Newsline for Sept. 6, 2012

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29:13)

1) Children’s Disaster Services aids families displaced by Isaac.
2) Workcamp coordinators wrap up their service, review the summer.
3) Reorganized BBT Board focuses on committee work and investments.
4) Bethany Seminary hosts annual Exploring Your Call event.
5) Brethren couple go to Israel and Palestine as accompaniers.

6) Beach retires from leadership of Atlantic Southeast District.
7) Hipps to begin as denomination’s director of Donor Relations.

8) Communities around the globe invited to ‘Pray for Ceasefire’ Sept. 21.
9) Dunker Church Service at Antietam National Battlefield set for Sept. 16.
10) Workcamp ministry announces theme for 2013, new coordinators.

11) Top 10 favorite hymns from ‘Hymnal: A Worship Book.’

12) Brethren bits: Annual Conference meetings, Global Mission Offering, CDS in Connecticut, and much much more.

Quote of the week:
“It is the hope of the Brethren that the little white church on the Antietam Battlefield may be to our troubled world a symbol of tolerance, love, brotherhood, and service–a witness to the spirit of Him [the Christ] whom we seek to serve.”
— A quote generally attributed to E. Russell Hicks of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren, now deceased. It is being shared by organizers of the 42nd Annual Dunker Church Service at Antietam National Battlefield Park on Sept. 16 (see story below). This year is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle, which occurred on Sept. 17, 1862.

1) Children’s Disaster Services aids families displaced by Isaac.

Photo by Children’s Disaster Services
A view of one set up for a Children’s Disaster Services child care center in a large shelter. This center was set up by volunteers serving children and families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is aiding children in Louisiana who have been displaced by Hurricane Isaac. Fifteen CDS volunteers were deployed to this heavily impacted area on Sept. 3. R. Jan Thompson is serving as project manager for the response.

As of Sept. 4, the group of CDS volunteers split up into two teams and have set up temporary child care centers in separate American Red Cross shelters. Fourteen volunteers are working in two larger shelters in the towns of Baker and Gonzales, La. Thompson is working out of Port Allen, La., to coordinate the response.

“They are very busy with children, taking the children in shifts,” reports Roy Winter, associate executive director for Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. “Jan is talking with RC (the Red Cross) about the need for additional volunteers.” The CDS volunteers are all staying in a Red Cross staff shelter that has been set up in a filming studio, Winter said.

“Everything is very fluid and changing quickly,” Winter added. “These shelters will likely move sometime this week as they are schools, and schools will reopen next week.”

“Please keep our volunteers and all disaster survivors–especially the littlest ones–in your prayers,” said CDS staff on the program’s Facebook page.

CDS had to wait several days before sending in its volunteers, some 250 of whom have been on alert since Tropical Storm Isaac was on its way across the Caribbean to the Gulf Coast. “Red Cross needs to know how long the shelters will be open before sending CDS in,” staff explained via Facebook.

Most recently, CDS volunteers spent nine days in August caring for children affected by fires in Oklahoma. CDS is a Church of the Brethren ministry that has been meeting the needs of children since 1980. Working cooperatively with FEMA and the American Red Cross, CDS provides trained and certified volunteers to set up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, CDS volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos that follows disasters.

Updates from CDS are posted regularly at . Go to for more about CDS and a list of fall workshops to train more CDS volunteers at a variety of locations around the country.

2) Workcamp coordinators wrap up their service, review the summer.

Photo by Cat Gong
Brethren youth brave the heat of summer 2012 at a workcamp at ECHO in Florida

The Church of the Brethren’s Workcamp Office is simultaneously wrapping up the summer and gearing up for next summer’s events (see announcements for 2013 program below under Upcoming Events).

There were 23 workcamps held this summer: 7 for junior high youth, 13 for senior highs, 1 for young adults, and 2 for intergenerational groups. Attending those camps were approximately 500 people–over 100 advisors and adult participants as well as over 350 youth and young adult participants. At each camp there were also two leaders provided by the Workcamp Office. Out of those leaders, about 33 were volunteers who committed a whole week away from home, family, and work to help out.

Workcamp coordinators for the 2012 season were Cat Gong and Rachel Witkovsky, both placed by Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). The coordinators work out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Gong grew up in State College, Pa., and attended University Baptist and Brethren Church. After graduating from Penn State with a degree in sociology she decided she wanted to give back. Growing up she had always done workcamps with her youth group and when she heard about BVS placements in the Workcamp Office she applied right away. “It has been an amazing year here in Elgin,” she commented, “and an amazing summer serving with youth and young adults from our denomination!”

Witkovsky graduated from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College in 2010 with a theater performance major and a creative writing minor. Her home congregation is Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa. “I’ve gone on many service trips before,” Rachel said, “but this summer–the places I went, the people I worked with–will always have a special place in my heart.” Her time with BVS is not ending, however. She will continue as National Junior High Conference coordinator, working in the Youth and Young Adult Ministries Office.

The two coordinators worked for a year to prepare for the 2012 workcamps on the theme “Ready to Listen” (1 Samuel 3:2-10). Throughout the summer, they made their way from the East Coast to the West Coast and beyond. They were joined by youth from all over the country.

Amazing things happen at workcamps, and wonderful work gets done by those who are willing to serve. A lot of good stories and memories came out of the summer. Here are just a few:

“Can you come back next week?” was a comment Gong remembered from the ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organizations) workcamp, the most intense work week of her summer. The youth and their advisors worked outside in 95 degree July weather in humid North Fort Myers, Fla., on a farm where they weeded, moved trees, built a bridge, and sweated a lot. A farm worker later said the group did more work in three-and-a-half days than a group of senior highs did in seven days earlier in the summer.

“No one ever serves us like that,” is a response that Witkovsky received from one of the volunteers at Innisfree Village who was commenting on the Brethren workcampers. “We had decided to serve everyone at their tables instead of do buffet style,” she said. “That one small decision helped a lot of people. It made a difference to them to be able to sit with their housemates and just enjoy their dinner. The volunteers do all the serving normally.”

“At Camp Eder we were surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation with little outside noise,” Gong reported from another workcamp at a Church of the Brethren camp in Pennsylvania. “During devotions one night, one of the youth shared a story with the group that he had heard at another camp.” The story was about a Native American chief meeting with a general to discuss terms of peace. They were meeting outside a major city where noises included factories, horses, children running and screaming up and down the street. The chief heard the sound of a cricket, to the general’s disbelief. Then the chief pulled a quarter from his pocket and dropped it on the road. Suddenly heads turned at the clink of change. The chief looked at the general and said, “It’s a matter of what you’re listening for.”

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29:13) is a scripture Witkovsky found helpful during a workcamp on Skid Row in Los Angeles, Calif. The group was distributing bag lunches to the homeless. “‘Here comes the spirit! Whoa!’ yelled a man as we walked past,” she said. “I couldn’t tell if he was serious, sarcastic, or crazy. But either way, I found myself looking to the front of the group and, there, in front of Gilbert, leading the group, I saw Jesus walking with us. Protecting us. Handing out sandwiches to those who needed food.”

It’s great to think of some 500 people of the Church of the Brethren out there, helping–“giving a hand up, not just a hand out,” as one project leader said this summer. Workcamps are a chance for anyone who has ever felt called to help their neighbor. Those involved in the Workcamp Ministry are carrying out Jesus’ call to live simply, peacefully, together. They are his hands and feet. And it happens every summer. A new season is about to start! Are you in?

— Rachel Witkovsky and Cat Gong provided this report. They are saying farewell to the Workcamp Office, passing the torch to new coordinators Katie Cummings and Tricia Ziegler who have already begun planning for 2013. Photo albums from the 2012 workcamps will be available soon at .

3) Reorganized BBT Board focuses on committee work and investments.

Photo by BBT
Boston Common Management representatives meet with Brethren Benefit Trust in August.

The annual reorganization of Brethren Benefit Trust’s Board of Directors marked the beginning of a three-day series of meetings involving board members and BBT staff in Elgin, Ill., from Aug. 3-5. Led by re-elected chairwoman Karen O. Crim and vice chairwoman Ann Quay Davis, the board’s committee work drove key decisions in the areas of investments, Brethren Pension Plan, the Retirement Benefits Fund Contingency Fund, and the administration of the board.

This year’s summer meeting replaced a much shorter four-hour meeting typically held in July at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.

“We expanded the summer meeting so that we had enough time to delve into issues both as committees and as a full board,” said Crim.

Investment Committee reviews three asset managers

The Investment Committee interviewed two investment managers to replace its current short-term manager, and it chose Ponder Investment Co. based on strong performance history and willingness to meet BBT’s socially responsible investing parameters.

A third investment manager was also interviewed during the day-long Investment Committee meeting–domestic large-cap core and international equity manager Boston Common. Representatives of the Boston-based firm responded to a questionnaire and presented information about its performance as part of a three-year review cycle for BBT’s eight investment managers.

Committee members requested that investment consulting firm Marquette Associates prepare annual reviews of the breadth and appropriateness of BBT’s fund offerings. Brethren Pension Plan members have access to up to 16 fund offerings, and Brethren Foundation clients will soon be able to invest in up to 21 funds.

Two new board members had their first meeting on the committee: Tom McCracken, a financial adviser from Dallastown, Pa., and Eric Kabler, an investment adviser from Johnstown, Pa. They joined Harry Rhodes, an attorney from Roanoke, Va., and voted him committee chairman.

“We need to continually assess the funds that we’re offering our clients and members so that we can best meet the investment and diversification needs of those we serve,” said Rhodes. “It is this committee’s responsibility to give BBT’s constituents the tools they need to manage their assets well.”

Pension Plan prepares for new record keeper; Task Force recommends new mortality assumption

Brethren Pension Plan staff will now be able to consolidate multiple accounts of plan members who have served more than one Brethren Pension Plan sponsor. The board approved this recommendation as a way to prepare for Brethren Pension Plan’s move to a new record keeper, which charges its fee based on the number of accounts it manages. The board also voted to eliminate a difficult-to-compute catch-up contribution provision.

Before the full board meeting began on Saturday, the Pension Plan Task Force gathered to receive research and guidance from Marquette Associates regarding the allocation of the Retirement Benefits Fund (RBF), which pays out benefits to Brethren Pension Plan retirees.

“Brethren Pension Plan continues to work toward returning the RBF to fully funded status,” said Scott Douglas, director of Employee Benefits. “Our goal is to balance the RBF’s liabilities with market returns, while managing the overall risk of the portfolio.”

The task force also revisited a recommendation from its April meeting to change the mortality assumption that is used to help determine benefits payouts for Brethren Pension Plan members. The full board approved the change, which will provide a more accurate picture of the life expectancy of annuitants.

Governance, Budget Audit and Review, and Property groups present guidance to the board

The Governance Committee met on Friday to continue its mission of assessing board performance, developing resources to train new board members, and growing the pool of candidates for future board members. Donna Forbes-Steiner and Carol Hess were elected chairwoman and vice chairwoman of that committee, respectively. The Budget Audit and Review Committee also met on Friday to elect Ann Quay Davis chairwoman and Karen O. Crim vice chairwoman, as well as to review a recommendation from BBT staff. The Property Task Force gathered on Friday evening to assess BBT’s office space needs.

Other news

— After Saturday’s daylong meeting, the board joined BBT staff members, retirees, and their guests for a banquet to honor milestones in the careers of several staff members. Brethren Foundation director Steve Mason was honored for his five years of strong service; Tammy Chudy, manager of Insurance Operations, received accolades for her 10 years of service; Connie Sandman, member services representative for Insurance, was recognized for her outstanding 30 years of service. Christian folk ensemble Act of Grace performed for the attendees.

— John Waggoner, a personal finance columnist for “USA Today,” resigned from the board in the week leading up to the board meeting. His successor will be announced in the coming months.

— The next full meeting of the BBT Board will take place in Elgin and Mount Morris, Ill., from Nov. 15-18. Board and staff members will meet with members and clients at Pinecrest Community, a Brethren-affiliated retirement community. Several committees will meet between now and the board meeting as they continue their work.

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

4) Bethany Seminary hosts annual Exploring Your Call event.

“I loved my time at Exploring Your Call and speak of it constantly. If it were possible for me to go again, I would–in a heartbeat,” says Laura Brown, a 2012 participant in this annual discernment event held by Bethany Theological Seminary.

Brown, from Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio, was joined by Issac Brunk and Autumn Ehrig from Ivester Church of the Brethren, Grundy Center, Iowa; Michael Himlie, Root River Church of the Brethren, Preston, Minn.; and Sarandon Smith from Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. From June 14-24, these high school students gathered to consider what God’s call might mean in their own lives and faith journeys.

The Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind., served as the central space for learning sessions, group discussion and reflection, and worship. The group also had some hands-on experience in assisting with Vacation Bible School at the local First Christian Church in Richmond.

Russell Haitch, director of the program, was joined by current faculty and students in leading the group sessions. Haitch is associate professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults. Marla Abe, a 2008 Bethany graduate and copastor of Carlisle (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, assisted in directing the week’s activities.

Beyond Richmond, the group was introduced to ministry at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio. They also traveled to Reba Place, an intentional Christian community in Chicago, Ill., and visited the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Each participant also spent time shadowing regional Church of the Brethren pastors and being hosted by their congregations. Brown highlights her connection with copastors Charles Bell and Mike Cassidy at Buck Creek Church of the Brethren in Mooreland, Ind. “The experience I had with them–including talking with and being hosted by church members, Sunday school, etc.–made the most impact on me.”

Michael Himlie says that EYC gave him additional insight into what he feels led to do in his faith journey. “My favorite part of EYC was the opportunity to experience all types of ministry. Some may not have fit with our interests, but we all took a lot away from each and every setting.”

The EYC program was reinstated in 2011 after a hiatus of several years. “With smaller groups these past two years, we’ve been able to travel more, and it has meant that wonderful family-like friendships could develop,” says Haitch. “Our goal is to expand enrollment while keeping the quality of the program and closeness of relationships.”

Registration for EYC 2013 opens Sept. 1 for rising high school juniors and seniors. Through a generous grant from Barnabas, Ltd., in New South Wales, Australia, all expenses for participants are covered except for transportation to and from the event. Bekah Houff, coordinator of outreach programs at Bethany and former EYC participant, is organizing EYC 2013. “It is my hope that next year’s EYC will be an eye-opening experience as young people discern God’s call in their lives while exploring different kinds of ministry.”

Information is available by contacting or on the Bethany website at .

In more news from Bethany, the seminary held Opening Convocation Aug 23 in a joint service with neighboring Earlham School of Religion (ESR). The service was in Nicarry Chapel, in the Bethany Seminary building. All were invited, and especially welcomed were new and returning students in theological and religious studies. ESR professor Nancy Bowen offered the message. The convocation was webcast, as will be other services throughout the year, so that distance learning students and anyone else who might wish to worship with the seminary could also participate. Find a link at .

— Jenny Williams is director of communications and alumni/ae relations for Bethany Seminary.

5) Brethren couple go to Israel and Palestine as accompaniers.

Church of the Brethren members Joyce and John Cassel of Oak Park, Ill., have begun work in Palestine and Israel with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program of the World Council of Churches (WCC). They departed Sept. 1 for a three month tour of duty, from September through November this year.

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) brings international workers to the West Bank “to experience life under occupation,” according to the description of the program ( ). “Ecumenical accompaniers provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses, and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace.” When they return home, participants are expected to “campaign for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law, and implementation of UN resolutions.” Those who participate go through an extensive interview process and receive training and several days of orientation from EAPPI staff.

A group of 33 from all over the world will be working with EAPPI this fall, including people from Australia, South Africa, the Philippines, Canada, and European countries, as well as the US. The Cassels, who are retired, are the only Americans in the team, and are two of the three oldest members. The group is placed as small teams living in various areas, and Joyce and John will be working in two different locations in the West Bank during their three months of service.

The Cassels are receiving support from the Church of the Brethren denomination to participate with the WCC program, including travel costs and travel insurance. They also are supported by On Earth Peace, which is providing blogging and social networking support. OEP peace witness coordinator Matt Guynn is their denominational support person. In addition they have been in communication with Illinois and Wisconsin District executive Kevin Kessler about their work with EAPPI.

“We assume we will learn much and hope we can find ways to share our learnings and experiences–to the benefit of the larger church in the US,” they wrote in a letter of appreciation for the support they are receiving from the church.

After their return from the Middle East, the Cassels are scheduled to report to the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board’s spring meeting next March. During their time in Israel and Palestine they are blogging about their work, at .

6) Beach retires from leadership of Atlantic Southeast District.

Martha R. Beach has announced her plans to retire as executive minister of Atlantic Southeast District, effective Jan. 1, 2013. She began her ministry as district executive on March 20, 2000.

Beach began her tenure as a long-time active lay leader in the Church of the Brethren. She was baptized in 1959 at Koontz Church of the Brethren in Middle Pennsylvania District. During her tenure as district executive she was both licensed (April 2003) and ordained (July 2011) at St. Petersburg (Fla.) Church of the Brethren.

Prior to moving to Florida, she served numerous terms as chair of the church board at her congregation as well as chair of the Trustee Board of Morrison’s Cove Home in Pennsylvania. Her professional experience was in the insurance industry as owner of her own agency and representative for several other agencies. In that work she attained the CLU designation from American College in 1995 and the LUTCF designation from Life Underwriters Training Council in 1989.

She and her husband Bob Beach were married in 1959. In retirement she looks forward to being able to do more traveling and studying, and spending time with her family.

7) Hipps to begin as denomination’s director of Donor Relations.

John R. Hipps begins Sept. 24 as director of Donor Relations for the Church of the Brethren. He is a member of Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren and brings a broad range of knowledge and expertise in fundraising to the position, having helped carry out a $40 million fundraising campaign at Bridgewater College.

Hipps most recently has been director of Development at the Shenandoah County Free Clinic in Woodstock, Va. Previously he worked in the Office of Institutional Advancement at Bridgewater College where from 2008-11 he was executive director of Development, and from 2005-08 was director of Special Gifts. Other professional experience has included 13 years with Air Products and Chemicals Inc. in Allentown, Pa., where he held several different positions including financial analyst and global business controller.

Church involvements include lifelong affiliation with the Church of the Brethren, seven years on the summer staff of Brethren camps during high school and college, and service on local church boards. He is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Virginia Gift Planning Council. He holds a bachelor of science in Business Administration and Economics from Bridgewater College, and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

Hipps will work out of a main office in Bridgewater while also working one week per month at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

8) Communities around the globe invited to ‘Pray for Ceasefire’ Sept. 21.

Sept. 21 is the International Day of Prayer for Peace–and it’s not too late to participate! On Earth Peace is inviting all churches and community groups to use this day to lift up a message of peace and ceasefire in whatever ways make sense in your community, including shortly before or after the 21st itself. Register at .

Currently 145 communities have signed up, including participants in Australia, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, the Philippines, Thailand, and the US. Participating groups report a number of religious affiliations, including Church of the Brethren, American Baptist, Presbyterian, Christian Council of Nigeria (Methodist), Disciples of Christ, Dominican Sisters of Peace, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Pax Christi, Quaker, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Uniting Church (Australia), United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, and United Methodist.

Here is a sampling of plans reported so far:

Quinter (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is planning prayers around a peace pole.

Midland (Mich.) Church of the Brethren is holding a “Fortress of Peace” children’s Bible school and children’s mural project, and a “Grandma’s Silence” prayer time in which grandmothers in the neighborhood pause in prayer.

Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren is participating in a community forum on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” handgun law, and public prayers for peace in a park with a sermon on how to respond to violence.

In Portland, Ore., the Wilderness Way Community (Lutheran-ELCA) is hosting a webinar viewing and prayer meeting around the theme, “Restorative Justice and Historical Violation,” with biblical scholar Ched Myers and mediator Elaine Enns.

In Oyo State, Nigeria, Churches in Action for Peace and Development is organizing an interdenominational service at Wesley Chapel to pray for peace and ceasefire. Expected participants include seminarians from Immanuel College of Theology-Ibadan and Christian Council of Nigeria (Methodist).

Code Pink and the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones are organizing a Sept. 21-28 peace delegation to Waziristan, Pakistan, an area hard hit by predator drone attacks. They announced via a press release that they will “meet with survivors of US drone attacks, lawyers who are representing drone victims, and political figures. As citizen diplomats from the United States, we will join with people from the region affected by US drone attacks, and call for an end to the killing.” Their 50-person delegation includes many people involved in religious communities.

Interfaith prayer services organized by Brethren individuals working with community coalitions are happening in Dayton, Ohio; San Diego, Calif.; Manassas, Va.; Sharpsburg, Md.; and South Bend, Ind.

As one illustration, Ed Poling writes: “Our church, the Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren, for the last several years has been celebrating International Day of Prayer for Peace with the Interfaith Coalition of Washington County, which I coordinate. This year our event will be on Sunday evening, Sept. 23, 5 p.m., at the Dunker Meetinghouse on the Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Md. We’re calling it our Song and Prayer Peace Fest. We’ll have 18-20 different religious traditions each share a brief statement on peace, a prayer for peace, and a peace song. Besides a number of Protestant denominations, including all the historic peace churches, we plan to involve Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Baha’i, Sufi, Unity, Adventists, Metropolitan Community, Hispanic, and Unitarian/Universalists. During this week the community is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single-day battle of the Civil War, with over 23,000 casualties. So we have the present-day violence to ponder as well as memories of war from the past. A great place to pray for peace in our homes, our communities, the nation, and the world.”

To see a full list of participants in Peace Day, go to . For event plans that have been reported so far, see .  More information and registration for Peace Day is at .

— Matt Guynn is coordinator of Peace Witness for On Earth Peace.

9) Dunker Church Service at Antietam National Battlefield set for Sept. 16.

Photo by Regina Holmes

The 42nd Annual Dunker Church Service at Antietam National Battlefield Park is planned for Sept. 16. The worship service will begin at 3 p.m. at the historic Civil War site in Sharpsburg, Md., sponsored by Church of the Brethren congregations in Maryland and West Virginia.

Preaching for the service is Phil Stone, well-known throughout the Church of the Brethren as a past moderator of Annual Conference in 1991, former president of Bridgewater (Va.) College 1994-2010, and a noted Abraham Lincoln scholar and Civil War historian. Stone practices law with his three children in Harrisonburg, Va. His sermon topic will be “Lincoln and Antietam: Peacemaker or Warrior.”

“This worship service is similar to an 1862 Dunker Worship Service and is held in the restored Mumma Meeting House, commonly referred to today as the Dunker Church,” said an announcement from the organizers. “This year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862. We extend our gratitude to the National Park Service for their cooperation, for the use of this meeting house, and the loan of the Mumma Bible.”

As they publicize the service, organizers also are sharing a quote generally attributed to E. Russell Hicks, now deceased, a former member of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren: “It is the hope of the Brethren that the little white church on the Antietam Battlefield may be to our troubled world a symbol of tolerance, love, brotherhood, and service–a witness to the spirit of Him [the Christ] whom we seek to serve.”

For more information call one of the following pastors who are involved in the service: Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135 or 304-671-4775; Tom Fralin at 301-432-2653 or 301-667-2291; or Ed Poling at 301-733-3565.

In related news, a stamp from the US Postal Service commemorating the sesquicentennial of the battle at Antietam shows the Dunker meetinghouse in the background, go to . The story of the meetinghouse and its Mumma Bible are on the National Parks Service website at .

10) Workcamp ministry announces theme for 2013, new coordinators.

The Workcamp Ministry has announced a theme and released a logo for the 2013 workcamps to be held next summer.

In other news, the new set of coordinators have begun their work. Katie Cummings of Summit Church of the Brethren in Bridgewater, Va., and Tricia Ziegler of Sebring (Fla.) Church of the Brethren, are serving as workcamp coordinators through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). Their official start date was Aug. 20, and they will complete BVS orientation later this fall.

Emily Tyler, the new denominational staff person overseeing workcamps as well as BVS recruitment, also recently started her work with the ministry.

For 2013, the ministry has announced the theme “Deeply Rooted,” with the additional tagline, “Let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” The logo for 2013 was designed by Debbie Noffsinger.

The theme is based on Colossians 2:6-7 (The Message): “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.”

11) Top 10 favorite hymns from ‘Hymnal: A Worship Book.’

At Annual Conference in July, Brethren Press sponsored a hymn sing celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Hymnal: A Worship Book.” Nancy Faus-Mullen, who chaired the committee that put together the hymnal on behalf of Brethren Press and the Mennonite publishing house, led the event. In preparation, she and a team that included Haley Goodwin and Douglas Archer surveyed a number of Brethren to find out what hymns from the 1992 hymnal are most loved by those who sing from it in worship. Although it was not a scientific survey, the results are interesting. More survey findings and the group’s reflection on the survey may appear in a future issue of “Messenger” magazine.

Top 10 favorite hymns from the 1992 “Hymnal: A Worship Book”:

1. “In the Bulb There Is a Flower,” #614
2. “Amazing Grace,” #143
3. “Blessed Assurance,” #332
4. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” #327
5. “Here I Am, Lord,” #395
6. “When Peace Like a River,” #336
7. “Praise God from Whom,” #118
8. “Move in Our Midst,” #418
9. “Here in This Place,” #6
10. “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” #150

Of the top 10 hymns, one (#418) is totally a Brethren hymn, written by a Brethren text writer, Kenneth Morse, and a Brethren tune writer, Perry Huffaker.

Five of the hymns are in a hymnal produced by the Church of the Brethren for the first time: #614, #395, #118, #6, #150. Of these five, three have been written since 1980 (#614, #395, and #6).

The oldest hymn of the top 10 is #143.

Two of the top 10 are in “The Brethren Hymnal” of 1901 (#332 and #336).

Two are in “Hymnal Church of the Brethren” of 1925 (#332 and #336).

Four are in “The Brethren Hymnal” of 1951 (#143,  #332, #327, #336).

— Prepared and compiled by Nancy Faus-Mullen, Haley Goodwin, and Douglas Archer.

12) Brethren bits.

— Groups related to Annual Conference held meetings at the Church of the Brethren General Offices last week: the denomination’s Leadership Team, the Annual Conference Officers, and the Program and Arrangements Committee and Worship Committee for 2013. The Conference Officers are Bob Krouse, moderator (Fredericksburg, Pa.); Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, moderator-elect (Tipp City, Ohio); and Jim Beckwith, secretary (Lebanon, Pa.). The officers and general secretary Stan Noffsinger make up the Leadership Team. Program and Arrangements Committee members are Eric Bishop (Pomona, Calif.), Cindy Laprade Lattimer (Lancaster, Pa.), and Christy Waltersdorff (Lombard, Ill.). Additional Worship Committee members are music coordinator Carol Elmore (Roanoke, Va.), and choir director John Shafer (Oakton, Va.).

— The Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Offering is Oct. 7 using the theme scripture 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ….” This annual offering emphasis supports denomination-wide ministries, with a focus on mission. Resources are available at and include downloadable logos, worship resources, song suggestions, children’s sermon, and youth-centered resources including a skit and youth activity. Still to come: a video congregations may use to highlight the offering emphasis. Congregations on standing order will soon receive a cover letter, poster, and combination bulletin inserts/collection envelopes through the mail. Congregations not on standing order will receive a sample of the insert/envelope combination and information about how to order more. For more information or to order copies of any of the offering materials contact or call Mandy Garcia at 847-429-4361.

— New at the denomination’s website are Love Feast resources provided through members of the Gibble family and Codorus Church of the Brethren in Dallastown, Pa. Go to and enter the words “Love Feast” in the “Occasion” search box. Suitable for use on World Communion Sunday, Oct. 7, the resources provide some creative new scripture jams and ideas to focus the Love Feast experience. Web producer Jan Fischer Bachman invites others who want to contribute worship resources to contact her at .

— Bruce Lockwood is working to bring Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) to Connecticut, partly as a response to the Oct. 2011 snowstorm that hit the state, according to the Canton Patch. Lockwood was a member of the National Commission for Children in Disasters, and is co-chair of the state’s Children Emergency Preparedness Committee. He told the publication that in his travels he’s seen several groups that cater to children and feels Children’s Disaster Services is the best. “I’m a huge fan of this program,” he said. Find the article at

— Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, recently was asked to join the drought task force of National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). He also is part of a subgroup that is dealing with farm operations.

— Jonathan Stauffer’s article “Why Our Roots in the Land Still Matter,” originally published in the church’s “Messenger” magazine, has been reprinted by Blessed Earth, an education nonprofit. Stauffer is an intern in the advocacy and peace witness office in Washington, D.C. The article is posted at . Find out more about “Messenger” and how to subscribe at .

— Circleville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren celebrates its 100th anniversary on Sept. 16. with a meal, special music, and visits by former pastors.

— Decatur (Ill.) Church of the Brethren has sold its building and now worships in the Crestview Worship Center, a facility of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Mailing address for the church remains the same but the congregation has a new phone number: 217-875-4849.

— Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren has made the news with a commitment to renewable energy. “After decades of preaching the power of the Son (Jesus), the Modesto Church of the Brethren is harnessing an additional kind of power–energy from the sun,” the “Modesto Bee” reported. The church has installed a solar system to provide 100 percent of its electricity, with an excess amount helping to pay for the program. Find the article at .

— Briery Branch Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va., is hosting an auction Sept. 7 to benefit members who face major medical expenses. Doors open at 4 p.m. The sale includes handmade furniture, computer equipment, TVs, an iron sleigh bed, NASCAR and Longaberger items.

— After the Jubilee Sunday school class at Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren started reading Donald Kraybill’s book, “The Upside-Down Kingdom,” they were inspired to start a Jubilee Sunday school garden that is now helping feed the community, reports the “News Leader” of Staunton, Va. Find the article at

— Middle Pennsylvania District is kicking off the new Vital Ministry Journey, an initiative in cooperation with the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries. Sept. 8 some 65 representatives from 15 churches will gather at the Village at Morrisons Cove. Said the district newsletter, “It is our hope that participating congregations will invest the time and energy into the Journey of recapturing and/or maintaining the dynamic vision and mission for their congregations.” More information can be found at .

— Virlina District has shared results of this year’s World Hunger Auction held Aug. 11. Hundreds gathered for the day of sharing and fellowship, according to the district newsletter. “More than $30,000 was collected on auction day which will be added to the more than $22,000 which has been contributed in earlier activities.” A Hunger Walk was postponed because of bad weather, and will be held Sept. 30 starting at 3 p.m. at Antioch Church of the Brethren.

— The Pacific Southwest District Executive Board recently revised its “Child Abuse Prevention Policy Statement” and is requiring volunteers who work with children and youth at District Conference to undergo a background check and sign a statement (find it at ). Earlier this summer, the district mailed each congregation a copy of the May/June issue of “Church Law & Tax Report” with the article “12 Lessons Church Leaders Can Learn from Penn State’s Abuse Scandal” (find a link at ).

— West Marva District is offering “Equipping the Saints” events beginning on Sept. 15 with “Inviting and Welcoming Guests to Worship” at Maple Spring Church of the Brethren. The event from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. is led by Kendal Elmore, district executive minister.

— Shenandoah District announces that “the books are closed on the 2012 Disaster Ministries Auction.” The auction raised $214,620.03–the fourth highest amount in its 20-year history.

— Three district conferences are held in mid-September: On Sept. 14-15, Northern Indiana District meets at Camp Mack near Milford, Ind., with a Friday evening hymn sing celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Hymnal: A Worship Book” led by Nancy Faus-Mullen. On Sept. 14-15 Southern Pennsylvania meets at Faith Community of the Brethren Home in New Oxford, Pa., on the theme, “Wake Up! Strengthen What Remains” (Revelation 3:2). On Sept. 14-17 Oregon and Washington District meets to consider a name change to Pacific Northwest District.

— The Bridgewater (Va.) Home Auxiliary’s Fall Festival will be Sept. 15, from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds. Breakfast and a silent auction start at 7:30 a.m., followed by lunch, the featured auction with art and quilts among the offerings, Cottage Gifts, a ReRun Shoppe, and specialty shops with baked goods, handcrafts, plants, and more.

— Camp Ithiel near Gotha, Fla., is sponsoring a Men’s Retreat in cooperation with L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens, the Haitian Church of the Brethren in Miami. The event is Sept. 15, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The $30 fee covers breakfast, lunch, and all materials.

— Middle Pennsylvania District and Camp Blue Diamond held their 18th annual Brethren Open on Aug. 14. Tournament sponsor this year was Dr. Raymond Burket. “Thank you to the 109 golfers who participated,” said the district newsletter. “Congratulations to the winning team of John Showalter, Jim Snowberger, Jim Hamm, Bill Dodson. Total funds raised was $7,542.”

— Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa, is holding a Men’s Spiritual Retreat and Canoe Weekend on Sept. 14-16 with leadership from Joshua Brockway, director of spiritual life and discipleship for the Church of the Brethren, and Randall Westfall, camp director of Camp Brethren Heights in Michigan District. Cost is $60. Contact .

— Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has been included in the revised and updated edition of “Colleges That Change Lives.” Juniata is one of 40 colleges and universities profiled in the book.

— Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the “Little Rock Nine,” will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, in Cole Hall at Bridgewater (Va.) College. A release from the college explained the special role she played in helping set America on the path of desegregation when in 1957 the group walked through the doors of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. “Although all of the Nine experienced verbal and physical harassment during their year at Central, Brown was first suspended, and then expelled for retaliating against the daily torment,” the release said. “She moved to New York and lived with Drs. Kenneth B. and Mamie Clark, the African American psychologists whose social science research formed the basis for the NAACP argument in Brown v. Board of Education.” Trickey served in the Clinton administration as deputy assistant secretary for workforce diversity at the Department of the Interior.

— Manchester University marks its largest enrollment since the Vietnam Era, says a release. Unofficial total for fall enrollment is 1,350, including 20 new Church of the Brethren students.

— Among upcoming events at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is a lecture at the Young Center’s Bucher Meetinghouse on Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m., when Samuel Funkhouser will present “In the Line of Duty: Brethren and Their Early English Hymns.” He is a licensed Church of the Brethren minister and graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.

— The August “Brethren Voices” features Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press. Copies for use by Sunday school classes can be obtained from producer Ed Groff by e-mailing . Host Brent Carlson interviews McFadden about her journey to the Church of the Brethren, and her recent participation in a Sankofa Journey. For a dozen years, this journey has been part of the Evangelical Covenant Church’s commitment to becoming more multiracial, and takes participants on a but tour of Civil Rights sites in pairs that each include an African-American partner. “Brethren Voices” is in its 8th year of offering a monthly program designed for public access cable television or small group study.

— Interfaith 9/11 Unity Walks are planned for  Sept. 9 in Washington, D.C., and New York City, with support from the National Council of Churches. Starting point for the Washington walk is the Washington Hebrew Congregation at 1:30 p.m., with various houses of worship opening their doors for the event. In New York, the walk takes place from 3-5:30 p.m. starting at Washington Square Park. For more information go to .

— Timbercrest Retirement Community in N. Manchester, Ind., is hosting a celebration of Olden Mitchell’s 100th birthday on Sept. 15, from 2-4 p.m. South/Central Indiana District has extended an open invitation to “celebrate 100 years of a good life!”

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deborah Brehm, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Elizabeth Harvey, Mary Kay Heatwole, Philip E. Jenks, Jon Kobel, Jeri S. Kornegay, Frank Ramirez, John Wall, Roy Winter, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue on Sept. 19. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at Newsline appears every other week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to

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