Newsline for May 3, 2012

Quote of the week

“All of us are called to work for the common good.”

— Rev. Adan Mairena of West Kensington Ministry in north Philadelphia, speaking in a Bread for the World conference call sharing pastors’ concerns about likely effects of proposals from House of Representatives committees to cut more than $169 billion from SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is formerly the food stamps program. Some members of Congress argue that feeding the hungry is really the work of the churches. Bread points out, “These representatives are essentially saying that every church across America–big, small, and tiny–needs to come up with an extra $50,000 dedicated to feeding people–every year for the next 10 years–to make up for these cuts.” The organization is asking church members to let government know that “Congress must not turn its back on our nation’s commitment to protect vulnerable people from hunger.” For more information go to .

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

1) Business items are announced for the 2012 Annual Conference.
2) Conference officers invite Ministry of Reconciliation to broader role.
3) Moderator makes trip to Spain, visits new Brethren group.

4) Christian Citizenship Seminar considers our relationship with carbon
5) MoR works on new network of conflict transformation practitioners.
6) Manchester trustees approve name change to ‘university.’
7) Department of Defense contractor lists released by BBT, FedEx moves up.
8) Brethren Digital Archives project enters Phase 2.

9) Seminary and college commencement ceremonies set for May.
10) Brethren Academy updates its list of courses for 2012-13.

11) Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, district news, and much more.



1) Business items are announced for the 2012 Annual Conference.

The ten business items to come to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in St. Louis, Mo., on July 7-11 are now available online. Also online is a delegate briefing featuring Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey and secretary Fred Swartz. The series of short videos reviews information that delegates should know before arrival at the Conference. Find videos and links to business items at .

The two items of unfinished business are “Query: Guidelines for Implementation of the Congregational Ethics Paper” and “Query: Guidance for Responding to the Changing of Earth’s Climate.”

Eight items of new business will be brought: “Query: Annual Conference Elections,” “Query: More Equitable Representation on the Mission and Ministry Board,” “Church of the Brethren Vision Statement 2012-2020,” a plan for “Revitalization of Annual Conference,” a revision to the denomination’s Ministerial Leadership paper, revisions to denominational polity on districts, updating of the structure for the Program and Arrangements Committee of Annual Conference, and an item related to Church of the Brethren ecumenical witness.

Query: Guidelines for Implementation of the Congregational Ethics Paper

The Congregational Life Ministries staff charged with revising the Ethics for Congregations document requests more time to complete the revision, and offers a timeline. The timeline includes a hearing at this year’s Annual Conference. In 2013 an accountability process will be outlined with the Council of District Executives, a first draft of a revised document will be completed, hearings will be held at Annual Conference, and revision of the document will continue based on that feedback and discussion. In 2014 a revised document will be presented to the Conference for final approval.

Query: Guidance for Responding to the Changing of Earth’s Climate

Peace Witness Ministries and a working group brought together to respond to this query are requesting an additional year to prepare an answer. Since the query was brought in 2011, the working group’s response has included examining the spiritual, ethical, and scientific implications of climate change; initiating a collaboration among Peace Witness Ministries, New Community Project, and the Outdoor Ministry Association to sponsor an exhibit at this year’s Annual Conference; examining ways that individuals, congregations, and the denomination can respond to climate change, and noting actions already being taken. The working group includes Jordan Blevins, Chelsea Goss, Kay Guyer, Greg Davidson Laszakovits, Carol Lena Miller, David Radcliff, and Jonathan Stauffer.

Query: Annual Conference Elections

The query is brought by La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren and Pacific Southwest District. Citing previous Annual Conference statements upholding gender equality, but a voting record showing men more likely to be elected to denominational office than women, it asks, “How will Annual Conference ensure that our ballot preparation and election process support and honor gender equality in all elections?”

Query: More Equitable Representation on the Mission and Ministry Board

This query was formulated by the Southern Pennsylvania District Board. Citing inequitable representation in relationship to percentage of membership in the five areas of the denomination, it asks, “Should the bylaws of the Church of the Brethren be amended to more equitably apportion Mission and Ministry Board representation with the membership of the church?”

Church of the Brethren Vision Statement 2012-2020

The following Vision Statement is proposed for the Church of the Brethren this decade: “Through Scripture, Jesus calls us to live as courageous disciples by word and action: To surrender ourselves to God, To embrace one another, To express God’s love for all creation.” The full document includes an introduction the statement, an expanded description of each phrase in the statement plus related biblical texts, and a section on “Living into the Vision.” The full Vision Committee has included Jim Hardenbrook, Bekah Houff, David Sollenberger, and Frances Beam, all named by the Standing Committee of district delegates; Steven Schweitzer representing Bethany Theological Seminary; Donna Forbes Steiner representing Brethren Benefit Trust; Jordan Blevins and Joel Gibbel representing On Earth Peace; and Jonathan Shively representing the Church of the Brethren denominational staff.

Revitalization of Annual Conference

A task force creating in 2010 has been charged with making a recommendation about the mission and core values of Annual Conference and analyzing whether the meeting should remain in its present form or recommend alternatives. Based on findings from studies and surveys, four recommendations are made (given here in brief): to maintain the present timing and length of the Conference, release Program and Arrangements Committee from the requirement of holding the event from Saturday evening to Wednesday morning, release polity requirements for a strict geographical rotation to allow focus instead on locations that maximize stewardship and minimize costs, and incorporate by 2015 the recommendations of the 2007 “Doing Church Business” paper regarding management of business sessions and use of discernment groups. A “New Vision” section explains and elaborates on the recommendations and the group’s hopes for increasing the meaningfulness and inspiration of the annual meeting. The task force has included Becky Ball-Miller, Chris Douglas (Conference director), Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Kevin Kessler, and Shawn Flory Replogle.

Revision to Ministerial Leadership polity

The proposal is to approve this document as a study paper, to come back for final adoption by the delegates in a future year. The paper contains the polity and procedures for calling and credentialing of ministerial leadership for the Church of the Brethren. The proposed revision would replace the 1999 Ministerial Leadership Paper and all previous polity documents. Included is some revision to the categories of ministerial leaders, outlining of several “circles of ministry” emerging from the larger circle of the priesthood of all baptized believers, a new section of “Scriptural Theological Perspective,” new expectations for the continuing support for and accountability of ministers, and a glossary of terms, among others.

Revisions to polity on districts

For several years the Council of District Executives has been working on revisions that will reflect the updating of districts. Revisions relate to a polity document that dates back to 1965, and are relevant to Section I, District Organization and Function of Chapter 3 of the denomination’s “Manual of Organization and Polity.”

Updating structure for Program and Arrangements Committee

This brief item recommends that polity be amended to remove a requirement for the Church of the Brethren Treasurer to be on the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee.

Church of the Brethren ecumenical witness

This report comes from a study committee that has been reviewing the history of ecumenism in the Church of the Brethren and reviewing the work of the Committee on Interchurch Relations (CIR), in place since 1968 to carry forward conversations and activities with other church communions and encourage cooperation with other religious traditions. The recommendation, “given the changing nature of ecumenism,” is to discontinue the CIR and “that the church’s ecumenical witness be expressed by the staff and the church at large.” An additional recommendation is that the Mission and Ministry Board and denominational Leadership Team appoint a committee to write a “Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century.” The study committee includes general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger as chair, Nelda Rhoades Clarke, Pamela A. Reist, and Paul W. Roth.

Go to for links to the full text of business items.

2) Conference officers invite Ministry of Reconciliation to broader role.

For over 20 years, moderators of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference have invited the Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) of On Earth Peace to provide observers during business sessions. Seated under the “MoR Observer” signs on the edges of the delegate seating area, their role has been to serve the church by being present and attentive, ready to respond where confusion, conflict, or negative emotions are causing a problem in the gathered body.

This year the Annual Conference officers have invited MoR to expand its presence to include the entire Conference, not just business sessions. Identified by a yellow “Minister of Reconciliation” tag in addition to a Conference name badge, these trained volunteers will be available throughout the Exhibit Hall and other Conference venues throughout the day and evening. They also may be reached at the On Earth Peace booth, the Annual Conference Office, and by telephone at 620-755-3940.

Like the MoR observers, Ministers of Reconciliation will be available to listen, to help make sense of the proceedings, to be a peaceful presence in tense situations, and to mediate conflict, facilitate communication, and help navigate misunderstandings. They also will be trained to respond appropriately in the event anyone is being threatened or harmed, whether verbally, emotionally, or physically.

For more information, contact the Conference Office at 847-429-4364 or or contact MoR program coordinator Leslie Frye at or 620-755-3940.

3) Moderator makes trip to Spain, visits new Brethren group.

Photo by: courtesy of Tim Harvey
Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey (left) during his visit to Spain poses with Spanish Brethren pastor Santos Feliz, lead pastor in Gijón (center left); pastor Fausto Carrasco (center right) and translator Lymaris Sanchez (right) both of Nuevo Amanecer Iglesia de los Hermanos, a Church of the Brethren congregation in Bethlehem, Pa.

Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey has reported on the annual moderator’s international trip to visit mission points or to meet with international Brethren or ecumenical partners. This year the moderator visited with an emerging Brethren group in Spain:

In February, my wife Lynette and I were privileged to visit the Church of the Brethren in Gijón, Spain. We traveled with pastor Fausto Carrasco and a team from Nuevo Amanecer Iglesia de los Hermanos in Bethlehem, Pa.

The trip was scheduled to provide ministerial and theological training for the three Churches of the Brethren in northern Spain. In considering the options available for my international trip, I was glad to visit the Brethren in Spain because they are so eager to be included among the global community of the Church of the Brethren.

The Church of the Brethren in Spain began as members of pastor Santos Feliz’ family began moving from the Dominican Republic to Spain looking for work. In the global economy, Spain often has been a place for Latin Americans to move for jobs. Generally the women move first, and often are able to quickly find work in domestic trades such as cooking and cleaning. After the women have lived in Spain for a year, it is fairly easy for them to bring the rest of the family to join them.

That was the case with pastor Santos’ family. They (and other members of the family) initially moved to Madrid, where they worked long, unpredictable hours. Eventually, they realized that they were slipping away from church life altogether, so they gathered their family and began meeting as a church. In time the Spanish economy deteriorated and only the women were left with jobs.

After moving to Gijón the work of the church continued. The church there meets in a store-front location in a very nice, commercial part of town. The congregation works very hard at incorporating Latin American immigrants into their community life, helping them get settled, handle necessary paperwork, make new friends and expand the church. They have been very effective at this, and their congregation has members that hail from seven countries. Incorporating native Spaniards has been difficult due largely to the racial prejudice our brothers and sisters encounter.

Throughout the week, and amid very busy and demanding work schedules for those who have jobs, the congregation meets for worship or study multiple times including Saturday and Sunday evenings for worship. While we were there, the Saturday evening worship was led by the women in the congregation, and Lynette was invited to preach. The entire congregation appreciated her sharing; the women were especially grateful when they found out this was her first sermon! I was blessed to preach at the Sunday service.

There are several steps that need to be taken before the Spanish church is officially recognized as a mission point of the Church of the Brethren. Along the way, their presence with us raises some perspectives that US Brethren would do well to consider.

First, what does it mean to thrive as an immigrant church? During one class of theological training, we were studying Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” I asked the group if any of them had ever been persecuted. Everyone raised a hand. They know what it is like to be the victim of racial prejudice.

With this, I told them that they understand this verse better than I. When questioned about this, I raised my own hand and asked, “Does skin color matter?” Everyone’s eyes widened with the realization that it does. This opened up a helpful conversation about how the prayers and loving support of the church family are a vital part of enduring suffering. Our brothers and sisters in Spain gain spiritual strength and unity because they turn to Christ and the church in the face of suffering.

Second, in spite of a significant focus on outreach, the Brethren in Spain have not yet had an impact on the Spanish culture where they live. This is partly due to their status as immigrants.  But it is also partly because they are evangelical believers in a predominantly Catholic, yet essentially secular, culture. It is difficult to be taken seriously when you are a persecuted minority.

What might American Brethren learn from our Spanish Brethren on these points? How is our faith encouraged in the face of suffering? Do we suffer for our faith? And, as the dominant culture, how effectively are we impacting the world around us? These are important questions for us to consider.

The presence and faith of the global Brethren can be a great encouragement to our faith in the US. There is a good chance Spanish Brethren will be with us in St. Louis; I pray you will seek them out.


4) Christian Citizenship Seminar considers our relationship with carbon

Fifty-two Church of the Brethren youth and adult advisors met for the 2012 Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) on April 14-19 in New York City and Washington, D.C. The theme focused on “Stepping Out: Our Relationship with Carbon.”

The 41 high school youth and 11 advisors came from 11 congregations in eight districts across the denomination. Staffing the event were CCS coordinator Carol Fike, a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker in the Youth and Young Adult Ministry; Becky Ullom, director of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry; Nathan Hosler, advocacy consultant for the Church of the Brethren and the National Council of Churches, along with past advocacy consultant Jordan Blevins; Jonathan Stauffer, BVS worker in the Advocacy and Peace Witness Office in Washington; and Jeremy McAvoy, BVS recruiter.

The group experienced four sessions on different aspects of the theme. Session 1 addressed the “Personal Carbon Footprint” led by Emma and Nancy Sleeth, a mother/daughter team and authors of “Almost Amish,” “Go Green, Save Green,” and “It’s Easy Being Green.” The Sleeth family have given up a comfortable, wealthy lifestyle to live simply as better stewards of the earth, and shared about the simple things that they are doing in their everyday lives to reduce their personal carbon footprint.

A second session on the “National Carbon Footprint” was led by Tyler Edgar of the National Council of Churches, who works with a variety of environmental issues for the NCC including mountain top removal.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted the CCS group for a session in one of its large meeting rooms in a downtown Washington building. Shakeba Carter-Jenkins and Jonathan Stauffer worked together to set up the meeting. Included in this presentation was Dru Ealons, director of the Office of Public Engagement for the EPA; Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator, Office of Air and Radiation; Jerry Lawson of Energy Star; Marcus Sarofim of Climate Science; and Ullom as the Church of the Brethren representative.

“Many of the advisors said that this (session with the EPA) was the best agency presentation that they had ever been a part of,” Fike reported. She added that others who met with the CCS group were impressed by the level of understanding among the students. “Tyler (Edgar) was blown away by the questions that our youth asked,” she said.

Other CCS activities included viewing the documentary “The Story of Stuff,” and exercises to help youth learn about carbon and its effects in items of daily use, such as foods, and how to calculate a personal carbon footprint. Participants also gathered in congregational groups to come up with three new things they will do on their return home, and one thing they will encourage their church to do, in order to reduce carbon’s effects on the earth’s environment (see listing below).

The event closed with each and every participant visiting and talking with a governmental representative in Washington. The group from California, for example, had breakfast with their senator. Participants from Indiana met with staff of both of their senators, and the group from Illinois and Wisconsin District was able to talk with staff of senators from both states.

Daily worship was an important part of CCS, led by Ullom and Fike, and included an anointing service. Scriptures used for worship included Ezekial 34:17-19, Job 12:7-9, Esther 4:14, Romans 8:18-21, and Matthew 25:25-29.

What are you going to do to be pro-active?

Youth and advisors who attended Christian Citizenship Seminar were challenged to come up with new ideas of things they can do to curb the effects of carbon on the environment–personally and in their churches. The Youth and Young Adult Ministry hopes to offer an insight session at Annual Conference this July reporting back from these youth initiatives:

Black Rock Church of the Brethren, Glenville, Pa.: place timers on air and heat, teach lessons about small things that churches members can do to help the planet, talk about long-term investment in solar panels, go styrofoam free, clean out the kitchen and get rid of appliances that aren’t needed.

Glade Valley Church of the Brethren, Walkersville, Md.: host an Information Sunday, lead a children’s story about carbon, print bulletins on recycled paper.

Goshen (Ind.) Church of the Brethren: install light motion sensors, turn down the water heater.

Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, Elgin, Ill.: speak at church, have a dumpster diving event.

La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren: host an eco-friendly worship and lunch on May 20, wash dishes by hand, have some carbon activities, make carbon footprint placemat, change light bulbs at the church.

Manchester Church of the Brethren, North Manchester, Ind.: plant prairie grasses at their church, rather than grass that needs mowing.

Middlebury (Ind.) Church of the Brethren: the church already hosts community gardens, start a youth garden and donate the food to local pantries, host an Environmental Sunday, host a recycling campaign at church, start a community compost site.

Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren: lead a Sunday school class for adults, hold a fundraiser, sell reusable bags and mugs, have a youth room project to “be more green,” update the church kitchen to install Energy Star appliances.

Richmond (Ind.) Church of the Brethren: hold a Sunday school class for children, with visuals.

— CCS coordinator Carol Fike contributed to this report.

5) MoR works on new network of conflict transformation practitioners.

Photo by Tim Nafziger
Two of the participants in the MoR-hosted meeting on a new network of conflict transformation practitioners were Gary Flory (left) and Barbara Daté (right).

Anabaptists have written the book on conflict transformation and yet living into the full richness of the implications of that work has been elusive at every level–from interpersonal to congregation to district to Annual Conference, from local communities to the global community.

For over 20 years, On Earth Peace through its Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR), has worked to gather and network conflict transformation practitioners in ways that fuel collaboration and support as they serve Christ’s church and the world together. How can we encourage new generations to carry forward the vision of faithful, conflict-healthy communities? How do we engage grassroots and congregational level leadership and conflict?

MoR program coordinator Leslie Frye recently invited representatives from Mennonite Central Committee’s Office of Criminal Justice, the Kansas Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR), and Anabaptist conflict transformation practitioners with a range of ages, colors, and affiliations to join MoR practitioners in conversation regarding the potential of forming a sustainable network for the continuing work of reconciliation.

Hosted at the KIPCOR offices on the campus of Bethel College in North Newton, Kan., participants took advantage of the rare opportunity to engage with a group of people doing similar work from a common faith perspective.

Over the day and a half together, they worked at articulating the values they share and the way those values inform the work they do as a springboard toward exploring ways they might work together most effectively. They also discussed various potential strategies for connecting, equipping, and utilizing practitioners to best resource faith communities who are facing conflict or change. Before departing, participants assigned working groups to further explore the potential for forming a network.

In the coming months, On Earth Peace will be reporting the ways these working groups will seek to expand the conversation in order to explore interest in defining a vision, mission, and strategic plan that will foster conflict-healthy faith communities by widening the circle of peace-with-justice practitioners (new and seasoned) working from an Anabaptist tradition.

The current thought is that the network could be a place for building relationships and mentoring; enhancing collaboration and support; encouraging reflective practice and skill development; educating and resourcing the wider church. To become involved or for more information, contact Leslie Frye at 620-755-3940.

6) Manchester trustees approve name change to ‘university.’

Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., will change its name to Manchester University on July 1, to reflect the growing complexity of the institution, the Board of Trustees decided at its spring meeting on April 21.

The timing is optimal as Manchester grows in complexity beyond its 123-year-old undergraduate, residential liberal arts core with: a new professional doctoral program in pharmacy, with faculty engaged in research agendas; a new non-residential campus in Fort Wayne; graduate programs in athletic training and education, with more possibilities.

A name change to university is strategic, said president Jo Young Switzer. “A new name will help us communicate our expanding academic competencies and goals.

“What we will not change is our mission to graduate persons of ability and conviction who will work to improve the human condition,” Switzer said. “Manchester’s reputation for exciting learning and service opportunities supported by faculty mentoring will continue in the undergraduate, graduate, and School of Pharmacy programs.”

Switzer’s recommendation and the Board of Trustee’s decision were presaged by conversations with members of the Manchester community–alumni, faculty, current students, and staff–as well as surveys by a research firm of potential students and community leaders.

Manchester currently offers more than 55 areas of academic study, including master’s degrees in athletic training and education. A total of 1,320 undergraduate and graduate students study on its North Manchester campus.

In August, the first 70 students in Manchester’s new doctoral pharmacy program begin classes in a new facility in north Fort Wayne. When that first class graduates in four years, 280 students will be enrolled in the Pharm.D. program.

— Jeri S. Kornegay is director of Media and Public Relations for Manchester College.

7) Department of Defense contractor lists released by BBT, FedEx moves up.

Honoring the Church of the Brethren’s historic peace stance can be accomplished in many ways, and Brethren Benefit Trust chooses to do so through its investments. BBT does this by compiling lists of publicly traded US Department of Defense contractors each year and prohibiting its investment managers from investing BBT funds in them.

Two lists are produced: One includes the top 25 publicly traded companies with defense contracts; the other includes all publicly traded companies that earn more than 10 percent of their revenue from defense contracts.

This year, some of the nation’s largest companies made it on the two lists produced. For example, shipping giant FedEx was added to the top 25 list in 2011 at number 24; this year, it has moved up to the 23rd spot. The list showing companies that earned more than 10 percent of their revenue from the department lost 20 companies and gained 19 new ones for a total of 78.

The firms on the lists are screened from BBT investment portfolios, along with firms that receive more than 10 percent of their revenue from abortion, alcoholic beverages, firearms and other weapons, gambling, pornography, or tobacco. BBT also avoids using the services of any of these companies–most notably FedEx.

The lists and more information can be found at .

In another update from BBT, the National Walk @ Lunch Day on April 25 brought colleagues and congregations together.

What is the easiest exercise to incorporate into your daily routine? Walking. If your health allows it, you can enjoy a low-intensity workout that can burn between 204 and 305 calories for every hour of walking at 2.5 miles per hour.

Members and employees of the denomination did just that on April 25 to celebrate National Walk @ Lunch Day, an annual fitness event sponsored by Brethren Insurance Services and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. BBT encouraged congregations across the country to participate, and it also hosted a walking event at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., where employees left their desks at noon and took walks for health and fellowship–even through a bit of light rain.

Photos from National Walk @ Lunch Day are at . To start a fitness walking routine, pick up a pedometer and visit to download a chart to keep track of miles, steps, and minutes walked.

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

8) Brethren Digital Archives project enters Phase 2.

Photo by Liz Cutler Gates
The Brethren Digital Archives group met April 23, 2012, at the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookeville, Ohio. The project is entering into a Phase 2 of digitizing historical Brethren periodicals.

The Brethren Digital Archives committee met on April 23 at the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookeville, Ohio. The group is guiding a project to digitize Brethren periodicals and publications.

In attendance were Terry Barkley, Virginia Harness, Larry Heisey, Eric Bradley, Gary Kocheiser, Liz Cutler Gates, Steve Bayer, as well as Jeff Bach and Jeanine Wine via conference call. Three different Brethren groups were represented at the meeting: Church of the Brethren, Grace Brethren, and Old German Baptist Brethren. The Dunkard Brethren are also involved in the project, but unfortunately their representative was unable to attend this meeting.

Periodicals to be scanned for the archive from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) in the next phase of the project include “The Brethren’s Missionary Visitor,” “Der Bruderbote,” “The Gospel Messenger,” and the “Progressive Christian.” Other periodicals will be scanned from various institutions, including Bridgewater (Va.) College and Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.

The most extensive undertaking will be “The Gospel Messenger,” which is bound by year in 82 volumes, many of which are oversized. The group also hopes to include the various Brethren almanacs in the digitization project at some point in the future.

This is the second phase of periodicals to be digitized. The hope is to scan from originals, as in Phase 1, but some periodicals may have to be scanned from microfilm.

Check out the publications already available in the online archive at . Periodicals can be read online, or downloaded in a variety of forms including PDF. The text is searchable, and there is an audio component to hear the text read out loud.

Some funds remain from Phase 1, but additional fundraising efforts will be needed to meet the needs of this next phase. The committee plans to meet again in March of next year.

— Virginia Harness is archival intern for the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.


9) Seminary and college commencement ceremonies set for May.

Bethany Theological Seminary will be holding its graduation ceremony on May 5, in Richmond, Ind., just one of several Church of the Brethren-related schools that have announced May commencement ceremonies.

This will be Bethany’s 107th commencement, and 16 graduates will be recognized. The academic ceremony for conferring degrees will take place in Nicarry Chapel at 10 a.m., with admittance by ticket only. A worship service, open to the public, will be held in Nicarry Chapel at 2:30 p.m. Nadine S. Pence, a former member of the Bethany faculty and currently director of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion in Crawfordsville, Ind., will give the commencement address. Graduates Rebekah Houff, Jeanne Davies, and Andrew Duffey will speak during the afternoon worship service.

At Bridgewater (Va.) College, Robert Neff, president emeritus of Juniata College and a former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren and past faculty at Bethany Seminary, will deliver the message at a baccalaureate service at 6 p.m. on May 11 in Nininger Hall. Darla K. Deardorff, a Bridgewater alumna who is executive director of the Association of International Education Administrators and an authority on intercultural competence, will deliver the commencement address at 10 a.m. on May 12 on the campus mall.

Elizabethtown (Pa.) College holds its 109th commencement May 19, with traditional and adult learning programs celebrating graduates. There will be two ceremonies: at 11 a.m. the commencement ceremony for about 450 traditional undergraduate students held in the Dell will feature speaker Pauline Yu, president of the American Council of Learned Societies; at 4 p.m. the commencement ceremony for the 170-some Edward R. Murphy Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning undergraduate students will hear from speaker Edward R. Murphy of the Board of Trustees, in the Leffler Chapel. This is the first time at the college that adult learners–students who have earned an undergraduate degree through the non-traditional degree program–will have a separate commencement.

At Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., James Madara, chief executive officer of the American Medical Association and a nationally known expert of epithelial cell biology and gastrointestinal disease and also a 1971 Juniata graduate, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and deliver the commencement address at 10 a.m. on May 12. Others to receive honorary degrees from Juniata are Timothy Statton, retired president of Bechtel Power Corporation and a former member of the board of directors of Bechtel Group Inc., and Henry H. Gibbel, chairman and chief executive officer of Lititz Mutual Insurance Co.

Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., will laud Dow Chemical Co. scientist and Manchester sciences benefactor Herbert E. Chinworth with an honorary Doctor of Science degree at commencement on Sunday afternoon, May 20. Chinworth, who attended Manchester in the early ’40s, also is the speaker for the 2:30 p.m. ceremony, before the college confers more than 250 bachelor’s degrees and two Masters in Athletic Training degrees.

At McPherson (Kan.) College, the 2012 Commencement Day is scheduled for May 20. Also on the weekend of May 18-20 is McPherson’s Alumni Weekend with class reunions for 1952, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, and 1977. At the annual Alumni Awards Luncheon, Harold and Lynda Connell (’62 and ’61), John Ferrell (’51), and Eldred Kingery (’72) will be presented the distinguished Citation of Merit.

University of La Verne, Calif., will hold its Commencement Weekend on May 25-26.

10) Brethren Academy updates its list of courses for 2012-13.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has updated its list of courses for 2012 and extending into 2013. Courses are open to Training in Ministry (TRIM) or Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) students, pastors, and other interested persons. Ordained and licensed ministers earn continuing education credit for most courses. Courses noted as “SVMC” are offered through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, register by contacting or 717-361-1450. Registration brochures are available at or by calling 800-287-8822 ext. 1824.

— “Planting, Partnering, Producing, and Persevering” at Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, Ind., with instructor David Shumate, Virlina District executive minister, on May 16-20 in conjunction with the denomination’s Church Planting Conference (registration deadline was April 13).

— “Defining Set-Apart Ministry within the Bi-vocational Reality” is an online course with instructor Sandra Jenkins, on June 6-Aug. 14 (with one week off for Annual Conference). Registration deadline is May 4.

— Directed Independent Study Unit featuring Walter Brueggemann, contemporary biblical scholar and theologian. Brueggemann will be the guest speaker at the Ministers’ Association Conference, a 24-hour event July 6-7 prior to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in St Louis, Mo. This study will be planned and led by Marilyn Lerch and will include pre-Conference reading, a one-hour session before and after the Ministers’ Conference, attendance at both the Ministers’ Association Event and the Saturday evening worship service where Brueggemann will preach. A follow-up project will be expected. Contact Lerch directly for more information at . There will be no tuition fee for this course.

— “Church of the Brethren Polity and Practice” at the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College with instructors Warren Eshbach and Randy Yoder, on July 20-21 and Aug. 3-4 (SVMC).

— “What Brethren Believe,” an online course taught by Denise Kettering-Lane of the Bethany Seminary faculty, Sept. 4-Nov. 5 with a break Oct. 1-7.

— “Religions of the World” at McPherson (Kan.) College with instructor Kent Eaton, planned for the Fall.

— “Brethren Studies Course” is an online offering also planned for the Fall.

Projecting into Spring 2013, other upcoming courses include a January Intensive at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind.; “Introduction to New Testament” online; “Evangelism” taught online by Tara Hornbacker of the Bethany Seminary faculty; and a study trip to the Iona Community in Scotland to be led by Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, Bethany Seminary professor of Preaching and Worship. Other 2013 courses may be offered at McPherson College, and in Florida.

The Brethren Academy notes that while students may be accepted into courses after the registration deadline, the deadline date determines whether there are enough students to offer the class. Many courses have required pre-course readings, so students need to be sure to allow enough time to complete those assignments.

11) Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, district news, and much more.

— Michelle Mahn, NHA, is the new administrator at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, following two interim assignments at the Boonsboro, Md., continuing care retirement community. She served for three months in 2010 and, upon departure of Nola Blowe, returned in January and has agreed to stay. Prior to her times at Fahrney-Keedy, she worked at facilities in Gettysburg, Pa.; and in Frederick and Rockville, Md. Since 2010 she had some interim assignments. Born and raised in Bloomsburg, Pa., she graduated from York (Pa.) College and earned her graduate degree at Hood College in Frederick. She and her family live in Boyds, Md.

— Jonathan L. Reed has been named to the post of dean of the University of La Verne (ULV) College of Arts and Sciences. ULV is a Church of the Brethren related school in La Verne, Calif. Reed has served in the position of interim dean for most of the past three years, and previously was professor of religion for 16 years. He was selected for the permanent position from a group of 55 candidates according to a release from the university. He is a recipient of the Excellence in Faculty Teaching Award, the Ellsworth Johnson Service Award, and is a founding member of The Academy at La Verne. He has also written many articles and reviews, and has authored several books, such as “In Search of Paul,” “Excavating Jesus,” and “Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus.”

— Brethren Village, a 1,000-plus resident CCRC retirement community affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, located in Lancaster, Pa., seeks a president. This role requires an individual with vision, relational ability, and strategic planning and implementation skills. The successful candidate will be a strong communicator with business and financial acumen. Required is a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in health sciences, and 5-7 years of experience in executive leadership in senior services, health care, or related field. An NHA license in Pennsylvania is a plus. Brethren Village offers a competitive salary, comprehensive benefits, and a collaborative, professional work environment. Resumes will be received through May 25. Please forward resume and letter of qualification to consultants: North Group Consultants, Inc., e-mail: , fax: 717-299-9300.

— The Church of the Brethren seeks to fill a fulltime position of facility janitor at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Required skills and knowledge include ability to work independently and prioritize daily tasks, skilled in oral and written communication, ability to work a varied schedule, ability to work in extreme environments in or outdoors, ability to record inventory and purchase department supplies, ability to relate with integrity and respect within and beyond the organization, ability to handle physical labor including lifting 50 pounds, bending, stooping, climbing, lifting, carrying, and crawling. Practice safety at all times adhering to safety protocols. Practice good stewardship of church resources, properties, and the earth. The preferred candidate will have at least 3 years of experience in janitorial services, housekeeping, or related profession. A high school diploma or equivalent is required. Applications will be received immediately with interviews beginning May 1 until the position is filled. Request an application packet from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 258; .

— Eleven district administrative assistants from 10 Church of the Brethren districts held meetings at the church’s General offices in Elgin, Ill., last week. The Ministry Office hosted the group.

— Testing of recipes for the new Inglenook Cookbook began April 24. Karen Dillon is the cookbook coordinator for this publication project of Brethren Press. Some 130 testers are trying out more than 500 recipes for the new cookbook. For more go to .

— This summer the Gather ‘Round curriculum from Brethren Press and MennoMedia invites all ages to learn more about what it means to “Seek Peace and Pursue It.” Each week, children and leaders will add a new peace treasure to a peace tree or bulletin board. “Talk to teachers, parents, and other church leaders and plan now to involve the whole congregation in this theme,” suggests the Gather ’Round newsletter. For more about the summer curriculum go to . To order curriculum call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

— The new “Hidden Gems” webpage of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives gives an update on Ven Pak Studebaker, widow of Vietnam era Brethren peace martyr Ted Studebaker. Find it at .

— Pleasant Chapel Church of the Brethren, in Ashley, Ind., is celebrating 100 years of life and ministry. Centennial celebrations have been scheduled throughout the year, but on July 15, former pastors have been invited to join in a special celebration worship service at 9:15 a.m. and lunch following. Afterward, all who can are invited to join in singing to and visiting with Pleasant Chapel’s older member, Ruth Stackhouse, who will be turning 100 on that day. “She was in her mother’s womb when the church first met in 1912,” said an announcement from pastor Valerie Kline. “All are welcome!”

— Southern Ohio District has reached its goal of collecting $10,000 to purchase 300 Church World Service Clean Up Buckets. The kits will be shipped to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., at no charge thanks to the generosity of a local business, reports the district newsletter. Kit assembly is at Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren at 6:30 p.m. on May 22.

– Southern Pennsylvania District Witness Commission and York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren are sponsoring an event May 19, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at York First Church titled “Biblical Hospitality: Creating Spaces for Inviting and Welcoming Visitors.” Led by Fred Bernhard, former pastor of the 520-member Oakland Church of the Brethren in Ohio, and a past Annual Conference moderator, the seminar makes a connection between the church’s health and its willingness to “entertain the stranger in its midst.” Registration deadline is May 14. Cost is $15 and includes lunch. Light refreshments will be available upon arrival at 8:30 a.m. Contact Southern Pennsylvania District, P.O. Box 218, New Oxford, PA 17350-0218.

— The 20th annual Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction is May 18-19 at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds. The disaster fundraiser also includes a May 11-13 Sporting Clays Tournament at Flying Rabbit near Mt. Crawford, and a golf tournament May 18 at Heritage Oaks. Activities at the fairgrounds begin at 1 p.m. May 18 with a silent auction and booths offering arts, crafts, baked goods, and plants. An oyster-ham dinner will be served, and two evening auctions are scheduled including livestock and arts, furniture, and handwork. May 19 events begin with breakfast and include morning worship at 8:45 a.m., the auction that includes quilts, children’s activities, lunch, and a theme basket auction. See .

— Virlina District’s “Mission and Ministry” event takes place at Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., on May 5. Several workshops are led by denominational staff including “Help! There’s Too Much Month at the End of the Money” and “The Business Side of the Church” with Brethren Benefit Trust president Nevin Dulabaum, and “The Social Media Craze” and “Faith That Sticks” with Becky Ullom, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey provides a briefing. Go to .

— COBYS Family Services will recognize Dennis and Ann Saylor of West Green Tree Church of the Brethren in Elizabethtown, Pa., for 25 years of service as foster parents. The recognition is part of a Resource Parent Appreciation Banquet at the Inn at Leola Village, Pa., on May 7. The Saylors have provided care for 54 foster children, helping them overcome mental and physical challenges and preparing them either to return home to their biological families or to transition to adoptive families. COBYS also is recognizing five foster/adoptive resource families for five years of service: Donald and Sarah Beiler, Ronks; David and Kelle Bell, Mt. Joy; Marlyn and Jodi Gaus, Quarryville; Marty and Mary Sommerfeld, Lancaster; and Tom and Sylvia Wise, Womelsdorf. The dinner is held in conjunction with National Foster Care Month in May. “There is an ongoing need for foster/adoptive resource families,” a release said. “COBYS holds free monthly informational meetings in Lancaster and Wyomissing for families wanting to explore foster care or adoption.” COBYS Family Services is affiliated with Atlantic Northeast District.

— Bridgewater College has a new strategic plan to guide the college through 2020. “BC 2020: The Strategic Plan for Bridgewater College” identifies key areas critical to success in the next eight years and strategies for achieving goals in those areas, said a release. Areas include student success, the Bridgewater Experience, enhanced and new programs, access and affordability, alumni and community, and facilities. Nathan H. Miller, chair of the board, noted that in the future, higher education must focus on realities of living in an international community, fast-changing technological environment, and an educational environment in which new majors and curricula abound. For more go to .

— McPherson College holds its second annual “Blake Reed Miracle Mile” on May 12. The event remembers Blake Reed, manager for the college football team, who died at age 22 on Aug. 3, 2010 from complications of muscular dystrophy. On May 4, the college’s C.A.R.S. Club Show features an open house reception in the popular automotive restoration facility and a presentation by Wayne Carini, host of “Chasing Classic Cars” on the new Velocity Channel by Discovery.

— “And great grace was upon them all.” Those words from Acts 4 describe the Renovare Conference at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, according to a release from the Springs of Living Water initiative for church renewal. “Powerful themes of grace were opened as Richard Foster and Chris Webb delved into themes of the transforming power of Christ,” said the release from David Young. “The group considered entering spiritual disciplines, how God pursues us in love, and how we can develop a balanced Christian life. Vibrant singing, small group sharing of God moving in our lives, and discerning next steps in our Christian walk took place during the day. The conference closed with anointing and commitments.” One special aspect of the conference were the children’s lessons on the spiritual disciplines, written and taught by Jean Moyer. Follow-up to the conference has already begun, with the Spiritual Renewal Team of Atlantic Northeast District active in follow-up. Contact .

— A Midwestern round of the Christian Peacemaker Teams “Peace, Pies, and Prophets” tour with Ted Swartz of Ted & Co. has been announced. The show, “I’d Like to Buy an Enemy” is interspersed with a “stealth auction” of pies to benefit CPT. The first three shows in Pennsylvania raised over $15,000. The next shows are May 3 at 7 p.m. at Kern Road Mennonite Church South Bend, Ind.; 7:30 p.m. on May 4 at Living Water Community Church in Chicago; and 6 p.m. on May 6 at Madison (Wis.) Mennonite Church.

– The next “Brethren Voices” features author, historian, and storyteller Jim Lehman of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. This April edition of the community television program from Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren is the first of a two program series. The second in May allows Lehman to discuss writing and storytelling and features a story about the beginnings of Brethren Volunteer Service. The June edition features youth of Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren instrumental in beginning the community’s Caring Cupboard. Subscribe or order a copy of “Brethren Voices” by contacting .

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) urges prayer for Christians under fire in Nigeria and Kenya, and in a joint statement with the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) is highlighting concerns for Christians in Sudan. “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and God’s ears are open to their cry,” said Georges Lemopoulos, WCC deputy general secretary, quoting from Psalm 34 in a release. According to media reports, at least four people were killed in Maiduguri and 15 were killed in Kano, Nigeria, and many more injured in a series of bombings during Sunday morning services. A church service in Nairobi, Kenya, was the target of an attack where one person was killed and 15 wounded. Also, the WCC and AACC expressed “grave concern over the increasing incidents of attacks on Christians and destruction of church property in Sudan” where the groups report the public burning of Bibles and government occupation of buildings of the Sudan Council of Churches and Sudan Aid in Dafur province.

— A webinar from the National Council of Churches’ Eco-Justice Program will address “Healthy Aging for an Abundant Life” on May 15 at 2 p.m. (eastern). The webinar will include information about how chemical exposures, diet, and exercise can contribute to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer, and will offer tips on ways to reduce risks. Speakers are Dr. Ted Schettler and Maria Valenti from the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. Sign up at .

Contributors to this issue include Deborah Brehm, Gina Breslin, Don Fitzkee, Ed Groff, Valerie Kline, Jeri S. Kornegay, Mary Kay Heatwole, Michael Leiter, Amy J. Mountain, Chloe Schwabe, John Wall, Jenny Williams, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next Newsline on May 16. 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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