Newsline for March 4, 2014

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34b).

Photo by Mandy Garcia
Sun shines through windows in the chapel at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

1) On Earth Peace co-sponsors new Stop Recruiting Kids Campaign
2) Bethany Seminary announces results of essay contest
3) Applications are due soon for nursing scholarships

4) Workbook on physical loss and disability is published in Vietnam

5) The building of a shared society: The work of one BVS project site in Northern Ireland

6) Brethren bits: Northern Ohio District loss, job openings, early registration for church planting conference, Shine training, Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath, ecumenical calls for peace with Iran and in the Ukraine, Lent initiatives and resources, and much more.

A note to readers: With the shift of Newsline to a weekly publication, we are experimenting with the right time to distribute. It will be sent out on Tuesdays on a trial basis. Reader feedback and comments are welcomed, please contact editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford at .

1) On Earth Peace co-sponsors new Stop Recruiting Kids Campaign

By Marie Benner-Rhoades

Did you know that the No Child Left Behind Act requires our children’s high schools to divulge students’ personal information to military recruiters, without their parents’ consent? The federal government spends billions of dollars a year on military recruiting and advertising, much of it directed at teenagers as their target market. This is how tobacco companies used to recruit the next generation of customers for their products.

Science tells us that “the adolescent brain is not equipped to make accurate risk calculations” in life choices, like using alcohol or tobacco, or deciding to join the military before they reach adulthood (American Public Health Association policy statement, “Cessation of Military Recruiting in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools” ).

Just like society protects minors from the risks of alcohol and tobacco use, the new Stop Recruiting Kids campaign is mobilizing public opinion and political support for protecting adolescents from exposure to the age-inappropriate risks of military recruiting. On Earth Peace is now a national sponsor of the Stop Recruiting Kids campaign along with the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth.

With this campaign, peace activists are no longer talking only to each other and ourselves; we are talking with broader segments of society. Stop Recruiting Kids is working to reach the “movable middle”–those who can be motivated to respond to protect kids–as well as our natural allies and protagonists. Here are key strategies the campaign is using to help move broad public opinion and mobilize a positive response to the campaign among each of the most important categories of the population in this “spectrum of allies”:

— featuring trusted public institutions and public figures who provide credible support for the campaign, and rallying around their public statements and actions rather than our own,

— using social and digital media and other online platforms to embody our message and build connections with news outlets, elected officials, local groups, key allies, and supporters, and

— forming long-term relationships of mutual respect with local school boards, administrators, faculty, Parent Teacher Associations, student groups, and other key constituencies through local organizing teams.

Carrying out these tasks requires a significant commitment to movement building and relationship building and leadership development with new people who are becoming part of the campaign.

Since Stop Recruiting Kids is a campaign to transform society and shift its core values, we are following the principles of active nonviolence and good will shown by Gandhi, King, and others. This means, for example:

— The military, recruiters, and people who disagree with the campaign are not our enemy, and we will treat them with respect as equal members of the “beloved community” we serve.

— We will focus on the positive aspects of protecting minors from inappropriate risks, rather than getting into confrontations or debates about military service or militarism in general.

— We will reject the recruitment of minors as an institution in society, not reject people.

— Our victory in this campaign is over a problem, not over people: community is our goal.

In fact, building sustainable capacity for peacebuilding is one of the core reasons we are doing this work, and why Stop Recruiting Kids is working closely with our Nonviolent Social Change ministry led by Matt Guynn. We are out to change our society, not to make ourselves feel better or anyone else feel lesser in this.

To learn more and get involved with the Stop Recruiting Kids Campaign visit or contact On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer at or 847-370-3411. Bill Scheurer is directly participating as co-coordinator of Stop Recruiting Kids on behalf of On Earth Peace.

— Marie Benner-Rhoades is program director for Youth and Young Adult Peace Formation for On Earth Peace and edits the “Peacebuilder”newsletter.

2) Bethany Seminary announces results of essay contest

By Jenny Williams

The three top essays of the 2014 Bethany Peace Essay Contest have been announced by Bethany Theological Seminary. Out of 32 entries submitted, the following placed first, second, and third, respectively, and received prizes of $2,000, $1,000, and $500: Anita Hooley Yoder, senior MDiv student at Bethany Seminary, Richmond, Ind.: “I’ve Read Too Much Poetry for That: Poetry, Personal Transformation, and Peace”; Charles Northrop, PhD student at Cambridge University, England, resident of Richmond, Ind.: “Hard Rock Pacifism”; Gabriella Stocksdale, student at Larkin High School, Elgin, Ill.: “Colors of Peace.”

Open to students enrolled in high school, college, and graduate-level degree programs, the contest was advertised nationwide through denominational and ecumenical venues and received a national, ecumenical response. Writers were asked to reflect on how personal and local peacemaking efforts can address universal concerns. They could choose to explore this theme in one of the following areas, relating to personal experience: art, music, or poetry; the just peace movement; protest or change movements; social media; or interfaith efforts.

Anna Groff, interim editor for the “Mennonite” magazine and a judge for the contest, was pleased with the scope and quality of the entries. “Overall, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness and critical thinking apparent in the essays. These students are digging deeper than a surface understanding of peace and what it means to work for peace. It was an honor to serve as a judge.” Her fellow judges were Lonnie Valentine, professor of peace and justice studies at Earlham School of Religion; Randy Miller, editor of the Church of the Brethren “Messenger” magazine; and Scott Holland, director of the Baker Peace Studies Program and professor of theology and culture at Bethany.

The contest is underwritten by the Jennie Calhoun Baker Endowment at Bethany, funded by philanthropist, teacher, and scholar John C. Baker in honor of his mother and her vision for peacemaking. His goal was to encourage constructive communication about peacebuilding throughout all segments of society, says Holland. “We share this vision of God’s shalom and Christ’s peace at Bethany Seminary, not only in peace studies classes but across the curriculum. The generosity of the Baker endowment for the peace essay contest allows us to extend our educational work beyond the classroom to conversations that are truly ecumenical, international, and public. The many excellent essays composed for the contest remind us that fine writing, like thoughtful preaching, is indeed the work of ministry.”

Bekah Houff, coordinator of outreach programs at Bethany, facilitated the work of the planning committee and helped administer the contest. “The entire process ran smoothly and was quite enjoyable. The judges each brought their own unique strengths to the process and worked diligently, putting in many hours reviewing the essays. I was so pleased and honored to work with them.”

According to Houff, a variety of denominations were represented, including at least 20 entries from the Historic Peace Churches: Church of the Brethren, Quaker, and Mennonite. Bridgewater, Juniata, and Manchester Colleges (Church of the Brethren) were represented along with Earlham College and Earlham School of Religion (Quaker) and Eastern Mennonite University. Among the others were Harvard and Duke Divinity Schools, UCLA, Truman State University, Clark University, and four high schools.

The winning essays will appear in the denominational publications “Messenger,” “Brethren Life and Thought,” “The Mennonite,” and “Quaker Life.” Planning is set to begin for the 2015 contest.

— Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. Find a story from the Elgin “Courier-News” about Gabriella Stocksdale as the first high schooler to place in the top three, titled “Elgin student places third in national peace essay contest,” at .

3) Applications are due soon for nursing scholarships

The Church of the Brethren awards a limited number of scholarships each year to individuals enrolled in a nursing program. Candidates for the scholarships must be enrolled in an LPN, RN, or nursing graduate program and must be members of the Church of the Brethren.

The scholarships are awarded from the Health Education and Research Endowment, which was established in 1958 to receive gifts raised through a fund drive authorized by the 1949 Annual Conference to reopen the Bethany Hospital School of Nursing. In 1959, Annual Conference authorized that the resources be placed in an endowment fund with the interest to be used primarily to grant loans and scholarships for nursing students in the school of their choice.

Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates will be awarded to a limited number of applicants. Preference is given to new applications, and to individuals who are in their second year of an associate’s degree or third year of a baccalaureate program. Scholarship recipients are eligible for only one scholarship per degree.

Nominees must be members of the Church of the Brethren. Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted by April 1. Candidates awarded scholarships will be notified in July and funds will be sent directly to the appropriate school for the fall term.

For more information and the application form go to . For questions contact Randi Rowan at the Congregational Life Ministries office, 800-323-8039 ext. 303 or .


4) Workbook on physical loss and disability is published in Vietnam

By Nguyen Vu Cat Tien

On Sept. 3, 2013, the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH) Faculty of Social Work received boxes containing the first 1,000 copies of the Vietnamese translation of “Coping with Physical Loss and Disability Workbook,” written by Rick Ritter, M.S.W., who has been part of Lincolnshire Church of the Brethren in Indiana. The book was published by Youth Publisher, Ho Chi Minh City.

Photo courtesy of Grace Mishler
Grace Mishler, production coordinator, and Bui Thi Thanh Tuyen, co-editor, pose with a copy of the new translation in Vietnamese

This workbook is for people with losses to reflect on themselves and find the resources from outside, as well as inner strength, to motivate them and move toward self-recovery. The 1,000 copies are funded by VNAH-Vietnam Assistance for the Handicapped, an organization that has been a great supporter for a long time, with projects related to people with disabilities, the university, and professor Grace Mishler. Each played a very crucial role for all of this to happen.

The 1,000 copies are an encouraging outcome of a two-year journey from the day that professor Truong Van Anh, a linguistic teacher at Sai Gon University and also a person with disability, read the book first in English, fell in love with it, and volunteered to translate it into Vietnamese. He said it was a valuable book and would be a helpful resource for people with disabilities in Vietnam. He volunteered to translate the book without receiving any payment as his “little contribution to people with disabilities in Vietnam.”

Beside the main role of professor Anh in translating, we also had professional help in editing the translation, first from a member of VNAH, and then the dean of the USSH Faculty of Social Work and head of the Social Work Department, who helped to edit, proofread, and contextualize a more perfected translation. The great support of the faculty of Social Work and the dean is the reason why we could get these books published in such a relatively short time.

We were then entrusted by the faculty with the assignment to organize and plan a book launch. We were referred to students at the School Youth Union to help us. Together we came up with the idea of organizing a prior book launch focusing only on students’ evaluation of the book as a means of piloting this published book through a student-driven small project. The project was initially funded by the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service office, with a grant of $90.

Social Work Student Youth Union leaders recommended that we organize a display activity, like a booth, at three different universities–the HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Open University, and University of Labor and Social Affairs. The aim of this “Activity Booth” is to promote the book more widely among students, offer them a chance to read it, and collect direct feedback from students’ perspectives. The booth would make a colorful display of the book, with tables and chairs for students to sit down and read. Students would receive a small questionnaire to give feedback after reading.

We also plan to invite guests such as leaders of groups of people with disabilities to come and talk with students. We think this would be a great experience for social work students to not only get access to helpful material but also to get to know more about people with disabilities and prepare for their upcoming field work activities. Outcomes of this activity, which includes feedback from students, will be presented at the book launch to show their perspectives.

We are planning for the book launch to be held publicly in April. Hopefully by that time, author Rick Ritter will be able to join us at the book launch, and carry out trauma trainings here in Vietnam. There are so many things that need to be planned for this special event, but we believe that with the support from the Faculty of Social Work and a group of dynamic and creative students, we will be able to carry out a good launch.

Looking back at the whole process until now, we are excited to see that the path for this book is becoming clearer and wider every day. It is getting a bigger scope that we didn’t expect. One of the biggest encouragements so far is that the book is gradually gaining more and more recognition. Copies already have been distributed to six different places across the country, from small provinces to big cities, and from north to south. More and more people are interested in it, and they are willing to pass it on to more people in need. They consider it easy to read and helpful to people with losses.

The headmaster of Nhat Hong School for the blind in southern Vietnam is willing to put the book into Braille so that blind students can get access to it. One of the non-governmental organizations in HCMC-LIN center considers this book as “a wonderful resource” and already has added it to their library and held a small meeting to come up with a list of organizations that “might be able to make use of the book by ways of their beneficiaries or clients.”

We are just so curious to know what students will think about the book through the display activity, and can’t wait to see how much further this process can go, as well as how the practice of this book can be carried out in reality here in Vietnam. This book could be one of the pioneer efforts in applying the definition of a workbook and group work into Vietnamese society where these concepts are still not common or applied widely. Introducing this book, applying it, reviewing and adjusting it, will be a long process, but at least this is a start. And we cannot be more thrilled to be a part of it!

–Nguyen Vu Cat Tien is assistant and translator for Grace Mishler, who receives support for her work on disabilities in Vietnam from the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service. Mishler serves at the university as faculty of Social Work Project Developer. She and Betty Kelsey and Richard Fuller helped review this article for publication.


5) The building of a shared society: The work of one BVS project site in Northern Ireland

East Belfast Mission, one of the project sites in Northern Ireland where Brethren Volunteer Service workers are placed, was in the news early this year when a peacebuilding event it hosted was met with violent protests. Here, BVS volunteer Megan Miller explains the groundbreaking work of the mission, which is related to the Methodist Church. Its extensive social service center is located in a traditionally Protestant area of East Belfast near the shipyards made famous for building the Titanic. As Miller reports in this interview conducted over Skype, EBM’s combination of practical social work, community development, support for local life and culture, collaborative efforts with others, and strategic and grassroots peacebuilding, makes for an amazing story:

Photo courtesy of East Belfast Mission
A scene from 2012’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, around which the East Belfast Mission organized a project for local children and families.

Megan Miller: East Belfast Mission and the Methodist Church has had a presence on the Newtownards Road, which is a predominantly Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist part of Belfast, since the 1800s. Throughout its history it has been involved in community outreach work and in meeting the practical needs of people in the area.

A main area of work at the moment is employability, one-to-one mentoring with people who are out of work and need help looking at their resumes, job skills, interview skills. We do group work around the areas of life skills and self esteem.

Then there’s the homeless hostel. That came out of a need that was being met even before we had a site designated for housing. At this time we have a 26-bed homeless hostel onsite. As well as actually housing people we have two tenancy housing workers who work with people who have recently moved out of a hostel or people who are at risk of becoming homeless. They each have a caseload of 20 clients. In the hostel there is a lot of emphasis on life skills, not just housing people but giving them the tools they need to be able to live independently.

Compass is the department that Hannah Button-Harrison, another BVS volunteer, and I both work in. Compass does community development work. We really have looked to work with local people as much as possible and equip them to run programs on their own. The ethos of good community development work is trying to work yourselves out of a job! Empowering people, and not only giving them services but also giving them tools to address the issues that they personally are facing and they feel their community is facing.

A small community counseling service has come out of working with people who are affected by the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland, people who have either been involved directly or who lost family members, or who even just on a community level are feeling the effects of the legacy of conflict.

As well we have a women’s group, a men’s group, and do work with older people in the area who are risk of being increasingly isolated by offering structured activities where they can be with people, they can get out, and try new things.

All of these programs started from a community development sort of ethos, but have evolved to include some element of cross community work and reconciliation. For example, the work with the seniors: in December we did a Tea Dance with seniors who are coming from the Protestant Loyalist area as well as a nearby Catholic neighborhood. And just from those social activities, seniors from both communities have expressed interest in doing more focused reconciliation work. We’ll be doing a residential retreat with them, where they can tell their own stories and share their own feelings, talk about their own heritage and about the conflict and about where their communities stand today.

The women’s group has been meeting on a cross community basis for over three years now. At the start they did a lot of dialogue, they did residential retreats, they did work separately examining their perceptions of other communities. But now they’re so well integrated they don’t like to call themselves a cross community group. They just call themselves a women’s group.

Newsline: So this is bringing Protestants and Catholics together?

Miller: Yes, and some of the men we work with have expressed interest in exploring that. Not to be stereotypical, but I think men traditionally in Northern Ireland are more hardened and more reticent to talk about issues around the conflict, and their experiences. But just in the past year or so the men have been thinking that’s something they would like to do. In the months ahead we hope to work with a Catholic/Nationalist group, first doing some separate work, talking about their experiences and their stories, and then eventually meeting.

The Irish language work also is a huge piece of reconciliation work. Since the conflict, the Irish language has been associated with the Catholic community. A lot of Protestants and Unionists and most politicians would have really disassociated from the language. A woman named Linda, who was part of our women’s group and who is herself from a Protestant, Loyalist background, became really interested in the language and ended up doing some research. She looked at census data from the early 1900s, finding that many people in this part of Belfast were bilingual and many of them would have spoken Irish. She went from being a teacher who was studying Irish on the side, to a fulltime staff member who does Irish language development work in East Belfast. She does presentations talking about the history of Protestants and the Irish language.

We have 10 Irish classes running each week. That’s grown from one class when I started at EBM two years ago. That includes an Irish language singing class that Hannah has been involved with using her musical talent. A few people bring their instruments and then everyone just learns Irish language songs and sings. It’s been one of the most amazing things.

There are people in class who even just a couple of years ago would have said, “No way am I ever learning Irish.” Who really had a disdain for it, who felt it had no relevance to their culture, their background. Now it’s just natural because of their shared interest in a native language and learning part of their own heritage. This really is something people from both sides of the community can relate to and have an interest in.

Someone from the Orange Order came out with a statement saying that Protestants who learn the Irish language were playing into the Republican agenda. They were basically being very negative about that sort of work and about Protestants learning Irish. But as a result, the classes that we run here have actually gotten a lot of very good publicity. The broader Orange Order has come out with a statement saying that it’s the right of every person if they want to learn Irish.

There are so many things happening. From time to time we organize a community service day particularly for older people and people who aren’t mobile and able to do things themselves. Every year we do a food hamper project. We give out vouchers to local businesses, which generates income for the smaller shops. And then we work with other food banks year round to link people in with those sorts of practical services.

Newsline: That’s a lot!

Miller: Yes, there’s a lot that goes on at EBM. And there’s the whole Skainos Center project. Gary Mason, who’s the minister here, and some of his colleagues had a vision of building an urban village that would allow the church to expand its social work and involve partnerships with other local organizations. It took time, but it’s funded by the European Union, by the International Fund for Ireland, and some other Northern Irish government bodies. In 2010 they started building and then the building opened in the fall of 2012. Skainos not only houses all that work I just described, but also a number of community organizations such as Age Northern Ireland, onsite apartments, the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health, and others. It’s really massive.

Newsline: In the context of all that work, explain the background to the protest?

Miller: Peacebuilding has been a major work for EBM. Since Gary Mason’s been at the mission, which has been over 10 years, he has done a lot of strategic peacebuilding. He has good relationships with different former combatants on the Loyalist side, with Republicans, and has done a lot of work at bringing those two groups together for dialogue. When the UVF, a Loyalist paramilitary organization, decommissioned their weapons they actually made that announcement from our building. That would have been in the early 2000s.

The event that was protested was organized by a group of Belfast clergy, it was part of the Four Corners Festival which included events throughout the city with the idea of all the four corners of Belfast bringing people together.

The two speakers, Jo Berry and Patrick Magee, have been doing reconciliation theme talks together for 14 years. The decision was made that this community had come along enough, and that Skainos would be a secure venue, for someone like Pat Magee.

Jo Berry is from England. In 1984 her father was killed in the Brighton bombing which was a high profile part of the IRA’s campaign. Patrick McGee was one of the bombers convicted in that case. Jo and Pat ended up wanting to meet and talk and hear where each other were coming from. From there they have gone on for 14 years to tell their stories together. Pat would talk about how at the time he was involved in the IRA it was very easy to see a faceless enemy in the British people. After meeting Jo, it’s been much harder for him because now he sees people. He sees individuals, he sees people he respects and gets along with. And he knows that he’s caused pain for people, not for a faceless enemy.

That’s still a very pertinent message that really resonates with Northern Irish society today. Even though it’s post conflict there are still a lot of wounds and a lot of issues around forgiveness, around dealing with the past, and inquiries into the past violence.

I don’t think any of us were expecting the backlash. We arrived that Thursday morning to see some sectarian graffiti painted on the windows of the Skainos Center. Obviously the directors of Skainos and EBM had to make some tough decisions about whether to go ahead with an event even though there was potential for protests or for violence. Especially at that late hour they decided to go ahead, because they knew that the story was one that needed to be heard and for local people who were going to be in attendance it was going to be valuable, potentially a source for healing.

It’s the notion that you don’t let dissenters stop you from doing good work and doing what needs done. In the days since, we’ve had some conversation as staff about how if people aren’t angry or challenged by what we’re doing, then we’re probably doing something wrong. I feel very proud to be part of that sort of heritage. Of being willing to put your head above the parapet and do things that are challenging and that are difficult.

— Megan Miller is one of two Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) workers at the East Belfast Mission, along with Hannah Button-Harrison. Currently there are seven BVS project sites in Northern Ireland. For more information about serving in BVS go to or contact the BVS office at 800-323-8039 to request a BVS Project Book. Find a BBC report on the Jan. 30 protest at .

6) Brethren bits


Photo courtesy of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren — Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., has been sending groups of volunteers to help out at Northern Illinois Food Bank. Said a Facebook post from this week’s volunteer effort, “3,144 pounds of pepperoni and salami feeding our hungry neighbors. Thanks to all of our volunteers.”

— A former staff member of the Church of the Brethren Northern Ohio District has admitted to embezzling about $400,000 from the district. The embezzlement took place over a period of five years, according to a report in the Ashland (Ohio) Times-Gazette newspaper, published Feb. 26. Kristen M. Bair, who has been administrative staff for the district, entered a guilty plea in Common Pleas Court. She was charged with aggravated theft, which is a third-degree felony.

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

— The Church of the Brethren seeks a temporary part-time warehouse assistant to work directly with the director of Material Resources at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Applications will be received and reviewed beginning immediately until the position is filled. Request the application packet and complete job description from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; .

— The Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service is publicizing a service opportunity in North Korea. The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) seeks MS-plus teachers for the more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of plant/animal biological sciences, agronomic sciences, and biotechnology/genetic engineering for the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The university also has schools of Public Health, Electrical Engineering and Computer, and Management and Finance. Spousal appointments are supported. Appointments could be short-term or for multiple semesters, which run from September to December, March to June, and July. Classes are all held in English. Furnished on-campus apartments and cafeteria meals are provided. Global Mission and Service will cover visas, transportation costs, health insurance, and some personal costs. Downtown grocery shopping and some touring services are provided. For more information, contact Dr. Robert Shank, Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, at . The program is now screening for the fall semester.

— Camp Galilee in Terra Alta, W.Va., operated by West Marva District, seeks a camp manager. The camp would consider someone as an interim manager for this year’s season. The camp provides opportunities in an outdoor setting for persons of all ages to grow in discipleship and relationship with Jesus Christ. In addition to week long camps for various age groups, the camp is also used by groups outside of the Church of the Brethren. The property is completely drug, alcohol, and tobacco free. Christian ethical standards are expected from all who utilize the camp property. The manager must be a Christian who has a good testimony of active relationship with Jesus Christ and is living a life that reflects Christian values and the values and beliefs of the West Marva District Church of the Brethren. Additional requirement include a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. The manager should be proficient in basic computer skills, including office software, and the Internet, and is required to have knowledge of some maintenance, office, and kitchen equipment, should have a valid driving license, and reliable transportation. Duties and responsibilities include to direct operation of camp activities of staff including caretaker, inspect camp facilities prior to campers’ arrival and departure, coordinate maintenance duties, register as well as inform campers about camp accommodations regulations, employ and supervise staff to operate dining facilities, maintain required records and make reports, and is responsible for collecting camp fees, among other duties. The manager works independently within established policies and procedures under the general direction of camp trustees.  The camp is unable to provide the manager with a competitive compensation package, but a stipend will be offered as an expression of gratitude for the person who responds to God’s call for this opportunity. An apartment accessible from the Dining Hall is available for the manager. For more information and an application packet, contact West Marva District Church of the Brethren, 384 Dennett Rd., Oakland MD 21550; ; 301-334-9270.

— The Palms Estate of Lorida, Fla., has a position open for a manager or managers for the 55-plus Christian community. Computer skills are needed and knowledge of Quick Book is useful. Send resumes to Palms Estates, P.O. Box 603, Lorida, FL 33857.

— Early registration for the church planting conference, “Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully–Toward an Intercultural Future,” ends in mid-March. Register early for savings of $80 for first time attendees ($149) and $50 for others ($179). On March 18 all fees go up to $229. The conference is May 15-18 in Richmond, Ind. For more information and to register, go to .

— Shine, the new curriculum from Brethren Press and MennoMedia that starts this fall, is offering two training opportunities in upcoming months. The first, held jointly with MennoMedia, is a full-day event on Saturday, March 29, at the Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Cost is $10 per congregation. To attend, contact Dorothy Hartman at or 540-908-2438. The second is an insight session on Thursday evening, July 3, at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio. For those who find online training to be more convenient, short videos will be posted on the Shine website within several months. “We’re pretty excited about Shine, and we hope you are too,” said an announcement from Jeff Lennard of the Brethren Press staff. “Teaching children is a ministry of the whole church, and it’s a privilege to be part of that effort. In a time when many church publishing houses have had to abandon Sunday school curriculum, it’s gratifying that our congregations are still supporting the creation of well-thought-out resources from a Brethren and Mennonite perspective.” Lennard reports that advance copies of fall materials will be available by the end of March so that congregations have plenty of time to review them, starter kits will be available soon, and free sample sessions already can be found at .

— The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness reminds congregations via a Facebook post that “participating in the March 13-16 National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend is as easy as incorporating a prayer or a hymn into your service.” Join more than 1,000 participating congregations by pledging your participation at . Heeding God’s Call also is offering resources for the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath. “As winter snows begin to melt, Christians and Jews head into the holy seasons of Lent and Passover–an especially important time to reflect on violence and to renew our commitments to ending so much preventable death caused by guns,” said an announcement from Heeding God’s Call. “For Christians this falls on the second week of Lent.” Professor Karyn Wiseman, who is on the faculty of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia where she teaches homiletics, has shared a sample sermon at . Rabbi Linda Holtzman who teaches at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and is rabbi of Tikkun Olam Chavurah in Philadelphia, has provided preaching ideas at . Heeding God’s Call chair Katie Day also requests copies of sermons preached on gun violence prevention, contact her at .

— The denomination’s Office of Public Witness also has joined with 39 other national organizations to support peace and diplomacy with Iran, including the National Council of Churches, J Street, Jewish Voice For Peace, Presbyterian Church (USA), and others. A letter from the group of organizations reads, in part: “The negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 are an essential opportunity for the United States and its negotiating partners to secure an agreement that prevents an Iranian nuclear weapon and averts a war.” Find the letter at .

— Monitor Church of the Brethren near McPherson, Kan., is holding a Bethany Weekend on March 8-9. This event is part of the Education for a Shared Ministry (EFSM) training program offered through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. The Brethren Academy is a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Seminary. Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary, will teach two sessions on scripture interpretation on the morning of March 8, with afternoon sessions devoted to the role of scripture and prayer in worship. Lunch will be provided. Ottoni-Wilhelm will preaching on Sunday morning for services starting at 10 a.m., followed by a potluck meal. To attend, contact or 620-755-5096. An RSVP would be helpful for food preparations.

— Goshen (Ind.) City Church of the Brethren has helped the Interfaith Hospitality Network host two families, each with four children, for a stay from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2. “The children wanted to say ‘thank you’ to our church,” reports the church newsletter. “Thus, the children initiated and created the long banner that they hung in our Fellowship Hall.” The banner included a pocket with individually made bookmarks designed for church members to take as a reminder of their thanks.

— Sugar Grove Church of the Brethren is ready to put its addition under roof, says the Shenandoah District newsletter. The church will be having volunteer days March 27, 28, and 29, starting at 9 a.m.  Lunch will be provided. “We hope you can come and help us add bathrooms to our facility so we can serve God better,” said the district newsletter. Let the organizers know if you are coming so that they can plan for food, contact 540-459-2493 or .

— Gettysburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a choir from McPherson (Kan.) College in concert on Monday night March 17, at 7 p.m. The McPherson College Singers are a mixed group of 20 young men and women who will be touring the Mid-Atlantic region, said an announcement. “This is a free evening of music. There will be a donation basket but no free-will offering will be lifted.”

— The Virlina District Peace Affairs Committee will hold a “Prayers for Nigeria” service at Daleville (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Sunday, March 9, from 3-4 p.m. “Our Christian sisters and brothers in Nigeria are being threatened by Muslim extremists,” said the announcement of the event. “Many have been killed and much property has been destroyed. We are joining to pray for peace in Nigeria, for the safety for Christians there, and to mourn the loss of life and property. If you can’t come to Daleville, we invite you to set aside this hour on March 9 and pray for the country of Nigeria and our Christian sisters and brothers there.”

— Shenandoah District is once again hosting a Kit Depot at the office in Weyers Cave, Va., to receive Church World Service (CWS) kits, including school kits, hygiene kits, baby care kits, and emergency clean-up buckets. The depot will be open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday from April 7 through May 15.

— The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center (CrossRoads) on Saturday, March 22, holds its annual benefit auction at 9 a.m. at Bowman Auctions in Harrisonburg, Va. In addition to bidding on the varied auction items, attendees will enjoy baked goods, breakfast, and lunch. To donate items for the auction, contact CrossRoads at 540-438-1275. Items should be delivered to the center by March 19.

— Dates have been set for the annual meat canning in Mid-Atlantic District. Meat canning will be held for one week, from April 21-24, with labeling scheduled for April 25. All of the canned chicken is sent to local or international food banks, to help neighbors in need.

— “Did you miss our conversation with Paul Young, author of The Shack, last year?” asks an e-mail from the Children’s Aid Society, a ministry of the Southern Pennsylvania District of the Church of the Brethren. “Did you miss Michael Pritchard’s hilarious routine at our annual dinner in October? Now you have the chance to see them both! Videos of both these events are on our website and will be available for you to watch until the end of March.” Visit the video page at (click on “Resources”). The Children’s Aid Society is committed to helping at-risk children and their families build stronger, healthier lives through compassionate and professional services.

— A group of Bridgewater (Va.) College students and two staff will travel to Florida over spring break to volunteer as construction workers with Habitat’s Collegiate Challenge Spring Break 2014, said a release from the college. The students, accompanied by Stacie Horrell, assistant director of student activities, and David Nicholas, student accounts coordinator, leave for Delray Beach, Fla., on March 8. For the Spring Break Challenge, the group will work in partnership with the South Palm Beach County Habitat for Humanity. To raise money for the trip, the group held a chili cook-off and a Spirit Night fundraiser at New York Flying Pizza in Bridgewater. The campus chapter, established in 1995, is one of nearly 700 campus chapters worldwide, and is affiliated with Central Valley Habitat for Humanity in Bridgewater. This is the 22nd year that Bridgewater students have used spring break to work on various Habitat projects.

— “Grace Abounds” is the title of the Lenten/Easter disciplines folder from Springs of Living Water, an initiative for church renewal in which several Church of the Brethren districts and congregations are participating. Following the Brethren bulletin series, a Sunday text is included along with texts for daily reading and meditation, an interpretation of the theme, prayer guide, and insert for discerning next steps in spiritual growth. Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, writes Bible study questions for individual and group use. Recently leaders of the initiative learned that the Springs Disciplines folder will be used in the Fayette County Prison south of Pittsburgh, Pa., coordinated through the Uniontown Church. Find the folder and Bible study questions on the Springs website at or contact David Young at 717-615-4515.

— The Death Row Support Project, a ministry connected with the Church of the Brethren and led by Rachel Gross of North Manchester, Ind., is sharing some good news. The project reached a goal of writing letters to 1,600 prisoners. The number of prisoners on death row currently stands at close to 3,100. Find out more at and at the projects’ Facebook page .

— In response to a request from its partners, over the past six months New Community Project has raised $33,500 to construct a girls’ boarding school in Nimule, South Sudan. “Surpassing the initial goal of $10,000, the additional funds will come in handy: demand has exceeded expectation and the school has been expanded to house 400 girls,” said a release from director David Radcliff. “According to NCP colleague Agnes Amileto of the Girlchild Education and Development Association, the school is needed to allow girls to focus on their studies (they are worked so hard at home that there is little time for homework), to keep girls from unplanned pregnancies (a frequent occurrence in mixed-gender schools), and to allow better access for disabled girls and girls coming from a distance.” In spite of the current insecurity in South Sudan, the foundation of the school has been poured and the school is planning to open in late spring. A New Community Project Learning Tour originally set for February, has been postponed until later this year or early 2015. For more information go to .

— The Open Table Cooperative of progressive Brethren, and Living Stream Church of the Brethren, an online fellowship based in Portland, Ore., are inviting church members to a “Living, Open Lent Journey.” Participants will share daily photos of nature and receive devotional reflections each Sunday by e-mail, during the six weeks leading up to Easter on April 20. The group will collect and share pictures and reflections from people across the country, as a way of finding signs of resurrection in daily life. During this time, Living Stream will hold “eco-spiritual worship” on Sunday evenings, said the announcement. See .

— “The World Council of Churches is deeply concerned by the current dangerous developments in Ukraine,” said Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, in a release on Monday, March 3. “The situation puts many innocent lives in grave jeopardy. And like a bitter wind from the Cold War, it risks further undermining the international community’s capacity to act now or in the future on the many urgent issues that will require a collective and principled response,” he said, in part. “Out of concern for the lives and security of all people who are or might in the future be affected by the continuing failure to resolve this situation peacefully, I call urgently on all parties to refrain from violence, to commit to dialogue and diplomacy, and to avoid escalation by rash words or actions.”

— Starting on Monday, March 3, the Ecumenical Water Network of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is inviting Christians to join in Seven Weeks for Water, a “pilgrimage towards water justice.” An online compilation of reflections shared every week during Lent raises awareness about universal access to water and sanitation. Since 2008, the campaign has attempted to create awareness on water issues around World Water Day on 22 March, which falls during the season of Lent on many churches’ calendars, according to a release. The theme for this year’s campaign is inspired by a call from the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, “to join us in pilgrimage. May the churches be communities of healing and compassion, and may we seed the Good News so that justice will grow and God’s deep peace rest on the world.” Biblical reflections are posted every week on along with complementary links and ideas for activities.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jan Fischer Bachman, Marie Benner-Rhoades, Deborah Brehm, Katie Day, Kendal W. Elmore, Rachel Gross, Mary Kay Heatwole, Julie Hostetter, Jeff Lennard, Becky Motley, David Radcliff, Robert Shank, Jonathan Shively, Nguyen Vu Cat Tien, Jenny Williams, David Young, 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 11.

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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