Newsline for March 21, 2013


Quote of the week:
“We cannot cleanse ourselves. However, as we kneel to wash one another’s feet, we extend God’s cleansing grace to one another. In our giving and receiving, God’s cleansing love is made manifest.”
— From the Love Feast service in “For All Who Minister,” a worship manual for the Church of the Brethren (1993, Brethren Press). The Church of the Brethren celebrates Love Feast each Maundy Thursday in remembrance of the last supper that Jesus ate with his disciples. The act of feetwashing is a traditional part of the service. Photo by Phil Grout

“Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (John 13:5a).

1) New Brethren Academy program receives funding from Wieand trust.
2) Estate gift funds new educational opportunities at Bethany Seminary.
3) More Brethren agencies express support for resolution on drones.
4) On Earth Peace board and staff participate in anti-racism training.
5) Brethren Disaster Ministries names advisory group, seeks input to survey.
6) BVS Unit 300 completes orientation.
7) ‘Something must change’: Harrisburg, Pa., pastor reports on efforts against gun violence.

8) Bus trips from several states will help participants get to NOAC.

9) Prayers for peacemakers: Ten year anniversary of war in Iraq.

10) Brethren bits: Remembering James Forbus and Herbert Michael, a music video from Bittersweet, Child Abuse Prevention Month, workcamp in South Sudan, fracking, and more.

1) New Brethren Academy program receives funding from Wieand trust.

Photo by Walt Wiltschek

A gift from the David J. and Mary Elizabeth Wieand Trust is helping to start a new “Sustaining Ministerial Excellence: Advanced Seminar” at the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

“It is a real joy to bring to you something that will undergird the life-long training of our ministers,” said associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury as she requested board approval for use of $150,000 from the total gift received by the Church of the Brethren. The gift is restricted to specific purposes, including to provide books and other educational resources to ministers, support self-help programs, and for Christian work in inner city Chicago.

The Wieand family has provided decades of leadership in ministerial education in the Church of the Brethren, beginning with Albert Cassel (A.C.) Wieand who was a co-founder of Bethany Theological Seminary. He and E.B. Hoff founded the seminary in Chicago in 1905, originally called Bethany Biblical Seminary. David J. Wieand taught at Bethany when the seminary was located in the Chicago area, and headed up an Advanced Pastor’s Seminar that was a continuing education program for Bethany master of divinity graduates after three years in ministry. He also was instrumental in the doctor of ministry program. Also honored by this gift is Katherine Broadwater Wieand, wife of A.C. Wieand.

The new program at the Brethren Academy follows up on the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) program, which will be completed by June 30. SPE was funded through a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Sustaining Ministerial Excellence: Advanced Seminar will be a continuing education program for ordained ministers who pastor a church, do chaplaincy, or serve in another ministry setting. It will broaden opportunities for continuing education for all Church of the Brethren ministers, as its predecessor focused solely on pastors. It is intended to build on the success of SPE, using surveys and reports of the effectiveness and impact of SPE on those who participated.

The new program aims at ministers who have completed 3-5 years of ministry, but will be open to ministers in other phases of their careers. It is expected to launch in January 2014, and to have a program life of five to ten years. Julie M. Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy, will serve as program coordinator.

Bethany Theological Seminary, which also received a gift from the trust, has approved use of a matching $150,000 to support the Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar.

2) Estate gift funds new educational opportunities at Bethany Seminary.

Courtesy of Bethany Theological Seminary

Bethany Theological Seminary announces that two new educational initiatives will be supported by a major gift from the estate of Mary Elizabeth Wertz Wieand. This gift comes through the David J. and Mary Elizabeth Wieand Trust, established by members of a family whose roots go back to the very founding of the seminary.

“This generous gift came right at a time when we were evaluating how we would put some new curricular plans into effect,” said Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president. “We have been working with the family for some time on how we can most effectively utilize this resource in ways that honor the lifelong commitments of the Wieand family. It will be the pivotal financial element we needed to implement two new programs.”

One hundred fifty thousand dollars from the gift will function as endowment support for a new continuing education program entitled Sustaining Ministerial Excellence: Advanced Seminar. Offered through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, the program will provide educational opportunities for ordained Church of the Brethren ministers who are serving in a variety of ministry settings. The Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board is contributing an equal amount to the project from its own Wieand estate gift. Bethany Seminary partners with the Church of the Brethren in offering ministry training programs through the Brethren Academy.

David J. Wieand, husband of Mary Elizabeth and long time faculty member at Bethany, helped establish an Advanced Pastors Seminar in the 1960s. More recently, the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program offered opportunities for personal and professional growth to Brethren pastors and church leaders. The new seminar initiative will incorporate features from both programs, according to Julie M. Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy. Jonathan Wieand, son of David and Mary Elizabeth, agrees that the allocation of Wieand estate resources to this venture is especially appropriate. “I am certain that it would meet with my parents’ approval if they were here to review it.”

The balance of the Wieand gift, in excess of a half million dollars, will be reserved for long-term support of an emerging program in reconciliation studies at Bethany. This new niche in the curriculum will address such topics as the theology and the theory of conflict transformation. It will also include practical study of interpersonal, organizational, and public conflict as well as applications in the congregational setting. Bethany is actively working toward placement of new faculty in this area of study.

David and Mary Elizabeth Wieand, both Bethany graduates, partnered in many educational ventures during their years together. He served in a variety of professorial and administrative roles at Bethany from 1939 to 1980, and she was a school teacher and accomplished musician, performing publicly well into her 90s. Mary Elizabeth survived David by more than 20 years, and this joint testamentary gift came to Bethany upon her death. At David and Mary Elizabeth’s request, the gift also honors Katherine Broadwater Wieand, mother of David and spouse of Bethany co-founder A.C. Wieand.

— Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

3) More Brethren agencies express support for resolution on drones.

Brethren Benefit Trust and On Earth Peace, which are both Annual Conference agencies, have affirmed the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board’s “Resolution against Drone Warfare.” The resolution was adopted at the board’s spring meeting and will be on the Annual Conference agenda in early July. Find the Newsline report and full text of the resolution at .

On Earth Peace affirms ‘Resolution against Drone Warfare’

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Bill Scheurer of On Earth Peace (standing) talks with a small group of board members during the discussion of the Mission and Ministry Board’s Resolution against Drone Warfare.

At its recent board meeting in New Windsor, Md., On Earth Peace affirmed the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board “Resolution against Drone Warfare,” which stated that the use of these remote weapons “to distance the act of killing from the site of violence” is in direct conflict with the peace witness of Jesus.

As an agency of the Church of the Brethren, On Earth Peace is committed to make all its resources available to help the church engage this serious issue. In particular, the On Earth Peace Ministry of Reconciliation is ready to help people from all different points of view seek the will of the Spirit together when this resolution is considered at the upcoming Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., this July.

“Leslie Frye and the Ministry of Reconciliation team understand this may be a challenging conversation among people who bring strongly held views on this question,” says On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer. “Even though On Earth Peace as an organization supports this Mission and Ministry Board resolution, our Ministers of Reconciliation are fully trained and capable to help create safe spaces for people of all viewpoints, concerns, and opinions to share and explore their differences respectfully.”

The Nonviolent Social Change ministry of On Earth Peace also is ready to help any congregations or groups wanting to organize around this issue. Likewise, the Youth and Young Adult ministry is available to any congregation or others requesting special events around this new and developing form of war.

“Our agency has a lot to offer the church as it faces these kinds of new challenges,” says Madalyn Metzger, On Earth Peace board chair. “We want people to be aware of all we can do to help.”

Rooted in Christian faith, On Earth Peace cultivates individuals and communities who advance justice and build a peaceful world.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Nevin Dulabaum, president of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), addresses the Mission and Ministry Board during its spring meeting.

Brethren Benefit Trust expresses support for resolution

As an investment manager for each of the four national Church of the Brethren agencies, as well as for many other Brethren institutions, districts, and congregations, Brethren Benefit Trust has long witnessed the Brethren peace stance through the screening out of defense contractors and weapons manufacturers from Brethren Pension Plan and Brethren Foundation investment portfolios.

BBT’s investment guidelines prohibit investments in the top 25 publicly traded defense contractors or of publicly traded companies that generate 10 percent or more of their revenues from defense or weapons contracts or sales. As a result, BBT does not invest in Northrop Grumman, Boeing, or Lockheed Martin–three companies that are engaged in the manufacturing of drones for warfare.

“BBT supports the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board’s resolution on drone warfare, and we encourage institutional and individual investors to refrain from investing in companies that are on BBT’s top 25 and 10 percent defense contractor and weapons manufacturer lists,” said Nevin Dulabaum, BBT president. “Moreover, the lists are a good starting point for socially responsible investing discussion.

“Typically there are one or more companies included on the lists that seem misplaced, such as FedEx, which is found on our current Top 25 list. ‘What does this company do to make one of the defense lists?’ ‘What does it mean for us to personally or organizationally patronize this company?’ These are but two questions that help begin dialogue for individuals and organizations as they consider what it means to invest, or to not invest, using their values.”

BBT’s updated lists for 2013 are expected to be released after they are approved by the BBT Board in late April.

— This report includes information from On Earth Peace provided by executive director Bill Scheurer, and information from Brethren Benefit Trust provided by president Nevin Dulabaum.

4) On Earth Peace board and staff participate in anti-racism training.

Photo by courtesy of On Earth Peace
The On Earth Peace board of directors held its spring 2013 meeting in New Windsor, Md.

During their spring 2013 meeting, the On Earth Peace board of directors and staff participated in an anti-racism training–the agency’s next step in a commitment to address issues of racism within and outside of the organization.

The training was conducted by Crossroads Antiracism Organization and Training, a nonprofit organization providing organizing, training, and consulting to institutions striving to dismantle racism. The purpose of this initial training was to educate the On Earth Peace board and staff about how racism, power, and privilege has become ingrained within our society and our institutional structures–including the church.

On Earth Peace will now begin analyzing and auditing internal policies and procedures that maintain white power and privilege, and begin creating a strategy to dismantle oppressive systems inside the organization.

The On Earth Peace board also affirmed the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board’s resolution on drone warfare. Other key items of business included revisions to the agency’s staff policy manual and an update on the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign. In addition, the board approved the appointment of David Braune (Westminster, Md.) as the organization’s new treasurer.

During the meeting, the board welcomed new board members Melisa Grandison (Wichita, Kan.) and Jordan Bles (Lexington, Ky.). The group also recognized outgoing treasurer Ed Leiter (New Windsor, Md.) for his service to the organization.

As an agency of the Church of the Brethren, On Earth Peace answers Jesus Christ’s call for peace and justice through its ministries; builds thriving families, congregations, and communities; and provides the skills, support, and spiritual foundation to face violence with active nonviolence. On Earth Peace conducts discussion and decision-making by consensus.

— Madalyn Metzger is chair of the board of directors of On Earth Peace.

5) Brethren Disaster Ministries names advisory group, seeks input to survey.

More than 700 people already have responded to a new online survey about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries. “We want your feedback!” said an announcement of the survey from Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services. Take the survey at .

Volunteers, supporters, and church members are invited to help guide the future direction of these ministries. “Your feedback will help us to determine areas of focus and growth among the different disaster related ministries,” said the announcement. The brief survey includes 11 questions, and responses are confidential. Results will be reviewed by staff and the Brethren Disaster Ministries advisory group.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has named a new advisory group, which began its term of service in January. Members of the group are Joe Detrick of Seven Valleys, Pa.; Kathleen M. Fry-Miller of North Manchester, Ind.; Dale Roth of State College, Pa.; R. Jan Thompson of Bridgewater, Va.; and Larry Wittig also of Bridgewater.

The group will serve in an advisory capacity to Brethren Disaster Ministries staff led by Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries, and Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

For more about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries go to .

6) BVS Unit 300 completes orientation.

Photo by BVS
Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 300: front row from left: Megan Haggerty, Ann Ziegler, Xinia Tobias; back from left: Mason Byers, Simeon Schwab, Sam Glover, Stan White, Richard Tobias.

The 300th unit of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) completed winter orientation from Jan. 27-Feb. 15 in Gotha, Fla. The new volunteers, their home towns or home congregations, and project placements are listed below.

Mason Byers of Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren will serve with Skyridge Church of the Brethren in Kalamazoo, Mich., and Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich.

Sam Glover of Mountain View Fellowship Church of the Brethren in McGaheysville, Va., and Simeon Schwab of Boennigheim, Germany, are volunteering with Abode Services in Fremont, Calif.

Megan Haggerty of Golden, Colo., is serving with the L’Arche Community in Chicago, Ill.

Richard Tobias and Xinia Tobias of Eastwood Church of the Brethren in Akron, Ohio, will be going to Hiroshima, Japan, to serve at the World Friendship Center.

Stan White of Freeport (Ill.) Church of the Brethren is serving at Talbert House in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Ann Ziegler of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, has gone to Emanuel Children’s Home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

For more information about Brethren Volunteer Service go to .

7) ‘Something must change’: Harrisburg, Pa., pastor reports on efforts against gun violence.

Photo by Walt Wiltschek
Belita Mitchell pastors First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and is a leader in the Harrisburg Chapter of Heeding God’s Call.

The Harrisburg (Pa.) Chapter of Heeding God’s Call continues to operate on the premise that “Something Must Change.” Heeding God’s Call is a faith-based movement to prevent gun violence. The organization got its start at a meeting of the Historic Peace Churches in Philadelphia, Pa.

The first Harrisburg Chapter retreat was held on Feb. 11, to review and explore ways to more effectively accomplish our goals in the prevention of illegal handgun violence. We were fortunate to have executive director Bryan Miller present in addition to newly appointed board chair Katie Day, and administrator Susan Windle.

We engaged in a lively discussion about the degree to which we wish to engage in the political aspects of prevention. There was an expressed desire to consider strengthening our connections with organizations such as Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Cease Fire PA while at the same time maintaining our unique faith perspective.

The conversation focused on the difference between “alignment” and “endorsement.” We agreed we wish to advocate in ways that do not give us the appearance of being partisan. The chapter will send recommendations to the National Board requesting the board consider some of these issues and adopt a strategy that can be supported and adapted by all chapters.

The two-pronged focus of Public Witness Prayer Vigils at the sites of murders involving guns  and the Gun Shop Campaign to persuade gun sellers to agree to the Code of Conduct will be expanded. We will develop activities designed to share more broadly the impact of illegal guns in our communities. Methods of accomplishing this goal are still under consideration.

On a sad and tragic note, through March 9, there have been four homicides in Harrisburg involving the use of a gun. We continue to show support to the families and the communities where these senseless acts of violence occur. Through our presence at these Prayer Vigils, we hope to reinforce our resolve to stand together and affirm that “Something Must Change.”

— Belita D. Mitchell pastors First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and is a former Annual Conference moderator. She serves as chair of the Heeding God’s Call Coordinating Committee, Harrisburg Chapter. This report first appeared in the March newsletter from Heeding God’s Call, find it in full at .


8) Bus trips from several states will help participants get to NOAC.

People in several states will have the opportunity to ride a bus to National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) this year. Round-trip bus transportation to NOAC from Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, as well as Western Plains District, has been confirmed. See contact information below.

In other NOAC news, lodging reservations open April 1 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, the site for the September event. NOAC is a conference for those 50 and older, planned for Sept. 2-6 at Lake Junaluska (N.C.) Conference and Retreat Center. The theme is “Healing Springs Forth” from Isaiah 58:14, “Then you will be refreshed in the Lord.”

Reservations for hotels and lodges at Lake Junaluska will be accepted by mail or fax beginning April 1. People who require rooms in Terrace Hotel or Lambuth Inn due to physical limitations or age (75-plus) should mail or fax their reservations between April 1 through 15 to increase the likelihood of obtaining their first or second choice. After April 15, lodging will be assigned by the order in which the requests are received. After April 22, the conference center will accept phone reservations at 800-222-4930 ext. 1. Information about lodging options is at or call the NOAC office at 800-323-8039 ext. 305.

Bus transportation to NOAC is available for people from or living near the following areas:

— Atlantic Northeast District, leaving from Hershey, Pa. Contact Bill Puffenberger at 717-367-7021 or .

— Atlantic Northeast District, leaving from Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa. Contact Bob and Mary Anne Breneman at 717-725-3197 or .

— Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Don and Patti Weirich are coordinating a bus trip to NOAC that will start in Mt. Morris, Ill., with stops along the way in Indiana and Ohio. Contact them at 574-825-9185 or .

— Western Plains District. Contact David Fruth at 620-245-0674 or or Ed and June Switzer at 620-504-6141 or .

More information about NOAC, including registration materials, can be found at . Registrations are accepted online and by mail.

— Kim Ebersole is NOAC coordinator and director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministry for the Church of the Brethren.



9) Prayers for peacemakers: Ten year anniversary of war in Iraq.

Photo by CPT
Peggy Gish serving with Christian Peacemaker Teams

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 20

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out’” (Luke 19:39-40).

Lord, renew among your war-weary people the gifts of lamentation in the face of wrong, sharing in suffering, partnering with all who stand in and for peace and good, and offering oneself to protect from harm anyone branded as “enemy.”

A release from CPT on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War:
‘Ten years of lamentation, partnering, and action.’

Ten years after the US invasion of Iraq, Christian Peacemaker Teams, together with uncounted Iraqi families, laments the carnage that continues to echo from that moment.

Reports sent before, during, and after the invasion brought rare, non-embedded perspectives that helped earn CPT a reputation for reliable, independent reporting, broad partnering, and bold action.

Here are some views of CPT’s peacemaking work at the time of the invasion: War report from team in Baghdad, the first report from the Iraq team after the invasion began, March 20: . The CPT team in Baghdad in March 2003 included Church of the Brethren members Cliff Kindy of Indiana and Peggy Gish of Ohio, working alongside Lisa Martens of Manitoba, Canada; Scott Kerr of Illinois; Betty Scholten of Maryland; Shane Claiborne of Pennsylvania; Martin Edwards of California; and Charlie Litke also from California. Find a list of all releases from the March 2003 team at .

Here are a few selections (dates are all 2003):

Final thoughts. March 19, 7 p.m.: “I mourn for all the people who will soon die. But I delight in the beauty of everything around me, and bask in the fellowship of my precious friends here–both the Iraqis and internationals….”

A letter to the churches in Canada and the United States from the CPT in Baghdad, March 15: “From prayer and fasting find the strength to stop paying for war. From joy in discipleship, hold fast to the evangelistic boldness to invite soldiers and corporate technocrats to abandon their posts…. Live in Easter hope.”

Photo by CPT
Cliff Kindy (second from right) serving with Christian Peacemaker Teams

Spiritual sacrifices and the Iraq war, March 21, from CPT’s Aboriginal Justice Team: “The idea for the CPT shelter was born out of concern over the escalating threat of war in Iraq, over the conspicuous connections between that war and oil, and over the team’s reliance on oil to heat the trailer that housed them.”

Canadian CPTer denied entry to USA, questioned by the FBI, March 14: “…Immigration officers claimed that the CPT newsletters, printed in Chicago…, were ‘anti-American.’”

“Caught,” March 19, CPT delegation member John Barber records his interaction with an Iraqi hotel clerk: “My family is here in Baghdad. My father, my brothers. Do you know I go home each night and I just sit. I only think of one thing: ‘What am I to do? War is coming, What am I to do?’… I look deeply into his eyes. Days, months, years, in this trap. ‘Why this war?’ he asks. I cannot answer. I want to console him, but I cannot. I want to hold him like my child, and tell him it will be all right, but it will not be all right. ‘Thank you and your friends for being here, you have good hearts,’ he says. He puts his hand over his heart–a common gesture here in Iraq. It is a reminder for me. For a moment we stand across from each other, holding our hearts, holding our anguish. We both begin to cry.”

— This feature is taken from Christian Peacemaker Teams releases. CPT, originally begun by the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren, has the mission of building partnerships to transform violence and oppression, and the vision of a world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation. CPT has had a presence in Iraq since Oct. 2002, six months before the beginning of the US led invasion. A CPT team continues to serve in Iraqi Kurdistan. For more information go to . Read the full release from CPT at . Find Prayers for Peacemakers at .

10) Brethren bits.

— James Edward Forbus, interim director of SERRV in the late 1980s, died March 7 at Frederick (Md.) Memorial Hospital. SERRV, a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide, began as a Church of the Brethren program. Forbus was born in Maverick, Texas, on June 15, 1932, to J. Douglass and Ruth M. Forbus. He married Elin B. Forbus on Aug. 22, 1953. He graduated from Baker School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a trombonist with the Austin Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Ezra Rachlin, and also did graduate study in public administration at the University of Southern California. His professional career included directing band for the Lubbock (Texas) Public Schools, and 30 years with the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service in Texas, Louisiana, New York, and Maryland. He retired as IRS Deputy Associate Commissioner for Operations in Maryland in 1986. His service as interim director of the SERRV program based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., followed his retirement. He is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Elin Broyles Forbus, and son David Edward Forbus of Kerrville, Texas. He was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Deborah Lee Forbus. A memorial service will be held at Brook Hill United Methodist Church in Frederick on March 16 at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials are received to a charity of choice or to Brook Hill UMC music ministry. The full obituary from “The Frederick News-Post” is at .

— Northern Plains District has shared a remembrance of Herbert Michael, 96, who died on March 15. He served the Church of the Brethren as a mission worker in Nigeria from 1948-61, alongside his wife Marianne. His work in Nigeria included setting up generators to provide electricity for a mission hospital, wiring a mission station for electricity, operating the maintenance shop for mission vehicles, and setting up a two-way radio communication system. He also is remembered for planting trees for fruit and shade, and building a merry-go-round for village children out of used car parts. He was born Aug. 28, 1916, the son of a Church of the Brethren minister, and had a life-long commitment to peace. He attended McPherson (Kan.) College, Kansas State University, and Bethany Bible School. As a pacifist he served in Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp at Cascade Locks, Ore., during World War II, fighting forest fires. His witness for peace included joining in the protests at Fort Benning against the School of the Americas, and traveling with a contingent to Nicaragua to protect coffee pickers there. His extensive files on peace issues were donated to PEACE Iowa. In 1944 he married Marianne Krueger of Panora (Iowa) Church of the Brethren where he remained a member. Many Brethren were touched by the hospitality of the Michaels, who gathered a monthly Brethren Fellowship in their Iowa City home. A memorial service was held March 19 at Sharon Center United Methodist Church in rural Kalona, Iowa. The family has asked that memorial gifts go to On Earth Peace. A link to Herbert Michael’s full obituary is at .

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has noted the ecumenical presence at the papal installation of Pope Francis, the new pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, who was installed on March 19 at the Vatican in Rome. The general secretary of the WCC, Olav Fykse Tveit, attended the mass along with other prominent religious and political leaders from around the world.
Ecumenical leaders who were present included Bartholomew I, the first Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople to attend a papal installation since the schism of 1054, the release said. Tveit attended “in order to give a significant expression of the WCC’s collaboration with the Roman Catholic Church, as well as our mutual commitment to church unity and the ecumenical movement,” the WCC said. “In close collaboration with Pope Francis, we look forward to building on this positive relationship with the Catholic Church that has been nurtured so carefully in the past,” Tveit said in his letter to the new pope. He also called on Christians to “use this opportunity to pray for and with Pope Francis to reconfirm that we need one another, to address the challenges of the world in our time.”

— Karen McKeever began March 15 as a temporary part-time assistant for National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), working with Kim Ebersole who is coordinator of NOAC and director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Cal. State Fresno and a master’s degree in writing from De Paul University in Chicago. While assisting with NOAC preparations she will continue in her current position as assistant access services supervisor in the library at Judson University. She is a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

— April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. “Children are a gift from God and have been entrusted to us for nurture and care,” says Kim Ebersole, director of the denomination’s Family Life ministry. “Our congregations can play an important role in educating people about child abuse and ways to prevent and respond to abuse if it does occur.” Ebersole encourages congregations to devote some time in April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month, to learning more about this serious problem. Resources are available at . Congregations also are encouraged to consider adopting a child protection policy if they have not already done so. Visit for information and sample policies.

— “Praise God!” says an announcement from the Global Mission and Service office. “On Feb. 6, L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) became a legally recognized entity.” With this legal status, the church in Haiti can function as a denomination, mission staff report, and it can now ordain ministers and perform official ceremonies. This new legal status has broad implications for the Haiti Medical Project as well.

— Global Mission and Service will host a workcamp in South Sudan on April 19-28. Work will include digging foundations and clearing brush in preparation for the building of a Brethren Ministry Center. Another possible project will be construction work at a school in Lohila village. Cost of the workcamp is $2,500 per person, which includes roundtrip airfare, visa fees, overseas travel insurance, and all in-country expenses (lodging, food, and transportation). Visit for more information.

Photo by Black Rock Church of the Brethren
Earl K. Ziegler preaches for the 275th anniversary of Black Rock Church of the Brethren

— In an ongoing celebration of its 275 years in ministry, Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Glenville, Pa., welcomed back its first paid minister–Earl K. Ziegler–as guest preacher on the first Sunday in March. Black Rock was established in 1738, and only hired its first full time pastor in 1960 after 222 years of plural nonsalaried ministry, said an announcement from current pastor David W. Miller. Following worship, church members joined in a carry-in meal and the sharing of stories, memories, and photos from the congregation’s long history. Upcoming activities include a Spring Fair on May 4, a summer focus on service to the community launched with a Vacation Bible School on the theme of peace, and a Fall Festival and Homecoming Weekend.

— “Leaders Shape the Future” is the title of a training event for deacons and other church leaders who provide care in congregations, hosted by First Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, Pa. Leading the workshop will be Stan Dueck, the Church of the Brethren’s director for Transforming Practices. The event takes place Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, with a continental breakfast served beginning at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $10. The registration deadline is April 15. Contact First Church of the Brethren, 901 Bloomfield St., Roaring Spring, PA 16673; 814-224-4113; .

— Hempfield (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a Church Leadership Conference on the topic “A Desert Spirituality: Learning from the Desert Fathers and Mothers” on April 10, 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. Leadership is provided by Chris Hall, a chancellor of Eastern University and dean of Palmer Theological Seminary, who also leads Renovare Retreats and is the author of a number of books. Cost is $40, plus $10 for continuing education units. For more information contact David Young at or 717-615-4515.

— The Bittersweet Gospel Band has produced a music video to its song “Jesus in the Line,” written by Scott Duffey and produced by David Sollenberger. The Bittersweet Gospel Band is composed of several Church of the Brethren pastors–Gilbert Romero, Scott Duffey, Leah Hileman, and Dan Shaffer–as well as Brethren members Trey Curry and Kevin Walsh. They were assisted in this endeavor by Roanoke (Va.) First Church of the Brethren and Roanoke Renacer Church of the Brethren while filming a great deal at the Roanoke Rescue Mission. The band currently is looking for a sponsor to cover the costs of production and distribution (by DVD). Said an announcement: “If a church agency, a congregation, or an individual is interested in more detail, including putting a ‘Brought to you by…’ message at the beginning of the video, please be in touch with Scott Duffey ( or David Sollenberger (” The band hopes to release the music video sometime around Annual Conference.

— For the 36th year the Church of the Brethren will can meat in Ephrata, Pa., for disaster relief. The canning begins April 1 and continues through April 4, with April 10 scheduled for labeling. need volunteers for labeling on Wednesday, April 10. Funds are needed to purchase and ship the meat, and congregations that would like to send volunteers should call the Southern Pennsylvania District office at 717-624-8626.

— FaithQuest, a spiritual retreat for youth in grades 10-12 who are interested in growing in their faith, takes place at Camp Bethel on April 5-7 led by Virlina youth and adults who will teach about discovering God, self, and our relationships with others. Also at Camp Bethel later in the month, the Virlina District Children’s Cabinet will sponsor a “Back in Time Activity Day” on April 27 in the Deer Field Center with activities beginning at 9 a.m. This is for children K-5th grade and families, with living history demonstrations, presentations, activities, music, crafts, games, and snacks.

— John Staubus of Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren is bringing the meditation for the Easter Sunrise Service at CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, held on the hilltop at CrossRoads at 7 a.m. on Easter Sunday. The men’s quartet from Harrisonburg First Church will provide special music. “Worship as the sun rises from behind Massanutten Peak,” said an invitation. For more information go to .

— A John Kline Lecture originally scheduled for this Sunday at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., has been postponed until April 28.

— Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has received a $445,039 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a series of faculty development workshops to be held at Juniata College and other college and university campuses on genomics education over the next five years. A release from the college announced that the grant–which is one of about 20 awards spread across the US through the Research Coordination Networks: Undergraduate Biology Education program–will allow the Juniata-headquartered Genome Consortium for Active Teaching Using Next-Generation Sequencing Network (GCAT-SEEK) to recruit collaborative institutional partners from beyond the region. In its first year, the grant will fund a four-day seminar on Juniata’s campus, with subsequent locations for workshops the following years. The second-year workshop will be held at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa. In the third and fourth years, two workshops are scheduled each summer–one at Juniata and one at a minority-serving institution. Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., hosts during year three and California State University at Los Angeles in year four. In the fifth year, only one workshop at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., is planned. “We’re creating educational laboratory modules that can be applied at liberal arts institutions across the United States,” says Vince Buonaccorsi, associate professor of biology at Juniata and lead principal investigator on the grant.

— McPherson (Kan.) College is marking its fifth year in a row on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor roll, reports a release from the college. McPherson is one of only five institutions in Kansas to accomplish a similar streak. “The joy of giving of self was apparent on the McPherson College campus last school year,” said Tom Hurst, director of service. Established under the Corporation for National and Community Service in 2006, the honor roll recognizes those institutions that encourage and support community service. Learn more at .

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College was named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction. This designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement said a release from the college which added that only four other Pennsylvania institutions of higher education earned the Honor Roll with Distinction award. “Elizabethtown College has a long history of service-learning and believes strongly in preparing our graduates to be active leaders and participants in an ever changing world,” said president Carl Strikwerda. “We’re honored to receive this prestigious award again this year–and owe much of it to the students themselves. They’re the energy driving our commitment and they’re the ones who make it all happen.”

— The Corporation for National and Community Service also has recognized Bridgewater (Va.) College. A release notes this is the second year that Bridgewater has been named to the Honor Roll. “Admission to the president’s honor roll pays high tribute to Bridgewater College and its ongoing commitment to community service,” said Roy Ferguson, interim president. Recent service-learning projects that have involved students, faculty, and staff include operating sports camps for children from impoverished backgrounds, volunteering at Special Olympics events, the “Read With an Eagle” program, food drives, trail maintenance for natural reserves, and Relay for Life fundraisers for the American Cancer Society.

— A public auction of classroom and faculty office furniture and electronics from the historic Administration Building of Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., is set for Saturday, April 13. Bidding begins at 10 a.m. inside the building at 604 E. College Ave. “Lots and lots of memories will go on the auction block,” said a release from the university. “While we expect to have a fair amount of alumni and faculty bidders, the sale will attract antique collectors and church schools, too. Much of the old furniture is solid oak. Even the chalk boards will go!” More than 400 student desks, 75 computers and data projectors and screens are up for bidding. Also on the sale bill: pews from Petersime Chapel. The auctioneer is Larry J. Miller of North Manchester. Preview items at 7 a.m. on the sale day. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Terms are cash or checks with identification. For more information about the sale visit or contact Scott Eberly at 260-982-5321.

— Manchester University also seeks nominations for its 2013 Warren K. and Helen J. Garner Alumni Teacher of the Year award. The honor goes to a current teacher in preschool through 12, who has made significant contributions to education, provides exceptional service to the profession, is deeply concerned for the individual students, is able to inspire learning. To nominate a Manchester graduate find more information at or contact the Department of Education at 260-982-5056. Deadline for nominations is March 29.

— Josh Fox, writer and director of “Gasland,” a finalist for an Academy Award in Best Documentary, is keynote speaker on April 23, during Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s 6th annual Scholarship and Creative Arts Day. His visit culminates a year-long program of learning activities centered on natural gas production and resource extraction, reports a release from the college. At 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center, Fox shares his thoughts on the processes of fracking and offers insights about how the process impacts individuals and society at large. The complete schedule of events for the day is at and includes a screening of the film “Gasland” at 7:30 p.m. that evening.

— Chicago (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren board chair Duane Ediger has been taking up the issue of fracking in the state of Illinois. Ediger has been doing prominent advocacy for renewable energy at the Chicago City Council and in the state capital Springfield, where he has been among those seeking a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” in Illinois.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) invites applications to join Christian Peacemaker Corps. Applications are due by May 1. “Have you participated in a recent CPT delegation that whetted your appetite for embodied peace work, partnering with others working nonviolently for justice, and confronting the injustice that leads to war?” said the announcement. “Does CPT’s style of peacemaking, confronting injustice, and undoing oppressions fit with yours? Is now the time to take the next step and join the Peacemaker Corps?” Those who apply before May 1 will take part in CPT’s Peacemaker Training in Chicago, Ill., on July 19-Aug. 19. The organization seeks applicants available for stipend-eligible service, as well as reservists. Applicants must have participated in a short-term CPT delegation. For questions, e-mail Adriana Cabrera-Velásquez, personnel coordinator, at . The application and more information is at .

— Chet Thomas, executive director of Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG) in Honduras, has made an appeal for donations of two hay binder units in fairly good condition to help power a ferry boat. The ferry functions near a large hydroelectric dam called El Cajon, or “the box,” in an area where several PAG programs work. Two decades ago an access road between two rivers was cut off by the dam, greatly increasing the length and hardship of the trip between peoples’ homes and markets in northern Honduras. The connection of this area to the north is very important economically and politically, but the dam is too wide and deep to support a bridge. Volunteers built the first ferry in 2000, “Miss Pamela,” using out-of-date steel propane tanks, steel girders, etc. In order to move the 40- to 60-foot boat, a power unit was installed using motorized hay binders. The system has worked for 12 years, moving people, vehicles, heavy equipment, and cattle across a three-mile stretch of water 11 hours a day, 7 days a week–but the original hay binder units are now in need of replacement. Once donated, PAG staff will prepare units for shipment to Honduras. Contact Chet Thomas at or 305-433-2947.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Tim Button-Harrison, Scott Duffey, Anna Emrick, Mary Kay Heatwole, Kendra Johnson, Genna Welsh Kasun, Jeri S. Kornegay, David W. Miller, Amy Mountain, Adam Pracht, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue on April 3.

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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