Newsline for Nov. 15, 2012

Quote of the week:
“One little boy ran over to me when we first walked in, yelled ‘Bob!’ and jumped in my arms and said, ‘I love you. Can we play now?’ Made my day.”— Bob Roach, one of the Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers who have been caring for children in shelters following Hurricane Sandy. He was quoted Monday in a CDS Facebook status update by associate director Judy Bezon. Since the superstorm hit the northeast, CDS has deployed close to 30 volunteers. The first team to respond has already completed their two weeks of service, and replacement groups have been sent in. This week a replacement team of nine volunteers has gone to New York, and a replacement team of five volunteers has gone to New Jersey, according to Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter. 

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

NEWS
1) Sandy shipments from New Windsor center now exceed $900,000 in value.
2) Church fund makes grants for Sandy response, new BDM project in Binghamton, NY.
3) Seminary trustees meet, approve expansion of Brethren and reconciliation studies.
4) Bethany announces faculty openings in Brethren, reconciliation studies.
5) Committee shares hopes for Sunday of renewal, releases logo for 2013 Annual Conference.

UPCOMING EVENTS
6) Nigerian Brethren leaders to speak at Young Center, Mission Alive.
7) Special interest courses offered through Bethany Seminary in the spring.

RESOURCES
8) Pre-publication price available for Lenten devotional from Brethren Press.

FEATURE
9) Congo Journal: A Brethren pastor’s run/walk for peace.

10) Brethren bits: Remembrances, personnel, BL&T editor opening, Atlantic Southeast peace award, and much much more.

In response to escalating attacks between Israel and Gaza, and media reports of the readying of ground troops by Israel, the General Secretary’s office and the Advocacy and Peace Witness Ministry share the following:As we go about our lives of work and worship, violence has again escalated between Gaza and Israel. The complexity, fear, and suffering entangled in this conflict drive us to pray for Christ’s Peace and God’s Shalom to prevail in the place of violence. We do not claim to know the answers to bring peace but we urge all parties to have the courage to stop attacks and build peace for the good of all people.
— Stanley Noffsinger, General Secretary, and Nathan Hosler, Advocacy and Peace Witness Ministries

1) Sandy shipments from New Windsor center now exceed $900,000 in value.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
A box of Church World Service (CWS) relief goods bears the words “From: New Windsor, Md., USA”

Shipments of relief materials have been heading out from warehouses at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., ever since superstorm Hurricane Sandy was churning through the Caribbean on its way to the northeast US. The Church of the Brethren Material Resources staff has done the processing, warehousing, and shipping of relief materials on behalf of Church World Service (CWS).

Now the value of the shipments made for CWS–a global humanitarian agency funded by public donations, grants, and the support of 37 member Christian denominations–totals $900,402.

Material Resources staff were filmed by WBAL TV Baltimore as they continued to fill orders for relief goods. Rob Roblin of Channel 11 news in Baltimore, Md., taped the report on the shipments sent to the Hurricane Sandy response, to air Wednesday, Nov. 14, during the 6 p.m. newscast (view it at www.wbaltv.com/news/maryland/carroll-county/Carroll-County-organization-helps-Sandy-victims/-/10137488/17410174/-/5ju175/-/index.html ).

Shipments from the New Windsor warehouses include CWS Blankets, Hygiene Kits, School Kits, Baby Kits, and Emergency Clean-Up Buckets. So far, shipments have gone to local agencies in the states of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. CWS works with state, regional, and local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, FEMA, and member denominations and agencies to determine where help is most needed.

Details of shipments to date, with dollar value:

— To Adventist Community Services in the Bronx, N.Y.: 2,010 blankets, 2,010 Baby Kits, 2,010 School Kits, 2,040 Hygiene Kits, 464 Emergency Clean-Up Buckets ($166,683)

— The Recovery House of Worship, Brooklyn, N.Y.: 720 blankets, 1,800 Baby Kits, 1,800 School Kits, 750 Hygiene Kits ($110,412)

— To the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside, N.J.: 2,010 blankets, 105 Baby Kits, 3,000 School Kits, 3,000 Hygiene Kits, 300 Emergency Clean-Up Buckets ($107,754)

— To Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation in Far Rockaway, N.Y.: 1,500 blankets, 1,005 Baby Kits, 1,020 School Kits, 1,020 Hygiene Kits ($73,470)

— To Project Hope Charities, Jamaica, N.Y.: 1,020 blankets, 900 Baby Kits, 1,020 School Kits, 2,100 Hygiene Kits ($66,357)

— To Catholic Charities, Hicksville, N.Y.: 1,020 blankets, 510 Baby Kits, 1,020 School Kits, 1,700 Hygiene Kits ($61,557)

— To the Lehigh County Emergency Management in Allentown, Pa.: 1,020 blankets, 1,005 Baby Kits, 1,020 Hygiene Kits ($55,362)

— To the Salvation Army in Hempstead, N.Y.: 990 blankets, 1,005 Baby Kits, 1,020 Hygiene Kits ($55,187)

— To the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management in Bethpage, N.Y.: 774 Emergency Clean-Up Buckets ($43,344)

— To the US Army Reserve in Beaver, W. Va.: 1,020 blankets, 300 Baby Kits, 1,020 School Kits, 1020 Hygiene Kits ($43,167)

— To the LICC Freeport (N.Y.) Pantry: 93 blankets, 435 Baby Kits, 420 School Kits, 540 Hygiene Kits, 275 Emergency Clean-Up Buckets ($45,347)

— To AME Zion Church, Brooklyn, N.Y.: 510 blankets, 510 Baby Kits, 510 School Kits, 450 Hygiene Kits ($35,924)

— To Church of God Christian Academy in Rockaway, N.Y.: 510 blankets, 60 Baby Kits, 510 School Kits, 540 Hygiene Kits ($18,374)

— To the Congregational Church for South Hempstead, N.Y.: 120 blankets, 15 Baby Kits, 120 School Kits, 120 Hygiene Kits ($7,797)

— To the Long Island Council of Churches in Riverhead, N.Y.: 90 blankets. 60 Baby Kits, 120 Hygiene Kits, 100 Emergency Clean-Up Buckets ($9,667)

CWS is seeking donations to restock of all of its kit types. Lists of contents and instructions are at www.churchworldservice.org/kits .

2) Church fund makes grants for Sandy response, new BDM project in Binghamton, NY.

Photo by Thom Deily
A Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteer at work painting, in a house rebuilt following a tornado. The program this fall completes rebuilding projects following tornadoes in Pulaski County, Va., and Arab, Ala.

“During a disaster such as this, now is the time to remember that the most important humanitarian donation an individual can make is cash,” notes Brethren Disaster Ministries in an e-mail update this week about its response to Hurricane Sandy. The reminder comes at a time when the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF)–which spports the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries–has made its first grants toward the Sandy relief effort.

Church members who are considering contributions to support the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services may make out checks to the Emergency Disaster Fund. Mail donations to: Church of the Brethren, Attn: EDF, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120; or make donations at www.brethren.org/edf .

“Once damage assessments are complete, Brethren Disaster Ministries will develop plans for future long-term recovery activities including major home repairs and rebuilds,” reports Roy Winter, associate executive director. “We will also support Church World Service in developing Long Term Recovery plans, providing technical and financial support, and providing onsite Long Term Recovery training in stricken communities.

“This is just the beginning of Hurricane Sandy response and recovery,” he adds. “We have all seen the scope of destruction and know it will take years to rebuild the lives of all who lost their homes. Brethren Disaster Ministries is working on behalf of the church to be a light for children and other Super Storm Sandy survivors.”

Brethren Disaster Ministries has requested an EDF allocation of $25,000 to support Church World Service work with local, state, and National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to respond to immediate needs of Sandy survivors. The grant also will help assess needs for long-term recovery. CWS staff are ready to provide training, volunteer management, emotional and spiritual care, and case management as needed, and will support long-term recovery groups with start-up grants.

An EDF allocation of $8,000 supports the CWS appeal for areas of Haiti and Cuba affected by the hurricane. Sandy caused serious destruction and loss of lives in both Caribbean countries. The grant helps pay for a comprehensive assessment by CWS of needs in Haiti and Cuba and initial recovery efforts of partner organizations, the Cuban Council of Churches and the Christian Center for Integrated Development in Haiti.

An EDF grant of $30,000 has been made to start a Brethren Disaster Ministries repair and rebuilding project site in Binghamton, N.Y., following catastrophic flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee in Sept. 2011. In the days following the storm, local faith-based leaders quickly formed a coalition called “Faith Partners in Recovery,” which was eventually charged with handling cases of unmet construction needs for families without adequate resources, and coordinating the efforts of volunteers. As cleanup efforts ended and repair work began, fewer volunteers responded, and so Faith Partners in Recovery has requested repair and rebuilding teams from Brethren Disaster Ministries. The project site opens Nov. 25. The grant underwrites operational expenses related to volunteer support including housing, food, and travel expenses incurred onsite as well as volunteer training, tools, and equipment.

3) Seminary trustees meet, approve expansion of Brethren and reconciliation studies.

The Bethany Seminary Board of Trustees met Oct. 26-28 on the seminary’s Richmond, Ind., campus for its biannual meeting. Board chair Lynn Myers, whose term began July 1, presided. Four new trustees were seated: Paul Brubaker of Ephrata, Pa., representing clergy; Christina Bucher of Elizabethtown, Pa., at large; Celia Cook-Huffman of Huntingdon, Pa., representing the Brethren colleges; and David W. Miller of Glenville, Pa., representing clergy.

Board actions

Two motions related to instruction were brought to the board for action. As part of a two-year comprehensive curriculum review, the faculty have identified the need for more coursework in history and have chosen to offer more concentrated study in Brethren theological heritage. These evaluations are in keeping with the seminary’s strategic plan priorities to prepare graduates for a variety of ministry settings in a multi-faith society and to encourage dialogue among diverse theological perspectives. The strategic plan also calls for developing curriculum around the missional church, evangelism, and conflict transformation.

To meet these goals, the board gave approval to expand the Brethren studies position to full time and to create a half-time position in reconciliation studies, both to begin on or before July 1, 2013. Both positions will be supported by the current Reimagining Ministries campaign.

The second such motion approved by the board was development of a faculty associates program. Persons selected for the program would serve Bethany and the church by preaching, leading educational sessions, potentially teaching graduate courses, and/or increasing awareness of Bethany’s educational services across the denomination. This program would meet goals of both the strategic plan and the Reimagining Ministries campaign.

With the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults now in its thirteenth year, a recommendation to create a task force for evaluating the program was brought to, and approved by, the board. The task force will address the future of the coordinator of outreach programs position, the relationship between the Bethany board and the Institute’s advisory board, and ways to promote and expand the work of the Institute.

The board also heard a review of the current compensation policy and approved a task team to develop a revised policy. Other items receiving approval were the review of the Board Policy Manual, tuition and fees, a housing allowance for clergy faculty, and maintaining the current endowment draw policy with the stipulation that a timeline for board review be set.

Major initiatives

Reports were given on Bethany’s conversation with other denominational institutions regarding partnership ventures. To encourage ministerial leadership within the church and the personal exploration of calls to ministry, Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren has proposed the creation of teaching parishes. Post-college interns would be employed full-time and housed by a congregation for 18 months, being mentored by the congregation, taking seminary-level courses, and engaging in personal reflection and spiritual discernment. This structure is modeled after the Vocation CARE program from the Fund for Theological Education, which offers support for such ventures.

Other conversations have begun between Bethany and the Brethren-related colleges. In addition to more classes of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership now being offered on college campuses, the possibility of establishing a five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program has been discussed with two of the colleges.

The ever-expanding world of online education also has led to exploratory talks about coordinating distance learning among all the campuses. While offering common courses online to students at all schools could increase educational options, enrollment, and cost-effectiveness, moving toward a strategic plan for this initiative would require much research and collaboration on the desirability, goals, expenses, and logistics of the program.

The Presidential Search Committee reported progress in conversations with nominees and interview scheduling. The position has been advertised to relevant ecumenical institutions.

Staff are completing an updated institutional student profile, identifying demographics of the student body and the nature of the residential and distance-learning degree tracks. The tracks now have nearly identical requirements as technology and program flexibility have led to a majority of students enrolling in the Connections programs. While the quality and viability of a Bethany education relies on residential enrollment, efforts continue to strengthen personal relationships and generate common experience among the dispersed student body.

Department reports

Lowell Flory, executive director of Institutional Advancement, reported that total giving to Bethany during the fiscal year ending June 30 was $1,506,963, slightly above the average of the last five years. Annual giving was $818,840, the highest since 2006. Staff are pleased that the Reimagining Ministries campaign is slightly above target at just over $4 million, approximately halfway through the campaign period. Encouraging alumni and friends of Bethany to attend campaign meetings around the country is an ongoing effort.

Steve Schweitzer, academic dean, shared that the Association of Theological Schools, the accrediting agency for theological schools, has revised its degree program standards. Major implications include the need to prepare for separate assessment processes for ATS and the Higher Learning Commission, a regional agency that accredits post-secondary educational institutions; these processes have historically occurred simultaneously. ATS-accredited schools also now are required to post statements of educational effectiveness on their websites, showing positive indicators of student learning. Bethany has completed this requirement.

The curriculum review is on schedule to be completed by the spring 2013 board meeting and implemented in the fall 2013. The faculty anticipate that the new curriculum will allow greater flexibility in teaching and learning and provide students with opportunities to both broaden and deepen their educational experience.

Brenda Reish, executive director of Student and Business Services, reported on several physical plant issues. Since Bethany’s acquisition of Mullen House across the street from the Bethany Center, plans for offices on the lower floor and rental housing on the second floor have proceeded. Zoning approval is in process, and construction bids are being sought. Plans for improving audio/visual capabilities in Nicarry Chapel are also underway.

To commemorate her promotion to full professor of Ministry Formation, Tara Hornbacker gave her professorial address on Saturday evening, Oct. 27. Entitled “Incarnational Education and Improvisational Evangelism,” it explored theatrical improvisation as a method for evangelism that is appropriate for a pluralistic society and coherent with the Anabaptist-Pietist understanding of incarnational love. Drawing on her theatrical background, Hornbacker led the audience through improvisational exercises, encounters with biblical texts, and fresh expressions of the gospel story.

— Jenny Williams is Bethany’s director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations.

4) Bethany announces faculty openings in Brethren, reconciliation studies.

Two new faculty openings have been announced by Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.: a full-time position in Brethren studies and a part-time position in reconciliation studies. Both will begin on or before July 1, 2013, and searches for applicants are underway.

The creation of these positions has come about through a curriculum review process that has its roots in the seminary’s five-year strategic plan. Among the goals for the review are to develop new curriculum offerings around conflict transformation and around the missional church, evangelism, and social justice. These efforts are also directly supported by resources generated through the seminary’s current Reimagining Ministries campaign.

Steve Schweitzer, academic dean, describes the relationship of these educational goals to the Anabaptist-Pietist heritage. “Bethany’s new faculty position in reconciliation studies and the expansion of our Brethren studies position grow out of our commitment to addressing needs and realities of our present culture and congregations,” he says. “As the world is becoming more polarized and conflict continues to damage us individually and corporately, our leaders must be prepared to work productively and positively. By adding courses in Brethren studies, we will be able to stretch our students in thinking what it means to be living out our Brethren heritage and values in today’s society in the United States and globally. Brethren studies is not only about the past–it is about the future.

“I am excited that Bethany’s new curriculum, scheduled to begin fall 2013, will provide students with these opportunities to deepen and broaden their perspectives and skills as they move out as strong leaders in the church and world.”

Full position descriptions and application requirements can be found at www.bethanyseminary.edu/news/facsearch .

— Jenny Williams is Bethany’s director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations.

5) Committee shares hopes for Sunday of renewal, releases logo for 2013 Annual Conference.

A logo for the 2013 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, and more details about the schedule including a Sunday focused on spiritual renewal, have been released by the Program and Arrangements Committee. The 2013 Conference takes place June 29-July 3 in Charlotte, N.C., and is open to all church members and families, as well as delegates from congregations and districts.

The planning group met recently at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The committee includes the Conference officers–Bob Krouse, moderator; Nancy S. Heishman, moderator-elect; Jim Beckwith, secretary–and committee members Eric Bishop, Cindy Laprade Lattimer, and Christy Waltersdorff, with Conference Office director Chris Douglas.

The logo, designed by Debbie Noffsinger, presents the theme, “Move in Our Midst,” which also is the title of a beloved Church of the Brethren hymn by the late Ken Morse and Perry Huffaker (#418 in “Hymnal: A Worship Book”).

A Sunday of renewal

The largest block of the committee’s meeting was spent “fleshing out the Sunday plans as a day of renewal,” reported Douglas. This is a new initiative of Program and Arrangements, following calls for an emphasis on spirituality at the annual meeting, along with a worshipful context for the carrying out of church business.

“It is so different than what we’ve done before, we want to call people’s attention to that,” said Douglas. “We really are trying to focus pretty closely on tools and resources that people may use back in their congregations,” she explained.

Plans for Sunday, July 1, include two worship services–morning and afternoon–with guest preachers Philip Yancey and Mark Yaconelli, a Concert of Prayer in the evening, and in between two sets of “equipping workshops” designed to provide experiences and resources for personal and corporate spiritual renewal.

The day is to begin with a morning focused on the “inward journey” of spiritual formation and spiritual disciplines, and then in the afternoon move to consideration of the “outward journey” of sharing our faith with others through word and deed.

The committee has worked hard to identify leaders for equipping workshops from the grassroots of the denomination, Douglas said, such as church members who are doing creative ministries in congregations and local practitioners of spiritual formation and Christian witness.

The Sunday schedule is at www.brethren.org/ac/documents/2013-day-of-spiritual-renewal.pdf . Douglas reported that the list of equipping workshops is still being created, and will be shared sometime early next year.

In other business

Exhibits were granted according to Exhibit Hall guidelines. This year Program and Arrangements has granted exhibit space to several new exhibitors in an attempt to expand the ability to receive information from various voices on current topics of discussion in the church. A full list of exhibits planned for this year can be found online at www.brethren.org/ac/exhibitors.html .

Listings of main Conference presenters and leadership is complete and available online. The Program and Arrangements Committee has released information about the Conference preachers, worship planning team, and the musicians who will be leading singing, accompanying, and directing choirs, as well as the volunteer coordinators. Find the list of preachers, worship planning team, and music leaders at www.brethren.org/ac/preachers.html . The listing of volunteer coordinators is at www.brethren.org/ac/volunteer-coordinators.html .

Classroom Central has been chosen as the Conference service project. The organization receives donations of school and classroom supplies and then allows teachers from the Charlotte area to “shop” for free supplies for use in their classrooms. The effort aids both students and teachers who often otherwise must pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. The group also partners with the Charlotte Convention and Visitors Bureau to receive leftover “freebies” such as pens and pads of papers that convention exhibitors may throw away when packing up their exhibits. The Conference Office will provide a list of most-needed school and classroom supplies for Conference-goers to give to a special offering benefitting Charlotte-area schools.

Two tour possibilities will be offered for nondelegates: to the Billy Graham Home and Library, and to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Douglas describes her own visit to the Billy Graham Home and Library as “very interesting,” including the original Graham home relocated to a beautiful wooded setting surrounded by gardens where Ruth Graham is buried. The library, built in a dairy barn style suited to the family’s roots on a dairy farm, includes lots of multi media exhibits. The NASCAR Hall of Fame directly across the street from the convention center in Charlotte also offers “fabulous” interactive exhibits, Douglas said, such as the opportunity to take part in a simulated pit crew and a simulated race car driving experience.

Travel scholarships will be offered to delegates from congregations west of the Mississippi River. The reimbursement of up to $150 will be given to delegates after the Conference concludes, so that the Conference Office may confirm their attendance.

Some of the Conference functions usually carried out during business sessions will begin this year during the opening worship service. Delegates are particularly encouraged to be in attendance for the full Conference in order not to miss any of these events. For example, Douglas shared that the Program and Arrangements Committee is considering the Saturday evening service and the Sunday of renewal as essential preparation for the business sessions that follow. There are plans to present the pictorial ballot as part of the Saturday evening offering, celebrating gifts that nominees are willing to give to God’s use and to the church. New congregations and fellowships also will be presented during Saturday evening worship.

Dec. 1 is the deadline for nominations for church-wide offices. The Conference Office notes that there have been very few nominations made to date, and requests church members from across the denomination to nominate people for the positions open in 2013. To make nominations, use the online process found at www.brethren.org/ac . Nominees also must fill out the Nominee Information Form, available online, to indicate acceptance of the nomination. Both forms must be filled out with consent from the nominee in order for there to be a completed nomination.

For more information about the Annual Conference, go to www.brethren.org/ac . For questions contact the Conference Office at 800-323-8039 ext. 365.

6) Nigerian Brethren leaders to speak at Young Center, Mission Alive.

Photo by Nathan and Jennifer Hosler
Samuel Dali (at right), president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), with his wife Rebecca S. Dali.

Samuel Dali, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and his wife Rebecca, a scholar who recently received her doctorate from the university in Jos, Nigeria, are traveling in the United States. Their itinerary includes speaking engagements at Mission Alive 2012 hosted by Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, and at the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.

They also will visit Manchester University and Bethany Seminary, lead Sunday school and worship at Crest Manor Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind., and spend an evening with Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren.

Following is their itinerary:

— Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m.: “Peace in the Face of Religious Violence” is the title of Samuel Dali’s address for the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College, in the Bucher Meetinghouse. “For decades, Muslims and Christians in Nigeria lived peacefully as neighbors, but this condition has been recently interrupted by radical extremists,” said the college release about the event. “During his presentation, Dali will describe some of the efforts for peace that the Nigerian Church of the Brethren implements, including a program of microloans to help Muslims whose homes or businesses were destroyed when other Christians violently retaliated against attacks by Muslim extremists. Dali also will highlight work by the church to form peace clubs cultivating Christian peacemaking.” The event is free and open to the public. Contact the Young Center at 717-361-1470 or younctr@etown.edu.

— Nov. 16-18: The Dalis will be attending and speaking at Mission Alive at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Among other highlights of the conference, they will be part of a workshop conversation with Annual Conference moderator Bob Krouse, and will give a workshop on the mission efforts of EYN. A third related workshop will feature “Sowing Seeds of Peace,” a video about EYN’s peacemaking work in Nigeria.

— Nov. 19: The couple will visit the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., where a special reception will be held in their honor, hosted by the General Secretary’s Office.

— Nov. 25, beginning at 9:30 a.m.: Crest Manor Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind., will host the Dalis, who will lead the morning Sunday school hour and then speak for the 10:45 a.m. worship service.

— Nov. 25: Later in the day, Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren hosts the couple, who will speak for an afternoon or evening event.

— Nov. 26-27: The Dalis will conclude their visit with US Brethren by visiting Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind., and Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

7) Special interest courses offered through Bethany Seminary in the spring.

Bethany Seminary is offering four graduate-level courses during the spring 2013 semester that may be of interest to the occasional student, those interested in taking courses without enrolling in a degree program. The courses are offered as weekend intensives.

Two special topic courses will meet at the Bethany Seminary campus in Richmond, Ind.:

“Music in the Church” with instructor Shawn Kirchner, on Feb. 8-9, April 19-20, and May 3-4

“Faith, Fiction, and Philosophy” with instructor and Bethany president Ruthann Knechel Johansen, on Feb. 15-16, March 15-16, and April 12-13. An exploration of the theological-philosophical questions of grace, justice, charity, and peace through two 20th-century women writers: American author Flannery O’Connor and the French philosopher and social activist Simone Weil.

The following courses will be offered through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center and may be counted toward licensing/ordination requirements. For more information contact your district executive:

“Brethren Polity and Practice” with instructor Warren Eshbach, on Feb. 1-2 and 22-23, and March 8-9 and 22-23, at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College

“Congregational Ministry and Leadership for an Emerging Church” with instructor Randy Yoder, on March 1-2 and 15-16, and April 12-13 and 26-27, at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.

The application deadline for the spring semester is Dec. 1. Interested persons may apply online as occasional students, which also requires submission of all official transcripts, a one-page essay, and a $50 application fee. The cost of each class is $1,329. For more information about these courses or enrollment, contact Tracy Primozich, director of admissions, at primotr@bethanyseminary.edu or 765-983-1832.

— Jenny Williams is Bethany’s director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations.

8) Pre-publication price available for Lenten devotional from Brethren Press.

The 2013 Lenten devotional from Brethren Press is now available to order at pre-publication pricing. To place orders, call 800-441-3712 or go to www.brethrenpress.com .

“The Practice of Paying Attention: Devotions for Ash Wednesday through Easter” is written by Dana Cassell and offers daily scriptures, meditations, and prayers for Lent and Easter in a pocket-sized paperback suitable for personal use or for congregations to provide to members.

“Our days are filled with countless distractions that make demands on our time and attention. It’s easy to lose focus,” says a promotional flier from Brethren Press. “Join us as we step back, slow down, and practice paying attention to God at work in our lives. May this Lenten journey be filled with clarity and surprise.”

Order the 2013 Lenten devotional by Dec. 21 to receive pre-production prices of $2 (regular size print) and $5 (large print)–a significant reduction from the usual cost of $2.50 or $5.95 large print. Shipping charges will be added to the invoice.

This year’s Advent devotional by Walt Wiltschek also is still available. “The Advent Road” has been published with some special features, including as an e-book in either epub or pdf format ($2) as well as the regular booklet ($2.50) and large print ($5.95) versions. A shipping charge will be added to the invoice. Call 800-441-3712 or order online at www.brethrenpress.com .

Become a seasonal subscriber to the Brethren Press devotional series and receive both annual devotionals–Advent and Lent–at the discounted price of $4 per year. Subscriptions are automatically renewed each year and can be cancelled or changed at any time.

9) Congo Journal: A Brethren pastor’s run/walk for peace.

Gary Benesh, pastor of Friendship Church of the Brethren in N. Wilkesboro, N.C., was inspired to return to long distance running after he heard Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer share the story of the Congo Brethren. “Coming from the most violent area on earth, they were particularly interested in taking seriously Jesus as the Prince of Peace, and the Gospel being a ‘Gospel of Peace’ (Romans 10:15, Ephesians 6:15),” he explained. Benesh set out to “run, walk, or crawl” 28 miles across Wilkes County in the northwestern North Carolina foothills of the Blue Ridge escarpment to raise money for the Congo mission and for peace in that region of the eastern Congo. Here is his story:

Gary Benesh and his son, Fernando Coronado, pose by a “Welcome to Wilkes County” sign

“The prevalence of childhood malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amounts to 40.7 percent, according to UNICEF. Over 500,000 have fled from the ongoing fighting.” Such is the news of the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo that led me last May to begin planning my run/walk/crawl across Wilkes County.

When I labeled this as the “I’m Not Going to the Congo Mission Fundraiser”  my intent was to send all funds raised to capable people in that area from both the indigenous population and from respected international mission leaders, including those from my own denomination. I do not plan to waste any money to send me to the DRC as I have no skills to offer to meet the tremendous needs of this area. What I call “sandals on the ground” are those of committed Christians who need our support in spreading the Gospel of Peace, compassion, and reconciliation in the name of the Prince of Peace.

Six years out of coaching and having not run during that time, I found myself 25 pounds heavier, fighting high blood pressure, and not able to run a mile nonstop. Over the summer I gradually improved, and by October was up to 10 slow miles at a time. I was carrying 20 pounds less weight, and had blood pressure closer to normal ranges. However, as I added on miles, my 59 years began to show. I started having severe pain in my leg, and was unable to run for two weeks prior to the start date. I knew then that I would not be able to run the full distance, and that the walking phase would increase.

My son, Fernando Coronado, decided to join me on this project, and I was relieved. I knew he had a toughness that would pull me along. We planned to walk the first 12 miles and then run as much as possible of the remaining 16 miles. For safety purposes, we decided to start on the route known as “Old 16.”

We started our journey at 8 a.m. on a cool but beautiful late fall morning. At a 15-minute mile pace we soaked in the beauty of the upper South Fork of the Reddies River: a heron rising from the stream, hundreds of crows seeming to call out encouragement, patches of snow-white frost melting as the rays of the sun came through the leafless trees, a hawk soaring high to remind us that we were in Blackhawk territory, a rooster calling the countryside to come awake, hound dogs coming out to encourage us with their wagging tails. The only other sound was that of the glistening stream as it ran down the escarpment, gradually gaining strength as stream after stream joined in its melodious chorus.

We finished that 12-mile phase in the planned three hours. We would transition to running, and so far I was feeling good. I had told athletes never to do anything to mask any pain, as that is the body’s way of giving warning signals. However, I knew this would be my “last hurrah” at long-distance running, and was willing to run the risk if it would get me to the finish line.

At the 15-mile mark, the pain in my lower calf returned, much sharper than before. If Fernando had not been along, I would have been back at a walk. I managed to continue, and somehow by mile 18, the pain lessened to a tolerable level. By mile 20 it seemed to have subsided.

As we were completing mile 22 near Wilkes Central, we both realized that our running segment would be done at 10 miles. Our legs were like jelly. We would finish the last six miles as we had started, at a quick walk. By mile 24 we were experiencing what a friend calls “rigor mortis setting in.” All feeling from was gone from our legs.

The surprisingly warm November sun, which normally would have felt pleasant, was slightly over-bearing. We were now on the stretch of Highway 16 that passes Price Road and Pores Knob as it winds its way up to Kilby Gap. I knew this stretch quite well as I had run it numerous times over 25 years ago when I was training for the Charlotte Marathon. It had never seemed longer or more demanding than it did on this afternoon.

I managed to again focus on the beauty of nature to get me through: an upper tributary of Moravian Creek as it peacefully rambled down from the surrounding hills, the fading orange of the leaves that remained on the trees, the majesty of Pores Knob itself. At the Walnut Grove Baptist Church we passed the marathon point. We had two miles left, mostly uphill. By now the sun’s warmth was giving way to a pleasant coolness. We had passed the farthest distance that I had ever walked or ran.

The last mile up Kilby Gap seemed anti-climatic. The pain was gone. We were still managing a good walking pace and we were confident that we could finish. Finally, seven hours and twenty minutes after we had started, our 28-mile trek was done.

A fresh apple from Lowes Orchards provided ample reward for our journey–as well as knowing that we had done what we could to stir up attention for an area of the world facing perhaps the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. We invite others to join in the cause.

— Gary Benesh introduces himself as a member of Table 69 at Annual Conference. He also is a 7th grade teacher and a former track/cross country coach. His walk/run for the Congo mission already has raised over $1,600. To connect with his Congo Mission Fund, contact Friendship Church of the Brethren, 910 F Street, North Wilkesboro, NC, 28659.

Photo by courtesy of Jim Beckwith
Footwashing at Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, when the church held Love Feast this fall.

10) Brethren bits.

— Remembrance: James R. (Jim) Sampson, a member of the Standing Committee of district representatives to Annual Conference, passed away at his home on Nov. 7. He served on Standing Committee as a representative of Northern Ohio District. He was an ordained minister and since 2000 had been chaplain at Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio. Visitation was held Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Coldren-Crates Funeral Home in Findlay, Ohio, where a funeral service was held on Monday, Nov. 12. Andrew Sampson, pastor of Eel River Community Church of the Brethren in Silver Lake, Ind., and son of Jim and Sheri, officiated.

— Remembrance: John Post, who had worked for Brethren Press at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., died on Nov. 2. He had served in the pre-press department, when printing presses for books, curriculum, and the “Messenger” magazine all were located onsite at the denominational offices. The Oct. 1974 “Messenger” noted his role when, as composing department supervisor, the press shifted from a “hot type” to a “cold type” system in 1974 and the shift was made from Linotype to computer-based typesetting. By the time Brethren Press closed its onsite printing operation in 1986-87, he was creative services manager and had logged 32 years of employment at the publishing house. He lay claim to having been the last employee to leave the printing department in early 1987. In addition to love of God, his family, and the Church of the Brethren, his passions in life included genealogy research, golf, bicycling, world travel, science and animal life, and talking to people of all ages. His collection of 175,000-plus genealogy records not only includes ancestors, but descendents–all relatives to his four children. In retirement, he and his wife Donna moved to Glendale, Ariz., where they attended Dove of the Desert United Methodist Church and where a memorial service was held Nov. 4. Another service is planned for Dec. 2, at 3 p.m., at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, where the couple were longtime members. Surviving are his wife Donna; their children Don Post of Elgin, Ill.; Diane Parrott of Lake in the Hills, Ill.; David Post (Pamela), of Ojo Caliente, N.M.; and Daniel Post of Glendale, Ariz.; grandchildren, step-grandsons,  and great grandchildren; and included as members of his extended family the Than Phu family whom he helped resettle from Vietnam, and Steffen Nies, a friend from Germany. Memorial contributions are accepted to the Good Samaritan Fund at Dove of the Desert UM Church.

— Remembrance: Roy Edwin McAuley, 91, a past president of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, passed away on Oct. 29. Formerly of Warrensburg, Mo., he died at Kingswood Health Center in Kansas City, Mo. He was born May 31, 1921, in Wichita, Kan., the son of Addison Bishop and Thomasita (Martin) McAuley. On June 21, 1943, he married Ruth Arlene Nicholson in Wichita. She preceded him in death on Nov. 12, 2010. He was a graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College, Bethany Theological Seminary, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Denver where he earned a doctorate in education. He served pastorates in Omaha, Neb., and Akron, Colo., before serving as academic dean and then president of Elizabethtown College. Later he became academic vice president of the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, retiring in 1988. After retirement he served as pastor of Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Warrensburg, where memorial services were held on Friday, Nov. 9. Survivors include his children, Arthur McAuley and wife Victoria of Paxton, Mass.; Mark McAuley and wife Virginia of Kansas City, Mo.; Anne McAuley of Kansas City; and Ruth Alicia Jones and husband Curtis of Warrensburg; grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Memorial donations are received to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Pipe Organ Fund, care of Sweeney-Phillips and Holdren Funeral Home in Warrensburg.

— Remembrance: Ruth Clark, 77, of Big Sky American Baptist/Brethren Church in Froid, Mont., in Northern Plains District, died on Nov. 6 at Trinity Hospital in Minot, N.D. She was a former member of the Church of the Brethren General Board, serving two terms on the denominational board. She also had served on the board of directors of On Earth Peace. She was born July 18, 1935, on the family farm in rural Cherokee County, Kan., the oldest child of Jacob and Opal Davidson. She graduated from McCune Rural High School and earned a bachelor of science degree from McPherson (Kan.) College. Committed to a life of church and community service, she also was an advocate for peace. After college she entered Brethren Volunteer Service, serving in Refugee Camp Friedland and in the Church of the Brethren teacher/student exchange office in Kassel, Germany. After returning home, she was a youth fieldworker for the Central Region of the Church of the Brethren. She attended Bethany Theological Seminary, earning a master’s degree in Religious Education. After a summer of working with Grandview Church of the Brethren at Froid, she served for 10 months as director of Christian Education with First Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. Throughout her time in northeast Montana she was active in her church community, and also in other community organizations. For several years, she served as a board member of the Institute for Peace Studies in Billings, Mont. In May 2009, she was recognized by Northern Plains District for serving for more than 35 years in various roles including several terms on the District Board, the Standing Committee of Annual Conference, and as a Heifer International representative. On July 10, 1965, she married Ralph Clark, who survives her. Also surviving are daughter Kristi Jamison (Billy) of Jefferson City, Mo.; son Russell Clark (Brandi) of Bozeman, Mont.; and grandchildren. A funeral was held Nov. 13, at the Big Sky Church. Memorial gifts are received to Northern Plains District.

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) is welcoming the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury, primate of the Church of the England, who plays a leading role in the world-wide Anglican Communion. In a release, the WCC extended congratulations to Bishop Justin Welby, current bishop of Durham in the Church of England, who is to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Welby will take up the responsibility following the departure of Archbishop Rowan Williams next month. Williams, a celebrated theologian, has accepted an academic appointment at Cambridge University, the WCC release said.

— Sarah Long, a member of Grottoes Church of the Brethren and financial secretary for Shenandoah District, has been named the Shenandoah District Center Coordinator for the Christian Growth Institute (CGI). She is a graduate of CGI and begins her new role on Jan. 1, 2013. John Jantzi, Shenandoah District executive minister, completes his tenure as CGI dean on that date.

— Sonia Himlie has resigned as director of Camp Pine Lake near Eldora, Iowa, in Northern Plains District. She began in the fulltime role in August, and will continue until a replacement is found. The district newsletter announced that a search committee has been formed to find a replacement.

— The Brethren Journal Association has announced its search for a new editor for “Brethren Life and Thought.” This is a contract position. The person filling this position will consult with the Brethren Journal Association Advisory Board regarding long-range planning, possible writers and topics, and maintaining high standards of journalism and scholarship. The editor is responsible for determining the content of the journal. The Brethren Journal Association exists for the purpose of publishing a journal and related resources to address critical issues that confront the church and to foster thoughtful, scholarly, and creative interpretations of the Anabaptist and Pietist traditions that nourish the Church of the Brethren. A detailed job description is posted on the Bethany Theological Seminary website at www.bethanyseminary.edu/sites/default/files/docs/blt/BJA_EditorDescr.pdf . Applicants should send resumes by Jan. 15, 2013, to blt@bethanyseminary.edu . For further information, contact blt@bethanyseminary.edu .

— In more news from the seminary, for the first time Bethany will offer devotionals for each Sunday in Advent, beginning Dec. 2. Written by teaching and administrative faculty, the devotionals will be available beginning Nov. 26 at www.bethanyseminary.edu/resources/devotionals . Devotionals on four different scripture texts will be featured each week. The seminary hopes that the insights, meditations, and prayers shared by the faculty will be meaningful and useful to congregations, organizations, and individuals throughout the season.

Photo by Ilexene Alphonse
Destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy when it hit Haiti. Haitian Brethren in the Marin church were among families who lost homes.

— Ilexene Alphonse has reported from Haiti with photos of the destruction left by Hurricane Sandy in the community of Marin Church of the Brethren. “I went to Marin…with Michaela and Jean Altenord from the National Committee to see first hand what’s going on,” he reported by e-mail. “There are three families, about 10 people, staying in the church building. One family lost their house, completely gone. One Brethren Disaster Ministries house is almost gone. It’s on the edge of the river…. Another church member’s house is not liveable. Some other houses are flooded,” he added. The group brought rice, spaghetti, and oil for those living in the church building. In less somber news, the Marin congregation also recently celebrated the installation of a new pastor, Joel Bonnet, who was licensed to the set-apart ministry.

— View webcasts from Mission Alive 2012, taking place at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren from Nov. 16-18, at http://www.brethren.org/webcasts/#missionalive . Plenary sessions will be webcast beginning Friday at 3 p.m. (eastern).

— Worship resources are online at www.brethren.org/spirituallife/one-people-one-king.html for the “One People, One King” emphasis on Sunday, Nov. 25. Held on this year’s unusual Sunday between Thanksgiving and the start of Advent–called “Christ the King” or “Reign of Christ” Sunday in the church calendar–this special emphasis invites Brethren to be reminded, before a season of waiting, of whom we await. The scriptural theme is “But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

— Living Stream Church of the Brethren has been announced as a new online worship community of Oregon and Washington District, launching its opening worship service on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 5 p.m. (Pacific time). Worship will be held at the website www.livingstreamcob.org . The service will be hosted in person in Portland, Ore., and will be streamed by live webcast to worshipers anywhere with an Internet connection, said a release. Participants will contribute to the worship service through live chat features. Living Stream Church of the Brethren will host weekly worship services, webcast live on Sunday evenings, led by pastor Audrey deCoursey. More information is at www.livingstreamcob.org .

— Virlina District is holding a special all-district offering for Hurricane Sandy response. “Due to the pressing need for response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in the northeastern US, we are encouraging Virlina District congregations to have a special offering on Sunday, Nov. 18 for this purpose,” said the district newsletter.

— An inter-district youth event, “Loving Our Enemies…REALLY!?!” will be held Nov. 17-18 sponsored by the Shenandoah District Pastors for Peace at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren. Starting at noon Saturday, Nov. 17, the event continues through the morning of Nov. 18, including an overnight. Bethany Seminary professor Russell Haitch will provide leadership.

— Ted & Company Theaterworks will present “Peace, Pies, and Prophets” in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia on Nov. 17-18, including the play “I’d Like to Buy an Enemy.” At each show, homemade pies will be auctioned, benefitting local peace work. The first performance at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren benefits Pastors for Peace and the Fairfield Center, on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12, or $10 for students and seniors, free for children 6 and under.

— Middle Pennsylvania District has issued an update on its recent Heritage Fair held in cooperation with Camp Blue Diamond. “Heritage Fair 2012 was a success,” said the notice. “Proceeds of approximately $27, 083.54 will be divided between Middle Pennsylvania District and Camp Blue Diamond to support their ministries.”

— Northern Plains District has sent a collection of Emergency Clean-Up Buckets for the Hurricane Sandy response, sending them with disaster ministries coordinator Dick Williams when he visited the Church of the Brethren General Offices recently. Williams arrived carrying 30 clean-up buckets to donate on behalf of the district.

Photo by Hallie Pilcher
A youth lime-aid stand at Mid-Atlantic District Conference raised more than $200 for a Haiti project of the Global Food Crisis Fund.

— Youth at Mid-Atlantic District Conference offered homemade “lime aid,” lemonade, and water to delegates in response to the conference theme, which included “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink.” They created posters showing a Global Food Crisis Fund well project in Haiti and invited delegates to donate to the project. Around $230 was raised.

— Brethren Village Retirement Community collected a truck-load of items for Hurricane Sandy survivors, sending the materials to be distributed through Brooklyn First Church of the Brethren in New York, according to an article in the “Intelligencer Journal” of Lancaster, Pa. The donated goods included sweaters, coats, blankets, and sleeping bags. Dana Statler, associate pastor at Brethren Village, organized the donation after reaching out to members of Brooklyn First. “When we saw how hard that area was hit by Sandy, we knew we wanted to do what we could to help,” Statler told the paper. Read the report at http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/772313_Brethren-Village-collects-items-for-Sandy-victims.html#ixzz2C2Y9HMB8 .

— Youth, youth leaders, and parents are invited to hear Maria Santelli, director of the Center on Conscience and War, speak at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. Santelli’s remarks will focus on the issues of religious freedom and conscience raised by participation in the military while highlighting the new book, “Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War.” Accompanying her presentation will be an exhibit of a predator drone replica. In its efforts to educate the public about the need to stop using these unmanned aerial vehicles for targeted assassinations and robotic warfare abroad as well as civilian surveillance at home, the PeaceSeekers Project of Pacem in Terris in Newark, Del., is loaning its drone replica for educational displays in various locations around Lancaster County on Nov. 29-Dec. 8. This event is sponsored by www.1040forPeace.org with Harold A. (“H.A.”) Penner as convener.

— Church Women United (CWU) and the National Council of Churches (NCC) are offering Young Women’s Leadership Experiences to provide opportunities for women between the ages of 18 and 30 who are active in an NCC member communion or Church Women United unit.  The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) event will be March 1-6, 2013, providing orientation to the CWU, NCC, Ecumenical Women at the United Nations, and this year’s theme, “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.” Apply at www.ncccusa.org/pdfs/cwunccapplication2013.pdf .

— UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Agnes Chan has visited the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) office in the old city of Hebron, Palestine, on Nov. 6 together with a UNICEF delegation to see first-hand effects of the occupation on children and education, a CPT release said. “Chan thanked EAPPI (a World Council of Churches accompaniment program) and CPT for their work in Hebron, ensuring that children can access school with more dignity.”

— The World Council of Churches is calling on Christians to help promote children’s rights and eliminate violence against children. An inter-religious call for prayer and action is Nov. 20, part of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children. Said Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, “No matter what the situation is, war, disaster, disease or poverty, children suffer the most injustice. They are the innocent ones and we must lift them up to God in prayer.” More information is at www.dayofprayerandaction.org .

— Phil and Jean Lersch have been presented with the 2012 Gemmer Peacemaking Award by the Action for Peace Team of Atlantic Southeast District. Both have been members of the team, and Phil has served for several years as chair and financial secretary. He also chairs the Historic Peace Churches Coordinating Committee in Florida. Although life-long members of the Brethren Church, as students they participated in Brethren Volunteer Service and attended peace seminars at Brethren Haus in Kassel, Germany, and at the home of M.R. Zigler. Phil helped form a Brethren World Relief Board in the Brethren Church, where he chaired the Peace Committee for 20 years. The couple also have sponsored Peace Seminars at Ashland Theological Seminary, and had a Brethren House Ministry for 30 years in St. Petersburg where they wrote and published resources for teaching peace to children. “Their strong commitment and vision have kept the call to peacemaking alive in our district,” said a citation from Atlantic Southeast.

— Catherine Fitze celebrated her 100th birthday with her church family at Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren on Oct. 21, according to the “Carroll County Times.” Pastor Glenn McCriard, called her a “remarkable individual who embodies love and care.”

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jan Fischer Bachman, Tim Button Harrison, Anna Emrick, Terry Goodger, Elizabeth Harvey,  Philip E. Jenks, Donna March, Nancy Miner, Roy Winter, Loretta Wolf, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue on Nov. 28. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. 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 www.brethren.org/newsline.