“So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 persons were added” (Acts 2:41).
1) Brethren Disaster Ministries directs $175,000 in EDF grants to the Philippines
2) Theme is announced for 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC)
3) Bethany Seminary offers course at University of La Verne
4) ‘Grief and love in the same place’: A communication from the Church of the Brethren general secretary and the EYN president
5) A heart for bringing Christ: The Hills speak about their time in Nigeria
6) A round up of Nigeria news
7) What does the Emergent Church movement have to say to Brethren?
8) Brethren bits: Remembering Harry Gardner, new intern at BHLA, job openings with On Earth Peace and BBT, Zigler Hospitality Center seeks volunteers, church anniversaries, more.
Tomorrow, June 3, is the last day of online registration for Annual Conference! After that date, registration for Annual Conference will take place upon arrival onsite in Columbus, Ohio, for an increased registration fee. The Conference is planned for July 2-6. Find out more and register online at www.brethren.org/ac .
1) Brethren Disaster Ministries directs $175,000 in EDF grants to the Philippines
The Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are directing three grants totaling $175,000 to rehabilitation and livelihoods work in the Philippines. The grants from the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) follow up on the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Nov. 2013. The grants will support Heifer International livelihoods work on the island of Leyte, Lutheran World Relief livelihoods work on the islands of Cebu and Leyte, and rehabilitation work by a Filipino nonprofit organization in the coastal community of Tanauan, Leyte.
As of the end of April, more than $211,000 in donations received by the Emergency Disaster Fund in 2013 and 2014 have been earmarked by donors for Typhoon Haiyan response.
An allocation of $70,000 is supporting Heifer International livelihoods work on the island of Leyte. This grant will help fund the Building Resiliency and Sustainable Agribusiness in Haiyan-Damaged Areas of Central Philippines (BReSA-Haiyan Rehab Project).
The project will assist 5,000 families in rebuilding, recovering, and developing lost livelihoods, while at the same time ensuring future disaster preparedness in their respective communities. Through capacity building, training, instituting CMDRR, expanding agribusiness projects, replacing lost/deceased livestock, strengthening social capital, capacitating groups and cooperatives, and other climate-adaptation and preparedness initiatives, the project aims to empower families to become more resilient and self-reliant.
Lutheran World Relief
An allocation of $70,000 for Lutheran World Relief livelihoods work supports a long-term response to the typhoon. Called the Resiliency and Change for Haiyan Affected Families and Communities, this long-term response project benefits coconut farmers and coastal fisherfolk living on the islands of Cebu and Leyte. The grant also will help to equip local government and organizations to assist in long-term sustainable solutions.
Funds will support the Lutheran World Relief objective to ensure that farming- and fishing-related livelihoods of the most vulnerable are rehabilitated to be more sustainable and resilient in the face of future potential disasters. Assistance will be given to coconut farmers to transition to cocoa and other priority crops, as determined by the local agriculture sector. The fisherfolk will be supported by helping coastal communities restore seaweed farming, providing livelihood insurance, and rehabilitating coastal mangrove areas, all while strengthening community organization.
Burublig para ha Tanauan
An EDF allocation of $35,000 is going to rehabilitation work in the coastal community of Tanauan, Leyte. The majority of the money ($30,000) will support a newly organized Filipino nonprofit called Burublig para ha Tanauan (BPHT). This organization seeks to help in the restoration of the town. This portion of the grant will focus on providing fishing nets, a sewing center, and pedicabs for families who lost their homes and source of income.
The remaining $5,000 will provide school supplies for both teachers and students at the Tanauan High School. The school sustained considerable damage, and the government will not be able to resupply teachers for more than a year, as it focuses on construction projects.
About Typhoon Haiyan
On Nov. 9, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines causing a wide path of destruction and loss of life. This massive storm had sustained winds reported up to 195 miles per hour, and gusts up to 235 miles per hour, equivalent to a giant EF 4 tornado. As one of the strongest typhoons in recorded history, it was the latest and one of the worst of a continuous pattern of natural disasters in the Philippines. It was the third Category 5 “super typhoon” to make landfall on the Philippines since 2010, and followed the deadliest earthquake in 23 years just a month earlier (Oct. 2013).
The total storm path was more than 1,000 miles wide, damaging or destroying more than 1 million houses. Locally known as Yolanda, the typhoon affected more than 14 million people and displaced approximately 4 million. It caused more than 6,200 deaths, with more than 1,000 people still missing. Storm survivors report the number of official deaths is artificially low as they don’t include many of the children that died.
The devastation resulted in severe damage to the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector, costing the region $225 million in damages, according to the United Nations. These areas likely will face severe food security issues and may struggle to re-establish livelihoods. Sugar cane fields were not harvested due to the storm and may not have a more normal harvest for a couple of years. Millions of coconut trees lost during Haiyan means many farmers will not have coconuts to harvest for the coconut oil industry. Further, coconut processing and rice processing plants were severely damaged and are not functional. As a result many poor farmers have lost their primary source of income for the next several years, as it takes five to seven years for new coconut trees to produce.
2) Theme is announced for 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC)
By Kim Ebersole
Jesus used stories when he spoke to the people. In fact, he did not tell them anything without using stories. So God’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said, “I will use stories to speak my message and to explain things that have been hidden since the creation of the world” (Matthew 13:34-35, CEV).
The planning team for the next National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) is excited to announce the 2015 conference theme, “then Jesus told them a story…” (Matthew 13:34-35, CEV).
The theme grows out of Phyllis Tickle’s 2013 keynote address, in which she challenged older adults as the ones who know the biblical stories to “go back and weave those stories into the lives of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” It acknowledges the powerful way stories can convey God’s message, shaping and transforming our lives even today. This power of storytelling will be explored during the conference through worship, keynote presentations, creative arts, workshops, and song.
NOAC is the Church of the Brethren gathering for adults age 50 and older. The 2015 event will be held at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina, Sept. 7-11. Helping Congregational Life Ministries staff member Kim Ebersole with the conference are planning team members Bev and Eric C. Anspaugh of Rocky Mount, Va.; Deanna Brown of Clarks Hill, Ind.; Jim Kinsey of Lake Odessa, Mich.; Paula Ziegler Ulrich of Greenville, Ohio; Deborah Waas of La Verne, Calif.; and Christy Waltersdorff of Lombard, Ill.
More information about the 2015 NOAC will be available as planning progresses. Visit www.brethren.org/NOAC to experience the 2013 event through photos, written reflections, and videos by the NOAC News Team.
— Kim Ebersole is director of Older Adult Ministry for the Church of the Brethren.
3) Bethany Seminary offers course at University of La Verne
By Jenny Williams
Bethany Theological Seminary will offer a weekend intensive class on public theologies at the University of La Verne, Calif., this coming fall semester. Scott Holland, Bethany’s Slabaugh Professor of Theology and Culture, will teach his popular graduate course, “The Peace of the City and the Quest for Public Theologies.”
“I am excited about the University of La Verne hosting this course,” said Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Seminary. “As Bethany seeks to serve the entire denomination and build deeper ecumenical partnerships with students in different geographical locations, hosting a class on the West Coast offers a new opportunity to extend Bethany’s reach. I am thankful to Professor Holland for his willingness to travel and hope his presence, especially among a growing community of new Anabaptist scholars and students, might inspire lively conversations of faith and living.”
As a theologian of culture, Holland reminds his students that religion may begin in solitude, but as we are social creatures, our lives are public. Thus, biblical religion reminds us that our faith is always embodied in ethical and aesthetic engagements with culture, inviting public reflection.
This course will explore how a variety of public proposals for religion or theology might contribute to or inhibit what prophetic religion has called the peace or welfare of the city. Class topics include Anabaptist and ecumenical views of church and society, the theocratic terrors of groups like Boko Haram, and how current proposals for theopoetics and theopolitics might aid in social transformation and seeking cultures of peace.
The class will be conducted during three weekends: Sept. 12-13, Oct. 10-11, and Nov. 14-15. Interested persons may either take the course for credit or audit the course. For all students, the application deadline for the fall 2014 semester is July 15. Contact Tracy Primozich, director of admissions, at firstname.lastname@example.org for enrollment information. For additional information on the course itself, contact Holland at email@example.com .
— Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.
4) ‘Grief and love in the same place’: A communication from the Church of the Brethren general secretary and the EYN president
“In my grief I saw myself being held,
us all holding one another in this incredible web of loving kindness.
Grief and love in the same place.
I felt as if my heart would burst with holding it all.”
(A Zimbabwean woman)
This quote from Margaret J. Wheatley’s book, “Perseverance,” has been riding in my soul since I returned from Nigeria. The circumstances of the Nigerian conflicts happening around the gathering of the church at the Majalisa provide me with enough incongruence to feel grief and love in the same place. Adding the bombing in Abuja, followed by the events of the Chibok girls’ abduction, however, put me in a place I have never experienced before, as Love Feast on Maundy Thursday and Easter worship became part of the experience for me. I just could not shake the feeling that I had one foot at Golgotha (Hebrew for The Place of the Skull), and one foot at the empty tomb, torn by the grief and love of what I saw and experienced with our Nigerian family. Intellectually and spiritually I understood, but the horror kept drawing me to the place of crucifixion – and there I realized that the atrocities continue today.
This past holiday weekend it was grand to be with family and friends enjoying time together; celebrating graduation accomplishments; and taking care of my personal need to clean the car. How refreshing! Yet the news came fast Sunday afternoon that part of a family of which I am a member cannot rest, for violence awaits them. By Facebook, email, and texts, news arrived that five more EYN churches had been bombed, with 500+ houses were destroyed, many people killed, and 15,000 people displaced – many of them running to Cameroon.
Dr. Rebecca Dali wrote, “Every day we are mourning.” Markus Gamache wrote to say that he had just arrived at the Abuja airport and received sad news from his village. Twenty-one of his brothers had been killed in an attack on that very day, and he was told he should stay away. Markus pleaded “God have mercy on Wagga Village!” Annual Conference secretary Jim Beckwith responded to Markus with these words, which speak for us all:
“We are so very upset to hear this tragic, terrifying news. May God indeed have mercy on you and your family and your neighbors in Wagga village. And may the Lord confront Boko Haram in their innermost souls, stopping them in their tracks and turning them inside out like happened to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. May powerful prayers arise to earnestly seek a breakthrough of God’s peace.
We continue to pray. May you know that you are not alone in your grief – may you be comforted to know that we are praying with you. You are our brother in Christ. And the Lord is with you. May you be aware of the presence of the Risen Lord Jesus to lead your loved ones into God’s Kingdom and to strengthen and renew your spirit within you. May the Lord hold onto you and empower you with the Holy Spirit.
With faith in God’s love for you and with our love for you,
–Jim Beckwith and the Annville Church of the Brethren
Almost simultaneously, I wrote to Dr. Samuel Dante Dali, President of EYN, because I heard in his voice growing weariness from the violence and losses. I asked Samuel what more the US Brethren might do to support EYN, and when speaking to our government and the United Nations, what would he want us to share. His response came quickly and clearly:
“Dear Brother Stan,
Thank you very much for your concern, prayers and words of encouragement and comfort. I feel we are not alone. Also, thank for your promise to walk with us in this most difficult time in the ministry. Concerning the questions you raised let me respond to them as best I can.
First, you are already supporting us . . . by praying for us and sending funds to help the victims. You are also sharing our stories with others, which is receiving a series of positive and encouraging responses. There is no more manner of helping more than this. We will only continue to be very grateful to you as you continue to walk with us.
The response of the US government which I think will be appropriate and helpful in providing lasting solution to the Nigerian crisis is, in addition to identifying and rescuing the missing girls, the US security experts should also screen the Nigerian security service men – both military, police, SSS, past political leaders, and rich business men – with the aim to identify supporters and sympathizers of Boko Haram. After identifying such people, the US government should help to freeze their overseas accounts and deny them any visa to USA and other European countries. The US government can also help the Nigerian government with equipment that will assist the government in indentifying criminals wherever they are hiding. The US should reject business and relationship with any government in Africa that is supporting or hiding terrorist organizations.
To the members of the United Nations, stop playing politics for selfish interest with the lives of citizens of other countries that have been attacked by terrorist groups by watching and leaving terrorist activists in other countries just as internal problem or matters those countries must deal with. Mercy, compassion and the importance of every human life should guide the thinking, the activities and action of the United Nations in responding to crisis in any nation. The United Nations is not a platform for displaying power and pride but an organization for empowering the weak, liberating the captive and the oppressed, and a place for justice. Finally, it should be a united force against terrorists.
Finally, the role of the Christian Church in the situation we are facing today is to continue to pray together for God’s mercy and justice, encouraging the victims that they are not alone in their suffering, and sharing material things with the victims – especially those who have lost their source of living. Christians should feel and act together against any form of evil injustice, terrorism, and any form of religious fanaticism. The Christians across the world should strongly speak to the government of their nation to take strong action against evil, and stop supporting or having relationship with any government that is irresponsible for the life of its citizens and is supporting or hiding terrorist groups.
I believe these to the best of my knowledge will help in addressing the current terrorist situation we are facing in Nigeria and across the world.
Thanks for the questions again. Yours, Dr. Samuel Dante Dali.”
Samuel is calling us to engage in the spiritual discipline of prayer and fasting as a response to the violence they are witnessing. Other EYN leaders and members have been writing to me with resolve in their voices that nothing can shake them from their commitment to Christ and the Church. Through Samuel’s letter we can recognize additional ways for the US Brethren to be faithful to God and faithful to our family in Nigeria.
It seems to me that it is now time to engage more of our resources. In the midst of their own losses, EYN is reaching out not only to EYN families, but to neighbors and friends. Just like the church in Haiti following the earthquake, leadership is plotting a course of accompaniment, support, sustainability, and restoration of wholeness.
The season of prayer and fasting has reached US churches across the country – Brethren and others – and the stories of this “on your knees” discipline is reaching Nigeria. It is a blessing. The call to prayer has also spirited other denominations to support the EYN Compassion Fund. And most recently, the Wakarusa (Indiana) Elementary School accepted a challenge to raise $4,000 for the Chibok Girls and their families – an amount for which there is a matching grant. They chose to support the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, knowing we have trusted direct partners in Dr. Rebecca Dali and CCEPI.
Now it is our turn to get up off our knees and, in the heart and spirit of Jesus, serve. As the number of displaced people rises in Nigeria and in refugee camps in Cameroon, food security is at risk. EYN is serving the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the mourning . . . . and the list goes on. So we must respond generously with our resources to help empower EYN in their mission and service. It’s time to give!
We can also encourage our congregations to create cards and write letters to EYN. The messages can be sent with your Annual Conference delegates to Columbus. Cards will be gathered on Saturday at the beginning of the afternoon business session during a time of remembrance and prayer for EYN.
We are in the final stages of securing transportation for one of our Nigerian sisters or brothers to be present at Annual Conference and share their story. At the same time we meet in Columbus, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Dante Dali will be representing the Church of the Brethren at the World Council of Churches Central Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, as my proxy. He will have opportunity to share first-hand experience with the Central Committee, and tell of the global Brethren response.
Our grief and our love are being held at the same place. We, like the Nigerian church, must not be overcome by this great darkness, but rather, walk forward in the light of Christ. The darkness will not overcome us. Love is stronger than grief and will overcome this time.
My sincere thanks is sent to each of you as members of the Church of the Brethren Leadership Team, Mission and Ministry Board, Council of District Executives, and every pastor and congregation who took to their knees in prayer. Your support of this season of prayer and fasting has been so meaningful for the Brethren in the US and in Nigeria. It makes a difference. Thank you for being faithful followers of Jesus and coworkers with Christ.
May God, Christ and Holy Spirit be with you.
Stan Noffsinger, General Secretary
Church of the Brethren
5) A heart for bringing Christ: The Hills speak about their time in Nigeria
Newsline interviewed Carl and Roxane Hill shortly after they returned to the United States from a term of service at Kulp Bible College of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The Hills flew back to the US on May 14, in time to attend the church planting conference in Richmond, Ind., where Brethren videographer David Sollenberger taped a series of short interviews; find them at www.brethren.org/partners/nigeria/news.html .
Following is the Newsline interview with the Hills:
Newsline: What was your work in Nigeria?
Carl Hill: When we went, Jay [Wittmeyer, Global Mission and Service executive] gave us two pieces of advice: go to Kulp Bible College and teach there. And don’t try to change EYN church. The teaching load was light. Most of our down time was to exist, how to get food, water. The first semester we were there it was particularly hot, and I lost 25 pounds and Roxane lost….
Roxane Hill: Fifteen pounds. Just getting food was challenging. We didn’t actually take any food with us that time, and it was very difficult. You could get pasta and rice and fresh vegetables, whenever there was any, but meat…. We could always get eggs. With fried rice, that was our main protein.
We were not supposed to drive outside of the area. We were allowed to drive one stretch of road up to the EYN headquarters, but on the main road we were asked not to drive. So every time we even wanted bread or vegetables or bottled water, we’d have to get a driver. EYN staff didn’t let us go into the real market because it’s too congested and too dangerous. But there was this little roadside area we’d go on not-market-day and buy fruit and vegetables.
Carl: The locals would say, “All these Muslims, you don’t know if they’re members of the Boko Haram or not.”
Newsline: There’s that level of distrust in the community, because you don’t know who’s who?
Carl: That’s why they [Boko Haram] are so sinister. A lot of times they’d be living in the community, and at night they would go and participate in attacks.
Roxane: Or they’re funding it. Or working in it and giving information. You never know which government people are in it. That’s really one of the big problems.
Carl: We didn’t understand all the politics of it.
Refugees pose a real hardship for everyone
Roxane: The area that’s been hit hardest is the Gwoza area. Soon after we got to Nigeria that area started being attacked. That’s where all the refugees have come from. It’s a real hardship for everyone in those tribes, who live anywhere else, because they have to take the refugees in, and they’re already struggling to make ends meet.
The guy who herds goats and sheep and cows for Kulp Bible College is from that tribe. He had 40 to 50 extra people at his house. One of the students saw 20 people eating out of one little bowl of food. He came and said, “Can’t we help them with something?” So we were able to give them food. That’s the same family that we went to with Rebecca Dali’s CCEPI group [Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives] and were able to help again. Out of those 40 or 50 people there were about 8 different families.
The administrative secretary is from Gwoza area. So we asked him, if they know the Boko Haram is coming often, why don’t they leave? Why don’t they go find some other place? He says, “How can they? There are 100,000 people still left in that area.” He says, “How do you transplant thousands of people when every other place in the country is crowded and is using the land for their own farms?”
At the school, we didn’t notice the population, how crowded it is. But you leave there and go anywhere else…. Nigeria is the size of Texas and half of Oklahoma, but it has half the population of the US in that area. And they’re all basically subsistence living. Just living off their produce and any little thing they can sell.
Newsline: It’s just so hard to understand from a perspective like the United States.
Roxane: You go there and you can’t explain what the US is like, because it doesn’t translate at all. And you come back here and you can’t explain what it’s like there, it’s just another world.
There are thousands of people who have been displaced and moved. They’ve lost their house, they’ve lost all their clothing, they don’t have their farm anymore, they have no way of making any income. So they’re just devastated, and they have nothing. So even if you give them $1,000, think about that. Could you start over on $1,000? No! And they can’t either. They’re so thankful, but it’s really that much need. Dr. Dali has calculated it, and says that $75,000 is still just a drop in the bucket. They’ve set up a committee to use those funds wisely and make sure it doesn’t get misused.
Carl: About the compassion money that’s going to EYN, you know $10,000 is 1.6 million Naira [the Nigerian currency]. Just like here, a million six is a lot of money! And it buys a lot there. So with $10,000 you really make a huge contribution to their needs.
Newsline: I was going to ask how they’re using that money. Is it basically for refugees?
Roxane: Some of it is given to district executives to distribute, because they know the needs better. But it’s always a problem to know how to distribute it well.
Carl: So they have committees. And whenever you have a committee to do something like that, it slows the process down. And maybe the right people don’t get the aid that they need, or they don’t get it quick enough. So Rebecca Dali started her nongovernmental organization, and she is actually reaching the people at the grassroots level.
‘We want you to come to our church’
Carl: After we were there half the semester, one of the students came to me and said, “We want you to come to our church, I want to show you to my church.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You come to our church and you preach.” So that was the first [church visit]. It was really exciting for them because some of these people have not seen a white missionary. Their parents had but some of the kids have never seen white people.
We had a relationship with this church in Uba, which is about 13 miles north of Kulp Bible College. We went there about three or four times. Besides preaching, one person wanted me to come and help officiate a wedding. The next time we went, we participated in baby dedications. Twenty-one babies. And then the next time they wanted baptisms. And so we did 21 baptisms.
We ended up going to probably about 16 to 18 churches for EYN. That was really a big eye opener for us because we had been secluded at Kulp Bible College. We got to go see what the churches were like. You know, they’re big. The smallest congregation I preached at was 600, and the biggest in Mubi was about 1,300 in one service.
Roxane: A young man we met on the first day, Joshua, was our translator whenever we went to churches. Sometimes I would preach, mostly Carl would. So Joshua would come to our house, first he’d hear the sermon once and try to translate, then he’d write down all the words he didn’t know, and then do it one more time, before doing the final. Every time we went somewhere he’d already invested two run throughs. He is a remarkable young man. He was a huge joy for us, we called him our son and he called us his baturi parents.
Newsline: How large is EYN in total right now?
Carl: They don’t know, totally. But they have 50 districts. And, for instance, Uba alone–which is a good sized town–probably has six EYN churches. We went to four of the six. All of those were between 800 and 1,200 people.
Roxane: I’ve heard about close to a million [total EYN membership]. But you have to pay to get your member card, and some people really can’t afford that. And that doesn’t include children. Children do not come to the service with the families. Children have Sunday school early in the morning. So when you say 1,000, that’s not with any children in the service.
Newsline: The largest congregation in EYN is still Maiduguri Number 1?
Carl: Yes, it would be like 5,000. Some of the smaller churches have gone by the wayside because of all the violence.
Roxane: Many of the churches are walled now, with big metal gates and a metal bar across the gate. If it’s any size city at all they have to have police there at their worship services.
Carl: All over northeastern Nigeria every public building is now fenced and gated with a big safety bar over it. Police stations, schools, banks. It’s scary.
Roxane: When we went to a church we would always ask ahead and coordinate with the EYN headquarters people. Is it okay to go to this place? One time we were going to go and help with Boys Brigade, which is like a Christian boy scouts. Then something happened, it was targeted, and they said it wasn’t safe and we had to cancel.
Newsline: What classes did you teach?
Carl: I was the New Testament guy, so I did the synoptics and John’s gospel and Revelation and Acts and Paul’s letters, New Testament background, and a class in worship.
Roxane: The first semester we co-taught a Sunday school class. Then we presented a class that would be for adults in Sunday school, based on a class on spiritual maturity at Saddleback Community Church in Orange County, Calif. We presented that to all the district secretaries, when 50 of them came in for their annual gathering. I taught in the women’s school some. I tried to teach them English, and I taught some other classes too. Then I started teaching English in the diploma program, and a spiritual formation class.
Newsline: How many students are at Kulp Bible College?
Carl: Probably 150, mainly men, but some women in both programs. I had two classes with 36 and 38.
‘We were able to live generously’
Roxane: Some of the other things we did: Carl did some private tutoring. We allowed [cell phone] charging at our house, when we had the generator on, because the electricity is so sporadic. We had solar, that was a service we provided, so they really appreciated us. We encouraged and let people come and go. We had study groups. We did editing for students and staff. I did a women’s Bible study with Rosa, who wants to go to Bethany. We helped people who got a computer and didn’t know how to use it. We helped staff with the Internet, and printed things for people. A couple younger girls came in and did cooking with me. Carl gave driving lessons. The home management class of the women was to bake cakes but they had no oven. So then they’d come and ask me, can we do it at your oven?
Newsline: It sounds like you filled in places where you could, and the needs that you saw.
Carl: We had the ability because it was so cheap to live there. The little amount of money that we had went a long way. If somebody was really down, or their child was sick and they couldn’t afford to take her to the clinic, we would sometimes give the money.
Roxane: A girl got bit by a snake, they took her immediately to the clinic, but then they couldn’t pay the bill, so we helped with that. The need was usually under $20, from $5 to $20. That was a huge joy we had, being able to live generously there. We helped repair vehicles, we paid for medicine, we paid clinic fees, we bought food, we bought petrol, we paid travel costs, we sponsored people to NYC [National Youth Conference], we sponsored Boy’s Brigade, Girl’s Brigade, women’s ministry, we bought Bibles, we got glasses for people, we paid school fees, we bought materials for Sunday school, we got food for refugees, we gave business loans–all those things we were able to do with just a little bit of money.
One time Carl had $2 in his pocket and felt compelled to give it to a student who was in one of Carl’s classes. I was thinking, “Why are you wasting your time giving just $2? He won’t be able to do anything with it.” The next day he came back, almost in tears. He said, “That money put enough gas in my motorcycle that I could go to my farm and pick up all the produce.” He had bagged it all up but he couldn’t get it back home because he didn’t have the transport fee. Two dollars paid for that, and he was so appreciative. You can’t put a price on being able to help like that.
Newsline: Tell me how you think EYN is doing?
Carl: It’s big, you know, and they need help. Your typical church has, say, 800 people, and they have two paid staff–the pastor and the associate pastor. They have some degree of education. A lot of the pastors went to Kulp, and then maybe went to TCNN [the Theological College of Northern Nigeria] and got an advanced degree which is usually a year and a half master of New Testament or Old Testament. And then the associate has maybe a certificate of Christian religion. But with 800, you know, there’s no way they can minister to all those people.
Roxane: EYN has been trying to encourage spiritual maturity, spiritual growth. They’re starting to lose a bit of their young people because the program is pretty traditional. And the young people are starting to pick up different music, they want a different style of worship and want to do things differently. Some congregations combat that with the English service, which allows some of these young groups to do more of their music. But in the cities, it’s hard to keep the EYN youth and young adults interested in the church. So that’s another hurdle they’re going to have to address.
A reliance on faith
Carl: The neatest thing is their typical prayer. They start by thanking God that they are counted among the living that day. It’s so basic that we take it for granted here. But they see every day as a blessing from God.
Roxane: They have a reliance on faith that is very basic.
Carl: Another thing EYN does is giving. They set two big giant baskets up at the front of the church and aisle by aisle they march down and they place their offering in the basket. They dance down the aisle in a certain way, and we kind of learned how to do it. They know what it is to be joyful givers–something that we could really learn here, because it’s supposed to be that way. After you see it once, you’re just really impressed.
At the end [of our time at Kulp Bible College] they had what’s called a “send forth” service for us, and every tribe was represented. They got into tribal outfits, and they danced their traditional tribal dances. We were the guests of honor.
Roxane: We knew so many of the people who were putting it on, that’s what made it so fun.
Carl: It was to show us that they appreciated us. We asked, “Even though you went to all this trouble to send us forth, what if we decide to come back?” They said, “No, no. We thought about that. We’re praying that you do.”
Newsline: Would you think about going back?
Roxane: Not that we wouldn’t. It’s just that we’ve had a heart for church planting for five or ten years. This experience of intercultural living among the people–that’s what we want to take into a new place, and bring Christ, just like we did in Nigeria. We’re just waiting on God. We can go wherever he sends us.
6) A round up of Nigeria news
A gathering of news and updates from Nigeria, along with news of continuing prayer and support for Nigerian Brethren from US congregations and ecumenical partners:
— Last week Nigerian media reported that the Boko Haram insurgent group released four of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, quoting the chairman of the Chibok Local Government Area who spoke at a meeting held by the National Emergency Management Agency drafting a humanitarian response plan. However, since then other Nigerian media reports have quoted a man said to be a negotiator retained by the Nigerian government to seek the girls’ release, saying that girls who have fallen ill have not yet been released by the insurgent group. Find these news reports at http://allafrica.com/stories/201405290425.html and at http://allafrica.com/stories/201406022543.html .
— Killings by Boko Haram have continued in northeastern Nigeria, including the murder of the Emir of Gwoza. The emir was a traditional Muslim leader for the Gwoza area near the Cameroon border, where there have been repeated violent attacks in which many have died. The emir was killed in an ambush that reportedly occurred on a road near Garkida, the place where the Church of the Brethren Mission first started in Nigeria. Also over the weekend, an attack in the Gamboru Ngala area of Borno State killed some 42 people–in the same area where an attack three weeks ago left at least 300 dead. All Christians are reported to be fleeing the Gwoza area. The Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Idrissa Shehu Timta, was killed while traveling in a convoy with the Emir of Uba, and the Emir of Askira. Reported AllAfrica.com: “An Askira palace source who spoke to journalists in Maiduguri on telephone said: ‘The people of Uba and Gwoza were shocked and terrified with the sad news that our royal fathers were attacked by armed youths in Toyota Hilux vehicles and motorcycles at a spot on Garkida Road this morning.’ … The government described the late Emir as a great man who worked very hard to promote peace and progress in Gwoza. He was a pillar and one of the rallying points in Borno State. He visibly worked very hard in the search for peace in Gwoza since the insurgency began.” Read the report at http://allafrica.com/stories/201405310026.html .
— The abduction of two more EYN women by Boko Haram was reported in a May 20 e-mail from Rebecca Dali, wife of president Samuel Dali of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The two EYN women were abducted in Barawa, on their way from church the previous Sunday. In her e-mail, she added: “I am on my way to Yola for peaceful demonstration with widows who lost their husbands through bombings, slaughtering, and some of their husbands were abducted with 1 or 2 sons killed. So traumatized.” The Dalis’ daughter who is in Law School and was on Court attachment in Jos, survived a bomb blast in central Jos on May 21. “The bomb was placed few metres away from where she was shopping,” Rebecca Dali wrote. “We need peace in Nigeria.”
— After bombings May 21 in the city of Jos in central Nigeria, in which more than 100 people were killed, “heart-felt sorrow and condolences” were expressed in a joint statement by Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, chair of the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, according to a WCC release. “We strongly condemn the recent bombings in Jos, Nigeria. The location and timing of the bombings clearly were designed to cause indiscriminate and widespread casualties among passers-by, and among rescue workers who were coming to their aid,” read the statement. Both religious leaders were in Jos in 2012 with a Christian-Muslim delegation to Nigeria. They stressed that the horrific acts do not represent in any way either of their two religions. “They have made us even more determined to find ways to support the people of Nigeria and those who are seeking to put an end to violence in the country,” said the statement. “Peace is a blessing from God. Christianity and Islam call for peace and harmony among all of humanity, and do not condone or allow offensive warfare or aggression.” Read full text at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/joint-declarations/wcc-rabiit-statement-on-jos-bombings .
— A “reader viewpoint” by former Bethany Seminary president Eugene F. Roop was published by the “Herald-Bulletin” in Anderson, Ind., calling for support for the people of Nigeria following on the kidnapping of the schoolgirls from Chibok. Published May 27, the letter titled, “Pray, give to help victims of Nigerian kidnapping,” noted the local connections saying, “While Anderson and Chibok are divided by oceans and miles, this troublesome story hits the Anderson Church of the Brethren personally…. We know that over 200 of the kidnapped girls are from Brethren families. These are very much ‘our girls,’ as are those of other faiths–including Muslim–who have faced similar violence in Africa. They are all our girls,” Roop wrote. “The problems girls and women face in Africa are too numerous for this short piece: overwhelming poverty, harsh environments, the lack of adequate health care and a cultural resistance to educating females reflect just a drop in the bucket of challenges confronting half of Africa’s population. We cannot directly rescue the girls. Whatever the political outcome–and whether or not the girls are returned to their families–this kidnapping will continue to have tragic consequences. There will be an ongoing need for assistance for the girls and for their families.” Roop called the Anderson community to extend financial support to Nigerian Brethren through the Anderson Church of the Brethren. Read the letter at www.heraldbulletin.com/opinion/x2117421881/Reader-viewpoint-Pray-give-to-help-victims-of-Nigerian-kidnapping .
— A fundraiser for the families of the abducted girls sponsored by Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo., received coverage from CBS Denver, Channel 4. The evening titled “Bring Back Our Girls!: A Night of Compassion and Action,” took place May 27 at the church near Denver and featured video from peacemaking work in Nigeria, an opportunity to speak to church members who have served in Nigeria as teachers or workers, music, refreshments, a silent auction, and merchandise sales. The event benefited the EYN Compassion Fund. Find the CBS coverage, which describes Prince of Peace as “a small church with a big heart,” at http://denver.cbslocal.com/2014/05/26/littleton-church-with-ties-to-kidnapped-nigerian-girls-to-hold-fundraiser .
— Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has expressed deep concern for the continued disappearance of the more than 200 girls kidnapped in Nigeria and the continued violence there, according to an ELCA release. She has written letters to Nigerian religious leaders including president Samuel Dali of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), and to Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States. In her letters to Dali and to Archbishop Nemuel A. Babba of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, Eaton wrote: “We pray with you for God’s guidance, the government of Nigeria and all those involved in securing the return of the girls.” In her letter to Nigerian ambassador Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye, Eaton wrote: “Our concern (for the girls) is not based merely on principle, although we would most certainly issue concern about such an incident based upon the ELCA’s long-standing commitment to human rights, especially the rights of children. The Gospel of Mark 10:16 reminds Christians of the special regard and care Jesus himself had for children; as followers of Jesus, we believe that children should be treated as Christ lovingly cared for them.” She also expressed hope for a peaceful resolution to this situation “knowing that we serve a God of peace.”
7) What does the Emergent Church movement have to say to Brethren?
By Debbie Eisenbise and Tim McNinch
What does the Emergent Church movement have to say to us Brethren? The Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor and St. Clare’s Episcopal Church (two very different congregations in Ann Arbor, Mich.) co-sponsored the Blue Ocean Summit, an ecumenical conference, May 15-17. Blue Ocean Faith is an informal network of churches, leaders, and laity who aim to live out vibrant Christian faith in predominantly secular settings, among and with secular-leaning folk.
The case was made that more and more people in the United States consider themselves to be unaffiliated with any faith. Charles Park, pastor of the River Church in Manhattan, N.Y., quoted a survey that asked people to give the first word that came to mind when they heard “Christian.” More than 85 percent reported: “judgmental.” This was not a surprise to most of the 250 in attendance, but a point of confession and motivation. How can we reach those who are skeptical but curious about faith, in a way that fully conveys the love of Christ? How can we welcome people into worship, engage them in service, pray for and with them, just as they are?
The challenge of the conference was articulated in its theme: “The Holy Spirit: For Everyone, Everywhere, All the Time.” The underlying assumption: that the Holy Spirit is relevant not just to Christians, but (as Dave Schmelzer, Blue Ocean Faith’s national director, put it) “to that category of people called ‘people.’” The Spirit of God goes before us even in this secular culture, and conversation and community can provide understandings and experiences that cultivate faith.
Keynote speaker Phyllis Tickle, author of the seminal book, “The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why” (Baker Books, 2012), suggested that a new theological and liturgical emphasis on the Holy Spirit is emerging in this time of cultural transition. She contended that historical shifts come down to crises of authority, and that the church in the West is now moving from Luther’s emphasis upon the scripture alone to a Spirit-centered faith. This speaks to our Brethren roots in Spirit-led worship and in Alexander Mack’s counsel* that only through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is one “impelled through inner hearing, to true obedience.”
When asked about the Church of the Brethren and the Emergent Church, Tickle commented: “The Church of the Brethren is new enough, young enough, and nimble enough to embrace the Emergent Church movement and help it along, give it some rootedness. The Brethren peace position is where the church is going, yet, ironically, the Brethren are not wholly engaged in the Emergent movement.”
A recurring theme at the Blue Ocean Summit was the sociological description of Christian community as a “centered set” with participation contingent not on maintenance of in-or-out boundaries, but movement toward a central focus (Jesus). This emphasizes lived values rather than dogma; which again echoes our own theology.
Conversations and discussions at the conference lifted up the multiplicity of ways by which one may grow in faith, from praying the hours, to speaking in tongues, to living in community, to establishing coffee houses rather than churches, and hosting discussions on topics of spiritual depth online, in living rooms and in public settings.
A challenge to our denomination is to consider how we might better engage the world around us while expressing our faith. The first Brethren held open-air baptisms. They took their faith public. How could we do that today? And what do we have to share with those in the Emergent Church movement?
* Alexander Mack wrote: “A man can…read the Scriptures outwardly and talk and write about them, but, if the spirit of faith is not in him, he will not be concerned with the commandments therein, nor be frightened very much by the threats which they contain. This is because the inner ears are not yet opened…. When a believing person whose inner ears are opened reads the Holy Scriptures outwardly, he will hear as the Lord Jesus intends…. He will also be impelled through his inner hearing, to true obedience…[which] gives him strength and power to follow Jesus” (“The Complete Writings of Alexander Mack,” p. 84).
— Debbie Eisenbise and Tim McNinch co-wrote this piece for Newsline. Eisenbise is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, living in Kalamazoo, Mich. McNinch attends Skyridge Church of the Brethren in Kalamazoo. They report that the “Anabaptist contingent” at the Blue Ocean Summit also included Paul Versluis, pastor of Ann Arbor (Mich.) Church of the Brethren/Mennonite Church, and his wife, Elisabeth, and a pastor from Reba Place, a Mennonite community in the Chicago area.
8) Brethren bits
— Remembered: Harry Miller Gardner, 88, of Harrisonburg, Va., passed away at his home on May 17. For 22 years, he served in one of the following capacities: senior official for the US Department of Education, special assistant to the Secretaries or Assistant Secretaries of Education, director of External Affairs for the Department, or executive director of the President’s Advisory Committee on International Education. He traveled extensively in the US and overseas, working with governors, legislators, and key educators. He also worked with Indian and migrant education programs, regularly attended meetings at the White House, and had regular input into the Secretary’s speeches delivered on behalf of the President on national education issues. Gardner was born Oct. 1, 1925, in Lebanon County, Pa., to Elmer Miller and Grace Showalter Gardner. The family moved to Rockingham County and eventually settled in Bridgewater, Va. He graduated in 1950 from Bridgewater College. He earned a master of divinity degree after attending Wesley Theological Seminary and Bethany Theological Seminary, and earned a doctorate in Systematic Theology in 1962 after attending Boston and Harvard Universities. He was an invited theologian/lecturer at universities in Scotland, Germany, and England. For more than 20 years he served as pastor of churches in Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia; was a district moderator; authored articles for Brethren and other Christian publications; was a speaker for Annual Conference; and was a Standing Committee member. He also was a trustee for Bridgewater College. Most recently he was a member of Bridgewater Church of the Brethren and an associate member of Vienna (Va.) Presbyterian Church. He married the late Glenna Garber in 1949 and after 17 years of marriage, Glenna died of cancer. He later married Norma Jean Weagley, who survives, and they celebrated 45 years of marriage. Surviving in addition to his wife are daughters Lisa Gardner Anderson and Andrea Nolley and husband Curtis, and grandson Ryan Nolley, all of Harrisonburg. A memorial service was held May 24 at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. Memorial gifts are received to Bridgewater Church of the Brethren, Hahn Cancer Center, or Shenandoah Valley Choral Society.
— Kelley Brenneman has been named to an internship in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA). The year-long internship is at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Since the fall of 2011, Brenneman has been working as a student assistant, most recently archival assistant, in the Funderberg Library at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., serving alongside the archivist. She also has been a summer student worker at the Funderberg Library in 2012 and 2013. This month she is to earn her bachelor of arts degree in history from Manchester University, where she has been vice president of the Simply Brethren student group. Raised in the Church of the Brethren, she is a member of Agape Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind. She will begin her work at the BHLA on June 30.
— On Earth Peace seeks a part-time Peace Day Campaign organizer. The Peace Day Campaign focuses on Sept. 21, which is Peace Day as recognized by the UN and the World Council of Churches. Since 2007, On Earth Peace has invited and equipped congregations and community groups to organize peace prayer events, averaging 170 groups each year in the US and other countries. In 2014, Peace Day falls on Sunday and On Earth Peace is expanding the reach of the campaign with a social media presence and intentional relational follow up. The position averages 12 hours per week from hire date through Oct. 30. Pay is $15 per hour. Preferred location is Portland, Ore. Responsibilities include social media organizing, making connections and recruiting participant groups for Peace Day, handling logistics and promotion for conference calls for networking between Peace Day event planners/organizers, documentation of campaign participation, among others. Qualifications include demonstrated history of effective practices with social media, experience with public relations and communications, confidence and readiness to make calls to potential participants/organizers, self-starting ability, ability to document contacts and keep records, rooted and conversant in Christian peacemaking and peacebuilding, familiarity with congregational life, high level of proficiency in spoken and written English with multilingual skills a plus, proficiency with GoogleDocs/Drive, Microsoft Office, Constant Contact, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. Submit a cover letter and resume highlighting qualifications for this position to PeaceDay@OnEarthPeace.org . In light of the high social media requirement, cover letter should include up to five sample Twitter posts as if posting via the @PeaceDayPray account using hashtags, etc., or other sample social media posts. Applicants who are invited to interview will do so live or via webcam. A simulated role play phone conversation with a potential Peace Day participant will be part of the interview process. Applications will be reviewed beginning May 28, with start date as soon as possible. See www.PeaceDayPray.org for more about the campaign. Find the full position listing at http://faithful-steward.tumblr.com/post/86425139084/on-earth-peace-position-listing-peace-day .
— Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks a member services representative, Employee Benefits. This full-time hourly position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The primary function is to perform the daily operations of the Pension and Insurance plans and provide plan information to staff and participants as requested. Duties include maintaining a working knowledge of all pension and insurance systems and products; serving as secondary customer service contact for Pension and Insurance; maintaining/processing daily operational work for Pension and Insurance; assisting with maintaining Pension Plan Summary Plan Description and Plan Highlights, as well as Legal Plan Document Supplements; and performing tasks for Church Workers Assistance Plan. The ideal candidate will have knowledge of employee benefits, including an understanding of pension and insurance plans. This position requires attention to detail and proficiency with computer systems and applications, ability to interact effectively with customers to provide information in response to inquiries about products and services and to handle and resolve complaints, strong communications skills, and a track record of providing superior customer service. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Apply by sending a letter of interest, résumé, three professional references, and salary-range expectation to Donna March, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; or firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information about Brethren Benefit Trust, visit www.brethrenbenefittrust.org .
— The Zigler Hospitality Center at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., seeks volunteers to serve as host and hostess in 2015. The center is in need of outgoing, generous individuals and couples to help provide Christian hospitality and conference services to a variety of guests in a cozy and homey atmosphere. Maturity and detail orientation are needed along with a friendly approach and a genuine interest in providing excellent customer service. The Zigler Hospitality Center functions on an ecumenical basis and people of all faiths and backgrounds have been welcomed to the campus. Zigler Hospitality Center includes two buildings with 12 guest rooms accommodating up to 30 guests, 6 conference rooms, outdoor recreation, and a full dining and banquet facility. Training, a furnished apartment, meals, and a stipend are provided during the period of service. Join for a month, several months, a year, or longer. Volunteers are blessed in many ways by the extraordinary groups and individuals who visit the Zigler Hospitality Center. For more information about joining this unique ministry, contact Cori Hahn, Hospitality Coordinator, at 800-766-1553 or email@example.com .
— The Zigler Hospitality Center seeks volunteer kitchen assistants to serve at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The kitchen assistants serve alongside staff, and “serve the servants” by assisting in the preparation of food for volunteer work groups and guests. Work includes preparing and serving continental breakfast and catered snacks for overnight guests, assisting in preparation of the salad bar for campus lunch, assisting in preparation for banquets and special events, working in the dish room, and following all sanitation and health department rules and regulations. As a resident volunteer, the kitchen assistants are provided with furnished one-bedroom efficiency apartment with private bath, living area, and kitchen on campus. Volunteers are welcome to partake of meals served in the dining room and are provided a food stipend to cover days when meals are not provided. The center welcomes couples who would like to serve together. If a volunteer has a physical handicap, contact with the center staff is encouraged to determine whether service at the Zigler Hospitality Center is a good fit overall. Terms of service are available from a minimum of two months to a maximum of two years. Volunteers are scheduled two days off weekly and an additional week of vacation for six months of service. Volunteers are blessed in many ways by the extraordinary groups and individuals who visit the center. Contact Cori Hahn, Hospitality Coordinator, at 800-766-1553 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) partnered with Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., to host a free BVS Connections Dinner on May 30. Alumni of BVS were invited to come share their stories of service–where they served, work they accomplished, and how it has shaped them. Anyone who served in BVS, supported the ministry, or considers volunteering in the future was welcome. The menu for the evening was pasta, salad, and bread. To contact BVS recruitment about future BVS Connections Dinners hosted by churches, contact Ben Bear at 703-835-3612 or email@example.com .
— Huntsdale Church of the Brethren in Southern Pennsylvania District is celebrating its 150th year with an “Outdoor Worship and Old Fashioned Sunday School Picnic” on July 13. Sunday school will begin at 9 a.m. and worship at 10 a.m. “All are welcome to come and help celebrate their heritage of a continuing faith!” said an invitation.
— Carlisle (Pa.) Church of the Brethren celebrates its 100th anniversary on June 21 and 22. Events include a chicken barbecue on the evening of June 21, and a lunch following morning worship on June 22. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-243-4984.
— Berkey Church of the Brethren in Windber, Pa., holds its 55th Annual Strawberry Festival on Saturday, June 21, from 4-7 p.m. “Come enjoy the food and fellowship!” said an invitation. A free will offering will be taken, proceeds will go to outreach ministry.
— This is the 20th year of a free concert series sponsored by Mountville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, reports Lancaster Online, a news website. The Lawn Concert Series has been organized for 20 years by John Hess, music director at the Mountville Church, and has drawn up to 1,000 to 2,000 people. “My number one thing is to bring as many local groups as I can,” he told Lancaster Online. “I always try to start with the Bainbridge Band and the New Holland Band ends it. There’s a lot of history there. They are the oldest bands in the county.” The series this year includes a special concert to celebrate Mountville’s 200th anniversary. Concerts are free, and include ice cream served by community groups. Find the Lancaster Online article at http://lancasteronline.com/entertainment/th-year-for-free-concert-series-in-mountville/article_7e5046ec-e74a-11e3-9716-001a4bcf6878.html .
— In a meat canning update in the Southern Pennsylvania District newsletter, 44,880 pounds of chicken was canned in four days, with another day for labeling. This represents 986 cases or 23,664 cans of chicken. All bills ($68,196.80) were paid for the project this year; funds are received to build a base for next year’s project. Portions of the canned meat have been distributed to agencies and churches who will distribute to local food banks. The Brethren Service Center will ship seven skids of meat to Honduras. Next year will be the 38th year of the meat canning project, which is a partnership of Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts.
— Camp Harmony, an outdoor ministry center in Western Pennsylvania District, will celebrate its 90th anniversary on June 1. Festivities take place from 12 noon to 9 p.m. and include a chicken barbecue (cost $7.50 per meal), music and other talents in the Tabernacle from 2-4 p.m., swimming from 1-5 p.m., hay rides throughout the day, and a Celebration of Worship with a rededication and anniversary campfire at 6 p.m. For more information call Camp Harmony at 814-798-5885.
— “Help us reach 1,001 campers this summer!” said a recent newsletter from Camp Bethel, a Church of the Brethren outdoor ministry center near Fincastle, Va. “Each year, more and more parents choose Camp Bethel’s summer camping excellence. Our goal is to bring 1001 campers to Camp Bethel in 2014!” For more information go to www.campbethelvirginia.org/summer.htm .
— The Brethren Home Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Windber, Pa., has achieved the top rating of 5 stars in the Medicare Medicaid rating system for 2014. The announcement by administrator Edie Scaletta appeared in the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter. “Both our staff and administration have worked hard to raise our standards to this high level,” the announcement said. In more news from the Brethren Home Community, it has once again been included in the Lee Initiatives grant cycle this spring. The home’s grant proposal was prepared by Social Services director Emily Reckner and included a request for $7,300 to be used for a wall post lift system to assist residents with disabilities use a therapeutic whirlpool.
— Timbercrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in North Manchester, Ind., is kicking off its 125 Year Anniversary celebration with a Peace Pole Dedication on Thursday, June 5, at 4 p.m. The event takes place next to the Timbercrest Campus North Entrance. “Come early and enjoy the music of the Lynn Family,” said an invitation. “Help us ‘plant the pole.’” In case of rain the event will be held in the Chapel. The Peace Pole Dedication begins a three-day anniversary festival, June 5-7.
— Dwight and Treva Markey of Southern Pennsylvania District received the Century Farm Award at the 28th Annual York County Agricultural Recognition Banquet on March 20. The district newsletter noted that “Dwight’s parents purchased the farm in 1913 and Dwight and Treva bought it from Dwight’s late father’s estate in 1953. They raised fruits, vegetables, plants, and poultry, until the mid-1950s when a tornado destroyed the fruit trees, after which they slowly transitioned to growing mainly flowers. They were vendors at Central and New Eastern Markets for more than 50 years.” Treva is a volunteer with Children’s Disaster Services and has served on the district board. A photo in the newsletter showed the couple standing with Harry Bickel, president of the York County Agriculture Business Council, state representative Ron Miller, and Matthew Meals, deputy secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture.
— Mary Kay Turner of Gettysburg, Pa., received the 2014 Peacemaker Award from the Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice at Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary. She is a founding board member
for the center, has been a Children’s Disaster Services volunteer, has served as a volunteer mediator, mediation trainer, and board member for Mediation Services for Adams County.
Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Ben Bear, Deborah Brehm, Rebecca Dali, Kim Ebersole, Debbie Eisenbise, Cori Hahn, Philip E. Jenks, Kendra Johnson, Donna March, Tim McNinch, Nancy Miner, Stan Noffsinger, Eugene F. Roop, Jenny Williams, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, Sarah Leatherman Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next issue of Newsline is planned for June 10.
Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at email@example.com . 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 .