Newsline for Jan. 10, 2014

“Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity” (1 Timothy 4:11, The Message).

1) Church  youth groups get together to register for National Youth Conference
2) Strategic pathways work continues by Brethren Benefit Trust board
3) Virlina District Conference supports peace efforts of Nigerian Brethren

4) Today is opening day for workcamp registration, last day to apply for Ministry Summer Service, Youth Peace Travel Team
5) Church Planting Conference looks toward an intercultural future
6) Living Love Feast is theme of Bethany’s 2014 Forum

7) Church of the Brethren member leads peace training in Democratic Republic of Congo
8) New Year’s resolutions: A reflection for January 2014 from the Older Adult Ministry

9) Brethren bits: Correction, Bethany’s Nicarry Chapel suffers water damage, Haitian Brethren request prayer, 12th anniversary of first detainees at Guantanamo, Nominating Committee meets, BVS survey, resignation and job opening, and much more

A NOTE TO NEWSLINE READERS: The e-mail for Church of the Brethren staff has been down all day today, Friday, Jan. 10. We apologize for the inconvenience. To contact communications staff and the News Services department while e-mail is down please send a message to .

1) Church  youth groups get together to register for National Youth Conference

The NYC coordinators monitor registrations for National Youth Conference 2014, on the opening evening for online registration: (from left) Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher.

By Lucas Kauffman

Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren youth and advisors were among the groups that got together Jan. 3 for a National Youth Conference (NYC) registration party. The youth at Highland Avenue Church in Elgin, Ill., decided to hold their party so that they would be among the first to register for NYC 2014.

They were just seven of more than 200 people who registered in the first two hours after online registration for NYC opened at 7 p.m. (central time) that Friday evening.

The group of Highland Avenue youth started off the party enjoying a meal of pizza, chips, cookies, cake, and drinks. After watching the YouTube video about how to register online, they split up in three different rooms, sitting at different sets of computers, and went to work.

Nathaniel Bohrer and Elliott Wittmeyer were two of the youth who registered. Bohrer is looking forward to seeing old friends while at NYC, and playing some Ultimate Frisbee. Both Bohrer and Wittmeyer are looking to take away several things from NYC. Bohrer is hoping to create new relationships, and receive a new understanding of how the church works. Wittmeyer is looking to have some fun, while also learning some history about the denomination, and listening to sermons that teach him something.

NYC coordinators hold their own registration party

While Highland Avenue youth were registering NYC coordinators Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher were having a registration party of their own at the denomination’s General Offices. They were joined by Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and Sarah Ullom-Minnich, who is on the National Youth Cabinet.

After eating pizza and getting everything ready, they each logged on to a computer to watch the registrations come in. They counted down from 10 seconds, to the official registration opening time. It took five minutes for the first registration to be received. A few minor problems had to be dealt with over the phone. They left the offices a little after 9 p.m.

Heishman says he is looking forward to everything, as an NYC coordinator. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the names come in, and meeting as many people as possible during NYC. I’m excited about all of the speakers, the bands (Mutual Kumquat and Rend Collective Experiment), and especially the worship services. It will be so exciting to see everything come together this July.”

More than 400 register over the weekend

Some of the churches where youth registered for NYC on the first weekend: Wakemans Grove Church of the Brethren in Shenandoah District;  Ambler Church of the Brethren and Little Swatara Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District; McPherson and Wichita First Churches who teamed up in Western Plains District; Manchester Church of the Brethren  in South Central Indiana District; Gettysburg Church of the Brethren in Southern Pennsylvania District; Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Virlina District; West Charleston Church of the Brethren and Cristo Nuestra Paz who teamed up in Southern Ohio District.

As of Tuesday morning, Jan. 7, 464 people had registered for NYC. That is up from 366 people in about the first four days of online registration for the last NYC in 2010.

Good reasons to go to NYC

There are several reasons why youth should sign up for NYC, according to Heishman. “NYC is a place where you can meet Christ and hear your calling as a follower of Jesus,” he said. “It is often the spiritual highlight for many youth during their high school years.”

Another reason to sign up? Heishman says that NYC will be a blast.

For more information and to register for National Youth Conference, which takes place at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 19-24, go to .

— Lucas Kauffman is a senior at Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind., and a January term intern at the Church of the Brethren News Services office.

2) Strategic pathways work continues by Brethren Benefit Trust board

By Brian Solem

At its annual November meeting, the Board of Directors for Brethren Benefit Trust’s pension, insurance, and asset management ministries pushed forward its strategic pathway process, made small but important adjustments to its investment program, and requested further dialogue regarding BBT’s Church Workers’ Assistance Plan.

At its Nov. 22-23 meeting, which was preceded by two days of committee meetings, the board spent two afternoons led by Randy Yoder working at creating new mission and vision statements. It also affirmed BBT’s Ethos Statement and Purpose Statement (both of which can be viewed at ) and developed a set of five Core Values, which emerged from BBT’s previous set of values. The core values are: Act with integrity, Lead with compassion, Provide competitive services, Encourage mutual support, Model social responsibility.

In December, the Strategic Planning Committee worked with the board’s ideas and will present draft statements, as well as priorities for BBT, at a next meeting in April.

Other important events from the meetings, some of which were held at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren, include:

— Upon recommendation from its investment consultant team, Marquette Associates, the board approved the move of Retirement Benefit Fund assets from its Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities Fund to a new All Asset Fund, which is currently invested through the PIMCO All Asset mutual fund. Adding this fund broadens BBT’s inflation protection options.

— Because the manager of the Domestic Stock Value Fund, Iridian Asset Management LLC, invests that fund in a primarily mid-cap style, the board agreed that the name be changed to the Domestic Stock Mid Cap Fund. The board also requested a complete review of all fund names to ensure consistency across BBT’s ministries and in reports from its vendors.

— To better serve Brethren Pension Plan members, the board approved an exploration of offering target date funds for the denomination’s retirement plan. This investment style allows an investor to choose a fund based on the number of years before retirement, and the level of risk and reward is adjusted by an investment manager based on retirement date. BBT staff will bring findings back to the board in April.

— Two new socially responsible investing (SRI) fund programs will be explored by staff. First, the board approved the exploration of a set of Tactical Funds for Brethren Foundation that would be compliant with BBT’s socially responsible investing tenets. Its current, five-fund Tactical Fund program invests in diversifying funds that BBT currently invests in mutual funds, which means they are not necessarily SRI-compliant. Second, the board recognized the need for a Balanced Fund for Brethren Pension Plan members; currently, the Balanced Fund invests in US Treasuries.

— Wayne Scott was selected by the board to be its self-appointed member starting in July 2014. He has served on the board since 2010.

— BBT’s 2014 budget was approved by the board. It reflected a 5 percent decrease over the previous year’s budget.

— The BBT board approved revisions to its Articles of Organization. These changes will be outlined and brought to Annual Conference delegates in July 2014.

— The Investment Committee reviewed two of BBT’s investment managers–Segall Bryant and Hamill, which oversees BBT’s Large Cap Growth portfolio; and Kayne Anderson Rudnick, which oversees the agency’s Small Cap portfolio. Both firms were signed on for additional three-year terms.

— The Investment Committee approved an update to the benchmark for the Bank Loans Fund, which may be utilized by the Retirement Benefits Fund and Brethren Foundation clients. It now tracks alongside the S&P/LSTA US Leveraged Loan 100 Index, which is a more cost-effective benchmark for the fund.

— Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

3) Virlina District Conference supports peace efforts of Nigerian Brethren

By Emma Jean Woodard

Virlina District has had individuals connected with ministry in Nigeria and has given support and prayers for the Nigerian Brethren for a long time. Because of the violence, destruction, and deaths that have taken place in Nigeria, the District Peace Affairs Committee decided to emphasize the peace efforts of Nigerian Brethren at the Sept. 2012 Virlina District Peace Sunday Service.

At that service, a portion of the DVD “Sowing Seeds of Peace” was shown, and postcards were distributed to participants to write words of support and encouragement for our Nigerian sisters and brothers. Those written postcards were given as the offering during that service.

Following that service, the Program and Arrangements Committee for district conference chose to continue the Nigerian support emphasis at the 2012 Virlina District Conference. A portion of the DVD was shown at conference as well, and blank cards on which persons could write a message were distributed. Delegates were encouraged to ask their congregations to write cards. Cards were collected and mailed to Jay Wittmeyer at the denomination’s Global Mission and Service office in January 2013, for him to deliver on his next trip to Nigeria.

As the Program and Arrangements Committee planned for the 2013 District Conference, they decided to continue the district’s support for Nigeria in a different way. The committee decided that the offerings taken during the two worship services at the district conference–which usually go to ministry projects in the district–would go to the EYN Compassion Fund of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

District conference in 2013 was held at Greene Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Roanoke, Va., on Nov. 8 and 9. That congregation truly hosted the district with multiple meetings in preparation for the conference, a reduced building usage fee, and 30 volunteers throughout the two-day event.

The conference officers approved a suggestion to give the offering taken during the business session to the EYN Compassion Fund in appreciation and recognition of the Greene Memorial congregation and volunteers. This action was enthusiastically supported by conference participants. That offering was our largest ever, and the total of the three offerings and other donations came to $5,195.92.

The conference theme was “Come Near to God and He Will Come Near to You” from James 4:7-8a. Because God is ever near, the offering was Virlina District’s opportunity to share love and support to those who live and serve in dangerous and difficult circumstances for their faith.

— Emma Jean Woodard is associate executive minister of Virlina District.

4) Today is opening day for workcamp registration, last day to apply for Ministry Summer Service, Youth Peace Travel Team

Today, Friday, Jan. 10, is a key date for Church of the Brethren youth and young adults who are interesting in participating in summer workcamps, or applying to the Ministry Summer Service program or the Youth Peace Travel Team. Online registration for the summer 2014 workcamps open today at . Today also is the last day for applications for Ministry Summer Service ( ) and the Youth Peace Travel Team ( ).

Workcamp registration opens this evening

The Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry will open online registration for its 2014 workcamp season tonight at 7 p.m. (central time). While studying the theme, “Teach with Your Life,” based on 1 Timothy 4:11-16, the workcamp ministry will offer eight junior high workcamps this summer, as well as one intergenerational workcamp, one young adult workcamp, and two workcamps for Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) participants.

Two important details for registration this year include a requirement for junior high participants to have a parental permission form filled out ahead of time, as well as an increased deposit amount of $150 for all workcamps.

Anyone interested in registering can find more information about the schedule and descriptions of the workcamps at .

Applications for MSS, YPTT are due today

Today is the deadline to apply for Ministry Summer Service and the Youth Peace Travel Team for the summer of 2014.

Ministry Summer Service (MSS) is a leadership development program for college students in the Church of the Brethren who spend 10 weeks of the summer working in the church (congregation, district, camp, or denominational program). Interns spend one week at an orientation followed by nine weeks working in a church setting. Interns receive a $2,500 tuition grant, food and housing for 10 weeks, $100 per month spending money, transportation from orientation to placement, transportation from placement to home. Churches are expected to provide an atmosphere for learning, reflection, and development of leadership skills; a setting for an intern to engage in ministry and service for 10 weeks; a stipend of $100 a month, plus room and board, transportation on the job, and travel from orientation to placement site; a structure for planning, developing, and implementing projects in a variety of areas; financial resources and time for the pastor/mentor to attend two days of orientation. The 2014 orientation is May 30-June 4. More information and application forms are at .

The Youth Peace Travel Team (YPTT) is a group of Brethren young adults age 18-23 who spend the summer traveling to Church of the Brethren camps to engage and teach youth about issues of peace and justice while living and learning with campers. The primary goal of the team’s work is to talk with other young people about the Christian message and the Brethren tradition of peacemaking. The Youth Peace Travel Team is a joint project of the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Brethren Volunteer Service, On Earth Peace, and the Outdoor Ministries Association. More information and application forms are at .

5) Church Planting Conference looks toward an intercultural future

The Church Planting Conference to be held May 15-17, sponsored by the Church of the Brethren through the office of Congregational Life Ministries and the New Church Development Advisory Committee. and hosted at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., will be forward-looking with the theme, “Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully–Toward an Intercultural Future.”

Registration is now open at and continues through March 17 at an “early bird” rate of $179. The registration fee increases to $229 after March 17. Student registration is offered at the rate of $129. A rate of $149 applies to first-time registrants, good through the early registration period (March 17).

Rooted in worship and prayer, providing practical training

“This vibrant gathering focused on church planting is rooted in worship and prayer while providing practical training, nurturing conversation, and stimulating idea-sharing,” said an invitation from Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries. “The entire conference will work toward an intercultural future, including a unique track offered in Spanish.”

Keynote leaders for the event include Efrem Smith, president and CEO of World Impact, an urban missions organization committed to the empowerment of the urban poor through the facilitation of church planting movements and leadership development; and Alejandro Mandes, director of Hispanic Ministries for the Evangelical Free Church of America, who has a special commitment to love, train, and send immigrant leaders.

The preaching for the opening worship service will be Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.

Workshop proposals are being received

Organizers also are seeking workshop proposals from those who have experience and expertise to share with church planters. Workshops at the event will enhance the church planting movement, cultivate skills for new church development, and inspire missional leadership. Workshops will be provided by the keynote presenters and other leaders, and will include a series for Spanish speaking leaders, and for planting practitioners.

Those whose workshop proposals are accepted will receive an additional registration discount. Those who submit a workshop proposal should plan on registering for the conference after hearing whether their proposal has been accepted.

Information and guidelines for workshop proposals can be found at .

For more information go to or contact .

6) Living Love Feast is theme of Bethany’s 2014 Forum

By Jenny Williams

Bethany Seminary’s sixth Presidential Forum will delve into the biblical, practical, and experiential nature and meaning of a deeply valued expression of faith among the Brethren: the Love Feast. Held April 4-5 at the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind., this event will feature leadership from well-known speakers and scholars along with sisters and brothers in the Brethren faith tradition.

Registration opens Jan. 15 on the Bethany website. A lower rate is being offered until Feb. 15, and high school, college, and graduate students can attend at no cost.

Speaker and activist Shane Claiborne will be the opening presenter on Friday evening with an address entitled “Another Way of Doing Life,” inviting listeners to re-imagine what it means to be the body of Christ alive in the world. Creation care, peacemaking, and racial reconciliation are ways to help us see the gospel not just as a way of believing but of living. Claiborne is a leader of the Simple Way, a faith community that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities worldwide. He writes and travels extensively, speaking about peacemaking, social, justice, and Jesus–from universities to national and international media.

Two plenary speakers will offer perspectives on the Love Feast from the biblical story and the place of ritual in faith expression. Drawing on the text of John 13, Ruth Anne Reese will present “Betrayal at Supper: Demonstrating Love in the Midst of Danger.” Focusing on Jesus’ demonstration of service and his commandment to love one another, she also will reflect on life together in the church today, Reese is the Beeson Chair of Biblical Studies and professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmington, Ky. Specializing in the General Epistles, she has written several books and currently serves on the board of the Institute for Biblical Research.

Janet R. Walton, professor of worship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, will bring expertise in religious ritual traditions to her address, “Ritual Meals, Now.” Through questions about the boundaries of ritual meals–who may eat, what we eat, how we eat–she will explore how such meals can embody and challenge ways of living faith and living love. Walton’s work in the area of ritual has a particular focus on artistic dimensions, feminist perspectives, and commitments to justice, reflected in several books she has coedited. The past president of the North American Academy of Liturgy, she was named a Henry Luce Fellow in Theology and the Arts in 1998 and is a recipient of the AAR Excellence in Teaching Award.

From Ted and Company in Harrisonburg, Va., the actor, playwright, and theologian Ted Swartz will enter into the biblical stories of Jesus and his disciples in the play “Fish Eyes.” Through scenes from the four Gospels, the disciple Peter embarks on a journey through miracles, questions, and a growing faith, leading to the message of the Upper Room. Many will recognize Swartz and his work at the intersection of humor and biblical story–often offering a greater understanding of the text. “Fish Eyes” is one of 14 plays Swartz has written or cowritten, along with the book “Laughter Is Sacred Space.”

Five breakout sessions will guide participants in new ways of experiencing and thinking about Love Feast:

“Living Love Feast: From Reenactment to Formative Worship” with Paul Stutzman, associate pastor of Clover Creek Church of the Brethren

“A Poetic Love Feast” with Karen Garrett, managing editor of “Brethren Life and Thought” and coordinator of assessment at Bethany Seminary

“African Sahilian Love Feasts and Communion: From Nigeria to Sudan” with Roger Schrock, pastor of Cabool Church of the Brethren

“Bringing Children to Christ’s Table” with Linda Waldron, children’s ministry at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren

“Love Feast: Tradition and Innovation” with panelists Audrey DeCoursey, pastor of Living Stream Church of the Brethren; Janet Elsea, interim pastor of Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren; Alexandre Gonçalves, pastor and consultant in child violence prevention and Bethany MDiv student (Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil); Matthew McKimmy, pastor of Richmond Church of the Brethren; Curt Wagoner, pastor in West Alexandria, Ohio; and facilitator Bekah Houff, coordinator of outreach programs at Bethany

The fourth Pre-Forum Gathering will be held in conjunction with the forum, beginning Thursday evening, April 3, and continuing through Friday afternoon. The Alumni/ae Coordinating Council, sponsors of the event, will be leading participants through worship and a Love Feast on Thursday evening. As in the past, Bethany faculty will present four lectures on Friday, focusing this year on the place and nature of ritual and tradition in religious life:

“By Water and Oil: Baptism and Anointing in Brethren Tradition” presented by Denise Kettering-Lane, assistant professor of Brethren studies

“‘Do This’: Living the Tradition with New People and Young People” presented by Russell Haitch, professor of practical theology

“More Than Lighting Candles: Ritual Action, Worship, and Theology” presented by Malinda Berry, assistant professor of theological studies and director of the MA program

“Just Like the First Disciples” presented by Jeff Carter, president

The Presidential Forums were inaugurated in 2008. By exploring topics that thoughtfully address issues of faith and ethics, the forums strive to build community among those at Bethany, the wider church, and the public, and to provide visionary leadership for re-imagining the role of seminaries in public discourse. In fall 2010, Bethany received a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to endow the forums.

All main forum sessions and the pre-forum lectures will be webcast live. Continuing education units are available for both events. For details and to register beginning Jan. 15, visit . For additional information, contact or 800-287-8822.

— Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations at Bethany Theological Seminary.


7) Church of the Brethren member leads peace training in Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo courtesy of Lubungo Ron, Congo Brethren
Cliff Kindy leads peace training for the Congo Brethren in the DRC

By Lucas Kauffman

Church of the Brethren member Cliff Kindy, who also has worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), visited Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo from Dec. 14-23. This was not Kindy’s first visit to the Congo, where he has traveled with CPT. During the CPT trip he had been “impressed with the way individuals and peace and justice groups were re-taking the initiative from the actors of violence, when that meant risking their lives daily.”

This trip was made at the request of pastor Ron Lubungo and the Brethren in the DRC. Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren,  expanded the work of this visit and helped provide funding, Kindy said.

Kindy accomplished two major tasks, leading a nonviolent peacemaking training for a mostly Brethren group, and helping to build relationships with the Brethren in the DRC. “The training was a major three-day focus of my nine days,” said Kindy. “It was a group of 24 people from 5 different denominations and 5 ethnic groups. I was impressed with the depth of their engagement with the themes and activities throughout the training. Their lives are surrounded with violence, which is the reason they are searching for tools to deal with that influence in their lives.”

The trip also included being part of worship with three Brethren congregations. “Pastor Lubungo asked me to preach at one of those,” Kindy said “One evening, eight church leaders spend several hours asking questions about the Church of the Brethren in the United States and sharing some of the issues facing their church.”

“I also had the opportunity to meet with Twa [pygmy] groups displaced by attacks in their forest homelands,” Kindy added. “The DRC Brethren have been doing agricultural, peace, and development work with the Twa.”

Kindy was able to see and experience a lot of different things during his travel. “The setting in a highland breadbasket, surrounded by mountain chains to the east and west of the lake, adds a rugged quality to the folks who populate this region,” he commented.  “The wisdom and experience of peace builders who have returned from safety in a Tanzanian refugee camp to respond to a call to be peacemakers in their violence-plagued home communities adds a special daring richness to already beautiful Christians.”

Kindy did run into a little bit of trouble while in the Congo. “An armed group stopped our vehicle at a checkpoint,” he reported. He also saw armed people on the streets and roads, “like the Mai Mai nationalist fighters I rode by on a motorbike one afternoon,” he said. “The six million deaths in the DRC over the last two decades make it clear that my experience of comparable safety is not the only way things happen when one meets any of the dozens of different armed groups that plague the South Kivu province.”

A new Brethren group

Photo courtesy of Lubungo Ron, Congo Brethren
Cliff Kindy leads peace training for the Congo Brethren in the DRC

In the DRC, there are eight Brethren  congregations, with about 100 members each, and each has its own pastor. “They hope that biblical and theological training for pastors might be part of a deepening relationship with the Church of the Brethren in the United States, and connections with the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, Haiti, and India,” said Kindy.

Children and youth were primary features in the worship services he attended. “The Brethren in Ngovi had three choirs and the children too young to join the choirs often mouthed the words and copied the motions of older siblings who sang or played drums and guitar.”

Kindy visited a Brethren congregation in Makabola that was the site of a 1,800-person massacre in the village in 1998. “The trauma from that disaster is similar to what underlies any relationships in the DRC,” he said. “Additional trauma workshops and processes for healing that are ongoing can be similar to what the United States veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan need for healing from their psychological war wounds.”

Life can be hard for Christian sisters and brothers in the Congo. “Their country is at the bottom of the scale in average yearly income,” Kindy noted. “One day I had lunch at 2 p.m. and the next meal the following day at 4 p.m. I suspect that may not be unusual. As the guest, I slept in a bed with mosquito net, small table, chair, and battery operated lamp in my own room at the Brethren Center in Ngovi. The others with me were on the floor without the other accoutrements. When we traveled on the road outside the city of Uvira, the average speed was about 20 miles per hour unless we had a straightaway without potholes, rocks, and lakes to dodge where we might race up to 30 miles per hour for 40 feet. Kinshasa, the capital, is on the far west side of the DRC, so few infrastructure works get shared with the east, even though many of the mineral lodes of this very resource-rich country are in the east.”

Hopes for nonviolent peacemaking

Kindy hopes that the three regional groups that formed quickly out of the nonviolence training will engage quickly in peace building efforts. “This group has the potential to far surpass what CPT itself has done over the last 26 years,” he said, “because their lives are at stake in the effort to replace violence with nonviolent peacemaking in home, community, and country. They have close connections with neighboring countries and this spirit could spread rapidly.

“With the DRC Brethren, I feel the depth and energy of the Spirit in the worship and vision of members and leaders,” he said. “The youthfulness and investment of self reminds me of what I have seen in the Haitian Church of the Brethren, the Brethren in Brazil, and during the take-off times of the Church of the Brethren in Puerto Rico.

“The focus of the DRC Brethren on peacemaking is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship in our world today,” he added. “Maybe that focus can be re-seeded with a new hybrid vigor among those of us in the United States.”

A participant in the nonviolence training shared frankly at the end of the three days: “Cliff, the DRC does not manufacture or sell guns. Your country is the world’s largest arms supplier. Your corporations maintain active fighting groups to access our mineral wealth for your benefit. We bear the brunt of that economic injustice and deadly violence. The work of peacemaking needs to be done in your country.”

“Yes,” Kindy responded. “If Jesus’ prayer is to have meaning in our world, Christians in the United States need to be even more serious about the demands of discipleship than our sisters and brothers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

— Lucas Kauffman pulled together this article through an interview with Cliff Kindy, and reports Kindy wrote about his trip. Kauffman is a senior at Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind., and a January term intern with the Church of the Brethren News Services.

8) New Year’s resolutions: A reflection for January 2014 from the Older Adult Ministry

“Change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful desires. Instead, renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24 CEB).

As 2013 came to a close, articles about resolving to make life changes popped up in newspapers and magazines and on TV and Facebook. Everywhere, people were pledging to either give up bad habits or adopt new, healthier ones as the new year rolled in.

Recently, my husband and I were blessed to attend a year-end communion service with his 97 year-old mother at her retirement community. The deacon serving communion reflected that it may be easier to stop a negative behavior than to take on a new, positive one. I don’t know if that is true, but it does seem like change, any change, is hard for people, which may be why various studies show that New Year’s resolutions are more often broken than they are kept.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t think about ways we might improve how we live our lives. But perhaps we should do that on a regular basis rather than try to change everything in one fell swoop.

As to whether we should focus on what we should be doing or what we shouldn’t, maybe it’s not a question of “either/or” but rather a matter of “both/and.” After all, Scripture provides guidance on both: “Blessed are those who…” (Mt 5:3-11) and “Thou shall not…” (Ex 20:1-17).

Perhaps we would do well to read and reflect on these passages now and throughout 2014 as we seek to live out our lives in the footsteps of Jesus.

Prayer: Renewing God, we are thankful for all the promise that a new year holds. We ask that you be with us as we study your Word and strive to live according to the example of the One whose birth and life we celebrate and seek to emulate, Jesus the Christ. Amen

To ponder and discuss:

1. As you begin the new year, read and reflect on the words of the hymn, “This is a day of new beginnings” (#640 in Hymnal: A Worship Book, Brethren Press, 1992).

2. Is it easier for you to stop a bad habit or begin a new, positive behavior?

3. As you reflect on your life, what do you want to change? How might you go about making those life changes a reality?

Suggested reading:

Moment to Moment: The Transformative Power of Everyday Life by Amy Sander Montanez. Morehouse Publishing, 2013.

A Season of Mystery: 10 Spiritual Practices for Embracing a Happier Second Half of Life by Paula Huston. Loyola Press, 2012.

The Older Adult Ministry envisions a church that intentionally affirms the gift of aging, and older adults, in its life and in service to the world. Our mission is to call forth ministries by, for, and with older adults throughout the Church of the Brethren.

— Kim Ebersole is director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. Contact her at or 800-323-8039 ext. 305. For more go to .

9) Brethren bits

The Nominating Committee of Standing Committee of Annual Conference met at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Members are: Kathryn Bausman, chair, Twin Falls, Idaho; Ken Frantz, Fleming, Colo.; Joel Kline, Elgin, Ill.; Kathy Mack, Rochester, Minn.; Roy McVey, Collinsville, Va.; J. Roger Schrock, Mountain Grove, Mo.; John Shelly, Chambersburg, Pa.; Jim Beckwith, Annual Conference secretary, Lebanon, Pa.; and John Moyers, Maysville, W.Va., who participated by conference call. The committee’s task is to help discern leadership for the denomination in the coming year. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.


— Correction: Last week’s Newsline gave an incorrect location for the newspaper that interviewed Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Michael Himlie. Himlie was interviewed by the “News-Record” of Harmony, Minn.

— Bethany Seminary’s Nicarry Chapel suffered water damage this week after two fire system sprinkler heads in the seminary in Richmond, Ind., broke in extreme subzero temperatures. In an e-mail to the seminary community dated Jan. 8, president Jeff Carter wrote that “a sprinkler head associated with the fire system broke due to freezing temperatures and showered the rear entrance area with water…. A second pipe feeding a sprinkler head in the Nicarry Chapel burst. The chapel floor was covered with water and a number of chairs, hymnals, and other worship resources were soaked.” Water damage was severe enough to destroy the chapel floor, which is being removed and a new floor will be installed. “Albeit a challenging situation, this community did what friends do,” Carter wrote. “We pitched in where we could, we encouraged when we had the chance, and we did not despair, but spoke of next steps. I am grateful for those service professionals who came to our aid, for talented and caring staff, faculty, and students, for our friends at Earlham, and for a community that cares deeply about this seminary.”

— Haitian Brethren are requesting prayer for the families of two members of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) who died in a boat accident. On Nov. 18, a sailboat left Haiti with about 100 Haitians on board, headed to the Bahamas in search of a better life. On Nov. 24 the boat capsized and only 32 of the 100-plus people were rescued. Among about 15 people from the Aux Plaines community who perished were Ronel Leon and Franky Gustave, two upstanding members of Aux Plaines Church of the Brethren in La Tortue, Haiti. “The unfortunate conditions in Haiti often drive people to risk their lives in the pursuit of a ‘better life,’” wrote Rose Cadet, who sent the information about the tragedy to Global Mission and Service staff.

— On the weekend that marks the 12th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, the Office of Public Witness invites Brethren to join in prayer for an end to torture. Tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 11, the Office of Public Witness is co-sponsoring a rally in Washington, D.C., with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, to mark this grim anniversary and to call on President Obama to keep his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. “The Office of Public Witness invites you to participate in spirit by joining in a nationwide Prayer Circle to Close Guantanamo that is a part of this weekend’s activities,” said an invitation. More information about the prayer circle and how to get involved is in the latest Action Alert from the Office of Public Witness. Find the Action Alert at .

— “BVS needs your help!” says an invitation to complete a survey about Brethren Volunteer Service. People who are serving in BVS, people who have been BVS volunteers in the past, church members, and other interested people are asked to help provide feedback to the program. The input will help BVS determine areas of focus and growth for the future. Find the survey at .

— Sarah Long has announced her resignation as financial secretary for Shenandoah District and center coordinator of the district’s Christian Growth Institute, effective March 1. The district newsletter reports that she will be moving to the Roanoke, Va., area as administrator with the church renewal service, E3.

— Camp Peaceful Pines is seeking to fill the position of camp superintendent(s) for the 2014 season and beyond. Camp Peaceful Pines is an independent charitable non-profit corporation affiliated with the Pacific Southwest District of the Church of the Brethren. It is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California in the Stanislaus National Forest on Sonora Pass. Staff members are primarily experienced and dedicated volunteers who love people, creation, and God. The board and program committee endeavor to recruit persons of mature Christian faith and leadership skills to direct each camp. The camp superintendent position supports daily operational needs from June 1 to Sept. 1. Compensation is based on a daily rate established by the camp board and includes food and housing provided. The camp superintendent is responsible for day-to-day operation of the camp, camp maintenance, and the greeting and coordination of camps with camp directors. This position reports to the camp board chair and provides reports to the camp board. To apply, submit an application with a resume and three references by March 1 to Garry W. Pearson, Board Chair, 2932 Prado Lane, Davis, Ca 95618; or submit electronically to ; phone 530-758-0474. The search team will select viable candidates for interviews during March. Camp Peaceful Pines is an Affirmative Action facility: acceptance and participation apply without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, or disability. For more information about the camp go to .

— Lebanon Church of the Brethren in Mt. Sidney, Va., dedicates its new organ with a concert at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 19. The Shenandoah District newsletter reports that the organ was purchased through the generosity of a bequest from a life-long member of the congregation.

— Northern Plains District is planning several “cluster gatherings” over the next few months. There will be a gathering in each of the five geographical clusters of the district. “The purpose is to provide encouragement to one another and build cooperative and supportive relationships between sister congregations,” according to the district newsletter. The “Central Iowa Cluster” of congregations is holding a pulpit exchange on Sunday, Feb. 16, centered on passages from 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (“You are God’s field”) or 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a (“One body with many members”), or the 2014 District Conference theme (“God Is in the Details”). The district newsletter reports that the concept of a pulpit exchange is based on part of Northern Plains’ Vision and Mission statement: “We will call our pastors and congregations to work together toward a shared ministry.”

— Also from Northern Plains, the district newsletter reports that a new blog from the Iowa Peace Network is being managed by Ivester Church of the Brethren member Jon Overton. Find the blog at .

— Workshop opportunities for church leaders to develop relationship and listening skills are hosted by McPherson (Kan.) College, as part of the new Ventures in Christian Discipleship series. A workshop on Jan. 25, “Building Healthy Relationships: Tools for Harmony within Diversity,” will offer tools for building harmonious relationships in the church community. A workshop on Jan. 26, “Deep Compassionate Listening,” will help develop skills for more caring interpersonal communication. The workshops are held at the college with Barbara Daté as facilitator. Cost is $50 for the Jan. 25 workshop and $25 for the Jan. 26 workshop. To enroll, contact .

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is planning special events honoring the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Begun in 2005, the annual week-long celebration is sponsored by the college’s Office of Diversity, said a release. The week kicks off Jan. 20 with a 10:30 a.m. opportunity to view the 50th Anniversary March on Washington at the Blue Bean Café on campus. At 2 p.m. that afternoon will be a presentation titled “Six Voices Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. in Sixty Minutes” in the High Library. The day rounds out with a 6:15 p.m. candlelight march from the Brossman Commons to the Leffler Chapel and Performance Center where at 7 p.m. an MLK Gospel Extravaganza and Awards event will feature choirs, musicians, soloist, and dancers giving a special evening of culture and music. For a full list of events go to . All events sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee are free. For more information contact Diane Elliott at or 717-361-1198.

— Daniel Ellsberg will speak at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., on Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m., on the topic “Surveillance and Secrecy.” Ellsberg is former strategic analyst for the RAND Corporation and the central figure in the 1971 publication of a study on “Decision-making in Vietnam 1945-1968” that later became widely known as “The Pentagon Papers.” A release from the college notes that in preparation for the lecture, on Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Juniata will screen “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.” The film will be shown in the Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science. The lecture by Ellsberg takes place in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. Both the film and the lecture are free and open to the public.

— The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., holds its annual meeting and dinner at 6:30 p.m. on  Feb. 7, at Harrisonburg Mennonite Church. The program will highlight 2013 accomplishments and plans for 2014, and the work of artisans and interpreters involved in the field trips offered to elementary school students. Seating is limited, make reservations by Feb. 1. Contact 540-438-1275 or .

— The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally celebrated between Jan. 18-25 (in the northern hemisphere) or at Pentecost (in the southern hemisphere), by congregations all over the world. Resources for the week are provided through the World Council of Churches, and this year focus on the theme and a question: “Has Christ been divided?” (1 Corinthians 1:1-17). Each year Christians from a different region of the world help prepare the resources, and this year initial work on the theme was prepared by a group of representatives from Canada. Go to .

— Christian Peacemaker Teams has announced “a bold new step for CPT in Europe,” in a recent release. The organization, which had its start in the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren, is beginning exploration of new work with refugees and migrants in Europe. “The systematic closure and militarization of Europe’s borders with its neighbors in recent years contrast sharply with the European Union’s rhetoric of democracy and universal human rights,” said a release. “Thousands of refugees have died along EU borders in recent years. Miles of barbed wire and military-style border controls are forcing migrants to take the most dangerous routes–crossing the Mediterranean Sea or the narrow straits between Greece and Turkey. Those who make it face racism, violence, institutional incompetence, and frequently confinement or deportation.” CPT in Europe, which has a strong partnership with the German Mennonite Peace Committee, is planning an initial exploratory delegation to the Greek-Turkey border to meet with refugees, civil society organizations and activists, build relationships, and develop an understanding of the situation, the release said. The delegation will take place in April. For more go to .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Roselanne Cadet, Jeff Carter, Elizabeth Harvey, Jon Kobel, Garry Pearson, Jonathan Shively, Emily Tyler, Becky Ullom Naugle, John Wall, 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 Jan. 17. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at . Newsline appears at the end of every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to .

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