Newsline for Nov. 12, 2014

“For I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong; and let your heart take courage” (Psalm 27:13-14).

 Quote of the week:

“Still many people in the bush and unaccounted for….”

— Brethren videographer David Sollenberger, who returns this week from a reporting trip to Nigeria. Along with Carl and Roxane Hill, who have been mission workers and teachers at Kulp Bible College (KBC), and staff liaison Markus Gamache of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), Sollenberger has visited camps of displaced people and observed food distributions that are part of the crisis response effort of EYN, Global Mission and Service, and Brethren Disaster Ministries. In a brief e-mail to the Global Mission and Service Office, he reported there are “still many people in the bush and unaccounted for” since insurgents took the EYN headquarters and nearby city of Mubi in late October. More from his trip to Nigeria will be shared as it becomes available.
Sollenberger took the above photo at an inter-religious relocation site which is welcoming both Christians and Muslims, one of the relocation sites for internally displaced people organized with leadership from EYN staff and funding help from American Brethren.

1) Global Food Crisis-funded project in Nigeria is lost along with EYN headquarters compound

2) WCC general secretary: Dismay over attacks on churches in Nigeria
3) Reflections on the destruction of the Armenian church in Deir Zor

4) LeAnn Harnist resigns as treasurer of the Church of the Brethren

5) Office of Public Witness helps plan conference on drone warfare

6) Brethren Press offers Advent devotional, winter Guide for Biblical Studies, Yearbook on CD

7) Brethren bits: Retirement party honors Rex Miller, BDM interim staffing, jobs with the Church of the Brethren, EYN leader to speak at Young Center, W. Pennsylvania challenged to pray daily for Nigeria, Illinois/Wisconsin returns query, and more.

1) Global Food Crisis-funded project in Nigeria is lost along with EYN headquarters compound

An agriculture project of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) which has received funding from the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF), has been lost in the overtaking of EYN headquarters by Boko Haram insurgents.

The manager of the project reported the loss in an e-mail to Jeffrey S. Boshart, who manages the GFCF for the Church of the Brethren. His e-mail told the story of how he and his family fled from Boko Haram, taking with them Bible college students and children from other families. (See excerpts from his e-mail below. Identifying names and locations have been omitted as a measure of protection for the manager and his family).

In more news from Nigeria, EYN president Samuel Dante Dali was one of the Nigerian Christian leaders who signed a joint statement on the Boko Haram insurgency. As reported by Nigerian news the statement said, in part, “The Christian leaders are worried over the recent takeover of six local governments in Adamawa State namely; Madagali, Michika, Mubi North, Mubi South, and parts of Hong and Maiha Local Governments by the insurgents. We are also worried that the Christians are been systematically eliminated by members of the Boko Haram Islamic extremists. We are forced to believe that the whole attack is a deliberate plan to exterminate Christians living in the affected areas.” Read the report on the statement from the “Premium Times” at .

Agriculture project raised chickens

Photo by Jay Wittmeyer
The manager of the agriculture project poses with supplies, during a happier time at the headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

“Almost defying belief, right up until the EYN headquarters were overrun, and despite ever increasing violence in the area, the staff of EYN’s Rural Development Program (RDP) agriculture division continued to operate a successful poultry project supplying eggs to local vendors who would in turn sell eggs to villages across the region,” reported Boshart.

RDP’s staff provided agricultural services such as the sale of fertilizers and seeds, and training for farmers in the region. The program, officially titled the EYN Integrated Community Based Development Programme (ICBDP) Rural Development Agriculture Department, had received GFCF grants totaling $50,000 in 2012-2014.

“They were known for the quality of their products and filled a niche in the region that in other parts of the world would be filled by either government agencies or private enterprise,” Boshart noted.

The manager of the RDP agricultural work shared in his e-mail how staff continued to return daily to care for the flock until the day of the attack on the EYN headquarters. Now the RDP staff are dispersed and consumed with caring for their own families. Under the current circumstances, the agriculture and community development work of RDP will be superseded by the need to feed and shelter displaced people.

“I know this is just one of many many stories,” Boshart said. “Speaking for the members of the GFCF Review Panel, I wish to extend my prayers and sympathy for the loss of loved ones, farms, personal property, as well as the loss of this service ministry within the life of the EYN church,” Boshart said. “We stand ready to respond to requests for assistance to rebuild and reshape this ministry when the time comes.”

Excerpts from the e-mail report:

Dear Bro. Jeff,

I really thank God almighty for hearing from you this difficult period, it is expected that I should be feeding you with information about our situation at EYN headquarters from time to time, but unfortunately it has became very difficult for me. Since first week of September, precisely since on the 8th we have not been stable in the office because we were also displaced from the headquarters, we can only came in and stay to feed our birds and attend to our clients in not more than one hour time, then we run to hide, we are coming from refugees in nearby villages. We tried by all means…to see that we worked well up to this moment where things became worst on the 28th of Oct…. We narrowly escaped death from gun shots. But never the less, the two projects (poultry egg production and fertilizer) we are working on were very successful, until this time where everything was captured by the insurgents and we lost everything except the amounts we have in our bank account…. I am now in tears as am writing you this message presently. Just as I told you we narrowly escaped gun shots and death, I was even separated from family that day. And it took the grace of God that I found them, I escaped and saved the lives of 36 people…. They are students from KBC and their village was also captured and therefore no place to go, they were forced with tears to follow me and I stayed with them for 13 good days…I could not run and leave them behind…. Yesterday I relocated my family to [another state]; my family size now is presently 10 in number including 3 children who were separated from their parents since September. Besides this entire situation my wife is seven months pregnant and she was now frightened from the gun shots. We are seriously in a difficult situation because we could not take anything to eat, the two vehicles I have were occupied with KBC students’ children. I could not force them to get down from the car but rather I have to escaped with them leaving everything behind. Then how do we feed and how do we survive? The children with me now are crying morning and evening thinking that they are finished. But God is really with us and shows us his mercies…. All my staff as well EYN headquarters staff were scattered everywhere, some are still in the bush with their families. My staff were scattered and have no help, all we have was spent on farms and now we leave the produce behind which are no longer ours…. Jeff, we desperately need your intensive prayers, because we Christians have no land to stay in the north or shall we relocate ourselves to the south? Could Nigerian government recapture back those areas from the terrorists for us to go back and have peace? God shall have mercy on us…. I will get back to you soon as to our next plan in regard to RDP projects. I will keep in touch with you. And looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks and Blessings to you and Bro. Jay [Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service].

Manager, Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria Integrated Community Based Development Programme-Rural Development Agriculture Department

For more about the ministry of the Global Food Crisis Fund go to .

2) WCC general secretary: Dismay over attacks on churches in Nigeria

A release from the World Council of Churches

The recent attacks on the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN)–a World Council of Churches member church–and the Kulp Bible College, among other churches in Nigeria, have prompted an expression of profound dismay from the general secretary of the WCC, Olav Fykse Tveit.

The attacks in the last week of October in Nigeria are linked to the militant group Boko Haram, according to media reports.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit during a visit to the United States, when he was hosted at the Church of the Brethren General Offices.

“We want to offer our support and solidarity to the whole people of Nigeria, and its government,” Tveit said in a statement issued on Nov. 5 from the WCC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

“It is vital that the government take immediate and proactive steps to protect all the people of Nigeria and work strategically to defend them against such attacks, as well as supporting practically those who have recently experienced these atrocities,” said Tveit.

In his statement, the WCC general secretary appreciated efforts by the Christian Council of Nigeria in working with other organizations to provide aid to people fleeing the violence. A large number of the local population fled to the Cameroon border in order to escape the violence.

Tveit also drew attention to the plight of more than 200 school girls who were abducted six months ago and are still held captive. “We believe this to be totally unacceptable. We call upon the government to continue to work for their well-being and speedy release,” he said.

Tveit affirmed a statement from the EYN president Samuel Dante Dali, who said, “We need urgent help from the international community if the global community can have compassion on us…. The future of Nigeria is getting darker and darker day by day, but Nigerian political leadership do not seem to take the suffering of the people very seriously. The government of Nigeria with all its security seems very weak and helpless in handling the crisis.”

Tveit invited Christians and people of good will to hold Nigerian people in prayers.

The full statement from the WCC general secretary:

The WCC has learned with dismay that on October 29 the headquarters of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) and Kulp Bible College, which are located in the village of Kwarhi, as well as churches in the nearby town of Mubi in Borno State, north-east Nigeria, were attacked and seized by elements linked to Boko Haram. In the course of the attack there was substantial loss of life, and many local people have fled. We have heard that several thousands of people have travelled to the Cameroon border, seeking refuge from the violence. They have immediate needs for food, shelter, medication and clothes. Our partner organization, the Christian Council of Nigeria, is working with others to try and respond to this need.

We want to offer our support and solidarity to the whole people of Nigeria, and its government. It is vital that the government take immediate and proactive steps to protect all the people of Nigeria and work strategically to defend them against such attacks, as well as supporting practically those who have recently experienced these atrocities. We continue to draw the world’s attention to the fact that, in spite of some recent news reports, the 200 plus school girls who were abducted six months ago in northern Nigeria are still held captive. We believe this to be totally unacceptable. We call upon the government to continue to work for their well-being and speedy release.

We are aware that the forthcoming elections mean that there are many important issues to be addressed.  But at this time the security of the Nigerian people must continue to have the government’s full attention and highest priority.

I was particularly concerned and moved to read the statement made by Dr Samuel Dante Dali, the President of EYN, and I want to draw it to the attention of our member churches internationally: “We need urgent help from the international community if the global community can have compassion on us… The future of Nigeria is getting darker and darker day by day, but Nigerian political leadership do not seem to take the suffering of the people very seriously. The government of Nigeria with all its security seems very weak and helpless in handling the crisis.”

I invite my fellow Christians throughout the world and all people of good will to hold in prayer the people of Nigeria.

Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary

3) Reflections on the destruction of the Armenian church in Deir Zor

A release from the World Council of Churches

Photo © WCC/Gregg Brekke
A young girl near her family’s tent in a camp for internally displaced persons in Iraq. Her family is among several others driven away from home by the ISIS offensive.

Amid the ongoing offensive by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which recently caused the destruction of the Armenian church and genocide memorial in Deir Zor, Syria–an incident condemned by the World Council of Churches (WCC)–staff members of the council reflect on what such incidents may mean for Christians and other faith communities in the region.

The Armenian church attacked by ISIS on Sept. 21 was built in the late 1980s to house a memorial and a museum containing remains of the victims of the Armenian genocide. The memorial was visited by Armenians each year to commemorate the genocide.

WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit condemned the ISIS attack on the Armenian church in his letter addressed to the heads of Armenian member churches, including Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, Armenian Apostolic Church Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Holy See of Cilicia.

“We understand that the destruction in late September of this church building, museum, and compound took place not only in the year leading to commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide but also on the 23rd anniversary of Armenian independence. With you, we are convinced that perpetrators of this premeditated crime will never succeed in erasing from the minds of Armenians and the world the memory and meaning of the desert of Deir Zor,” Tveit said.

“The attack on the church is a difficult incident due to the awful stories of suffering faced by the Armenians linked to Deir Zor,” says Clare Amos, who works as the WCC’s program executive for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. Amos was referring to thousands of refugees who as part of the Armenian genocide in the early 1900s were taken on forced marches in the Syrian desert towards Deir Zor.

“Not just in the minds of Armenians but in the minds of other Christians too, Deir Zor symbolizes the history of the Armenian genocide. When such an attack happens to a place which has historical and political significance, one cannot avoid thinking how this may deliberately be meant to send a certain signal to the Armenians,” Amos says.

Yet such an incident cannot be seen in isolation from the larger reality of war, says Michel Nseir, WCC’s program executive for special focus on the Middle East. Nseir says the attack on the Armenian church is among several attacks on buildings and monuments in Syria that are of historical and religious significance to people of faiths, including Christians.

Communities and religious extremism

Nseir says churches and Christians in Syria and Iraq have always considered themselves an integral part of the social fabric of their countries. He says Christians have expressed their suffering as part of the suffering of the entire population affected by military violence and religious extremism.

To put an end to religious extremism, Nseir says, a solution must be inclusive and encompassing enough to solve the crisis for Christians, as well as for everyone else. “Peace and justice are desired for all in the Middle East. When this vision is accomplished, Christians as well as other religious groups will be able to live with dignity and freedom in their homelands,” he said.

Nseir says this vision of the Middle Eastern churches has always been affirmed by the WCC. “Churches are calling for peace and justice for all and are working for reconciliation and healing.” He said that “churches are facilitating dialogue, coordinating humanitarian and relief efforts amidst the conflict, and relieving the pain of those suffering and affected by the war.”

As part of the WCC’s efforts to accompany its member churches in the region, WCC staff members visited the Kurdistan region of Iraq in August. The visitors, who brought back testimonies from Christian communities and displaced persons, also highlighted the human rights situation in the region at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Speaking on “signs of hope” in the region, Amos recalls days from the “Arab Spring.” She said it was a period when there was talk about common citizenship in the Middle East for Christians and Muslims. “I think it’s still a vision to hold on to. Yet in such a situation where the sheer survival of Christian presence in Iraq and Syria is a grave concern, we know that the journey to accomplish such a vision is still a long one,” she said.

Nseir notes that several countries in the Middle East have been ruled by totalitarian regimes, military dictatorships or dynastic rulers. “A transformation that brings a positive change will take time,” he says. “My hope lies with young people. When they choose to stay in their countries and work for transformation, the vision for peace and justice becomes possible,” he concluded.

The WCC general secretary’s letter condemning attacks on Holy Martyrs Church of Deir Zor can be found online at .


4) LeAnn Harnist resigns as treasurer of the Church of the Brethren

LeAnn Harnist

LeAnn Harnist has resigned as executive director of Organizational Resources and treasurer of the Church of the Brethren, effective Jan. 16, 2015. She has served on the denominational staff for more than 10 years, since March 2004.

Harnist began her work for the Church of the Brethren in the position of director of Financial Operations and assistant treasurer. From Oct. 2008 through Oct. 2011 she served as executive director of Systems and Services and assistant treasurer before being promoted to her current role.

During her tenure, she has led the departments of Finance, Brethren Historical Library and Archives, Buildings and Grounds, and Information Technology for the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

Her major responsibilities have included property management and development, oversight of numerous funds, and maintenance of the financial stability and sustainability of denominational ministries. She has been a leading staff member in the work to maintain the functionality of facilities at the Brethren Service Center that were vacated when the New Windsor Conference Center closed. In a recent major project, she guided the design, staging, training, and implementation of the denomination’s new Raiser’s Edge database.

Among other additional services she has provided to the church, she has been a member of the Program Feasibility Committee of Annual Conference. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in accounting, finance, and management from McPherson (Kan.) College.


5) Office of Public Witness helps plan conference on drone warfare

The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness is helping to plan an upcoming conference on drone warfare. The event is scheduled for Jan. 23-25 at Princeton (N.J.) Theological Seminary. “We want to reach out to see if any Brethren would be interested in attending and also let Brethren know that the conference is happening to raise awareness about the issue,” reported Bryan Hanger, advocacy assistant at the Office of Public Witness.

“We are hoping to have people start registering right away,” he added.

The conference is held under the auspices of the Coalition for Peace Action. Speakers will include George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary’s Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Systematic Theology; Richard E. Pates, Roman Catholic Bishop of Des Moines, Iowa; Jeremy Waldron, professor at the New York University School of Law; Hassan Abbas, professor and chair of the Department of Regional and Analytical Studies, CISA National Defense University, Washington D.C.; Rob Eshman, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal; Antti Pentikainen, Finn Church Aid’s executive director and chair for the Civil Society Advisory Committee for the United Nations Development Program; Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

The “three tasks” for those attending the conference, according to the website promotion for the event:

“1. Clarify the nature of lethal drones. Policy recommendations will be made by the conference to the US government. Speakers with expertise in military strategy, international law, US law, and national security will make presentations followed by discussion by all participants.

“2. Apply our various traditions to our understanding of drone warfare to more fully understand this issue. People of all faiths are invited to participate.

“3. Recommendations will be developed for how the religious community will address this issue.”

For more information and to register, go to . Download a flyer from . Find a recent “Huffington Post” op-ed piece written by conference organizer Richard Killmer at .

For questions contact Nathan Hosler, director of the Office of Public Witness, at .


6) Brethren Press offers Advent devotional, winter Guide for Biblical Studies, Yearbook on CD

Brethren Press has a number of new resources available including “Awake: Devotions for Advent Through Epiphany,” “Church of the Brethren Yearbook: 2014 Directory, 2013 Statistics” in CD format, and the winter quarter of “A Guide for Biblical Studies” on the theme “Acts of Worship.” Purchase from Brethren Press at or order by calling 800-441-3712.

“Awake: Devotions for Advent Through Epiphany” is written by Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. The Advent devotional is published in a pocket-sized paperback format suitable for individual use and for congregations to supply to their members. The theme “Awake” is inspired by 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 (NIV): “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.” Purchase for $2.75 per copy, or $5.95 for large print.

Coming for Lent 2015: “Searching for the Kingdom of Heaven: Devotions for Ash Wednesday Through Easter” by Craig H. Smith. Order by Dec. 3 to receive the pre-production prices of $2.25 or $5 for large print.

The “Church of the Brethren Yearbook: 2014 Directory, 2013 Statistics” is available in CD format. Included are directories of denominational agencies and staff, districts, congregations, and ministers, and the 2013 statistical report. Cost is $21.50. One per user.

“Acts of Worship” is the theme for the winter quarter of A Guide for Biblical Studies, the Church of the Brethren Bible study curriculum for adult Sunday school classes and small groups. The book includes a weekly Bible study for December 2014 and January and February 2015. Ed Poling is the author of the lessons and study questions, and Frank Ramirez is the author of the “Out of Context” feature. Cost is $4.50 for regular size print, or $7.50 for large print. Purchase one book for each class member.

For more information go to .

7) Brethren bits

On Nov. 7 Manchester University inaugurated Dave McFadden as president “in a spirit of abundance,” said a release from the university in North Manchester, Ind. McFadden is a member of the Church of the Brethren and will serve as the 15th president in the university’s 125-year-history. “Cordier Auditorium was full Friday–an abundant response to a man who has poured his heart and soul into Manchester University for decades, according to Board of Trustees chair D. Randall Brown, who presented the Presidential Medallion to Dave McFadden,” the release said. McFadden spoke about abundance and gratitude. “Going forward, we will be audacious in embracing opportunity,” he said. “We aim to grow our total enrollment by as many as a thousand students by the end of this decade, grounding new programs in our mission and infusing them with our values. Why? Because the world needs more Manchester graduates. We will be a source of hope and optimism, of promise and possibility, of ability and conviction.” Among events at the inauguration, an anthem titled “Only Now” was commissioned by McFadden and composed by Brethren musician and Manchester alumnus Shawn Kirchner, adapting excerpts from the Wendell Berry novel “Hannah Coulter.” McFadden also thanked Jo Young Switzer and Bill Robinson, former Manchester presidents who were honored for their years of service. See .

— Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind., and the Indiana Camp Board are hosting a retirement party to honor Rex Miller. The event takes place at Camp Mack on Saturday, Nov. 22, from 1-4 p.m. “All those who have a love for camp or have known Rex during his lifetime of involvement in outdoor ministries are invited to join us in celebrating this gift of service to the church and the wider community,” said an invitation. There will be a 30-minute program at 1:15 p.m. followed by a reception with cake and ice cream. A table will be set up for people to write or drop off comments, memories, or letters for Miller that will be made into a book. If you are not able to attend, tributes can be mailed to Peggy Miller at P.O. Box 117, Milford, IN 46542-0117 or e-mailed to

— Brethren Disaster Ministries has announced some interim staffing during a time when the program is without a director. Jenn Dorsch has been hired as a temporary part-time program assistant to help out three days a week, starting Oct. 30. She will be the point of contact for the project leaders on rebuilding sites, and also is assisting with communications for the Nigeria Crisis Response, as well as providing other support to the Brethren Disaster Ministries staff.

— The Church of the Brethren is seeking an individual to fill a full-time salaried position of coordinator of Donor Communications. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Major responsibilities are to create and maintain relationships with Church of the Brethren congregations and individuals through various mediums of communication, encouraging donor awareness and involvement in denominational ministries, leading to increased giving and support of the mission and ministries of the church. Required skills and knowledge include knowledge of Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Mission and Ministry Board; high professional level of communication and well-crafted writing; collaborative working style; basic knowledge of financial planning tools and estate laws; proficiency with Blackbaud (Convio), all Microsoft Office programs, Adobe InDesign, Acrobat Pro, and Photoshop, and familiarity with basics of web design and HTML. A bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience is required, with experience in communications, fundraising, public relations, or marketing desired. Applications will be received beginning immediately and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Request the application form 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 two individuals to fill a temporary part-time kitchen assistant position at the Zigler Hospitality Center of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The position works directly with the lead cook. The temporary part-time kitchen assistant assists in preparing food for guests of the Zigler Hospitality Center and works in the dish room following all sanitation and health department rules and regulations as prescribed by the lead cook. Responsibilities include assisting in proper handling of food; preparing and replenishing food for salad bar and desserts; cleaning and set up; snack preparation; operating and cleaning dishwashing machine; sorting, stacking, and putting away dishes; pre-soaking, rinsing, and cleaning silverware, glasses, and dishes; and other assignments. The preferred candidate will have experience assisting in a kitchen environment and must be able to lift a limit of 35 pounds and exercise care in handling sharp equipment and power-operated equipment. Applications will be received and reviewed beginning immediately until the position is filled. Request the application packet and complete job description 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.

— There is a new registration address for the webinar “For We Are Co-Workers in God’s Service: The Relationship between Farm Workers and Gardens” on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Through the Going to the Garden grant initiative of the Office of Public Witness and Global Food Crisis Fund, this webinar will focus on issues surrounding the national farm workers movement to create better work and living standards. The webinar will hear from individuals deeply involved with the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM) and the NFWM’s Youth and Young Adult network: Lindsay Andreolli-Comstock, an ordained Baptist minister and human-trafficking specialist, and executive director of the National Farm Worker Ministry; Nico Gumbs, the Florida state coordinator of the National Farm Worker Ministry’s youth-led program, YAYA; and Daniel McClain, director of Program Operations for Graduate Theological Programs at Loyola University Maryland whose areas of research and publishing include the doctrine of creation. To attend the webinar register at .

— Musa Mambula, a leader in Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), will be speaking on Nov. 20, at 7:30 p.m., at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, in the Bucher Meetinghouse. He also is scheduled to speak on Dec. 30, at 6 p.m., at Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa. The topic will be “Religion and Terror in Northeastern Nigeria: Boko Haram, Christians, and Modern Muslims,” and he will share information about recent attacks by the insurgent group Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria, and the takeover of the headquarters of EYN and Kulp Bible College. Brian Newsome, professor of history at Elizabethtown College, will respond. For more information call 717-361-1470 or visit .

— Western Pennsylvania District has received a challenge to continue praying for Nigeria, in a letter from district executive minister Ronald Beachley. “I would challenge congregations to invite members to join other brothers and sisters in a four (4) time daily prayer commitment,” he wrote, in part. “I would suggest taking two or three minutes each designated time to lift up our sisters and brothers facing persecution in Nigeria, pray God’s presence will surround and protect, pray their faith will remain strong, and pray for those who are persecuting them. The four designated times would be 8 a.m.; 12 noon; 4 p.m.; and 8 p.m. I believe if we join together with at least 2,000 individuals joining this effort from our district, our sisters and brothers in Nigeria will feel the power of the Holy Spirit surrounding, encouraging, and strengthening their faith during this time of persecution.”

— The Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference has returned a query asking, “How should districts respond to congregations and pastors who perform same-sex marriages?” The district conference on Nov. 8 returned the query to the originating congregation with thanks and an invitation to continue discussion. That action means the query will not be passed on to Annual Conference. The query was brought by Neighborhood Church of the Brethren in Montgomery, Ill., responding to a decision by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., to perform same-sex weddings. The Highland Avenue church had informed the district about its process of discernment, and also posted that information publicly on its website. A law legalizing same-sex marriage in the State of Illinois took effect on June 1 and a wedding was performed at the Highland Avenue church in early October.

— The Christmas Boutique at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren on Nov. 14, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., will raise funds to benefit Blessings in a Backpack, a local charity that provides food on the weekends for low-income children who otherwise might not be fed. Shoppers and vendors are invited, said the church newsletter. Items available for sale will include jewelry, home décor, accessories, fair trade items, beauty products, books, and more. The evening also will include music, door prizes, free desserts, and hot drinks. Vendor spaces are still available. Contact .

— Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., is hosting a presentation by Bernard Alter titled “US and Pakistan: Friends or Foes?” sponsored by the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace. The event is planned for Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. Said an announcement: “Bernard Alter served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in India from 1967-1969. His 31-year career with the State Department included posts in Pakistan, India, Thailand, Canada, Hong Kong, and Korea. He speaks Hindi, Urdu, and Thai. He has worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and served as Consul General in Islamabad, Seoul, and Chennai. In Washington, he was Bangladesh desk officer in the Near East/South Asia Bureau, and State Department legislative liaison officer, working with Congress on refugees, human rights, and immigration.” Alter and his wife, Pat, have written a book titled “Gather the Fruit One by One: Peace Corps at 50.”

— The November edition of “Brethren Voices” public television program from Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren features the Meat Canning Project of Southern Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Districts. “For the past 37 years the two districts have co-sponsored a Meat Canning Project as a way to serve those in need,” said a note from producer Ed Groff. “The goal of this year’s project was the canning of 45,000 pounds of chicken, in four days. The canned chicken was then distributed to local food banks as well as a special outreach program in Honduras. This effort like many of the Church of the Brethren projects requires many dedicated volunteers and some solid financial support.” Brethren Voice interviews coordinator Rick Shaffer and others who assist in the effort of canning 22 tons of chicken. The November program also features Lee Byrd, a resident of Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community, who tells the story of the integration of Maryville College in Tennessee. Find more Brethren Voices programs at . To subscribe contact .

— Stover Memorial Church of the Brethren in Des Moines, Iowa, will host the Iowa Peace Network annual Open House on Nov. 23 at 2:30 p.m. “Please join us for an afternoon of fellowship and refreshments with IPN board member Darrell Mitchell, who has just published his memoirs and will have copies of his book,” said an invitation. Mitchell will speak on “How I Became a Peace Worker.” He is a United Methodist minister and advocate for Palestinian and human rights. Network vice chair Patty Wengert of Des Moines Valley Friends will speak about STARPAC and the work of studying the costs of war. Tim Button-Harrison, district executive minister of Northern Plains District, will provide music. Northern Plains District of the Church of the Brethrenis one of the founding groups of the Iowa Peace Network along with the Quakers, Mennonites, and Methodists. The network offices are in the Stover Memorial Church and currently Myrna Frantz and her son Jon Overton, members of Ivester Church of the Brethren, are fulfilling staff responsibilities for the network, reported the district newsletter.

— Virlina District is preparing for its 2014 District Conference on Nov. 14-15 in Roanoke, Va. Preachers are Jeffrey W. Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary, and David A. Steele, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, according to the district newsletter. The theme of the event is “Taste and See that the Lord Is Good.”

— The New Church Development commission of Southern Ohio District is offering a Small Groups Discipleship Workshop on Nov. 22, at the Eaton Church, Barron Street location. “We invite you to come explore how a Small Group Ministry can benefit your congregation,” said an announcement. A fee of $15 per person includes lunch. Pre-register at and find more information at .

— Shepherd’s Spring, a camp and outdoor ministry center in Sharpsburg, Md., is offering something unique to mark a once-in-a-lifetime date: 10 special holiday activities beginning at 11 a.m. on 12-13-14 (Dec. 13, 2014). “Join us for 10 hours of fun for all ages,” said an invitation. “Join us for the entire day, or choose your time and activities.” As part of the event, participants may travel to Fahrney Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community, to see the Christmas wreath display and carol in the halls. “Your smiles will make the day complete!” said the announcement. Other activities include making your own pizza, building a gingerbread house, creating bird treats and tree ornaments, decorating cookies, a dinner, an evening campfire and s’mores, and a Christmas light tour. Cost is $40 per person for the full day, or $75 for a family all-inclusive package, or participants may pay a separate fee for each activity. Reservations are due by Dec. 6.

— Nov. 22 is the date for the Lighting of the Woods at Camp Eder in Fairfield, Pa. The event takes place from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and marks the official hanging of lights and decorating of the camp for the upcoming Christmas Tree Festival (Dec. 12-14). Breakfast and lunch will be provided. RSVP to or 717-642-8256.

— The John M. Reed Home, a retirement community in Southeastern District, has received a 5 Star rating from Medicare, according to a note from the district. “Congratulations to the staff, employees, and the board,” said the e-mail note from the district office.

Photo courtesy of Fahrney-Keedy
Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village chaplain Twyla Rowe (left) and board member Ellen Catlett (right) admire some of the entries that have arrived for the Festival of Wreaths on Dec. 13.

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village holds a Festival of Wreaths and a Luminaria Remembrance Display on Saturday, Dec. 13, from 3-7 p.m. The Church of the Brethren retirement community is located near Boonsboro, Md. Entertainment through the day will include holiday music, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and refreshments. The wreath event and a bake sale is from 3-5:30 p.m. Silent auction bidding on nearly 50 donated wreaths begins in mid-November and will conclude at the festival, and winners will be announced after 5 p.m. Proceeds from wreaths and the bake sale will support Pastoral Care Ministries, said a release. Potential buyers are encouraged to visit Fahrney-Keedy often during the four weeks the wreaths will be on display, and check the status of their bids, which are accepted in $5 increments. Twyla Rowe, chaplain, is committee chair for the event. Also at 5 p.m. on Dec. 13 is the lighting of the third annual luminaria display by the home’s auxiliary. The display is on walks and curbsides around the campus through 7 p.m. Donations of $5 are received for candles to be lit in honor or memory of friends or family members, and proceeds support the services the auxiliary provides to Fahrney-Keedy. Luminaria order forms are in the News and Announcements section of .

— Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa., holds its Christmas Bazaar on Nov. 29 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Nicarry Meetinghouse. “What better way to shop and what better place to find the perfect holiday gift?” said an announcement. Nearly two dozen vendors are expected, offering holiday-themed items like Christmas ornaments, Santas and snowmen, as well as jewelry, woodcrafts, ceramics, fiber art, and more. Many of the crafters are Cross Keys Village residents. The Bee Hive Gift Shop also will have items for sale. For more information, call 717-624-5203 or 717-624-5533.

— Robert C. Johansen, a Church of the Brethren member and 2014 Peace Fellow and professor emeritus of political science and peace studies at Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies in Notre Dame, is visiting Elizabethtown (Pa.) College for two events this week. Johansen specializes in issues of international ethics and global governance, the United Nations, and the maintenance of peace and security, and peace and world order studies. The events are sponsored by the Elizabethtown College Alumni Peace Fellowship and Peace and Conflict Studies.

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has been awarded a $500,000 Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority grant to install a two-megawatt ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system and create opportunities for students and faculty members to study various aspects of solar energy. “There were 184 PEDA projects submitted to the governor’s office, totaling more than $81 million. Only 28 were awarded grants to local governments, schools, and businesses for alternative and clean energy projects, along with projects deploying technologies such as solar energy, hydropower, biomass, and energy efficiency. Elizabethtown is the only one in Lancaster County,” said a release from the college. The solar array is planned for installation on 33.2 acres owned by the college in Mount Joy Township.

— Noted religion author Cathleen Falsani was the keynote speaker for Manchester University’s 2014 Focus on Faith Week convocation on Oct. 30. She is a former religion columnist for the “Chicago Sun-Times” and the “Orange County Register.” Using the theme “The Dude Abides,” a reference to the movie “The Big Lebowski,” Falsani looked at messages of faith and spirituality woven through a variety of films, reported a release. “Films tell stories of who we are,” Falsani said, “and part of that is how we relate to whatever it is that’s bigger than us, the ‘More.’” She said she often finds the most powerful portrayals of that in films that aren’t necessarily labeled as “religious” films, but instead in ones that advance those themes more subtly. The event was sponsored by the Campus Interfaith Board and the Campus Ministry/Religious Life office.

— The John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., is offering historical dinners looking back at the anguish of the Kline family after Civil War-era Brethren elder John Kline was killed for his work crossing the battle lines between North and South. “The Shenandoah Valley strains under the fourth year of the Civil War,” said an announcement. “Experience the anguish of John Kline’s family since his death last spring. Listen to conversations of actors as they come around the table while you enjoy a home-style meal.” Dinner dates that are still available are Dec. 19 and 20 at 6 p.m. The homestead, which dates to 1822, is at 223 East Springbrook Road, Broadway, Va. Cost is $40 per plate. Groups are welcome, but seating is limited to 32. Contacat 540-421-5267 or for reservations. All proceeds support the John Kline Homestead.

— The Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at Christian Theological Seminary provide funds to congregations to support renewal leaves for their pastors. Congregations may apply for grants of up to $50,000 to underwrite a renewal program for a pastor and family, with up to $15,000 of those funds available to the congregation to help cover costs for ministerial supply while the pastor is away. There is no cost to apply. The grants represent the endowment’s continued investment in renewing the health and vitality of American Christian congregations, said a release. For more information go to .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeffrey S. Boshart, Deborah Brehm, Frank Buhrman, Jane Collins, Katie Furrow, Ed Groff, Bryan Hanger, Elizabeth Harvey, Glen Sargent, Callie Smith, Beth Sollenberger, David Sollenberger, Walt Wiltschek, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next issue of Newsline is scheduled for Nov. 18. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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