 years old (16 with completed Parental Consent Form). New height and weight restrictions apply to donors 18 and younger.

The best times to donate at the 2012 Annual Conference will be Monday, July 9, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or Tuesday, July 10, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at the America’s Center Exhibit Hall 2. Everyone who attempts to donate will receive a free t-shirt, while supplies last, and a chance to win a Gibson guitar.

There will be a table for registration and to sign in to volunteer at the blood drive on Saturday and Sunday, July 7-8, in the Annual Conference registration area. “Look for us and sign up!” invites Bohrer.

To schedule an appointment to donate during the Conference, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit and enter sponsor code: brethren. For more information about the blood drive call 574 291-3748 or e-mail .


8) MSS interns begin a summer of service to the church.

The 2012 class of Ministry Summer Service interns have been holding orientation June 1-6 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The mentors for each intern joined the orientation for the last two days of the event.

Below is a list of interns and mentors, as well as the ministry settings in which they will serve for the next 10 weeks:

Jamie Frye of McPherson, Kan., will be mentored by Ginny Haney, pastor of Mount Morris (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, and Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.

Lucas Kauffman of Goshen, Ind., will be mentored by Larry Fourman, pastor of Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind.

Sarah Neher of Rochester, Minn., will focus on workcamps and be mentored by Becky Ullom, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Church of the Brethren.

Laura Whitman of Ono, Pa., will be mentored by Dennis Lohr, lead pastor of Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

The Youth Peace Travel Team of Katie Furrow of Boones Mill, Va.; Hunter Keith of Kokomo, Ind.; Kyle Riege of Wakarusa, Ind.; and Molly Walmer of Myerstown, Pa., will be mentored by a group of leaders including denominational staff. Their mentors include Ullom along with Dan McFadden, director of Brethren Volunteer Service; Marie Benner-Rhodes of the On Earth Peace staff; and Margo Royer Miller, Outdoor Ministries Association representative. The Youth Peace Travel Team provides peace education at Brethren camps and gatherings.

For more about the Church of the Brethren’s Ministry Summer Service program go to .

9) Brethren bits.

— The Ministry Office has shared new contact information for Russell and Deborah Payne, who started as co-district executives in Southeastern District on June 1: Southeastern District Church of the Brethren, P.O. Box 8366, Gray, TN 37615; 423-753-3220; .

— Webcasting from the Church of the Brethren’s National Young Adult Conference (NYAC) begins Monday evening, June 18, at . The daily worship services and the morning Bible studies will be webcast. The 2012 NYAC is meeting on the theme “Humble Yet Bold: Being the Church” (Matthew 5:13-18).

— The Church of the Brethren’s advocacy and peace witness office in Washington, D.C., has a new logo. The image is of a dove superimposed on the Church of the Brethren cross. “Thank you to Kay Guyer for the beautiful, inspiring design!” said a note on the “Brethren Advocacy” Facebook page.

— The John Kline Homestead is holding an open house and birthday party celebrating the 215th birthday of Civil War-era Brethren elder John Kline. The event takes place at 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, June 17, at the homestead in Broadway, Va. Festivities will include an open-house tour, a presentation depicting the significance of the life of Elder Kline and his many accomplishments, light refreshments including birthday cake and homemade ice cream. A free-will 215th Birthday offering will benefit the John Kline Homestead. For more information contact Linville Creek Church of the Brethren at 540-896-5001 or .

— A date has been set for the next Powerhouse regional youth conference to be hosted by Manchester University. The weekend of worship, workshops, music, food, and fun is scheduled for Nov. 10-11 in North Manchester, Ind., for senior high youth and adult advisors. For more go to or call the Campus Ministry/Religious Life office at 260-982-5243.

— Virlina District is calling attention to the upcoming 75th anniversary of the disappearance of three Church of the Brethren missionaries in China. Dec. 2, 2012, marks 75 years since the three Brethren disappeared from their post in Shou Yang, Shansi Province, China: Minneva Neher from LaVerne, Calif.; Alva Harsh from Eglon, W.Va.; and Mary Hykes Harsh from Cearfoss, Md. Virlina is encouraging its churches to commemorate the fateful event on Sunday, Dec. 2. “Many Brethren entertain memories of the sad reports in ‘Messenger,’ two books, and other memorial reports,” the district newsletter said. Virlina has several connections with the former Brethren mission in China. A young Shou Yang native, Ruoxi Li, is a member of the district’s Good Shepherd congregation, and has authored a 96-page report about the current state of the church in Shou Yang. Another district connection has been formed by a sibling of Alva Harsh, Norman, a current resident of Friendship Retirement Community in Roanoke, Va. The community has been asked to assist Friendship Hospital in Ping Ding, a former Brethren mission post in China, and helped host a delegation of three Chinese doctors in April this year.

— West Marva District held its Women’s Spring Rally on May 9 at Oak Park Church of the Brethren. Attendance was 89, with 23 churches represented, according to the district newsletter. A Love Offering received during the event is sending $2,472 to Church World Service to assist in preparing clean-up buckets for areas affected by disasters. The group also sent 374 hygiene kits, 21 school kits, and 1 baby layette to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for disaster relief, and collected $110 to purchase blankets for those in need. Another $678 was donated for shipping expenses.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has issued an urgent prayer request for the Palestinian village of Susiya, which received demolition orders from the Israeli military on June 12. “The demolition, to be completed by June 15, will destroy 18 tents and make 160 people homeless,” said the prayer request. For more about CPT’s work in Israel and Palestine go to .

— David and Joan Young, who lead the Springs of Living Water initiative in church renewal, will present a seminar titled “Servant Leadership and the Life Cycle of the Church, the Gift of Hope” at the 22nd Annual International Conference on Servant Leadership in Indianapolis on June 20-21. The Greenleaf Center has just published an essay David wrote on the communication pattern their family uses, which also is being taught in churches. At the conference, the Youngs have been invited to tell their story of a lifetime involvement in servant leadership that has impacted their family, and the spiritually oriented Springs Initiative in church renewal in the Church of the Brethren and beyond. For more information contact .

— A new name and a new Leadership Board have been announced by the former Feast of Love. The movement–led in large part by young adults and introduced at the Progressive Brethren Gathering last fall–has chosen the new name Open Table Cooperative. The new Leadership Board includes Kathy Fry-Miller of North Manchester, Ind.; Josih Hostettler of La Verne, Calif.; Aaron Ross of Bethel, Pa.; Katy Rother of Alexandria, Va.; Ken Kline Smeltzer of Boalsburg, Pa.; and Elizabeth Ullery of Olympia, Wash. One position still remains to be filled on the seven-member board. The new website address for Open Table Cooperative is .

— McPherson (Kan.) College is offering an “adventure in Greece” travel experience on Jan. 15-23, 2013. “It will be a feast for the palate, the eyes, and the spirit,” said an announcement. “In one of the most gorgeous countries on earth, we will travel to the land where the Apostle Paul spread the good news. As we travel we will enjoy the intriguing stories, rituals, and mythologies of the Greco-Roman world, which set the stage for the coming of Christianity.” If interested in joining this McPherson College tour with students, alumni, and friends, contact Herb Smith at or at the following address: 26 Mt. Lebanon Dr., Lebanon, PA; 717-273-1089.

— Pinecrest Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mount Morris, Ill., has announced the achievement of a “Five-Star” ranking by its nursing home, Pinecrest Manor. The achievement was made known in ratings released in May by Medicare. It is a tribute to the dedicated nursing staff of Pinecrest Manor, and its diligence on health inspections and quality measures, said CEO Ferol Labash in a release. “Jolene LeClere, administrator of health services, and our team of administrative staff, lead the way in providing quality, compassionate care.” A five-star rating is the highest rating a nursing home can be given by Medicare, the release said, adding that this star rating is for overall staffing hours, which includes registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, and certified nursing assistants. Pinecrest Community recommends that those considering nursing homes for their loved ones consult the information made available at the website.

— The New Community Project has announced grants and assistance to partner organizations in South Sudan in support of education for girls. A grant of $12,000 has been given to the Girlchild Education and Development Association in Nimule, South Sudan, following on an $18,000 grant made earlier this year for school tuition and materials for girls. The project also plans another grant later this year to support education for girls in Narus, South Sudan. “Ongoing support for our efforts to educate girls in South Sudan comes through the Amanda O’Donnell fund–a fund set up to honor a young woman whose life was cut tragically short,” the release said. More information is at .

— A webinar from the National Council of Churches’ Eco-Justice Program will address the theme “All God’s Children are Sacred” on June 19 at 1 p.m. (eastern). Pediatric physician Jerry Paulson will discuss why children are vulnerable to environmental health triggers, and Hester Paul from the Children’s Environmental Health Network’s Eco-Healthy Child Care Program will offer tips to make homes and churches safer. Sign up at .

— Korean churches are developing plans for a “peace train” that would travel from Berlin through Moscow and Beijing to Busan, South Korea, in time for the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) global assembly in Oct. 2013. “The plan is to draw attention to the need for peace and reunification in the Korean peninsula,” a release said, “and North Korea also would be on the route of the train, which would carry church and civil society representatives.” Peace Together 2013, a committee of the National Council of Churches of Korea, is working with the governments on the plan. The council also is in early phases of discussion about how to work with the governments of North and South Korea to prepare a peace treaty to be signed in 2013 that marks the 60th anniversary of the ceasefire treaty that ended the Korean War.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Enten Eller, Nathan Hosler, Dan McFadden, Nancy Miner, David Radcliff, Diana Roemer, Becky Ullom, 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 June 27.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

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