Newsline for May 17, 2013

Quote of the week
“Your prayers and your kind words are much appreciated!”
— A note received from a volunteer in Newtown, Conn., thanking general secretary Stan Noffsinger and “our friends at Church of the Brethren” for a letter of condolence church leaders sent after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “The Brethren voice–it’s relevant to a hurting world thanks to the love of our risen Savior, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and taking time to tell neighbors ‘we love you,’” said Noffsinger after receiving the card which included a hand-written note of gratitude (see photo above). Read the Church of the Brethren letter that was sent to Newtown at .

“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17a).

1) Bethany Seminary trustees hold spring meeting.
2) Seventy-year-old Brethren Pension Plan transforms in 2013.
3) BDM directs grants to support rebuilding in New York, send canned chicken to the Caribbean.
4) Dinner celebrates completion of Prattsville, N.Y., rebuilding project.
5) Material Resources ships 27,000 pounds of clean-up supplies to Illinois, CWS appeals for help to restock.
6) Delegation visits emerging church in Spain.
7) Campaign brings healing and engagement to Paul Ziegler’s home congregation.
8) Fort Wayne mayor speaks out on guns at Beacon Heights Church.

9) Tools for Vital Ministry Journey include new Bible study resources.

10) Hearing reveals human and moral costs of drone warfare.
11) EYN’s ‘New Light’ interviews mission worker Carol Smith.


12) Brethren bits: Correction, remembering Marion Showalter, job openings for Shine project editor and mission office manager, Fahrney-Keedy seeks administrator, Open Roof Award nominations, commencement ceremonies, more.



1) Bethany Seminary trustees hold spring meeting.

Courtesy of Bethany Theological Seminary

The Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees held its spring meeting on the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind., on March 21-23. In addition to hearing reports on department activities and new initiatives, the trustees addressed a number of action items. A highlight of the weekend was a retirement dinner for Ruthann Knechel Johansen, whose presidency of Bethany concludes on June 30.

“One of the most important tasks for a board during a transition time in the life of an institution is to preserve the fertility of the educational soil by attending to fundamental faith and institutional values that make thoughtful continuity possible,” said Johansen in her opening remarks. “You will do that by keeping the institutional mission and vision clearly in mind and being guided by the strategic plan.”

Trustee officers for the 2013-14 year were approved as follows: Lynn Myers, chair; David Witkovsky, vice-chair; Marty Farahat, secretary; Jonathan Frye, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee; John Miller, chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee; and Greg Geisert, chair of the Student and Business Affairs Committee and the Audit Committee. Nate Polzin will serve as the board representative to the Council of District Executives as he begins his second five-year term on the board. Appreciation was expressed to Phil Stone Jr. as he concludes his 10-year tenure on the board, having served as chair of the Student and Business Committee and of the Investment Committee for the past two years.

A major board action was the approval of a pilot project entitled Seminary Associates. Developed to address a named priority in Bethany’s strategic plan as well as a goal of the Reimagining Ministries campaign, this project is intended to further extend Bethany’s presence and resources to those at a distance. In this first phase, Bethany will initiate conversations with people connected with selected Brethren colleges, exploring ways to strengthen Bethany’s relationship with the colleges and their extended regional communities.

Following up on an initiative from the October 2012 board meeting, trustees received a report from the Task Force on the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults. They approved recommendations to continue the position of coordinator of outreach programs and to form a Review and Vision Committee, which will complete a review of the Exploring Your Call program and develop a vision for the institute.

Trustees also approved new demographic benchmarks as part of Bethany’s revised institutional-student profile. Projected for 2013-2016, these measurable goals are based on the diverse demographics and the academic, curricular, and vocational profiles of the current student body. They include increased enrollment; desired percentages of ecumenical, male, female, and international students; a stronger focus on recruiting recent college graduates; and more intentional preparation for bi-vocational ministry.

Led by Tara Hornbacker, professor of Ministry Formation, a faculty task team shared its progress in the first phase of Bethany’s Ministry Formation assessment and refinement project. The project is funded by a $20,000 grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.* The team is conducting church visits over a year’s time to learn about varieties in ministry, changes in congregational life and ministry, and what is needed for excellence in ministry. They have been met with appreciation for their initiative and have engaged in sincere, constructive dialogue. The information will help Bethany structure its ministry training for the realities of current congregational life.

Academic Affairs

Dean Steven Schweitzer gave a thorough overview of Bethany’s new curriculum, calling it a “long process but a worthwhile process. Our faculty and curriculum will be in a better place.” To be implemented in fall 2013, the new structure was developed over an 18-month period by the teaching faculty and has a flexibility that will appeal to prospective students. Master of divinity students will be able to select a ministry studies focus area, and all students will have the opportunity to combine their elective courses for a named emphasis. Master of arts students now have a first-year formation course, and new requirements in history, intercultural, and intergenerational studies were added.

The board approved the promotion of Russell Haitch to professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults.

Thirteen seniors were approved for graduation upon their completion of all courses.

Updates on the new faculty searches included a projected announcement for the Brethren studies position in the next few weeks. Candidates for the reconciliation studies position will be on campus in late April. Schweitzer commended the board for approving these positions, which will strengthen the academic programs and the faculty.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership report included a potential new cohort in the Spanish language ministry training program (SeBAH-COB) and plans for the new Sustaining Ministerial Excellence program, to succeed Sustaining Pastoral Excellence. Donna Rhodes, executive director of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, reported on course and program offerings. The board also heard that the Brethren Journal Association has updated its articles of organization regarding hiring and employee review and will be reviewing its partnership with the seminary this year.

Institutional Advancement

The Reimagining Ministries campaign has reached nearly 80 percent of its $5.9 million goal with 15 months remaining in the public phase. While successful and educational, campaign meetings are drawing fewer new people and increases in giving than was hoped. Fiscal 2012-13 giving to date is lower than in 2011-12, but close to that of the three previous years.

Lowell Flory, executive director of Institutional Advancement, noted characteristics of younger generations’ approach to philanthropy, particularly their support of specific causes and more indifference to general institutional support. The packaging and delivery of Bethany’s message to new generations of constituents needs to reflect changing values and forms of communication. The Advancement Office is also working on publicity materials for a speakers bureau, publicizing lecture and workshop topics that faculty are able to present.

Student and Business Services

The Compensation Committee, named at the previous board meeting, recommended updated policies for compensating Bethany employees, which were approved. Comparative data was gathered from peer institutions for these proposed benefits and teaching faculty salary ranges. Determining compensation for administrative faculty is more challenging as position titles and responsibilities vary widely among schools. This research will continue, allowing for flexibility in meeting Bethany’s particular staffing needs and values.

The board passed the proposed 2013-14 budget of $2,638,640. This represents a 10.8 percent increase and slightly higher endowment draw than in 2012-13 due to new positions and program expansion. The administration also proposed a series of benchmarks to be met over the next three years if the new expenditures are to be maintained.

The SBS Committee also reported progress on plans to use the Mullen House property adjacent to the Bethany campus. Offices for the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership will be moved to the first floor of the house, while the second floor will remain as an apartment. Relocation of offices within the Bethany Center also will take place.

Recognition celebration

On March 22, more than 120 faculty, staff, students, colleagues, and friends gathered for “A Community Called to Shalom,” honoring Ruthann Knechel Johansen with festive fellowship, laughter, and memories. Tributes to her personal and presidential contributions were given by Ted Flory, former Bethany board chair; Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren; and Jay Marshall, dean of Earlham School of Religion. Poetry, musical selections, readings, and a video titled “Images of the Journey” filled the evening. In closing, Lynn Myers announced that the board had named Johansen president emerita upon her retirement. In addition, he revealed to Johansen that the new, fully funded Ruthann Knechel Johansen Endowment for Theology in Literature, recognizing her personal and professional passion, would cultivate the relationship of literature and theology within the Bethany community for years to come.

*The Wabash Center is located on the campus of Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. Its programs are funded by Lilly Endowment Inc.

— Jenny Williams directs Communications and Alumni/ae Relations at Bethany Seminary.

2) Seventy-year-old Brethren Pension Plan transforms in 2013.

Photo by Brethren Benefit Trust
Brethren Benefit Trust president Nevin Dulabaum shakes hands with Marie Flory, a Brethren Pension Plan retiree, at a workshop he led for Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community in January.

An enhanced web portal, daily valuation of investments, and a variety of retirement readiness calculators are just a few elements of the Church of the Brethren Pension Plan’s dramatic upgrade, scheduled to be available to members in mid-2013.

“We think it is critical to provide our members with additional retirement planning tools, which will augment our strong lineup of investment funds, so that each member can establish informed retirement goals and easily chart their progress toward those goals,” said Nevin Dulabaum, Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) president. “Though much of the new functionality will be web- and phone-based, Brethren Pension Plan members will continue to receive support from an enhanced customer service team, which will quickly and effectively respond to the needs of our members.”

These enhancements will be made available to members through a partnership with an outside vendor, which will handle all record-keeping processes for Brethren Pension Plan beginning on June 1. During the transition, all benefit payments will continue to be sent to annuitants, and all active members’ accounts will continue to be invested.

The Brethren Pension Plan sent a Transition Bulletin to all members in April explaining important dates related to the transition. Questions related to this upgrade can be directed to Scott Douglas, Employee Benefits director, at 800-746-1505 or

New Brethren Pension Plan features:
— A revamped website portal that streamlines account management and asset allocation processes.
— Daily account valuation that reflects day-to-day investment changes to account balances. This will allow people to make mid-month changes to their asset allocations, although we will take steps if necessary to discourage people from becoming day traders with their Pension assets.
— A 24/7 phone system that lets participants manage their accounts at any time.
— Online tools to help plan for retirement–including a redesigned annuity projection calculator.
— An online file manager that allows the storing, saving, and printing of statements.

A payment for life or until the money runs out?

What is the primary difference between the Brethren Pension Plan and a 401(k) retirement plan that many employers offer today? Just what the headline says–the Brethren Pension Plan will make annuity payments for your life, and perhaps for the life of your spouse, depending on which annuity type you select. A 401(k) plan, on the other hand, provides income for as long as your funds last. Once your 401(k) account is depleted, it’s gone for good.

This is an important distinction to understand when trying to compare retirement programs in an apples-to-apples manner. Other issues that also need to be compared carefully are fees, investment choices, portability, customer service, and whether your plan invests your assets in accordance with your values.

Over the past four years, BBT has made a number of improvements to the Brethren Pension Plan to ensure that it will provide competitive service and will be able to fulfill its obligations for years to come.

BBT has increased customer service representatives, added a number of new investment options, increased communications to members (and Plan sponsors) to help improve their knowledge regarding retirement planning and financial decision making, and staff has increased visits with Plan members, whether it be at the workplace or at denominational events where Brethren Pension Plan members are in attendance.

BBT has analyzed the mortality basis used to calculate life expectancy, to make sure calculations reflect the living experience of members. We have refined the investment allocation of the fund from which our annuities are paid–the Retirement Benefits Fund–to maximize gains and to minimize risks. And we have worked diligently to grow Plan participation. Even so, the experience of members with the Brethren Pension Plan is about to change in a profound manner. By July 1, the Brethren Pension Plan is expected to offer members some new and outstanding functionality that will enhance the retirement planning experience.

New website and telephone interfaces will provide new tools for conducting routine business, like changing asset allocations for existing and future contributions and earnings, changing beneficiaries, etc. A gap analysis of a member’s account will be available to indicate what steps a member needs to take now to help ensure they have the income they are looking for in retirement. BBT also has the longer-term goal of providing asset allocation guidance so that members can have assistance in the fund selection process.

This month, BBT staff are visiting several Brethren Pension Plan sponsor organizations for employee and employer training, to help ensure they are prepared to utilize the new functions when they go online. Pastors and other church staff members will be offered training sessions via webinar and at the Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C.

This new functionality will come through a new partnership between the Brethren Pension Plan and Great-West, the plan’s new record keeper. Through this new alliance, Brethren Pension Plan will be able to offer its members robust retirement readiness tools backed by efficient and effective customer service.  All of this and an annuity for life–that’s the Brethren Pension Plan, which was created 70 years ago to serve you. We hope our Plan members enjoy, but most importantly, utilize this new functionality.

— Nevin Dulabaum is president of Brethren Benefit Trust.

3) BDM directs grants to support rebuilding in New York, send canned chicken to the Caribbean.

Photo by M. Wilson
Brethren Disaster Ministries works on a house in Prattsville, N.Y.

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are directing grant money to support a continuing home rebuilding effort in New York State following flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011, and a church effort to distribute canned chicken in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

A $40,000 grant from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) continues funding for the Brethren Disaster Ministries home repair and rebuilding project in New York State, originally started in the small town of Prattsville in July 2012, and now extended to the nearby community of Schoharie. These Catskill towns are located in some of the lowest income regions of New York, and an area where creeks rose over 15 feet in less than 12 hours devastating the lives of residents. Many of those affected were uninsured or elderly.

The grant provides the opportunity for volunteers to assist in the repair and rebuilding of homes for qualified individuals and families, underwriting operational expenses related to volunteer support including housing, food, travel expenses incurred on site, volunteer training, tools, and equipment. To date over 350 volunteers have provided over 2,500 days of labor to rebuild 15 homes for flood survivors. Previous allocations made to this project total $60,000.

An EDF grant of $13,000 is making it possible to “preposition” a supply of canned chicken in Haiti and the DR, for use in the event of disasters. The grant covers the cost of shipping canned chicken donated by the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Districts, customs fees, and in-country distribution costs.

Haiti and the DR are vulnerable to a variety of natural disasters, especially hurricanes and flooding. Last fall, for example, Hurricane Sandy brought heavy rain and winds that caused flooding and damaged homes in both countries, leaving many homeless and without stored food in communities with Church of the Brethren members. The grant provides for the prepositioning of 37,500 pounds of canned chicken, with the Haitian Church of the Brethren’s ministry center receiving 7,200 28-ounce cans and 10,800 cans designated for the DR, to be divided between the Dominican Church of the Brethren and the Social Service of Dominican Churches, a partner organization.

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

4) Dinner celebrates completion of Prattsville, N.Y., rebuilding project.

On May 1, more than 75 people gathered at Prattsville Community Church in the New York Catskills to celebrate all the work Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers have done. Delicious dinner and desserts were provided by the church and community for volunteers and homeowners.

Homeowners told their stories as they looked at pictures and remembered the destruction caused by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. “This seemed hopeless,” one homeowner said as many others nodded in agreement, “but the volunteers made it happen, and without that beginning none of us would be here today.”

Volunteers laughed and cried as they reminisced about all the work they had done and the people they had met in the 12 months Brethren Disaster Ministries had served there.

After dinner, pastor Charlie Gockel, Brethren Disaster Ministries associate director Zach Wolgemuth, and long-term Disaster Project Leader Tim Sheaffer shared their thoughts about the work that Brethren Disaster Ministries and other volunteer groups had done.

“If it wasn’t for the Brethren, we would have been done,” Gockel remarked. “We could have never made it this far without them.”

When the floor was opened, homeowners began to share their thoughts and memories. Homeowners teared up as they thanked all the volunteers for their service. “You helped us with our homes, but you also helped us to laugh throughout the whole process, which was a great thing,” commented one homeowner.

The service concluded with Pastor Gockel saying a prayer of blessing over the volunteers, who will continue their service up river in nearby Schoharie, N.Y. He also offered up a prayer of blessing for all of the families who will continue to rebuild their lives. Afterward, hugs were shared and stories were told, but no goodbyes were uttered. After 12 months in such a special community, no one was ready to leave.

The community of Prattsville has blessed the lives of the volunteers who served there. And Brethren Disaster Ministries blessed a lot of people in the community of Prattsville. Over 12 months, more than 400 volunteers served 15 families in the town, giving over 2,650 total workdays.

— Hallie Pilcher is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker for Brethren Disaster Ministries.

5) Material Resources ships 27,000 pounds of clean-up supplies to Illinois, CWS appeals for help to restock.

Photo by Terry Goodger
Material Resources staff prepare to ships pallets of CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets.

In response to storms and the flooding that has plagued the state of Illinois this spring, the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program has begun shipping clean-up supplies on behalf of Church World Service (CWS), an ecumenical partner.

Material Resources, based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., works on behalf of ecumenical partners and other humanitarian organizations to receive, process, warehouse, and ship disaster relief materials both within the United States and internationally. Loretta Wolf directs the program.

In late April, the Material Resources staff shipped 500 CWS clean-up buckets to DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in Wheaton–the equivalent of 14 pallets of buckets or 8,089 pounds of supplies.

Another shipment of 1,008 CWS clean-up buckets–28 pallets weighing 19,190 pounds–was made to the American Red Cross bulk distribution site in Peoria.

Heavy precipitation from early 2013 storms and floods in Illinois has resulted in widespread and severe flooding. The state has declared 48 counties as disaster areas. Flooding has occurred on numerous rivers and their tributaries, including the Mississippi, Illinois, Green, Spoon, Rock, DuPage, and Sangamon Rivers.

An appeal for help

Church World Service has issued an urgent appeal for people to help replenish its supply of clean-up buckets. “The CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets are giving hope and help to survivors,” said a release. “With needs assessment ongoing, CWS expects to respond to additional requests from Illinois and other states for buckets. When we do, we hope to be able to respond without delay.”

Church World Service, a global humanitarian agency, emphasizes the importance of faith community involvement in long-term recovery from disaster and enlists congregations in supplying Emergency Cleanup Buckets, blankets, and other CWS kits for shipment to disaster survivors every year.

For instructions to assemble a CWS Emergency Cleanup Bucket go to .

6) Delegation visits emerging church in Spain.

A delegation of six traveled to Spain April 1-10, representing groups who are providing financial and logistical support to the emerging church in Spain. Members of this group were: Marla Bieber Abe, co-pastor of Carlisle (Pa.) Church of the Brethren representing Brethren World Mission; Norm Yeater and Carolyn Fitzkee of Chiques Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa.; Daniel and Oris D’Oleo of Renacer, a Hispanic church plant in Roanoke, Va.; and Fausto Carrasco of Nuevo Amanacer Church of the Brethren in Bethlehem, Pa.

Photo by Carolyn Fitzkee
Members of a delegation of Brethren visiting Spain found the emerging church to be alive and well: from left, Rafael Terrero, pastor of La Luz en las Naciones, one of the new Brethren congregations in Spain, poses with Fausto Carrasco, pastor of Nuevo Amanacer Church of the Brethren in Bethlehem, Pa., and his sister Miriam, and at far right Santos Terrero, a licensed minister from the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic.

The delegation’s purpose was to meet with several groups who are interested in becoming Brethren, to participate in and give leadership to a workshop for church leaders, and to be part of the celebration of the graduation of eight church leaders who completed a training course over the last several years.

About 70 people gathered in the city of Gijon on April 6 for a day of training and spirit-filled worship. Daniel D’Oleo taught on evangelism and worked with the youth, Marla Bieber Abe taught the scriptural basis for pacifism, and Norm Yeater taught about the ordinances of love feast and baptism. Carolyn Fitzkee and Oris D’Oleo led activities for 10 elementary-age children.

The closing graduation celebration was held the next day during the worship service. Graduates received certificates signed by Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren, and a gift bag with books for further study. A powerful time of prayer concluded this service.

The US delegation, led by Fausto Carrasco, met with leaders and church projects in Madrid, Leon, Oviedo, Aviles, and Gijon. The mother church, in the northern coastal town of Gijon, called La Luz en Las Naciones (A Light to the Nations) is led by the pastoral team of Santos and Rafael Terrero. They are from the Dominican Republic, where Santos had been licensed as a minister in the Church of the Brethren.

The group in Oviedo has the strongest and most committed ties to the Brethren and is led by pastor Jairo Sandoval, an ordained minister from Colombia. Both groups reach out to new immigrants with a food bank and social services, such as housing and employment assistance. They are committed to reaching out to the lost and hurting in Spain, often characterized as a “post-Christian” nation, where the established churches are in decline.

Personal reflections on the trip to Spain

On my recent trip to visit Spanish Brethren at the beginning of April at the encouragement of the Global Mission and Service office and my congregation, I observed the celebration of eight church leaders graduating from a biblical training course that had been held over the last several years. A few students gave testimony of how the studying drew them closer to God and gave them a greater understanding of the Bible and the church. Each graduate received a certificate and a gift of more books to continue their spiritual growth. It was a powerful experience to be part of prayer for these gifted leaders.

After meeting with a variety of church projects in the towns of Madrid, Leon, Oviedo, Aviles, and Gijon, I became convinced that the church is alive and well. Under the capable leadership of Santos and Rafael Terrero, the mother church, La Luz en Las Naciones, is committed to reaching out to the lost and hurting in the community and cultivating relationships with groups interested in becoming Brethren. We can join with them in this God-ordained vision by casting our vote to include these groups officially as part of the Church of the Brethren this summer at Annual Conference.

I was so challenged by the Spanish Brethren determination to carry out the mission of bringing more to Christ in a post-Christian nation–where many do not have time for God–while also providing immigrants with both practical assistance to help them adjust to a new country in a difficult economy and a place to worship and grow in their faith. I was inspired by their warm fellowship and hospitality and will not soon forget their kindness.

— Carolyn Fitzkee is a Global Mission Advocate for Atlantic Northeast District.

7) Campaign brings healing and engagement to Paul Ziegler’s home congregation.

Photo by courtesy of Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren
Members of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren holding a celebration in 2013, in honor of what would have been Paul Ziegler’s 20th birthday.

On Saturday, May 4, nearly 150 people gathered at Colebrook, Pa., along the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail to bike, walk, and ride horseback as a part of the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign of On Earth Peace. A report from the agency noted that the trail ride kicked off a long weekend of events in and around Elizabethtown, Pa., in honor of the late Paul Ziegler who would have celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday, May 5.

“In a world where we are constantly bombarded by the bad news of guns, drones, bombs, wars, and domestic violence we just lived the good news of faith and peace,” commented Elizabethtown pastor Greg Davidson Laszakovits by e-mail after the weekend.

“Inspired by Paul’s vision, refusing to feel powerless against an often violent world, we saw that we can and do make a difference; one step, one pedal revolution, one person at a time.”

Laszakovits also provided updated numbers for the campaign, which as of May 9 had raised more than $17,000, and logged 1,508 miles toward the 3,000 mile goal.

Among the crowd were many friends and family of Ziegler, who had been a member at Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren. Included were his parents Deb and Dale Ziegler. Grandfather Woodrow Ziegler and his wife Doris, who are members of Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, were there. Aunt Karen Hodges ran registration, and brought in staff and faculty from Elizabethtown College. Uncle Don Ziegler welcomed everyone to the trail ride including On Earth Peace’s Bob Gross, who had just concluded a 650-mile walk from Indiana.

“We had a perfect day,” said Don Ziegler in the On Earth Peace report.

The trail ride was followed by a birthday celebration at Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren on May 5. Music, stories about the campaign, singing, discussions around peace, and birthday cake were enjoyed by all who attended. The congregation raised $6,524 in Ziegler’s honor.

The weekend was a demonstration of church and community coming together, reported Lizz Schallert, development assistant at On Earth Peace. “So many volunteers of Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren and members of Paul’s family worked to make the weekend a success; a time of support for the Ziegler family, and tangibly forwarding the programs Paul cared about.”

Find a video slide show of Bob Gross’ walk, courtesy of videographer David Sollenberger, at .

In more 3,000 Miles for Peace news

On May 18 the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., will be the starting point for cyclists embarking on a 150-mile, two-day round trip tour to Camp Emmaus in Mount Morris, Ill. These “Road to Emmaus Pedalers for Peace” are honoring the vision of fallen cyclist Paul Ziegler, and raising money for the On Earth Peace campaign, said a note from Jeff Lennard, director of marketing and sales for Brethren Press. Along with Lennard, cyclists John Carroll, Nevin Dulabaum, Jacki Hartley, Ron Nightingale, Mark Royer, and Ruthie Wimmer are part of the group. Find the Road to Emmaus Pedalers for Peace team website at .

8) Fort Wayne mayor speaks out on guns at Beacon Heights Church.

Fort Wayne mayor Tom Henry recently spoke to an adult education class at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind. The class, led by Nancy Eikenberry and Kyla Zehr, has been studying the book “America and Its Guns, a Theological Exposé” by James E. Atwood.

Photo by courtesy of Nancy Eikenberry
Fort Wayne (Ind.) mayor Tom Henry with members of a class on gun violence at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren. Henry is one of the mayors of American cities working against gun violence through the organization “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.”

Henry was there as a representative of “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” a coalition of over 900 mayors in the US who are demanding an end to gun violence. Henry was the first mayor in Indiana to join the coalition. The  group works together to find innovative new ways to advance the following principles:

— Punish–to the maximum extent of the law–criminals who possess, use, and traffic in illegal guns.
— Target and hold accountable irresponsible gun dealers who break the law by knowingly selling guns to straw purchasers.
— Oppose all federal efforts to restrict cities’ right to access, use, and share trace data that is so essential to effective enforcement, or to interfere with the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to combat illegal gun trafficking.
— Keep lethal, military-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines off our streets.
— Work to develop and use technologies that aid in the detection and tracing of illegal guns.
— Support all local state and federal legislation that targets illegal guns; coordinate legislative, enforcement, and litigation strategies; and share information and best practices.
— Invite other cities to join in this new national effort.

Mayor Henry indicated that there are 300 million registered guns in this country, and estimated that there are probably another 100 million that we do not know about. He was disappointed that Congress did not pass the recent Manchin-Toomey bill that would expand background checks to include sales of all guns. He feels this was the result of the NRA being a very powerful lobby, which contributes huge amounts of money to politicians’ campaigns.

He also spoke briefly about the recent rash of gun violence in Fort Wayne. He indicated that there are five major gangs here, with a total of about 250 members, mostly men. They are between the ages of 17 and 24, and  are usually armed with a 9 m.m. handgun, which is easy to conceal and is very powerful. With a population of 250,000, the gangs represent  about .1 of 1 percent of the population of Fort Wayne. They are mainly located in the east-central and southeast-central regions of the city. Most shootings are due to gang retaliation, the high street value of drugs, and some drug trafficking by the affluent population in the city.

When asked what individuals can do to advocate for stricter gun laws, he said that the best thing to do is to pressure lawmakers by telephone, e-mail, letters, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The event concluded with a brief question and answer session. Beacon Heights members expressed their appreciation for the mayor’s time and effort by presenting him with a copy of the book that the class has been studying.

— Nancy Eikenberry attends Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren and with Kyla Zehr has been leading the church’s adult education class on gun violence.


9) Tools for Vital Ministry Journey include new Bible study resources.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Vital Ministry Journey Bible study booklets

Congregational Life Ministries is making available a set of three Bible study tools for congregations and districts embarking on the Vital Ministry Journey.

The Bible studies have been published as paperback booklets:
— Study, Sharing, and Prayer: A Bible Study for Congregations on a Vital Ministry Journey
— Worship: Responding to God’s Love
— Vital Passions, Holy Practices: Exploring Spiritual Gifts.

Although these Bible studies are designed as part of the Vital Ministry Journey, they can be used as stand-alone resources–in particular the spiritual gifts material. A congregation does not need to be part of the journey initiative to use the resources.

Each study book includes focus scripture texts, guidelines and questions for conversation, space for personal journaling, and guidance for congregational leaders and group facilitators.

Ideally, a congregation takes part in the Vital Ministry Journey as part of a district process, with accompaniment and coaching from Congregational Life Ministries staff. A few congregations already have begun the journey on their own, after consulting with Congregational Life Ministries staff who provide counsel and resources.

Staff are training people in each district to walk with the congregations. District leadership identifies people from the district to serve as coaches. These “called out” individuals (not all have to be pastors) receive training on the Vital Ministry Journey process. The district coaches work with churches that become involved with the process after a district decides to become a sponsor for the journey. The very flexible process may be adapted by each district and congregation for its particular context.

Sixty-day study on a church’s mission with God

The first resource recommended for the Vital Ministry Journey is “Study, Sharing, and Prayer.” The resource is designed for use by the three-person triads out of which the rest of the Vital Ministry Journey emerges.

Congregations that use this 60-day study discuss Bible texts like 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 and John 15:12-17, which lead small groups into in-depth conversation about God’s mission in the world, how the church takes part in that mission as disciples of Jesus Christ, and what scripture invites the church to be and do. Sample questions include “What are the current signs of vitality and strength in your congregation on which you can build an effective future?” and “How is your congregation discerning, celebrating, and participating in God’s mission in new ways?”

‘Worship: Responding to God’s Love’

The six-week Bible study on worship focuses on the themes of “Longing for God” (Psalm 63:1-8), “Great Is God’s Faithfulness” (Acts 16:23-25), “Celebrating the Life of God” (Luke 15:1-10), “God of Grace and God of Glory” (Psalms 8 and 100), “Worship That Is Life-Changing and World-Shaping” (Matthew 5:14-16), and “Turning Toward God” (Philippians 4:4-9).

Small study groups use a set of questions to center conversation on the personal and corporate meaning of worship. Sample questions include “What is the community’s worship like when we are more fully attentive to God?” and “In what ways does worship awaken you to the mysteries of everyday life, empowering you to reach out to bring wholeness to people and the earth?”

‘Vital Passions, Holy Practices’

This four-week Bible study on spiritual gifts provides study materials for use by individuals and congregations wanting to live more fully out of their areas of calling and giftedness. It is meant to support churches in a process of personal and shared discovery, helping congregations identify the gifts and strengths of members and affirm those gifts within the life of the community.

After carrying out the study of spiritual gifts in triads, congregations that are in the Vital Ministry Journey will be encouraged to move from Bible study about spiritual gifts into a conversation about passions, strengths, skills, and motivations of church members, aided by a gifts inventory. These discoveries help churches make space for individuals to live out their passions and gifts within the context for shared ministry and mission.

More Vital Ministry Journey Bible studies are envisioned to help congregations focus on the call to serve, congregational care, and spiritual discipline. Materials will be available in Spanish as well as English. For more information or to express interest in these Bible study resources, contact the Congregational Life Ministries office at 800-323-8039 ext. 303 or 847-429-4303.


10) Hearing reveals human and moral costs of drone warfare.

On April 23, the US Senate held its first official hearing on drone warfare entitled “Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing.” The United States has been using drones to conduct missile strikes in various places since 2002, but recently, more scrutiny has been given to the targeted killing program as President Obama has expanded its scope and has even used drones to target and kill three American citizens.

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

While the indiscriminate murder of three American citizens is a horrible violation of the civil liberties protected by our constitution, I believe it serves us much better to look at the effects and implications of this violence from a global and humanitarian perspective.

It became clear to me that this is the correct perspective to take when I sat in the back of a Senate hearing room listening to Senators question a six-person panel about the legal and constitutional justifications of targeted killing. Five of the six panelists were retired military generals, national security reporters, or law professors, but one panelist brought a starkly different perspective. This was a young man from Yemen named Farea Al-Muslimi, who had the courage to speak about what he, his village, and his country have experienced from this devastating violence.

Al-Muslimi was the last panelist to speak. It was surreal to listen to the other panelists and Senators speak abstractly of the advantages of using drones compared to other methods of delivering a missile strike while Al-Muslimi, who personally experienced the horrors of such strikes, was sitting right next to them. The hypothetical situations and legal arguments that were brought up by these experts, while they are important aspects of fully understanding this issue, rang hollow once Al-Muslimi was given the chance to speak.

He began by speaking of his life growing up in a rural Yemeni farming village known as Wessab, and how the United States changed his life when he received a foreign exchange scholarship from the State Department to leave Yemen and spend his senior year of high school in California. He described it as one of the best years of his life, and detailed how he experienced the best of American culture by being the manager of his high school’s basketball team, going trick-or-treating on Halloween, and living with an American family whose father was a member of the Air Force. Al-Muslimi described this man as a father figure who was hugely influential in his life, and remarked how “he came to the mosque with me and I went to church with him. He became my best friend in America.”

Al-Muslimi’s time in America changed his life so drastically that he went as far as to say, “I went to the US as an ambassador for Yemen. I came back to Yemen as an ambassador of the US.”

This story took a marked turn after he returned to Yemen and the drone strikes started to escalate. There were around 81 strikes across Yemen in 2012, and these have continued into 2013 ( ). The week before he testified at the hearing, a drone intended for a reported member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) named Hameed Al-Radmi, struck Al-Muslimi’s village. According to reports, Al-Radmi was killed in the strike, but so were at least four other people who could not be identified or determined to be a part of AQAP.

Al-Muslimi expressed his confusion as to why the United States chose to use a drone to deal with Al-Radmi saying, “Many people in Wessab know Al-Radmi and the Yemeni government could easily have found and arrested him. Al-Radmi was well known to government officials and even the local government could have captured him if the US had told them to do so.”

Al-Muslimi continued to describe, sometimes in gruesome detail, what it is like before, during, and after a drone strike. He spoke of his fear when he first heard the buzz of a drone overhead and had no idea what it was. He spoke of a mother who had to identify the bodies of her 4-year-old and 6-year-old children from a photo a rescuer had taken of the aftermath of a strike. Most disturbingly, he spoke of a strike in 2009 where 40 innocent civilians living in the village of Al-Majalah were killed. Among the 40 dead were 4 pregnant mothers. Al-Muslimi said that in the aftermath of this strike, “others tried to rescue the victims, but the bodies were so decimated that it was impossible to differentiate between those of children, women, and their animals. Some of these innocent people were buried in the same grave as animals.”

He explained how these destructive events have shifted public opinion in Yemen to the point that AQAP is gaining back influence it had lost because the US drone strikes have devastated so many Yemeni lives. He closed his testimony with a chilling illustration of just how much the drones have changed the way people think and act in everyday life: “The drone strikes are the face of America to many Yemenis…. In Yemen, mothers used to say, ‘Go to sleep or I’ll get your father.’ Now they say, ‘Go to sleep or I’ll call the planes.’”

As he finished, Al-Muslimi received a well-deserved round of applause from the audience. Chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL) rapped his gavel to calm the applause and bring us back to order, but nothing else said during the rest of the hearing matched the heart-wrenching testimony of the only person in the room who had actually experienced the horror of what we were talking about. All of the constitutional and legal arguments that followed about “who we could kill” and “when it was legal to kill them” were grotesque in light of what Al-Muslimi had just witnessed to us.

The White House has been widely panned for this program and was criticized by the Senate Subcommittee for not sending a witness to the hearing, but the next day it was reported that Al-Muslimi was invited to visit the White House to talk with officials who work on policy in Yemen. A step in the right direction, but much work is still to be done.

We cannot allow the debate about drones to focus strictly on legal and constitutional implications. The human and moral costs of this violence must be lifted up. Al-Muslimi expressed his hope in this way: “I believe in America, and I deeply believe that when Americans truly know about how much pain and suffering US air strikes have caused, and how they are harming US efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Yemeni people, they will reject this devastating targeted killing program.”

NOTE: The Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board “Resolution Against Drone Warfare” was submitted to the Senate subcommittee to be included in the formal testimony of the hearing. Read the resolution at . Watch a video of the Senate hearing at . Read Farea Al-Muslimi’s written testimony at .

— Bryan Hanger is an advocacy assistant in the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Public Witness, and a Brethren Volunteer Service worker.

11) EYN’s ‘New Light’ interviews mission worker Carol Smith.

Photo courtesy of Carol Smith

Zakariya Musa, secretary of the “New Light” publication of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), provided the following interview with Church of the Brethren mission worker Carol Smith:

Brief us about yourself.

I came from a family with a long Church of the Brethren heritage. Not only my parents but also my grandparents and at least some of my great-grandparents belonged to the Church of the Brethren. When I was young, my father worked at a Church of the Brethren hospital in Puerto Rico. I grew up surrounded by Brethren Volunteer Service workers and learned that service was the best way to live. My academic areas of specialization include mathematics, computer science, and most recently, Montessori education.

Tell us about your missions in Nigeria.

I have taught mathematics at Waka Schools (1972-1976), Borno State College of Basic Studies (1976-1977), Ahmadu Bello University School of Basic Studies (1978-1982), and EYN Comprehensive Secondary School in Kwarhi (2011-2013). I’m hoping that EYN headquarters will approve a transfer so that when I return to Nigeria in the fall I will be able to teach a Montessori classroom at Brethren Schools in Abuja.

What encouraged you to come to Nigeria in such a time as this?

Having friends in Nigeria who I already know from when I was here 40 years ago has been powerful in bringing me back. It makes me want to encourage EYN and let people know that you are not forgotten. Having been here before makes me feel more qualified for working here than for working in other places where I have never been.

On your arrival in Nigeria, what were your impressions?

When I first looked out of the airplane window over Kano back in 1972, I felt like I was opening a story book about lands where I had never been, but had only seen pictures. When I arrived in 2011, I landed in Abuja, a city that did not even exist 40 years earlier, and I was surprised to see wealth that I had never before seen in Nigeria. Both there and in Kwarhi I found Nigerian people who were as friendly as always.

Can you give a brief account of successes and/or difficulties, if any, during your work in EYN?

I think that as advised by the acting director of Education in her report to the Majalisa (the church’s annual meeting), EYN needs to focus on quality before rushing into quantity. I think the EYN Comprehensive Secondary School needs to be more strict about who is admitted in order to improve the school both academically and with respect to discipline. I find it very difficult to teach students who do not have an adequate background to understand what they are supposed to be learning. Difficulties in understanding can also destroy the motivation of students to study hard and to behave well. I’m hoping that it will be easier to feel successful if and when I am allowed to teach at the preschool level where good foundations can be started.

What is your wish for Nigeria? 

Peace and unity and a common belief in God and in the goodness of God is much of my wish for Nigeria. I would like to see a nation where people cooperate together for the good of all. That is why I am so eager to work in a Montessori preschool. In a Montessori classroom, children learn to concentrate on their work and then they automatically and spontaneously and joyfully start behaving better and working harder and cooperating with each other.

What message would you like to add in general to the public?

Don’t give up. It is truly amazing what problems can be solved with simple persistence. I appreciated the EYN president’s reminder in his speech at Majalisa: Jesus taught us not to fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul (Matthew 10:28).

What is your view on the EYN-Church of the Brethren working relationship?

It is my personal opinion that the EYN-Church of the Brethren working relationship is excellent. EYN works hard to help me, a Church of the Brethren worker, to feel safe and to have the tools that I need to do my work and to live comfortably in Nigeria. The Church of the Brethren makes me available to EYN as well as providing workcampers and other workers like Roxane and Carl Hill. I have noticed that the Church of the Brethren is interested in EYN and EYN is interested in the Church of the Brethren. Persons in each group are interested in learning the history of the other group, of claiming our common heritage, and in attending each other’s Majalisa. Both groups pray for each other, and everyone is trying to do God’s will.

12) Brethren bits.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Executives of the agencies of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference take advantage of beautiful weather to hold their spring meeting at a picnic table in the courtyard at the church’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill.: (from left) Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren; Nevin Dulabaum, president of Brethren Benefit Trust; Bill Scheurer, executive director of On Earth Peace; and Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president of Bethany Theological Seminary. This is the last such meeting for Johansen, who is retiring from the seminary this summer.

— Correction: A Newsline remembrance of Bob Edgar, a former general secretary of the National Council of Churches, it was incorrectly stated that Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger had served on the NCC executive committee. Noffsinger served on the governing board of the NCC during Edgar’s term.

— Remembrance: Marion F. Showalter, 96, who had served for many years as a Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, died on Dec. 17, 2012. He was born Nov. 9, 1916, in Thomas, Okla., to Frank G. and Olive Showalter, and on June 4, 1939, married Dora Belle Tooker. He was a life-long member of Empire Church of the Brethren in Modesto, Calif. In 1964 the Showalters decided to volunteer for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and traveled to Nigeria for what was to have been a two-year stay. However, they remained in Nigeria for a total of 19 years, retiring in 1983. After retirement he continued to serve the church in many areas including doing opening and closing and ongoing maintenance of Camp Peaceful Pines, a Church of the Brethren camp located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. “He was a mechanic by trade and anyone who knew him knew that if something was broken then he could likely fix it,” said the obituary in “The Modesto Bee.” He was preceded in death by his only daughter Kollene. He is survived by his wife of almost 74 years, Dora Showalter, and grandchildren Kristina Pyatt of Walnut Creek, Calif., Cynthia Bilyeu also of Walnut Creek, and Shawn Bilyeu of Orcutt, Calif., and great-grandchildren. Family and friends held a memorial celebration on Jan. 13 at Empire Church of the Brethren. Memorial gifts are received to Empire Church of the Brethren.

— Brethren Press and MennoMedia are seeking a project editor for a new Sunday school curriculum titled Shine: Living in God’s Light. The editor works closely with freelance writers and editors and various committees, and reports to the project director. Candidates should have excellent skills in editing and project management, and should be knowledgeable about the Church of the Brethren or the Mennonite Church. Applications will be reviewed as they are received. For a full job description and contact information, visit .

— The Church of the Brethren seeks a manager for the Global Mission and Service office, to fill a fulltime, salaried position at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. This position is responsible for administrative processes assigned by the executive director for areas including Global Mission and Service, Brethren Volunteer Service, and Global Food Crisis. Major responsibilities include development of unit-wide synergies among GMS programs, coordination of staff meetings, and cross-promotion of activities in internal and external communications. Additional responsibilities include responding to general inquiries; promoting financial support; facilitating the functioning of the Mission Advisory Committee; assisting in creation and development of promotional materials; facilitating multiple tasks including financial processes, international travel, and mission worker speaking tours; maintaining files and records. Requirements include communication and organizational skills; competency in Microsoft Office Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint; ability to problem solve, exercise good judgment, prioritize tasks; ability to work collaboratively and independently with minimal supervision; ability to maintain confidentiality; appreciation for the church’s role in mission; ability to act in a multicultural and multigenerational environment; ability to interact gracefully with the public. Three to five years of executive administrative experience is required with a preference for experience in a not-for-profit. A bachelor’s degree or other relevant education is required. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Request an application form and a complete job description from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; .

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., seeks an administrator to serve as vice president of Health Services. This position is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the 106 skilled nursing care and 32 assisted living bed units in accordance with regulations that govern long-term and assisted living care facilities. Candidates must hold a current, unencumbered nursing facility Administrator’s License for the State of Maryland. For additional information visit the website . Resumes or applications should be sent to Cassandra Weaver, Vice President of Operations, 301-671-5014, or . Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village is an equal opportunity employer and is located at 8507 Mapleville Rd., Boonsboro, MD 21713; fax 301-733-3805.

— June 1 is the deadline for submitting an application for the Open Roof Award. If you know of a congregation who has gone the extra mile to serve–and be served by–those who are differently-abled, send nominations along with any applicable pictures to by June 1. It is okay to nominate your own congregation, notes Donna Kline, director of Deacon Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. Nomination materials as well as descriptions of previous recipients are online at .

— Nigerian Brethren continue to suffer attacks from the extreme Islamist group Boko Haram. On Sunday, May 5, gunmen attacked members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in Jilang village in Adamawa State, killing 10 people and injuring 12, according to Nigerian news reports. The reports said gunmen attacked the village and stormed the church during the worship service, shooting at worshipers as they were listening to the preacher. On that Saturday, the sect had attacked another town near the border with Cameroon, killing four people including two Muslim clerics. In recent months the violence in northern Nigeria has heated up and is now being called an insurgency, and this week the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in three northern states. Also recently government troops have come under criticism for alleged massacres of civilians in the north of the country, while Boko Haram has declared political control over several border regions around Lake Chad close to the large northeastern city of Maiduguri. For an analysis of the grim situation in Nigeria from the London-based newspaper “The Guardian,” go to .

Photo by courtesy of Becky Ullom Naugle
The Outdoor Ministries Association (OMA) steering committee met March 11-13 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. The mission of OMA is to “connect, enliven, and support the dynamic ministries of the Church of the Brethren camps.” The steering committee supports new camp staff by connecting them with mentors, plans an annual retreat for people working in outdoor ministries, recognizes outstanding contributions to camping ministries, and promotes outdoor ministries at Church of the Brethren and other ecumenical events. Shown here are (back row, from left) Gene Karn, Becky Ullom Naugle, Rex Miller, Gieta Gresh, Dean Wenger; (front, from left) Margo Royer-Miller, Debbie Eisenbise, Jan Gilbert Hurst, Curt Rowland. For more information, visit .

— The 2013 Young Adult Conference is coming up at the end of May. For ages 18-35, the event takes place May 25-27 at Camp Pine Lake near Eldora, Iowa. Find out more at .

— This year’s National Junior High Conference on the theme “Love Speaks” is planned for June 14-16 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Speakers include Jeff Carter, Marlys Hershberger, and Jennifer Quijano. Cost is $155. Registration and information is at .

— Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren celebrated Lois Wine’s 48 years of service as organist on May 12 with a time of special music during the morning worship service. “She has played for innumerable occasions through-out the years from 1965-2013,” said the church newsletter. “Lois Glick Wine left the console for the next organist on Easter Sunday, 2013.”

— Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren hosts the John Kline Riders on Sunday, May 26. “The riders (and their horses, of course) plan to arrive at 9:45 a.m.,” said the Shenandoah District newsletter. “This annual ride relates our rich heritage at various points along the circuit that Elder Kline rode more than 150 years ago.” The riders are named in honor of Civil War-era Brethren elder and martyr for peace John Kline, who rode his horse Nell across the battle lines between North and South as a preacher and healer. At Bridgewater on May 26, the riders will participate in inter-generational Sunday school, the 11 a.m. worship service, and a potluck lunch.

— On Sunday, May 19, Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren in Decatur, Ind., is having a Blessing of the Bikes. “Bring your motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles, golf carts, scooters, ATVs–if it has wheels we’ll bless it!” said an invitation. Contact the church at 260-565-3797.

— York Center (Ill.) Church of the Brethren is holding a work/study trip to Honduras to tour Heifer International projects. Dates are tentatively Oct. 5-12, according to an announcement in the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. Participants will give input to the itinerary which may include visits to Heifer projects, house construction, assisting at a home for boys, a visit to Copa Mayan ruins. Cost estimate is $500 plus airfare. Contact by July 1.

— Prairie City (Iowa) Church of the Brethren has launched a new website and announced a new mailing address: 12015 Hwy S 6G, Prairie City, IA 50228.

— “Have you ever felt called to the mission field?” asks Stover Memorial Church of the Brethren in Des Moines, Iowa. “Do you feel a calling to bring others to Christ? Are you looking for adventure? Then we might have an opportunity for you.” The congregation in the Oak Park/Highland Park neighborhood of Des Moines seeks people to help plant a new “point of light” in its location. “We do not know what this ‘point of light’ might look like; however we do feel God calling us to this work,” said the announcement shared through Northern Plains District. The church will provide the parsonage rent-free to church planters, and will provide the use of the church house for meetings, Bible study, worship, community meetings. “We have been in an intentional discernment process for the past five years as our membership has declined,” the church explained. “We believe that God is not done with us yet and that the Northern Plains District is to continue planting and watering in this location.” Contact pastor Barbara Wise Lewczak, 515-240-0060 or to express interest or for more information.

— Southern Ohio District will gather for a Pentecost Celebration on May 19, 4-7 p.m. at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren. The family friendly celebration will be an intercultural experience with a performance by LuAnne Harley and Brian Kruschwitz of Yurtfolk, a carry-in meal of favorite multi-ethnic recipes, games, face painting, balloon creations, and worship.

— The Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction is at Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds on May 17-18. The event raises money for Brethren Disaster Ministries. This is Shenandoah’s 21st annual auction and starts off “with a bang” at 8:30 a.m. on May 17 with the Golf Tournament Shotgun Start at Heritage Oaks Golf Course. Also on the 17th at the fairgrounds are sales of arts and crafts, baked goods, plants, art, furniture, selected handiwork, an oyster-country ham dinner, and a silent auction. The livestock auction starts at 6:15 p.m. Events at the fairgrounds on May 18 begin with breakfast from 7-10 a.m., sales beginning at 8 a.m., another silent auction in the morning, following by a worship service at 8:45 a.m. The main auction starts at 9 a.m. and includes quilts, crafts, handmade furniture, and miscellaneous items. Also on sale are theme baskets and a barbecue lunch. Children’s activities will be in the big tent from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. More detailed information is at the district’s website, .

— World Hunger Auction events in Virlina District are kicking off for the summer with the World Hunger Bike Ride on June 1. Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Antioch Church of the Brethren. The event offers the choice of riding 50, 25, 10, and 5 miles through Virginia’s Franklin and Floyd Counties. As a special option this year, young children will be invited to ride five miles on the track at Callaway (Va.) Elementary School. The 11th Annual World Hunger Golf Tournament at Mariner’s Landing Golf and Country Club is on June 8. Shotgun start is at 1 p.m. Arrive early for lunch. Contact Chris Myers at to reserve a team spot. More information and registration forms for the bike ride and golf tournament can be found at .

— Camp Colorado near Sedalia, Colo., is having a Workcamp Weekend on May 24-27 to open the camp and prepare it for the 2013 camping season. Meals and tools will be provided for all who come to volunteer. The camp’s special project to complete a tractor shed this year honors Darrel Jones, camp co-manager for the last decade, who was killed in a tragic accident in November. “We’ll come together to finish this in his memory,” said an invitation from Western Plains District. RSVP to Rosi Jones at or 719-688-2375.

— Saturday, May 18, is the annual Camp Eder Benefit Golf Tournament at Mountain View Golf Course in Fairfield, Pa. Registration starts at 6:30 a.m., the shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. There will a lunch at Camp Eder at 1 p.m.

— The 6th Annual Butterfly Release to benefit the Good Samaritan Fund of the Brethren Home Foundation is on May 18 at 10 a.m. Location is by the pond at Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, PA. There will be musical performances and photo memories captured at previous events by local artist Bobbi Becker. For more information contact the Foundation Office at 717-624-5208.

— The Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community expects to break ground in coming months for additions to and renovation of the Huffman Health Center, according to a note from Shenandoah District. The new center will provide residents with a homelike setting in six households, a result of a culture change movement toward more resident-centered living, the newsletter said. The project is called “Advancing the Vision.”

— Several Church of the Brethren-related colleges or universities have announced their plans for commencement:
Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has announced that outgoing president Thomas R. Kepple will finish his 15th year leading the school after delivering the address at the college’s 135th commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 18.
The Bridgewater (Va.) College commencement address will be given by Virginia Supreme Court Justice William C. Mims on May 18 at 10 a.m. More than 300 seniors are expected to receive degrees at the ceremony on the campus mall. Carl Fike, pastor of Oak Park Church of the Brethren in Oakland, Md., will deliver the message at the baccalaureate service on May 17 at 6 p.m. in Nininger Hall.
Also at Bridgewater College, 129 of the graduating seniors are joining students across the nation and around the world in signing the Graduation Pledge and making a commitment to promote social and environmental responsibility in their future workplaces. According to a release from the school, this marks the 12th year that Bridgewater graduates have participated. “I think the Graduation Pledge is a great fit with Bridgewater’s mission of empowering our students to live ethical lives in a global society,” said chaplain Robert Miller.
Elizabethtown (Pa.) College holds its 110th Commencement on May 18 with two ceremonies: commencement for traditional students starts at 11 a.m. at The Dell, with speaker Eboo Patel, President of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC); and a ceremony for Edward R. Murphy Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning students starts at 4 p.m. at Leffler Chapel with speaker Jeffrey B. Miller, vice president and chief security officer of the National Football League.
Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind., announces that award-winning solar physicist Sarah Kurtz will deliver the address and receive an honorary degree at the commencement ceremony on May 19.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced numerous student awards at the close of the school year. Of note for Brethren, Katie Furrow of Monte Vista Church of the Brethren in Virlina District has received the Esther Mae Wilson Petcher Memorial Scholarship in memory of Esther Mae Wilson Petcher, a former missionary to Nigeria. Scott R. Griffin received the Dale V. Ulrich Physics Scholarship in honor of the former professor of physics and dean and provost who served 38 years on the faculty. Seniors Tyler Goss and Stephanie R. Breen were recognized by the Department of  Philosophy and Religion. Goss received the Outstanding Senior Award in Religion. He is a leader of Outspoken, the chapel praise band; a member of the Brethren Student Movement; and a member of the Deputation Team that provides worship services for churches. Breen received the Ruth and Steve Watson Philosophy Scholarship Award. Four students received Summer Christian Experience Scholarships and will spend 10 weeks working at Church of the Brethren-related camps: Patricia A. Ajavon and Kirsten Roth will serve at Shepherd’s Spring in Sharpsburg, Md.; Kaitlyn Harris will go to Camp Swatara in Bethel, Pa.; and Shelley Weachter will serve at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Va.

— Juniata College’s John C. Baker Award for Exemplary Service has been given to James Lakso, provost since 1998 and a member of the faculty for more than four decades, and John Hille, executive vice president for enrollment and retention. Lakso and Hille are the seventh and eighth recipient of the award since it was established in 1997. The two retiring administrators and retiring Juniata College president Thomas R. Kepple also have been honored by the establishment of a scholarship and two endowments to benefit students and faculty. Kepple was honored by the Thomas R. Kepple and Patricia G. Kepple International Opportunities Endowment to fund travel grants for students studying abroad and international students at Juniata. Hille was honored by the John and Tan Hille Endowed Scholarship, a merit scholarship to one student per year. In 2010, Lakso was honored by the James J. Lakso Endowment for Faculty Excellence providing annual funding for faculty development. In addition, the college also named its recently established teaching center the James J. Lakso Center for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

— Kathy Guisewite, a licensed minister from Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren, is outreach coordinator at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. In an announcement from Shenandoah District, she has been making presentations about the school and the early intervention program that she facilitates for church gatherings and Sunday school classes. More about the school is at .

— David Radcliff of the Brethren-related New Community Project had a letter to the editor published in the “New York Times” commenting on the clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 workers, most of them young women. Radcliff bemoaned the limitations consumers face in their ability to effect change. He wrote, in part, “For myself, I have divested from the stock market; reduced purchases to the minimum while seeking out previously owned and/or fairly made items whenever possible; spread the word in schools and other settings about these abuses; and taken groups abroad to visit our struggling neighbors and ecosystems and to consider the connections between our lives and theirs.” Find the letter in full at .


Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Lesley Crosson, Stan Dueck, Matt Hackworth, Mary Kay Heatwole, Jess Hoffert, Donna Kline, Jeri S. Kornegay, Greg Davidson Laszakovits, Jeff Lennard, Nancy Miner, Belita D. Mitchell, Becky Ullom Naugle, Lizz Schallert, Jonathan Shively, Brian Solem, John Wall, Roy Winter, Loretta Wolf, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue on May 29. 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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