Newsline for March 11, 2014

“Feed my sheep” (John 21:17b).


Quote of the week:
“I like to circulate and talk with people. They look forward to coming here on Wednesdays. For many of them, it’s their only hot meal of the day.”
— Brian Markle, pastor of Shippensburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, quoted in an article on a coalition of churches and other groups helping to feed the hungry in the Shippensburg area. Eleven churches and organizations offer food to a growing number of people seeking assistance, reported the Carlisle “Sentinel” newspaper. Shippensburg Church of the Brethren offers a meal during Family Nights on Wednesdays, about half of those who attend are from the community. The “Sentinel” noted, “Shippensburg isn’t the only part of Cumberland County that has seen an increased need for food and assistance. In January, New Hope Ministries, which serves Dillsburg and the Mechanicsburg area, said the amount of people it serves doubled from 6,000 at the start of the economic crisis in 2008 to 12,000 people this year.” Read the full report at .

1) Mission Advisory Committee has first-hand look at Haiti, proposes work toward a global Brethren body
2) Brethren Disaster Ministries directs grant aid to Nigerian Brethren affected by violence
3) Global Food Crisis grants support new BVS position in public witness, agriculture in DRC Congo and Rwanda
4) Conference witness to host city benefits YWCA shelter for women in Columbus
5) Chaplains from Brethren-related colleges and universities hold meeting

6) April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
7) Brethren Academy issues an updated course listing for 2014
8) Fellowship of Brethren Homes Forum to meet in Lancaster, Pa.

9) Brethren bits: Orioles honor Monica Barlow, job openings, WCC celebrates release of nuns, CDS response in Pennsylvania, airfare discount for NYC, Youth Cabinet, upcoming events in congregations and districts, and more

1) Mission Advisory Committee has first-hand look at Haiti, proposes work toward a global Brethren body

By Jay Wittmeyer

The Mission Advisory Committee, which helps guide the international ministries of the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service program, held its biennial gathering in Haiti to see first-hand the holistic ministry of the Haitian mission. The visit hosted by the Brethren Ministry Center in the Port-au-Prince area, also met with Haitian leadership to better understand the growth of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, the Haitian Church of the Brethren.

The committee traveled to Port-au-Prince on Feb. 25 and returned on March 3. The Mission Advisory Committee consists of Bob Kettering, Carol Mason, Dale Minnich, Jim Myer, Becky Rhodes, Roger Schrock, and Carol Waggy. Member Bruce Holderreed was unable to attend. Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service, executive director Jay Wittmeyer, and coordinator Kendra Johnson, participated as staff.

The committee stayed at the Brethren Ministry Center, located in Croix de Bouquet near the capitol and staffed by mission workers Ilexene and Michaela Alphonse, and traveled out to visit some of the diverse ministry programs managed by the Brethren in Haiti: home construction, including newly built homes in the Marin community; agriculture development work; water projects; church construction; school projects; theological education; and a clinic of the Haiti Medical Project. The committee also divided into smaller groups to attend three separate Sunday morning worship services. Two highlights of the trip were a visit to the National Museum and an afternoon at Obama Beach.

Haiti mission coordinator Ludovic St. Fleur, pastor of Miami (Fla.) Haitian Church of the Brethren, recounted his history with the Church of the Brethren and reminded the committee that earlier mission efforts did not come to fruition. He emphasized the need for the Haitian Brethren community to grow in its understanding of Brethren theology, that the mind of Christ be more fully developed.

In its work as an advisory group, the committee considered the growth of the Church of the Brethren in Haiti, as well as in Spain, and emerging Brethren groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. Discussion questioned whether the 1998 Annual Conference statement “World Mission Philosophy and Global Church Structure” call for a formal structure is going to be realized.

The committee wrote the following statement, and offers it for consideration:

Photo by Kendra Johnson
The Mission Advisory Committee visited Eglise des Freres Haitiens, the Church of the Brethren in Haiti, in a recent trip to the Caribbean island nation.

“The Mission Advisory Committee of the Church of the Brethren USA met in Haiti February 24-March 3. One of our tasks was to review mission philosophy, especially the 1998 Annual Conference Statement ‘World Mission Philosophy and Global Church Structure,’ in light of the newly registered Haitian Church of the Brethren. In our discussions, we recognized that the vision of the 1998 statement has not been realized in terms of a formal structure to hear the voice of the global church.

“In reviewing our history of mission, we celebrated that we are in fact a global church. The Church of the Brethren is now established in Brazil, Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, India, Spain, the United States, and Haiti. Our documents and our practices have encouraged culturally-appropriate mission. We have seen a new generation choosing to be Brethren and choosing to plant the church where they are. More than one million people worship weekly in a Church of the Brethren congregation. We have a long history of working well ecumenically and influencing the broader church.

“We do confess, however, that we have made mistakes as we have learned to do mission. Our cultural domination has at times led to ethno-centric decisions and abuse of our financial power.

“In the spirit of the 1998 paper and the Mission and Ministry Board’s current strategic plan, MAC [the Mission Advisory Committee] envisioned a Global  Mission Council that would serve as a structure for global sharing and discernment and as a clearinghouse for use of the Church of the Brethren name. For instance, there are Congolese who consider themselves Church of the Brethren after learning about us via the Internet. This council could be the place where decisions of inclusions are made rather than just in the US office.

“Our discussions crystallized into the following recommendation as a possible first step.

“In order to more effectively move into the mandate of the 1998 Annual Conference paper on World Mission Philosophy and Global Church Structure and to meet the current strategic goals of the Mission and Ministry Board, we propose a conversation be initiated by the office of Global Missions and Service with the endorsement of the Mission and Ministry Board and Annual Conference with recognized church of the Brethren bodies from around the world i.e., Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Spain, and the United States.

“The purpose of this invitation is to mutually explore how the Church of the Brethren might best become a Global Church of the Brethren.

“We do not want to preclude where these discussions might lead but one consideration might be the establishment of a Church of the Brethren Global Mission Council consisting of mutual representatives from recognized Church of the Brethren bodies in order to address the emergence of new global Church of the Brethren congregations and mission opportunities around the world.”

— Jay Wittmeyer is executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren. Find a photo album from the Mission Advisory Committee’s visit to Haiti, featuring photos taken by Global Mission and Service office coordinator Kendra Johnson, at .

2) Brethren Disaster Ministries directs grant aid to Nigerian Brethren affected by violence

Brethren Disaster Ministries is directing $25,000 from the church’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to aid Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) during a time of escalating violence in northeastern Nigeria. The money will be contributed through EYN’s Compassion Fund.

Combined with other donations to aid Nigerian Brethren made through the Global Mission and Service office, the Church of the Brethren in the US is contributing a total of $60,000 to the EYN Compassion Fund. This is in addition to the $41,468.25 contributed to the Compassion Fund by American Brethren in 2013.

The past few years have seen escalating violence in northeastern Nigeria, in particular incidents of terrorist violence carried out by an Islamist extremist group called Boko Haram. The group is targeting Christian communities and places of worship among other targets that include Muslim mosques and moderate Muslim leaders, traditional leaders, as well as schools and government institutions such as police stations and army barracks.

With the vast majority of EYN churches in northeastern Nigeria, the violence is having a very real and devastating impact on EYN communities and many church members, said the grant request.

In a recent report to the Global Mission and Service office of the Church of the Brethren in the US, EYN president Samuel Dali shares that “churches in northern Nigeria are living and working in a context of systematic persecution. . . . The so called Boko Haram sect, or Muslim jihadists, have been hunting church leaders and their members every day, in Muslim-dominated states such as Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Kano, and Adamawa. Pastors and their members working in these northern states are facing dangers day by day.”

Dali shares that at least 245 EYN members have been killed and many more injured in this violence. A great deal of property has been burned including 22 church buildings, 9 Local Church Branches, and more than 1,000 homes, affecting thousands of members. Additionally many vehicles, generators, and other property have been destroyed.

“The combination of this violence, destruction, and ongoing fear of more violence calls for a US church response,” the Brethren Disaster Ministries staff said. “Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria is asking for our prayers and encouragement. They hope to provide shelter, food, clothing and medical care for those impacted by this violence and help rebuild churches.”

The allocation from the EDF will provide EYN with resources for this emergency response. Dali reports that “the immediate physical need now is shelter for the thousands that have been displaced, medicine for those, or money to pay medical bills for the wounded. Presently, there are  1,050 houses belonging to Christians that have been burnt down and the people are living in the bush hiding for their life. These people are in serious need of food and clothing as all their belongings have been either looted or burnt down. We also need material to rebuild and roof the destroyed and burnt church structures. There is also a need for money to buy food, cloth, and construct local shelter as the rain season is approaching.”

The funds will be channeled into the EYN Compassion Fund, which supports Nigerian Brethren who have lost a family member, home, or property due to the violence, with a special focus on the families of ministers. The fund was started by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria as a mechanism for Nigerian Brethren to demonstrate mutuality in support of one another.

“Our giving to the EYN Compassion Fund expresses our fellowship in the suffering of our sister church as it endures this difficult time of tribulation,” said Brethren Disaster Ministries staff.

More information about the Church of the Brethren work in Nigeria is at . For information about Brethren Disaster Ministries go to . To give to the Emergency Disaster Fund go to or mail gifts to Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

3) Global Food Crisis grants support new BVS position in public witness, agriculture in DRC Congo and Rwanda

The Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) this week announces three grants, to support a new Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) position at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, and for agriculture work in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

An allocation of up to $15,000 supports a new BVS placement in the Office of Public Witness based in Washington, D.C. This volunteer will focus on advocacy around international and domestic issues related to food sovereignty and food security. Other assignments include starting and promoting a community garden in cooperation with the Washington City Church of the Brethren soup kitchen, and relating to and promoting the Going to the Garden initiative of the Office of Public Witness and the Global Food Crisis Fund. Funds will support a one-year commitment, with the possibility of renewal upon review by the GFCF review panel and necessary approvals.

A GFCF grant of $5,000 supports agriculture work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The money will help meet the food needs of 100 families of the Twa people (Pygmies) through a project planting maize, casava, and bananas on three teaching fields in the villages of Swima and Ngovi, and also an extension component in Kimbunga where Twa are living in camps and have begun their own gardens. This is the third GFCF grant to this project, which is run by Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development (SHAMIREDE) together with Eglise de Freres du Congo. SHAMIREDE’s director, Ron Lubungo, is a leader among the Congo Brethren. Previous allocations to this project amount to $7,500 since December 2011.

A related grant of $5,000 supports agriculture work meeting the food needs of 60 Twa families living in Rwanda. The project is administered by ETOMR (Evangelistic Training Outreach Ministries of Rwanda), a ministry of the Evangelical Friends Church of Gisenyi. The contact person for ETOMR is pastor Etienne Nsanzimana, who has studied at Earlham School of Religion–a sister school to Bethany Theological Seminary, both located in Richmond, Ind. While at ESR, Nsanzimana became friends with Marla Abe, pastor of Carlisle (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, which since 2011 has been supporting this project financially. Previous GFCF grants to the agriculture work of ETOMR total $7,500 since October 2011.

For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund go to .

4) Conference witness to host city benefits YWCA shelter for women in Columbus

The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference partners this year with the YWCA/YMCA of Columbus, Ohio, for an annual Witness to the Host City. Annual Conference 2014 takes place in Columbus on July 2-6, led by moderator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman. Each year, the Witness to the Host City service project invites Brethren to aid the city that hosts the denomination’s annual meeting.

The YWCA shelter for women in Columbus, called Rebecca’s Place, works with women and children in a significant ministry providing educational opportunities, job training, employment services, and more to equip women and families for a better future. A recent newspaper article about the work of Rebecca’s Place is at .

Below are some of the most pressing needs that Brethren may respond to. An offering of these donations will be taken at the Thursday night worship service on July 3. Conferencegoers are invited to bring one or all of the following items:

1. Socks, both men’s and women’s are needed
2. Disposable baby diapers, any size
3. Hygiene kts. Each kit should include 1 hand towel (not a finger tip or bath towel), 1 wash cloth, 1 one-gallon zipped plastic bag that is filled with 1 bath-size bar of soap, 1 bottle of shampoo, 1 container of deodorant, 1 nail clipper, 1 wide-tooth comb, 1 container of dental floss, 6 bandaids.

5) Chaplains from Brethren-related colleges and universities hold meeting

Photo courtesy of Walt Wiltschek
Pictured here at a meeting of chaplains from Church of the Brethren related colleges and universities (front row) Dave Witkovsky, Juniata College; Tracy Primozich, Bethany Theological Seminary; Tracy Wenger Sadd, Elizabethtown College; (back row) Robbie Miller, Bridgewater College; Walt Wiltschek, Manchester University; and Zandra Wagoner, University of La Verne.

By Walt Wiltschek

Chaplains from five of the six Church of the Brethren-affiliated colleges and universities and Tracy Primozich, director of admissions for Bethany Theological Seminary, met Feb. 19 in Tacoma, Wash., following the National Association of College and University Chaplains (NACUC) annual conference.

The group shared updates and ideas from their respective institutions, talked about denominational connections and common issues,  and considered future ways to connect. Becky Ullom, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Church of the Brethren, also had conversation with the group during the conference.

Attending the meeting were Robbie Miller, Bridgewater (Va.) College; Tracy Primozich, Bethany Theological Seminary; Zandra Wagoner, University of La Verne, Calif.; Tracy Wenger Sadd, Elizabethtown (Pa.) College; Walt Wiltschek, Manchester University, North Manchester, Ind.; and Dave Witkovsky, Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pa.

— Walt Wiltschek is campus minister at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.


6) April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

By Kim Ebersole

The Church of the Brethren Family Life Ministry is providing resources and ideas for congregations to observe Child Abuse Prevention Month during April. Find more information at .

The ministry also is sharing several ways congregations can observe Child Abuse Prevention Month:

— Highlight the conditions of childhood during each worship service in April. Lift up parents, caregivers, and children in your prayers.

— Provide classes to strengthen parenting skills.

— Organize a “Parents’ Night Out” event. Plan an evening of supervised fun for children at your church. Parents and other caregivers can drop the kids off and enjoy some time to eat out, run errands, or even grab some much-needed rest.

— Host an informational program about child abuse prevention. Contact your community children and family services agency for possible programs and presenters.

— Consider a mentoring program that would pair “seasoned” parents or grandparents with young families who might benefit from the support and wisdom of those with more experience.

Additional information, ideas, and worship resources can be found at or contact Kim Ebersole, director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministries, at 847-429-4305 or .

— Kim Ebersole, who works in Congregational Life Ministries, provided this report for Newsline.

7) Brethren Academy issues an updated course listing for 2014

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has issued an updated listing of courses offered in 2014. Courses are open to Training in Ministry (TRIM) students, pastors who may earn 2 continuing education units per course, and all interested persons.

The academy staff note that “while we continue to accept students beyond the registration deadline, on that date we determine whether we have enough students to offer a course. Many courses have required pre-course readings, so students need to be sure to allow enough time to complete those. Please do not purchase texts or make travel plans until the registration deadline is passed, and you receive a course confirmation.”

Register for courses noted “SVMC” through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center at or 717-361-1450. For all other courses go to the Brethren Academy website at .

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

“Rock the Church, Rethinking Church Renewal” is offered at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind, in conjunction with the Church Planting Conference, May 14-18. The instructor is Stan Dueck.

Annual Conference Directed Independent Study Unit in Columbus, Ohio, on July 1-2 in conjunction with the Ministers’ Association pre-Conference continuing education event with speaker Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology. This directed ISU is planned and led by Chris Bowman and will include pre-Conference reading, a one-hour session before and after the Ministers’ Association, attendance at the entire Ministers’ Association, and attendance at the evening worship service where Long will preach. A follow-up project will be expected. There is a registration fee of $50 for this directed ISU. Participants also must register and pay for the Ministers’ Association event, and will need lodging in Columbus for the night of July 1. The registration deadline is June 2. If interested, contact the Brethren Academy at .

“Church of the Brethren Polity and Practice” at the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on July 11-12 and August 15-16. Instructors are Warren Eshbach and Randy Yoder. SVMC. The registration deadline is July 1.

“Conflict Transformation in Congregations” at McPherson (Kan.) College on Sept. 4-7 with instructor Leslie Frye. The registration deadline is Aug. 7.

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

8) Fellowship of Brethren Homes Forum to meet in Lancaster, Pa.

By Kim Ebersole

Photo by Kim Ebersole
Jonathan Shively of the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries, at the Fellowship of Brethren Homes Forum in April 2013.

The Brethren Village Retirement Community in Lancaster, Pa., will host this year’s Fellowship of Brethren Homes Forum on April 14-16. Representatives from member communities will be joined by several denominational staff members for three days of training, updates, networking, and sharing best practices in long-term care.

Scheduled presenters and their topics include Malcolm Nimick of Ascension Capital Enterprises and David Slack of Aging Research Institute discussing latest trends; Suzanne Owens of MHS Consulting on maximizing occupancy; former Fellowship of Brethren Homes executive director Shari McCabe presenting on succession planning and successful retiring; and Ursula Post, a resident of Brethren Village.

In addition, Jeff Shireman from the Lebanon Valley Brethren Home will review their community’s Green House experiment, and John Warner of Brethren Retirement Community will give an overview and update of the Gahagen Fund.

Jonathan Shively and Kim Ebersole of the denomination’s Congregational Life Ministries, and Nevin Dulabaum and Loyce Borgmann of Brethren Benefit Trust and the Brethren Foundation,  also will give presentations.

This will be the first forum under the leadership of Fellowship of Brethren Homes executive director Carol Davis, who assumed her position in September 2013 upon the retirement of Shari McCabe.

The Fellowship of Brethren Homes comprises 22 retirement communities related to the Church of the Brethren. The fellowship works together on common challenges such as long-term care needs, uncompensated care, and nurturing relationships with Brethren congregations and districts. A directory of member communities can be found at .

— Kim Ebersole is director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministry for the Church of the Brethren.

9) Brethren bits

Photo courtesy of Children’s Disaster Services
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) carried out “a brief, yet significant response” in Pennsylvania in February, following an ice storm. CDS responded in an American Red Cross shelter in West Chester, Pa., for two days. The caption to a photo from the response, posted on the CDS Facebook page: “One little boy at the CDS play area in West Chester used toy figurines to portray people helping others who had fallen down. Did they slip on the ice?”

The Baltimore Orioles are remembering Monica Barlow, a Church of the Brethren member who was the team’s public relations director. She died on Feb. 28 at the age of 36, after a long struggle with cancer. Her husband, Ben Barlow, recently completed a term of service as chair of the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board. The Comcast Sports Network in Baltimore reported that about 30 members of the Orioles including manager Buck Showalter planned to leave Friday’s game against Philadelphia after four or five innings, to fly to Virginia to honor Barlow. Team owner Peter Angelos provided the plane for the trip from Sarasota to Virginia. Find the Comcast news report at . Monica Barlow’s obituary in the “Baltimore Sun” is at,0,4022940.story .


Northern Plains District of the Church of the Brethren is seeking to fill four part-time staff positions: communications minister, minister of leadership development, TRIM (Training in Ministry) coordinator, and district conference support. The time commitment and responsibilities vary by position; complete position descriptions are available at . A single search committee is tasked with filling all four positions and is open to the possibility of one individual filling more than one position. Northern Plains District comprises 31 congregations: 1 in Montana, 6 in Minnesota, and the remaining congregations in Iowa. Congregations are located in rural, urban, and suburban contexts and represent a healthy mix of theological diversity. The district is committed to strengthening the work of each congregation–and the district as a whole–through spiritual growth, leadership support and development, communication and connection, stewardship, church growth and new church development, peacemaking and service. The minister of leadership development and the Training in Ministry coordinator positions require ordination in the Church of the Brethren. Applicants for either of these positions should first contact their district executive for assistance in following placement protocols prior to following the instructions below. Apply by sending a letter of interest, a resume, and three references to Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, convener of the search committee, at either or 4820 Upton Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55410. The application deadline is March 28.

Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., seeks a facilities manager to fill a fulltime salaried position beginning immediately. The camp seeks a motivated, dependable, caring worker with good interpersonal, organizational, and leadership skills. The facilities manager ensures that facilities and site enhance the experience of guests and campers by overseeing all housekeeping and maintenance. The preferred candidate will have experience or proven ability in repair and renewal of facilities including construction, carpentry, electrical wiring and control, plumbing of water and sewage, vehicle and camp/farm equipment maintenance. Starting benefits package includes salary of $29,000, optional family medical insurance plan, a pension plan, professional growth funds, and optional on-site family/individual housing. Camp Bethel is a tobacco-free workplace. An application, a detailed position description, and more information will be made available at or send a letter of interest and an updated résumé to Barry LeNoir at .

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), the nation’s first interfaith peace and justice organization founded a century ago, seeks a national director of organizing to work with a team of field organizers in three regions (West, North, and South) to move forward relationships, communities, actions, and events to address key issues and practices that promote peace. The position includes capacities in organizing, management, communications, and fundraising. Other qualifications include: embraces and promotes principles of nonviolence; appreciates and is motivated by spirituality and faith-based change work; ability to work successfully on a multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-gendered team; actively seeks an anti-oppressive world through personal and professional commitments; understands the culture and history of the FOR and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and knows how to utilize our broad network of expertise and resources; knowledge of the membership and affiliate base in the FOR network. Job location is virtual office in contiguous United States, with travel twice yearly to Nyack, N.Y., required. Salary commensurate with experience. Benefits include four weeks of vacation, three weeks of sick leave, five personal days, health and life insurance, pension. The FOR actively seeks the voices and visions of persons of all backgrounds. To apply send a resume and cover letter to . Review of applications will begin on March 19. The position is open until filled. For detailed information see job-listing-for-national-director-organizing.pdf and .

World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed joy at the release of Greek Orthodox nuns kidnapped by rebels in Syria. He said that “fervent prayer offered by Christians around the world” was answered, in a WCC release. The group of nuns from the Convent of St Thecla were abducted in December 2013, and have been freed as part of a prisoner exchange, according to media reports. Tveit said this raises hope for the freedom of five church leaders who also have been kidnapped: Archbishop Mar Yohanna Gregorios Ibrahim, Archbishop Paul Yazigi, Father Maher Mahfouz of the Greek Orthodox Church, Father Michel Kayyal of the Armenian Catholic Church, and Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Jesuit priest. Tveit also invoked prayers for an “end of the armed conflict in Syria” and “for all people affected by the indiscriminate violence and humanitarian calamity in Syria…. Innocent children, women, and men are being killed, wounded, traumatized, and driven from their homes in uncounted numbers. We hear their cries and we pray at this time for the Spirit of God to dwell in all leaders of the church so that they may have courage in these days of tribulation.” Read the full text of the statement at .

The National Youth Conference (NYC) office has learned that Southwest Airlines will be offering a 5 percent discount on economy fares and a 10 percent discount on business/first class to anyone attending National Youth Conference. The event takes place July 19-24 in Fort Collins, Colo. Contact for more information. Find out more about NYC and register online at .

In more news from the Youth and Young Adult Ministry, the Youth Cabinet met at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., last week to discuss, reflect, and continue planning for National Youth Conference 2014. The members of the cabinet are: Emmett Eldred of Middle Pennsylvania District, Brittany Fourman of Southern Ohio District, Sarandon Smith of Atlantic Northeast District, Sarah Ullom-Minnich of Western Plains District, Kerrick van Asselt of Western Plains District, Zander Willoughby of Michigan District. Adult advisors are Rhonda Pittman Gingrich of Northern Plains District, Dennis Lohr of Atlantic Northeast District.

Bethany Theological Seminary is holding informational meetings in Virlina District, according to the district newsletter. Those interested in learning more about the seminary are invited to evenings of conversation with a current student and a seminary staff member, Tara Shepherd and Lowell Flory. Discussion will be built around questions and challenges facing the wider church and the denomination, as well as how to prepare ministerial leadership. The duration of the meetings will be approximately 90 minutes. Reservations are not required but are helpful for those preparing room setup and refreshments. The meetings will be held at two locations and times: Mount Union Church of the Brethren in Bent Mountain, Va., on Thursday, March 20, beginning at 6 p.m. with a light supper (contact 540-598-9002 or ); Peters Creek Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., on Friday, March 21, at 7 p.m. (contact 540-977-4321 or ).

A continuing education event on the “Spirituality of Dying Well” will be held on May 17 at The Village Green, Martinsburg, Pa., sponsored by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC). The event takes place from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Cost is $25 and includes lunch and continuing education credit. Leaders are Bob Neff who will offer a biblical perspective, Kaye Burket who will outline medical dimensions of ministry in the context of critical illness, Linda Banaszak and Dottie Steele who will look at the interface of nursing home and hospice spiritual care, along with Heather Rosamilia and an interdisciplinary team of specialists who will provide case studies to assist exploration of the ministry of hospice care in the ministry of dying well.

First Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., is making preliminary plans to upgrade its facilities for ADA handicapped accessibility and environmental stewardship. Preliminary plans include replacing the six main entrance doors, upgrading the narthex windows, and adding an accessible restroom facility, said a report in the church newsletter.

Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Sunday hosted a “teach-in” by Christian author and pastor Brian McLaren and Lancaster-based pastor and teacher Michael Hardin. The event was reported by Lancaster Online under the title “Theologians urge a Christianity of peace.” Reporter Dan Nephin wrote that the conversation “about how Christianity must get back on-message as a religion of peace” was presented to “a receptive audience.” A follow up event later in the day included a dinner and presentation to a Mennonite audience. Nephin reported that “McLaren told the audience, ‘If there’s not a movement to mobilize Christians for peace, then there will be a movement to mobilize Christians for violence.’” Find the article at .

Spring Run Church of the Brethren is once again hosting the annual Middle Pennsylvania District Youth Volleyball Tournament at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., on Saturday, March 15. The district Youth Cabinet also is sponsoring a Soup Kitchen and Service Trip to Washington, D.C., on April 2-5 for senior high youth. Cost is $140 if registered by March 14 and $150 after March 14. For more information go to .

The 2014 Peace Feast in Shenandoah District will be held 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at Sangerville (Va.) Church of the Brethren. The event will celebrate the service of the Seagoing Cowboys who volunteered with Heifer Project following World War II.

The annual Mid-Atlantic Disaster Auction is planned for Saturday, May 3. This will be the 34th annual auction in the district. The event opens at 9 a.m. at the Carroll County Agricultural Center in Westminster, Md. Last year’s auction raised $66,000 for the Emergency Disaster Fund that supports Brethren Disaster Ministries work around the world.

Virlina District has announced the theme and leadership for its 2014 District Conference on Nov. 14-15 in Roanoke, Va. The theme will be “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8). David A. Steele, 2015 Annual Conference moderator, will preach for the Saturday worship service. Jeffrey W. Carter, Bethany Seminary president, will preach Friday evening. Gary L. Basham will serve as moderator of the District Conference. In line with the theme and scripture text, he is suggesting three actions for the year: solitude, study, and service. “Individuals are asked to find a moment each day to spend time alone with God in prayer and Bible reading,” said the district newsletter. “Pastors are asked to preach a message based upon the theme scripture before District Conference and individuals were asked to commit to reading through the entire Bible by conference time. For service, everyone is asked to serve as examples to our youth and young people as they walk their journey of faith. They need to see the adults in their lives praying, reading the scripture and living a life worthy of their calling.”

Northern Plains District Conference on Aug. 1-3 at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Church of the Brethren will be participating in several collections for disaster relief. The collections are sponsored by the district Witness Commission. Collections will include donations of Church World Service (CWS) Hygiene Kits, CWS Clean-Up Buckets, and diapers for use in Haiti.

Camp Bethel’s 13th annual Sounds of the Mountains Festival of Music and Storytelling will be held April 11-12. It will feature nationally known tellers, Andy Offutt Irwin, David Novak, Ed Stivender, and Donna Washington, and music from the Luv Buzzards, plus the Back Porch Studio Cloggers. Go to for tickets and information. Camp Bethel is located near Fincastle, Va.

The speaker for a program at Bridgewater (Va.) College sponsored by Harry W. and Ina Mason Shank Peace Studies Endowment, Harold H. Hersch Educational Fund, and the Center for Cultural Engagement, is Robert Edsel, author of “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.” He will speak on March 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall. “Edsel spent more than 12 years doing painstaking and far-reaching research to discover how many monuments and great works of art survived the thefts and devastation of World War II,” said a release from the college. The program is free and open to the public.

Among April events at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College are presentations by Rwandan speaker Joseph Sebarenzi. He will present at 6 p.m. on April 3 in Gibble Auditorium, followed by a screening of the film “Sometimes in April.” The event remembers the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda that took the lives of nearly 100,000 people. Sebarenzi, a Rwandan who survived the genocide that killed most of his family, will talk about “Peace, Conflict Transformation, and Restorative Justice.” A question and answer session will follow the film.

Also on April 3 is the Annual Young Center Banquet, Reception, and Lecture, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Susquehanna Room of Myer Hall. The lecture on “Abstract Art or Country Craft? The Quilts of the Amish” is given by Janneken Smucker, an assistant professor of history at nearby West Chester University (cost is $20, reservation deadline is March 20, contact the Young Center at 717-361-1470). At 7:30 p.m. on April 10 the Ware Lecture on Peacemaking will feature Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman in the Leffler Chapel. Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition of her work in nonviolent struggle for the expression of women’s rights and safety in Yemen. She is the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, said a release from the college (cost is free, but tickets are required, call 717-361-4757).

The Global Women’s Project Steering Committee is holding its next meeting in Missouri. “Please hold us in your prayers are we do the good work of supporting women’s empowerment and educating ourselves about global poverty and our own privilege,” said an announcement from steering committee member Tina Rieman. The group will participate in worship at Warrensburg Church of the Brethren on Sunday, March 16.

A blog post by Heifer International at honors the heritage of the organization, founded by Church of the Brethren staff member Dan West, and in particular the years that church volunteers took to the oceans as “sea going cowboys” to help ferry heifers to Europe and other places in need following World War II. Heifer’s Seagoing Cowboys Exhibit is opening at the Heifer Village in Little Rock, Ark., with a presentation and celebration on March 14 at noon.

The New Community Project, a Brethren-related nonprofit, is offering inter-generational Learning Tours to Africa, Asia, the Arctic, and Latin America. “The trips increase awareness of the challenges facing God’s creation and our neighbors, while building relationships with the communities visited,” an announcement said. Trips are planned June 12-21 to the Ecuadorian Amazon, July 12-21 to the Dominican Republic, July 27-Aug. 4 to Denali/Kenai Fjords National Parks, Alaska, and Jan. 8-19, 2015, to Burma (Myanmar). Date is pending for a trip to South Sudan. Contact David Radcliff at for more information, or visit .

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is accepting applications for a delegation to Colombia focused on the situation of organized labor. The trip is scheduled for May 17-31. “Colombia continues to be the most dangerous place on earth for trade unionists,” said a release. “Participants in this delegation will meet with public and private sector union leaders, as well as organized informal sector self-employed workers. Activists in all three groups are threatened because of their efforts to protect workers’ rights and livelihoods.” Find more information and a poster at or contact .

“Brethren Voices,” a public television show produced by Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore., has announced upcoming shows. In March “Brethren Voices” features Merle Forney, founder of “Kids as Peacemakers.” Forney is interviewed about his own peace journey beginning at Hanover (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. “It led him to a unique idea of assisting youth in a discussion of peace and then transmitting their thoughts onto an artistic work,” said a release from producer Ed Groff. “The work of art is then displayed in front of the church or sponsoring organization.” Kids as Peacemakers is now a sponsored program of On Earth Peace; for more information see . In April, “Brethren Voices” features Annual Conference moderator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, interviewed by host Brent Carlson at Cross Keys Village-the Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa. She is the seventh moderator to share his or her story with “Brethren Voices.” In May, the show features Brethren Disaster Ministries, and travels to South Toms River, N.J., to meet with a group of Brethren volunteers from Indiana rebuilding homes affected by Hurricane Sandy. Also in the works is a program with Andy Murray who has retired after many years at Juniata College and who, with his wife, Terry are well known in Brethren circles for their music ministry. Viewers are treated to a special visit to their home in Huntdingdon, Pa., overlooking the campus of Juniata College. Copies of “Brethren Voices” may be obtained from Portland Peace Church of the Brethren. Contact Ed Groff at . Over 50 of the programs can be viewed on .

— Every now and then Newsline takes note of books by Brethren authors. Here are some of the more recent:

Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm of the Bethany Theological Seminary faculty is one of the editors of “Preaching God’s Transforming Justice: A Lectionary Commentary,” published by Westminster John Knox Press as a three-volume set last year. A release explains that the commentary “helps the preacher identify and reflect on the social implications of the Revised Common Lectionary readings. In addition to providing commentary for each day in the lectionary calendar, this series introduces 22 Holy Days for Justice.” For each lectionary day and Holy Day for Justice an essay helps integrate a variety of social justice concerns into preaching. The contributors are a diverse group of homileticians, pastors, biblical scholars, theologians, and social activists. In addition to Ottoni-Wilhelm, the editors are Dale Andrews of Vanderbilt University, and Ron Allen of Christian Theological Seminary For more information go to .

Bridgewater (Va.) College professor of history Stephen L. Longenecker has written his sixth book, “Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North (The North’s Civil War),” published by Fordham University Press in January. The book focuses on the diversity of religion in a small town that saw one of the most horrific battles of the Civil War. “This famous little place and the surrounding region are just full of fascinating surprises,” said Longenecker, in a release from the college. “The Gettysburg community was much more diverse and complicated than might be expected, and pursuing this project was fun from beginning to end. Rhett Butler’s phrase ‘some little town in Pennsylvania’ doesn’t come close to articulating all the twists and turns in Gettysburg during this period.” More about “Gettysburg Religion” is at .

Peggy Faw Gish has written her second book on the experience of Iraq and the war, titled “Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation” (Cascade, 2013). Shane Claiborne writes about the book: “It reads like a journal, but a thrilling journal filled with horror and hope, written from the trenches of one of the most troubled war zones in the world. Peggy has seen things that did not make the news–some of them are more terrible than we can ever imagine, and some of them are more beautiful than we could ever dream. Her life and words are a daring call for us to get in the way of violence.” Gish’s first book about working in Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams was “Iraq: A Journey of Hope and Peace” (Herald Press, 2004).

James Lehman, whose book of Brethren history “The Old Brethren: People of Wisdom and Simplicity Speak to Our Time” was recently republished by Brethren Press, has written his first full-length novel titled “Ties That Bind.” He describes the book as “a story for progressive Christians, for thoughtful people with open hearts and minds. It walks the fine line between making you glad to be human and being honest about human problems and failings…. Ordinary congregational life looks interesting in this book, which portrays the polarizing reality in the church of same-sex relations and then shows a painful and dramatic conflict resolving itself in unexpected ways.” Contact .

Noah S. Martin, who has been a leader in the New Day Inc. Christian ministry to at-risk children, youth, marriages, and families based in Johnstown, Pa., has self-published a manual intended to help encourage marriages and the understanding of issues that affect relationships. Written from a Christian perspective, the workbook-style publication is titled “A More Excellent Way.” Contact the author at 814-266-6489 or .

Joseph Kip Kosek, associate professor of American studies at George Washington University, has written “Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy” (Columbia University Press). A review describes the book as tracing the impact of radical Christian pacifists beginning with World War I and ending with the work of Martin Luther King Jr. “Tracing the rise of militant nonviolence across a century of industrial conflict, imperialism, racial terror, and international warfare, Kosek recovers radical Christians’ remarkable stance against the use of deadly force, even during World War II and other seemingly just causes.” More information is at .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Ron Allen, Jan Fischer Bachman, Jeff Boshart, Tim Button-Harrison, Chris Douglas, Kim Ebersole, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Ed Groff, Elizabeth Harvey, Mary Kay Heatwole, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, James Lehman, Fran Massie, Nancy Miner, Sarah Neher, Walt Wiltschek, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, 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 Tuesday, March 18.

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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