Newsline for Feb. 8, 2014

“Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

Quote of the week:
“As faith communities and religious leaders, we are obliged constantly to remind people about the obligation and responsibility to choose peace through dialogue. Human conflict may well be inevitable in our world; but war and violence are certainly not. If our age will be remembered at all, it may be remembered for those who dedicated themselves to the cause of peace.”

— Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, addressing the 17th Eurasian Economic Summit held Feb. 4-6 in Istanbul, Turkey. He was speaking on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a founding member of the World Council of Churches. Read the WCC release about the event at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/ecumenical-patriarch-bartholomew-affirms-significance-of-peace-and-dialogue . Find the full speech reprinted in Turkey’s “Daily News” at www.hurriyetdailynews.com/Default.aspx?pageID=238&nID=62075 .

1) Minnich and Murray head up Annual Conference ballot for 2014
2) Vital Ministry Journey helps congregations and relationships
3) Church of the Brethren begins partnership with Anabaptist Disabilities Network
4) Grant aids displaced people in South Sudan
5) NYC offers intercultural scholarships to 100 youth and advisors
6) Brethren teaching at PUST are on view in BBC One news show
7) Congress adopts Farm Bill: Points of interest for the church
8) Christian Peacemaker Teams to challenge denial of entry in Israeli High Court

PERSONNEL
9) Youth Peace Travel Team is announced for 2014

UPCOMING EVENTS
10) Next intercultural gathering to be co-sponsored by Pacific Southwest District
11) Brethren Academy updates its course listing for 2014

RESOURCES
12) Congregational Life offers new Spiritual Gifts Resource

13) Brethren bits: Corrections, job opening at Brethren Disaster Ministries, “Jesus Weeps” theme for EAD, SVMC events, Hollins Road men can cook, benefit concert for Haiti Medical Project, new directors at Fahrney-Keedy, COBYS banquet, Camp Harmony celebrates, more.


1) Minnich and Murray head up Annual Conference ballot for 2014

The Standing Committee of district delegates has released a ballot for the 2014 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren. The Conference takes place July 2-6, on a Wednesday through Sunday schedule, in Columbus, Ohio. Nominees are listed below, by position:

Moderator-elect: Dale E. Minnich of Moundridge, Kan.; Andy Murray of Huntingdon, Pa.

Program and Arrangements Committee: Rhonda Pittman Gingrich of Minneapolis, Minn.; Steven Sauder of Mt. Lake Park, Md.

Bethany Theological Seminary trustee, colleges: William Abshire of Mount Sidney, Va.; Eric Bishop of Pomona, Calif.

On Earth Peace Board: Carla Gillespie of Dayton, Ohio; Barbara Wise Lewczak of Minburn, Iowa

Brethren Benefit Trust Board: Dennis Kingery of Centennial, Colo.; Alan Patrick Linton of Frederick, Md.

Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee: John Ballinger of Ashland, Ohio; David K. Shumate of Roanoke, Va.

For more information about Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac . Online registration for non-delegates will open on Feb. 26.

2) Vital Ministry Journey helps congregations and relationships

By Lucas Kauffman

The Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries started the Vital Ministry Journey in 2011. According to Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, the initiative started with a conversation between Congregational Life staff and Middle Pennsylvania District executive David Steele. Shively and Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices, had conversations with Steele about how to find a way to work with different congregations to solve problems proactively.

Vital Ministry Journey is designed to uniquely fit each congregation. It begins with a 60-day, 6-session Bible study for small groups within a congregation, for everyone from youth to adults. Congregational Life provides the Bible sessions in a lectio divina format, with a series of study questions and time for sharing and prayer. Each small group agrees to covenants and guidelines for respectful communication. Communication is carried out through a style of mutual invitation, in which  everyone is invited to participate.

Every small group has a facilitator. Every congregation is coached by a district coach or staff of Congregational Life Ministries. The Vital Ministry Journey experience for each congregation begins with a kick-off event, and ends with a celebration. The celebration also is a way to hear feedback from each small group.

The Vital Ministry Journey helps support congregations in a more identifiable way in their respective districts. It helps people within congregations strengthen relationships, and also helps congregations think about their life and mission both within the congregation and in the community. The Vital Ministry Journey may, in addition, help a congregation identify members’ passions, interests, and energy.

More than 60 congregations have completed, or have started the first step of the journey.

“We wanted to find a process that fit all kinds of congregations,” said Shively. “Each congregation will have its own different outcomes.”

Resources developing out of Vital Ministry Journey

There are several things that the Vital Ministry can be used for, including looking at a congregation’s mission, discovery, and affirmation. The process also takes a look at the question of what God is doing in the congregation, and in the world. Several resources are planned by Congregational Life staff, to be developed as part of the Vital Ministry Journey. “There are stewardship and evangelical resources, as well as worship resources being planned,” said Shively.

A related resource is the new spiritual gifts resource Congregational Life is now offering to congregations, see www.brethren.org/news/2014/congregational-life-offers-spiritual-gifts-resource.html . The spiritual gifts resource can be used as a next step in the Vital Ministry Journey, or as another alternative to the Vital Ministry Journey. It is one of a “tool kit of resources,” said Shively. “Congregations can pick different resources. The resources are not dependent on each other.”

A congregational survey is a part of that tool kit. “The survey helps look at marks of vital congregations,” said Shively. “It helps congregations take a more intentional look at their life together, and look at strengths, as well as areas that they could improve.”

Response from congregations and districts

More than 60 congregations have completed, or have started the first step of the journey. Five districts have partnered with Congregational Life Ministries to offer the Vital Ministry Journey to congregations, and individual congregations in three other districts have participated.

“The response to the Vital Ministry Journey has mostly been positive,” said Shively. “Creating a focus on relationships has been positive, and having a focus on scripture is powerful for people. There is also a sense of energy that comes from congregations that have been through this. Congregations want to do something further, like continue Bible studies, some churches want to have more of a presence within their own community, churches want to continue building relationships with people, they look at their structures and worship and some churches look at their visioning processes.”

Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., is one congregation that recently started on the Vital Ministry Journey. The congregation went through the small group study in the fall of 2013.

Jeanne Davies, associate pastor, said that the Highland Avenue Church went through the process because it wanted to look at the mission of the congregation. “There was a new program available from the Congregational Life Office, and we wanted to give it a try,’ she said.

According to Davies, people at Highland Avenue loved it. “People have said that they want to continue the small group Bible study,” she said. “We tried to form groups of people who really did not know each other, and that helped people get to know each other better.”

Right now, Highland Avenue is still in the process of putting together all the feedback from the Vital Ministry Journey. “We had a big celebration in December with discussion, and some groups gave their own reports,” said Davies. “Everything is being put together in a document, which is being reviewed by the church board.”

Davies recommends the Vital Ministry Journey to other congregations as “both a scripture-centered process and a discernment process, which is great. It helps invite the Holy Spirit in, and it helps the community to have a voice, with the small group format. It definitely helped strengthen relationships among people.

“I am excited to see where this process leads, and to see the next step in the process,” she said.

One reason that the Vital Ministry Journey has been so well received, according to Shively, is because of the partnership with the districts. “We listen well to both districts and congregations,” said Shively. ”I am pleasantly surprised at how well this has turned out,” he said. “I did not know how it would go in the beginning.”

For more information and resources

The Vital Ministry Journey resources are provided by Congregational Life Ministries and available to order from Brethren Press. For more information about the Vital Ministry Journey, go to www.brethren.org/congregationallife/vmj/about.html .  To purchase materials from Brethren Press, go to www.brethrenpress.com or call 800-441-3712.

— Lucas Kauffman in a student at Manchester University and recently completed a January term internship with the Church of the Brethren News Services.

3) Church of the Brethren begins partnership with Anabaptist Disabilities Network

The Church of the Brethren has begun a formal partnership with ADNet, the Anabaptist Disabilities Network. Based out of Elkhart, Ind., ADNet is a strong voice for disabilities and mental health advocacy both within the Mennonite Church USA and ecumenically. The good work they have done and their clear passion for this ministry recently led the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries to develop this partnership.

Donna Kline, director of deacon ministry for the Church of the Brethren, is now a member of the ADNet board, in an ex-officio capacity. To better understand the mission, vision, and breadth of ADNet, visit www.adnetonline.org .

Church of the Brethren congregations are invited to participate in the ADNet Congregational Partnership program, which offers significant print and other resources. More information on this program, including registration forms, can be found at www.brethren.org/disabilities/ADNet . Questions can be directed to Christine Guth at ADNet, cjguth@adnetonline.org or 574-343-1362.

The Church of the Brethren disabilities ministry will only be strengthened through this partnership. While certain aspects of the ministry (including the Open Roof Award), will remain specific to the denomination, many of the resources offered will now come through ADNet. In addition, resources currently specific to the Church of the Brethren (like the We Are Able! workcamp) now will be publicized more broadly through this partnership.

Additional information about the ADNet partnership is included in the March Source packet mailing to all Church of the Brethren congregations.

(Deacon Ministry director Donna Kline and Manchester University student Lucas Kauffman contributed to this report.)

4) Grant aids displaced people in South Sudan

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed an allocation of $15,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to aid displaced people in South Sudan. Fighting that began in Dec. 2013 has resulted in the displacement of more than 200,000 people in South Sudan.

Heavy fighting started in Juba, the capital city, on Dec. 15, apparently between supporters of the president of South Sudan and an ousted leader. The conflict has spread since December to affect seven of the ten states in the country, reports Brethren Disaster Ministries, resulting in more than 200,000 people being displaced. Most are still displaced in South Sudan, although some are fleeing into Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia.Even as there seems to be a cease fire, the needs of displaced people become more critical, the report said.

The Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service program has staff and volunteers working in the Torit area of South Sudan, where many families are fleeing from the violence further north. This grant will provide emergency support for families in the villages of Lohila and Lafon, both on the road from Jonglei State (northern South Sudan).

The Brethren funds will support the purchase and transport of maize, cooking oil, jerry cans, salt, and soap for those with the greatest needs in these two communities. The distribution will be managed by global mission staffer Athanasus Ungang, with support from local partners.

For more about Brethren Disaster Ministries go to www.brethren.org/bdm . For more information or to donate to the Emergency Disaster Fund go to www.brethren.org/edf .

5) NYC offers intercultural scholarships to 100 youth and advisors
By Tim Heishman

The National Youth Conference (NYC) Office awarded about 100 intercultural scholarships last week to youth and advisors from around the denomination. NYC has offered scholarships for many years to congregations that have a membership that is majority intercultural.

Scholarships were awarded to youth and advisors from 12 churches in 5 districts:

Atlantic Northeast District–Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren

Atlantic Southeast District–Castañer (P.R.) Iglesia de los Hermanos, Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren, and Eglise des Frere, a Haitian Brethren congregation in Miami

Illinois and Wisconsin District–Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren and Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren

Pacific Southwest District–Glendale (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, Empire Church of the Brethren in Modesto, Calif., Iglesia de Cristo Sion in Pomona, Calif., and Principe de Paz in Santa Ana, Calif.

Virlina District–the Renacer congregations in Roanoke and in Floyd County, Va.

Applications for intercultural scholarships are still being accepted. They are considered on a case-by-case basis, and awarded based on need. Youth groups attending by scholarship plan to fundraise and coordinate with other groups traveling from their district to minimize travel costs. For inquiries related to NYC intercultural scholarships, please contact the NYC office at 847-429-4323 or cobyouth@brethren.org .

National Youth Conference is the largest gathering of Church of the Brethren youth and takes place every four years. NYC 2014 will be held at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., from July 19-24. All youth who have completed ninth grade through one year post high school at the time of NYC are eligible and encouraged to attend. For more information visit www.brethren.org/NYC .

— Tim Heishman is one of the coordinators of the 2014 National Youth Conference, and a Brethren Volunteer Service worker.

6) Brethren teaching at PUST are on view in BBC One news show

Brethren teaching at PUST, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea, are on view in a news program from BBC One, published this week and available to view online. “Educating North Korea” is the title of the BBC One news show Panorama, in which a video crew from the UK-based BBC were given permission to film at PUST.

Church of the Brethren member Robert Shank may be seen at work, teaching agriculture at PUST, in some of the BBC video clips. Robert and Linda Shank have served at PUST with support from the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service office.

“Kim Jong-un father gave permission for a remarkable university which exposes students to western ideas and ideology,” said a BBC description of the program. “Many of the students are the sons of some of the most powerful men in North Korea. Women are not allowed to study there. BBC reporter Chris Rogers interviews the students on life and their plans after graduation. The piece includes a remarkable Christian church attendance, even though practicing Christianity is forbidden for ordinary North Koreans.”

Find the BBC One Panorama show at www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JRtFyLiOnE .


By Bryan Hanger, Advocacy Assistant, Office of Public Witness

The Farm Bill is one of the largest pieces of legislation Congress deals with, and this week the bill was finally passed and signed into law after a three-year legislative process. The $956 billion bill will be in effect for the next five years and it affects things such as farming policy, international food aid, food stamps, and conservation. Below are a few points of interest for the church.

Food stamps: Cut by $8 billion

The largest part of the Farm Bill is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, commonly referred to as food stamps, is the most direct way that the government provides food assistance to those in need. Unfortunately, SNAP was cut by $8 billion, which will significantly affect the food security of hundreds of thousands of families in the United States. But things could have been much worse. Originally, the House of Representatives proposed a $40 billion cut to SNAP. The impact of this smaller cut is still damaging for the food security of many people.

One positive improvement for SNAP is the creation of a new federal program that will allow SNAP recipients to double the value of their SNAP monies at local farmers markets. Many local and state governments already have enacted similar measures, and now the federal government wants to build on that success by increasing the affordability of fresh foods for many more SNAP recipients.

International food aid: Taking a more flexible approach

This new Farm Bill also signals a shift in America’s international food aid policy. The aid process is shifting away from a food-based system to a more flexible cash-based system. This change will allow for the local purchase of food aid, which will both improve the freshness of the food provided, and also stimulate local and regional economies. This is a big step forward in improving the effectiveness and quality of the United States’ food assistance abroad.

Farming: Direct payments gone, crop insurance is expanded

There also was a considerable change to farming policy, as direct payments to farmers were eliminated and crop insurance has become the safety net for farmers. The direct payments had been widely criticized since they were based only on the number of acres of farmland owned, and not on the condition of the crops produced.

Crop insurance is intended to help keep farmers afloat when prices drop or crop yields unexpectedly change, but many critics see the expanded crop insurance plan as simply a different way to subsidize large agribusinesses. The average family farmer’s opinion of these changes will likely vary depending on which crops they produce, but only time will tell if these changes to farming policy work as planned, or if large agribusinesses will continue to reap the benefits while family farms continue to struggle.

Conservation: Tied to crop insurance expansion

As for the bill’s support for conservation, it seems to be a mixed bag. Conservation funding was cut by about $4 billion. However, there was good news in that conservation practices are now tied to the crop insurance program mentioned above. This means that in order to receive payments from the crop insurance program, farmers will have to demonstrate they are implementing conservation practices such as preventing land erosion and protecting wetlands.

Overall, this farm bill is certainly not a perfect bill. Programs designed to feed the hungry were cut, family farms are not certain how the expanded crop insurance will affect them. On the other hand, the ability to provide vital food aid abroad has improved and some small steps were taken to protect more of God’s creation.

If you have questions about the Farm Bill, please contact Nathan Hosler, director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., at nhosler@brethren.org .

8) Christian Peacemaker Teams to challenge denial of entry in Israeli High Court

By CPTnet

Those who have been following CPTnet for the last few months have read stories about Israeli border authorities denying Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) volunteers entry into Palestine. Over the summer, they turned back two reservists from the airport in the same week. Since then, two more CPTers, Jonathan Brenneman and Patrick Thomas, have been denied entry crossing the border from Jordan into the West Bank.

Brenneman attempted three times within the space of three weeks and was told the Israeli authorities would not allow him to enter the West Bank because of his involvement with Christian Peacemaker Teams.

In response to requests from CPT’s partner organizations in Palestine and Israel, CPT Palestine has been devising a strategy to ensure CPTers are able to enter the country. A major part of this strategy is a case that CPT’s lawyers have put together for the Israeli courts.

The case charges that the Israeli authorities, without informing CPT, have established an unreasonable policy that denies members of CPT the right to enter the occupied Palestinian territories (as the border authorities explained to Brenneman), even though they have an invitation from the municipality of Hebron/Al-Khalil and other Palestinian organizations to do so. This action violates several of Israel’s basic laws including the Law of Freedom and Dignity and the right of the accused to have their case heard in court. The Interior Ministry denied CPT’s right to be heard when it enacted this policy without CPT’s knowledge; by doing so, the Interior Ministry gave CPTers no chance to defend themselves. The policy is also unreasonable in that it implies that individuals cannot enter the country because they believe in peace. Therefore, even though the Ministry of Interior has broad discretion to make policies regarding entry of internationals into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, those policies must not contradict Israel’s basic laws.

Anyone who has traveled to Palestine knows the challenges the Israeli authorities raise for anyone attempting to form relationships with Palestinians and to learn about their experiences living under military occupation. Israel has not explicitly stated a policy of discrimination against those who are fraternizing with Palestinians and working for peace in the Palestine/Israel context, so no one has been able to challenge it. Therefore, the main thrust of the case is to make Israel say explicitly what it is doing regarding the denial of entries at the border, or to stop doing it. Either the courts will say that they oppose allowing internationals who are working for peace to enter Palestine, or they have to stop denying entry to people for that reason.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams was founded with help from the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren. For more information go to www.cpt.org .

PERSONNEL

9) Youth Peace Travel Team is announced for 2014

By Becky Ullom Naugle

Members of the 2014 Youth Peace Travel Team have been announced. The team is sponsored each year by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Church of the Brethren, the Ministry Office, the Office of Public Witness, the Outdoor Ministries Association, and On Earth Peace. The group of young adults spends the summer at camps across the denomination, teaching about peace, justice, and reconciliation.

Members of the 2014 team are:

Chris Bache of La Cañada, Calif., and La Verne Church of the Brethren

Christy Crouse of Warrensburg, Mo., and Warrensburg Church of the Brethren

Jake Frye of McPherson, Kan., and Monitor Church of the Brethren

Shelley West of Union, Ohio, and Happy Corner Church of the Brethren.

As the team spends time with youth this summer at camps across the Church of the Brethren, they will teach about peace, justice, and reconciliation, all core values throughout the church’s more than 300-year history. Follow the ministry of the 2014 Youth Peace Travel Team by visiting www.brethren.org/youthpeacetravelteam .

UPCOMING EVENTS

10) Next intercultural gathering to be co-sponsored by Pacific Southwest District

A circle of support at the Great Multitude Symposium, the intercultural gathering in Virlina District in October 2013. Photo by Mandy Garcia.

Co-sponsored by the Intercultural Ministries of the Church of the Brethren and Pacific Southwest District, the next intercultural gathering in the Church of the Brethren will be held March 28-30 at Iglesia Principe de Paz in Santa Ana, Calif.

The gathering’s focus is “Unity Is More Than a Statement” ( www.brethren.org/intercultural/unity2014 ).

The vibrant, intercultural traditions of Pacific Southwest District can be traced back to its founding by Brethren who traveled to the West Coast in search of new opportunities while also maintaining their values and roots. This year, the individuals and pastors in Pacific Southwest District and neighboring districts who are passionate about intercultural ministries are invited to join a conversation about how to continue to work together to improve congregational diversity and opportunities for intercultural learning. This will be an opportunity to build relationships, share cultural heritages, and develop new ways to work together in various ministries.

For more information contact Gimbiya Kettering at gkettering@brethren.org or 847-429-4387.

11) Brethren Academy updates its course listing for 2014

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary, has issued an updated course listing for 2014. Courses are open to Training in Ministry (TRIM) students; pastors, who may earn continuing education credit; and all interested persons.

The academy staff note that while students may be accepted into courses after the published registration deadline, the registration on that date determines whether there are enough students to offer a course. Many courses have required pre-course readings, so students need to be sure to allow enough time to complete those. Do not purchase texts or make travel plans until the registration deadline is passed, and a course confirmation is received.

Courses noted as “SVMC” are offered through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center with offices on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College; contact SVMC@etown.edu or 717-361-1450 to register.

For more information or to register for the other courses listed below, go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/academy or call 765-983-1824.

“History of the Church of the Brethren” is offered at the Young Center, Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on March 7-8 and 21-22 with instructor Jeff Bach (SVMC). The registration deadline is March 1.

“Beyond Sunday School: Nurturing the Spiritual Lives of our Children” is an online course with instructor Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, April 21-June 15. The registration deadline is March 17.

“Rock the Church, Rethinking Church Renewal” is offered at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., with instructor Stan Dueck, on May 14-17 in conjunction with the Church Planting Conference.

An Annual Conference Directed Independent Study Unit features leadership from Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology, at the Ministers’ Association meeting in Columbus, Ohio, with instructor Chris Bowman, July 1-2. The registration deadline is June 2.

“Church of the Brethren Polity” is offered at the Young Center, Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, with instructors Warren Eshbach and Randy Yoder, on July 11-12 and Aug. 15-16 (SVMC). The registration deadline is July 1.

“Luke-Acts and the Birth of the Church” is an online course with instructor Matthew Boersma, Sept. 29-Nov. 21. The registration deadline is Aug. 19.

RESOURCES

12) Congregational Life offers new Spiritual Gifts Resource

By Lucas Kauffman

When the Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren released the Vital Ministry Journey, staff also began work on a Spiritual Gifts Resource to help congregations and their members explore their gifts and passions for participating in the church. This resource may be used as part of Phase 2 of the Vital Ministry Journey or on its own.

“The Vital Ministry Journey is a resource that helps encourage the vitality of a congregation by discerning what God’s desire is for the congregation,” said Josh Brockway, director of Spiritual Life. Vital Ministry Journey begins with a small group Bible study focused on the question, What is God’s dream for the congregation? “After the first phase of Bible study and sharing congregations can move into another set of specific studies. Phase 2 looks at topics to explore more in-depth,” Brockway said.

The gifts resource helps members and the congregation know what spiritual gifts are available within the congregation. By understanding better what gifts are present in the congregation, the community can begin to explore the specific mission God has in mind.

“The first session of the Spiritual Gifts Resource is based on Acts 6, and the selection and calling of deacons. From there, it takes a look at three other main texts in the New Testament about gifts and callings; 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4. The last sessions of small group conversations focus on taking an inventory of the group members’ gifts and passions through two assessment tools provided in the workbook.

“There are a number of different studies and similar resources out there,” said Brockway. “We wanted to develop something to work with spiritual gifts in a Brethren way, with the fellowship of other Brethren believers.”

What are spiritual gifts?

“Spiritual gifts are a reflection of God’s nature that we carry within us,” note the Vital Ministry Journal materials. “By discovering and utilizing your gifts, you will find great passion, joy, and satisfaction…. They are gifts that are given to each believer as their unique contribution within and through the church.” People will more fully understand the gifts that they receive at baptism, as they continue to connect to God and others.

“Spiritual gifts are pure grace,” according to Brockway.

Spiritual gifts should not be confused with skills, Brockway warned. “Skills are developed over time, and people with skills are noted and recognized for them,” he said. “For example, there could be two different people with the gift of leadership, and one may have gained skills through their studies and workplace, while the other might be gifted as a musician. Both are gifted leaders, and the way they use their grace-given gifts is different.

“The Spiritual Gifts Resource reflects the Church of the Brethren’s Anabaptist and Pietist roots, which makes it unique,” said Brockway. By discerning what God has given with others, the study takes community seriously. It will help individuals feel that it is good to be part of the church, and will aid in the way people are shaped through the church, he said.

For more information about the Spiritual Gifts Resource and other resources that may be used with the Vital Ministry Journey, go to www.brethren.org/congregationallife/vmj/resources.html . Order copies of “Vital Passions, Holy Practices: Exploring Spiritual Gifts” from Brethren Press for $7 per copy plus shipping and handling, at www.brethrenpress.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=219 or by calling 800-441-3712.

— Lucas Kauffman is a student at Manchester University. He recently completed a January term internship with the Church of the Brethren News Services.

13) Brethren bits

Freshly painted classrooms and new chairs at a school in Nigeria, thanks to the Ralph Royer Memorial Fund. Roxane and Carl Hill report via Facebook that the semester at EYN’s Kulp Bible College is underway. The Hills are serving with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), with support from the Global Mission and Service office of the Church of the Brethren. Photo courtesy of Roxane Hill.

— Corrections: The denomination’s Inter-Agency Forum includes the chair and vice-chair of the Council of District Executives, who should have been listed in last week’s Newsline along with the heads and board chairs of the Conference-related agencies: Church of the Brethren, Brethren Benefit Trust, Bethany Theological Seminary, and On Earth Peace. Also, the Brethren Disaster Ministries version of “Winter Wonderland” included lyrics by Jane Yount as well as Felix Bernard.

— The Church of the Brethren is seeking a director for Brethren Disaster Ministries. The full-time salaried position is part of the Global Mission and Service team and reports directly to the associate executive director of Global Mission and Service. Major responsibilities include informing and engaging Church of the Brethren constituents in Brethren Disaster Ministries activities, maintaining ecumenical and interagency relationships to facilitate response to human need in the United States, coordinating with staff to employ strategy and operations to facilitate the church’s mission, providing sound financial budget management, and initiating grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund for domestic response activities. Required skills and knowledge include strong interpersonal skills; ability to articulate, support, and operate out of the vision, mission, and core values of the Church of the Brethren; ability to uphold and support the basic beliefs and practices of the Church of the Brethren as determined by Annual Conference; knowledge of International Building Code and ability to act within a multicultural and multigenerational team environment. Training or experience with making effective presentations and providing adult education, especially in conducting skill training workshops; managing staff and volunteers; and in-house construction and repair is required. A bachelor’s degree is required with a preference for an advanced degree. An associate degree or experience in relevant fields will be considered. This position is based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Applications are received immediately and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Request the application packet by contacting the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; humanresources@brethren.org . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

— “A decade of war has brought us no true security. Let’s try building peace,” said an invitation to the 2014 Ecumenical Advocacy Days. The event takes place March 21-24 on the theme “Jesus Weeps: Resisting Violence, Building Peace.” The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness is inviting church members to take part by coming to Washington, D.C., for this ecumenical educational and advocacy gathering. More information is at http://advocacydays.org/2014-resisting-violence-building-peace .

— Also from the Office of Public Witness, a note about participating in the March 13-16 National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend. Participating “is as easy as incorporating a prayer, hymn, or homily into your regular service,” said the note posted on Facebook. “Join more than 1,000 participating congregations by pledging your place of worship’s participation.” For more information and to make the participation pledge, go to http://marchsabbath.org .

— Another church of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has suffered an attack by the extremist Islamist sect Boko Haram, according to a report from the organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide. On Jan. 31, gunmen attacked a service at the EYN church at Sabon Garin Yamdula village in Adamawa State, the report said. “After storming the church, they fired sporadically, killing 11 people, including the senior pastor, who died later in hospital. The gunmen also attempted to burn down the church, but were repelled by youths and local vigilantes firing hunting guns…. Two church members are reported to still be missing.” Christian Solidarity Worldwide also reported the Feb. 1 murder of a prominent Muslim cleric from the city of Zaria and members of his family. Sheikh Mohammed Awwal Adam “had spoken out increasingly strongly against Boko Haram,” the report said.

— Two continuing education events are sponsored by Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) during the month of March. “What Every Christian Should Know about Islam” will be held at Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on March 15, and “Leadership for the Emerging Church” will be held at the Village at Morrison’s Cove, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Martinsburg, Pa., on March 22. These one-day seminars begin at 9 a.m. and end around 3:30 p.m. Cost is $50, lunch included. Continuing education credit is available for $10. Registration is due by March 1. SVMC is a ministry partnership of several Church of the Brethren districts–Atlantic Northeast, Southern Pennsylvania, Middle Pennsylvania, Western Pennsylvania, and Mid-Atlantic–along with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and Bethany Theological Seminary. Register at www.etown.edu/programs/svmc/continuing-education.aspx .

— The men of Hollins Road Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., are sponsoring a “Men Can Cook” tasting in the church social hall on Feb. 15, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. There is no charge, however a “love offering” will be accepted. For more information, contact the church office at hollinsroad@yahoo.com .

— A benefit concert for the Haiti Medical Project will be held on Sunday, Feb. 23, at 4 p.m., at the McPherson (Kan.) Opera House. McPherson community musical groups will present the benefit concert, part of a year-long effort by McPherson Church of the Brethren to raise funds for the project that brings mobile medical clinics to Haitian communities that previously lacked sufficient medical resources. In 2013, the church raised over $80,000 through various fund raisers, from garage sales and bake sales to matching gifts and garden parties, said an announcement. This year the church’s goal is to raise $100,000 by Easter. The concert will include instrumental performances by the McPherson Community Brass Choir, Resonance Trio, and the Church of the Brethren Angelus Ringers. Vocal performances will include Delores and the Pickin-Fretter of Wichita; McPherson High School choral director Nick Griggs and his wife, Miriam Griggs; and an a capella women’s double trio. The concert will conclude with several choral numbers, including a Haitian Creole piece. The concert is open to the public and a free will offering will be collected. For more information about the concert, contact McPherson Church of the Brethren at 620-241-1109. For more information or to contribute to the Haiti Medical Project, visit www.brethren.org/haiti-medical-project .

— Western Pennsylvania District has announced the theme for its 2014 district conference, “Be Led by the SPIRIT” (Romans 8:14). The 148th Western Pennsylvania District Conference will be on Oct. 18 at Camp Harmony, led by moderator Homer A. Foster.

— Camp Harmony in Hooversville, Pa., holds its 90th Anniversary Celebration on May 30-June 1. The celebration includes a May 30 Open House Celebration for area businesses; a May 31 Open House for community residents; and on June 1 a chicken barbecue, worship celebration, and recreation. More about the camp is at www.campharmony.org .

— Also at Camp Harmony, a Sweetheart Dinner will be held on Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. The 1950’s era dinner will include “music, fun, and dancing,” said an announcement. Cost is $15 per person, or $25 per couple. E-mail harmony@campharmony.org or call 814-798-5885.

— The Brethren Home Community in Windber, Pa., is welcoming greetings of love and friendship for its residents on this Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. Anyone wishing to share a Valentine greeting with a resident at the community should address a card to the resident directly, or send cards to “Be My Valentine” at the Brethren Home, 277 Hoffman Ave., Windber, PA 15963.

— The board of directors of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md., has added three new members: Mary Rosborough, a Church of the Brethren member with the congregation in Hagerstown, Md., and an independent-living resident at Fahrney-Keedy, is the Village representative on the board; Kay Hoffman, development director for Brook Lane Health Services and vice president of the Brook Lane Foundation, and co-president of Soroptimist International; and Heather Lorenzo, chief medical officer at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, Md., her latest of several positions at the hospital. The board of directors has 15 members and is chaired by former director of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, Lerry Fogle.

— COBYS Family Services is branching out into television news at a fundraising banquet on March 6, at 6:30 p.m. at Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in Lititz, Pa. A release announces that in addition to a family style meal, “The COBYS Nightly News Banquet” will feature aspiring anchormen Mark Cunningham and Don Fitzkee (who haven’t quit their day jobs as COBYS executive director and director of development). “WCOBys Nightly News will feature some real news about COBYS ministries to children and families, along with some more whimsical fare,” said the release. “Expect up-to-the-minute traffic from COBYS Permanency Unit Supervisor Nicole Lauzus; a therapeutic weather report from therapist Laura Miller that not only predicts the weather, but also how it will make you feel; and a word from our sponsor, Gene Wenger’s Meats & Fine Foods.” The program also will feature a performance by The King’s Strings, adoptive parents John and Cindy King and some of their eight children. There is no charge to attend the banquet, but reservations are required and the event will include an opportunity to support COBYS ministries. Guests may reserve a table of eight by enclosing a donation of $250 or more with their registration. Those who reserve tables will receive preferred seating. Only those reserving a table are required to donate in advance. More information and a printable invitation with directions to the church is available at www.cobys.org/news.htm . Register by contacting Don Fitzkee at 717-656-6580 or don@cobys.org no later than Feb. 28.

— Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community will host a dinner meeting on March 12 with the authors of “Necessary Conversations,” Gerald and Marlene Kaufman. The presentation will address challenges that adult children and their aging parents face in dealing with issues of finances, housing, health, and end-of-life decisions. The 6 p.m. dinner will be held in the Houff Community Center of Maple Terrace at the retirement community. Reservations are due by March 4, contact 540-828-2550 or 800-419-9129 or reserve2day@brc-online.org. Shenandoah District is helping to provide the event free of charge.

— Byron Miller will mark his 100th birthday on Feb. 16 by preaching for Sunday morning chapel at Timbercrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in North Manchester, Ind., reports Manchester Church of the Brethren. Miller’s family is holding a reception in honor of his 100th birthday on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2-4 p.m. in the Assembly Room at Timbercrest.


Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Deborah Brehm, Josh Brockway, Stan Dueck, Don Fitzkee, Julie Hostetter, Michael Leiter, Fran Massie, Bryan Hanger, Tim Heishman, Lucas Kauffman, Phil King, Donna Kline, Nancy Miner, Becky Ullom Naugle, Glen Sargent, Jonathan Shively, Craig Smith, Roy Winter, 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 planned for Feb. 14. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org . 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 www.brethren.org/newsline .