Newsline for Dec. 10, 2014

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid…” (Luke 12:6-7, NIV).

1) Church of the Brethren general secretary attends launch of Ecumenical Peace Advocacy Network

2) Jocelyn Snyder to coordinate orientation for Brethren Volunteer Service

3) Children’s Disaster Services workshops offer training opportunities
4) Brethren Academy updates course list for 2015

5) The Pastor’s Study: Leaning into the Light
6) Iraqi Kurdistan: Project ‘Bringing Hope and Fun’ begins in Arbat IDP camp

7) Brethren bits: Peter Becker Community leadership transition, Bethany Seminary seeks director of educational technology, Kulp Bible College resumes in new location in Nigeria, Little Swatara celebrates a 50th, Living Stream features the Mambulas, more.


Photo courtesy of Carl & Roxane Hill

Quote of the week:

“We kneel together,
We bow as one.
We raise our voices
To God above.”

— From the refrain of “We Kneel Together,” a song in honor of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) written by Scott Duffey and performed by the Bittersweet Gospel Band. The song was recorded at New Enterprise Church of the Brethren in Pennsylvania in October. David Sollenberger has posted it online as a music video with images from Nigeria and subtitles that give latest statistics on the number of people affected by the violent insurgency in northeast Nigeria, as well as information about how to contribute to the relief effort. The music video may be suitable for use as an offertory during worship. Find it at .

1) Church of the Brethren general secretary attends launch of Ecumenical Peace Advocacy Network

Photo courtesy of Stan Noffsinger
Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger, right, with Ibrahim Wushishi Yusuf of the Christian Council of Nigeria, during the consultation and launch of EPAN. The WCC consultation afforded an opportunity also for conversation about the situation of the Nigerian Brethren with ecumenical colleagues, Noffsinger reported.

To build just and sustainable peace, engaging churches as well as ecumenical organizations and civil society, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has launched an Ecumenical Peace Advocacy Network (EPAN). The launch came out of a consultation on Dec. 1-5 in Sigtuna, Sweden.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger was one of the Christian leaders to attend the consultation, and he moderated one of the sessions on the topic “Inter-Religious Cooperation in Peacebuilding.”

The consultation on Peace-building and Advocacy for Just Peace was hosted by the Church of Sweden, the Uniting Church in Sweden, and the Christian Council of Sweden. More than 80 ecumenical advocacy experts, church leaders, civil society and United Nations partners from 37 different countries took part.

Noffsinger noted key words spoken by WCC general secretary Olav Fykes Tveit in his opening remarks: “War is always undermining the intention of God’s creation. War and the violence it elicits are sin and work against God’s creation, each aspect of creation in total.”

EPAN will aim to turn into concrete action the theme “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” described in a call issued by the WCC Busan Assembly in 2013. “This consultation was intended to create program synergies and develop collaboration methods, sharing best practices and lessons learned in peace-building, conflict prevention, and advocacy for peace,” said Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, WCC representative to the UN in New York.

The consultation focused on a framework for advocacy for peace, as well as practical strategies and tools required to support coordinated international advocacy for a peaceful world. Such a strategy would be employed by ecumenical organizations, including the WCC and its member churches, ACT Alliance members, national councils of churches, and other partners from civil society.

Bueno de Faria said: “The new Ecumenical Peace Advocacy Network is a great opportunity for churches to act collectively to address issues related to peace on a global level. Churches and ecumenical organization have the responsibility to mobilize themselves on specific peace issues and influence processes that brings about lasting and just peace.”

Noffsinger moderated a morning devotion session on “Inter-Religious Cooperation in Peacebuilding.” The speaker for that session was Lutheran bishop emeritus Gunnar Stålsett of Oslo, Norway, who is a member of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.

As a follow-up to the consultation, two events will be organized in 2015 in Africa and the Middle East with the purpose of preparing advocacy strategies and plans to promote just peace, reconciliation, and conflict prevention. More information about the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is at .

(This report includes portions of a World Council of Churches release.)


2) Jocelyn Snyder to coordinate orientation for Brethren Volunteer Service

Photo by BVS
Jocelyn Snyder

Jocelyn Snyder begins Jan. 5 as orientation coordinator for Brethren Volunteer Service. Her work will be based at the BVS office at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

From 2012-2014 she was a mission worker and BVS volunteer in South Sudan, serving with Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service. In Torit, South Sudan, she worked at a primary school of the African Inland Church and taught basic English courses for women.

In previous employment, she served with Mennonite Central Committee in Zambia for three years, 2006-2009, working as assistant chaplain at Choma Secondary School and also facilitating HIV/AIDS youth and young adult peer educator workshops.

Snyder has been youth and young adult coordinator at Hartville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, where she is a member, and also has been youth director at Mount Tabor United Methodist Church in East Canton, Ohio. She is a 2005 graduate of Malone University in Canton, Ohio, with a bachelor of arts degree in youth ministry.


3) Children’s Disaster Services workshops offer training opportunities

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), which is a Church of the Brethren program and a part of Brethren Disaster Ministries, has announced a number of workshops in early 2015.

Since 1980, CDS has met the needs of children by setting up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers across the nation. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, CDS volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by natural or human-caused disasters.

Participants in the 27-hour workshops learn to provide comfort and encouragement to children by offering healing care in traumatic situations, and how to create a safe and friendly environment that gives children the chance to engage in therapeutic play activities designed to relieve stress and calm fears. The workshops include a simulated shelter experience (an overnight stay) and will be provided to any group of 15 or more adults interested in working with children after a disaster. Participants completing the course will have the opportunity to become certified Children’s Disaster Services volunteers.

Because children can experience personal disasters (when a friend moves away, a pet dies, etc.) people who come in contact with a distressed child can benefit from this workshop. Many of the concepts taught in the workshop are appropriate to use at those times as well as after disasters.

Normally a registration fee of $45 (or $55 for late registration) covers the cost of the training materials. Donations to cover other expenses are appreciated. More information and registration are at .

Following are dates, locations, and local contacts for the workshops in early 2015:

Jan. 23-24, 2015, Central Christian Church, Bradenton, Fla.; contact Rev. Joy Haskin Rowe, 540-420-4896,

Feb. 21-22, 2015, LaVerne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; contact Kathy Benson, 909-837-7103,

March 5-6, 2015, Diocese of Orange Pastoral Center, Garden Grove, Calif.; contact Elizabeth Sandoval, 714-282-3098 or 714-609-6884,

April 17-18, 2015, First Congregational Church of Wallingford, Conn.; contact Eloise Hazelwood, 203-294-2065,

April 24-25, 2015, Latrobe (Pa.) United Methodist Church; contact Deb Ciocco, 724-331-0628,

May 21, 2015, Special Partnership Workshop at a pre-conference session of the Child Life Specialist National Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio. This workshop is only available to Child Life Specialists. For more information contact Kathy Fry-Miller, associate director of Children’s Disaster Services, at 800-451-4407 or 260-704-1443, .

4) Brethren Academy updates course list for 2015

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has issued an updated list of courses for 2015. The Brethren Academy is a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary.

Academy courses are open to students in Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM), pastors (who may earn two continuing education units), and all interested persons. Students will be accepted beyond the registration deadlines, however those deadlines help determine whether enough students have registered to offer a course. Many courses have required pre-course readings, so students need to allow enough time to complete those readings. Those registering for courses should be sure to receive course confirmation before purchasing books or making travel plans.

To register for a course, contact or 765-983-1824.

“Evangelism: Now and Not Yet,” Jan. 5-9, 2015, with instructor Tara Hornbacker at Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, Ind. The registration deadline has been extended to Dec. 17. Pre-class reading is required.

Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar, Jan. 16-19, 2015, will be a beginning retreat for a bi-vocational pastors cohort. The seminar will include four four-day retreats over the course of two years. Please contact the Brethren Academy at or 765-983-1824 for additional information on this program. The registration deadline is Dec. 31.

“Now the Silence, Now the Songs: An Introduction to Worship,” Feb. 2-March 27, 2015, an online course with instructor Lee-Lani Wright. The registration deadline is Jan. 5, 2015.

“Narrative Theology,” April 16-19, 2015, with instructor Scott Holland at McPherson (Kan.) College. The registration deadline is March 19, 2015.

“Administration as Pastoral Care,” April 17-19, 2015, with instructor Julie Hostetter at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The registration deadline is March 20, 2015.

Christians in Germany-Intercultural Travel Seminar, May 29-June 14, 2015, with instructor Kendall Rogers. The registration deadline is Jan. 1, 2015, to fly with the group. For those making their own flight reservations to Marburg, Germany, the registration deadline is March 1, 2015.

Annual Conference Directed Independent Study Unit, July 10-11, 2015, with presenter Joyce Rupp on the theme “Delving Deeply Into Compassion” onsite at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla. The DISU instructor is Carrie Eikler. The registration deadline is June 12, 2015.

“Bi-vocational Ministry,” July 20-Sept. 11, 2015, an online course with instructor Sandra Jenkins. The registration deadline is June 22, 2015.


5) The Pastor’s Study: Leaning into the Light

By Chris Bowman

Advent is upon us. The four Sundays before Christmas are set apart by the church as a season of waiting with anticipation for the Light of the World.

Each of the four Sundays of Advent we symbolize this anticipation by lighting a different candle. The light grows until, finally, the Christ candle is lit, on Christmas Eve. Symbolically at that same service we will each light our own candles to recognize that Christ came for each of us.

What’s up with all this pyromania?

Well, there is something honest and fulfilling in this symbol. I notice it when a match is struck in controlled explosion, or the acolyte enters the sanctuary with their light nearly out, or the glow of an ember in the ash of last night’s campfire.

The God of creation came to us as a tiny baby in a borrowed manger in an occupied land–a tiny little spark in a great big darkness. Yet that baby grew to become our savior and changed the world.

It often happens this way, doesn’t it? Brethren Volunteer Service began when one person stood up and spoke a new idea to the church; Brethren camping began when a person had a vision and visited each district to urge them to invest in camps for our youth; our denomination began, in fact, when a handful of people started studying the Bible together and decided to lean into what they learned.

Sometimes it starts with one small spark.

And as we look to our own new year I wonder what it is that we will decide to lean into…. This fellowship of followers where relationships matter and Christian discipleship counts. I’m looking forward.

— Chris Bowman is lead pastor at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren. This reflection first appeared in the church newsletter, and is reprinted with permission.

6) Iraqi Kurdistan: Project ‘Bringing Hope and Fun’ begins in Arbat IDP camp

By Terra Winston

This release from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) was published today on CPTnet:

Photo courtesy of CPT

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan has begun a project, “Bringing Hope and Fun,” to work with children in the Arbat IDP camp for internally displaced persons, just outside of Sulaimani. Led by our intern, Alicja Zasadowska, and aided by the local organization STEP, we were able to create an activity for the children of the camp.

We asked them to draw a picture and write a story explaining the best day of their lives. The 25 children we were working with ranged in age from 5 to 15. For many of them, grief and horror has become a central part of their lives. People often ask them to reflect on these difficult things as they tell their stories. However, Alicja wanted them to share about something happy, so that they could practice cultivating good memories even in the midst of their trauma.

Alicja faced some resistance as she spoke with others about her intentions to have the children draw and write about happy moments. One father told her, “My children know nothing of joy; this project will not work.” Some of the staff at the camp warned her that “these children do not have happy stories to tell.” Another NGO questioned why we would want to share happy things, when sad stories influence people much more. However, her focus was not on others but solely on the children.

The look on the faces of these children when we asked them to share about happy moments was priceless. One 15-year-old young man burst into a smile and shook his head, “Yes.” You could almost see him transported to another place and time a he began to work on his drawing. These children have been though so much, but are still capable of happiness and of remembering joy. Even while we were setting up for the project a group of girls begin playing a clapping game in a circle.

For me, while sitting with people in their grief is difficult, I found it equally challenging to sit with these children in their joy and creativity. The humanity of young people drawing is something that I could easily connect to and understand. However, at times, something would call me out of their joy and into the surroundings of the IDP camp, and those moments almost broke my heart. The juxtaposition of these young people as they drew, made silly faces, sang songs, and giggled against the sorrow, cold tents, and worry of us grownups for their future, overwhelmed me.

“Bringing Hope and Fun” will be an ongoing project for CPT Iraqi Kurdistan. We hope to have an online gallery and perhaps create a book of the Arbat youths’ stories and drawings. We also hope to have a display at the camp for the children and their families to enjoy. We will update our Facebook page and CPTnet as these activities occur. In the meantime, please keep them in your prayers.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams was originally begun by the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren, and has the mission of building partnerships to transform violence and oppression, and the vision of a world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation. Find out more at .

7) Brethren bits

The Annual Battle of Dranesville Remembrance and Peace Service at Dranesville Church of the Brethren in Herndon, Va., will be held Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. This is the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Dranesville, according to the church newsletter. “On Dec. 20, 1861, about 5,000 Union forces and 2,000 Confederate forces fought near the intersection of Georgetown Pike (Rt. 193) and Leesburg Pike (Rt. 7), resulting in 50 men killed and 200 men wounded,” the newsletter reported. “Dranesville congregation members have discovered the names of about 35 of the 50 men who died that winter day. At the service, candles will be lit in their memory–and then extinguished, one by one, to demonstrate war’s dreadful cost in human suffering. The service will include readings and hymns from the Civil War period, and the message will proclaim the ‘gospel of peace’ (Ephesians 6:15). After the service, there will be Civil War artifacts (some from the Battle of Dranesville) on display in the fellowship hall, and Dranesville member/amateur historian John Waggoner will give a talk about the battle.” All are welcome to attend. For more information on the battle, see .

— Carol Berster is retiring after eight years of service as Peter Becker Community’s president and CEO. The community’s Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Suzanne Owens as new president and CEO, beginning Jan. 19. Peter Becker Community is a continuing care retirement community affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, located in Harleysville, Pa. Owens earned a master’s degree from Penn State University and a bachelor of science from Henderson State University in Arkansas. She has over 23 years of experience in the senior living field in executive management roles. Most recently, she served as operations and marketing consultant with Mennonite Health Services Consulting. Prior to that, she was senior vice president of operations for a Pennsylvania based senior living organization, providing oversight for operations for five sites that served more than 1,000 residents in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

— Bethany Theological Seminary is seeking candidates for the new position of director of educational technology. This position will serve the seminary internally and externally by providing support for distance education and coordinating Bethany’s electronic presence in various settings. It is a full-time, salaried, exempt position, and applications will be reviewed until the position is filled. Major responsibilities including providing educational technology support for teaching faculty; webcasting and facilitating electronic communication for classes, events, and meetings; envisioning and providing for, facilitating, overseeing, and training others in internal and external communications based in electronic technologies; keeping the seminary current with technological advances in these and related fields. Qualifications include understanding of and commitment to the mission of Bethany Theological Seminary; a bachelor’s degree in computer science, educational technology, or related field; ability to organize a complex workload, set priorities, and learn new skills independently; thorough knowledge of the Moodle Course Management System; thorough knowledge of the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS platforms as they relate to educational technology and electronic communications; ability to work collaboratively from an office on campus in Richmond, Ind. A detailed description of responsibilities and qualifications can be found on Bethany’s employment opportunities webpage at . Apply by sending a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to the Academic Dean’s Office, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN  47374; 765-983-1815; .

— In news from Nigeria, Kulp Bible College has resumed classes at a new location, reports Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer. The new location is reported to be in central Nigeria at a place where Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) previously had a school named in honor of former mission worker Monroe Good. An e-mail received from a leader at the college said that this week lectures started for the final year diploma and degree students with encouragement and support from EYN president Samuel Dante Dali and his team.

— On Sunday, Oct. 12, Little Swatara Church of the Brethren in Rehrersburg, Pa., celebrated 50 years of being in its “new” church. The original dedication services were Oct. 13 and 14, 1964, writes Richard E. Frantz in a report on the celebration. “The congregation, which is 257 years old, originally met in 4 meeting houses on a weekly rotating basis. During the 10:30 a.m. worship service, Sandra (Forry) Kauffman, the Historical Committee Chair, welcomed everyone and listed a few of the conveniences we now take for granted including indoor plumbing, a nursery, a dependable heating system, a sound system, a library, Sunday school classrooms with walls instead of classrooms created by pulling curtains on pipes, a kitchen to prepare meals, and a fellowship hall.” Three former pastors were able to attend and bring greetings: Jeffrey Copp of  Columbia City, Ind., who pastored the congregation for 23 years; Ervin Huston of Mt. Wilson, Pa., who was interim pastor for 2 years; and Robert Krouse of Florida who pastored for 5 years before recently retiring. Matt Christ, who began his pastorate in September, brought the message of the morning. Worship was followed by a church picnic in the fellowship hall. Frantz added: “We even had a flash mob of former teenagers who rolled in a piano and sang their youth choir music of several decades ago.”

— Living Stream Church of the Brethren on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m. (eastern time) will feature a presentation by Musa and Sarah Mambula during the live streaming of the congregation’s online worship service. The Mambulas are on a tour of the Pennsylvania area speaking to Brethren churches about the crisis in Nigeria. They will be hosted at Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren for the filming of the online service. The service will highlight connections with the  Advent Offering of the Church of the Brethren for global outreach, scheduled for that same day, and the Nigeria Crisis Fund. “Since we worship online, Living Stream Church of the Brethren is inviting everyone in the country (and beyond!) to join our worship that evening to hear the Mambula’s presentation,” said Ambler team pastor Enten Eller, who also is on the pastoral team of Living Stream. “We see this as a way that Musa and Sarah can reach practically every congregation to share their stories and perspective about Nigeria, not just the churches to which the Mambulas can drive.” To participate in the online service go to where there will be a prominent link to the evening’s worship. Questions may be sent to .

— Another round of Advent and Christmas announcements from Church of the Brethren congregations and organizations:
“For us, it is a witness tool,” pastor Earl Stovall told the Shippensburg (Pa.) News-Chronicle in an article about the live nativity at Ridge Church of the Brethren, slated for Friday and Saturday, Dec. 12 and 13. “We try to stay as true to the scripture telling as we can.” Find the article at .

Mt. Pleasant Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va., presents its annual Live Nativity from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 11 and 12, and 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13. The program starts with live music and then presents eight scenes telling the story of Jesus’ birth. Crafts and refreshments follow in the Marketplace, according to an announcement in the Shenandoah District newsletter.

A group from Danville Church of the Brethren performed Christmas songs in the line up for the annual Christmas parade in Keyser, W.Va., reports the “Mineral Daily News-Tribune.” The parade took place Dec. 5. Find the extensive line up listed at .

“Ring the Bells,” a lyrical ballet for the Christmas season, was presented on Sunday Dec. 7 at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren and will be repeated at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12, at Otterbein United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg, Va. The ballet produced by InMotion School of Dance benefits the New Community Project’s Give a Girl a Chance providing education for girls around the world who might otherwise have no opportunity to go to school. Admission is free; an offering supports Give a Girl a Chance project.

Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community holds a Christmas Open House at its Houff Community Center from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 14. Come for music, beautifully decorated Christmas trees, and refreshments, said an invitation from Shenandoah District.

During the month of December, Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren is calling church members and the community to pray, fast, worship, and give for the crisis in Nigeria, according to the church newsletter. “Pray at every meeting, every worship, every small group, and every day for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria,” said the announcement inviting support for the effort. “Spend time during the month of December fasting as a sign of support and interceding on behalf of those in Nigeria…. Call to Worship–join us for a LOVE EYN Worship Night on Saturday, Dec. 13…. Call to Give–an offering will be taken at the Worship Night to go directly to support EYN needs. Give a donation as an alternate Christmas gift for your family, friends, and coworkers.” The announcement noted that all monies up to $500,000 will be matched by the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board.

A Live Nativity sponsored by Mill Creek Church of the Brethren and the community will be hosted by Vern and Mary Jane Michael at 8218 Port Republic Road, Port Republic, Va., from 7-9 p.m. on Dec. 21-23. “Enjoy scripture, music, and scenery along with Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, and the wise men, shepherds, and animals, including camels,” said an invitation.

“A Medieval Christmas from Chapel to Hall” by Nutmeg and Ginger, a musical ensemble dedicated to the recreation of Medieval/Renaissance music, was performed in concert on Dec. 7 at York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. The concert was given to the congregation in honor of the church’s generosity and support to the Hollinger family. “We are forever grateful to God for you,” said a note from the family in the church newsletter.

— “Brethren Voices” produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren for airing on community access cable television, is offering two episodes in December. A special produced at Lebanon (Pa.) Valley Brethren Home titled “The Search For The Elusive White Squirrel,” reports that the retirement community is home to “the Elusive White Squirrel…a white squirrel named Snoball,” writes producer Ed Groff. “According to Rob Nelson, an ecologist of the University of Hawaii, these white squirrels are a rare version of the eastern grey squirrel. There are a few types of genetic aberrations that cause the white coats.” The December episode features Madison Avenue Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., and its  “Reverse Offering” which is handed out once a year. “Everyone in attendance is given an envelope and inside is a $20 bill, which is to be given to someone in need,” Groff wrote in an announcement of the episode. “Several weeks later, during the worship service, the people of the congregation share their stories about giving the money away to someone who really needs it. The sharing of the reverse offering can be very creative, depending on the needs in the community.” A second segment features the “Gold Standard” and the 100 Strong Program of Aurora, Ore. In January, “Brethren Voices” will feature the ministry of Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. DVD copies of “Brethren Voices” are available from Portland Peace Church of the Brethren. Contact Ed Groff at .  Many of the “Brethren Voices” programs can be seen at .

— The Southern Ohio District Board has approved a donation of $10,000 from district reserves, recently increased through receipt of some assets from the recently closed Poplar Grove congregation, to the Nigeria Crisis Fund, reports the district newsletter. The newsletter notes that this donation will be matched by an amount set aside by the Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren. “The board is asking congregations and district individuals to consider gifts to this special fund as well,” the newsletter reported.

— Northern Plains District reports that the quarter tubes that have been collecting change in the various churches across the district have now collected enough donations to purchase six arks from Heifer International. “This sixth ark is given in honor of the BVSers [Brethren Volunteer Service workers] from the Northern Plains District,” said the newsletter report by Diane Mason.

— “As we look to the end of the year, Pleasant Hill Village in Girard [Ill] has so much to be thankful for,” said a note in the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. The retirement community raised more than $37,500 at its 18th Annual Fall Dinner and Auction on Oct. 18, the report said. More than 220 people attended the event. The proceeds will help pay for new tables for the Pleasant Hill Healthcare dining room as well as new vital sign monitors, equipment for the new assisted-living rooms at Pleasant Hill Residence, and landscaping and beautification projects.

— “Being in the Light; Sharing the Light” is the title for the Springs of Living Water Spiritual Disciplines folder for the season of Epiphany, running from Jan. 11-Feb. 21, 2015. Springs of Living Water church renewal initiative is led by David and Joan Young. “This Season of Light in the midst of a dark world is one of the two seasons of joy in the Christian year and runs up until Lent,” said an announcement. “Using Sunday and daily lectionary readings that follow the Brethren Bulletin Series, the folder helps individuals and congregations in a daily prayer pattern to follow the age old Brethren practice to live the meaning of the text that day. On the insert, persons can select the next spiritual discipline they feel God is leading them to.” The folder includes Bible study questions written by Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren south of Pittsburgh, Pa. The folder can be used for individual or group Bible study. Find the folder and Bible study questions on the Springs website at . In a related announcement, Suzie Moss who was formerly secretary for Western Pennsylvania District office, has retired from that position and is now volunteer administrative assistant for the Springs initiative. For more information contact David and Joan Young at 717-615-4515.

Photo courtesy of Manchester University
Manchester University executive chef Chris Fogerty, left, and Carole Miller-Patrick distribute locally produced honey at a Community Dinner

— Manchester University has been named to President’s Service Honor Roll for an eighth year. The school based in North Manchester, Ind., “is also on the Interfaith Community Service Honor Roll,” said a release. The President’s Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions whose community service efforts achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. Manchester University has a long reputation for its many service projects and volunteer opportunities, the release notes. These programs include volunteer projects at Camp Mack, American Red Cross blood drives, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and the Indiana Reading Corps. Last year, Manchester students contributed more than 49,000 hours to their communities, their churches, their country, and nations around the world.

— In related news, Carole Miller-Patrick, who directs the Manchester University Center for Service Opportunities, spoke this fall at a White House conference. The university was among just three schools nationwide asked to present on “Interfaith Programming that Works” among hundreds of representatives from higher education at the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, said a release. “We like to say we are feeding the mind as well as the body,” said Miller-Patrick. She helps organize the North Manchester Community Dinners, offered 4-6:30 p.m. every second and fourth Tuesday at Zion Lutheran Church in North Manchester. What sets the program apart is that the dinners, offered at one site, are hosted by individual churches in the community on a rotating basis, each taking responsibility to provide food for a month or particular dinner, the release said. The churches are aided by university students who set up for meals, serve them, and clean up afterward. The community meals are part of the university’s effort to meet a Campus Challenge issued in 2011 inviting higher learning institutions to commit to programming aimed at increasing literacy and fighting hunger. Virtually every church in town participates through the Fellowship of Churches. Church of the Brethren congregations that help with the Community Dinners include Manchester, Eel River, and Liberty Mills. An average of 150 people attend each dinner, sometimes 50 at one meal and 200 at the next, and about 10 students volunteer at each meal, according to the release. When she was asked to talk about Manchester’s success at the White House conference, Miller-Patrick said others were astounded by the level of cooperation here. “The big question they kept asking was, ‘Why aren’t these churches complaining?’” She said the answer is simple, “It works.”

— A release from the National Council of Churches (NCC) following the decision of a grand jury not to indict a police officer in the choke hold death of Eric Garner in New York, quoted from Luke 12:6-7: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The NCC is calling on prosecutors and police forces, juries and judges, “to hold police officers accountable when they kill,” the release said. “The appropriate place to judge innocence or guilt is not in the grand jury but in a trial setting where defense and prosecution come together to carefully present the facts of a case.” The release quoted a “Wall Street Journal” analysis published Dec. 2 that looked at 105 police departments from 2007-2012 and found that 550 police killings were missing from the national total, and found that in those 105 police agencies at least 1,800 people were killed by police, the release said. “The current indignation is not based only on the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. We believe that no one can be above the law, including one whose job it is to enforce it.” NCC general secretary Jim Winkler said in the release: “As a society we must rid ourselves of the notion that one life is worth more than another.”

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued an expression of appreciation for a recent religious leaders’ declaration for the eradication of slavery. The declaration, issued at the Vatican, brought together signatories from the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican communion, and Orthodox churches, with Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim leaders. The joint document declared a commitment against modern-day slavery. “Each human being is a free person, whether girl, boy, woman, or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity,” the declaration said, in part. “Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity.” At the event, a new Global Freedom Network was announced to struggle against modern-day slavery and human trafficking from a faith basis. Fulata Mbano-Moyo, the WCC program executive for Women in Church and Society, who was present at the event, has invited WCC member churches to sign the joint declaration, if they have not already done so. The WCC release included the following link for those interested in signing the Declaration with the Global Freedom Network: United to End Slavery: .

— In more news from the WCC, general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has extended sympathies for those affected by an attack on a major mosque in northern Nigeria. Following the attack on the Great Mosque of Kano on Nov. 28, resulting in the deaths of over 100 people, Tveit extended sympathies for those bereaved or wounded, offering prayers for Nigerians who, he said, are “so full of potential” yet “wounded by violence and injustice.” Tveit said the attack is a “salutary reminder that both Muslim and Christian communities are threatened by, and suffering from, the extremist violence which is impacting the lives of so many of the people of northern Nigeria…. There is a particular evil in any attack on people at a place of worship,” he added. Read more at .

— “Sunday, Dec. 14 will be the second anniversary of the gun tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 schoolchildren and 6 teachers and administrators. Heeding God’s Call believes it is important to take time from our daily lives to remember those lost to gun violence that day at Sandy Hook and every day in Philadelphia, Chester, Camden, and all across America,” said a recent announcement from Heeding God’s Call, a movement against gun violence that started at a meeting of the Historic Peace Churches in Philadelphia. The group is inviting supporters to attend “any or all” remembrances of victims of gun violence this week. Heeding God’s Call is helping to host an Interfaith Commemoration on Friday, Dec. 12, at 10:30 a.m. at Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, in cooperation with CeaseFire PA and Mothers In Charge. Heeding God’s Call also is helping to host a Vigil of Remembrance on Saturday, Dec. 13, from 9-11 a.m. at Sherwood Ministry Center in Southwest Philadelphia, in cooperation with CityLights. For more information go to or contact Heeding God’s Call, 8812 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Colleen M. Algeo, Chris Bowman, Scott Duffey, Enten Eller, Richard E. Frantz, Kathy Fry-Miller, Anne Gregory, Julie Hostetter, Steven D. Martin, Glenn Riegel, David Sollenberger, Jenny Williams, Terra Winston, David Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next issue of Newsline is scheduled for Dec. 16. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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