Newsline for Oct. 14, 2014

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

1) ‘Every single person was just so kind’: BVSers talk about their cross-country bicycle trek
2) Brethren attend 15th Ordinary Synod of the Church of North India

3) ‘Honor God by Honoring Others’ is theme for Junior High Sunday
4) Christian Citizenship Seminar 2015 to focus on immigration
5) Progressive Brethren Gathering to discuss growth of the ‘not religiously affiliated’ population

6) Brethren bits: Job openings with BVS and Camp Placid, New Fairview hosts deacon training, Briery Branch restores a house, “Peace and Mental Health,” Fahrney-Keedy’s Autumn Social, CROP in Bridgewater, blogpost plugs McPherson’s Automotive Restoration Program, and more

Quote of the week:
“Everyone always asks, who’s the craziest person you met? Or, what’s the craziest thing that happened? I think the craziest thing that happened is that everyone we met–every single person–was just so kind.”
— Chelsea Goss, one of the Brethren Volunteer Service workers to take part in “BVS Coast to Coast,” a cross-country bicycle trek this past summer. She and Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger traveled from the coast of Virginia to the coast of Oregon by bicycle, promoting BVS along the way. Read more in the Newsline interview below.

1) ‘Every single person was just so kind’: BVSers talk about their cross-country bicycle trek

Courtesy of BVS
BVS Coast to Coast bicycle trip ends on coast of Oregon. Shown here are the two bicyclers and Brethren Volunteer Service workers Chelsea Goss (left) and Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger (right).

In this Newsline interview, Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) workers Chelsea Goss and Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger talk about their cross country bicycling adventure “BVS Coast to Coast.” They started off May 1 from the Atlantic coast of Virginia, and completed the trek Aug. 18 on the Pacific coast of Oregon. On the way they visited church communities and friends and family to promote BVS, and participated in three Church of the Brethren conferences. Their major learning? The kindness and caring of the people they met:

Newsline: So, did the trip meet your expectations?

Chelsea: It did. I wasn’t a biker before, so I knew it was going to be something that would challenge me. There never was any time that I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but it was challenging. And I thought that I would get to meet people and see beautiful sights, and both of those things happened.

Everyone always asks, who’s the craziest person you met? Or, what’s the craziest thing that happened? I think the craziest thing that happened is that everyone we met–every single person–was just so kind. Everyone was very hospitable and gracious, strangers would offer us places to stay or food or water or ask if we had everything we needed.

Rebekah: The bike across the country happened and in some sense it just seems like it was a dream. It happened in less than four months, and went by so fast. People were so kind and gave us a lot of love. I think it surpassed expectations, and it was a good time.

My dad and I had done some biking together. I biked up to Harrisonburg, Va., from Ohio to begin my freshman year in college, and I did a couple of other trips that weren’t so long. My dad was an avid biker. He passed away two years ago. My dad’s dream was to have our family bike out to the west coast and then down to Bolivia, so I thought this could be the beginning of completing the dream we had together. I still want to go to Bolivia, but this is just the beginning!

Newsline: How many church communities did you visit?

Chelsea: It was like 25-30 Brethren and then like 15-20 Mennonite, and then 15-20 others. That’s just where we stayed overnight. Sometimes we visited people throughout the day too, and family’s not counted in those numbers. And we tried to take a day off a week. Whoever’s house we stayed at, we’d usually sit down and have a meal together and would talk and hear stories. It was more the individual contact and conversations that we had that were more important to us.

Newsline: How did you come up with this idea?

Chelsea: I had the idea after coming back from a Learning Tour with David Radcliff to Burma. The last couple of years I’ve had a lot of opportunity to travel, and I love traveling abroad. I just had this realization that there’s so much of this country that I haven’t seen, and cultures in this country that I don’t know or haven’t met.

In Harrisonburg, Va., I was working for New Community Project, and Rebekah was a nurse and lived in the intentional community. I had given myself two weeks to find someone to bike with. I said to myself, if I can find someone in the next two weeks then I’ll go. But if not, then I’m going to leave this idea behind. And then Rebekah became my roommate and she said to me, “If you need someone for this bike trip I’d be interested.” We didn’t know each other at that point, but I said, “Ok, let’s go!”

Newsline: So it was a step of faith? Did you have apprehensions?

Chelsea: Yeah, I was nervous, of course. You’re always going to take some kind of risk in whatever you do–driving to work is a risk. This was definitely a risk, but it was a thought-out risk.

Newsline: What kind of planning did you do?

Chelsea: I had Google maps and I started pin pointing where I knew people in the country. When Rebekah came on board we started pin pointing her people on this map, and then BVS sites also. And then we connected the dots so we had our whole schedule planned out before we left. I could tell you before we left where I was going to be on August 16, for example. Of course, we left some room for buffer days, just in case we got off track.

Newsline: What was the hardest part of the trip?

Chelsea: I’d say anytime there was wind it was really the hardest. Everyone said we were going the wrong way because we were going against the wind! But I said, when does the hard way have to be the wrong way? Something I knew, but it was emphasized more in the trip, was how being mentally present and aware of what you have in front of you really helps.

Rebekah: Not being able to stay longer with such nice people we met along the way! The bike trip was a challenge in various ways: routing, hard terrain, weather, communication, and just feeling plain tired on some days. But I think we learned from those experiences and moved forward.

Newsline: What learnings do you take away from this?

Chelsea: I took away the importance of just slowing down. Since we were able to slow down and not have a schedule running through our heads all the time, or a list of things to do, there was room for other things to think about. Or not to think about. I often found myself just enjoying the creation around us. You feel all the elements, if there’s rain or wind or sunshine. Some days I would just find myself in prayer, not consciously, it would just automatically happen.

One of what Rebekah called our “pump up songs” was “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing’s gonna be alright.” Jesus says the same thing: “Don’t worry.” I think we worry a lot on a day-to-day basis, and it was neat to see how we were taken care of.

Rebekah: We listened to two songs in particular…“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and “One Day” by Matisyahu. Both songs we used as our time to gear us up to continue biking, and get me motivated  to keep pedaling onward. In “Three Little Birds,” Bob Marley writes that we should not worry–and it was a time of reflection and meditation for me. When listening to “One Day” it encouraged me–the young generation–that we can change the world, and we can work towards a more peaceful world. There is hope.

Another learning experience for me is that communication is really important. Ha, who would of thought! Being with the same person for such a long time shows how human you are.

I also learned more about the Church of the Brethren and the values and beliefs. I am so thankful and honored to be included in the family of the Church of the Brethren and be able to share the trek across the country with Chelsea! The Church of the Brethren has great examples on how to follow the revolutionary way of Jesus through loving your enemies, your neighbors, those in need. Look at Peggy Gish, for example, working with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. I am so thankful for the example folks in the church have challenged me to live!

Newsline: Was there any particular experience on the ride that you are going to remember?

Rebekah: I have been challenged by people we have met on this trip, both in the church and out, that have showed acts of love and mercy towards us and the world. I have found that it is very easy to make generalizations of people groups that we do not know very much about. By biking across the country, I have learned that there are very kind people that are so giving–that’s all we encountered! To have us, two young women, bike across the country seems risky to many, but we found nothing but love and lots of care towards us.

Newsline: What’s next for you?

Chelsea: I’ve actually done my year of BVS, but I’m staying on a couple months to help with fall orientation. I just got my visa for Australia, and my brother Tyler and I are moving there to work with Jarrod McKenna and the First Home Project, as well as being the youth pastors at a church there. At this point, we’re planning on leaving in December and staying for roughly a year.

Rebekah: I’ll be working as a nurse with Seattle Mennonite Church and Seattle University College, in a program that partners to serve the homeless population. I will help them transition from the hospital to a more permanent home, assisting them with their health care needs.

— Find out more about BVS Coast to Coast, read a blog, and see pictures from the experience at .

2) Brethren attend 15th Ordinary Synod of the Church of North India

Photo by Stan Noffsinger

Church of the Brethren leaders general secretary Stan Noffsinger and mission executive Jay Wittmeyer joined the Church of North India (CNI) at its 15th Ordinary Meeting of the Synod. The triennial event was held Oct. 1- 4 at Sherwood College in the hill station community of Nainital, Uttrakhand, and was build around the theme “Come; Let Us Rebuild…” (Nehemiah 2:17).

The meeting was opened with Holy Communion conducted by the moderator of CNI, the Most Rev. Dr. P.P. Marandih, and the inaugural address was given by Rev. Prof. Jerry Pillay, president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. The meeting gathered all officer bearers of CNI, bishops from its 27 dioceses, superannuated bishops, diocesan representatives, presbyters, fraternal delegates, and mission partners.

The assembly worshiped together, and heard reports from all ministries of CNI including a very positive report from the treasurer, Prem Masihi, on the financial conditions of the synod. Many spoke to the need to stand with the oppressed and marginalized of society, to advocate on their behalf for justice in a culture of persecution. CNI also hosted an Overseas Partners Meeting on Sept. 30 at the All Saints’ College, to focus on partnership in mission. In total 27 persons representing 17 partners were in attendance.

The Rt. Rev. P.K. Samantaroy was installed as the 13th moderator of CNI following his election, and will serve the synod for the next three years in this capacity.

Noffsinger and Wittmeyer also traveled to the State of Gujarat to meet Church of the Brethren/Church of North India congregations who now find themselves without any church property to gather for worship following a Supreme Court decision last September that awarded the First District Church of the Brethren contested churches. Brethren met with leaders in Vyara, Ankleshwar, Nausari, and Valsad.

In each area, Noffsinger and Wittmeyer were warmly greeted and highly felicitated, which means in the Indian context to give garlands and some small presents. CNI/COB Brethren also submitted a list of concerns and requests to the Church of the Brethren in hopes that their predicament of worshiping under trees might be addressed in some manner. Brethren also visited several hostel ministries of CNI that bring children from remote areas into larger communities for education and training.

On Oct 5, Noffsinger and Wittmeyer spent the day with the First District Church of the Brethren to celebrate what the FDCOB terms “Victory Day,” the day it won its court case. After a morning service and lunch, the FDCOB held a business meeting for questions and answers and then finished the day with fireworks and dancing.

— This report was submitted by Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.


3) ‘Honor God by Honoring Others’ is theme for Junior High Sunday

Churches of the Brethren are encouraged to celebrate Junior High Sunday on Nov. 2. The theme for the 2014 observance of Junior High Sunday is “Honor God by Honoring Others,” based on Matthew 7:12, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

Resources for this annual special Sunday are available online, designed to aid junior high youth and their adult advisors lead their congregations in worship. Downloadable resources include the theme logo in several different formats, and worship resources written by Church of the Brethren members Marcus Harden, Stephen Hershberger, Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey, Rachel Witkovsky.

Worship resources include calls to worship and benedictions, invitations to give and blessings for the offering, a litany of confession, a scripture jam, a children’s story, and other creative worship elements.

Download resources from .

4) Christian Citizenship Seminar 2015 to focus on immigration

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). This theme scripture will help guide the Christian Citizenship Seminar for 2015 in a study of US immigration.

This seminar for senior high youth and their adult advisors is scheduled for April 18-23, 2015, and will be held in New York City and Washington, D.C. It is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

“Please join us as we delve into topics that will challenge and support growth in our knowledge, compassion, understanding, and faith in learning about such an important and timely issue,” said an announcement.

The brochure for the event notes that “US immigration policy is a complex and polarizing issue, regardless of whether it is discussed in the halls of Congress or the Fellowship Hall…. Participants at the 2015 Christian Citizenship Seminar will strive to understand current government policy, various suggested reforms, and the consequences of both on immigrant communities. We will learn how our faith in Jesus, expressed in our theology and action, can inform and compassionately shape our response to immigration.”

Registration for the seminar opens Dec. 1. Space is limited to 100 people so early registration is advised. Cost is $400. For more information and a downloadable brochure, go to .

5) Progressive Brethren Gathering to discuss growth of the ‘not religiously affiliated’ population

“Spiritual but Not Religious: Living Faith in the World Today” is the theme of the 7th annual Progressive Brethren Gathering on Nov 7-9, hosted by Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa.

“Who are the Progressive Brethren? Progressives are people who are open to new possibilities and directions that God’s spirit may be leading,” explains an announcement of the gathering. “We embrace the gifts of diversity, hospitality, intellectual pursuit, honest engagement, and creative worship.” The event is a joint venture of several organizations including the Open Table Cooperative, the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests, and Womaen’s Caucus.

The event will address current statistics and survey results indicating a growth in the population of the “not religiously affiliated” and those who consider themselves “spiritual” but not “religious.” “Between 1990 and 2010, the number of Americans who claimed to have no religious affiliation more than tripled, from 14 million to 46 million. This makes the so-called nones–individuals who respond to questions about their religious affiliations with ‘none’–the fastest growing ‘religious’ group in the United States,” said the announcement. “So what does this mean for the church? What does this mean for Progressive Brethren?”

The keynote speaker for the gathering is Linda A. Mercadante, professor at Methodist Theological School in Ohio and author of “Beliefs Without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but Not Religious.”

The registration deadline is Oct. 15. Hotel blocks and special rates are available from three local hotels. Members of the Stone Church also are willing to host participants in their homes at no charge. A limited number of scholarships are available for those needing financial assistance to attend. Please contact the Progressive Council at .

For more information and online registration go to .

6) Brethren bits

— The Church of the Brethren seek candidates for the full-time salaried position of coordinator of orientation for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). Major responsibilities include organizing orientation, securing facilities and resource leaders, providing leadership, reviewing volunteer applications, counseling volunteers, facilitating community building, and evaluating orientation upon conclusion. The coordinator also oversees social media connections for BVS including Facebook, Twitter, and the BVS webpage. Additional responsibilities include co-supervision of BVS staff volunteers and providing administrative back up in the absence of the BVS director. This position requires significant travel that can take up to a month at a time. 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; and demonstrated ability to perform administrative and management tasks. Candidate must enjoy working in a team environment and must be flexible with evolving program needs. Training or experience in group building and dynamics, training of groups and individuals, and recruiting and assessment of individuals is required for this position. A bachelor’s degree is required. Application of relevant philosophies learned through course work and seminars is helpful. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. 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 Southeastern District Camping Program has an opening for a permanent Outdoor Ministry Director (OMD) at Camp Placid in Blountville, Tenn. The district seeks someone with a passion for Christian outdoor ministry to children and adults. Camp Placid covers 50-plus acres of land that includes several cabins, a kitchen/dining area, and outdoor swimming pool, two ponds, and other ministry buildings. The person called to this position will be responsible for directing and maintaining a camp that can be used year round, will understand that in the eyes of a child it is the small things that make the biggest difference, will go beyond the call of duty to help make a camper feel welcome. The manager of Camp Placid will be a member of the Outdoor Ministries Association and will hold a critical position for making Camp Placid a success. The Southeastern District and the OMA are dedicated to making our camps more than just your typical summer camp, and are determined to make an everlasting impact on a child’s life. The camp manager will be the ambassador for the camp, its campers, and the district, and will represent the camp at OMA meetings, Camp Board Meetings, and District Conference. A strong sense of communication between the District Camp Board and the manager is key for effective operations. The camp manager will be involved deeply in every camp aspect, from office management/bookkeeping, to all maintenance of the facility, to being the shoulder for a camper to cry on. Camp promotion is an aspect where the manager has the ability to use his/her creativity to show the district and community all we have to offer. This position should be considered with great prayer and discernment. Resumes and letters of intent will be accepted through Oct. 31. To apply send resume and letter of intent to the Southeastern District Office at or to Southeastern District, P.O. Box 8366, Gray, TN  37615.

— New Fairview Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., hosts a Deacon Training on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Kim Witkovsky will lead the training, which is offered by the Deacon Ministry of the Church of the Brethren. Workshops will address the topics, “What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway?” “The Art of Listening,” and “Beyond Casseroles: Offering Support Creatively.” Cost is $15 per person or $25 for a couple. Cost for .45 continuing education credit for ministers is an additional $10. The registration deadline is Nov. 10. Contact Southern Pennsylvania District, P.O. Box 218, New Oxford, PA 17350; 717-624-8636.

— Briery Branch Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va., has partnered with area businesses and individuals to restore the interior of a house that is home to a family with three young children. The family faces medical issues and other challenges, reports the district newsletter. More information is available from the church office, 540-828-7139.

— Shenandoah District Pastors for Peace will sponsor “Peace and Mental Health–A Mental Health First Aid Training Event” on Nov. 21-22 at Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va. “Mental Health First Aid is aimed to help attendees understand the signs and symptoms of a variety of mental health conditions and provide the skills and knowledge to be able to help if present when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis,” said an announcement. The presenter will be Rebekah Brubaker of the Harrisonburg Rockingham Community Services Board. Cost is $40 and includes dinner on Friday and lunch on Saturday. Ordained clergy can earn 0.8 continuing education credit. Overnight accommodations and breakfast at the nearby John Kline Homestead are available for an additional fee. The registration deadline is by noon on Nov. 10. Space is limited to the first 30 registrants. For registration information go to . For questions contact David R. Miller at or 540-578-0241.

— Western Pennsylvania District holds its district conference at Camp Harmony in Hooversville, Pa., on Oct. 18.

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village has issued an invitation to an Autumn Social from 1-4 p.m. on Oct. 24. “Folks attending will have an opportunity to tour available independent-living apartments and cottages. As well, guests can encounter the Fahrney-Keedy lifestyle, in the fall, tour the campus, enjoy autumn-themed refreshments, and learn about plans for growth over the next several years,” said a release from the retirement community located near Boonsboro, Md. During the event, two seminars will be presented with topics related to dealing with a move, on the topics “Selling Your Home in Today’s Market,” and “Stress-Free Moving Solutions.” Two fall discount specials for new contracts are in effect during the event: those paying a new entrance fee in full by Dec. 31 will receive a 20 percent discount, and those paying a new entrance fee in full by Feb. 28, 2015, will receive a 10 percent discount. For more information about the Autumn Social, call 301-671-5038.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College holds a CROP Meal from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 30 in the main dining hall in the Kline Campus Center, when faculty, staff, and members of the community may purchase CROP Meals surrendered by students and enjoy “dinner out,” said a college release. “The meals have been paid for on the student meal plan, and all proceeds go directly to CROP’s hunger relief, education, and development programs in 80 countries around the world,” the release said. Cost of the meal is $7 for adults, and $5 for children 12 and under. The Bridgewater/Dayton area CROP Hunger Walk begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2, at the Bridgewater Community Center. Bridgewater College students will join members of the community in getting sponsors for every kilometer of the 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) or 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) route they walk, with the money going toward stopping hunger. “While the world’s poverty and pain can be overwhelming, the CROP Meal and CROP Hunger Walk are simple yet significant steps anyone can take to make a very real difference in the lives of others,” said college chaplain Robbie Miller.

Courtesy of McPherson College
McPherson College Automotive Restoration Program

— “McPherson College overhauls its four-year Automotive Restoration Program” is the title of a blogpost by Kurt Ernst for Hemmings Daily, a news source on classic cars. The post reviewed the McPherson (Kan.) College four-year degree program in automotive restoration, the only school in the US offering such a degree. “McPherson’s program combines the hands-on approach of shorter programs with the benefit of a comprehensive liberal arts education,” the blog said. “Recognizing that its sole-source advantage may not last forever, and in an effort to maintain its appeal to the next generation of restorers, the college has undertaken an effort to improve and upgrade the Automotive Restoration Program with new hardware and a sharpened focus from its faculty.” The report follows on a first-ever strategic planning meeting that included outside participants such as Paul Russell of European restoration specialist Paul Russell and Company, and Adam Bank of Rad Rides by Troy. Also, “to experience what world-class shops collections do differently, the college sent a team of seven faculty, two students and two advisers…to tour a series of facilities and collections in California…where the team got to experience everything from brass-era cars through contemporary race cars.” Updates planned for this fall, according to the blogpost, include a Pullmax P5 power hammer, “and judging from the school’s Facebook feeds, it’s been all hands on deck this summer in an attempt to get labs and work benches refurbished in time for the fall semester.” McPherson also is “examining the possibility of short-term paid internships, where faculty would be given the opportunity to work for shops, collections, or even museums to gain real-world experience.” Read the blogpost at . For more about McPherson College visit .

— Juniata College has received a $100,000, three-year grant from the Andrew J. Mellon Foundation to assess and redefine its general education curriculum, said a release from the school in Huntingdon, Pa. The grant will “ultimately reshape the college’s liberal arts education model to better reflect the needs and values of students in the 21st century,” the release said. “This grant is important not just because of what it will enable us to do in assessing general education and ensuring the salience and primacy of the liberal arts throughout the curriculum, but because recognition by Mellon–because of its reputation for recognizing excellence in liberal arts education–affirms that Juniata belongs among the top liberal arts colleges nationally,” said Lauren Bowen, provost, in the release. The grant will provide funds to help the college organize and implement an assessment of the courses that comprise general education, and will engage faculty in conversation about the optimal design and content of a contemporary liberal arts education. This focus will strengthen Juniata’s intentional commitment to define the content, skills and courses that every Juniata student must experience to ensure they graduate with a fully rounded education, said the release. Find out more about Juniata at .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deborah Brehm, Stan Dueck, Mary Kay Heatwole, Michael Leiter, Russell and Deborah Payne, Glen Sargent, John Wall, 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 Oct. 21. 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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