Newsline for Feb. 21, 2013



Quote of the week
“In the biblical witness and in our own tradition, reconciliation is the beginning of participation in God’s promises. Sometimes our conflicts distract us, forcing our heads to hang low, and cloud our minds to the possibility of real change. It is when we acknowledge conflict, meet it head-on, and attempt reconciliation with others, that we are invited to see God’s promise and presence at work. So, what conflicts are keeping your eyes cast downward?”

— Dana Cassell, from the meditation for Feb. 21 in “The Practice of Paying Attention,” the Lenten devotional for 2013 from Brethren Press. Find out more at .

“Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are” (Genesis 13:14).

1) Beam and Steele head up Annual Conference ballot for 2013.
2) Ten receive Church of the Brethren nursing scholarships in 2012.
3) Executive Committee of denominational board holds January meeting.
4) ‘Going to the Garden’ grants go to five churches so far.
5) National Youth Cabinet meets, announces theme for NYC 2014.

6) Brethren Academy issues update on spring and summer courses.
7) Upcoming college speakers include Nobel peace laureate, popular religion scholar.

8) Proposals to reduce gun violence: Church representative attends Senate Subcommittee hearing.
9) ‘A trying moment in Nigeria’: An EYN leader tallies deaths and churches lost to violence.

10) Brethren bits: Pope’s resignation, employee notices, jobs, former BVSers remembered, CT Project for CDS, NOAC registration, Brethren-related efforts against gun violence, and more.


1) Beam and Steele head up Annual Conference ballot for 2013.

The Standing Committee of district delegates has released a ballot for the 2013 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren. The Conference takes place June 29-July 3 in Charlotte, N.C. Nominees are listed below, by position:

Moderator-elect: Frances S. Beam of Concord, N.C.; David Steele of Martinsburg, Pa.

Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee: Evelyn Brubaker of Ephrata, Pa.; Shawn Flory Replogle of McPherson, Kan.

Bethany Theological Seminary trustee, representing clergy: Dava Cruise Hensley of Roanoke, Va.; Frank Ramirez of Everett, Pa.

Bethany Theological Seminary trustee, representing laity: Donna Shumate of Sparta, N.C.; David Minnich of Hillsborough, N.C.

On Earth Peace Board: David William Fouts of Maysville, W.Va.; Chris Riley of Luray, Va.

Brethren Benefit Trust Board: Cynthia Elaine Allen of Olmsted Falls, Ohio; Sara Huston Brenneman of Hershey, Pa.

Mission and Ministry Board, from Area  2: Sarah Elizabeth Friedrich of Columbus, Ohio; Dennis John Richard Webb of Aurora, Ill.

Mission and Ministry Board, from Area 3: Torin Eikler of Morgantown, W.Va.; Jonathan Andrew Prater of Harrisonburg, Va.

Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee: Nancy L. Bowman of Fishersville, Va.; Deborah Oskin of Columbus, Ohio.

In other news from the Conference office

— Annual Conference registration for nondelegates and hotel reservations is now open online for the 2013 Conference in Charlotte. Go to for registration links and more about the Conference schedule and events, as well as a detailed Conference Information Packet.

— Conference leaders are highlighting special Sunday events on June 30 as an opportunity for all Church of the Brethren members to focus on spiritual renewal. The day will begin with worship, led by popular author and speaker Philip Yancey, who will preach on grace. Equipping workshops will be offered in the morning and the afternoon on a wide variety of topics, for all Conference-goers. After a lunch break, Mark Yaconelli will preach on prayer for an afternoon worship service. The evening will be spent in a Concert of Prayer including personal and corporate guided prayer leading participants through “seven Rs”: Rejoice, Repent, Resist, Restore, Release, Receive, and Recommit. A full schedule for the Day of Spiritual Renewal is at .

— On the Conference office’s “Things to Do in Charlotte” list are tours of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, directly across the street from the conference center in Charlotte, and bus trips that will be offered to the Billy Graham Library. Conference-goers interested in the first bus trips to the Billy Graham Library should plan to arrive in Charlotte early as these will be offered before the Conference itself starts, on Saturday afternoon June 29. Another bus trip to the library will be offered on Monday morning, July 1, for nondelegates who do not have to attend business sessions. Conference director Chris Douglas recommends both experiences, noting the interactive exhibits at the NASCAR Hall of Fame that she says are interesting and fun even for those not familiar with NASCAR racing; and the beauty of the setting of the Billy Graham Library as well as its interactive video displays about the life and ministry of the well known evangelist and his family. The Billy Graham Library grounds include a museum-like library building built like a dairy barn–highlighting the family background in dairy farming–as well as beautifully landscaped grounds and the Graham family home that has been moved to the site and furnished in period style. For more information about these opportunities go to .

— This year a $150 travel scholarship is offered to congregations west of the Mississippi River to help them send delegates to the Conference. The scholarship program was put in place by a decision of last year’s Conference, and will be carried out through refund payments to congregations after their delegates attend the 2013 Conference in Charlotte. For more information about this scholarship opportunity, contact the Conference office at .

— A change in dates has been announced for the 2016 Annual Conference to take place in Greensboro, N.C. The dates are now June 29-July 3, replacing the previously announced dates of July 2-6. This change will start the new Wednesday through Sunday schedule for upcoming Conferences that was approved last year.

— The Conference officers are asking district, congregations, and church members who are using the denominational Vision Statement to send in a paragraph of information about how the statement is being used in your ministry or setting. The Conference officers want to collect stories and information about how the Vision Statement has been of use across the Church of the Brethren. Send information to .

Go to for more information. A full preview of Annual Conference 2013 and related events will appear in a future issue of Newsline.

2) Ten receive Church of the Brethren nursing scholarships in 2012.

Ten nursing students are recipients of Church of the Brethren Nursing Scholarships for 2012. This scholarship, made possible by the Health Education and Research Endowment, is available to members of the Church of the Brethren enrolled in LPN, RN, or nursing graduate programs.

This year’s recipients and their congregations: Rachel Alderman (Mount Hermon), Genelle Bunte (Common Spirit), Rebecca Clapper (Bedford), Kirsten Eller (Ephrata), Heather Galang (Bridgewater), Lesli Gilbert (McPherson), Marcia McCartney (Plymouth), Rhian Pulliam (Mountain Grove), Kirstie Studebaker (New Carlisle), and Emily Wenger (Lancaster).

Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates are awarded to a limited number of applicants each year.

Information on the scholarships, including an application form and instructions, is available at . Applications and supporting documentation are due by April 1 of each year.

— Randi Rowan is an administrative assistant for Congregational Life Ministries.

3) Executive Committee of denominational board holds January meeting.

The Executive Committee of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board met in Cocoa Beach, Fla., on Jan. 25-26, following meetings of other denominational leaders. Participating in the meeting were elected members Ben Barlow, chair; Becky Ball-Miller, chair-elect; Andy Hamilton; and Brian Messler; and ex officio members Bob Krouse, Annual Conference moderator; Don Fitzkee; Pam Reist; and Stan Noffsinger, general secretary.

A central focus of the meeting was formulating an initial response to the Annual Conference query from Southern Pennsylvania District on “More Equitable Representation on the Mission and Ministry Board.” The Executive Committee is recommending to the full board consideration of continuing to choose board members based on five geographical areas, but allocating more representatives to more populous areas and fewer to less populous areas. The proposal may be ready for action at the 2013 Annual Conference.

The Executive Committee agreed to recommend to the full board six Brethren to serve on the Ecumenism in the 21st Century Study Committee called for by the 2012 Annual Conference. They are: Tim Speicher of Atlantic Northeast District, David Shumate of Virlina District, Wanda Haynes of Pacific Northwest District, Liz Bidgood Enders of Atlantic Northeast District, Jenn Hosler of Mid-Atlantic District, and Larry Ulrich of Illinois and Wisconsin District. The 2012 Conference approved disbanding the Committee on Interchurch Relations (CIR) and authorized the appointment of a study committee to “write a ‘Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century’ that builds on our history and calls us into the future of the church of Christ as part of a community of communions.”

In addition to these two items, the Executive Committee:
— Heard a report from the general secretary and board officers on the Interagency Forum held earlier in the week.
— Learned of discussions between Mission and Ministry Board officers and officers of the Brethren Benefit Trust Board to clarify issues arising from sharing a common building in Elgin, Ill.
— Prepared for a Feb. 4 meeting between the Executive Committees of the Mission and Ministry Board and the Brethren Mennonite Council to clarify misunderstandings that arose from a Brethren Volunteer Service project that was approved and then withdrawn.
— Addressed confidential human resources and risk management issues.
— Provided input for the agenda for the March 8-11 Mission and Ministry Board meeting.

— Don Fitzkee is a member of the Executive Committee of the Mission and Ministry Board.

4) ‘Going to the Garden’ grants go to five churches so far.

Photo by courtesy of La Verne Church of the Brethren
The cover of the Fall 2012 issue of “Gleanings,” a newsletter of La Verne Church of the Brethren’s “Peace and Carrots” Community Garden

Church of the Brethren congregations across the country have begun applying for and receiving “Going to the Garden” grants as part of a new initiative to support congregationally based community gardens. “Going to the Garden” is an initiative of the Peace Witness Ministry and aims to address food insecurity, environmental degradation, and poverty. It is funded by $30,000 designated from the Global Food Crisis Fund.

Most congregations that take part receive $1,000 for community gardening projects on their land or in their neighborhoods, however individual grant amounts may vary depending on each church’s situation.

In addition to receiving a grant, congregations that take part may receive advice and help from consultant Cliff Kindy, a long-time Church of the Brethren farmer and peace advocate from northern Indiana. Nate Hosler, director of the Peace Witness ministry based in Washington, D.C., is heavily involved in the project as well, along with GFCF manager Jeff Boshart.

So far, five congregations have received grants: Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, Champaign (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, Cincinnati (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, and Living Faith Church of the Brethren in Concord, N.C. A grant application from a sixth congregation, Mount Morris (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, is in process.

Here are the plans of a few of these churches:

The Annville Church is starting a new community garden as a project of its Service Ministries Team. Planners anticipate it will be much like the “Plant a Row” program in which participants designate one row of a garden to be donated to a food pantry or soup kitchen. The church is designating some 10,000 square feet of farm land for the garden, owned by and adjacent to the church. If additional land becomes available, the church will add a low-maintenance wildflower garden with benches and meandering paths both for use in contemplation, and to surround the vegetable garden with healthy, local wild flowers and plants and introduce pollinators such as bees and bats to make the garden more successful.

The La Verne Church has had a community garden in place for three years, called the “Peace and Carrots Community Garden.” It is receiving a grant to fund improvements to raise the method of gardening from ground-level beds to permanent raised beds. Individual gardeners who participate will be asked to contribute $50 each toward the cost of the improvements. Every year the garden has helped feed neighbors in need through contributions to the local food bank. In 2010 the garden donated 945.5 pounds of food, in 2011 it donated 1,408 pounds, and in the summer season of 2012 it donated 1,268.5 pounds. La Verne also has sold its garden produce at a Farmer’s Market, held in the courtyard of the church.

The Living Faith Church garden also already is in place, providing “food, fresh vegetables, and the love of Jesus” to neighbors and those in need in the community. Winter cabbage and collard greens grown this past season were given out with Thanksgiving and Christmas boxes, and the church also has been distributing donated food such as turkeys from a local grocer. The group hopes to add a green house to its garden to extend future growing seasons, and is looking at starting a weekly “take what you need” market for those who can come to the site to receive food.

Boshart estimates that about 20 other Church of the Brethren congregations have community gardens or similar projects already established, and hopes that many of them will take advantage of the grant program as well as churches who want to start new projects. The application form is online at . Questions about the application process should be directed to Nate Hosler at 202-481-6943 or 717-333-1649 or .

5) National Youth Cabinet meets, announces theme for NYC 2014.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The National Youth Cabinet began planning for NYC 2014 at a weekend meeting at the church’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., in mid-February.

A theme and theme scripture have been chosen for the National Youth Conference (NYC) to be held July 19-24, 2014, on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. The announcement came out of a meeting of the Church of the Brethren’s National Youth Cabinet this past weekend at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

The NYC theme for 2014 will be “Called by Christ, Blessed for the Journey Together,” inspired by Ephesians 4:1-7. The cabinet also began planning the outlines of the conference including beginning ideas for an overall schedule, service projects, special offerings, leadership, and more. The meeting included times for prayer and meditation each day, and a time of worship on Sunday morning.

The cabinet meeting included the three NYC coordinators and staff member Becky Ullom Naugle, who directs Youth and Young Adult Ministry, along with several high school-age youth and adult advisors from across the denomination:
— NYC coordinator Katie Cummings, of Summit Church of the Brethren in Bridgewater, Va., who is currently in Brethren Volunteer Service as an assistant workcamp coordinator.
Emmett Eldred of Middle Pennsylvania District.
Brittany Fourman of Southern Ohio District.
— Adult advisor Rhonda Pittman Gingrich of Northern Plains District.
— NYC coordinator Tim Heishman, currently attending North Baltimore Mennonite Church during a year of voluntary service there.
— Adult advisor Dennis Lohr of Atlantic Northeast District.
— NYC coordinator Sarah Neher, a senior at McPherson (Kan.) College who plans to graduate in May with a degree in biology education.
Sarandon Smith of Atlantic Northeast District.
— Sarah Ullom-Minnich of Western Plains District.
Kerrick van Asselt of Western Plains District.
Zander Willoughby of Michigan District.

NYC is for youth who have completed ninth grade through one year of college (at the time of the conference) along with their adult advisors who must be at least 22 years old or older. Church youth groups are required to send at least one advisor for every seven youth, and to send a female advisor to accompany female youth and a male advisor to accompany male youth. More about NYC 2014 will be posted at as information becomes available. For questions, contact the Youth and Young Adult Ministry office at 800-323-8039 ext. 385 or .

6) Brethren Academy issues update on spring and summer courses.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, and partners including the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) and other district-based programs, has issued an update on spring and summer courses for 2013.

A few of the courses listed below are not available to the general population (ISU experiences) but are included here as information about the educational experiences the academy and its partners regularly make available to students of ministry.

The Brethren Academy is a joint ministry of Bethany Seminary and the Church of the Brethren. Courses are open to Training in Ministry students, pastors (who earn 2 continuing education units), and all interested participants. Course are held online, or at the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind., or at another location including the SVMC on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.

To register for SVMC classes contact Amy Milligan at 717-361-1450 or or go to .

For other courses, find information and registration at or contact or 800-287-8822 ext. 1824. Enrollment numbers on the date of each registration deadline will determine whether the course will be held.

Upcoming courses:

“Introduction to Pastoral Care,” Feb. 23 and March 9 and 23, from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., a course held at Conemaugh (Pa.( Church of the Brethren, with instructor Horace Derr (SVMC).

“Reflections on the Care of Creation from the Perspective of the Hebrew Bible,” March 18 from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., is a continuing education event with Robert Neff at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College in the Susquehanna Room. Cost is $50, plus $10 for continuing education units. A light lunch and refreshments are included. Register by March 6 (SVMC).

An SVMC course called “Teaching and Learning in the Church” is offered in a number of locations in March and April:
— March 18, April 1, 8, 22, and 29, from 6:30-9:30 p.m., with instructor Audrey Finkbiner, at Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
— March 23, April 6, May 4 from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with instructor Jan King, at Dranesville Church of the Brethren
— March 18, April 1, 8, 22, and 29, from 6:30-9:30 p.m., with instructor Donna Rhodes, at the Middle Pennsylvania District Center
— March 16, April 13 and 27, from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with instructor Gerry Godfrey, at the Southern Pennsylvania District Office

“Dunkers Impacted by the Battle of Gettysburg,” April 6 from 8:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m., is an SVMC educational event led by Stephen L. Longenecker at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pa. The day includes two presentations by Longenecker–one at the Marsh Creek meetinghouse–as well as a presentation by the Lutheran Seminary, a tour of museum exhibits, and optional self guided tours of the Civil War battlefield. Cost is $50 or $20 for children under 12, plus $10 for .4 continuing education units. Registration deadline is March 25 (SVMC).

“Brethren Life and Thought,” April 6 and 20 and May 4, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., is held at the Western Pennsylvania District Office, with instructor Ron Beachley (SVMC).

“Evangelism: Both Now and Not Yet,” April 8-May 31, an online course with instructor Tara Hornbacker, Bethany Seminary professor of Ministry Formation. Registration deadline: March 11.

“Introduction to Pastoral Care,” May 2-5, at two locations: onsite with instructor Anna Lee Hisey Pierson at McPherson (Kan.) College, and via webcast onsite in St. Petersburg, Fla. Registration deadline: April 1.

 “Journey Through the Bible,” a 12-day trip to the Holy Land (Israel and Palestine) beginning June 3, led by Dan Ulrich, Bethany Seminary professor of New Testament Studies, and TRIM coordinator Marilyn Lerch. Starting price is $3,198, including round-trip international airfare from John F. Kennedy airport in New York, hotels, guided sightseeing, entrance fees, breakfast and dinner daily, and more. Students in TRIM and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) may earn course credit for this trip. Ordained ministers may earn 4 continuing education units. The trip is open to all interested travelers. Requirements will include preparatory reading and journaling during the trip. All travelers need to have a passport that extends through the end of 2013.

“Annual Conference Directed Independent Study Unit (ISU)” for TRIM and EFSM students is offered June 28-29 in conjunction with the Ministers’ Association pre-Annual Conference continuing education event in Charlotte, N.C. “Faithful Christian Leadership in the 21st Century” is the topic, led by L. Gregory Jones. The ISU is planned and led by Julie Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy. Requirements include pre-conference reading, a one-hour session before and after the Ministers’ Conference, and attendance at the entire Ministers’ Association event. A follow-up project will be expected. There is no tuition fee for this ISU, however participants must register and pay for the Ministers’ Association event and reserve lodging in Charlotte for the night of June 28. Express interest by contacting Hostetter at .

An Independent Study Unit (ISU) for TRIM and EFSM students is available in conjunction with the Fifth Brethren World Assembly on July 11-14 in the Dayton/Brookville area of Ohio. TRIM students wishing to attend this event and receive credit should work on an ISU with their district TRIM coordinator. EFSM students wanting to use this event as part of their Basic Brethren Beliefs learning unit should contact Hostetter. Continuing education units are available for ordained clergy. Students are responsible for their own registration fee, travel, and expenses during the assembly.

For additional information please contact the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership at or see the website at .

7) Upcoming college speakers include Nobel peace laureate, popular religion scholar.

Church of the Brethren-related colleges are hosting some well-known speakers for upcoming events, including well known religion scholar Diana Butler Bass who will speak at Bridgewater (Va.) College, and Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee who will speak at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.

Bass to speak at Bridgewater: Diana Butler Bass, author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture, will speak on Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall at Bridgewater College. The program is sponsored by the Anna B. Mow Endowed Lecture Series and is free and open to the public.

A Chabraja Fellow with the SeaburyNEXT project at Seabury Western Theological Seminary, Bass regularly consults with religious organizations, leads conferences for religious leaders, and teaches and preaches in a variety of venues. She is a blogger at “The Huffington Post” and Patheos and regularly comments on religion, politics, and culture in the media including “USA Today,” “Time,” “Newsweek,” and other publications as well as television and radio. She is author of eight books, including “Christianity After Religion: The End of Church” and “Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening.” “Publishers Weekly” named her book “Christianity for the Rest of
Us” as one of the best religion books of 2006. From 2002-06 she served as project director of a national Lilly Endowment funded study of mainline Protestant vitality

Also coming up at Bridgewater College is a presentation by kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart. Abducted from her Utah bedroom on June 5, 2002, at the age of 14, Smart was imprisoned and sexually abused by her captors for nine months before being rescued by the police. She will tell her story on Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall. Because of her experience, she has become an advocate for legislative change related to child abduction and recovery programs, and speaks on behalf of kidnapping survivors and child victims of violence and sexual abuse. The program at Bridgewater is sponsored by the W. Harold Row Endowed Lecture
Series and is free and open to the public.

Gbowee speaks at Elizabethtown on April 17: The Ware Lecture on Peacemaking at Elizabethtown College will feature Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace laureate 2011, on April 17 at 7:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be held in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center, sponsored by the Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking. Attendees must reserve tickets by calling 717-361-4757.

Gbowee is the author of “Mighty Be Our Powers,” an account of her experiences during the Liberian civil war. The book details the Gbowee family’s many losses during the conflict including loved ones and childhood dreams, and the unique struggles that brought her to where she is today such as her experience of domestic violence as a young mother. In 2003, Gbowee helped organized the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, an alliance of Christian and Muslim women that rallied together in protest and helped lead the nation back to peace. Gbowee is now founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, head of the Liberia Reconciliation Initiative, co-founder and executive director of Women Peace Security Network Africa, and a founding member of Women in Peacebuilding Network/West African Network for Peacebuilding. She also is the Newsweek-Daily Beast’s African columnist.

The movie “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” was based on Gbowee’s book of the same name, and details the remarkable story. Elizabethtown College also will screen the movie on April 3, at 7 p.m. in Musser Auditorium in the Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. A panel discussion and question and answer session will follow.

Also at Elizabethtown College, the Young Center holds its annual banquet at 6 p.m. on April 11, in the Susquehanna Room of Elizabethtown College’s Myer Hall. Banquet speaker is Donald B. Kraybill, senior fellow at the Young Center, author or editor of numerous journal articles and books, and cultural expert witness at the three-week trial of 16 Amish defendants in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, last fall. Kraybill will speak on “The Whisker War: Why the Beard Cutters Were Charged with Federal Hate Crimes.” The lecture is free and can be attended independently of the banquet. The banquet, open to all who are interested, costs $18 and requires reservations. A reception precedes the banquet at 5:30 p.m. Call 717-361-1470 before the March 28 deadline.

Discussion Day at Manchester University examines human rights: Feb. 27 is the date of a campus-wide examination of human rights at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., called “Discussion Day.” Featured are best-selling author Dave Zirin who will present a keynote lecture on human rights and sports, along with 28 workshops and 5 documentaries.

At 10 a.m. in Cordier Auditorium Zirin, who is sports editor for “The Nation” and one of the “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World” as named by “Utne Reader,” will speak on the topic “Not Just a Game: Human Rights and American Sports” and examine the intersection of power, politics, and organized sports.

More than two dozen concurrent sessions will be led that afternoon by Manchester faculty, students, and community members on topics ranging from mass incarceration, child hunger, lead poisoning, marriage equality, and criminal justice reform, to human trafficking, the Holocaust, academic freedom, health care, and immigration.

In the evening, five films will be screened: “Bitter Seeds” about genetically-modified crops, “Two Spirits” about traditional gender boundaries, “Which Way Home” about immigration issues, “Lives Worth Living” about the disability rights movement, and “Half the Sky” about oppression of women. The public is invited to all events. The full news release with links to events is at .

— This report is taken from college press releases written by Mary Kay Heatwole, Amy J. Mountain, and Jeri S. Kornegay.

8) Proposals to reduce gun violence: Church representative attends Senate Subcommittee hearing.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Bryan Hanger is an advocacy assistant and Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Public Witness

Last week, I represented the Church of the Brethren by attending a hearing held by the US Senate’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. The hearing was entitled “Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence: Protecting Our Communities While Respecting the Second Amendment.” The event was presided over by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and it provided an array of incredibly informative testimony regarding the effectiveness of certain gun laws, the human cost of gun violence, and what lessons from the past we can apply to our present problems.

The Church of the Brethren contributed to this discussion by submitting written testimony to the subcommittee to be part of the formal record (read it at ).

The hearing came to order in a unique manner as chairman Durbin asked for everyone in the audience who had been personally affected by gun violence to stand, and it was revealed that survivors of gun violence and relatives of victims had shown up in great number as over half of the room stood up. Many were parents and relatives of gun violence victims from the President’s hometown of Chicago. Others were survivors and relatives of victims of such infamous episodes of gun violence as Newtown, Virginia Tech, and Luby’s massacre.

The first testimony came from Timothy Heaphy, US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. Using his unique perspective as a United States attorney, he talked at length about the complexity of understanding the gun violence issue. He stated that he and his employer, the Department of Justice, do support an assault weapons ban, but he repeatedly emphasized the need for an all encompassing “360 degree approach,” with specific emphasis on a universal and more comprehensive background check.

He stressed how one of the most deficient aspects of the current background check system is the lack of detailed mental health records available for review. He cited the Virginia Tech massacre as an example of how deficient mental health records can allow someone to pass the background check who should not be able to. Heaphy mentioned that the tragedy at Virginia Tech spurred bipartisan efforts to enact more comprehensive background checks, but lamented the reality that this legislation has not been adequate and the background check process still needs to be drastically improved ( ).

Building on this, Senator Al Franken emphasized how Americans must not stigmatize mental illness, but instead should support legislation such as his proposed Mental Health in Schools Act which would work to diagnose and address signs of mental illness at an early age (find it at ). Expansion of access to mental health care was universally supported by all of the members of the subcommittee, but the gun control measures were not.

Senators, such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), expressed their concern that the measures being put forth would do nothing but infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, while doing nothing to stop violent criminals who would acquire illegal weapons anyway. Senator Cruz argued against the efficacy of gun restrictions by pointing out the low rates of violent crime of many cities in his native Texas, where gun restrictions are few, to the skyrocketing crime rates in cities like Detroit, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., where gun laws are extremely strict. Others, such as Senator Hirono (D-HI), offered rebuttals to these critiques by citing examples where gun restrictions led to a drop in violent crime, such as in her home state of Hawaii.

After Heaphy’s testimony and Senate questioning, other speakers offered their perspectives. The two panelists who spoke most powerfully were Suzanna Hupp and Sandra Wortham. Hupp recounted her heart-wrenching story of surviving Luby’s Massacre in 1991. During the telling of the story, she lamented how gun control laws had failed her that day. She spoke of how she had quit carrying a gun in her purse because of new laws prohibiting this, and as a result she was left defenseless against a killer who murdered her mother and father directly in front of her.

Wortham followed Hupp’s testimony by telling of the day her older brother, a Chicago police officer named Thomas E. Wortham IV, was murdered right in front of her parents’ house. Her account was just as devastating as Hupp’s, but illustrated a much different story. The tragedy of Wortham’s brother showed that even a professionally trained and armed man can fall victim to the horrors of gun violence.

The overarching feeling I left with is that the issue of gun violence is much more complicated than we may like to believe. But that must not discourage us from working to make the world a more peaceful place. Laurence H. Tribe, a Harvard Law professor who also spoke at the hearing, expressed our call to action in this way: “If we do nothing until we can do everything, we will all have the blood of innocent human beings on our hands and will besmirch the Constitution in the process.”

Thus, the Church of the Brethren must remember our tradition and act!

“We believe that the Christian church should be a powerful witness against the use of violence to settle disputes. Faithful disciples of the non-violent ways of Jesus have acted as leaven in the society against the violent trends of every age. Out of devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ we cry out against the violence of our times. We encourage our congregations and agencies to work with other Christians to find dramatic and effective ways to witness to the peace and reconciliation offered through Jesus Christ.” — 1994 Annual Conference Statement on Violence in North America

It was in this spirit of action that the Church of the Brethren submitted a formal testimony to the subcommittee calling for a comprehensive approach to address our nation’s culture of violence. The full statement can be read at . Video of the Senate Subcommittee hearing can be seen at .

— Bryan Hanger is an advocacy assistant for the Church of the Brethren Peace Witness Ministry.

9) ‘A trying moment in Nigeria’: An EYN leader tallies deaths and churches lost to violence.

Photo by Glenn Riegel
Mission and service executive Jay Wittmeyer leads prayer for peace in Nigeria during the recent Annual Conference.

The following tally of deaths, burned churches, and loss of property among members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) provides a stark picture of the suffering of Nigerian Brethren since the extremist Islamist sect Boko Haram began terrorist operations in northern Nigeria around 2009. This is just one church leader’s tally from reports extracted from the EYN media department and the EYN president’s diary. It was provided to the Global Mission and Service office with the caveat that “we may not have the full statistics of the whole destruction caused by the attackers against other denominations and Muslims, but we have tried to keep most records of casualties within the EYN church.” The reports notes that because EYN churches and members are scattered all over the country, the EYN Disaster Relief Committee is working hard to identify communities, congregations, and individuals for proper documentation and assistance–so this listing most probably is incomplete and includes inconsistencies. The church leader added a personal note to Brethren in the US: “We thank you for continued prayers and support, it is keeping us going in such a perilous time.”

About terminology: EYN refers to a local congregation as an LCC, which stands for Local Church Council, and refers to a district as a DCC, which stands for District Church Council. LCB refers to a preaching point called a Local Church Branch. A “compound” is a property on which several different buildings house people who are part of the same family or group.

EYN churches affected by Boko Haram in Borno and Yobe States and Northern Adamawa

DCC Yobe: 10 church members have been killed, 3 LCC were burnt down including LCC Damaturu, LCC Pompomari, LCC Buni Yadi.

DCC Chibok: 10 members including a pastor have been killed, 8 Christian compounds were burnt, 1 motorcycle and a car were burnt.

LCC Kulali was burnt, all Christian compounds were burnt, 2 motorcycles burnt, the pastor’s houses and property were burnt.

DCC Maisandari: Number of people killed in each LCC is as follows:  LCC Bulumkutu 16 people, LCC Dala 17 people, LCC Maduganari 7 people, LCC Tanki 6 people, LCC Polo 7 people, LCC Konduga 8 people. Total 61 people killed. Properties destroyed: beds and cushion chairs, a shop, a shop looted in Tanki, household property burnt in Polo, a church and farm produce burnt in Konduga.

DCC Biu: Number of churches burnt 4: LCC Gamadadi, LCC Tabra, LCC Biu No. 1. One member was killed, while others were hospitalized.

DCC Maiduguri: LCB Gajigana under LCC Maiduguri, together with the pastor’s house, were burnt and all the properties. LCB Kwana Maiwa under LCC Farm Center was burnt. Many shops, a chemist, and houses belonging to Christians were looted, while personal cars of some members were forcefully snatched. Total number of people killed was 32: Ngomari Gona 6, Pompomary 1, Farm Center 8, Jajeri 11, Maiduguri 6.

DCC Kautikari: LCC Blakor was burnt, 2 members were killed, 3 motorcycles belonging to members were burnt, a generator belonging to a member was burnt.

DCC Attagara: LCC Attagara was burnt, 3 members were killed.

DCC Mbulamile, Jan. 10, 2013: The pastor at LCC Sabongari in Damboa was killed. His wife and children were shot and hospitalized. Two other members, a father and a son, were killed. The local church was burnt down.

Total numbers of EYN members killed in Borno and Yobe States and other places 147.
Pastors killed 3.
Total churches burnt 14.
Pastor’s houses burnt 2.
Motorcycles belonging to EYN members destroyed 4.
Houses belonging to EYN members burnt down 8.
Shops and houses looted, many.

Some of the most recent attacks, by date:

On Jan. 12, 2013, the Muslim Jihadists again attacked Kuburvu, a Christian village in Damboa, and burnt many houses and 2 or more people were killed. No proper report (was received) but people were killed.

On Jan. 20, 2013, 2 EYN members were killed in Maiduguri.

On Jan. 31, 2013, shops belonging to Christians in Maiduguri were attacked and 3 people were killed, 1 of them was an EYN member.

On Feb. 1, 2013, LCC Samunaka in Mubi was attacked, the pastor’s office was burnt down. Also, 3 of our members were killed while 1 sustained gun shot wounds.

On Feb. 2, 2013, news was brought that LCC Huwim under DCC Mussa was burnt.

On Feb. 3, 2013, LCC Bita in Gavva West was burnt. The church is between Damboa and Gwoza.

On Feb. 4, 2013, EYN Samunaka in Mubi was attacked, some houses belonging to Christians were burnt, ECWA (a church belonging to another denomination) was burnt, and about 12 persons were killed, 5 of which were EYN members.

Number of people killed in eight District Church Councils (DCC): Chibok, Borno State, 10; Yobe, Yobe State, 10; Maisandari, Borno State, 61; Biu, Borno State, 1; Kautikari, Borno State, 2; Maiduguri, Borno State, 47; Attagara, Borno State, 3; Mbulamel, Borno State, 8; Kaduna, Kaduna State, 1; Mubi, Adamawa State, 4. Total 147

Number of Local Church Councils (LCC) burnt: Attagara, Borno State; Damaturu, Yobe State; Pompomari, Borno State; Boni Yadi, Borno State; Kwaple, Borno State; Konduga, Borno State; Gamadadi, Borno State; Tabra, Borno State; Biu No. 1, Borno State; Badarawa, Kaduna State.

Local Church Branches (LCB) burnt: Bayan Tasha, Blakar, Gajigana, Kwanan Maiwa.

10) Brethren bits.

— The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has brought words of respect and appreciation from the World Council of Churches (WCC), of which the Church of the Brethren is a member denomination. A WCC release reported that WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit made a statement “to respect fully the decision of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to resign. With deep respect I have seen how he has carried the responsibility and burdens of his ministry in his advanced age, in a very demanding time for the church.” Tveit added, “I express my appreciation for his love and commitment to the church and to the ecumenical movement. Let us pray that God bless him in this moment and this phase of his life, and that God will guide and bless the Roman Catholic Church in a very important time of transition.” Benedict first announced his decision in a meeting of cardinals at the Vatican on Feb. 11. His deteriorating health was cited as the reason for him to step down from his post as of the end of February.

— Joel and Linetta Ballew have accepted the position of co-administrators at Camp Swatara, a Church of the Brethren camp in Pennsylvania. The announcement came from Shenandoah District, where Joel Ballew has been pastor at Lebanon Church of the Brethren in Mount Sidney, Va., and Linetta Ballew has been program director at Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center. The couple will make the move to Camp Swatara at the end of May.

— Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center ( ) is a year round Christian camp and retreat center owned and operated by the Shenandoah District of the Church of the Brethren, located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Brethren Woods is seeking a program director to plan and implement a vigorous year-round program including summer camp, retreats, outdoor education, the challenge course, and outdoor adventure. Areas of responsibility include the general operation of camp, program initiatives, publicity and promotion, the recruitment, training, supervision and evaluation of personnel, and maintaining relationships with individuals, congregations, and professional associations. Preference will be given to persons who are supportive of Church of the Brethren values and beliefs, have a college degree, experience in a camping/outdoor education related field, and skill or interest in low and high challenge course management. Candidates should also possess measurable administrative, organizational, relational, and communication skills. Brethren Woods offers a compensation package that includes a salary, health insurance, retirement benefits, professional growth, vacation, holidays, and reimbursement for business-related travel. For more information call the camp office at 540-269-2741 or e-mail . The search process will continue until a person has been employed, with the first deadline for consideration being March 15. Apply by sending a resume and two letters of recommendation to: Douglas Phillips, ADE, Brethren Woods, 4896 Armentrout Path, Keezletown, VA 22832; phone and fax 540-269-2741; .

— The Fellowship of Reconciliation, USA (FOR) is seeking a full-time executive director to fill a position carrying the overall strategic and operational responsibility for FOR’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission. The executive director will have a deep knowledge of the organization’s core programs, operations, and business plans. Interested applicants may check the FOR website for details: . The Fellowship of Reconciliation was founded in 1914 to promote nonviolence as a means of resolving conflict and achieving justice and peace worldwide. Its intentionally interfaith approach to peace and justice make FOR uniquely positioned to address the world’s problems in the 21st century. FOR serves as the US national office for this movement, and works with more than 10,000 members, 100 local groups, and over a dozen national religious peace fellowships. Location is the FOR headquarters in Nyack, N.Y. Qualifications and experience include a minimum of five years as an executive director of a nonprofit organization with experience in administration, staff supervision, board development and support, strategic planning, program evaluation, finance, and fundraising; proven ability to work with people from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic, educational, and religious backgrounds, generations, and sexual orientations in building a highly-motivated and diverse staff team; record of successful fundraising and financial management with nonprofit agencies; record of program experience and program oversight and knowledge of FOR desired. Skills will include excellent oral and written communication skills and computer literacy. The deadline for applications is March 25. Send a cover letter and resume, with three professional references, to Ralph McFadden, Search Consultant, . For more information contact Ralph McFadden on his home/office phone at 847-622-1677.

Photo by
Former BVSer Leon Buschina (left) with his supervisor at Project PLASE in Baltimore

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is remembering two former volunteers who have passed away recently, one who served in BVS during the Vietnam War era and one who completed his service in 2012.
Leon Buschina, a member of BVS Unit 289, which held orientation in summer 2010, was killed by a train in Berlin in mid-December 2012. The BVS office only recently received confirmation of the news from EIRENE, the German program through which Buschina came to BVS. He had served as a BVSer at Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md., through September last year. At the project, Buschina had started an afternoon music and drumming group at his own initiative. “Please hold the Buschina family in your thoughts and prayers,” requested BVS director Dan McFadden. “We are deeply saddened and sorry for Leon’s passing.”
Jeremy Hardin Mott, 66, the first Vietnam War draft resister to receive the maximum prison sentence of five years, was a BVSer 1966-67 when he served for some months at Bethany Brethren Hospital in Chicago. He died Sept. 2, 2012, in Roanoke, Va. Mott grew up participating in Friends (Quaker) meetings in New Jersey and New York and attended Sandy Spring Friends School in Maryland which also shaped his experience. In 1963 he joined the March on Washington, just before attending Harvard University for two years. When drafted in October 1966 he obtained conscientious objector status and joined BVS, serving three months at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md., and four months at Bethany Brethren Hospital. He burned his draft card at the April 15, 1967, Mobilization Against the War in New York, and helped found the Chicago Area Draft Resisters (CADRE). In his individual witness, he resigned from BVS writing: “Both the joy which comes from acting in accordance with one’s conscience and the agony which comes from facing the risks of such action obscure the real agony of the Vietnam situation…By affirming the value of the lives of people and denying the righteousness of murder and slavery we can at least help keep some vestige of brotherhood a reality among men.” His letter to Selective Service stated “ My job, as a pacifist and as a person opposed to this war in Vietnam, is to resist our warring government, including the Selective Service System, rather than to seek special privileges from it.” In December 1967, he was one of the first in the country to go to trial for resisting the draft and was the first to receive the maximum prison sentence of five years, which was reduced on appeal to four. On his release from prison in 1969, he worked for the Midwest Committee for Draft Counseling, the Chicago office of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors. There he wrote and published a regular newsletter about draft law, which was sent to 5,000 counselors nationwide who helped young men consider alternatives to the military. In later years, he worked for Amtrak as a dispatcher, and was active in the New York Yearly Meeting. He is remembered by a leading Quaker publication as “a one-man Quaker information center, a constant reader of the Quaker press with contacts in every corner of the Quaker world, and he often provided unique insights. Before he adopted e-mail, several Quaker periodicals would receive letters-to-the-editor from Jeremy in his novel format: a series of post cards. He would start writing on one post card, then continue on with as many as it took for him to express the complete thought.” Survivors include his wife Judith Franks Mott and daughter Mary Hannah Mott.

— Online registration opens March 1 at 9 a.m. (central) for the National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) on Sept. 2-6 in Lake Junaluska, N.C. Registration also is available by paper form that may be sent in by mail. More information and registration forms are at .

— A new edition of the “Bridge” newsletter for young adults is now online in a new e-pub format. Find the Winter 2013 newsletter on the theme “Soft Voices” at .

— The CT Project, a grassroots initiative to bring Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) to Connecticut, has succeeded in scheduling CDS training workshops in five areas of the state. Facebook posts at announce the following workshops:
a Region 5 workshop on May 3-4 at Friendship Baptist Church in Litchfield, Conn.; a Region 4 workshop on May 31-June 1 at the Groton (Conn.) Senior Center; a Region 2 workshop on Sept. 20-21 hosted by the American Red Cross in New Haven, Conn.; and a Region 1 workshop on March 15-16 in Stratford, Conn. The workshop in Region 3 has already been held, on Jan. 18 in Canton, Conn. Fundraising to make these CDS training workshops possible is happening in part through the sale of CDS “Cause Bracelets” available in adult and child sizes for a $5 donation. The bracelets are available at the Canton Union Savings Bank at 188 Albany Turnpike, see .

— “Responding to Gun Violence” is the theme of the March edition of “Brethren Voices,” a community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. Hosted by Brent Carlson, the show features the Church of the Brethren in response to the continuing tragedies of gun violence in the US. The Church of the Brethren has been collaborating with a coalition of 47 religious groups known as Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. This edition of “Brethren Voices” welcomes five guests commenting on the issue: Pastor Kerby Lauderdale of Portland Peace Church of the Brethren on the tragedies in light of the book of Job; Doug Eller, a life-long hunter, sharing his insight and respect for nature and the hunted; and Brethren Volunteer Service workers Amanda Glover from Virginia and Rebekka Adelberger and Jan Hunsaenger from Germany presenting their thoughts. “According to the volunteers from Germany, life appears much safer without all of the guns,” said a note from producer Ed Groff. To order a copy, contact . Several of the “Brethren Voices” shows also are available on YouTube, where the show now has over 5,500 views since July. Go to .

— A powerful testimony about Brethren-related efforts at peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now online at . “We have to serve God and work in His service as we are human beings created in the image of God,” writes Imaja Itulelo. “Christ died because of our sins. We have to show our love and fellowship and consider the most hopeless people, serving them so that they may praise the Lord and reach their needs. God is our gear; He is protecting and conducting us in what we are doing.” The denomination’s Global Mission and Service office is supporting a peace church community in the Congo, and this testimony comes from a small group from this community that recently traveled to Pygmy camps in Northern Kivu Province.

— Some new photo albums displaying Brethren programs at work around the world are available online, with an index page and links at . New photo albums from Global Mission and Service show off the recent workcamp experience in Nigeria and Jillian Foerster’s teaching work in South Sudan, and photos from the 2012 workcamps also are posted.

— Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren in Glen Arm, Md., holds a Lafiya: Peacemaking seminar on April 27 featuring speakers knowledgeable about Nigeria, Rwanda, and the Congo. “For the past five years, Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren has held fabulous women’s retreats in the spring in our peaceful and historic valley near Prigel’s Creamery and Boordy Vineyards. Normally 50-70 area woman attend,” reports Jean C. Sack, who is working on publicity for the seminar. “In 2013 our focus is African conflict. This year the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers in our area are joining others for a April 27 Saturday peacemaking seminar focusing on two very troubled regions of Africa where women and children suffer the most from conflict. Recent news from the Congo/Rwanda about M23 takeover of Eastern towns and the flight of refugees as well as killings of Christians and polio vaccinators (in Nigeria) concerns the world.” The seminar is open to both women and men, and “mature young people” are encouraged to attend. Speakers are Nathan Hosler, director of the Peace Witness Ministry of the Church of the Brethren and a former peace worker with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), and David Bucura, Central Africa coordinator for the African Great Lakes Initiative and a pastor of the Friends Church in Rwanda. Find out more at or .

— Several Brethren youth groups participated in the “Souper Bowl Sunday” effort against hunger. The Southern Pennsylvania District newsletter notes that “a number of our congregations participate in Souper Bowl Sunday by collecting soup and donating it to local food pantries. Bermudian and West York have a ‘Soup Kettle’ trophy which they pass back and forth depending which church collects the most soup. However, Free Spring has an ‘Annual Souper Bowl Fellowship Meal’ on that Sunday, with the main course being soup. What a unique way to mix our secular and spiritual interests.” In Fort Wayne, Ind., Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren thanked its members for food bank contributions on “Super Food” Sunday Feb. 3, weighing in at 321 pounds of food. “Your help makes a difference in the quality of life for families in the community,” said the church newsletter.

— Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren held an “All Church Prayer Walk” on Sunday, Feb. 10, after morning worship as part of a sermon series on “Praying Circles Around Life!” The event started with an explanation about what a Prayer Walk is, and included a list of possible locations around town where individuals and groups could choose to go walk or drive and pray for the city. Attendees received a Prayer Card based on their choice of route, and prayer prompts for that specific location. Water and a small snack was provided as well.

— “Cultivating for a Great Harvest,” sponsored by the Church Development and Evangelism Team of Shenandoah District, will begin at 8:30 a.m. on March 2 at Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Weyers Cave, Va. The theme is “Revitalization Boot Camp 101,” and leadership will be provided by Fred Bernhard, Jeremy Ashworth, and John Neff.

— Atlantic Southeast District has announced its annual Venture Fun(d) Day, this year to be held on March 9 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. The district’s goal for this year is to raise $10,000. Those funds and more will support the Unify Church in the Miami area, the West Palm Beach Haitian church, a new Youth Ministry person, TRIM participants through scholarship funds, theological education for ministry students in Puerto Rico through the new SEBAH program of the Brethren Academy and Bethany Theological Seminary, and the general program of the Atlantic Southeast District and the Puerto Rico Junta. “We have a huge vision to support and need your help,” said an invitation from Joseph Henry, chair of the Church Development Committee. Contact the district office at 321-276-4958 or .

— Nils Martin, outdoor education and adventure coordinator at Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center in Shenandoah District, is recruiting volunteers to help with Outdoor School this spring according to the district newsletter. Outdoor School brings elementary school groups to the camp near Keezletown, Va., where volunteers staff learning stations. Already 15 groups from kindergarten through fifth grade are scheduled. Volunteer help is needed April 12 and 18 and May 1-3, 7, 9-10, 14-17, and 22-24. Contact 540-269-2741 or .

— McPherson (Kan.) College has held its second annual JumpStart Kansas competition, which awards two grants of $5,000 to Kansas high school students who present the best entrepreneurial ideas in the areas of commercial and social entrepreneurship. The grants come with no stipulation that the students attend McPherson College, said a release. The grand prize winners also are offered a $5,000 annual scholarship to the college. The other eight finalists are offered a $1,000 annual scholarship to McPherson, which is increased to $1,500 annually if they also pursue the Transformative Entrepreneurship Minor. In addition, students can receive $500 for their idea from the college’s micro-grant Horizon Fund if they attend. Kayla Onstott of Kansas City, Kan., won the grand prize in the commercial category for her idea for a Build a Better Bra Boutique where customers would use a computerized system to order a bra to exact specifications. In the social entrepreneurship category, Brandon Mackie of Coffeyville, Kan., won the grand prize for his inspirational game called Highway to Heaven directed toward spiritual discovery within Christianity, healing sadness and depression, and teaching lessons of love.

— A series of John Kline Candlelight Dinners are scheduled for March and April at the historic John Kline homestead in Broadway, Va. The dinners on March 15 and 16 and April 12 and 13 start at 6 p.m. and feature a traditional meal with actors playing the parts of people in 1863 sharing concerns about drought, diphtheria, roaming Confederate scouts, and calling for Kline’s medical services. Cost is $40. Groups are welcome. Seating is limited to 32. Call 540-896-5001.

— March 1 is World Day of Prayer, a worldwide movement of Christian women. Over the decades, many women’s groups in Church of the Brethren congregations across the country have taken part in this annual ecumenical event in their local communities. Each year resources are provided by a different country. The host country for 2013, France, has developed resources on the theme, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” For more about the World Day of Prayer go to . For the 2013 worship resources go to .

— For International Women’s Day on March 8 the Global Women’s Project is providing a collection of worship resources to help pastors and congregations celebrate. Find the resources at . Included are litanies, hymn suggestions, and stories to enrich worship services.

— Belita Mitchell, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and a former Annual Conference moderator, received a “shout out” from the new board president of Heeding God’s Call, a grassroots initiative against gun violence in America’s cities that started at a Philadelphia meeting of the Historic Peace Churches. In her “state of the organization” message, new board president Katie Day noted Mitchell’s service as chair of the Harrisburg chapter of Heeding God’s Call. She also noted recent accomplishments, including Heeding God’s Call participation in a Summit on Gun Violence at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University where “of the 450 participants, Heeding was the only grassroots, as well as faith-based, group represented and was acknowledged from the podium as such.” Day concluded, “As I write this, over 13,957 people have been shot in the US so far this year, 187 today…. We cannot ever forget these children of God. They are why we do what we do.”  More is at .

— Howard Royer, retired from longterm service on the Church of the Brethren staff, and his wife Gene made the news in Elgin, Ill., when they aided a postal carrier in distress. The “Courier News” covered the story under the title, “Police, post office praise elderly couple for helping hurt mail carrier.” The Royers stopped their car to help a woman lying on the sidewalk in severe pain, after she had slipped and fallen on ice. Find the story online at

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Chris Douglas, Anna Emrick, Ed Groff, Nate Hosler, Julie Hostetter, Dan McFadden, Ralph McFadden, Becky Ullom Naugle,  Douglas Phillips, Paul Roth, Donna Rhodes, Jean C. Sack, Callie Surber, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue on March 6.

Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at Newsline appears every other week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to

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