Newsline for May 7, 2014

Hands, black and white graphic

“Then the Lord said, ‘I’ve clearly seen my people oppressed . . . . I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave master. I know about their pain” (Exodus 3:7).

1) Congregations invited to pray for girls abducted from school in Chibok, Nigeria
2) Conference moderator provides resources for daily prayer for Nigeria
3) Action Alert: Bring Back Our Girls
4) Walking with the Nigerian church: An interview with Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger and mission executive Jay Wittmeyer

5) Brethren bits: Correction, job opening at Brethren Nutrition Program in Washington, D.C., BVS Coast to Coast in the news, new alumni/ae leadership at Bethany Seminary, and more.



Quote of the week:

“We pray God’s unconditional love will touch the consciences of the men who did this.”

— Stan Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren general secretary, quoted in a release from the National Council of Churches about the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, many of whom are from EYN (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Noffsinger’s quote appeared May 2 as the Religion News Service “Quote of the Day.”

1) Congregations invited to pray for girls abducted from school in Chibok, Nigeria


Chibok, Nigeria

n a letter being mailed this week, each Church of the Brethren congregation is invited to pray for one of the girls abducted from Chibok, Nigeria, by name. The majority of the more than 200 abducted schoolgirls, ages 16 to 18, were from EYN (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) although the group included both Muslim and Christian girls.

The letter from general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger and Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer, also highlights the fact that for the past several years EYN has been among the Christian and Muslim communities attacked by Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic sect that carried out the abduction of the school girls.

“When asked what the American church can do at this time to be supportive, EYN leaders asked for us to engage in prayer and fasting,” the letter says, in part. “Most of the girls abducted from Chibok were from Christian and Brethren homes, but many were from Muslim homes, and we are not making a distinction between them in our prayers. It is important for us to pray for the safety of all children.”

The fear is that these girls are to be trafficked and sold by their captors, and may end up being sold as slaves across the border into surrounding countries such as Niger and Chad.

The letter notes that the Church of the Brethren has contributed more than $100,000 to the EYN Compassion Fund over the last year to support Nigerian Brethren affected by the violence, “But we need to do more.”

The letter includes an enclosure with the names of 180 abducted girls–both Christian and Muslim–provided by EYN’s liaison officer, from a list published by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Each name on the list is being assigned to six congregations for focused prayer.

2) Conference moderator provides resources for daily prayer for Nigeria

Annual Conference moderator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman has written a resource for daily prayer for Nigeria, for the girls abducted from a school in Chibok, and for their families. Titled, “With Anguished Tears and Bold Prayers, May We Be One,” the resource is posted online at .

The resource invites church members from around the world to join in prayer with the people of Nigeria and particularly the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN–Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria). Prayer guides for each day of the week, Monday through Sunday, are intended to be used repeatedly each week during the crisis.

In addition, Heishman has written a special prayer guide for Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 11, and has provided a litany that may be incorporated into worship services on that day.

Find the daily prayer guides for Nigeria at .

3) Action Alert: Bring Back Our Girls

By Nathan Hosler and Bryan Hanger

Courtesy of the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness
Nathan Hosler at a demonstration at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC.

As many of you know, three weeks ago, over 200 girls (many of them EYN Brethren) were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, by Boko Haram, an Islamic sect in northern Nigeria violently seeking a “pure” Islamic state.

It has been reported that around 40 girls escaped a few days after their kidnapping but subsequent news stories about the remaining girls’ conditions or whereabouts have been incomplete at best. But it has been speculated that these girls were targeted and kidnapped so that they could become “slave brides” of some of Boko Haram’s members, and on Monday, May 5th, a video was released of purported Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau saying, “God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions.”

This is deplorable and absolutely unacceptable. Nigerian Brethren have been living under the threat of violence for many years, and this mass kidnapping by Boko Haram is just the latest example of the true fear our Nigerian brothers and sisters have to live with every day.

It is high time that our sisters be brought home from captivity and that all of our Nigerian brothers and sisters experience some measure of peace in their land. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian authorities have done very little for the kidnapped girls’ release so far, and have not heeded the calls for help from the girls’ families, and many Nigerians have taken to the streets to protest this lack of action.

We must join in solidarity with them. We must pray and we must act.

Last week a bipartisan group of Senators introduced Senate Resolution 433 ( find the text at ) condemning the kidnapping and calling upon the US and Nigeria to work together to promote women’s rights, security of schools, assistance in rescuing and reintegrating the girls, among other things. At this time asking your Senator to support this resolution is a critical action that can make a difference in Nigeria. The more that your Senators hear from you, the more officials from the US State Department and from the Obama administration will hear from them, and this will help our American leaders see Nigeria and the kidnapped girls as a priority.

We must lift up our voices and remember that each of us are members of one body, brought together by Christ (Ephesians 2:16-18). We are connected to one another by this Jesus we follow, and it is Jesus who proclaims freedom to the prisoners and release of the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). These kidnapped Nigerian girls are our sisters and we must stand in solidarity with them and with our Lord.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

CALL TO PRAYER AND FASTING: The leaders of EYN have asked us to enter into a season of prayer and fasting for the wellbeing of the girls and the Nigerian people. We must stand in solidarity with our Nigerian brothers and sisters and remember that our God is a God of the oppressed and powerless. When all hope is lost, our God can find a way out of the wilderness.

TALK WITH YOUR PASTOR AND CONGREGATION: Bring up this issue with your pastor and share this action alert with your congregation. The more people who respond to the alert, the better chance our collective voice is heard by our leaders. Also, later this week a letter will be mailed to each congregation with the name of one of the schoolgirls who was abducted, in order to invite each congregation to engage in focused prayer. Attached to the letter will be a list of names of the girls whom we know about at this time, received from EYN’s liaison officer.

ADVOCACY ACTION: Click here to find and contact your Senators: . E-mail or call your Senators today and tell them to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 433 and to ask Secretary of State Kerry to put pressure on Nigeria to:

— Peacefully work for the release of all of the kidnapped girls, give heed to the calls of their families for help, and work with neighboring countries to bring the girls back home.

— Put in place measures to protect schools and students from becoming victims of violence and human trafficking.

— Begin “just policing” practices that would help address some of the security concerns of both Christian and Muslim communities.

— Support efforts of moderate Muslim leaders and concerned Christians to work together toward peace and renew good relations between neighbors of different backgrounds.

*NOTE: This past week, we spoke with and heard from State Department officials about the work in Nigeria that the Bureau of Conflict Stabilization Operations is doing, but we must encourage all parts of the US government to support our sisters and brothers in Nigeria.

This tragedy will not be solved overnight, and the work of building peace in Nigeria will be long, but we must have hope in the fact that we have a persistent and faithful Lord who will not abandon us. We must continue to do what we can here at home while praying for our Nigerian sisters and brothers abroad. We must take heart in the fact that the Prince of Peace is with us always, to the end of the age.

In Christ’s peace,

Nathan Hosler, Coordinator
Bryan Hanger, Advocacy Assistant
Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness

— To give to the EYN Compassion Fund that aids pastors families and others who have lost loved ones or suffered from the violence in Nigeria, go to . Church of the Brethren Action Alerts are a ministry of the denomination’s Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. For more information contact Nathan Hosler, Coordinator, Office of Public Witness, 337 North Carolina Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003; ; 717-333-1649.
4) Walking with the Nigerian church: An interview with Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger and mission executive Jay Wittmeyer

photo by Jay Wittmeyer
General secretary Stan Noffsinger preaches at Majalisa or annual meeting of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, during a trip to Nigeria in April 2014.

In this interview conducted last month, shortly after they returned from a trip to Nigeria, Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger and Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer spoke with Newsline editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford about the trip and the situation of the church in Nigeria. They attended the Majalisa or annual conference at the headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), met with EYN leaders and the Brethren mission staff in Nigeria–Carol Smith and Carl and Roxane Hill–and visited the capital city Abuja. This is an excerpt from a lengthier interview that may appear in an upcoming issue of “Messenger” magazine:

Stan Noffsinger: Our presence was significant to the church. I don’t know how many times we heard, either from Samuel [EYN president Samuel Dali] or from Jinatu [EYN general secretary Jinatu Wamdeo] or members, how they recognized the risk we took to be there.

Jay Wittmeyer: And how encouraging it was. They were deeply encouraged by our presence and our willingness to walk with them in these times.

Stan: There was real concern that they really were alone. Christians are a minority in a predominantly Muslim territory [in northeastern Nigeria]. Samuel kept saying over and over, “Please tell your family and the board how much we appreciate the risk.” It was perhaps an acknowledgment that the risk was more significant than we would have wanted to acknowledge.

The risk is evident everywhere. No matter where we went, whether it was the compound of our guesthouse or the EYN headquarters, there were security guards with guns all the time. There were convoys of military soldiers in Humvee-type vehicles with machine guns mounted on top cruising up and down the roads. A very visible presence of the military.

During their trip to Nigeria in April, general secretary Stan Noffsinger and mission executive Jay Wittmeyer visited with Church of the Brethren mission workers Roxane and Carl Hill, and Carol Smith.

Jay: Our movements were highly restricted. Our guesthouse where we stayed was about a quarter mile away [from EYN headquarters] and we could have at times have walked. But they said, “No, you don’t spend a minute on that road.” Because it was on the main road.

Stan: There was a curfew at nine o’clock every night. You weren’t welcome on the street after the curfew.

The other thing that was very real was what has happened to EYN, the local congregations, districts, and the church. As Samuel Dali was going over that report, the pain of all of the loss and unknown was evident in the faces and the eyes of the people. Within that report is a district by district accounting of who isn’t alive, the churches burned, and houses destroyed. That was a pretty somber occasion.

Newsline: It really shifts your idea of priorities, looking at what they’re going through. It’s that image of a body under attack. You pull in your resources.

Jay: That was the analogy I came away with. Like frostbite…. Part of it is you’re only able to focus on the core at the moment.

Stan: That’s true. If you look at trauma of any kind, and this is societal trauma, what do you do? Your peripheral vision deteriorates, and the lens that you use to look at everything changes daily based on the level of your experience. So if you have 200 girls kidnapped and two-thirds of them are Church of the Brethren, the lens for EYN gets shifted. And then you have a time of relative calm, and then there’s a bombing in the capital. And what becomes reality is doing anything and everything you can to help stabilize your experience. So you invest your resources closer and closer to home to stabilize the community.

Photo by Stan Noffsinger
EYN president Samuel Dali (center) leads the Majalisa or annual conference of the Nigerian Brethren, earlier this year.

Newsline: I wonder if you could speak about the work with Muslim leaders who are friendly to the work of peace?

Jay: There are three elements to the work: Toma Ragnjiya is the EYN peace officer, and then there is the work that Rebecca Dali does, and then the work that Markus Gamache is doing and that Basel Mission is supporting in Jos.

Stan: For Rebecca [Dali], the work with the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives or CCEPI isn’t anything new in her involvement with people who have been affected by violence. But it does mean that when there is an incident like the girls being abducted from Chibok, she is involved and working with the families. She is building an incredible database of narrative of acts of violence. She’s been to Cameroon, across the border, across the territory of Boko Haram, and in the refugee camps.

Jay: She’s developing a reputation within the Muslim community as someone that can be trusted to come in and do legitimate relief work. Rebecca is in the midst of people. She often says numbers [of those affected by violence] are underreported. She can list out name by name, person by person, why the numbers are wrong. She really has a grasp of that, and has good people working for her. This is a legitimate NGO that needs to be separate from the church. I don’t think a church agency could get to the places she wants to get to.

Stan: Markus Gamache’s work in Jos is called Lifeline. This is an interfaith group coming together as individuals, to respond to the need in the community. They’re working at internships, apprenticeships.

Jay: They would like to do micro finance. But before they give a loan they would like that recipients first do an internship so that they learn the skills, and then step out and take a loan to buy equipment and start their own business.

Photo courtesy of EYN
The Church of the Brethren sponsored this water project to provide a well at a Muslim school, through the interfaith peace project in Jos. Six students of this same school were killed in a riot in Jos, and the school was burned by Christians, but has since been rebuilt. It continued to be very dangerous for the students to go out for water because the school shares a boundary with a Christian community.

Newsline: One of you had said something about a well that was dug with this group?

Jay: It was a very important aspect of demonstrating this organization’s commitment to interfaith work. Because wells are so hard to drill even in your own community, to go into the Muslim community and [provide a well] is really something. That is really what propelled Markus’ work and allowed him access into Muslim communities. He told stories where his wife said, “Don’t you dare go there because they’ll kill you.” And yet that well has given him access into those communities to do more work. That was a tremendous witness.

Stan: The other piece is, what’s going to happen when the violence subsides? We asked both Rebecca and Samuel, “How is the church preparing to reintegrate the child soldiers?” And how can we assist, how can we walk with the Nigerian churches? There could be thousands of child soldiers that at some point in time are going to be summarily dismissed. What are you going to do with all these kids that have really been messed up?

Newsline: Not to mention the girls who have been used as sex slaves. I hate to even ask this, but is Nigeria at a point where we can say, “When the violence subsides”?

Photo by Roxane Hill
Feetwashing held by EYN. Mission worker Carl Hill (at right) takes part in the outdoor service alongside friends in the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.

Jay: I would be surprised if it’s less than 20 years. I just saw so many similarities with the Communist take over in Nepal. There was a statement by a Boko Haram leader that said, “There are two types of people in the world: those that are for us, and those that are against us.” It reminded me of Pol Pot’s statement that if someone won’t work for the party they have no value, and if the person is killed there is no loss. I just think it’s going to be a long slow struggle with the violence going to another level, and then to another level.

After the bombing in Abuja people were pretty shaken up. They were saying, “How much longer is this going to go on?” Well, you could have a bomb a day for years. We didn’t have any sense of either a government initiative, or any sense of support from [Nigerian president] Goodluck Jonathan.

Stan: Quite to the contrary, there was suspicion that there are those in government who are suspected to be supportive of Boko Haram.

Jay: We didn’t hear anything that sounded like Boko Haram is reaching out for peace settlements. Or that the security forces are winning this at a military level. We didn’t get any sense of anything but that it was going to get worse.

Stan: The lasting impression I left with is just how the Nigerian church is striving to be faithful to their God, and to their belief that Jesus is their redeemer and savior. To live daily with the challenge of security, threats of violence, and some conversation around, “I’d rather be killed than abducted,” is sobering and challenging. In the midst of that uncertainty, I heard our brothers and sisters repeatedly say, “I trust my God to walk with me and to provide for me during this journey of my life, no matter how long it is.”

What would happen to our church in the United States if we became the oppressed and persecuted in this culture? How do we measure up? How does living in safety and wealth taint our understanding of the role of faith in our lives? If I could choose, I would love to have the faith that I see expressed in the Nigerian people.

5) Brethren bits

Photo by Ben BearOlympic View Church of the Brethren in Seattle, Wash., and Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) co-hosted a dinner this past Thursday, May 1. BVS alumni were invited to come and share their stories, during a visit by BVS assistant for recruitment Ben Bear. Shown above: some of the area youth who joined in the meal, along with youth program coordinator Bobbi Dykema. Two BVS alumni–Ryan Richards and Frosty Wilkinson–shared their stories of what they did during their BVS terms. Pastor Ken Rieman, also a former BVSer, was at the event. “We had spaghetti, bread, salad, and cookies for the meal,” reported Bear. “Bobbi’s friend, J. Scott, made a delicious homemade sauce for the pasta. There were about 30 people who attended.” For more about BVS go to .

— Correction: an incorrect link was given for more information about Brethren Housing Association 25th Anniversary events. The correct link is .

— Washington City Church of the Brethren in Washington, D.C., seeks a food ministries coordinator to direct overall operations of the Brethren Nutrition Program, a lunch program for people who are homeless and in need on Capitol Hill. The coordinator will supervise day-to-day functions, and lead communications, public relations, and fundraising; utilize faith and skills of administration, organization, development, and public speaking. Some experience with social work, social justice ministries, or working with marginalized people is required. The position begins July 1 and is a full-time 40-hour stipend position with benefits, including housing at Brethren House, a community house on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. To view the complete position description go to . To apply, apply send a cover letter and a resume to .

— Bethany Theological Seminary has announced new alumni/ae in leadership. Following on an Alumni/ae Association ballot this spring, Brian Flory (MDiv ’99), and Becky Baile Crouse (MDiv ’88), were selected to represent alumni/ae at Bethany as a trustee and on the Alumni/ae Coordinating Council, respectively. Flory has been pastor of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., since 2007 and previously pastored Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. He was a member of the Atlantic Northeast District board from 2001-06, including two years as vice chair of the Nurture Commission, and directed workcamps for Brethren junior high and high school youth from 2001-05. Other church involvement has included serving as an Annual and District Conference delegate and on planning committees for the Supportive Communities Network Pastor’s Retreat and the Progressive Brethren Gathering. Crouse has been a member of the pastoral team at Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren since 2004, and works full-time as a pediatric chaplain at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. She completed a doctor of ministry in children and poverty in 2013 from Saint Paul School of Theology. In 2005-06 she was on the denominational Review and Evaluation Committee, and she has preached at both National Youth Conference and Annual Conference.

Photo courtesy of BVS
BVS Coast to Coast sets off from the Atlantic Coast of Virginia on May 1

— “Wheels in Each Ocean’: Grads Trek Cross-Country” is the title of an article about the BVS Coast to Coast bicycle ride posted by the “Daily News-Record” of Harrisonburg, Va. Reporter Candace Sipos interviewed the two Brethren Volunteer Service workers who began their nation-wide trek on May 1 from the Atlantic coast of Virginia: Chelsea Goss and Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger. “Hopefully, we’ll have our wheels in each ocean,” Goss told the paper. BVS director Dan McFadden commented, “Over the years, people have said, ‘They ought to have a team of volunteers going around to churches … [to] promote BVS,’” so when Goss had the idea for this trip, “We very much jumped on the bandwagon.” Read the full newspaper story at .

— New online resources available at the denominational website include a sample article from the May issue of “Messenger” magazine. “Colors of Peace” by Gabriella Stocksdale, a high school student from Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., took third-place honors in Bethany Theological Seminary’s 2014 Peace Essay Contest. “In an atmosphere where police roam the hallways and violent fights erupt without notice, what–if anything–can one Brethren high school student do to foster peace and understanding?” says a preview of the piece. Find it at .

— Also new at, additional online content from “Basin and Towel,” which is published by Congregational Life Ministries. Sample articles have been posted from an issue on “The Calling Community,” the second in a series focused on congregational vitality. “Calling communities are communities of power,” said the introductory reflection, in part. “Not power over one another, to make someone do what we want, but power with–with God through the work of the Holy Spirit, with one another for the release of gifts and passions, with the world for transformation.” Also posted are documents showing how the Peoria (Ill.) congregation shared sabbath time during the pastor’s sabbatical, and a video interview with Josh Brockway about the new spiritual gifts resource “Vital Passions, Holy Practices: Exploring Spiritual Gifts.” Go to to find these resources and more. Purchase “Vital Passions, Holy Practices” from Brethren Press for $7 per copy plus shipping and handling at or call 800-441-3712 to order.

— With the help of David Sollenberger and many others, the Office of Public Witness has put together a new video about the Going to the Garden initiative that is being implemented in coordination with the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF). “Check out how churches are using their grant money to cultivate gardens and community,” said an announcement. “And make sure to ‘Like’ the new Going to the Garden [Facebook] page for future updates about what congregations are doing and how you can get your congregation involved!” View the video at . Find Going to the Garden on Facebook at .

— A Shine Training Event will be held on Thursday, May 8, from 7- 9 p.m. at 3145 Benham Ave., Elkhart, Ind. Shine is the new curriculum published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia for use in Christian education and Sunday school classes. “Who should attend?” said an invitation from South Central Indiana District. “Anyone interested in learning more about the Shine children’s Sunday school curriculum and how to use it in your congregation. All nearby Church of the Brethren and Mennonite churches are invited.” For more information visit .

— A new issue of “Roundabout Online,” the newsletter for the Gather ’Round curriculum published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is posted at . This issue features a reflection on the “big miracle” in John 21 and the “simple miracle” of sharing food with Jesus, as well as links to a freshly redesigned website for Gather ’Round and to preview materials from successor curriculum Shine, which begins this fall.

— “Tractor Sunday draws 368 farmers to church in E-town” said a Lancaster Online news article about the Sunday, May 4, service at West Green Tree Church of the Brethren in Elizabethtown, Pa. The event in which two other churches participate, Chiques Church of the Brethren whose pastor Nathan Myer was the speaker, and Mount Pleasant Church of the Brethren whose men’s quartet sang, includes a morning service and a lunch for farmers. It is “a thank you to our farmer friends for the job they do and thanking the Lord for the harvest,” organizer Doug Breneman told the reporter. He is a deacon at the church and has organized Tractor Sunday since it started in 2011. Read the article at .

— Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren at Ruckersville, Va., held a special service of blessing for bikers and bikes on Sunday, April 13, according to the Shenandoah District newsletter. “Receiving blessing for safety and traveling mercies were 42 bikes and approximately 60 bikers. Two people came forward during the altar call for healing and laying on of hands. After that, another visitor asked to be saved and accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.”

— The 2014 Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction will get under way at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds the weekend of May 16-17. A bulletin insert about the auction, which benefits Church of the Brethren disaster ministries, is online at . An invitation to the auction golf tournament on May 16 (rain date May 23) in Harrisonburg, Va., is at . “It’s going to be a great weekend,” said the Shenandoah District newsletter.

— The Global Women’s Project has again held its annual Mother’s Day Gratitude Project. The annual event “celebrates not only the important women in our lives but helps women and girls in our Partner Projects throughout the world!” said an announcement. Supporters send in a note with the name and address of women they would like to honor on Mother’s Day, enclosed with a check for the ministry, and the women who are being honored receive a note back from the project noting how women in Partner Projects in places like South Sudan, Rwanda, Nepal, Uganda, and Wabash, Ind., are receiving support. For more information go to .

— The 2014 Brethren Bible Institute sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) will be held July 21-25 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Classes meet from 8:50 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Total cost including room, board, and tuition is $200. Find an application form including a roster of instructors and course offerings at . Application forms also may be requested from Brethren Bible Institute, 155 Denver Road, Denver, Pa. 17517.

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) is encouraging “swift and peaceful” action to restore Nigeria’s missing girls, in a release dated May 6. The abduction has prompted “profound concern” the release said. In his letter to Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit wrote, “This tragic situation is devastating not only to the immediate community, but also to all Nigerians praying and working for peace. It touches the World Council of Churches directly, as many who have lost their daughters are members of our church families in Nigeria,” said Tveit. He said the WCC’s concern is “intensified in the face of increasing global sexual exploitation of girls and women, and the possibility that these abducted students may become victims of just such injustice and violence…. Following the rescue of these children for which we pray, the impact of exploitation may require long-term accompaniment of the young women and their families by the Nigerian government, faith communities and local networks of care and support.” Tveit said the WCC is ready to assist in “mobilizing the inter-religious and international communities to seek effective and peaceful means towards safely restoring these students to their homes, loved ones and communities.” Read full text of the letter at . A list of the WCC member churches in Nigeria is at .

— In more news from the World Council of Churches, an ecumenical delegation has visited South Sudan, where fighting has culminated in a humanitarian crisis. “The senseless war in South Sudan must end now,” said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, in a release. “It is shocking to see how leaders in both parties involved in the conflict have led their own people to such pain and suffering,” Tveit said. “From the stories I was told, it is impossible to comprehend the scale of killings and atrocities taking place.” Tveit stressed the need for leaders on both sides to use the negotiations resuming this week as an opportunity to agree and implement a ceasefire immediately. “This will enable aid groups, including ACT Alliance, to respond effectively to the humanitarian crisis resulting from the violence,” the release said. The high-level delegation was led by WCC Central Committee moderator Agnes Abuom, and included ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna, general secretary of the World YWCA Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, former WCC general secretary and ecumenical special envoy for South Sudan and Sudan Samuel Kobia, who also represented the All Africa Conference of Churches, and WCC program executive for advocacy for Africa, Nigussu Legesse. The group expressed solidarity with local churches, met with the South Sudan vice-president James Wani Igga and UN representative to South Sudan Hilde Frafjord Johnson, and with political detainees from the opposition in Juba, released recently by the South Sudanese government. One goal of the pastoral visit was to encourage the churches in Sudan to keep pressing for an end to the violence. The delegation also brought the message that there are churches around the world who stand in solidarity with them.

— Bread for the World will celebrate its 40th anniversary during a National Gathering on June 9 in Washington, D.C., followed by the organization’s annual Lobby Day June 10. Bread’s mission is to be “a collective voice urging our nation’s decision-makers to end hunger at home and abroad.”

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Ben Bear, Christopher Fitz, Bryan Hanger, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Nathan Hosler, Stan Noffsinger, Howard Royer, Jenny Williams, 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, May 13.

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 .