Newsline for April 1, 2014

“New things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them” (Isaiah 42:9b).

1) Conferees discuss bridge-building at Pacific Southwest District gathering
2) Youth have a month to register for National Youth Conference before price goes up
3) On Earth Peace begins 40th anniversary celebrations, board establishes team for elimination of racism work
4) Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 304 completes orientation

5) Donna Kline retires as director of Deacon Ministries
6) Brian Solem resigns from communications post with BBT
7) Carol Berster retires as president of Peter Becker Community

8) Bridgewater College scholar to speak on John Kline martyrdom

9) Brethren bits: Remembering Carl Myers and Millie Mundy, personnel news from Shenandoah District, 100th anniversary of Carlisle Church of the Brethren, Pastors for Peace celebrates seagoing cowboys, and more

Quote of the week:
“What kind of redemptive community can we be?”
— Joe Detrick, acting district executive for Pacific Southwest District, at a recent intercultural gathering intended to help put hands and feet on a unity statement the district adopted in 2007. See story below.

1) Conferees discuss bridge-building at Pacific Southwest District gathering

By Randy Miller

Photo by Randy Miller
Intercultural ministries director Gimbiya Kettering leads group discussion.

Brethren from Pacific Southwest District congregations met recently to talk about how to put hands and feet on a unity statement they adopted in 2007. Some 30 Brethren gathered March 28-30 at Principe de Paz Church of the Brethren in Santa Ana, Calif., to talk about how they could be more intentional in their efforts to build bridges across racial, cultural, ethnic, and religious boundaries.

“The idea for this conference was to listen to what is going on in our urban churches,” said Gimbiya Kettering, coordinator of Intercultural Ministries for the denomination, who facilitated discussion. “At some conferences, outside speakers offer information to participants about what they should do. Here, the idea was to create a listening environment, and get a sense of where people in this district want to go.”

The unity statement that PSWD adopted in 2007 centered around John 13: 34-35, in which Jesus told his followers to love one another as he had loved them. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

It’s one thing to adopt a statement–something which, conferees observed, districts and denominations are adept at doing–it’s another to put the words of the statement into action. Seated before an easel and a dry-erase board in a small alcove off the Principe de Paz sanctuary, participants shared ideas about how to put John 13: 34-35 into motion in their own churches, and in their district.

The diversity in their backgrounds was readily apparent. There was Roxanne, from Reedly, Calif., near Fresno, whose father was Mexican, and whose mother was Mexican-American. There was Steve, an African-American born in an Illinois farming community who moved to Compton, Calif., near Los Angeles, when he was 5, and who speaks fluent Spanish. There was Richard, a Brethren pastor originally from Ecuador, but who has lived in Chicago, as well as northern and southern California. And there was Russ, a white co-pastor of a church in California’s central valley, who has struggled to find ways to reach out to other groups in his district.

“What kind of redemptive community can we be?” asked Joe Detrick, acting district executive. “This district needs to be faithful to what it called itself to be, to what we’ve committed ourselves to be,” he said, referring to the unity statement of 2007.

“Being intercultural is integral to being Christian,” said Jenn Hosler, community outreach coordinator for Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren, who is studying Brethren churches in urban settings. “It’s not just something that’s optional or ‘cool.’ It’s part of being Christian. We’re not fully who God has called us to be if we’re not together.”

Gilbert Romero, a member of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board and former pastor of Restoration Los Angeles (formerly Bella Vista) Church of the Brethren, offered some perspective. “Some people ask me, ‘Why do you stay in the Church of the Brethren?’ I tell them it’s because we’re a stubborn people. It probably comes from our Germanic background. I believe that, in time, with God, all things will work together for the good. God glues us together. I don’t see color differences. We’re all in this together. At Annual Conference, we argue, we hash things out. But at the end of Conference, we’re all together.”

After two days of listening to each others’ stories, conferees agreed to keep the discussion going and continue to find ways to build bridges across cultural barriers.

“We know people because we know their stories,” Kettering observed. “Individuals have to share their stories in order for the organization to work…. This conversation has got to keep going.”

By the end of the conference, participants had drawn up a list of things they could do to continue the conversation and bridge-building, including potlucks, song circles, and “cross-pollinating” worship.

Thinking about what could develop in the district–and even across the denomination–one participant observed, “That’s what I like about the Church of the Brethren–it’s that word ‘Brethren.’ You’re all my brothers and sisters. We’re family.”

— Randy Miller edits the Church of the Brethren magazine “Messenger.”

2) Youth have a month to register for National Youth Conference before price goes up

Youth and advisors only have one month left to register for this summer’s National Youth Conference (NYC) before the price goes up to $500 on May 1. All participants are encouraged to register as soon as possible to avoid a late fee. For all information regarding the conference, visit .

NYC is an event for senior high youth and their advisors, held every four years. All youth who have finished ninth grade through one year of college are eligible to attend. The week of NYC includes worship services twice a day, Bible studies, workshops, small groups, hiking, service projects, and outdoor recreation. NYC is held on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

Bethany Seminary student Eric Landram, the keynote speaker at last week’s Roundtable regional youth conference in Bridgewater, Va., referred to NYC as a mountaintop experience where youth hear God say, “I love you and I have so much in store for you!” NYC is not an event to miss, and for most is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The NYC 2014 theme is “Called by Christ, Blessed for the Journey Together,” based on Ephesians 4:1-7. To learn more about the theme, explore Bible studies on the conference scriptures, or check out some of the week’s speakers, visit the NYC website. For all questions regarding NYC, please contact the NYC office at 800-323-8039 ext. 323 or .

— Tim Heishman is a Brethren Volunteer Service workers and a coordinator for NYC 2014, along with Katie Cummings and Sarah Neher.

3) On Earth Peace begins 40th anniversary celebrations, board establishes team for elimination of racism work

By Jordan Bles

The On Earth Peace board and staff gathered at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for their spring meeting March 13-16. One major business item was continuing the organization’s elimination of racism training and audit–an initiative of the board and staff to continue addressing issues of institutional racism within the organization.

The board received a report from the Elimination of Racism Team, which consisted of board and staff, and committed to the formation of a transformation team to help On Earth Peace implement the steps identified in the report.

The board also committed to spending this year celebrating 40 years of On Earth Peace, and envisioning the next 40 years of peacemaking, with a theme of “Visions and Dreams of Building Peace.” The celebration will include opportunities for people across the country to become involved in telling their own stories of peacemaking and visions and dreams for building peace. People are encouraged to interview someone or be interviewed by someone as part of this project. An invitation will be extended to share interviews via a short web video, podcast, or transcript, through hosting a house party about On Earth Peace, or through a number of other ways. More information on how to participate will be forthcoming.

The board engaged in conversation with staff around current programs and vision for the future, while continuing to be in conversation and discernment with the Standing Committee of Annual Conference regarding the On Earth Peace statement of inclusion.

The board also welcomed new member Caitlin Haynes of Baltimore, Md.

— Jordan Bles is chair of the board of On Earth Peace.

4) Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 304 completes orientation

Courtesy of BVS
Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 304, Winter orientation 2014: (front row from left) Wes Gingrich, Caleb Ulrich, Vanessa Lucado, Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger, Tiffany Monarch, Connie Koumjian; (back from left) Keith Morphew, Rosemary Sorg, Allison Snyder, Samuele Zappitelli, Jessie Houff, Emma Berkey, Sarah Caldwell.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 304 has completed the Winter orientation, held Jan, 26-Feb. 14 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. Following are the names of the volunteers, their home congregation or home town, and placement sites:

Emma Berkey of Somerset (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is placed at Youth Initiatives, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland

Sarah Caldwell of Austin, Texas, is placed at CooperRiis, Mill Spring, N.C.

Wes Gingrich of Huntsdale Church of the Brethren in Carlisle, Pa., is placed at Camp Mardela, Denton, Md.

Jessie Houff of Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren in Bridgewater, Va., is placed at Rural and Migrant Ministries, Liberty, N.Y.

Connie Koumjian of New York, N.Y., is placed at Companion Ministries, Kansas City, Kan.

Vanessa Lucado of Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren is placed at SERRV, New Windsor, Md.

Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger of Harrisonburg, Va., is placed at New Community Project, Harrisonburg

Tiffany Monarch of Goshen, Ind., is placed at Family Abuse Center, Waco, Texas

Keith Morphew of Bethany Church of the Brethren in New Paris, Ind., is placed at SERRV, New Windsor, Md.

Allison Snyder of Panther Creek Church of the Brethren in Adel, Iowa, is placed at Talbert House, Cincinnati, Ohio

Rosemary Sorg of Toledo, Ohio, is placed at L’Arche Kilkenny, Kilkenny, Ireland

Caleb Ulrich of La Verne, Calif., is placed at Sisters of the Road, Portland, Ore.

Samuele Zappitelli of Ludwigshafen, Germany, is placed at Camp Courageous, Monticello, Iowa

For more information about Brethren Volunteer Service, go to .


5) Donna Kline retires as director of Deacon Ministries

Donna Kline

Donna Kline has announced her retirement as director of Deacon Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, as of July 11. She has held this position in Congregational Life Ministries for more than five years, since Oct. 20, 2008.

Prior to her service with Deacon Ministries, Kline did freelance work with the Association of Brethren Caregivers including a project to edit and index a series of essays for deacons written by Fred Swartz for the publication “Caregiving,” which inspired her with the possibilities that exist in deacon ministry.

In her work with Deacon Ministries she has led workshops for deacons across the country, as well as pre-Annual Conference workshops and webinars. She helped develop a new Deacon Manual for the denomination in 2012, which was published by Brethren Press, and has edited the “Basin and Towel” magazine of Congregational Life Ministries. She also guided development of the Church of the Brethren relationship with the Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADNet).

Her husband Joel Kline, pastor of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., also is retiring this summer. Kline looks forward to spending more time with grandchildren, traveling, and exploring volunteer opportunities.

6) Brian Solem resigns from communications post with BBT

By Donna March

Brian Solem tendered his resignation effective March 28 as manager of publications and joint director of communications for Brethren Benefit Trut (BBT). He was hired on Aug. 24, 2009, as publications coordinator and was promoted to his current position in June of last year.

He has been key in managing BBT’s website, served as editor of all BBT’s written and electronic newsletters and special communications, contributed significantly in creating the annual reports and live reports for Annual Conference, and served on the Chapel Committee for the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Solem has accepted a position as writer and manager of communications with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Ill. “We wish God’s blessings to Brian as he begins this new chapter in his life,” said a BBT announcement.

Jim Lehman has accepted the position of interim director of communications for Brethren Benefit Trust, beginning on March 19. He will conclude this role a few weeks after Annual Conference or until the permanent position is filled. He is self-employed, a writer and author of adult fiction and children’s books. He is a long-time member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

BBT will begin a search for a director of communications within the next several weeks.

— Donna March is director of Office Operations for Brethren Benefit Trust.

7) Carol Berster retires as president of Peter Becker Community

By Colleen M. Algeo

Carol Berster, president/CEO of the Peter Becker Community since February 2006, will be retiring in March 2015. She plans to move to Delaware to be closer to her family. Peter Becker is a Church of the Brethren-related continuing care retirement community in Montgomery County, Pa.

During her tenure, the Maplewood Estates apartments were completed, the Healthcare Center received a total renovation, renovations are underway to the common areas of Ridgeview Estates, and business systems have been improved.

Berster has served in five different senior services organization since 1976: Peninsula United Methodist Homes and Ingleside Homes in Delaware; Presbyterian Homes in the Presbytery of Huntington, Presbyterian Homes Inc., and Peter Becker Community in Pennsylvania.

When asked about her time at Peter Becker Community, she replied, “I will always be thankful to the Board of Directors for giving me this opportunity to be in service in this wonderful place. I have worked for five different senior services organizations over the past 38 years and by far Peter Becker is the most loving and caring place that I have served.”

The board has appointed Mennonite Health Services Alliance to lead the search to begin seeking the next CEO. The community also is planning opportunities for staff, families, and constituents to honor Berster for her years of service.

— Colleen M. Algeo is public relations coordinator for the Peter Becker Community.


8) Bridgewater College scholar to speak on John Kline martyrdom

By Mary Kay Heatwole

Carol A. Scheppard will deliver the 2014 John Kline Lecture at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., on April 6 at 3 p.m. This year marks the sesquicentennial of Kline’s assassination, and Scheppard will discuss Kline’s death and the concept of martyrdom.

The title of Scheppard’s talk is “Perceptions of Martyrdom and John Kline.” She will explore John Kline’s identity as a martyr by various generations of Brethren and compare these martyr stories with others throughout Christian history. In particular, she will describe the link between stories of martyrs and popular understanding of Christian identity and salvation.

John Kline was a Brethren minister and elder from Broadway, Va., and a denominational leader who did much to preserve Brethren unity during the Civil War. The Brethren were among the few denominations to escape the conflict without dividing into northern and southern branches. In June 1864, neighbors shot Kline for his pacifism and perceived Unionism.

Scheppard is professor of religion and vice-president and dean for academic affairs at Bridgewater (Va.) College, and an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. She holds a doctorate in religious studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

The John Kline Homestead sponsors the lecture series. This will be the fourth in a series of five annual John Kline Lectures that commemorates the Civil War Sesquicentennial. The lecture will be held at the John Kline Homestead followed by 19th-century style refreshments.

Admission is free, but seating is limited and reservations are required. For reservations and additional information, contact Paul Roth at or Linville Creek Church of the Brethren at 540-896-5001.

In more news from the John Kline Homestead, a second weekend of Candlelight Dinners will be held April 25 and 26, at 6 p.m. Make reservations by contacting 540-896-5001 or . Cost is $40 per person, and groups are welcome. Seating is limited to 32.

— Mary Kay Heatwole is editorial assistant for media relations in the Office of Marketing and Communications at Bridgewater College.

9) Brethren bits


Eighty-five people gathered at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on March 18 to celebrate the peacemaking witness of Heifer Project’s seagoing cowboys, reports Jim Miller in a release to Newsline. Twelve persons were recognized by Shenandoah District’s Pastors for Peace, following a presentation by Peggy Reiff Miller.

     Shown above: The seagoing cowboys recognized included (standing from left) Robert McFadden, Harold Armstrong, David Flora, Chester Bowman, Harold McNett, Richard Wright, Walt Daggett; (seated from left) David Brightbill, Jesse Robertson, Olive Roop, Ralph Shively, and Elllis Harsh. (Photo by Dale Ulrich)

     Reiff Miller’s presentation included many photos from the work beginning in 1945, and continuing for the next decade. Over 300,000 heifers, bulls, mules, and horses were sent from North American farms in the care of the seagoing cowboys who had responsibility for the animals on the ships crossing dangerous post-war oceans. Over 4,000 heifers were donated by Church of the Brethren and others through Heifer Project. Reiff Miller has documented the involvement of over 400 cowboys and cowgirls (for more about her research visit and click on Seagoing Cowboys).

     Pastors for Peace is a Shenandoah District fellowship that began seven years ago and sponsors an annual spring banquet recognizing Living Peacemakers and a fall continuing education event for pastors. Active support and challenge to district youth is a new focus getting underway this year.

Remembrance: Carl E. Myers, 88, a former district executive minister for Illinois and Wisconsin District of the Church of the Brethren, died on March 22 at Timbercrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in North Manchester, Ind. He and his late wife Doreen were longtime members of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. He was a graduate of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and Bethany Theological Seminary. He served pastorates in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, before serving on the denominational staff and then as district executive minister in Illinois and Wisconsin until his retirement in 1990. He is survived by son Stephen Merryweather of Elgin, Ill., and daughters Judith A. (Richard) Myers-Walls of Lafayette, Ind., Linda M. (Lee) Swanson of Elgin, and Karen (Clay) Myers-Bowman of Manhattan, Kan., grandchildren and a great-grandchild. A memorial service was held March 25, in the chapel at Timbercrest. Memorial gifts are received to the Alzheimer’s Association, Church World Service, and Heifer International.

Shenandoah District is remembering Mildred F. “Millie” Mundy, who died March 5 at the Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community at age 94. She held the title of administrative assistant for the Shenandoah District (and its precursor, the Tri-District) from 1965-76, often carrying the functions of an associate district executive. She was a long-time teacher of Weekday Religious Education in Rockingham County, and also energetically promoted outdoor ministry through her work with Camp Bethel and Brethren Woods. She was a graduate of Bridgewater College and Bethany Theological Seminary, and completed a degree at Columbia University. Her home church was Mill Creek Church of the Brethren, and she had been a member of Bridgewater Church of the Brethren for the last several decades. A memorial service was held on March 22 at the Bridgewater Retirement Community.

Larry Holsinger  of Mill Creek Church of the Brethren has joined the Shenandoah District staff as part-time financial secretary/bookkeeper. He succeeds Sarah Long, who resigned to move to the Roanoke area as administrator with the church renewal service E3. Holsinger retired as auditing director at James Madison University after 34 years there, and previously worked in public accounting. He holds a master’s degree in accounting and is a Certified Fraud Examiner.

R. Jan Thompson of Bridgewater, Va., who was one of the Church of the Brethren members at the World Council of Churches General Assembly in Korea last November, has prepared a PowerPoint presentation on his experience and is available to present it for Sunday school classes, small group gatherings, and other meetings. Contact him at 540-515-3581 or .

Carlisle (Pa.) Church of the Brethren will celebrate its 100th Anniversary on June 21-22. “You are invited to attend their celebration–full of pictures, history, worship, and song,” said an announcement from Southern Pennsylvania District.

Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren will host the Bridgewater College Choir in concert on Friday, April 25, at 7 p.m.

In more news from the Manassas Church, the congregation is hosting student interns from South University in Savannah, Ga., as an expression of the Brethren commitment to be of service to the community, said a newsletter announcement. “Starting in April, our church will be hosting several students from South University who will be involved in a Medical Internship program that involves South University and Prince William Hospital.” During the five-week program the students will live in the church parsonage.

The Brethren Housing Association in Harrisburg, Pa., is holding “Honor Thy Mother by Golfing or Biking” on May 9-10. “You can honor your mother and the moms at Brethren Housing Association recovering their home by golfing or biking on Mother’s Day Weekend,” said an announcement. May 9 is the Golf Tournament at ParLine Golf Course in Elizabethtown, Pa., from 12 noon-6:30 p.m. with plenty of contests and fun prizes. May 10 is the Spring Thaw Bike Tour starting at Mt. Wilson (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. This year’s bike event includes two road loops (50 or 25 miles) and a family-friendly option on the Lancaster-Lebanon Rail Trail, followed by a Bike Rodeo, lunch, and prizes. Contact Chris Fitz at or 717-233-6016 or visit .

Brethren Woods, a camp and outdoor ministry center near Keezletown, Va., holds its Spring Festival on April 26. The event offers “a full day of great activities that are fun and help raise money to support the Shenandoah District’s outdoor ministry program” including a fishing contest, pancake breakfast, craft demonstrations, paddle boat rides, hike-a-thon, children’s games, petting zoo, Dunk-the-Dunkard, live auction, and entertainment, said the district newsletter.

World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed deep worry over a court decision in Egypt. The death sentence for 529 supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi came on March 25, and an appeal is expected said the WCC release. “While being hopeful that the judgment will be overturned on the first appeal, the WCC remains concerned over the reversal of the recent signs of hope which had suggested that the vibrant Egyptian society was progressing towards respect of human dignity and the rule of law,” Tveit said. His statement echoes concerns of human rights organizations and the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, who have condemned the outcome of the mass trial as a “clear breach of international law.” Tveit concluded, “We believe that only a peaceful and inclusive process, in which all political parties and civil society organizations and actors work together” will lead the country to “national unity and to justice and peace.” His full statement is at .

The number of people displaced by a militant Islamist insurgency and terror attacks in northeastern Nigeria has grown to three million people since January, according to media reports posted on on March 27, originally reported by the “Vanguard” newspaper and the “Cameroon Tribune.” The report also cited a figure of no fewer than 1,000 Nigerians killed in the region in three months. The “Vanguard” said the figures came from the director-general of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, Mohammad Sani-Sidi, who was speaking with donor agencies about the humanitarian situation. In response, the head of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Nigeria said the organization would spend $75 million on humanitarian assistance in Nigeria. A leader of the Nigerian Red Cross was quoted saying the humanitarian situation is “unprecedented.”

The contribution of the late Claire Stine to the start of Heifer Project, now Heifer International, was noted with a commemorate feature in a special edition of Heifer’s “World Ark” magazine this spring. The magazine is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Heifer International, which began as a Church of the Brethren program. Stine, who passed away last year, raised the first heifer–the famous “Faith the Cow”–as a Brethren teenager living on a farm in Indiana. Later he also traveled with a Heifer shipment of animals to Germany as one of the program’s sea-going cowboys. Read more about Stine’s life and work in an online version of the spring issue of “World Ark” at .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jordan Bles, Jeff Boshart, Deborah Brehm, Christopher Fitz, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Tim Heishman, Donna March, Jim Miller, Randy Miller, Howard Royer, Jonathan Shively, Callie Surber, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is planned for Tuesday, April 8. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at . Newsline appears at the end of every 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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