Newsline for Dec. 22, 2014

Brethren Press; bulletin cover design by Paul Stocksdale

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…that he may teach us his ways” (Micah 4:2b).

1) Brethren Disaster Relief Auction gives half million dollars for Nigeria relief
2) Brethren Disaster Ministries leader returns from trip to Nigeria, reports on EYN progress in midst of crisis
3) US and Cuban councils of churches issue joint statement

4) Webinar series takes a look at ‘family matters’

5) Brethren bits: Important e-mail sent to pastors and church board chairs about IRS changes for church employees, remembering Mary Petre and Sam Smith, personnel notice from Bethany, Juniata seeks director for Baker Institute, denomination seeks donor relations program assistant, registration opens soon for Annual Conference and other 2015 events, applications due for Ministry Summer Service and Youth Peace Travel Team, youth ministry and clergy tax webinars

A NOTE TO READERS: This is the last regular issue of Newsline for the year. Newsline will resume its regular schedule with the first issue of 2015 on Jan. 6.

Quote of the week:

“Time spent in God’s presence results in dramatic changes in the way people treat one another: weapons become farm tools, God alone serves as arbiter and judge, and people of many nations and persuasions live in the same neighborhood in safety and peace…. Help us, O God, to remember in whose name we walk, all the days of Advent and all the days of our lives.”

— Sandy Bosserman writing in the 2014 Advent devotional from Brethren Press which is titled “Awake: Devotions for Advent through Epiphany.” This is taken from the devotion and prayer for Dec. 1, focused on the scripture text Micah 4:1-5. For more about “Awake” and the annual Lent and Advent devotional series published by Brethren Press go to .

1) Brethren Disaster Relief Auction gives half million dollars for Nigeria relief

Photo by Chris Luzynski
A quilt from the 2013 Brethren Disaster Relief Auction

After a special request for support of the Nigeria Crisis Response, the Brethren Disaster Relief Auction board has allocated $500,000 to the Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) which is administered by Brethren Disaster Ministries. This is the auction’s largest grant ever to the EDF and the disaster relief work of the Church of the Brethren.

The grant will support disaster response activities in the US and around the world, with the board’s action granting flexibility for part or all of the funds to support the Nigeria Crisis Response, as the rapidly changing situation in Nigeria requires.

The Brethren Disaster Relief Auction is a cooperative effort of the Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts of the Church of the Brethren, and this year held its 38th annual auction. Duane Ness chairs the auction board.

The board gave the unprecedented grant in light of the goal of Brethren Disaster Ministries to raise $2.8 million to facilitate a three-phase Crisis Response Plan, already being implemented in northern Nigeria, said a Facebook post from the auction board. “With more than 100,000 Nigerian Brethren now displaced and without basic human needs, the need is great,” the post said.

Since 1977, the Brethren Disaster Relief Auction has raised a total of more than $14 million for disaster relief. This year’s event, held as always on the fourth Saturday in September at the Lebanon (Pa.) Expo and Fairgrounds, raised about $423,000, according to an auction press release from David Farmer.

“Some items sold years ago were redonated and resold,” reported Farmer, “a quilt for $2,300 and a scale-size wooden farm wagon for $3,000.” Volunteers also gathered during the auction to assemble an impressive 12,000 disaster relief school kits in a little over two hours.

Roy Winter, associate executive director for Brethren Disaster Ministries, described the event as “an amazing tribute of love and compassion for those impacted by emergencies and disasters.” Brethren Disaster Ministries deeply appreciates all the volunteers who have a hand in this Brethren tradition “for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good.”

For more information about the Brethren Disaster Relief Auction go to . For more about the Nigeria crisis and the relief effort go to .

— Jane Yount, coordinator of the Brethren Disaster Ministries office, contributed to this report.

For more information about the Nigeria Crisis Response go to . Shown above: displaced women and children who received food and relief supplies at one of the distributions organized by the Nigerian Church. Photo by Carl and Roxane Hill

2) Brethren Disaster Ministries leader returns from trip to Nigeria, reports on EYN progress in midst of crisis

By Roy Winter

How can we find ways to find hope in this crisis in Nigeria? The core leadership of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) is safely settling into temporary homes and establishing an annex or temporary headquarters for the church. In our many meetings with EYN leadership the challenge is clearly daunting, but we found time to laugh and rejoice in God.

We expected to find gloom and heartache, but we found a team working hard to get organized to assist EYN members through this crisis and maintain the church. Even though they are displaced and frustrated by the situation, they are working on a new vision for EYN that will make the church stronger.

US team

As associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries, I am leading a team of experts to provide training, tools, resources, and support to EYN.

Dan Tyler has joined the team as a special consultant. He brings 30 years of experience in relief and development in Africa, most recently spending 21 years with Church World Service.

Cliff Kindy comes with a great deal of experience working at peacebuilding in conflict zones and in disaster response. This expertise will support many of EYN’s effort during his three-month stay until the first of March. He is endeared to EYN because of his statement–made at the 2014 Annual Conference–of willingness to give his own life that the Chibok girls could go free. It seems his commitment to peacebuilding, nonviolence, and service has created a bond and deep respect with EYN leadership.


A report from EYN president Samuel Dante Dali titled “The Lamenting Story of EYN in Nigeria” updates the impact of this crisis on the Nigerian church. It is startling that only 7 of 50 districts in of EYN are fully functioning at this time. This means that 278 local church councils (of 456) and 1,390 local church branches (of 2,280) have been destroyed or abandoned during raids by the Boko Haram insurgents. This represents 61 percent of all EYN churches or worshiping centers, and many of largest EYN worshiping bodies.

Dr. Dali continues that the church leadership knows the general location of more than 170,000 displaced church members, and 2,094 displaced EYN pastors or evangelists, but the whereabouts of thousands and thousands more displaced members are unknown. Sadly he reports 8,083 members including 6 pastors have been killed, and expects many uncounted others also have died.

When a crisis is this large and when those providing aid also are displaced and have unmet needs, and the violence keeps expanding, it makes for a very complex and challenging environment. However, today a large multifaceted response is well underway working with EYN and other partners.

Crisis response

With guidance and support from the Church of the Brethren, EYN has appointed a Crisis Response Team under the leadership of manager Yuguda Z. Mdurvwa. The team of six church leaders are charged with managing the whole of the crisis response, regional staffing, and other matters as needed. In the four weeks of their tenure, they have made significant progress and completed a good deal of planning. The resources for all the programing has been made possible through generous donations to the Nigeria Crisis Fund and the Emergency Disaster Fund.

Photo by David Sollenberger
Children rejoice over bowls of food in Nigeria

Selected accomplishments:

— Completed bulk distributions of food at camps or distribution locations around the cities of Yola, Jos, and Abuja. There were several distributions around each city. The distributions included bulk corn meal or rice (family choice), noodles, cooking oil, sugar, salt, seasoning, tea, body soap, laundry soap, lotion. A special second distribution of small packets of crackers were given to the children. Some distributions progressed very well and were orderly. Others were more difficult with people that are not displaced but wanting free supplies.

— Established a temporary location for Kulp Bible College near Abuja. Classes are being held for upper level students so they can graduate on schedule.

— Purchased two used trucks for transportation of relief supplies and building materials, and purchased an office building with warehouse for EYN relief operations.

— Set up temporary offices for EYN national staff, which included building temporary walls to add more offices and purchasing office furniture for the site. Now key national staff and officers have private office space. This support is critical to help EYN stay together and organized in this time of incredible crisis.

— Progress made on care centers. A number of properties around Yola, Jos, and Abuja are being evaluated for purchase as locations for Care Centers. This entails the building of a new community of homes, church, public space, and some farmland for the relocation of displaced people. This will be a major effort to help people move out of the temporary camps of internally displaced people, and to help Nigerian refugees in Cameroon relocate back in Nigeria.

— Planning for trauma healing. With about two thirds of the church displaced, many with tragic experiences and the loss of loved ones, healing from the experience is critical. The Peace Program of EYN already has provided two different three-day workshops held with pastors in the Yola area in mid-December. Ongoing workshops and other peace building activates are planned for 2015.

These examples give an idea of all the different projects that EYN is undertaking. These represent amazing accomplishments considering so much of the church and leadership are displaced and in mourning.

Partner organizations

The response includes a number of partners with strengths and capacity that extend beyond EYN. What is most surprising is how few international relief organizations are working in Nigeria, considering how many people are displaced. Current partners are:

— Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI). This organization will be familiar to many US Brethren because executive director Rebecca Dali spoke at the 2014 Annual Conference. Focused on the most vulnerable in the crisis–children, pregnant mothers, families with young children, and older adults–CCEPI is providing direct aid. Church of the Brethren funds have helped CCEPI provide food and nonfood distributions in the areas of greatest need. CCEPI also is working with the International Rescue Committee helping with their aid work.

— Lifeline Compassionate Global Initiatives (LCGI). This interfaith program focuses on peacebuilding between Christian and Muslim groups. As part of the crisis response, LCGI has worked to relocate around 350 people, both Christians and Muslims, together near land for farming. Water wells and worship centers are part of the planning. A ceremony on Dec. 4 initiated the construction of homes. The goal is to complete simple mud brick and tin roof homes by March 2015. Half of the funding for this program came from the Nigeria Crisis Fund.

— Women and Youth Empowerment for Advancement and Health Initiative (WYEAHI). This program has submitted a proposal to work with displaced persons, building on the organization’s strengths in livelihood development.

Building relationships

Photo by Carl and Roxane Hill
A worship service of EYN

An important part of my trip to Nigeria was developing as many connections and relationships as possible with potential areas of support for EYN. The success of this major response effort will hinge on how effectively we can network, and even more importantly, how effectively we can communicate.

The US team was able to share, problem solve, and develop budgets and programs together with the EYN Standing Committee and Crisis Response Team. This extended to a short presentation focused on encouragement to the Executive Committee of the Majalisa (the annual meeting of EYN). We also met with Mennonite Central Committee representatives, a local Anglican staff, and the US Embassy.

A delegation of three EYN staff and three US team members had a very productive meeting with the US Embassy staff. In a unusual turn, the Embassy wants to be in relationship with EYN to share information and to connect the church with the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Embassy also is working with the Nigerian congress to create a way for displaced persons to vote in the upcoming national election in February.

Another important relationship is with Mission 21. Formerly known as Basel Mission, Mission 21 has been supporting EYN for many decades. In an unplanned meeting, staff from Mission 21, the Church of the Brethren, and EYN started working together to imagine a three-way partnership.

I really felt God working through us as we planned to work together through this crisis and help  EYN find new strength in the years to come. At the April Majalisa (annual conference of EYN) we plan to celebrate this partnership and extend the love of God to many hurting people… together.

— Roy Winter is associate executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.

3) US and Cuban councils of churches issue joint statement

In the wake of last Wednesday’s announcement of President Obama’s intentions to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, which would end a half century political stand off between the two nations, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) and the Cuban Council of Churches issued a joint statement expressing “great joy and celebration.”

Following is the full statement, as published in a press release from the NCC:

“Este nuevo clima creado en la adopción de estas decisiones, nos plantea nuevos desafíos a nuestro Consejo y sus instituciones miembros, para la acción pastoral para fortalecer el espíritu de reconciliación y la amistad entre nuestros dos pueblos. Nosotros continuaremos trabajando y celebrando  junto a nuestros hermanos y hermanas en los Estados Unidos hacindo posible cambios necesarios que favorezcan a nuestros pueblos.”

“This new environment as result of the recent events face us–as the Council of Churches of Cuba and her member institutions–with new challenges for the pastoral action in order to strengthen the friendship and reconciliation spirit between our two peoples. We will continue to celebrate and work with our brothers and sisters in the United States to make possible the change in favor of our people.”
–Presidente Joel Dopico, Cuban Council of Churches

It is with great joy and celebration that we, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, and the Cuban Council of Churches, join together in expressing our thanks to God, the One who inspired the writer of the Book of Revelation to declare, “Behold, I make all things new.”

In this new day of cooperation and openness between the United States and Cuba, we reflect upon the times when our councils worked together with grace and hope, looking for a future in which our nations’ leaders might join in welcoming each other as we have. We are pleased that our churches played a part in leading the way to the events of this week. We are grateful also for the witness of those who tirelessly work for reconciliation, especially today for Pope Francis, who, in the name of Christ, urged our governments to begin normalizing relations.

As we celebrate the changes that have begun, we recognize that still more must be done. We call upon the churches of our two nations to join together in unity and harmony as we urge our nations’ leaders to finish the work of normalization.

We call upon the US Congress to lift the economic embargo in place for more than fifty years.

We urge the Cuban government to take steps to help facilitate commercial, cultural, and overall exchange.

We laud the lifting of restrictions around religious and academic travel to Cuba, but also ask our respective governments to end all restrictions on travel between our two countries. We believe this will offer the greatest possibility for reconciliation and cultural exchange between our people.

We ask the government of the United States to remove Cuba from its list of countries believed to support terrorism.

We urge our churches, governments, and community groups to facilitate the healing of divisions that have hardened over the last 50 years.

We pledge to work through our churches for reconciliation and healing of pain caused through so many years of separation and confrontation.

In this season of light, celebrated both in Advent and Hanukkah, we pledge to continue lighting the fires of hope, and look forward to a brighter future for all people, this day for the people of the United States and Cuba.

— Steven D. Martin of the National Council of Churches communications staff provided this release. Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC’s 37 member communions–from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American, and Living Peace churches–include 45 million people in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.


4) Webinar series takes a look at ‘family matters’

Speakers for the “Family Matters” webinar series

A webinar series titled “Family Matters” is offered by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries and partners in the United Kingdom. Although the initial webinar in the series has already taken place, “Family Matters” webinars will continue in 2015 with one offered each month from January through May.

Following are the webinar titles, dates and times, and leadership:

“The Family and How the Scriptures Are Passed to the Next Generation” is offered on Jan. 15, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), led by Howard Worsley, tutor in mission and vice principal at Trinity College in Bristol, England, and a researcher into children’s spirituality and their early perceptions. This webinar will look at biblical and historical perspectives on family and current contexts of how families enable children to read the Bible.

“Families in the ’Hood” is offered on Feb. 10, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), led by  Martin Payne who is part of the “Messy Church” team at the Bible Reading Fellowship based in east London, in the UK. This webinar will look at the five key values of “Messy Church”–hospitality, creativity, celebration, all age, and Christ-centredness; offer reflections on ways forward for family ministry in areas of urban or rural deprivation; and explore differences between family ministry in challenging areas and in more affluent communities.

“Households of Faith” is offered on March 10, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), led by Jane Butcher who also works for Bible Reading Fellowship overseeing its Faith in Homes ministry, and was formerly a teacher. This webinar addresses how families explore and nurture faith together when they face daily challenges such as lack of time, seldom having the family together, changing lifestyle patterns and needs as children get older, and others.

“Family Ministry” is offered on April 16, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), led by Gail Adcock, the Family Ministry development officer with the Methodist Church in the UK. This webinar will consider the current shape and formation of family ministry, exploring the various methods taken to engage with families, and will reflect on how this work can be developed and supported in the future.

“Cradle to the Grave” is offered on May 19, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), led by Mary Hawes who is the Church of England’s national adviser for Children and Young People’s Ministry, and also has been a primary school teacher, a Cathedral Education Officer, and children’s adviser for the Diocese of London. This final webinar of the series will seek to pull strands together, exploring how family life is woven from a complex blend of celebration, transition, and tragedy; offer models of how the wider church community can help to strengthen and support families; and will help participants consider what challenges face them in their own situations.

Register and find out more at . For questions contact Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren, at 800-323-8039 ext. 343 or .

5) Brethren bits

— Earlier today an important e-mail message was sent to pastors and church board chairs from the Church of the Brethren Ministry Office and Brethren Benefit Trust. The message addressed changes in how the IRS interprets church contributions to the purchase of individual medical insurance for employees, including pastors. The message included letters from associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury, who is executive director of the Ministry Office, and BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. “Many of us have been caught off guard” by the changes, Flory-Steury wrote, in part. The changes mean that church employees will pay taxes on church contributions to the purchase of employees’ individual medical insurance. “We recognize that receiving this information at the end of the tax year is causing great stress and anxiety for those of you who have faithfully followed our denominational guidelines for support of our pastors,” Flory-Steury wrote. “Regrettably, implications of the ACA is causing us to rethink and reframe the way we will continue to support our pastor’s well-being as it applies to those who are on individual employer payment plans.” Dulabaum’s letter included best steps for the immediate concern of designating contributions in support of medical insurance as cash salary for 2014 income taxes. The Ministry Office will be working with the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee to revise start-up and renewal agreements for pastors in 2015, and will be discussing the matter with the Council of District Executives at its January meeting.

— Remembrance: Mary Magdalene (Guyton) Petre, 97, who served the church for many years as a mission worker in Nigeria, died on Nov. 11. Along with her late husband, Ira S. Petre, who died in 2002, she spent 22 years in Nigeria as a Church of the Brethren missionary. The two were married in 1937 in Brownsville, Md. For the past 13 years Mary Petre had been a resident of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md., and previously had lived in the Village at Morrisons Cove in Martinsburg, Pa. In addition to mission work, her career had included four years as a weekday religious education teacher in the Dayton, Va., area. She is survived by children Rebecca Markey (husband Walter), Samuel (wife Marilyn Stokes), Rufus (wife Cathy Hoover), Dana Petre-Miller (husband Dan), Mary Ellen Condit, and Bernice Keech (husband James); grandchildren; and great-grandchildren. She was to be interred with her husband at Pleasant View Church of the Brethren near Burkittsville, Md. Memorial donations are received to Heifer International.

— Remembrance: Sam Smith, 64, who in October started work as a member of the new Racial Justice Team of On Earth Peace, and was a leader in the Fellowship of Reconciliation, died on Dec. 11. He was born Dec. 7, 1950, to Henry and Vivian Smith and grew up in Howe, Ind., where his family were active members of English Prairie Church of the Brethren. He went to Moody Bible Institute and then received a degree in sociology from Wheaton College in the Chicago area. His life-long calling to each young people with a fresh approach in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ led him to develop Heavy Light Production multi-media shows, and he toured extensively with his unique presentations for two decades. He was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and helped pastor youth groups in Aurora, Wheaton, and Oswego, Ill. He also was a leader in the Shalom Ministries, and Upper Extreme, and led students from DePaul University in peace and reconciliation activities in the Chicago area. In recent years he suffered from chronic pain, mobility handicaps, and had a tentative diagnosis of ALS. He is survived by his wife, Linda, and children Lia Jean and Luke Isaiah Smith. Memorial donations are received to On Earth Peace and the Nigeria Crisis Fund.

“Worship in Pink” was the theme for a 2nd Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Sunday at Imperial Heights Community Church of the Brethren in Los Angeles, Calif. “We came together to Celebrate Life, Increase Awareness, and Inspire Hope,” said a report on the event in the Pacific Southwest District newsletter. “Statistics show that African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than all other women. Some of the reasons are lack of health care insurance, distrust of the medical community, not following up on tests, and the belief that mammograms are not needed. Educating the community is key and so on Sunday, Oct. 26, the members of Imperial Heights Community Church of the Brethren, joined hands in a collaborative effort with community organizations Tabahani Book Circle, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. Sigma Sigma Chapter, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Long Beach Alumnae Chapter.” The service included worship in song, preached word from pastor Thomas Dowdy, testimonies from breast cancer survivors and family members who have lost loved ones to breast cancer, and a candle lighting ceremony in honor of those diagnosed with breast cancer, survivors, and those who have died from the disease. A workshop was presented by Denise Lamb of Black Women’s Wellness.  Photo courtesy of Pacific Southwest District.

— Jim Grossnickle-Batterton has been hired as interim coordinator of admissions at Bethany Theological Seminary. He graduated from Bethany in 2014 with a master of divinity degree. He is serving in a part-time, temporary capacity while Tracy Primozich, director of admissions, is on leave. He will oversee admissions operations, working with the Student Services staff, to see that prospective students are identified and recruited and that the seminary has a presence at Church of the Brethren denominational and district events. His travels will include visits to Church of the Brethren-related colleges and universities.

— Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., invites applications for the position of director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. This is a full-time faculty position with administrative release time. Rank and tenure are negotiable. The institute was inspired by the vision of Elizabeth Evans Baker and for more than 30 years has provided leadership in the development of the field of Peace and Conflict Studies within the academy and is generously supported by endowed funds. The mission of the institute is “To apply the resources of the academic community to the study of warfare and deep-rooted conflict as human problems and peace as a human potential.” In fulfilling this mission, the institute’s primary objectives are 1) to create and sustain an academically rigorous, interdisciplinary, clearly structured undergraduate peace and conflict studies program, and 2) to present campus, community, and international programing in support of the institute’s mission. The institute’s curriculum supports a number of other programs and departments at Juniata College and builds partnerships for innovative programing within the campus community and beyond. Its activities additionally include adult education and community outreach. The successful candidate will have a terminal degree in Peace Studies, or in a field of study within the Social Sciences or Humanities with an academic focus on peace-related issues. The ideal candidate should demonstrate expertise and experience working in the discipline, excellence in undergraduate teaching, and administrative experience in an academic environment. Candidates should demonstrate how their area of expertise contributes to and enhances the work of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. The college seeks an innovative educator with global vision, interested in being part of a vibrant learning community. The director will provide the strategic vision and leadership needed to further the institute’s role as a flagship academic program, built on collaborative relationships that enhance student education across campus. The director shall be committed to the normative values of the field of Peace Studies that explore the potential for peacebuilding theories and tools to contribute to the creation of a future where war no longer exists and conflicts are addressed using nonviolent methods. For more information contact Lauren Bowen, Provost and chair of the Baker Institute Search Committee, at . To apply send a letter of interest, vita, teaching philosophy, graduate transcripts, and the names of three references to Gail Leiby Ulrich, Director of Human Resources, Juniata College, 1700 Moore St., Box C, Huntingdon, PA 16652. It is the policy of Juniata College to conduct background checks. The anticipated date of appointment is August 2015. Applications received by Jan. 15 will receive full consideration, but applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Juniata places great value on ethnic and gender diversity on its campus. The college commits itself to this policy not only because of legal obligations, but because it believes that such practices are basic to human dignity. AA/EOE.

— The Church of the Brethren seeks an individual to fill a fulltime hourly position of program assistant for the Office of Donor Relations, located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The major responsibilities of this position are to support and assist the office of Donor Relations in developing connections with donors and friends of the Church of the Brethren through electronic and print correspondence, individual and congregational contacts, special offerings, and stewardship education resources. Required skills and knowledge include ease of communication with individuals, congregations, and contributors to various projects as well as with donor support. Tasks will include assisting with a variety of production, printing, and proofreading logistics as well as assisting with development of congregation and donor support materials. A bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience is required, as is proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, particularly Word, Excel, and Outlook, and the ability to become familiar with other software programs including Adobe Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, InDesign, and Blackbaud. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the
position is filled. Request the application form from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

— Registration opens soon for a number of events in 2015:
Registration for congregational delegates to Annual Conference opens online on Jan. 5 and continues through Feb. 24. The early registration fee is $285 per delegate. Beginning Feb. 25 the registration fee increases to $310 per delegate. Congregations may pay by credit card or by check. Registration for nondelegates and housing reservations for delegates and nondelegates will begin on Feb. 25. A letter is being sent to all congregations about delegate registration. More information about the 2015 Annual Conference including registration, hotels, airport transportation, directions, and conference theme and worship leadership can be found at .

Registration opens Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. (central time) for next summer’s Church of the Brethren workcamps. Find a listing of the dates, locations, and fees for the 2015 workcamps on the theme “Side by Side: Imitating Christ’s Humility” at .

Jan. 9 is the opening date for registration for the 2015 National Junior High Conference on the theme, “Living the Change: Our Offering to God” (Romans 12:1-2). The conference will be held on June 19-21 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College for youth who have completed 6-8 grades and their adult advisors. For more information go to . For questions contact Kristen Hoffman, conference coordinator, in the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office at 847-429-4389 or .

— Applications for the 2015 Ministry Summer Service program and the 2015 Youth Peace Travel Team are due by Jan. 9:
Ministry Summer Service (MSS) is a leadership development program for college students in the Church of the Brethren who spend 10 weeks of summer working in the church (local congregation, district office, camp, or national program). The 2015 orientation dates are May 29-June 3. Go to for more information and application forms.

Members of the Youth Peace Travel Team also serve through MSS. The team is a cooperative effort of a number of Church of the Brethren programs, with a new team fielded each summer. The Youth Peace Travel Team travels to Brethren camps with the goal of talking with other young people about the Christian message and the Brethren tradition of peacemaking. College-age Church of the Brethren young adults from 19-22 years of age will be selected for the next team. A stipend is paid to team members. For more information go to .

— “Way to Live: Work and Choices,” a webinar for those involved in youth and young adult ministry, is offered Jan. 6, at 8 p.m. (eastern time). The webinar is one in a series that is a book study of “Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens” edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. The series is offered jointly by staff of the Church of the Brethren, Bethany Seminary, and On Earth Peace. The Jan. 6 webinar will be led by Bekah Houff of the seminary staff. Ordained ministers may earn .1 continuing education credit for participating in the real-time event. To request continuing education credit contact Houff at prior to the webinar. For more information go to .

— “Mark your calendar!” said an announcement of the Annual Clergy Tax Seminar, hosted by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership on Feb. 23, 2015, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. (eastern). Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend. Participants may attend in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or via a webcast. Watch Newsline for additional information regarding registration, fees, and continuing education credit.

— Torin Eikler, district executive minister in Northern Indiana District, was interviewed by WSBT-TV Channel 22 in Mishawaka, Ind., about the Church of the Brethren’s work to aid Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) during the current crisis. Eikler spoke about how he has been working with churches and organizations across northern Indiana on a campaign called the “Mustard Seed Bake Campaign.” See .

— A Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) project supported by Central Church of the Brethren and other churches in Roanoke, Va., got attention from CBS affiliate WDBJ-TV Channel 7. The Congregations in Action program based at Highland Park Elementary School in Roanoke helps serve more than 450 homeless students. One special effort is to provide food for homeless students over the holidays, when they do not attend school. Find the video report at .

— First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., is hosting annual commemoration activities for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day: On Sunday, Jan. 18, at 10 a.m., First Church hosts an MLK Joint Worship Service with Chicago Community Mennonite Church and Iglesia Christiana Roca de Esperanza, followed by a potluck. On Saturday, Jan. 24, at 11 a.m.-3 p.m. is Peace in the City: MLK Nonviolence and Community Transformation Training. The latter is an intergenerational event with Samuel Sarpiya, a Church of the Brethren minister and pastor in Rockford, Ill., as speaker and lead facilitator. Register at . “Be welcome to join us,” said an invitation from First Church pastor LaDonna Nkosi. First Church of the Brethren Chicago hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1966 as one of their office locations for the housing and justice campaigns.

— Pacific Southwest District recognized a number of ordination anniversaries at its conference this fall, according to a report in the district newsletter: Eugene Palsgrove for 65 years, Gerald Moore for 50 years, Lila McCray for 40 years, Jeffrey Glass and Thomas Hostetler for 35 years, Jo Kimmel and Nadine Pence for 30 years, Jeanine Ewert for 25 years, representing 310 years of service in total. The district conference also received an offering of just over $580 to support the Nigeria Crisis Fund. The conference saw a “record youth turnout,” the newsletter noted, with 32 youth and 4 adult chaperones from 7 different congregations.

— “The world is giving itself a kind of Christmas gift this year,” said a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). “On Dec. 24, 2014, an international law to regulate the global trade in armaments and ammunition, the newly ratified Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), enters into force.” The WCC and member churches and partners in some 50 countries campaigned and lobbied for an ATT that would help save lives and protect communities at risk from the weapons trade. WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit said, “Our prayer and expectation is that the ATT must become a treaty that no government and no arms dealer can ignore. The news reminds us almost daily of how many people need protection from armed violence, and it often involves illicit arms.” The release noted that the worldwide trade in arms is valued at nearly $100 billion per year. The WCC-led campaign concentrated on the criteria that the treaty sets for arms trading. The result is that the treaty denies arms transfers where there is a serious risk of war crimes or widespread human rights violations or endemic gender-based armed violence, the release said. The WCC also backed the relatively successful demand that the ATT must cover all types of arms and ammunition. To date, 60 nations have ratified the treat including large arms exporters like Germany, France, and the UK. Also, 125 countries have signed the treaty including the United States, the world’s largest arms exporter. Countries that abstained include Russia, China, and India.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Sandy Bosserman, Deborah Brehm, Stan Dueck, Jan Fischer Bachman, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Tim Harvey, Julie Hostetter, Jon Kobel, Steven D. Martin, LaDonna Nkosi, Mary L. Rosborough, Jenny Williams, Roy Winter, David Witkovsky, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for Jan. 6, 2015.

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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