Newsline for August 23, 2013

“Your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28b, CEV).

1) God of life, lead us to justice and peace: An interview with leaders of the World Council of Churches.
2) Christian ecumenical organizations call attention to Egypt.
3) Southern Ohio District launches Vital Ministry Journey.
4) The 301st unit of Brethren Volunteer Service begins work.
5) Camp Emmaus auction raises $1,000-plus for camp scholarships.

6) 43rd annual Dunker Church Service planned at Antietam battlefield.
7) Churches plan creative events for Peace Day 2013.
8) World Council of Churches calls members to observe day of prayer for peace.

9) The Time Is Now: An Annual Conference statement from the summer of 1963.

10) Brethren bits: Correction, “I have a dream” commemoration in Chicago, church anniversaries, TRIM graduates, Erik Estrada to be at Living Stone Church, and much more.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
An image of Martin Luther King Jr. that appears in the stained glass window at First Church of the Brethren, Chicago. The church for a time hosted King’s westside Chicago office, and the Civil Rights leader preached from the First Church pulpit.

Quote of the week:
“I have a dream today….”
Martin Luther King Jr. in his Aug. 28, 1963, speech during the March on Washington. Among the many 50th anniversary events planned over the next week in Washington, D.C.:

— 50th Anniversary March on Washington Realize the Dream March and Rally on Saturday, Aug. 24, starting at 8 a.m. at the Lincoln Memorial and proceeding to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

— Global Freedom Festival on Aug. 24 from 2-6 p.m. hosted by the King Center and the National Park Service

– A special service at the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday, Aug. 25, starting at 10:10 a.m. featuring audio excerpts of King’s sermon “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” delivered at the Cathedral in March 1968

— An Interfaith Service at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on Aug. 28 from 9-10:30 a.m. hosted by the King Center and the Coalition for Jobs, Justice, and Freedom (National Council of Negro Women, SCLC, National Urban League, National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, National Action Network, National Council of Churches, Children’s Defense Fund)

— Let Freedom Ring, a commemorative call to action and closing ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. led by President Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter ( )

— A Let Freedom Ring Commemoration Bell Ringing in Washington, across the nation, and around the world at 3 p.m. on Aug. 28, (to take part, register your bell ringing at )

A helpful listing of many of these 50th anniversary events is on the United Church of Christ website at .

1) God of life, lead us to justice and peace: An interview with leaders of the World Council of Churches.

World Council of Churches staff Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary, and Natasha Klukach, program executive for church and ecumenical relations, were hosted by the Church of the Brethren for three days in mid-August. Tveit gave the message at Neighborhood Church of the Brethren in Montgomery, Ill., on Sunday, Aug. 11, and the two WCC staff visited the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Aug. 12-13.

Their visit came as the WCC prepares for its 2013 assembly, a worldwide gathering of Christians that takes place every seven years. Member communions send delegates, and the WCC also extends invitations to non-participating communions and the interfaith community. Because the experience reaches well beyond the 350 member communions of the WCC and their 550 million members, and includes a large delegation of Catholics, the assemblies are considered the most significant times when Christians get together. This 10th Assembly of the WCC will be held in Busan, Republic of Korea (South Korea), on Oct. 30-Nov. 8.

During their time at the General Offices, the WCC leaders met with Brethren communicators including news director Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, associate director for donor communications Mandy Garcia, and “Messenger” editor Randy Miller. General secretary Stan Noffsinger also sat in on the conversation.

Here is an excerpt:

Question: WCC assemblies are times and places when the Spirit may move in new directions. Do you anticipate a new direction in this coming assembly?

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
World Council of Churches leaders Olav Fykse Tveit (left) and Natasha Klukach (second from right) pose for a picture with Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger (second from left) and office manager Nancy Miner (right).

Olav Fykse Tveit: As we prepare it together with our member churches, we are praying, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.” If God answers that prayer through this assembly, we will see more clearly how God is leading us to contribute to justice and peace in the world and how we can do more of that together.

This assembly will touch all of us, both as we listen to one another’s struggle for justice and peace, but also as we listen to one another’s contribution. Something that can come out of this assembly is that it is not only for some churches or some activists or some offices of the church to deal with these issues of justice and peace. It is really to be a Christian to be involved in how we together pray for justice and peace, and to be led to justice and peace. I believe this will be an assembly where we find this is not one track among many others, but really a blood stream that goes through the whole ecumenical fellowship.

Q: The Church of the Brethren has a strong interest in just peace. What do you see happening with that philosophy in the wider church? Do you see other Christians picking it up?

Tveit: I hope that being a peace church is something that many churches would like to identify themselves as. And that we not only have peace as a historical definition of some churches, but also as a program for many churches.

Just peace as a theme, as a vision has been developed particularly well in this period leading up to this assembly, both in the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation which we had in Jamaica in 2011 where your church supported it significantly and was significantly present, but also in a commitment to make this something at the heart of being a church. The decision by the WCC Central Committee to have the theme for the assembly, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace,” also reflects about how our programs after this can be given a common vision through this perspective.

All of this shows that there is a momentum that goes beyond just some churches discussing this. I attended a two-day consultation in June in Berlin, where the representatives from different churches in Germany wanted to discuss how this is both a concept that is already giving a direction, but also a concept that still needs to be discussed. The discussion is not over, about what does it mean. But it continues to be an agenda and a vision that we want to develop.

In this Ecumenical Call to a Just Peace, which was developed and approved by the WCC Central Committee, we talk about just peace from four dimensions: one is peace in the communities, peace with nature, peace in the market places–economic justice as an issue, and peace between the nations. This four-dimensional understanding of just peace brings together the legacy of the council over many years but also leads us into very important, hopefully new programs and new projects we can do together.

Some churches have raised a critical voice to just peace. In some parts of the world, it is seen as a way of describing the American geopolitical interests. Particularly in Indonesia, some church leaders have told me that we have to be aware of this. And in Asia in general this is [seen as] a formula for the pax Americana.

For that reason it’s also important to discuss what we really mean. Is this a way to replace the discussion about just war? A discussion has been going on since the medieval ages in the church about under which conditions can Christians be a soldier. We cannot say that from now on nobody should discuss just war, because that is not up to us to decide. But we can try to say that it is much more important to have a discussion about how we as churches contribute to just peace, than how we contribute to the discussion of when is it acceptable to support a nation going into war.

There are some questions related to this just war issue that really belong to the just peace agenda. For example, you have a discussion about drones, which is actually a discussion about are there weapons that we definitely have to condemn in another way than others? We have had some of this discussion related to nuclear weapons. Even from a just war perspective, nuclear weapons were condemned because it’s impossible to say that there is a reasonable objective for the use of these weapons. Using these weapons can only mean destroying something, you can’t restore anything.

I feel that we need to be open to change these discussions to avoid either a just war or a just peace discussion. We need to move forward with the most important issues and how we contribute to a peace that is really a just peace, and not just a peace that covers up injustices.

Q: During the Vietnam War era, our Brethren focus was positional advocacy against war. We’re continuing that voice but out of an understanding of the gospel message to be reconcilers of people with God and people with each other. Does that show in our behavior and our presence?

Tveit: That’s why I was eager to come here, to learn more and to see where you are now according to this legacy, but also where are you heading? And what are your challenges in following this call? Part of my ministry is to have open and real conversations with our member churches, not only about what we want to be but what we are. And how to develop our visions out of the reality in which we are.

As far as I know the Church of the Brethren, you have contributed always by raising this perspective. It doesn’t mean that everybody listens to you, but it is important that somebody has a consistent voice saying that we shouldn’t go to war, we should solve our problems in another way. I think that has had an influence.

Natasha Klukach: Your use of the word reconciliation is very significant because I think that is entering public discourse more and more, particularly in North America. I could name some different areas: work with Native Americans and First Nations peoples in Canada, racial issues in the United States, issues of economic disparity. I see these as places where the Church of the Brethren through its strengths, through its history, through its consistent work in understanding of peace, can be part of a reconciling methodology.

I think of the number of places around the world which now have truth and reconciliation commissions for different purposes. Canada has one, of course South Africa, and other places. This is an area where there’s more than just the peace agenda, because it’s about how we talk to each other, how we hear experience, how we empathetically enter into another reality and thus change the relationship. It’s not just about understanding conflict but changing and forging a new future together. I think the Brethren are particularly well poised to be leaders in that, and the need is very significant and very urgent.

Tveit: That’s part of my challenge to the Church of the Brethren: how can you use your experience and your commitment in this new situation where it’s not just about discussing whether America should go to war or not, but much more diversified questions about how to contribute to peace.

— This interview was edited for use in Newsline by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. The October issue of “Messenger” magazine will feature a fuller version of the conversation (subscribe at , annual subscriptions are $17.50 individual or $14.50 church club or gift, or $1.25 per month for students). For more about the 10th Assembly of the WCC go to . For Tveit’s sermon at Neighborhood Church of the Brethren on Sunday, Aug. 11, go to . For the WCC release about Tveit’s trip to the US see . For a video clip of a conversation between the two general secretaries, Tveit and Noffsinger, find a link at . Thanks to Brethren Benefit Trust and Brian Solem for the help in producing this video.

2) Christian ecumenical organizations call attention to Egypt.

The World Council of Churches, Christian Churches Together in the USA, and the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have issued statements in the last few days calling attention to the crisis of political unrest and violence in Egypt.

A WCC release highlights statements by general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, who said in part, “Protection of all human life and sacred sites is a common responsibility of both Christians and Muslims.” CCT’s pastoral letter, signed by the presidents of its five faith “families” including Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden as president of the historic Protestant family, said in part, “As followers of the Prince of Peace, we mourn from afar the loss of lives and pray that peace be restored.” The statement by church leaders in Jerusalem said in part, “We strongly condemn these acts of vandalism carried out by some extremists, and call upon all parties to stop violence and killing and to work towards national unity, without which Egypt will risk a civil war.” The three documents follow in full:

Christian Churches Together in the USA:
“A Pastoral Letter to All Christians and People of Good Will”

Grace and peace be to you, in the name of our Lord and Savior!

We write to you as leaders of Christian Churches Together in the USA. During the last three weeks of political unrest in Egypt, we have witnessed with great concern the escalation of violence. Hundreds of lives have been lost because of this violence. As followers of the Prince of Peace, we mourn from afar the lost of lives and pray that peace be restored.

In a more particular way, we are concerned for the ways in which this violence has affected the very lives of Christians in Egypt. Different news sources have reported how Christians have been the object of targeted violence because of their faith. These same sources have also reported how in many instances people of other faiths (particularly Islam) have risked their own lives to protect their Christian neighbors. We give thanks to God for those who have risked their lives to offer protection. We lament the violence against our brothers and sisters in Egypt.

We raise to our God the following prayer from the Coptic tradition:

“Make us all worthy, O our Master, to partake, of your holies unto the purification of our souls, our bodies and our spirits. That we may become one body and one spirit, and may have a share and an inheritance with all the saints who have pleased you since the beginning. Remember, O Lord, the peace of your one, only, holy, catholic and apostolic church.”

We make an appeal to the U.S. government and other world political powers to actively seek, together with the people of Egypt, a prompt solution to this political crisis. But even more, we appeal to all Christians and people of good will to unite in prayer for the safety of followers of Christ and for peace in Egypt.

Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy!

Respectfully yours,
Rev. Stephen Thurston, Moderator, President of the Historic Black Family, National Baptist Convention, USA
Bishop Denis Madden, President of the Catholic Family, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, President of the Orthodox Family, Armenian Orthodox Church America
Rev. Gary Walter, President of the Evangelical/Pentecostal Family, Evangelical Covenant Church
Ms. Wendy McFadden, President of the Historic Protestant Family, Church of the Brethren
Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Executive Director of CCT
A release from the World Council of Churches:
“Supporting interfaith calls for peace in Egypt”

The World Council of Churches (WCC) Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed support for the interfaith calls to action for peace and security in Egypt. He encouraged religious leaders to work together to call for protection and to promote the sanctity of human lives and religious places.

Tveit appreciated a recent statement issued by Bayt al-‘a’ila al-misriyya (the Egyptian Family Home) which appealed for the “security measures to protect the churches, the mosques, the national and the religious institutions, as well as the sacred places.”

The Egyptian Family Home, an initiative of the Christian and Muslim leaders in Egypt, created in 2011, collaborates with WCC member churches in Egypt, including the Coptic Orthodox Church.

“Terrorism does not take into account the sanctity of religion,” notes the statement, issued on Aug. 15.

The Egyptian Family Home also encouraged “efforts exerted by the civilians either Muslims or Christians who are defending the churches in this crucial period, setting a sincere example of the Egyptian patriotism against the sectarian divisions and terrorism.”

Echoing the concerns raised in the statement, Tveit emphasized that “the future of Egypt with justice and peace is only possible through the commitment of all Egyptians.”

“Protection of all human life and sacred sites is a common responsibility of both Christians and Muslims. The WCC supports and stands in solidarity with the call for joint action and efforts for reconciliation and security by the religious leaders in Egypt,” he added.

In recent events following the Aug. 14 demonstrations, hundreds of people have been in killed, while several churches and mosques were burnt down in Cairo and around.

Statement from the Egyptian Family Home:

WCC invokes prayers for peace in Egypt (WCC news release of Aug. 15):

Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem:
“Blessed be Egypt my people…” (Isaiah 19:25)

We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, follow with great concern the dreadful situation in Egypt, which suffers from internal divisions, deliberate violence and terroristic acts against innocent people, both Muslims and Christians. Government institutions were attacked, a great number of Egyptian soldiers and policemen have been killed, public property was destroyed, and Christian churches were desecrated. The desecration and burning of churches is an unprecedented scandal and goes against the values of tolerance, lived in Egypt for centuries. We appreciate the fact that many Muslim compatriots have stood by the side of Christians in defending churches and institutions.

We strongly condemn these acts of vandalism carried out by some extremists, and call upon all parties to stop violence and killing and to work towards national unity, without which Egypt will risk a civil war.

We stand with the Egyptian people in their strife against terrorism and militant groups, both locally and internationally. We offer our condolences and sympathy to all victims and casualties and pray for healing of the wounded and afflicted.

We call upon the International Community to stand against violence and terrorism, to help the people of Egypt to overcome this cycle of violence and bloodshed, and to help to get the country back on track.

We pray the One Lord to enlighten the Egyptian leaders to save the values of democracy, dignity and religious freedom.

Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate
Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, The Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Abouna Daniel, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
Msgr. Yoseph Antoine Kelekian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

3) Southern Ohio District launches Vital Ministry Journey.

Photo by Stan Dueck
Vital Ministry Journey launches in Southern Ohio District.

Seventy-five people representing 23 congregations attended Southern Ohio District’s launch event of Vital Ministry Journey (VMJ) on Saturday, Aug. 10. The event was held at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren.

Another district launches its Vital Ministry Journey in late September: Mid Atlantic District’s launch event is scheduled for Sept. 28 at Union Bridge Church of the Brethren in Maryland.

In Southern Ohio District, the Missional Renewal Commission is sponsoring Vital Ministry Journey, a congregational vitality process being offered through the denomination’s Congregational Life Ministries. The commission and district staff have been promoting the Vital Ministry Journey process, including planning and hosting the launch event. Every congregation in the district was invited to send leaders to hear a presentation about Vital Ministry Journey.

The half-day event began with worship followed by a presentation by Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren. Then participants gathered in small groups to experience the Bible study process that is foundational to the VMJ process. The event concluded with a question and answer session so that participants could discuss the process with Dueck and district representatives. The church representatives were encouraged to return to their congregations and share their discoveries about VMJ. The Missional Renewal Commission will follow up with churches to check on their readiness to participate in this congregational vitality process.

Prior to the launch event, on Friday, Aug. 9, Dueck held a training session with resource people who have been called to serve as the district’s VMJ coaches. The coaches will work with congregations that participate in the Vital Ministry process. Dueck will continue ongoing training with the coaches by way of scheduled web events.

Find out more about Vital Ministry Journey at .

— Stan Dueck is director of Transforming Practices, Congregational Life Ministries.

4) The 301st unit of Brethren Volunteer Service begins work.

Photo by BVS
BVS Unit 301: (first row from left) Sarah Ullom-Minnich, Esther Kilian, Julia Schmidt, Lina Herrmann, Nora Boston, Amanda Strott, Deborah Schlenger, Mark Pickens; (second row, from left) Tim Heishman, Shino Furukawa, Luke Baldwin, Charlotte Rutkowski, Whitnee Hidalgo, Sarah Neher, Stephanie Barras, Dylan Ford; (third row, from left) Andrew Kurtz, Mandy Witherspoon, Jess Rinehart, Chris Luzynski, Johann Toelle, Tobias Domke, Jan Fahrenholz, Turner Ritchie.

The volunteers in Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 301 completed their orientation on July 16-Aug. 3 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The members of the unit, home congregations or home towns, and project placements follow:

Luke Baldwin of First Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., is working at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

Stephanie Barras of Indianapolis, Ind., is going to OKC Abrasevic in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Nora Boston of Bonn, Germany, is serving at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C.

Tobias Domke of Castrop-Rauxel, Germany, and Jan Fahrenholz of Westerkappeln, Germany, are going to Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md.

Dylan Ford of Tipton, Ind., and Sarah Ullom-Minnich of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, are serving at Su Casa Catholic Worker in Chicago, Ill.

Shino Furukawa of Mutterstadt, Germany, is serving at Innisfree Village in Crozet, Va.

Tim Heishman of West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City, Ohio, and Sarah Neher of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, are working with the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry serving as two of the three coordinators for the 2014 National Youth Conference, along with Katie Cummings.

Lina Herrmann of Luedenscheid, Germany, is serving at Human Solutions in Portland, Ore.

Whitnee Hidalgo of St. Clair, Mich., will work with Sisters of the Road in Portland, Ore.

Esther Kilian of Koblenz, Germany, is serving at Interfaith Hospitality Network in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Andrew Kurtz of Plymouth (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, will be volunteering with Quaker Cottage in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Chris Luzynski of Roanoke, Va., is going to the Brethren Disaster Ministries office in New Windsor, Md.

Mark Pickens of Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is serving at CrossKeys Village in New Oxford, Pa.

Jess Rinehart of Granger, Ind., will serve in Central America.

Turner Ritchie of Richmond (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, will serve in an interim assignment at the Brethren Service Center in Maryland, and then will go to the Asian Rural Institute in Tochigi-ken, Japan.

Charlotte Rutkowski of Hanover (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, is going to the Family Abuse Center in Waco, Texas.

Deborah Schlenger of Paderborn-Wewe, Germany, is serving at Washington City (D.C.) Church of the Brethren.

Julia Schmidt of Pandora, Ohio, is serving temporarily at the BVS office in Elgin, Ill., with plans to go to RAND in Zagreb, Croatia.

Johann Toelle of Muenster, Germany, is volunteering with Lancaster (Pa.) Area Habitat for Humanity.

Mandy Witherspoon of Columbus, N.C., will work at Gould Farm in Monterey, Mass.

For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to .

5) Camp Emmaus auction raises $1,000-plus for camp scholarships.

Bidding on artwork, T-shirts, jewelry, bracelets, and other items, the youth and staff at this year’s senior high camp at Camp Emmaus in Mount Morris, Ill., raised more than $1,000 for camper scholarships.

An auction has become an annual tradition at the camp, starting about seven years ago. Proceeds each year go to aid a different charitable cause. Past beneficiaries have included a Honduras workcamp led by Camp Emmaus manager Bill Hare, a camper undergoing cancer treatments, and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund. Campers and counselors donate the sale items.

Items ranged from the traditional, such as Camp Emmaus T-shirts, to the imaginative, such as a soda can holder featuring an image of Hare riding a dinosaur. Campers and counselors created many of the items, including framed photographs, paintings, hand-knit scarves, and a duct-tape wallet. Bidding was spurred on by incentives for reaching various levels: the director being thrown in the pool, a counselor wearing a bright pink shirt for the day, and another counselor’s mustache being colorfully dyed.

Hare said he was impressed by the campers’ generosity, which will provide scholarships to attend camp for children and youth who could otherwise not afford to do so.

About three dozen youth attended this year’s senior high camp during the last full week of July, one of six age-group camps offered by Emmaus this past summer. The camp also holds family camps over Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, a women’s camp, and other events. It is one of 29 Church of the Brethren-affiliated camps located across the US. For more information go to .

— Walt Wiltschek is campus minister at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.

6) 43rd annual Dunker Church Service planned at Antietam battlefield.

Photo by Joel Brumbaugh-Cayford

The 43rd annual worship service in the restored Dunker Church at the Antietam National Battlefield, a Civil War battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., will be held on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. The service will be similar to an 1862 Dunker worship service, with Gene Hagenberger preaching on “Words Around Antietam.” Scripture texts will be James 1:19 and 26, and 3:1-12.

The service is sponsored by the Churches of the Brethren in Maryland and West Virginia, and is open to the public. Leadership includes Tom Fralin of Brownsville, Md.; Eddie Edmonds of Moler Avenue (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren; Ed Poling of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren; the Back Row Singers, also from Hagerstown Church of the Brethren; and Gene Hagenberger, district executive minister for Mid-Atlantic District.

For more information about the Dunker Church Service contact Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135, Tom Fralin at 301-432-2653, or Ed Poling at 301-733-3565.

Excerpts from the historical notes that will be provided in the bulletin for the service:

Today’s preacher Gene Hagenberger, executive minister, Mid-Atlantic District Church of the Brethren…wants to say a special thank you to Antietam Park Ranger Alan Schmidt for sharing time and information with him as he prepared for this service.

The Dunker Church, which stood in the midst of one of the bloodiest battles of our national history, was the place of worship for a group of people who believed that love and service, in place of war, was Christ’s message. After the battle they helped minister to both armies, using the church as an improvised hospital.

The Dunker movement began in the early 18th century in Germany with people seeking religious freedom. The treaty that closed the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) established three state churches. Those who did not accept the beliefs and practices of these churches were persecuted. One such group of people gathered in the village of Schwarzenau.

After much study and prayer, they came to the conclusion that repentance and baptism of believers was necessary. Eight of them were baptized in the Eder River by trine immersion. This method of baptism gave rise to the name Dunker–one who dips or dunks. Sometimes known as New Baptists, more commonly known as German Baptist Brethren, the official name became Church of the Brethren in 1908.

About 1740 the Brethren began to settle along the Conococheague and Antietam Creek of Maryland. At first holding worship services in homes, the members were organized into a congregation known as the Conococheague or Antietam in 1751. The Mumma Church–the battlefield church–was built in 1853 on a lot donated by Brother Samuel Mumma. Baptismal services were held in nearby Antietam Creek and the building was made available to other Christian denominations for funeral services.

Elder David Long and Daniel Wolfe conducted the Sunday, Sept. 14, 1862 church service, just before the Sept. 17, 1862, Battle of Antietam. The church building was extensively damaged by artillery shells, yet stood through one of the most severe battles of the Civil War. Funds raised under the direction of Elder D. P. Sayler were used to make repairs. Services were resumed in the building in the summer of 1864 and continued until a wind and hail storm demolished it in May 1921.

Today’s service is the 43rd commemorative service held since the church was rebuilt in 1961-62 through combined efforts of the Washington County Historical Society, the State of Maryland, and the National Park Service. The Churches of the Brethren of West Virginia and Maryland extend special thanks to participating area ministers and members of cooperating Churches of the Brethren present today. 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.

“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” (quote generally attributed to E. Russell Hicks, deceased, a member of Hagerstown Church of the Brethren.)

7) Churches plan creative events for Peace Day 2013.



Sept. 21 is international Peace Day, and On Earth Peace and the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness are teaming up to invite congregations to plan Peace Day events on this year’s theme “Who Will You Make Peace With?”

“Jesus calls us and gives us what we need to make peace with friends, enemies, family members, within our congregations, and in the world around us,” said an invitation. “Who will you make peace with this September?”

Here are some creative examples of what congregations around the globe are planning:

— Pastor Ray Hileman of Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren says, “We are planning a witness walk from our meeting place to a nearby park and back to raise funds for On Earth Peace’s 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign on Saturday the 21st.

— Linda K Williams of First Church of the Brethren, San Diego, Calif., reported that the church will have a Peace Fair with multicultural entertainment, tabling by local groups, and children’s activities, followed by an interfaith vigil where religious leaders and participants from a number of faith groups will participate.

— South Central Indiana District holds its district conference on Sept. 21 at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind. The theme “Take Your Mat and Walk” (Mark 2:9), fits right in with plans for participants to walk a few steps for peace over the lunch hour, as part of the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign. “We will have the course ready and you can walk the number of feet you choose so that collectively we will have a District Conference total of at least 5280 feet (1 mile),” said the district newsletter announcement. “Come, add your prayers, your steps, your passion for a world at peace!”

— First Mennonite Church in Urbana, Ill., is planning to have a Salsa Party in cooperation with the mosque down the street–the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center. “People from our church and the mosque share tending a common garden and will use produce from the garden to make salsa together,” the church reports.

— West Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren is planning to go to a nearby river and have a feetwashing ceremony.

— Lifelines Compassionate Global Initiatives, affiliated with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and led by an EYN church leader, is planning an opportunity for Christians and Muslims to fast, sing, and pray together or individually at home beginning on Sept. 19. Plans are yet to be finalized, but the hope is for three days of fasting and prayer to precede an interfaith gathering and visits by Peace Advocates to local churches and mosques to talk about peace. The Peace Advocates have benefited from interfaith peace skill training in preparation for the event, says the organizer.

— Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren is participating in a Unity in the Community International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sunday, Sept. 22. The interfaith gathering is 5-8 p.m. hosted by the Dar Alnoor Islamic Community Center, and will include a community potluck meal. Unity in the Community was established in 1995 through the efforts of Church of the Brethren members Illana Naylor Barrett and Fred Swartz, along with members of various faith congregations within the Manassas area, said the announcement. The purpose of the group is to combat racism, anti-semitism, and other forms of discrimination in the community.

— Centralia (Wash.) First United Methodist Church is planning a 3,000 Miles for Peace Fun-Run as well as a commemoration for the Decade for Nonviolence to Children at nearby Centralia College.

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren holds itt 23rd annual 5K Run/Walk for Peace on Sept. 21, starting at 10 a.m., with a Kids’ Fun Run starting at 11:15. A family mini-fest will include food, face painting, a bounce house, and other children’s activities. Proceeds will benefit 3,000 Miles for Peace. Find out more at .

Other congregations are invited to do something similar to these plans, or come up with something unique to express peace in the community. “Whatever your congregation decides to do, be sure to sign up at ,” say the Peace Day organizers. Find a full list and interactive map of participating congregations at .

— Bryan Hanger, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the denomination’s Office of Public Witness, and Matt Guynn of the On Earth Peace staff, contributed to this report.

8) World Council of Churches calls members to observe day of prayer for peace.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling its member churches to observe the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21.

This year parishes and individuals are invited to pray using the theme of the WCC Assembly, “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace.” The assembly takes place in Busan, Republic of Korea, Oct. 30-Nov. 8.

The International Day of Prayer for Peace is commemorated by the WCC in conjunction with the United Nations-sponsored International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.

“There’s fresh news each day of injustice, violence, and suffering, and the WCC assembly theme itself is a prayer for peace,” said Jonathan Frerichs, WCC program executive for peace-building and disarmament.

“It’s an active prayer–a witness to faith, a cry of hope, and a pledge to be disciples for peace together. May God hear us from International Peace Day to the assembly and far beyond.”

Churches are invited to pray for peace and to also share their prayers via Facebook or Twitter (#peaceday).

The peace prayer day began during the ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence. The idea was born in a meeting between the WCC general secretary and the UN secretary general in 2004.

Find the website of the WCC 10th Assembly at . More information on the International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDPP) is at . (This release was provided by the World Council of Churches.)

9) The Time Is Now: An Annual Conference statement from the summer of 1963.

Photo by Gospel Messenger
An ad in the “Gospel Messenger” from late summer 1963 asks for special donations to help fund the mandates of an Annual Conference statement titled “THE TIME IS NOW…to heal our racial brokenness.” The ad lists developments in implementing the statement including communications to churches from the moderator and an Emergency Committee on Race Relations, the employment of a director of Race Relations, work by Brethren staff in Mississippi for a biracial commission and in Washington to promote Civil Rights legislation, and plans for Brethren to participate in the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.

The following statement was adopted by the 1963 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, which met in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., that June. The statement is reprinted here as published in the “Gospel Messenger” magazine of July 20, 1963, pp. 11 and 13:

The time is now…to heal our racial brokenness

The deepening crises in race relations all across the land confront the Christian church with its sharpest challenges to integrity and discipleship in this century. A revolution in relations between the races is upon us. We can neither stop it nor delay it. We can only hope to help guide it by active participation in it as concerned and courageous Christians.

The time is now to understand that racial reconciliation is built only on the foundation of racial justice, that justice delayed is justice denied.

The time is now to heal every broken race relationship and every segregated institution in our society–every church, every public accommodation, every place of employment, every neighborhood, and every school. Our goal must be nothing less than an integrated church in an integrated community.

The time is now to practice as well as to preach Christian nonviolence. In this revolution let us not only support and uphold the courageous Negro and white leaders of nonviolence, but let us take our share of initiative, leadership, and risk in helping guide the revolution over the precipitous trail of nonviolence.

The time is now to recognize Negro disappointment and even outright rejection of white Christians, their churches, and their faith. Few white Christians have suffered with their oppressed Negro brothers in efforts to obtain racial justice.

The time is now for us to confess to God our sins of delay, omission, and obstruction for racial justice within and outside the church. Our witness has been weak, despite the courageous witness of a few of our number. Our witness has not matched our basic belief that every child of God is a brother to every other.

The time is now for action, “even costly action that may jeopardize the organizational goals and institutional structures of the church, and may disrupt any fellowship that is less than fully obedient to the Lord of the church. In such a time the church of Jesus Christ is called upon to put aside every lesser engagement.”

The call of Christ is for commitment and courage in such a time as this. This call comes to every one of us, every congregation among us, and every community in which we live. We can dodge neither the revolution nor the call of Christ. Let us respond in works as eloquent as our words, in practices as profound as our prayers, in action as heroic as our gospel.

Trusting in the Lord of the church for his continuing truth and power which strengthen us for every good work, we propose the following first steps to implement this declaration of concern:

1. That this Annual Conference engage in an act of confession, repentance, and dedication regarding racial brotherhood and nonviolence;

2. That the officers of this Conference establish a continuous prayer vigil seeking God’s guidance in our concerns for racial brotherhood and nonviolence during the remaining hours of the Conference;

3. That the moderator of Annual Conference send a pastoral letter to each congregation emphasizing the moral issue in the racial situation and lifting up the concerns of this paper;

4. That the General Brotherhood Board take whatever urgent steps and risks it deems necessary and wise in order to move the church forward and to involve it more deliberately in the movement for immediate racial justice, brotherhood, and freedom, including such activities as participation in appropriate Christian forms of reconciliation, negotiation, demonstration, and nonviolent direct action; and that the board appropriate the necessary funds to implement this program;

5. That each of the agencies and institutions related to the Church of the Brethren–Annual Conference Central Committee, the General Brotherhood Board, regions, districts, congregations, Bethany Seminary, colleges, hospital, and homes for the aged–immediately and thoroughly examine its policies and practices and take any necessary steps at once, both to eliminate any forms of racial discrimination and to adopt aggressive policies for racial justice and integration;

6. That we emphasize with the strongest possible urgency the use of the method of nonviolence rather than violence in achieving racial justice in our country and that we call upon the major organizations leading the movement for racial justice to launch a nationwide educational effort as quickly as possible to counsel all Americans regarding the importance, philosophy, and method of nonviolence.

7. That each local church is called upon to affirm by specific council action the already established Annual Conference policy that membership within the Church of the Brethren will be accorded without regard to racial background or national origin.

The time is now for every member of the church to be used of God to heal the brokenness in all peoples and races whom God hath made of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth.

10) Brethren bits.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The Program and Arrangements Committee has spent several days this week beginning the planning for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 2014. A highlight of the meeting was the option to Skype with a member who could not be at the church’s General Offices in person this week.

— Correction: There is new information to add to Newsline’s coverage of the Fifth Brethren World Assembly held in July at the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio. The center is issuing an invitation to help out with the task of preserving and sharing the rich Brethren heritage by donating significant items, or by becoming a “Heritage Friend.” For details go to or contact the Brethren Heritage Center at 937-833-5222.

— On Sunday, Aug. 18, First Church of the Brethren in Chicago held an “I Have a Dream” Anniversary Commemoration Service. The church for a time housed the westside Chicago office of Martin Luther King Jr., who preached from the First Church pulpit. “As our nation prepares to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, join us one and all as we look at ‘I Have A Dream’ for us today. What is the Dream now?” asked the invitation to the service. Pastor LaDonna Sanders Nkosi led the service and a community choir sang “Revelation 19.” More information is at the Facebook event page .

— Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va., has begun worshiping in a new sanctuary, as the congregation anticipates its 145th anniversary on Oct. 13, reports Shenandoah District.

— Olean Church of the Brethren in Giles County, Va., celebrates its 100th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 8, according to the Virlina District newsletter. Olean was a mission point of the Oakvale congregation, the newsletter reported, and was originally planted by Brethren evangelists Levi Garst and C.D. Hylton beginning in 1913.

— Church World Service celebrates the good work of disaster relief kits and blankets shared with a Kentucky County struggling with multiple disasters, see . These supplies were warehoused and shipped from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., through the work of the church’s Material Resources program.

— New in the “Hidden Gems” series from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, a review of “The Challenge of Military Camp Life for the Church of the Brethren During World War I” by intern Andrew Pankratz. The article reveals the suffering of conscientious objectors during the war when “camp life for the several hundred Brethren who refused combatant and noncombatant service proved to be a challenging ordeal,” Pankratz writes. “Often the ordeal began when the young Brethren would refuse to wear a military uniform or do any military work. For many of these Brethren wearing the uniform or doing any work on base meant supporting the war effort and the killing of a fellow man. By refusing to wear uniforms or perform military camp duties, the Brethren underwent harsh treatment.” Go to .

— Training in Ministry (TRIM) graduates were honored at the 2013 Bethany Theological Seminary Annual Conference Luncheon: Rhonda Dorn (Northern Indiana District), Mary Etta Reinhart (Atlantic Northeast), Diane Mason (Northern Plains), Marilyn Koehler (Northern Plains), and Traci Rabenstein (Southern Pennsylvania). TRIM is a program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. For more go to .

— The final group of pastors in the Sustaining Pastoral Exellence-Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership completed their two-year training on June 21: Mike Martin, David Hendricks, Martin Hutchison, Roland Johnson, Mary Fleming, Robin Wentworth Meyer, and Marty Doss. “This completes the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative funded by Lilly Endowment Inc.,” reports the academy newsletter. The Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar will begin in early 2014, funded by Wieand grants from the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Seminary.

— The “Daily Gazette” of Schenectady, N.Y., has featured the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries in Schoharie in a feature article titled “Flood Recovery Groups Welcome Family Back into Their Schoharie Home.” The article posted on Aug. 16 at celebrates the new home built for the Coons family by SALT and Brethren volunteers.

— Green Tree Church of the Brethren in Oaks, Pa., is offering an interactive workshop on “Brethren Peacemaking: Yesterday and Today” on Sept. 14 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Session One on  “Our Roots: History of Church of the Brethren Peacemaking” will be followed by a potluck dinner. Session Two on “Bringing Peacemaking into Our Communities” is from 7-8:30 p.m. The event is free. Leadership is provided by Rick Polhamus of Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren in Ohio and one of On Earth Peace’s retreat and leadership training leaders. Contact to RSVP. More information is at .

— July 14 was a day of celebration for Locust Grove Church of the Brethren, according to West Marva District newsletter. “A baptismal service was held at the Dominion Power Plant Recreation Center. Twenty people pledged to serve and love our Lord through the sacrament of baptism and commitment. Locust Grove then received 21 new members.” A picnic and afternoon of fellowship followed.

— Also in West Marva District, Living Stone Church of the Brethren will host an event featuring Erik Estrada of “CHiPs” fame, on Sept. 9. The church will show the movie “Finding Faith” featuring Estrada, who has gone on to become a child advocate, portraying a sheriff who works with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The film tells the story of Holly Austin Smith, who was abducted by a child predator, to help educate parents and children about Internet safety. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the movie beginning at 6 p.m. The district newsletter reports that following the film there will be an opportunity to meet and talk to Estrada.

— The Northern Plains District Conference recognized milestones for several ordained ministers: Lois Grove–5 years, Laura Leighton-Harris–5 years, Jeannine Leonard–5 years, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich–15 years, Diana Lovett–15 years, Mary Jane Button-Harrison–20 years, Nelda Rhoades Clarke–35 years.

— Final accounting is complete for the 2013 Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction: $211,699.46. The district newsletter reported that “our 21-year total is now $3,692,379.60. Thanks to everyone who made this year’s event such a success. Disaster response is one of our district’s strongest ministries, and the proceeds from the auction support that outreach.”

— Shenandoah District’s Disaster Ministries Auction Coordinating Committee “Family Fun Day” is Aug. 24, at 502 Sandy Ridge Rd., Waynesboro, Va. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. “Come for games, food, and a pie-baking contest. Music groups will be performing from 12:30-4:30 p.m.,” said an invitation. There is a $10 fee for the two-mile run/walk and corn hole tournament. See .

— Brethren Woods’ 18th Annual Golf Blast and Elzie Morris Memorial Tournament and Fundraiser is Saturday, Sept. 7, at Lakeview Golf Course east of Harrisonburg, Va. A putting contest starts at 7:30 a.m., and the shotgun start is at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $70 per person which includes green fees, cart, prizes, and lunch. Go to .

— The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center is “calling all (apple) bakers” to compete in its inaugural Great Apple Bake-Off on Sept. 7, during CrossRoads’ Harvest Day Festival. “Ribbons will be awarded to the top three entries in each category–pies, cakes, bread/pastry. Bakers will submit two items for each entry–one will be judged, the other sold at the baked goods booth. The winning baked goods will be auctioned at noon,” said an announcement in the Shenandoah District newsletter. The center is located in Harrisonburg, Va.

— The website of the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va.–historic home of Civil War-era Brethren elder and peace martyr John Kline–has posted a Civil War Sesquicentennial essay “150 Years Ago: The Shenandoah Valley and the Civil War” by Steve Longenecker of Bridgewater (Va.) College. Go to .

— The Global Women’s Project will hold its next semi-annual meeting in September in North Manchester, Ind. The group will worship with Manchester Church of the Brethren and Eel River Community Church of the Brethren and will meet with Growing Grounds, a partner project in Wabash, Ind., that supports women in the criminal justice system.

— “Brethren Voices” producer Ed Groff reports that the October edition will be the 100th for this Brethren community television show, a project of Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. In September “Brethren Voices” features Jan and Doug Eller speaking about “A Brethren Visit to Cuba” with host Brent Carlson. The Ellers, who attend Portland Peace Church, recently visited Cuba with the organization Road Scholar, which provides educational tours in all 50 states and to 150 countries. Groff notes that “under US law, educational and cultural tours are permitted  during the embargo of Cuba, which has been ongoing for many years. The people of Cuba refer to it as a blockade, which restricts the shipment of goods from the United States…. Doug Eller states that a nine-day-visit does not make a person an authority, however their visit provides a good look at what is happening in Cuba, today.” October’s 100th edition of “Brethren Voices” features John Jones and Camp Myrtlewood, a Church of the Brethren outdoor ministry center in southern Oregon. Jones shares information about a Sept. 2002 stream restoration project conducted to restore fish habitat for migrating salmon and steelhead trout on Myrtle Creek, and shares his thoughts about the changes that have occurred to restore fish habitat over the years. For a copy of “Brethren Voices” contact .

—  New Community Project is turning 10. Described by founder David Radcliff as “a Christian nonprofit organization with Brethren affinities,” the project was founded in August 2003, and over the past decade has sponsored dozens of Learning Tours involving some 500 Church of the Brethren members to places as diverse as South Sudan, the Arctic, the Ecuadorian Amazon, Burma, and Nepal, Radcliff reports. The project also has sent over $600,000 to its partners in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America to support girls’ education, women’s development, and forest preservation, and has established a Sustainable Living Homestead in Harrisonburg, Va. More than 1,000 New Community Project presentations have been given in schools, colleges, congregations, and community groups. The New Community Project now includes a network of some 10,000 people across the US and internationally. To celebrate the occasion, the project’s booth at Annual Conference gave away over 250 t-shirts along with other items. Plans for year 11 include, according to Radcliff, another round of Learning Tours, a new “If We Build It…” campaign to construct a school in South Sudan, and an apprenticeship program at the Harrisonburg site led by coordinator Tom Benevento. Contact .

— McPherson (Kan.) College on Aug. 20 hosted a Food for Orphans Anti-Hunger Run. A release about the event noted that “even small donations will make a huge difference for some of the 60 million orphans in developing countries suffering from famine, poverty, and conflict.” Shay Maclin, dean of students and assistant professor of education, said the fundraiser was a great way for incoming McPherson students to get an early taste of what the college’s mission–“Scholarship. Participation. Service”–actually means.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Eddie Edmonds, Tom Fralin, Ed Groff, Larry Heisey, Kendra Johnson, Wendy McFadden, David Radcliff, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is planned for Sept. 5.

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"]