Newsline for January 5, 2012

Quote of the week:
“Between now and Annual Conference in St. Louis I would be delighted with your help. Would you take these questions to your Sunday school class or leadership team meeting and discuss them?
1. In what ways is our congregation
continuing the work of Jesus?
2. How are we being changed by it?
3. How can the Annual Conference help us do this even better?”
— Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey writing in the January/February issue of the Church of the Brethren “Messenger.” He invites church members to send their responses to . Now online: a way to sign up and pay for individual subscriptions to “Messenger” magazine. Go to .

“Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (1 John 3:18).

1) Daily devotion leaders announced for 2012 Annual Conference.
2) New web design, 2012 Annual Conference packet are unveiled.
3) BMC approved as project site for BVS
4) Client investments enable BBT to take stand against human trafficking.
5) Brethren congregations among those being surveyed.
6) Stewardship leadership seminar focuses on generosity.

7) Leaders in disaster ministry to gather at Brethren Service Center.
8) Bethany Seminary to hold 2012 Presidential Forum.
9) Renovaré Essentials Conference offered by Atlantic Northeast District.
10) Clergy Tax Seminar will review tax law, 2011 changes.

11) What makes for peace? A nomination for Okinawa Peace Prize.

12) Brethren bits: Personnel, jobs, nursing scholarships, Nigeria, and much more.

News from the General Offices: A new telephone system is in the works for the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. However, staff have encountered several delays in working with the telephone company on this project. Installation is now expected in February. The main telephone numbers for the offices will remain the same: 847-742-5100 and 800-323-8039. The Brethren Press customer service number also remains the same: 800-441-3712. More information will be shared prior to this change to help church members know what to expect when they call and how to reach departments and staff. “We recognize that some may have had difficulties in contacting staff and offices and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused,” said general secretary Stan Noffsinger.

1) Daily devotion leaders announced for 2012 Annual Conference.

Moderator Tim Harvey has announced leaders of the devotional times that will start the Monday and Tuesday business sessions at the 2012 Annual Conference. The Conference takes place in St. Louis, Mo., on July 7-11.

Morning devotions begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be led on Monday, July 9, by Wallace Cole, an interim district executive minister in Southeastern District; and on Tuesday, July 10, by Pamela Reist, a member of the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board and a pastor at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

Afternoon devotions will be led July 9 by Jonathan A. Prater, a new church planter in Shenandoah District and pastor of Mt. Zion Church of the Brethren in Linville, Va.; and on July 10 by Becky Ullom, the Church of the Brethren’s director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.

Time set aside for devotional thoughts or Bible study reflections also will include hymns and prayers, and will address the daily themes of the Conference. For more information about the 2012 Annual Conference, and for online registration of congregational delegates, go to . Registration for nondelegates opens online Feb. 22 at 12 noon (central).

2) New web design, 2012 Annual Conference packet are unveiled.

The Conference Office has unveiled a new website design at , where the information packet for the 2012 Annual Conference is now available to download. Postcards giving the web address have been sent to each congregation of the Church of the Brethren.

The Conference Office has emphasized that unlike in years past, this year the information packet will not be distributed on disk but will be made available solely online at the Annual Conference website.

The information packet provides basic information about the 2012 Conference to be held in St. Louis, Mo., from July 7-11. Included are sections on the theme, schedule, location and facilities, fees, hotel information, age group activities, Conference Choir, and more.

Congregations can register their delegates online now. Nondelegate registration and hotel reservations will open online at 12 noon (central time) on Feb. 22. For more information go to .

3) BMC approved as project site for BVS

The Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests (BMC) has been accepted as a placement site for Brethren Volunteer Service volunteers.

The group has applied on a regular basis for some years. During that time there have been Brethren volunteers who have worked at the BMC office in Minneapolis, but they have served through other volunteer organizations.

BVS currently lists more than 100 volunteer opportunities with projects and organizations that meet human needs, work for peace, advocate justice, and care for creation. Projects are located across the United States and in a number of other countries in Europe, Central and South America, Asia, and Africa. The program was begun as an initiative of young adults at the 1948 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren.

For more about BVS go to .

4) Client investments enable BBT to take stand against human trafficking.

Putting the spotlight on global slavery and trafficking: That is what retirement contributions and congregational investments through Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) have helped achieve through the agency’s socially responsible investing initiatives. BBT signed on to a January letter urging the US Congress to require large companies to enact policies and auditing procedures that can expose and eliminate human mistreatment in their global supply chains.

“BBT represents the denomination’s positions, as established by Annual Conference actions, through its socially responsible investing activities,” said Steve Mason, director of BBT’s socially responsible investing initiatives. “Our members and clients have a voice, and today that voice is urging Congress and large companies to take significant action against trafficking and slavery.”

Through its relationship with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, an interfaith corporate advocacy organization, BBT has signed on to the letter, which is addressed to House of Representatives speaker John Boehner and majority leader Eric Cantor. It urges Republican leadership to place the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (HR 2759) at the top of the Financial Services Committee’s agenda. This bill requires companies with a minimum of $100 million in gross receipts to report their organization’s efforts to address trafficking and slavery to the Securities Exchange Commission and on their websites.

The letter reads, “Given trends in globalization and growing concerns regarding working conditions, labor issues, human trafficking, and slavery, investors and other stakeholders will increasingly call for greater disclosure from companies related to their supply chains. We therefore strongly encourage the Republican House leadership to support investors, companies, workers, and consumers by moving this important legislation forward in an expeditious manner.”

Signing on to this letter is another step in BBT’s efforts to represent its members and clients by bringing human rights matters to the attention of the US government and publicly traded companies. In 2011, BBT’s work with energy company ConocoPhillips helped to persuade the company to review its Human Rights Position to address the rights of indigenous peoples occupying areas in which ConocoPhillips does business. An Aug. 2010 letter from BBT to President Barack Obama urged the US government to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

For more information about BBT’s socially responsible investing projects, visit or contact Steve Mason at 800-746-1505 ext. 369 or .

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

5) Brethren congregations among those being surveyed.

Church of the Brethren congregations are being invited to respond to a survey that will be arriving in mailboxes soon. The survey is a broad curriculum survey being conducted by the Protestant Church-owned Publishers Association (PCPA), of which Brethren Press is a member.

The survey seeks to explore an underlying issue in congregations today–that is, how to work effectively at growing disciples in today’s culture. The publishers are interested in learning what new strategies and programs local churches are using today to disciple their members of all ages, and what resources they are looking for to support these programs.

The survey sample will include every congregation within the Church of the Brethren, since the Brethren are smaller than the other participating denominations. Others are providing random samplings of 1,265 congregations.

PCPA is an association of about three dozen publishing houses that vary greatly in size and theology. About 15 of the member publishing houses are participating in the survey, for a combined survey group of about 19,000 congregations. The curriculum survey is being carried out by LifeWay Research, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Respondents will be able to fill out the survey on paper or online.

— Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press and Church of the Brethren communications.

6) Stewardship leadership seminar focuses on generosity.

Photo by Ecumenical Stewardship Center
Resources from the Ecumenical Stewardship Center include Giving magazine

On Nov. 28, 2011, more than 80 steward leaders gathered at the Sirata Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach, Fla., for the Ecumenical Stewardship Center 2011 Leadership Seminar. The theme was “Creating Congregational Culture of Generosity in the 21st Century.” Representatives from nearly 20 denominations heard presentations on the subject by plenary speakers Carol F. Johnston, Jill Schumann, and Paul Johnson. Attendees participated in lively discussion, sharing of ideas, and mutual encouragement.

On Tuesday morning, associate professor of Theology and Culture and director of Lifelong Theological Education at Christian Theological Seminary, Carol Johnston, shared her extensive research about the public roles that congregations play in communities. She told stories of churches in different cities across the US, their unique personalities, and key roles in neighborhood development.

After an ocean-view lunch break, Jill Schumann spoke from her experience as president and CEO of Lutheran Services in America, and suggested “rethinking stewardship” according to shifts in culture and technology. Thinking positively about asset mapping and mutual care were large components of her informative speech.

Wednesday morning brought a presentation from Paul Johnson, director of Neighborhood Development Strategies of the City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He continued the theme of viewing stewardship through a new perspective, and told of trials and successes of unusual and innovative community-based programs in Hamilton.

All three speakers were prepared to discuss difficult questions and speak from their extensive experience at the panel discussion that afternoon. Each of the three days also included worship led by Ted & Company Theaterworks. The company concluded the event with a rousing performance of their original piece, “What’s So Funny About Money,” at the seminar’s closing banquet.

Though the Florida weather was cool and windy, the energy during group discussion, “talk-back” sessions, and songs of praise sung each morning kept participants warm. Inspiring, informative, and encouraging conversation dominated the seminar and the atmosphere was supportive and collegial. After the closing festivities, attendees lingered to exchange embraces and contact information, and that one last idea until meeting again next year at the ESC Leadership Seminar 2012.

— Mandy Garcia is coordinator of donor development for the Church of the Brethren. For more about the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, of which the Church of the Brethren is a denominational supporter, go to . Former Bethany Seminary staff member Marcia Shetler is now serving as executive director of ESC, which recently adopted a new set of by-laws and new governance structure to enhance its position as a stewardship education and resource leader for churches and denominations.


7) Leaders in disaster ministry to gather at Brethren Service Center.

Faith communities often play a crucial role in responding to disasters throughout the US, such as by building houses, providing emotional care to survivors, and meeting other unmet needs. How and why faith communities respond to disasters will be explored at the 2012 Church World Service (CWS) Forum on Domestic Disaster Ministry, March 19-21 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

The biennial forum brings together leading scholars, theologians, and staff who work in disaster programs throughout the interreligious community. Participants explore the changing nature of response to disasters and learn from experienced practitioners in the field.

The forum will focus on “Sacred Hospitality: Compassion and Community in the Wake of Disaster” and explore topics including economic justice, spiritual and emotional care, and forging partnerships with secular, faith-based, and government agencies.

The forum is a great place to learn the latest developments in how faith communities are responding to disasters, according to Barry Shade, CWS associate director for Domestic Emergency Response. “We’re very excited about the speakers who are coming this year,” Shade says. “We’ll cover everything from the theological to the practical aspects of disaster response and recovery.”

Amy Oden, a scholar of Christian traditions of hospitality and the dean of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., will be the keynote speaker. Other scheduled speakers include Stan Duncan, Bob Fogal, Bonnie Osei-Frimpong, Ruama Camp, Claire Rubin, Jamison Day, and Bruce Epperly.

Participants in past forums have included staff members from faith-based disaster programs, government agencies, corporations, foundations, and community organizations.

The gathering will be the fifth CWS Forum on Domestic Disaster Ministry. It will take place at the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center in rural, western Maryland. Transportation is available from Baltimore-Washington International Airport for those who register by March 10. The registration form and additional information are available at .

— Lesley Crosson and Jan Dragin of Church World Service provided this release.

8) Bethany Seminary to hold 2012 Presidential Forum.

Photo by: Melanie Weidner artwork

“Joy and Suffering in the Body: Turning toward Each Other” is the theme of Bethany Theological Seminary’s 2012 Presidential Forum, to be held April 13-14 at the campus in Richmond, Ind.

The title of the forum refers to experiences both within individual bodies and our faith bodies. Ruthann Johansen, president of Bethany, describes the development of the theme: “For people of faith to be created in the image of God calls us to embrace the gifts of our sexuality and our spirituality and to treat our own and one another’s lives with reverence. This forum topic will explore the intersections of human sexuality and spirituality openly to increase our understanding of ourselves and one another and to help us live in Christ-like integrity with compassion and justice toward all people.”

The forum is also a response to the call stated in Standing Committee’s report from the 2011 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids–“to continue deeper conversations concerning human sexuality outside of the query process”–and to the recommendations of the original 1983 statement “Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective.”

James Forbes will be the keynote speaker, with an address titled “Who for the Joy Set Before Him.” He is senior minister emeritus of Riverside Church in New York City and the Harry Emerson Fosdick Adjunct Professor of preaching at Union Theological Seminary. He is also president of the Healing of the Nations Foundation, which draws its mission from Revelation 22:2: “And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”

Panelists representing the fields of medicine, ecclesiology and sexuality, Christian history, religion and psychiatry, and biblical studies will round out leadership. They include David E. Fuchs, MD; David Hunter, Cottrill-Rolfes Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Kentucky; Gayle Gerber Koontz, professor of theology and ethics at Mennonite Biblical Seminary; Amy Bentley Lamborn, assistant professor of pastoral theology at General Theological Seminary; and Ken Stone, academic dean and professor of Hebrew Bible, culture, and hermeneutics at Chicago Theological Seminary. Each panelist’s presentation will incorporate opportunity for audience discussion.

Parker Thompson, Bethany student and coordinator of the Forum Planning Committee, says, “Guided by the command to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37), we were looking for leaders who could address spirituality and sexuality in the full context of Christian living. In seeing Dr. Forbes preach at a conference in Chicago on urban ministry, I experienced him to be an amazingly embodied preacher with a gift and a passion for seeking healing in this broken world. Each of the panelists is excited about contributing her or his unique expertise to the forum’s holistic approach to spirituality and sexuality.”

As a complementing event, a Pre-Forum Gathering is planned for April 12-13, sponsored by Bethany’s Alumni/ae Coordinating Council. “The gathering will bring alumni/ae and other interested persons together for educational presentations by faculty as well as the opportunity to reconnect and meet new friends,” says council member Greg Davidson Laszakovits. “Rooted in the Presidential Forum’s theme of spirituality and sexuality, this event will take a practical approach toward equipping participants to work with these real-life issues in their ministries and lives.”

Attendees of the Pre-Forum Gathering will hear four sessions presented by faculty from Bethany and Earlham School of Religion: Julie M. Hostetter, director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership; Russell Haitch, associate professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults at Bethany; Jim Higginbotham, assistant professor of pastoral care and counseling at ESR; and Dan Ulrich, professor of New Testament studies at Bethany. This event is the second of its kind to be held in conjunction with a Presidential Forum.

Continuing education units are available for both events. Those attending the Pre-Forum Gathering can earn 0.5 units, while forum attendees can earn up to 0.6 units. Participants must attend all sessions on a given day to receive credit.

The 2012 forum is the fourth in a series begun in 2008. “The Presidential Forums were inaugurated to develop substantive topics that thoughtfully and prophetically address issues of faith and ethics and that enable the seminary to provide visionary, educational leadership for the church and society,” states Johansen. In Fall 2010, Bethany received a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to endow the Presidential Forums.

Forum and pre-forum activities will include worship services and a concert by the band Mutual Kumquat. The forum also will feature the artwork of ESR graduate Melanie Weidner, whose painting “Between Us” is serving as the feature piece of the forum.

The Pre-Forum Gathering will begin with dinner and fellowship on Thursday, April 12; the forum will likewise begin with dinner and worship on Friday, April 13. Discounted rates are available for students. For a complete schedule and session descriptions, registration information, and housing options, visit For further questions, contact Registration will be capped at 150 participants.

— Jenny Williams is director of communications and alumni/ae relations at Bethany Seminary. The artwork titled “Between Us” is reproduced by permission, © 2005 by Melanie Weidner .

9) Renovaré Essentials Conference offered by Atlantic Northeast District.

Richard Foster, founder of Renovaré and author of “Celebration of Discipline,” along with Chris Webb, new president of Renovaré and an Anglican Priest from Wales, will be the featured leaders at a Renovaré Essentials Conference on April 21, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., at Leffler Chapel at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.

Sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Northeast District, the conference is a day of spiritual growth for participants to develop a balanced vision for personal and corporate spiritual renewal.

An added feature of this conference will be classes for children on the spiritual disciplines, held at nearby Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren, with a new curriculum written by Jean Moyer.

Resources on developing the spiritual life will be offered in an onsite bookstore. The District Spiritual Renewal Team who is organizing the conference has a sheet of information available to help congregations prepare for the conference and suggested resources for follow up. A prayer team also is at work for the conference.

Cost by March 1 is $40, after which registration increases to $50. Children through grade 6 may register for $5. Continuing education units (.65 CEU) will be available for an additional $10 fee. A registration form is available both on the Atlantic Northeast District website at or by e-mailing David Young, chair of the steering committee, at . A cordial welcome is extended to all.

— David S. Young, with his wife Joan, is founder of the Springs of Living Water initiative for church renewal, which is active in several Church of the Brethren districts.

10) Clergy Tax Seminar will review tax law, 2011 changes.

Photo by Brethren Academy

A tax seminar for clergy will be held on Feb. 20 through a collaboration of Bethany Seminary’s Office of Electronic Communication, the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, and the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry. Seminary students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend the seminar either in person at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or online.

The sessions will cover tax law for clergy, changes for 2011 (the most current tax year), and detailed assistance on how to file the various forms and schedules that pertain to clergy (including housing allowances, self-employment, etc.).

Greatly appreciated by Bethany Seminary students, this seminar is being opened up to clergy and others across the denomination for the first time. It is recommended for all pastors and other church leaders who wish to understand clergy taxes.

Leading the seminar is Deborah L. Oskin, EA, NTPI Fellow, and an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. She has been doing clergy tax returns since 1989 when her husband became pastor of a small Church of the Brethren congregation. She has learned the problems and pitfalls associated with the IRS identification of clergy as “hybrid employees” both from personal and professional experience as an H&R Block agent. During 12 years with the company (2000-2011) she achieved the highest level of expertise certification as a master tax adviser, a teaching certification as a certified advanced instructor, and the status of enrolled agent with the IRS. She is serving Living Peace Church of the Brethren in Columbus, Ohio, as peace minister to the wider community. She also was Southern Ohio District’s board chair from 2007-2011, and works closely with several interfaith peace organizations in central Ohio.

The schedule for Feb. 20: morning session 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (eastern), lunch on your own, afternoon session 2-4 p.m. (eastern). Registration is $15 per person (nonrefundable to keep fees and overhead low). Registration for current students of Bethany Seminary, Training in Ministry (TRIM), Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM), and Earlham School of Religion is fully subsidized and free to the student. Those who register to attend online will receive instructions about how to gain access to the seminar a few days prior to the event. Registrations are not complete until payment is received. Register at .


11) What makes for peace? A nomination for the Okinawa Peace Prize.

Photo by JoAnn Sims
Hiromu Morishita welcoming guests at the Barbara Reynolds monument unveiling at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima in June 2011.

Since 1895 the world recognizes individuals through the Nobel Prize for achievements in various fields such as economics, physics, literature, or medicine. The Nobel Peace Prize is the best known and perhaps the most revered prize as it recognizes a peacemaker in a world that is often in conflict. Nobel’s will described the recipient of the peace prize as “a person who shall have done the most or best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” The world waits each year to hear who will receive the next award.

There is another peace prize award. It is not as well known and has a history only since 2001. It is the Okinawa Peace Prize. It is awarded every two years. The prize is issued from Okinawa as the only prefecture in Japan during World War II where a severe ground battle engulfed all residents and claimed over 200,000 lives. Okinawa has a deep appreciation of the preciousness of life and the importance of peace. Okinawa sees itself as a bridge and a Crossroad of Peace in the Asia-Pacific region, and is involved in the building and maintenance of peace with the rest of the world.

The Okinawa Peace Prize recognizes efforts of individuals and organizations contributing to the promotion of peace in the Asia-Pacific region geographically and historically related to Okinawa. There are three foundations for eligibility: 1) Promote peace and nonviolence in the Asia-Pacific region. 2) Help achieve human security, promote human rights, solutions to poverty, hunger, disease, and activities that contribute to enriching society. 3) Cultivate cultural diversity and mutual respect and make efforts to create foundations for peace in different regions around the world.

As volunteer directors of the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan, we nominated Hiromu Morishita for the Okinawa Peace Prize. He is an amazing individual. His story begins in 1945 when he survived the A-bomb in Hiroshima. He was severely burned. He became a high school home room and calligraphy teacher. Stunned that his students didn’t know about the A-bomb and the realities of war, he decided he needed to tell his story in hopes that such a horror would never be repeated.

He joined a peace mission sponsored by Barbara Reynolds, founder of the World Friendship Center. That experience helped shape his lifetime of peacemaking. One of his contributions to peace is as a peace ambassador, visiting 30 countries with his message of peace and sharing his A-bomb survival story.

He is the founder of peace education in Japan, developing curriculum and organizing A-bomb teacher survivor associations. He directly influenced over 10,000 students and indirectly over 6 million students since 1970 when peace education began in Japan.

Hiromu Morishita is a poet and master calligrapher. On his peace ambassador trips he shares his story through poetry and by teaching or demonstrating calligraphy. His poetry and calligraphy are displayed on significant monuments in Hiroshima and its Peace Memorial Park. Over one million visitors view his work each year.

Morishita has been chairperson of the World Friendship Center for 26 years. Under his guidance the center has sent multiple peace ambassador teams to Germany, Poland, the US, and Korea to tell the story of Hiroshima and its work for Peace. The center operates a guesthouse and has shared the story of Hibakusha (survivors of the A-bomb), the hope of Hiroshima for a world without nuclear weapons, and the story of Barbara Reynolds to over 80,000 visitors. The World Friendship Center is celebrating its 47th year of operation. Hiromu Morishita has guided its direction and accomplishments, with the most recent example his overseeing the design and unveiling of a monument dedicated to Barbara Reynolds, jointly erected by the City of Hiroshima and the World Friendship Center.

Mr. Morishita is a worthy nominee for the Okinawa Peace Prize. He represents for each of us a living model of peacemaking. We are hopeful he will be selected.

— JoAnn and Larry Sims are co-directors of the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan, working through Brethren Volunteer Service. Go to for a reflection on how they were called to Hiroshima. Also on the page is a video of receiving origami peace cranes from a congregation in the US, set to the music of Brethren folksinger Mike Stern. They write: “Part of the peace activities we do at World Friendship Center is to register the paper cranes we receive and take photos of the process.”

12) Brethren bits: Personnel, jobs, nursing scholarships, Nigeria, and much more.

Service Sunday on Feb. 5 is an opportunity for Church of the Brethren congregations to celebrate those who offer service in the name of Jesus Christ in our communities and around the world, and to explore and call people to new opportunities to serve through church ministries. The annual commemoration on the first Sunday of February is sponsored jointly by Brethren Disaster Ministries, Brethren Volunteer Service, the Brethren Service Center, and the Workcamp Ministry. This year’s theme, “Using Our Lives for Faith-Filled Service,” comes from 1 John 3:18. Find worship resources online at .

— Deborah Brehm begins Jan. 31 as part-time program assistant in Church of the Brethren Human Resources in Elgin, Ill. She is a previous intern with the office from 2008-10. Most recently she has been a new business processor for Protective Life Insurance Co. She also has been a commercial loan secretary and administrative assistant at Harris Bank in Roselle, Ill. In volunteer commitments she is a committee chairperson for Christian Youth Theater and has been on the board and faculty of Heritage Homeschool Workshops. She earned a degree in human resource management from Judson University in 2010. She and her family live in Huntley, Ill.

— Steve Bickler has shifted responsibilities at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and is now working half-time in Brethren Press and half-time as support for Buildings and Grounds. Bickler has worked for the Church of the Brethren for 33 years.

— The Church of the Brethren seeks a fulltime director for Intercultural Ministries to fill a position based at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. This position is part of a team of leaders in Congregational Life Ministries and will be integral in developing intercultural ministries throughout the denomination. Responsibilities include strengthening the intercultural competence of the church at all levels; relating to, advocating for, and integrating gifts, experiences, and needs of nondominant cultural groups within the church; assisting congregations toward greater diversity; resourcing church planting efforts; calling and working effectively with advisory groups; participating in development of financial strategies to support intercultural ministries; and pro-actively articulating the vision for and reinforcing commitment to a church that is multicultural. The preferred candidate will demonstrate Christian character, commitment to the values and practices of the Church of the Brethren, a disciplined spiritual life, biblical rootedness, flexibility to work collaboratively in a variety of contexts, intercultural competence, experience in leading new initiatives, and ability to follow an idea through from conception to implementation. The preferred candidate will have expertise in group dynamics and facilitation, teaching, public speaking, strategic planning, and project development. Communication skills and strong interpersonal competency are required, bilingual Spanish and English preferred. The selected candidate will work as part of a team, utilize a variety of computer and digital technologies, represent the Mission and Ministry Board, attend to self-care and continuing education, efficiently manage a complex workload, participate in regular processes of review and priority-setting, and understand this position as part of a larger vocational commitment. Applications are received immediately and will be reviewed beginning Feb. 13, with interviews commencing in February and continuing until the position is filled. Request the application form and job description, submit a résumé and letter of application, and request three references to send letters of recommendation to: Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 258; .

— Pinecrest Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mount Morris, Ill., seeks a director of Advancement/Marketing with the general purpose to develop, coordinate, and monitor overall fundraising strategy for solicitation, cultivation, and closing of major and planned gifts and manage relationships with donors, congregations, and prospects. The position also oversees capital campaigns, direct mail, and social media appeals, and advancement communications; maintains and expands 50-60 major donor relationships; expands the Century II Club, the planned giving society of Pinecrest Community; is an active leader in the organization as part of the administrative team and works closely with the Board of Directors, Foundation Board, and community volunteers. Requirements include minimum of a bachelor’s degree; preferred five years of fundraising experience with two years supervisory experience and understanding of retirement and long-term care communities. Skills and abilities include coordinating and/or directing a variety of complex tasks and assignments simultaneously; oral and written communication skills; management skills; ability to deliver individual and group presentations; energy and vision to take the advancement function to the next level; ability to motivate self and others with strong relationship skills;  ability to work individually or collaboratively; working knowledge of general business operations in a nonprofit, social service, or similar environment; responsibility for departmental budget; fluency in fundraising software; working knowledge of MS Office. Pinecrest offers a competitive salary and comprehensive benefit package. The position description is posted at . Resumes should be sent electronically to or mailed to Pinecrest Community, Attn: Victoria Marshall, 414 S. Wesley Ave., Mt. Morris, IL 61054.

— Fahrney Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., seeks an administrator. This position is responsible for day-to-day operations of 106 skilled bed and 32 assisted living bed units in accordance with regulations that govern long-term and assisted living facilities. Candidates must hold a current unencumbered nursing facility Administrator’s License for the State of Maryland. For additional information visit . Send resumes or applications to Cassandra Weaver, Vice President of Operations, 301-671-5014, .

— Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa, outdoor ministry center for Northern Plains District, seeks four energetic, hard working, nature-loving people to join the 2012 summer staff. Applicants must be flexible, willing to work as a team, love children, and have a deep desire to share God’s love. Summer staff will live and work at the camp June 1-Aug. 15; serve in all capacities on a rotation of property, kitchen, and programming preparation work during outside rentals; and as full-time counselors during all Church of the Brethren camps. Applicants must be 19 years of age and out of high school with one year of college or equivalent. Some counseling experience and/or work with children is preferred, as well as previous involvement in organized church activities. A formal training weekend or retreat will be required, as well as participation in summer-long team building and Bible study meetings. Compensation is $1,500 to be paid in monthly stipends or directly to an educational institution in the form of a scholarship. Room and board is provided. Application materials include the application form, essay worksheet, and two letters of reference–one character and one professional. Each applicant will be interviewed by current camp staff. Each staff member will go through a complete background check. Deadline is March 1. To apply contact Camp Pine Lake for more information: or 641-939-5334, or or 515-240-0060.

— The deadline to apply for the 2012 Youth Peace Travel Team has been extended until Jan. 31. To learn more about the Youth Peace Travel Team or to apply visit . If you have questions, contact Becky Ullom, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, at or 800-323-8039 ext. 297.

— Nursing scholarships are available from the Church of the Brethren’s Caring Ministries. The program awards a limited number of scholarships each year to individuals enrolled in an LPN, RN, or nursing graduate program who are members of the Church of the Brethren. Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates will be awarded. A preference is given to new applications, and to individuals who are in their second year of an associate’s degree or third year of a baccalaureate program. Scholarship recipients are eligible for only one scholarship per degree. Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted by April 1. Candidates who are awarded scholarships will be notified no later than July, and funds will be sent directly to the appropriate school for the Fall term. To apply, print or download the instructions and application from .

— World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has sent a letter to Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan expressing sadness over the violence in Nigeria, calling on the churches to pray for the victims, and asking the president to support solidarity efforts for peace by both Christians and Muslims. Tveit wrote, “We continue to mourn the loss of life, particularly among those who were killed in brutal attacks this past weekend in Kano and the attacks on and deaths of Christian worshipers celebrating the mass service of Christmas in Abuja only a month ago.” He said that actions of both Christian and Muslim leaders working together in Nigeria will ultimately allow both communities to live in peace. “Nigeria cannot become another battlefield where religion is used to promote division, hatred and allowing for destructive intentions. Christians and Muslims around the world offer their support to our sisters and brothers in Nigeria to enable them to live together in peace.” Read the letter at .

— In more news from Nigeria, Church of the Brethren mission worker Carol Smith reported some encouragement in the midst of more attacks by the Boko Haram Islamist sect. She reports that Brethren leaders are continuing efforts at dialogue and cooperative peacemaking with local Muslim leaders, with a next meeting scheduled for Feb. 6. They also plan to deliver letters of condolence and encouragement to the Emir of Mubi and the leader of the Igbo people living in the area, whose communities suffered attacks by Boko Haram earlier this month. In her e-mail reports, Smith said some of the southern Igbo people who had fled the violence are already beginning to return to the northeast of Nigeria. She also shared some nonviolent initiatives, originally reported by the BBC, including an incident in which Boko Haram soldiers turned in their guns saying they were tired of killing, and places where Christians and Muslims have cooperated to protect each other. Nigerian church leaders continue to ask for prayer.

— Would you like to have constantly updated Church of the Brethren news for your church, district, or even personal website? An RSS feed is now available to add Newsline content to a website, and to update that content automatically. The process is simple, a matter of copying and adding code to the web page where you would like to see Church of the Brethren news appear. Users may also add the feed URL ( ) in a personal news reader to have Church of the Brethren news delivered directly to your computer. More information is at .

— The church’s advocacy and peace witness office asks Brethren to take a survey to help decide a focus for Peace Witness Ministries for 2012. “It is time to consider what issues can the Church of the Brethren best bring its voice to,” said the Action Alert. “Is it issues of creation care, calling for the church and society to live in better relationship with God’s Creation? Is it working to eradicate hunger and poverty–both in our communities and around the world? Is it seeking to reduce military spending, and lessen the impacts and reality of the violence wrought by war in so many places?  Is it engaging the 2012 election process, and making sure issues of justice are highlighted? Now is your chance to weigh in!” Find the Action Alert and a link to the survey at .

— The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will meet in New York for two weeks from Feb. 26-March 9. Church of the Brethren representative to the UN, Doris Abdullah, invites interested Brethren to join her in attending related events such as those hosted by the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, to be held at the Church Center for the UN, the Salvation Army, and other locations around the city at the same time. The theme is:”The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication; Development and current challenges.” “Join me and come to New York with a good pair of walking shoes. Together, we will explore the many discussions and debates around the issue of rural women 2012 across the globe,” Abdullah writes. The discussions and debates both inside and outside of the UN are free. More information is at and .

— “Brethren Life and Thought,” a joint publication of Bethany Theological Seminary and the Brethren Journal Association, has begun an online blog with postings from young adults reflecting on the church in a changing culture and prospects for future leadership. Find the blog at as well as more information about the journal.

— Monitor Community Church of the Brethren in McPherson, Kan., is looking for past and present members and friends of the church to help celebrate its 125th anniversary. “We would like to have any knowledge, addresses, or e-mail addresses of friends and members, and/or pictures of the beginnings of Monitor Church to the present, that you may have or know about,” said the announcement. The church will be celebrating its anniversary Sunday, Oct. 7. Send any information, pictures, or questions to or Monitor Church of the Brethren, P.O. Box 218, McPherson, KS 67460. The planning committee includes Sara Brubaker, Leslie Billhimer Frye, Kay Billhimer, Bill Kostlovy, and Mary Ellen Howell.

— David Shetler, district executive of Southern Ohio District, has shared a prayer request for Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio. Significant damage was done to the church building when a stolen car was driven through the glass entry area and into the sanctuary early on Thursday, Jan. 19. “Your prayers are appreciated,” he wrote. The “Dayton Daily News” reported that, “The vehicle continued to plow into the church sanctuary where it ran into a rear wall, causing possible structural damage, according to police. The driver also spun the car’s tires, ripping up carpet and damaging numerous pews inside the sanctuary.” Television coverage with dramatic views of the damage to the church is at .

— Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center in Keezletown, Va., is holding a Caving Adventure Day on Feb. 12. The half day of caving will take participants underground to see natural subterranean features. The group will gather at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren and travel to a cave in the area, led by Lester Zook of WildGuyde Adventures and EMU’s Outdoor Ministry and Adventure Leadership Department. Cost is $45. For more information contact the camp office at 540-269-2741. Registrations are due Jan. 27.

— The University of La Verne, a Brethren-related school in southern California, has attracted attention in a number of areas recently. An opinion piece by ULV president Devorah Lieberman titled “Diversity benefits higher education” ran in several publications including the “San Gabriel Valley Tribune,” “LA Daily News,” “Long Beach Press,” and others. She wrote, in part, “The US Departments of Justice and Education recently issued new guidelines for the use of race to measure diversity and increased student learning outcomes in colleges and universities. The guidelines make a compelling case for academic, social, and economic benefits to be achieved through a pluralistic, co-education of people from diverse backgrounds.” In other news, associate professor of writing Sean Bernard was awarded $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts in recognition of his fiction (see ); the university received attention for moving its Ventura County campus to a new location; and Lou Obermeyer, a graduate of the Doctoral Program in Organizational Leadership, was named 2011 Superintendent of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators (see ).

— Work on Manchester College’s new $9.1 million Academic Center is progressing through the winter reports a release from the school in N. Manchester, Ind. “We are on target for a June 4 possession of the Academic Center from the contractors,” said Jack Gochenaur, vice president for finance and treasurer. The Academic Center is a renovation and expansion of the former Holl-Kintner Hall of Science.

— The Anna B. Mow Endowed Lecture Series at Bridgewater (Va.) College on Feb. 1 features race car driver and environmental activist Leilani Münter, who will speak on “Never Underestimate a Vegetarian Hippy Chick with a Race Car.” Recognizing that racing is “not an eco-friendly sport,” says a release from the college, Münter has a strategy for minimizing an oversized carbon footprint. Her goals include convincing auto racing executives to develop more fuel-efficient engines and eco-friendly venues. Münter races in the ARCA Series, a development league of NASCAR, and is the fourth woman in history to race in the Indy Pro Series. The event at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall is open to the public at no charge.

— Poet and playwright Amiri Baraka will discuss American politics and culture Feb. 1 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, as part of Bowers Writers House events. Baraka is a recipient of the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, the Langston Hughes Award from the City College of New York, and a lifetime achievement award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He will give two presentations on Feb. 1, at 11 a.m. in Leffler Chapel, and at 8 p.m. in Brinser Lecture Hall, Steinman 114. Admission is free, seating is first-come, first-served. More information is at .

— Brethren, slavery, and Hutterite colonies will be the subject of February talks at Elizabethtown College’s Young Center. Although the Brethren were strong opponents of slave holding, with some even paying to free slaves, a few rare individuals kept slaves. Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center for Pietist and Anabaptist Studies will explore these cases in a presentation titled “The Unchristian Slave Trade: Brethren and Slavery,” at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2, in the Bucher Meetinghouse. At 7 p.m. on Feb. 23, also in the meetinghouse, college graduate Ryan Long will discuss the challenges facing Hutterite colonies during World War I. For more information contact the Young Center at 717-361-1470 or .

— New Zealand ambassador Jim McLay is the first United Nations Visiting Scholar at Juniata College’s Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. The church-related college is in Huntingdon, Pa. McLay is New Zealand’s permanent representative to the UN, and is spending the week of Jan. 22-27 at the college. The UN Visiting Scholar program will bring UN diplomats and envoys to central Pennsylvania in coming years.

— The Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) has announced its latest book: From the pen of longtime BRF leader Harold S. Martin comes “A Study of Basic Bible Teachings.” The 164-page book may be purchased for $12 plus $2 shipping for each book for requests under five copies. Five copies or more receive free shipping. Ten copies or more in one order receive a 10 percent discount and free shipping. According to a release from the BRF, the book “proclaims sound doctrine from a solid evangelical biblical point of view, with understandings in keeping with historic Brethren beliefs.” The 13 chapters address a wide variety of topics including the scriptures, the nature of the Trinity (“God Our Father,” “Jesus Christ Our Savior,” “The Holy Spirit Our Teacher”), sin, salvation, the church, living the Christian life, and more. Request copies at .

— Chris Raschka’s illustrated children’s book “A Ball for Daisy” (Random/Schwartz and Wade Books) was awarded the Caldecott Medal at a recent meeting of the American Library Association. Raschka, who grew up in the Church of the Brethren as son of Hedda Durnbaugh and the late Donald F. Durnbaugh, has illustrated several Brethren Press books including “Benjamin Brody’s Backyard Bag” by Phyllis Vos Wezeman and Colleen Allsburg Wiessner; “R and R: A Story of Two Alphabets,” written and illustrated by Raschka; and “This I Remember” by George Dolnikowski, a memoir by the Russian-born professor emeritus at Juniata College. Raschka was a speaker for the Brethren Press breakfast at the 2007 Annual Conference, where he demonstrated to a fascinated audience his illustration technique for “The Hello, Goodbye Window,” which won the top illustration honor in 2006. His book “Yo! Yes?” also has won a Caldecott Honor. This year he takes the 75th Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children (see ). Brethren Press is carrying “A Ball for Daisy” as well as “Benjamin Brody’s Backyard Bag” and “The Hello, Goodbye Window,” order from or call 800-441-3712.

Contributors to this Newsline include Jan Fischer Bachman, Jordan Blevins, Beth Carpentier, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Leslie Frye, Elizabeth Harvey, Mary Kay Heatwole, Jeff Lennard, Ralph McFadden, Alisha M. Rosas, John Wall, Julia Wheeler, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next issue on Feb. 8. 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"]