Newsline for Aug. 30, 2013

NEWS
1) Church of the Brethren joins with groups warning against military action in Syria.
2) Brethren program receives American Red Cross grant for work following Sandy.

PERSONNEL
3) Shari McCabe to retire, Carol A. Davis to lead Fellowship of Brethren Homes.

UPCOMING EVENTS
4) Youth conference coordinators to hold ‘NYC Hangouts’ in September.
5) Midwest regional youth conference ‘Powerhouse’ held at Camp Mack.
6) Congregational Life Ministries offers webinar on ‘Prayer and Service.’

7) Brethren bits: Personnel notes, job opening, Brethren at the March on Washington, kudos for Gather ’Round and Fahrney-Keedy, church anniversaries, more.


Quote of the week: “It was a day that shaped my life.”
— Manchester University president Jo Young Switzer remembering the March on Washington. On August 28, 1963, she was just beginning her sophomore year in high school. Her reflections on attending the march were published Wednesday by the Fort Wayne (Ind.) “Journal Gazette.” More about Brethren who are in the news for their participation in the march may be found in the “Brethren bits” section of this week’s Newsline.


1) Church of the Brethren joins with groups warning against military action in Syria.

The Church of the Brethren is among some 25 churches, peacemaking groups, humanitarian organizations, and other nonprofits writing to President Obama to express concern about plans for military action in Syria (http://fcnl.org/assets/issues/middle_east/25orgs_Military_Strikes_Not_the_Answer_in_Syria.pdf ). The letter says, in part: “While we unequivocally condemn any use of chemical weapons along with continued indiscriminate killing of civilians and other violations of international humanitarian law, military strikes are not the answer. Rather than bringing an end to the violence that has already cost more than 100,000 lives, they threaten to widen the vicious civil war in Syria.”

An Action Alert from the denomination’s Office of Public Witness also warns that “military strikes are not the answer in Syria” (http://cob.convio.net/site/MessageViewer?em_id=23841.0&dlv_id=29842 ). “While we join American officials in condemning the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons attack on its own citizens, we urge the United States to refrain from retaliating militarily,” the alert says, in part. “Any intervention or attack by the United States will do nothing but escalate the violence that is already unconscionable.”

Both documents follow in full:

Action Alert: Military strikes are not the answer in Syria

Contact the President and your senators and representative. Ask them to oppose military intervention in Syria–and to support increased diplomacy and humanitarian assistance.

In the past couple of days, the war drums have gotten louder here in Washington. Ever since the horrific chemical weapons attack in Syria last week, officials here in Washington have sharpened their language and vowed to punish the Syrian government for this “moral obscenity.”

While we join American officials in condemning the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons attack on its own citizens, we urge the United States to refrain from retaliating militarily. Any intervention or attack by the United States will do nothing but escalate the violence that is already unconscionable.

Instead, we urge the President and Congress to double down the United States’ diplomatic efforts to achieve a negotiated political solution. Military strikes will do nothing but add another destabilizing element to an already volatile situation. On top of this, the United States must increase its humanitarian assistance as almost two million Syrians, of which one million are children, have been forced to flee their country as a result of this conflict.

As the US government itself has recognized, there is no solution to the crisis other than a political one. Instead of pursuing military strikes and arming parties to the conflict, we urge the United States to intensify diplomatic efforts to stop the bloodshed, before Syria is destroyed and the region further destabilized.

These decisions could be made within the next few days, so it is imperative that the President, your representative, and senators hear from you. Make sure your congressmen know that you oppose any and all military intervention and that Congress should hold the President accountable. Also let them know that the US does need to act by encouraging them to support increased diplomacy and increased humanitarian assistance to help stop the killing.

In God’s peace, Bryan Hanger, Advocacy Assistant, Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. For more information about the public witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Nathan Hosler, Coordinator, Office of Public Witness, 337 North Carolina Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003; nhosler@brethren.org ; 717-333-1649.

Find this Action Alert online at http://cob.convio.net/site/MessageViewer?em_id=23841.0&dlv_id=29842 .

August 28, 2013
Dear President Obama,

We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to express our grave concerns with your reported plans to intervene militarily in Syria. While we unequivocally condemn any use of chemical weapons along with continued indiscriminate killing of civilians and other violations of international humanitarian law, military strikes are not the answer. Rather than bringing an end to the violence that has already cost more than 100,000 lives, they threaten to widen the vicious civil war in Syria and undermine prospects to de-escalate the conflict and eventually reach a negotiated settlement.

In the course of more than 2 years of war, much of Syria has been destroyed and nearly 2 million people–half of them children–have been forced to flee to neighboring countries. We thank you for the generous humanitarian assistance the US has provided to support the nearly 1 in 3 Syrians–8 million people–in need of aid. But such assistance is not enough.

As the US government itself has recognized, there is no solution to the crisis other than a political one. Instead of pursuing military strikes and arming parties to the conflict, we urge your administration to intensify diplomatic efforts to stop the bloodshed, before Syria is destroyed and the region further destabilized.

Sincerely,
American Friends Service Committee
Church of the Brethren
Code Pink
CREDO Action
Democrats.com
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Historians Against the War
Institute for Policy Studies
Just Foreign Policy
Oxfam America
Peace Action
Peace Education Fund
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Presbyterian Church, USA
Progressive Democrats of America
RootsAction.org
Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
USAction
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Veterans for Peace
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Women’s Action for New Directions

For the final version of the letter in pdf format go to http://fcnl.org/assets/issues/middle_east/25orgs_Military_Strikes_Not_the_Answer_in_Syria.pdf .

2) Brethren program receives American Red Cross grant for work following Sandy.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has been awarded a grant of up to $280,010 from the American Red Cross to rebuild homes in response to Hurricane Sandy, or Super Storm Sandy as it was called when it hit the East Coast of the United States in 2012. After an initial disbursement of $50,000, the remainder of the grant will be disbursed quarterly based on the Brethren Disaster Ministries financial and project reports.

The grant will give funding for Brethren Disaster Ministries to set up at least two rebuilding sites and repair or rebuild at least 75 homes that were damaged or destroyed by Sandy. The grant will cover volunteer support and housing and transportation, tools, and more.

“Part of what makes this grant so nice is it supports how we work in community with Long Term Recovery Groups,” commented Roy Winter, associate executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.

Brethren Disaster Ministries’ current home rebuilding projects include a project site in Toms River, Ocean County, N.J., among the worst affected regions of the mid-Atlantic coastline. The county saw more than 50,000 homes and 10,000 rental properties damaged or destroyed. Such extreme devastation has severely limited housing availability for displaced renters seeking alternative housing, and Brethren Disaster Ministries is partnering with OCEAN, Inc., a local non-profit, in a project aimed at increasing the supply of safe and affordable rental housing for Sandy survivors.

For more information about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries go to www.brethren.org/bdm .

PERSONNEL

3) Shari McCabe to retire, Carol A. Davis to lead Fellowship of Brethren Homes.

The Executive Committee of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes has named Carol A. Davis to succeed Shari McCabe as executive director of the fellowship.

After five years of service as executive director of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, McCabe has decided to fully retire. A release from the fellowship reports that she looks forward to fewer responsibilities, less travel, more free time, and more time with her family. The fellowship is expressing gratitude to her for her congenial spirit and for her years of dedicated service.

Davis is retired from years of service at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio (1999-2004) and at the Pinecrest Community in Mount Morris, Ill. (2004-2011). After a brief respite following her retirement, she is choosing to serve once again in this leadership position, the release said, adding that she is very familiar with the workings of the fellowship and its extended partnerships with Mennonite Health Services and Friends Services for the Aging. McCabe and Davis will work in tandem for several weeks to assure a smooth transition. Those attending the National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) may meet Davis at one of her first official functions.

Any inquiries about the Fellowship of Brethren Homes may be directed to Carol A. Davis, 2337 Bexley Park Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43209; 419-733-8634; cadceo@yahoo.com . The Fellowship of Brethren Homes Executive Committee includes David Lawrenz, president; John Warner, vice-president; Chris Widman, secretary; and Jeff Shireman, treasurer.

UPCOMING EVENTS

4) Youth conference coordinators to hold ‘NYC Hangouts’ in September.

An itinerary of “NYC Hangouts” is planned by National Youth Conference (NYC) coordinators Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher. The Church of the Brethren NYC 2014 is planned for July 19-24 on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. The event is a week-long “faith formation extravaganza” for youth and adult advisors. Youth who have completed ninth grade through a year of college at the time of NYC are eligible to attend.

The September “NYC Hangouts” are information sessions, complete with pizza, offered at several locations to raise excitement and interest in the conference. Youth and advisors are invited to come meet the NYC coordinators, learn about NYC, ask questions, receive resources such as fundraising ideas and options for transportation, and share pizza and fellowship.

Stops on the itinerary include:

Sept. 3, 7 p.m., Western Pennsylvania District Office, Hollsopple, Pa.

Sept. 5, 7 p.m., First Church of the Brethren, Roaring Spring, Pa.

Sept. 6-8, Mid-Atlantic District Youth Beach Retreat in Lewes, Del.

Sept. 8, 7 p.m., Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren

Sept. 9, 3 p.m., Madison Church of the Brethren, Brightwood, Va.

Sept. 9, 7 p.m., Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren

Sept. 10, 7 p.m. First Church of the Brethren, Roanoke, Va.

Sept. 11, 6 p.m., Happy Corner Church of the Brethren, Clayton, Ohio

Visit the NYC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NYC2014 to RSVP for one of the “NYC Hangouts.” Find a video introducing the Youth Cabinet who is helping to plan NYC at www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdhE8SgGwY8 . For more information about the 2014 National Youth Conference go to www.brethren.org/nyc .

5) Midwest regional youth conference ‘Powerhouse’ held at Camp Mack.

Registration is open for Powerhouse 2013, the Church of the Brethren regional youth conference for the Midwest. The event is organized by Manchester University and this year will be held at a new venue: Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind. The dates are Nov. 16-17.

Registration is available at www.manchester.edu/powerhouse where youth and adult advisors will find a variety of information and forms needed for each participant to register. All forms must be completed for participants to attend. Forms should be downloaded, printed, and mailed to Manchester University when completed; please make enough copies so that each participant has one copy of each form.

Cost this year will be $65 for youth participants and a discounted rate of $60 for advisors. A late fee of $10 applies for registrations received after Nov. 8 (for extenuating circumstances, please contact the organizers). Rates are slightly higher than in previous years due to the camp venue, but the new location brings extra amenities of beds to sleep in, buffet-service meals, and other benefits. Opportunities for tours and other events at Manchester University will be available before and after the conference.

As in previous years, the schedule will be filled with energetic worship, workshops, recreation, music, fun and games, and good fellowship. Bethany Theological Seminary students Tim and Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey will be the keynote leaders for the weekend, on the theme: “On Earth as It Is in Heaven: Stories from the Garden” (Isaiah 61 and other texts).

Youth groups coming from a distance and needing a place to stay in the area Friday night should contact the organizers who will help make arrangements with local congregations or at Manchester University; lodging at Camp Mack also may be available at a cost.

Please be in prayer for this event, and encourage youth and advisors to attend.

— Walt Wiltschek is campus pastor at Manchester University. For more information contact him at 260-982-5243 or wjwiltschek@manchester.edu .

6) Congregational Life Ministries offers webinar on ‘Prayer and Service.’

Author and spiritual director Phileena Heuertz will lead a webinar on “Prayer and Service” sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time).

To attend the webinar go to www.brethren.org/webcasts/prayer-and-service.html . There is no charge to participate. Ministers may receive .1 continuing education credit if they attend the live webinar.

The Church of the Brethren often is recognized for its service ministries around the world. Through programs such as Brethren Volunteer Service, Brethren Disaster Ministries, and Children’s Disaster Services, the church serves neighbors near and far. As a Historic Peace Church, members have embodied a witness for peace around the world. Often, however, in the midst of these acts of witness the life of the spirit may be overlooked.

Heuertz is no stranger to the active and prayerful aspects of ministry in the world. As a practitioner of contemplative prayer, she offers retreats and seminars on the role of prayer in the life of faith. Also, through her work among the poor, her contemplative prayer has grown into significant acts of compassion.

In this webinar, she will explore the intersection of contemplative prayer and ministry in the world. Church leaders, both pastors and lay people, will find her style accessible, challenging, and inspiring. Those interested in the webinar are encouraged to read Heuertz’s book “Pilgrimage of a Soul” and to become familiar with her organization Gravity: A Center for Contemplative Activism, that she formed with her husband Chris.

— Joshua Brockway is director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren. For more information contact him at jbrockway@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 304.

7) Brethren bits.

— Russell Otto Jr. of Plainfield, Ill., has been hired as media support specialist for the Church of the Brethren, beginning Sept. 9. He will work with communications and website staff at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. He is a 2011 graduate of North Central College in Naperville, Ill., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in interactive media studies with an emphasis in convergent media. He was a writer for the college paper and a DJ for the college radio station. In more recent work he has been web editor for the blogsite JustaFootSoldier.com, an online civil rights journal and collaboration with veterans of the American Civil Rights Movement, and also has volunteered as an office assistant for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

— Timbercrest Senior Living Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in North Manchester, Ind., seeks a Director of Development. Experience with fund-raising, donor development, planned giving, and church relations preferred. Send resume to David Lawrenz, Timbercrest, P.O. Box 501, North Manchester, IN 46962; or e-mail dlawrenz@timbercrest.org .

Photo by BHLA collection
The view from the Church of the Brethren group that attended the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, in this photo from the collection of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

— Five members of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren who attended the March on Washington were among the six Elgin, Ill., residents interviewed by the “Courier News” (affiliated with the Chicago “Sun Times”). The group told journalist Mike Danahey about the adventure of making their way to the march and being on the Mall in Washington that August 28, 1963. Those interviewed include Margaret Spivey of Elgin’s Second Baptist Church who at the time was a student in Chicago working on urban renewal; Willard “Duly” Dulabaum, at the time associate pastor at a Church of the Brethren congregation in North Manchester, Ind., who took 44 church members to the march; Jay Gibble, who was on the same bus as Dulabaum; Nancy and Lamar Gibble who traveled by car from Maryland where Lamar was a pastor; and Howard Royer who attended as news director for the Church of the Brethren magazine “Gospel Messenger.” Find the article “Witnesses to History: Elginites Recall Their Trip to Hear MLK’s ‘Dream’ Speech” online at
http://couriernews.suntimes.com/22045441-417/witnesses-to-history-elginites-recall-their-trip-to-hear-mlks-dream-speech.html .

Photo by BHLA collection
A group of pastors carry a Church of the Brethren sign at the 1963 March on Washington: (from left) Edward K. Ziegler, Glenn E. Kinsel, Robert G. Mock, and Philip E. Norris. They are shown in conversation with American Baptist executive Edward Tuller.

— Also in the news for her participation in the March on Washington was Manchester University president Jo Young Switzer. Her memories of the experience 50 years ago, when she was a high school sophomore, were published by the Fort Wayne (Ind.) “Journal Gazette” under the title: “March on Washington ‘day that shaped my life.’” Switzer remembered, “It was a day I will never forget, a day that reignited my hopes for all people to be treated with respect…. It was a day that shaped my life. King’s words ring in my ears to this day.” Read the full text of Young’s reflection at http://journalgazette.net/article/20130828/EDIT05/308289985 .

— The Gather ’Round Facebook page is sharing “some very nice words from some of our Baptist users ordering their fall curriculum: ‘We’ve been teaching for over 30 years and thought we had seen every possible way to tell the Bible story until we came across Gather ’Round. Gather ’Round tells the Bible story in a fresh and exciting new way. Our teachers love it and come away feeling refreshed. We are so happy to have found this curriculum!’” For more about Gather ’Round, a Christian education curriculum published jointly by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, go to www.gatherround.org . Order curriculum from Brethren Press by calling 800-441-3712.

— White Rock Church of the Brethren in Carthage in Floyd County, Va., will hold a 125th anniversary celebration and annual homecoming on Sunday, Oct. 13. Morning worship will begin at 10:30 a.m. with pastor Michael Pugh speaking. A potluck meal follows with the church providing meat, drinks, and tableware. The afternoon service begins at 1:30 p.m. and will feature speakers David Shumate and Emma Jean Woodard. The day will close with a reception at 3 p.m. “Invite your family and friends to join in this special celebration!” said the Virlina District newsletter.

— Shady Grove Church of the Brethren in Bruceton Mills, W.Va., is issuing an invitation to its 100 Year Celebration on Sunday, Sept. 15, starting with worship at 10:30 a.m. A meal will be provided following the celebration service. Pastor Barry Adkins also serves two other churches (Clifton Mills and Hazelton), in a grouping that makes up the Sandy Creek Congregation.
For more information or to RSVP contact 304-379-3800.

— Southern Ohio District is announcing a new church project that has begun meeting at 10 Wilmington Place in Dayton, Ohio, a retirement home where Terrilyn Griffith leads a worship service all but one Sunday of each month. “Attendance has been averaging anywhere from 12-25 folks each week,” said the district newsletter. Support is requested for this church plant including people to provide special music and the donation of copies of Hymnal: A Worship Book. Contact Griffith at momcat31@gmail.com .

— Glendora (Calif.) Church of the Brethren is holding a memorial service for two homeless men who were stabbed to death Aug. 15 at a car wash where both were spending their nights. John “Little John” Welch was a member of the church, and his friend Warren Blagrave was hoping to join as well, according to the “San Gabriel Valley Tribune.” Drew Alan Friis, 28, of Glendora has been arrested and charged with the murders. The Glendora-based organization Nurses For Christ is organizing the memorial service; its members used to provide meals to the two men along with other local homeless people. The service is Saturday, Aug. 31, at 2 p.m. Donations will be received to help pay for the funerals. For more information, contact Nurses For Christ at 626-315-7392. Find the newspaper article at www.sgvtribune.com/general-news/20130828/memorial-planned-for-two-men-killed-in-glendora-stabbing .

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., has received high scores in a state satisfaction survey. According to a release, “Families with loved ones at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village give the facility higher ratings for its quality of care than do families for other nursing homes, a 2013 state survey determined. The annual polling of families affiliated with 222 Maryland nursing homes again has given the Boonsboro facility other top marks as well. On a scale of 1-to-10, with 10 the best possible rating, Fahrney-Keedy residents’ families and caregivers gave the facility an 8.9 on quality of care, while those at other homes gave them ratings averaging 8.3.” The questionnaire sent by the Maryland Health Care Commission to families or other primary responsible parties of residents askd 25 questions about five aspects, using a four-point scale. The community reported, “Fahrney-Keedy’s score in each area and the comparable score given statewide are: Staff and administration, 3.8 to 3.7; care provided to residents, 3.7 to 3.5; food and meals, 3.6 to 3.5; autonomy and resident rights, 3.7 to 3.5 and physical aspects of the nursing home, 3.5 to 3.4.”

— Camp Harmony, Hooversville, Pa., is reporting on its summer programs focused on a theme from Isaiah 43:18-19, “The Lord says, ‘Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert and rivers in the dry land.’” In a report of summer statistics, the camp logged 437 registered campers, an increase from 418 in 2012; welcomed 203 campers from other groups and 1,500 people from rental groups; and provided 115 scholarships to campers. The camp also thanked 47 families and congregations for becoming “attached to Camp Harmony by giving a dollar a week for a total of $4,500.” In addition, the camp undertook a special ministry of providing 160 free meals and snacks to children for 2 days a week for 6 weeks at the Boswell Housing Authority through the Tapestry of Health and the Feeding of America program.

— Illinois and Wisconsin District Facebook page shared an invitation from Pleasant Hill Village, a retirement community in Girard, Ill. The community is holding its next Community Night on Sept. 10 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. “They are planning fun games for the kids, cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, food, and even a petting zoo!” said the announcement. For more information go to www.pleasanthillvillage.org or contact Molly Hannon at 217-627-2181.


Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Bryan Hanger, Tim Heishman, John Hollinger, Michael Leiter, Andrew Pankratz, Glen Sargent, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. With this issue, Newsline moves to a new weekly schedule. Look for the next Newsline featuring a review of National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) on Sept. 6. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. Newsline appears every other week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to www.brethren.org/newsline.