Newsline for Nov. 29, 2012

Quote of the week

“While some days may be better than others, each one we are given is indeed a new day from God. Who knows what light may break in?”— Walt Wiltschek in the meditation for Dec. 8 from the 2012 Advent devotional published by Brethren Press. Order a copy for $2.50 or $5.95 for large print, plus shipping and handling, online at or call 800-441-3712. The image above is one of the Advent screensavers available to download for free from . Go to for more Advent and Christmas resources from the Church of the Brethren, including worship resources for the Advent offering emphasis on Sunday, Dec. 9, on the theme, “Prepare the Way.”

“The morning light from heaven is about to break upon us…” (Luke 1:78b, NLT).

1) General secretary joins NRCAT delegation to White House.
2) Vital Ministry Journey now open to all congregations, districts.
3) Conference calls Brethren back to mission roots.
4) Children’s Disaster Services continues to aid families recovering from storm.
5) Water project in Haiti is a memorial to Robert and Ruth Ebey.
6) New Covenant church extends the Lord’s table.

7) James Troha is named Juniata College’s 12th president.
8) Bezon to retire from leadership of Children’s Disaster Services.
9) Atlantic Southeast, Northern Indiana name interim district executives.

10) World Interfaith Harmony Week is scheduled for February.
11) Christian Citizenship Seminar 2013 to address child poverty.
12) Advent celebrations take place across the Church of the Brethren.

13) Peace Camp 2012 in Bosnia-Herzegovina: A BVS reflection.

14) Brethren bits: Bridgewater teaching opening, Manchester at SOA/WHINSEC vigil, Powerhouse, Virlina center move, district conference briefs, and much more.

Nominations are still needed for church-wide offices that will be on the ballot at next year’s Annual Conference. The deadline for nominations is this Saturday, Dec. 1. The Conference Office is asking for church members from across the denomination to nominate qualified people for positions open in 2013. Use the online process found at where a list of the open positions is posted along with the forms required to complete a nomination. Note that the Nominee Information Form must be filled out by nominees to indicate their acceptance of a nomination. For more information contact the Conference Office at 800-323-8039 ext. 365.


1) General secretary joins NRCAT delegation to White House.

Photo by courtesy of NRCAT
General secretary Stan Noffsinger (seventh from right) was one of the religious leaders to visit the White House as part of a delegation of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT).

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) organized and led a delegation of 22 religious leaders and NRCAT staff in a meeting Nov. 27 with White House staff, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to discuss the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger took part in the delegation.

NRCAT is encouraging President Obama to sign the protocol, which has already been ratified by 64 nations and signed by an additional 22. The treaty sets up oversight bodies and other international mechanisms to prevent torture and abuse in places of confinement including jails, police stations, prisons, mental health facilities, immigration detention centers, and detainee centers such as the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Tuesday’s meeting was the second on this topic with NRCAT and White House staff.

Noffsinger attended as a representative of the Church of the Brethren, which is a member of NRCAT and committed to cooperating with interfaith partners in efforts to end torture in US policy, practice, and culture.

NRCAT delivered 5,568 signatures on its petition calling for the President to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. More information is available at where NRCAT continues to collect signatures urging the President to sign the treaty. The Church of the Brethren resolution against torture, adopted by the 2010 Annual Conference, is at .

2) Vital Ministry Journey now open to all congregations, districts.

Initially developed with Middle Pennsylvania District, the new Vital Ministry Journey is being considered by several other districts and congregations across the denomination.

An emerging effort of Congregational Life Ministries, Vital Ministry Journey is a way for denominational staff to partner with congregations and districts toward holistic health. The effort is built around conversation, Bible study, prayer, and storytelling.

In this first phase, denominational staff are seeking to identify churches and districts that are ready to grow in mission vitality. Practices supporting the process include coaching, training, networking, mutual support, and the cultivation of shared mission among congregations. A part of the initial phase are “Share and Prayer Triads,” three-member study groups in place for 60 days for self-study and discernment of a church’s state of health, calling as a community, and next steps.

Middle Pennsylvania District launched the process on Sept. 8. “The district invited congregations to the (launch) event to learn more about the process,” reported Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren. “Twenty-three congregations were represented at the event with an attendance of more than 80 people. Since the launch there have been two training sessions for the internal coaches who will be paired with participating churches in the district’s Vital Ministry Journey process.”

He added that district executive David Steele estimates five or six churches will begin the process after Jan. 1. Dueck is excited about connecting coaching with Vital Ministry Journey because Steele identified some very good people in the district to be coaches, and these individuals are motivated to participate in ongoing training events.

“Five to six churches is a very good start for Vital Ministry Journey in the district. With 5-6 congregations, each church can be on its own unique journey, and yet pastors, church leaders and members have opportunities to come together to celebrate and worship and share in collaborative learning experiences and conversation. It would be terrific to have a cluster of churches in the districts participating in Vital Ministry Journey at various intervals.”

Dueck and Donna Kline of Congregational Life Ministries were leaders for a retreat of Northern Plains District on Oct. 12-14. That district is considering how to incorporate Vital Ministry Journey with revitalization work that its began two years ago. Dueck presented the Vital Ministry Journey to district leaders and interested congregations. “We received very encouraging feedback from the attendees,” he said.

Other meetings are scheduled with additional districts who are interested, such as Illinois and Wisconsin District. Several congregations also have started the process on their own, including Newport Church of the Brethren in Shenandoah District, and Neighborhood Church of the Brethren in Illinois and Wisconsin District.

“What we’ve seen so far is that some of our more vital churches are attracted to the process,” Dueck said, “and people are connecting to the Bible study material and process.”

Find more information and a video about the Vital Ministry Journey at . For inquiries about the Vital Ministry Journey contact Dueck at or Congregational Life Ministries executive director Jonathan Shively at .

3) Conference addresses ‘incarnational mission’ far away–and at home.

Photo by Carol Waggy
A worlA world map at Mission Alive 2012 shows where Church of the Brethren mission workers are serving. Setting up the map are Roger Schrock (left) of the Mission Advisory Committee and Carol Mason of the Mission Alive planning team. Also on the team were Bob Kettering, Carol Spicher Waggy, Earl Eby, and Anna Emrick, coordinator for the Global Mission and Service office.

Close to 200 Brethren from as far as Nigeria and Brazil, and as near as Elizabethtown and Annville, Pa., gathered Nov. 16-18 at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren for Mission Alive 2012, a conference sponsored by Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service.

Plenary sessions, worship services, and workshops on a wide array of mission-related topics were held over the weekend, which began Friday with an address by Jonathan Bonk, executive director of the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, Conn.

“We in the West like to do a lot of abstract thinking about missions,” Bonk said. “But the only meaningful mission is incarnation. We are full of ‘a priori’ agendas. We travel around the world and tell people what’s good for them. We have to get back to our roots.”

“We have come together to focus our hearts and minds on mission, ministry, and service of Jesus as his radical, compassionate disciples,” said Church of the Brethren associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory Steury in her welcoming remarks Friday. “We are here to worship our God, to learn together and from one another, and to be encouraged, challenged, and empowered for continuing the work of Jesus in our local communities and around the world.”

Others who spoke at plenary sessions or workshops included Samuel Dali, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), who attended with his wife Rebecca; Suely and Marcos Inhauser, national coordinators of Igreja da Irmandade in Brazil; and Annual Conference moderator Bob Krouse. Ilexene and Michaela Alphonse, Church of the Brethren mission workers in Haiti, also attended. Workshop topics ranged from “The Power of Prayer” and “Mission in Post-Colonial Contexts” to “Internet Evangelism: The Ends of the Earth are a Click Away” and “Engaging Communities Through the Schools.”

Samuel Dali updated attendees about current tensions between Muslims and Christians in his home country, and spoke appreciatively about the role of Brethren missions there historically. He also acknowledged more recent efforts by Nathan and Jennifer Hosler to foster reconciliation between opposing groups in Nigeria, particularly the establishment of CAMPI (Christians and Muslims for Peacebuilding Initiatives). The Hoslers had taught theology and peace at Kulp Bible College in northern Nigeria from 2009-11. Nathan Hosler currently works in Washington, D.C., as advocacy officer with the Church of the Brethren and the National Council of Churches.

“Every church in Nigeria is thinking about self-defense,” Dali said. “How does the Church of the Brethren preach peace in this situation? Sometimes we are mocked when we talk about peace. But hope is not lost. Even during the time of missionaries it was not easy. But still they came up with a strategy to make sure the gospel was shared. So a difficult situation cannot stop the word of God. But it’s not going to be easy. We value your prayers, and we invite you to continue to pray. We invite you to come to Nigeria and experience what is happening.”

“The mission field is not ‘out there somewhere,’” remarked Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren. “There is a sign posted as you leave the Spring Creek Church of the Brethren parking lot in Hershey, just a few miles from here. It reads, ‘When you leave this parking lot, you enter the mission field.’ The mission field is anywhere we are and everywhere we go.”

In addition to those in attendance in Lititz, dozens more people have viewed portions of Mission Alive via webcasts. The webcasts have been viewed in as many as eight countries, including Nigeria, Brazil, and Uganda, and in 70-plus locales within the US. Recordings of the plenary sessions and worship services are still available to view at .

— Randy Miller is editor of “Messenger,” the Church of the Brethren magazine.

4) Children’s Disaster Services continues to aid families recovering from storm.

By the end of the day yesterday, Nov. 27, Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) had six volunteers working at FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers–continuing the response that CDS has made to the “superstorm” Sandy.

The CDS teams that provided child care centers in American Red Cross shelters in New York and New Jersey following the storm have returned home, now replaced by a new set of volunteers serving at the FEMA centers in Mays Landing and Atlantic City, N.J.

Prior to the arrival of this new set of volunteers, 19 CDS volunteers served in New York and 15 served in New Jersey responding to Hurricane Sandy.

FEMA has requested CDS support to help care for children at the Disaster Recovery Centers, while families apply for direct aid and complete paperwork. FEMA has told CDS that the centers will be open for several months, reported Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries. “So far our child counts are low and we are waiting to see if this changes over the next week, and visiting with FEMA to determine how long the response will occur,” he said yesterday.

The staff at Brethren Disaster Ministries has requested an allocation of up to $10,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to provide housing, transportation, and meals for CDS volunteers responding in the FEMA recovery centers.

The CDS work has been getting attention from the media. CDS associate director Judy Bezon was quoted in a “USA Today” article picked up from the “Asbury Park Press,” at .
The New Jersey newspaper ran an article about the CDS work at a shelter in Monmouth Park, at . The American Red Cross also posted a story about the work CDS volunteers have done in its shelters, at .

To help support the work of CDS, donate to the Emergency Disaster Fund at or mail to Church of the Brethren, Attn: Emergency Disaster Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.


5) Water project in Haiti is a memorial to Robert and Ruth Ebey.

Photo by Jeff Boshart
The water project near Gonaives, Haiti, which has been installed a memorial to former mission workers Robert and Ruth Ebey, has been constructed with help from the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF). Shown here, standing next to the water tank, is Klebert Exceus who as field coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries helped oversee installation of the tanks and pump.

A well and water system near Gonaives, Haiti, constructed with help from the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF), have been installed as a memorial to former mission workers Robert and Ruth Ebey. The well is adjacent to a congregation of L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) in Praville, on the outskirts of the city of Gonaives.

The Ebeys served the Church of the Brethren in Puerto Rico for two years. GFCF manager Jeff Boshart shared that their daughter, Alice Archer, remembers how those brief years impacted the couple for life. “Her father spoke of their time in Puerto Rico even from his hospital bed near the end of his life,” Boshart said.

The path to completion of the memorial project has been long and complicated, Boshart reported. Upon receiving the memorial gift from the Ebey family, the church was able to purchase a piece of land with a hand-dug well already on it. Later additional money from another source was received which helped pay for a new well to be dug. However, the organization who was to dig the well with their drilling rig took nearly a year to complete the work.

Next steps were to build a well house next to the church building. Additional funding in the form of a GFCF grant purchased two 500-gallon water storage tanks and an electric pump, powered by the church’s generator.

The community of Praville in the foothills that ring the city of Gonaives has been settled by families who relocated after a major hurricane flooded Gonaives in 2004. A small group of families founded a Church of the Brethren congregation as a house church. After the 2008 hurricanes (Faye, Gustov, Hannah, Ike), Brethren Disaster Ministries built about a dozen homes in the community.

“Praville is still without electricity or running water,” Boshart explained. “Residents have been getting their water from hand-dug wells scattered throughout the town.” Now, with the new water system, the Brethren congregation is provided with plenty of water. Although the water may not be potable, Boshart said, “the church has begun charging a small amount per bucket of water and has dreams of installing a reverse osmosis filtering system so that they might sell filtered water.

“The congregation has outgrown the house in which it was meeting and now is worshiping in a new building. The congregation is full of youth and children and is seeking ways to reach others in the community with the transforming power of Jesus Christ, in both word and deed,” he added.

To the Ebey’s children, he shared a message from the Praville Brethren: “The church leaders wished for me to express their profound gratitude for your support of their ministry and their dreams for their community. They have also asked permission to place a plaque on the pump house in honor of your parents, Robert and Ruth.”

6) New Covenant church extends the Lord’s table.

When the small New Covenant Church of the Brethren in Gotha, Fla., gathers to observe the Love Feast, its numbers are increased and the fellowship enriched by the inclusion of members of the Chain of Love congregation.

Both congregations meet in the chapel at Camp Ithiel. New Covenant’s Sunday school and worship services are held on Sunday mornings. When members leave the chapel after noon, they greet the Chain of Love members who are arriving for their afternoon service.

In recent years the New Covenant congregation has invited the African-American Chain of Love congregation to join them in the Love Feast. At first it was a new experience for the Chain of Love folk to include footwashing and a simple meal as part of the observance of communion. It has been a positive experience for everyone to be a part of the inter-racial, multi-generational worship.

The Love Feast service is led by pastor Stephen Horrell or one of the other ordained ministers in the New Covenant congregation. Pastor Larry McCurdy, the Chain of Love pastor, leads part of the worship. Members of both congregations are asked to read scriptures. The singing during the footwashing part of the service includes music from the faith background of both groups.

Leader for the Love Feast on Nov. 4 was Nancy Knepper, an ordained minister who is moderator of the New Covenant congregation. She reminded those who were gathered that there are varied meanings of the words “feet” and “feast.”

The rich fellowship of the Love Feast made it a memorable experience. The fellowship continued after the service ended, as members of both congregations cleared the tables and folded them up so that the chapel chairs could be set up in the arrangement that is familiar to both groups.

— Berwyn L. Oltman is an ordained minister and a former district executive for Atlantic Southeast District.

7) James Troha is named Juniata College’s 12th president.

James Troha, vice president for institutional advancement and university relations at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, since 2009, has been named the 12th president of Juniata College. Troha will begin his official duties on or about June 1, 2013.

Troha takes over the presidency from Thomas R. Kepple Jr. who served as president of Juniata from 1998-2013. Kepple will retire May 31, 2013, after serving the college for 15 years as its chief executive. Juniata College is a Church of the Brethren-related school in Huntingdon, Pa.

Troha comes to Juniata after a successful executive career at Heidelberg. His responsibilities at the university include directing all elements of the institution’s fundraising, marketing, and university relations efforts. In just over two years, he has helped raise more than $38 million toward a $50 million campaign goal for Heidelberg and helped secure several multimillion dollar cash gifts, the largest in university history. He also was responsible for overseeing record fundraising years for the university’s unrestricted Heidelberg Fund.

In 2011, Heidelberg received the 2011 CASE Fundraising Award, one of 24 institutions nationwide to be honored. Troha also took leadership in organizing, writing, and launching Heidelberg’s Academic Comprehensive Campaign for Excellence, the first of its kind for the university.

In addition, Troha has significant executive experience, serving as Heidelberg’s interim president for a year, 2008-09. In that time, he oversaw several critical projects during challenging economic times, including refinancing the university’s $17 million in state-issued bonds and leading Heidelberg’s transition from college to university. As part of that transition, he oversaw the integration of a new marketing program and branding effort.

He began his academic career in 1993 when he was hired as area coordinator and coordinator of Greek life at the University of Evansville, Ind. In 1995, he was dean of students at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, the British branch campus for the University of Evansville. By 1997, Troha had been named dean of students at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., a post he held until 2001. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1991 and went on to earn a master’s degree in counseling in 1993, both from Edinboro (Pa.) University. In 2005, he earned a doctorate in educational policy and leadership from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

“I think Jim Troha will be an excellent leader at Juniata because of the experience he will bring to areas where we have great opportunities,” Kepple says. “Jim has experience in international education, from both sides of the relationship, which is increasingly something that sets Juniata apart from our competitors. Jim also brings great experience in fundraising and enrollment, two key areas where Juniata is poised for greater things. Dr. Troha’s entrepreneurial character will be an asset for Juniata as the college looks to the future.”

Troha will work with Kepple on Juniata matters for several months before taking over the presidency in June.

— John Wall is director of media relations for Juniata College.

8) Bezon to retire from leadership of Children’s Disaster Services.

Judy Bezon Braune has announced her retirement as associate director of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) as of the end of the year. She has led CDS for five years, having started in the position in Sept. 2007.

She first came to love working with Children’s Disaster Service as a volunteer responding to hurricanes in Florida. A year later, she gave 51 days of service providing care to children affected by Hurricane Katrina, bringing a background as a retired school psychologist in New York State. In her work as associate director, she led CDS through challenging responses like the Joplin (Mo.) tornado, wildfires, hurricanes, an airplane crash, and most recently Hurricane Sandy.

Her passion for children and her knowledge of play therapy led to updates and improvements in the CDS volunteer training curriculum. Her expertise on children and trauma led to her participation in federal-level planning task forces with FEMA, the American Red Cross, NVOAD (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), and the National Commission on Children and Disasters.

She was married to David Braune in June. She often shares her appreciation for the community of compassion found at the Brethren Service Center and at Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren, where she attends.

9) Atlantic Southeast, Northern Indiana name interim district executives.

Two districts have named interim executive ministers, Northern Indiana District and Atlantic Southeast District.

Carol Spicher Waggy will be interim district executive for Northern Indiana in a three-quarter-time position beginning Jan. 1, 2013, for a period of up to two years. She is an ordained minister and a network practitioner of the Ministry of Reconciliation and has served at all levels of the church including congregation, district, denomination, and global. She holds a bachelor of arts in Social Services from Goshen (Ind.) College, a master of Social Work–Interpersonal Services track–from Indiana University School of Social Work, and a master of divinity in Pastoral Counseling from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary.

The Northern Indiana District office will continue to be located at 162 E Market St., Nappanee, IN 46550; 574-773-3149.

Terry L. Grove begins immediately as interim district executive for Atlantic Southeast, in a part-time position. An ordained minister since 1967, he has served in a variety of ministry settings including Church of the Brethren pastorates in Washington and Indiana, pastorate of a United Church of Christ congregation in Florida, and as a CROP Regional Director from 1973-97. Most recently he has been interim pastor of Sebring (Fla.) Church of the Brethren. He is a graduate of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and received a master of divinity and doctor of ministry from Bethany Theological Seminary.

The Atlantic Southeast District office will continue to be located at P.O. Box 148, Sebring FL 33871. The district office’s new telephone number is 321-276-4958.

10) World Interfaith Harmony Week is scheduled for February.

On Oct. 20, 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution designating the first week in February to be the annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. Larry Ulrich, Church of the Brethren representative on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches, is encouraging congregations to observe the week scheduled for Feb. 1-7, 2013.

In its action, the UN General Assembly called for interfaith dialogue for mutual understanding and cooperative engagement in caring for those suffering and denied justice in local communities. World Interfaith Harmony Week is a time when clergy, congregations, theological schools, and communities can
— learn about the faith and beliefs of followers of other religious traditions,
— remember interfaith cooperation in prayers and messages, and
— share in compassionate care for persons suffering and marginalized.

Ulrich said, “The World Interfaith Harmony Week is an opportunity to remember that we are called to be the best believers we can be within our Christian faith tradition, and encourage followers in other religions to be the best believers they can be. Creating or allowing religious prejudice or violence against believers in other religions violates Christ’s teaching to love our neighbors as ourselves. Loving believers in other faith heritages isn’t easy, but it’s what God’s Living Spirit calls us to.”

For more information go to .

11) Christian Citizenship Seminar 2013 to address child poverty.

“Childhood Poverty: Nutrition, Housing, and Education” is the theme for the 2013 Christian Citizenship Seminar planned for March 23-28 in New York City and Washington, D.C. Registration opens Dec. 1 at .

Poverty affects millions of people in the US and around the world. Many of the people hurt most by poverty are children. CCS will focus on how poverty not only limits children’s access to proper nutrition, housing, and education, but also how a lack of these basic resources has repercussions throughout the child’s life. Participants will seek to understand how political and economic systems not only cause harm but can be used to create change in children’s access to basic human necessities, and will learn how our faith, expressed in theology and action, can inform and shape our responses to childhood poverty.

High school youth and adult advisors are eligible to attend. Churches sending over four youth are required to send at least one adult advisor to insure an adequate number of adults. Registration is limited to the first 100 participants.

The registration fee of $375 covers lodging for five nights, one dinner in New York and one in Washington, and transportation from New York to Washington. Participants provide their own transportation to the seminar and additional money for meals, sightseeing, personal expenses, and a few subway/taxi fares.

For more information go to or contact the Youth and Young Adult Ministries Office, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; ; 800-323-8039 ext. 385.

12) Advent celebrations take place across the Church of the Brethren.

Church of the Brethren congregations, districts, retirement communities, colleges, and other church-related organizations are holding Advent and Christmas celebrations in December. Following is just a sampling of the many events that have been announced:

— A Live Nativity is hosted by Vern and Mary Jane Michael and Mill Creek Church of the Brethren on Dec. 21, 22, and 23 from 7-9 p.m. at the Michaels’ barn in Port Republic, Va. “Come enjoy the scriptures, music, and scenery of Christmas along with Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus, the Wise Men, shepherds, camels, sheep, and calves,” said an invitation.

— Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren is entering its first float in the Manassas Christmas Parade this year. Fellowship and Hospitality Ministry Team members Mary Ellen Kline, Melanie Montalvo, Whitney Rankin, and Wayne Kline have designed a float representing the church. Using David Hersch’s flatbed wagon, the float will feature a live manager scene and members of the Chancel Choir singing Christmas carols. The Manassas Christmas Parade is on Saturday, Dec. 1, beginning at 10 a.m. on the theme, “A Storybook Christmas.”

— York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren hosts an evening of music by the Dallastown High School strings and singers on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. Seasonal music will be followed by cookies and punch.

— “Come to Bethlehem and See…” is the theme of the outdoor live nativity at Bethlehem Church of the Brethren in Boones Mill, Va. Visitors will be able to walk through seven scenes, and then into the church for cookies, hot chocolate, cider, and fellowship. Attend anytime between 5-8 p.m. on Dec. 15 (inclement weather date is Dec. 22).

— Waynesboro (Va.) Church of the Brethren hosts its 19th annual Cookie and Craft Bazaar on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 8 a.m. to noon. An announcement advertised “lots and lots of cookies plus Christmas items, the famous garlic dill pickles, homemade candy, country ham sandwiches, and a bake sale.” A silent auction includes an heirloom quilt. Proceeds benefit numerous projects including disaster response ministries, Brethren Woods scholarships, and work in Haiti.

— Sipesville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren hosts a Christmas concert by the Chords of Praise, a dulcimer group, on Dec. 2 at 3 p.m.

— John Kline Homestead Candlelight Dinners are Dec. 14 and 15 at 6 p.m. at the historic home of Civil War-era Brethren elder John Kline. The homestead is located in Broadway, Va. Enjoy a family-style meal and experience the daily struggles and resilient faith of the family and neighbors of Elder John Kline. Actors converse around each table as in the fall of 1862, sharing concerns about the continuing war, recent drought, and rampaging diphtheria. Dinners are $40 per plate. Groups are welcome; seating is limited to 32. Call 540-896-5001 for reservations.

— An “Old-Fashioned Christmas” takes place at CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., on Dec. 1, 7-9 p.m. Visitors will follow lighted pathways as they walk through historic buildings decorated in 1850s style, enjoy holiday music and stories told by costumed hosts, taste delicious food and warm cider, and browse the gift shop. Cost is $8 per adult, $4 per child ages 6-12, free for children 5 and under. Tickets are available in advance or at the door. Visit or call 540-438-1275.

— The Village at Morrisons Cove, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Martinsburg, Pa., is holding “Christmas at the Cove” on Dec. 4. Cost is $5. Guests will enjoy food at The Village Green, and horse-drawn carriage and sleigh rides. On Dec. 7 is a Cookie Sale at the Village Main Building Activities Hall, 1 p.m. until sold out.

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village in Boonsboro, Md., is holding its 3rd Annual Holiday Festival on Dec. 1 at 3:30-5:30 p.m. Guests may tour facilities, see holiday decor and a luminaria display, and enjoy light refreshments.

— For the Western Pennsylvania District Childrens Christmas Party on Dec. 15, a special service project has been announced. Children are invited to make scarves to send to No Walls Ministry which aids homeless in the city of Pittsburgh.

— Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa., is holding a Celebration of Lights in the Nicarry Meetinghouse on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 4 p.m. This annual celebration is an opportunity to honor or remember loved ones. Cross Keys also is hosting several holiday music events including on Dec. 4, at 7 p.m., selections from the annual Christmas Concert by the Gettysburg Civic Chorus; and on Dec. 21, at 2 p.m., the Village Choir performing its Christmas cantata. Christmas Model Train Displays are operating Saturdays and Sundays prior to New Year’s Day, and Monday through Friday of the week before Christmas, Dec. 17-21. For more information go to .

— A “Tree of Stars” at the Brethren Home Community in Windber, Pa., is in the 29th year of honoring loved ones and helping provide benevolent care for residents of the retirement community. Participants may shine a light on the tree or hang an ornament in memory of a loved one or to benefit residents.

— Camp Eder in Fairfield, Pa., holds its “2nd Annual Christmas Tree Festival: A Celebration of the Birth of Christ,” on Dec. 14, 15, and 16, 5-9 p.m. Family and friends are invited for fun, fellowship, and worship. The event will feature Christmas lights, a Nativity Collection, music and carols, a light dinner, and cookies, cocoa, and cider. Participants may vote for their favorite tree. Gifts will be received to a children’s clothing collection for the Children’s Aid Society, a local food pantry, and the work of Children’s Disaster Services. Go to for more information.

— A Christmas Together Banquet at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., on Dec. 6, at 6:30 p.m., is a fundraiser for the camp based on Acts 2:44, “All the believers were TOGETHER.” The dinner includes a “praise-filled program” in a festively decorated Ark Dining Hall, according to an announcement. Contact or 540-992-2940.

— At Bridgewater (Va.) College, the music department presents a Holiday Extravaganza on Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in the Carter Center for Worship and Music featuring the Bridgewater College Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble, Concert Choir, Chorale, Lift Your Voice Gospel Choir, Handbell Choir, and a string quartet. The college’s Equestrian Club hosts its 11th annual “Horses’ Christmas” at the Equestrian Center in Weyers Cave, Va., on Dec. 2, at 1 p.m. for children and their families. Horses will be dressed in seasonal garb, skits will focus on Pixar movies, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will make a special appearance on horseback. Children may reward horses with a tasty treat following the competition. In lieu of an admission charge, the equestrian club requests donations of canned goods for a local charity.

— At Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., world-renowned Irish fiddler and founding member of the Celtic group Cherish the Ladies, Eileen Ivers, will perform a holiday concern with the college Concert Choir at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets and information call 814-641-5849. General admission tickets are $20, discounted to $12 for seniors and children age 18 and under. Ivers is from New York City and is a nine-time All-Ireland fiddle champion, and was the original fiddler in the production of “Riverdance.” On Dec. 9 Juniata theater students are holding a reading of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” to benefit the J.C. Blair Hospital Foundation. The reading starts at 7 p.m. in the performing arts movement studio in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

— At Elizabethtown (Pa.) College students, faculty, and guest choirs will perform wide array of music in upcoming holiday concerts. The 88-member College Symphonic Band performs its fall concert at 3 p.m. on Dec. 2 in Leffler Chapel, with members of the Flute Choir and Clarinet Ensemble. From 11 a.m. to noon on Dec. 5, students and faculty members of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts present seasonal music and readings in Zug Recital Hall. A family-friendly holiday concert on Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. features student performances and visits from holiday characters, hosted by the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. Tickets of $3 or $5 can be reserved online at On Dec. 15, the Tudor Choir and Wheatland Chorale will celebrate holiday season in song with a concert and sing-along at 7:30 p.m. at Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. The Tudor Choir is a vocal chamber ensemble famed for its interpretation of New England shape note carols and hymns. The Wheatland Chorale is one of Pennsylvania’s premier choral ensembles. Tickets are $10 to $30 and are available online with a family discount available.

13) Peace Camp 2012 in Bosnia-Herzegovina: A BVS reflection.

Photo by Edin Islamovic
A small group at the 2012 Peace Camp in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Julianne Funk is at right.

The following report on Peace Camp 2012 held in Bosnia-Herzegovina is from Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Julianne Funk, originally published in the BVS Europe newsletter. Kristin Flory, coordinator for Brethren Service in Europe, notes that “20 years ago this year, we started sending BVSers to peace groups in ex-Yugoslavia”:

For many years, CIM (the Center for Peacebuilding) has been organizing “Peace Camp” in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a time and space for youth from all regions of the country, all ethnic groups, all religions and none, to spend time together and learn about transforming conflict. Finally, this year I was also able to participate.

Peace Camp in Bosnia-Herzegovina arose from a very similar annual event of the St. Katarinawerk of Switzerland. Vahidin and Mevludin, CIM directors, were part of its planting in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the late 1990s and eventually came to organize it themselves.

Each day of Peace Camp began with morning prayer or reflection, but each day different traditions led this short ritual. To begin, I presented an Anglican meditation from the Book of Common Prayer, the next day Catholics led us in prayer, then Orthodox, Muslim, and finally non-religious persons.

After each prayer or reflection there was a time of silence for all to pray in their own way, then we sang a simple song to orient ourselves for the day with our common purpose: “Great, great power of peace, you are our only aim. Let love grow and borders disappear. Mir, mir, oh mir.” (Mir is the word for peace in Slavic languages.) At the beginning of Peace Camp, there was evident skepticism and discomfort with the prayers as well as this song, but quickly both were accepted with deepening appreciation. The song became our mantra.

Each day proceeded with breakfast and then “large group work,” which usually included some teaching from Vahidin and Mevludin, plus a task to do or a theme to discuss in small groups. In my small group of six, we delved into the nature of communication–what is it and how to achieve it. Late afternoon sessions were dedicated to a type of practicum: small teams taught an aspect of nonviolent communication to the group. These sessions were highly interactive, and covered topics like affirmation, active listening, loss and sorrow, anger, letting go of the past, sameness and difference. These sessions addressed us as if we were children, with the purpose of equipping all participants to teach nonviolent communication to at least a child’s level.

Late evening was a time for dialogue on various subjects. I found the discussions about where things stand regarding the process of reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina quite interesting. Also, sharing about the concrete problems in each person’s own hometown. One evening, Miki Jacevic, a peacebuilder with one foot in Bosnia-Herzegovina and another in the US, talked about how conflict is like an iceberg with hidden issues below the surface that need addressing.

In general, there was a real sense that Peace Camp participants were serious about engaging deeply, listening and learning from each other, and self-development. From the beginning, participants were committed to peacebuilding and needed no convincing. The Peace Camp of 2012 was unique in its makeup: this year’s group consisted of many Serbs. Seeing them engage deeply and strive to bring peace in their own environments was inspiring.

The most powerful transformative moment was the session considering the cycle of conflict versus the cycle of reconciliation, when very tough stories arose from the war. One Muslim woman’s father had been killed or betrayed by his best friend when she was just an infant, and as a result she had closed herself to developing close friendships; she expressed herself at the stage of hurt and sorrow. A young Serbian man told about childhood experience of his father’s return from the army, looking and acting differently, and wearing a big beard reminiscent of Orthodox priests. This picture had stuck in his mind and troubled him. Another woman, a Serb who had been only a young girl during the war, had experienced rape alongside her mother and even younger sister.

These stories elicited much pain, and all of us seemed to mourn together these hurts. Not understanding all that was being shared, I was most in sync with the general sense of a special safe zone to speak and be heard. People were sharing in order to vocalize their suffering, but I also felt each story as a gift from the tellers who made themselves utterly vulnerable to recount things that had been buried for so long.

This was made possible as a result of intense time spent together, away from the roles and influences of daily life. But it also was possible, in my opinion, because of the mutual aim to deconstruct the borders that have existed between people in Bosnia-Herzegovina these last 20 years and replace them with encounter and understanding.

14) Brethren bits.

About 85 youth and advisors from five Midwest districts took part in the third annual Powerhouse regional youth conference, held Nov. 10-11 at Manchester University, N. Manchester, Ind. Josh Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren, provided keynote leadership on the theme “Hello, My Name Is…: Getting to Know God.” Using a variety of names for God in scripture, Brockway centered three worship services on the ways that people encounter God, and what that means for those who seek God today. The weekend also included a variety of workshops, an “Amazing Name Race,” recreation and campus tours, and opportunities for fellowship. Next year’s conference will tentatively take place Nov. 16-17, 2013.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College seeks an assistant professor of Philosophy and Religion for a fulltime, non-tenure track position, beginning Aug. 2013, to be renewed annually by mutual consent. This is to replace a retiring member of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. The candidate will teach undergraduate courses in philosophy, including but not limited to introductory logic, classical, modern, and contemporary philosophy, and philosophy of science or other upper-level topics in philosophy. Since the department combines philosophy and religion, and depending on the candidate’s qualifications and interests, there may be opportunities for teaching some religion courses as well. Required qualifications include a Ph.D. in philosophy and evidence of successful undergraduate teaching experience. Excellence in undergraduate teaching and commitment to broad-based liberal arts education is essential. Bridgewater College, an independent private liberal arts college, was founded in 1880 as the first co-educational college in Virginia and has an educational philosophy of developing the whole person and equipping students to become leaders with a strong sense of personal accountability and civic responsibility. The college has an enrollment of more than 1,750 students representing 30 states and eight countries. The college offers 63 majors and minors, 11 concentrations/specializations, pre-professional programs, dual degree programs as well as teacher education and certification. The 300-acre residential campus is in the town of Bridgewater, near Harrisonburg, in the Shenandoah Valley. Bridgewater College is recognized for its student-centered atmosphere and has been named “One of the Best Virginia Colleges and Universities in the Southeast” by “The Princeton Review.” More information about Bridgewater’s commitment to holistic education and the vision and goals can be found at . Review of applications is ongoing and continues until the position is filled. For additional information contact Dr. William Abshire, Chair Department of Philosophy and Religion, at . To apply complete the online application and attach a cover letter, curriculum vitae, statement of teaching philosophy, copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts, and three letters of reference. Additional materials may be sent electronically to . Bridgewater College is an Equal Opportunity employer.

Photo by courtesy of Manchester University Peace Studies
Manchester University Peace Studies group attends 2012 SOA/WHINSEC vigil

— On Earth Peace is congratulating the Peace Studies group at Manchester University (formerly Manchester College) in N. Manchester, Ind., for taking part in the SOA/WHINSEC vigil this year. The annual vigil at WHINSEC (formerly the School of the Americas) protests US Army training of military from Latin America and Caribbean countries in techniques to control their own citizens. Graduates of the school have participated in activities such as executions, physical abuse, coercion, torture, and false imprisonment. In 1997 a resolution of the Church of the Brethren General Board called for the closing of the school, find it at .

— About 85 youth and advisors from five Midwest districts took part in the third annual Powerhouse regional youth conference, held Nov. 10-11 at Manchester University, N. Manchester, Ind. Josh Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren, provided keynote leadership on the theme “Hello, My Name Is…: Getting to Know God.” Using a variety of names for God in scripture, Brockway centered three worship services on the ways that people encounter God, and what that means for those who seek God today. The weekend also included a variety of workshops, an “Amazing Name Race,” recreation and campus tours, and opportunities for fellowship. Next year’s conference will tentatively take place Nov. 16-17, 2013.

— Lower Deer Creek Church of the Brethren near Camden, Ind., has been featured by the “Carroll County Comet” newspaper for donating some 625 pounds of food to the Flora Food Pantry. The annual event’s theme is “Raise the Turkey, Hide the Preacher,” the paper reports.

— Quilters at West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City, Ohio, recently took 23 quilts to Michael’s House, a temporary sanctuary for abused children. Each child who is brought there receives the comfort of his or her own quilt. The group also sent 15 quilts to the DayView and Belle Manor nursing care centers in New Carlisle, 25 quilts to Hospice of Miami County, and 15 quilts to Troy Care Nursing Home. In addition, they have made and are donating 70 warm scarves to St. Vincent’s Homeless Shelter and 50 to Bethel Hope. Group member Emma Musselman “rescues” fabric scraps and makes doggie beds for animal rescue shelters as well. “Everyone (man or woman) is invited to come and quilt (or rip out mistakes!),” said an invitation. “We have so much fun we can promise to keep you in stitches.”

— The Sew-Ciety group at Stover Memorial Church of the Brethren in Des Moines, Iowa, has a ministry of tying lap quilts. “So far this year, we have made 63 lap quilts,” said a report. “We have given them to Blank Children’s Hospital, Veterans Hospital, Central Iowa Shelter Services, Camp Pine Lake, and many care centers in the area. And some have even found their way to other states. All of our shut-ins have received a personal lap quilt.”

— Youth at York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren recently got together with with the youth group from the Vietnamese Alliance Church. The youth enjoyed a pizza lunch and volleyball, and filled Emergency Clean-Up Buckets with disaster relief supplies.

— On Dec. 1, from 5-7 p.m., McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren Youth Group is hosting an international dinner to raise money for the Haiti Medical Project, at the Cedars Conference and Wellness Center in McPherson. Reservations can be made by e-mailing or calling Paul Ullom-Minnich at 620-345-3233.

— Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren partnered with the Asian American Center of Frederick to be the host site for this year’s 5th Annual Community Health Fair on Nov. 17. Those attending the free event could register for screenings for glucose, sugar, hepatitis B, body-mass index, cholesterol, and glaucoma; and flu shots for up to 600 people were available on a first-come, first-served basis. Interpreters also were available to help communicate in American Sign Language, Burmese, Chinese, Indian, Thai/Laos, Cambodian, French, Russian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Spanish. More than 30 doctors took part and many other community resources such as Frederick County Health Department and the Frederick Memorial Hospital.

— A Retirement Open House in recognition of Herman Kauffman’s years of service in Christian ministry, including the past 18 years as district executive minister of Northern Indiana District, is planned for Dec. 2, from 2-4 p.m. at the John Kline Welcome Center at Camp Mack near Milford, Ind. A program and presentation are planned for 3 p.m. Cards may be brought that day or sent to the Northern Indiana District Office, 162 East Market St., Nappanee IN 46550; or send e-mail greetings to .

— The Transformation Vision Team of Western Plains District has named Dale and Beverly Minnich as Mission and Service advocates to build a network of people who will promote Brethren mission and service opportunities in congregations. In addition, the Minnichs anticipate working on an annual meal event at District Conference to share information and hear stories about Brethren mission and service opportunities.

— Western Pennsylvania held its 146th annual District Conference on Oct. 20. Moderator Ronald J. St. Clair challenged the 195 participants with the theme, “I Have Placed Before You an Open Door.” Congregations and individuals brought approximately 850 “Gifts of the Heart” clean-up buckets, hygiene kits, and school kits valued at nearly $12,000, sending two van-loads to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for distribution by Church World Service. Two business items accepted with sadness were recommendations to disband one congregation and one fellowship.

— Middle Pennsylvania District Conference was Oct. 19-20 on the theme “Pray, Seek, and Listen.” New this year was the gathering at round tables, with delegates and non-delegates sharing in table talk discussions throughout the day. Artwork adorned the meeting hall, provided by individuals and congregations at the invitation of the Program and Arrangements Committee. Forty-three of the 55 district congregations were represented, with 138 delegates and 50 non-delegates attending. Recognized for significant years of ministerial service were Robert Detwiler, 60 years; Andrew Murray, 50; Lowell Witkovsky, 50; Donald Peters, 25; Gregory Quintrell, 25; and Kenneth Wagner, 25. It was noted that the Juniata College Young Alumni Award went to Katie Kensinger.

— Shenandoah District Conference was presented thanks to Mill Creek Church of the Brethren and moderator Jonathan Brush, with 258 delegates joining in installing John Jantzi as district executive minister. Total attendance was 363. Among business items: formation of two new congregations in West Virginia–New Hope Church of the Brethren and Pine Grove Church of the Brethren–from the former Pocahontas congregation, and approval of construction of a utility building adjacent to the District Office to house vehicles used in disaster response and preparation/storage space for disaster response kits.

— The 42nd Virlina District Conference was held in Botetourt County, Va., on Nov. 9-10 on the theme, “God Makes All Things New” (Romans 12:1-2), with 241 delegates and 252 non-delegates from 78 congregations. Among other business, the “Query: Biblical Authority” from Hopewell Church of the Brethren was approved, to be passed on to the 2013 Annual Conference. Honored for significant ministerial service were John W. “Jack” Lowe for 50 years, and Albert L. “Al” Huston for 50-plus years.

— Virlina District Resource Center will relocate on or around Jan. 14, moving from 330 Hershberger Rd., NW, Roanoke, Va., to 3402 Plantation Rd., NE, Roanoke. Telephone number and e-mail addresses will be unaffected by the change. “The new facility was purchased on Nov. 19 and is a former bank building,” reported the district newsletter. “The Plantation Road site has expanded parking for meetings and classes.” Friendship Manor Apartment Village has purchased the facility on Hershberger Road which will be demolished and landscaped as part of beautification of the entrance to the retirement community. A “dismissal service” to mark the end of the district’s 47-year residency on the Friendship campus is planned. The district office will be closed from Jan. 9 at 4:30 p.m. until Jan. 17 at 8:30 a.m. for the move.

Photo by courtesy of Fahrney-Keedy
Joyce Stevenson, center, stands with Elizabeth Galaida, president of the Western Maryland Chapter of the Association of Fundraising, and Keith Bryan, president/CEO of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, at the National Philanthropy Day luncheon where she was honored.

— Joyce Stevenson, president of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village Auxiliary, Boonsboro, Md., was honored Nov. 9 as a Distinguished Volunteer during the National Philanthropy Day. At the event in Middletown, Md., the Western Maryland Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals lauded area volunteers for their work in the community, said a release. A nurse by background, Stevenson has been president of the Auxiliary for five years. She was nominated as “passionate, enthusiastic, and always affable” in her work to assist Fahrney-Keedy, overseeing all the auxiliary’s fundraisers. “These activities direct a substantial amount of support for Fahrney-Keedy’s retirement living programs and services.” said Keith Bryan, president and CEO.

— A new Advent/Christmas spiritual disciplines folder, “Prepare for and Celebrate the Joy, Christ the Savior Is Born!” is shared by the Springs of Living Water Initiative in Church Renewal. Prepared for congregational use, the folder uses the Sunday lectionary text in the Brethren bulletin series, following Luke’s Gospel. The folder is intended to become the basis for discipleship training in congregations and includes daily Bible readings for the congregation to follow together. The folder also enables teaching to be done by reading scripture in a meditative manner and finding what in the text speaks to individuals, said Springs leader David Young in a release. An insert lists options for people to commit in a variety of ways to take next steps in spiritual growth. Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren near Pittsburgh, Pa., has written the Bible study questions for individual or group study. Go to or for more information contact David and Joan Young at .

— Those receiving McPherson (Kan.) College Young Alumni Awards this year are Tracy Stoddart Primozich, ’97, director of admissions at Bethany Theological Seminary, along with Mark Baus, ’82, of Alexander, Kan., and Jonathan Klinger, ’02, of Traverse City, Mich. The three were honored with a special ceremony on Oct. 19.

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is auctioning a hand-made quilt to honor a former faculty member during its Student Life Art Auction, 6 p.m. on Dec. 6 in the Susquehanna Room of Myer Hall. Proceeds support the Carole L. Isaak ALANA Scholarship Fund. The drawing for the quilt will be held at 6 p.m., the auction runs until 10 p.m. Raffle tickets are $2 a chance or $5 for three chances, and may be purchased by calling 717-361-1549. The quilt was crafted by staff members of the college. Said Diane Elliot, one of the quilters, in a release: “It’s safe to say that there are thousands of stitches in this quilt along with approximately 24 yards of fabric.” The quilters used the pattern known as “Broken Dishes” as a good fit for honoring Isaak, who retired from the department of English in 2010. She worked closely with African American, Latino/Latina, Asian, and Native American students, from which the acronym ALANA is derived.

— James Lakso, provost at Juniata College and professor of economics, was awarded the 2012 Chief Academic Officer Award from the Council of Independent Colleges. Lakso accepted the award at the CIC’s Institute for Chief Academic Officers, held Nov. 3-6 in San Antonio, Texas.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Cori Hahn, Elizabeth Harvey, Mary Kay Heatwole, Victoria Ingram, Michael Leiter, Amy Mountain, Suzanne Moss, David Shumate, John Wall, Walt Wiltschek, Roy Winter, David Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue on Dec. 12. 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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