Newsline for Oct. 22, 2014

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18a, KJV).

1) Mission and Ministry Board approves up to $1.5 million for expanded crisis response in Nigeria, authorizes marketing of Brethren Service Center property
2) ‘Once and Future Mission’ event identifies Anabaptism as resource for post-Christian culture
3) Brethren pastors attend first Latino leaders meeting of Christian Churches Together
4) Global Food Crisis Fund support agriculture in Haiti, Burundi
5) Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 307 begins service

6) Mandy Garcia resigns from Church of the Brethren donor communications

7) Webinar offers faith perspective on Pentagon spending
8) Academic symposium on the book of Job features leading Brethren scholars

9) Brethren bits: Remembrance for Irven Stern, personnel, Shine needs writers, On Earth Peace starting anti-racism team, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, change in webinar series, more

1) Mission and Ministry Board approves up to $1.5 million for expanded crisis response in Nigeria, authorizes marketing of Brethren Service Center property

At its fall meeting the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board took a number of significant actions, including approval of up to $1.5 million in funding for a greatly expanded response to the crisis affecting Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria); authorizing marketing of the Brethren Service Center property in New Windsor, Md.; and approval of a budget for denominational ministries in 2015.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
A green card is raised at the Mission and Ministry Board, signifying agreement with a proposal, in the consensus mode of decision making.

The board also continued board development and training in good governance, led by consultant Rick Stiffney; continued review of the organization’s strategic plan and related budgeting considerations; discussed congregational giving; received a recommendation from the Mission Advisory Committee and began a wider conversation on mission philosophy that is to continue at the next meeting; named a new chair elect; received reports; wrapped up a scheduled performance review for general secretary Stan Noffsinger; celebrated a 15-year service award for Noffsinger’s work for the denomination; and participated in the dedication of the donation of the personal papers of Warren Groff and Dale Brown to the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

Chair Becky Ball-Miller led the meeting, which took place Oct. 17-20 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Guests included a class from Bethany Seminary, who led the board’s Sunday morning worship service.

Brethren Service Center property

The Mission and Ministry Board authorized officers to market the Brethren Service Center property in New Windsor, Md. A real estate marketing effort and sale of property are expected to take time, perhaps years to accomplish.

The decision does not reflect on the future of Brethren Disaster Ministries, which currently is based in New Windsor. Board leaders and officers have stated that the decision is solely about property, and not about program.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayfod
Board chair Becky Ball-Miller (at center) joins in small group “table talk” at the fall meeting

The decision at this meeting came after the board read through and discussed feedback from “table talk” at Annual Conference about the Brethren Service Center. The table talk was intended both to help church members better understand the difficult financial situation at the center, where some facilities remain unfilled after the New Windsor Conference Center closed, and maintenance costs are mounting, and to solicit feedback about what Brethren understand as the center’s core purposes and how those may be continued through other means at other locations.

In June 2013 the board made a decision authorizing officers to pursue all options for the property, up to and including receiving letters of intent from potential buyers. In 2011 the board had decided to cease operation of the New Windsor Conference Center, after it was badly affected by the economic downturn of 2008 and had accumulated a negative asset balance exceeding $660,000. Previous consideration of the center’s viability dates to 2007 and prior years.

A communication about the decision was sent by the General Secretary to staff and partner organizations at the Brethren Service Center after the close of the meeting on Monday afternoon. Noffsinger will be traveling to New Windsor next week to be with staff there and to meet in person with the executive leadership of partner organizations on campus: IMA World Health, SERRV, Mid-Atlantic District. Also, On Earth Peace maintains an office at the center.

Expanded crisis response in Nigeria

In response to a staff presentation of planning for expanded crisis response in Nigeria, the board committed up to $1.5 million to begin funding the effort. An allocation of $500,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) was approved. The board also decided to commit $500,000 from reserves, and to commit another amount of up to $500,000 from reserves as a matching challenge to donors.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Jay Wittmeyer of Global Mission and Service and Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries make a presentation for expanded crisis response in Nigeria

The staff presentation by Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer and associate executive Roy Winter, who heads up Brethren Disaster Ministries, gave background and an update on the Nigeria crisis of insurgent violence by the extremist group Boko Haram, and the fact that EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, is the Christian denomination most affected in the northeast of Nigeria. EYN has been devastated by the violence, and has very few other international or ecumenical partners to extend aid.

The presentation gave current figures provided by EYN president Samuel Dali, that the Nigerian denomination has lost 18 of its 50 districts, because they are in areas either totally under control of the insurgents or under attack or suffering extreme violence, and a total of 37 districts are heavily impacted. The leadership of the church has been greatly disrupted, with the evacuation of the EYN headquarters, the closing of Kulp Bible College, and the loss of so many districts leaving some 280 pastors and evangelists displaced.

This level of damage will have a significant impact on the future of EYN as a denomination, the staff reported. Wittmeyer, showing a picture of the 2014 Majalisa or Annual Conference of EYN which he and Noffsinger attended, said bluntly, “There will not be a Majalisa like this again anytime soon.”

The board also heard reporting of expenditures for the Nigeria crisis to date from the EYN Compassion Fund and the EDF, which since 2013 have provided grants totaling more than $140,000 and $120,000 respectively. There remains about $100,000 in the EYN Compassion Fund at this time, the board learned.

The denomination will continue to honor the intentions of the gifts received to the EYN Compassion Fund, but donors are encouraged to support the next phase of the relief effort by directing their gifts to a new Nigeria Crisis Fund within the Emergency Disaster Fund.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Bethany Seminary students lead Sunday morning worship for the board

The plan for the expanded response in Nigeria is expected to encompass, over its first year:
— the building of 300 family shelters, at a total cost of $1,200,000
— providing emergency food rations for 10,000 families, $900,000
— funding the salaries of 15 Nigerian staff, $63,000
— supporting the EYN Peace Building program, $120,000
— hiring of additional staff in the United States, $75,000
— sending 3 American Brethren volunteers to work in Nigeria, $14,400
— transportation expenses, $37,500
— other miscellaneous expenses, $150,000

The total cost for the expanded program over its first year is expected to come to $2,559,900.

A video in which the Global Mission and Brethren Disaster Ministries executives explain the new program along with their PowerPoint presentation is online at .

Budget for 2015

A 2015 budget with a grant total of $8,622,730 income, $8,639,520 expense, was approved for all Church of the Brethren ministries, representing an expected net expense of $16,790. This budget includes the denomination’s Core Ministries budget along with budgets for the self funded ministries Brethren Press, Messenger, Brethren Disaster Ministries, Global Food Crisis, Material Resources, and the Conference Office.

A balanced budget of $4,893,000 was approved for Core Ministries, which include foundational ministries of the Church of the Brethren such as the General Secretary’s Office, Congregational Life and age-related programs like National Youth Conference and NOAC, Global Mission and Service, Brethren Volunteer Service, the Ministry Office, the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, the Finance Office, communications, and more.

photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Hymn singing and prayer and moments of worship are part of the board meeting, along with business

The task of meeting the budget parameter for 2015 was “not a walk in the park,” said treasurer LeAnn Harnist, who reported it required cutting planned expenditures from some ministry areas in light of an expected budget shortfall for 2014.

The financial concerns she shared with the board included a continuing decrease in congregational giving, lower levels of individual giving to the denomination as compared to last year at this time, and a looming net loss for Core Ministries if giving trends do not improve by year’s end. However, giving is up to endowments such as the Brethren Medical Endowment and the Global Food Crisis Fund.

The 2015 budget also includes a 1.5 percent cost of living increase for employees, an estimated 12 percent increase in the expense of medical insurance premiums, and continuation of employer contributions to Health Savings Accounts that are part of the high deductible health insurance plan offered to employees. Some premium reserves left over from a previous health insurance plan are being used to help offset these additional costs.

The board discussed congregational giving and the self allocation process currently in use in the denomination, as well as the quarterly offerings, and other fundraising work. That conversation is slated to continue at a future meeting.

In other business

— The Mission Advisory Committee proposal, presented by board member Becky Rhodes who serves as liaison to the committee, is that “a conversation be initiated by the office of Global Mission and Service with the endorsement of the Mission and Ministry Board and Annual Conference with recognized Church of the Brethren bodies from around the world i.e. Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Spain, and the United States.” That proposal dove-tailed with changes the board approved in the organization’s strategic plan, calling for recognition of the Church of the Brethren as a world communion, and calling for staff to work to establish a global Church of the Brethren council with representation from all the national Church of the Brethren bodies.

— As part of continued review of the strategic plan, a proposal for special budgeting consideration was brought and approval was given to request staff to bring creative proposals for use of up to $250,000 per year for five years to expand ministry in the areas of congregational vitality and church planting. The proposals are to come to the board’s March 2015 meeting. The extra-budgetary funding will not be allocated until a proposal is approved by the board.

— Connie Burk Davis was named chair elect, starting after the meeting of the board in advance of the 2015 Annual Conference. At that time the term of chair Becky Ball-Miller will end and chair elect Don Fitzkee will become chair. In addition, the board extended the term of Patrick Starkey by one year, in order to balance numbers of board members to facilitate a process in which three new board members are named each year.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Warren Groff

— As part of its work on good governance, the board charged the Executive Committee with planning a process to determine leadership needs in the office of General Secretary for the next season in the life of the denomination. The current contract is in place through July 2016, and General Secretary and board are in a mutual process of discernment.

— The board participated in a dedication of the personal papers that Warren F. Groff and Dale Brown are donating to the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. Groff, accompanied by his son David Groff, was present for the event. He served on the faculties of Bridgewater (Va.) College and Bethany Theological Seminary, where he was dean from 1962-75 and president from 1975-89, and also is a former Annual Conference moderator serving in 1979. Brown was represented by his daughter Deanna Brown. He served on the faculties of McPherson (Kan.) College and Bethany Seminary, and was Annual Conference moderator in 1972, as well as a denominational leader in the areas of peacemaking and social concern. Both men are important authors in the area of Brethren beliefs and theology.

The Mission and Ministry Board’s next meeting will be hosted by Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on March 14-16, 2015.

2) ‘Once and Future Mission’ event identifies Anabaptism as resource for post-Christian culture

By Joshua Brockway

On Sept. 19-20, a group of 400 people gathered in Carlisle, Pa., to ask the question: What does following Jesus look like in North America as it is increasingly clear that we now live in a post-Christian culture? The gathering “Church and Post-Christian Culture: Christian Witness in the Way of Jesus” was one in a series on the over-arching topic, “Once and Future Mission,” hosted by Missio Alliance. Co-sponsors included the Church of the Brethren.

Speakers and attendees clearly understood the Anabaptist tradition as one way of answering that question. As the description of the conference stated so plainly, “Anabaptism is increasingly turned to as a primary resource for the shaping of a missional imagination of the life and witness of the church in North America and beyond.”

The conference was framed by three key statements: “A Fresh Encounter with Jesus,” “A Radical Approach to Community,” “A Subversive Journey in Mission.” Speakers in the main session included leaders within historic Anabaptist traditions, and noted evangelical pastors and theologians who have come to see Anabaptism as the faithful alternative to North American evangelicalism. Church of the Brethren pastors Samuel Sarpiya and Dennis Webb took the stage with Greg Boyd, Brian Zahnd, and Bruxy Cavey to explore how Anabaptism and evangelicalism are finding common ground within the new post-Christian realities. Mennonite pastor Meghan Good and Brethren in Christ pastor Kurt Willems shared how being raised in Anabaptist traditions was at first something they wrestled with, but they have returned to Anabaptism with clear eyes, acknowledging both the cultural hurdles and the richness within the tradition.

Jonathan Shively, executive director for Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries, noted a key reason for the Church of the Brethren to take part in the conference: “It was important to have the Brethren at the table for this conversation about our tradition so that we could offer a Brethren vision of Anabaptism.” As a sponsor of the conference, the Church of the Brethren was able to share the perspectives of leaders who have come from evangelical backgrounds and have found a new home among the Brethren. Congregational Life Ministries also was provided space in breakout sessions to offer information about its work on congregational vitality to the wider Anabaptist and evangelical audience.

“The conference also provided a setting for the historic Anabaptist denominations to talk together about our shared tradition in today’s religious landscape, an especially welcome opportunity for those of us in similar leadership positions,” Shively said. With the Brethren in Christ, Mennonite Church USA, and the Church of the Brethren as sponsors, a number of denominational and congregational leaders met on Sept. 18 to share their struggles and opportunities in ministry. Key themes emerged in those conversations that both encouraged further conversation and affirmed that all are asking similar questions of our organizations and the wider culture.

Several presenters noted in the plenary sessions that gathering with these historic and emerging Anabaptists served as a reminder that “we are not in this alone.” Pastor and writer Greg Boyd even went so far as to say that we are on the verge of a new reformation. One Brethren pastor, Shayne Petty, echoed Boyd, saying, “It was life-giving to be with people who, in spite of our diversity and nuances, ‘get me’ and ‘speak my language.’ As a Charismatic Anabaptist, I felt, and still feel, the Spirit moving powerfully toward revival.”

“there is an energy and a zeal in these conversations as evangelicals discover for the first time some of the passion we, who have grown up with the peace of Jesus, tend to lose,” noted Laura Stone, another Church of the Brethren attendee.

— Joshua Brockway is director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren, on the staff of Congregational Life Ministries. He is one of the participants who have offered substantive reflection on the event in blogposts. Find his reflections on the Church of the Brethren blog at . Emmett Eldred, an intern supported by On Earth Peace and the Church of the Brethren, also has shared reflections at .

3) Brethren pastors attend first Latino leaders meeting of Christian Churches Together

By Daniel D’Oleo

Photo courtesy of Daniel D’Oleo
Church of the Brethren pastors attend first Latino leaders meeting of Christian Churches Together

Please see this report as gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the first Latino meeting organized by Christian Churches Together on Oct. 14-16. I felt humbly privileged by the opportunity to spend time with the directors of Latino Ministry of several denominations, among them: Catholics Pentecostals, American Reformed, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Presbyterian, American Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and of course the Church of the Brethren.

The Church of the Brethren was represented by pastors Joel Peña, Richard and Becky Zapata, and Daniel D’Oleo.

The executive directors for Bread for the World, Christian Churches Together, and the Virginia Chapter director for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference attended.

Some of the purpose of this meeting involved: developing relationship with other Latino/Latina leaders, praying together, celebrating unity in Christ, and coordinating common actions in support of the Latino community.

Our first gathering was held at the offices of the Evangelical Covenant Church and part of the agenda included time for sharing personal background and ministerial/leadership responsibilities in the context of our faith tradition. We also spent time in identifying aspects that we share in common as well as differences in small groups. At dinner time we went to a local restaurant where we had more time for informal sharing, story telling, and jokes.

In the second gathering we spent time praying for different personal, family, and ministry concerns. We also spent some time discussing the immigrant reality in this country as well as the immigrant unaccompanied minors, which has become a national emergency. We talked about what our pastoral response should be and if there were any alternatives to help aleviate the problems. Several ideas and possible resources now in place by the different denominations represented were mentioned and offered.

At the end, the question if this group should continue meeting was raised and the absolute response was a “yes.” A committee of nine people was formed, with Carlos Malave, executive director of Christian Churches Together, as the chair.

The Church of the Brethren participants also met with:
— Gimbiya Kettering, Intercultural Ministry coordinator–conversation in regard to immigration issues, the Latino community, and the future of reaching the Latino community
— Chris Douglas, Annual Conference director–conversation about more Latino representation at Annual Conference
— Becky Ullom Naugle, director for Youth and Young Adult ministry–idea of promoting the Christian Citizenship Seminar among Spanish speaking congregations
— Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries–conversations in regard to Hispanic ministry, immigration issues, and cross-cultural participation.

I would like to thank Renacer Hispanic Ministry, Gimbiya Kettering, Congregational Life Ministries, and Brethren World Mission for the opportunity given to network and become part of all these conversations. Please continue praying for Renacer Hispanic Ministry and our relationship with the denomination in general. Gracias.

— Daniel D’Oleo is a leader in the Renacer Hispanic Ministry in the Church of the Brethren and pastors Iglesia Cristiana Renacer in Roanoke, Va.

4) Global Food Crisis Fund supports agriculture in Haiti, Burundi

Recent grants to support agriculture in Haiti and Burundi from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) total $40,000.


An allocation of $36,000 continues GFCF support for the agriculture work of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). Previous grants to this project include $50,000 given in 2012, and $50,000 given in January of this year.

This grant will provide funds for 19 mini-projects ranging from animal raising and crop production projects for rural communities, to value-added food projects such as fruit drinks and peanut butter sales for urban communities.

This past year the agriculture agents, along with staff from the Haiti Medical Project, received a series of training seminars on the formation of integrated community health committees, reports GFCF manager Jeff Boshart. “The agriculture program and the health program are hoping to work collaboratively going forward, more closely aligning the goals of the two programs and staff.” Boshart said in the grant request. “This new budget reflects a shift in emphasis away from agricultural inputs toward greater training and group formation activities.”


An allocation of $4,000 has been given for purchase of a cassava mill for a women’s group in Bujumbara, Burundi. The recipient of the grant is Ramirizadukore, a group of 22 women who are working with Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS) in Burundi. This request comes to the GFCF via John Braun, executive director of THARS International and member of the Brethren and Baptist congregation in Wenatchee, Wash. Funds will be used to purchase a grinding machine for cassava flour, including accessories, transport, and installation.

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

5) Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 307 begins service

Photo courtesy of BVS
The volunteers in BVS Unit 307: (first row, from left) Felix Pfeiffer, Immanuel Fuchs, Janet Stann, Kristen Hoffman, Katie Furrow; (second row) Ron Gruici, Severin Baumann, Andrea Keller, Taylor Kaase, Hannah Cherry, Jesse Winter; (third row) Denise DeGeorge, Carmen Shuman, Laura Whitman, Hannah Shultz, Aidan Ottoni-Wilhelm, Victoria Ebert.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 307 has completed its orientation and the volunteers have been placed at their projects. This Fall unit held orientation on Sept. 28-Oct. 17 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The volunteers, their home congregations or hometowns, and project placements follow:

Severin Baumann of Rottweil-Goellsdorf, Germany, and Immanuel Fuchs of Hamburg, Germany, to Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md.

Hannah Cherry of Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and Victoria Ebert of Berlin, Germany, to Abode Services in Fremont, Calif.

Katie Furrow of Monte Vista Church of the Brethren in Callaway, Va., to the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C.

Denise DeGeorge of Lemont, Pa., and Ron Gruici of Lemont, Pa., to the San Diego (Calif.) Friends Center.

Kristen Hoffman of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren to the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministries in Elgin, Ill.

Taylor Kaase of Williamson Road Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., to Cross Keys Village in New Oxford, Pa.

Andrea Keller of Troy (Ohio) Church of the Brethren to the Rural and Migrant Ministry in Liberty, N.Y.

Aidan Ottoni-Wilhelm of Richmond (Ind.) Church of the Brethren to the Palms Retirement Community in Sebring, Fla.

Felix Pfeiffer of Muenster, Germany, to Lancaster (Pa.) Area Habitat for Humanity.

Hannah Shultz of Lutherville, Md., to the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry in Elgin, Ill.

Carmen Shuman of Ephrata, Pa., to Camp Eder in Fairfield, Pa.

Janet Stann of La Grange, Ind., to Human Solutions in Portland, Ore.

Laura Whitman of Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren to the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries in Elgin, Ill.

Jesse Winter of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren to SnowCap in Fairview, Ore.

For more information about Brethren Volunteer Service go to .


6) Mandy Garcia resigns from Church of the Brethren donor communications

Mandy Garcia has resigned as associate director of donor communications for the Church of the Brethren. Her last day in this position will be Nov. 14.

Garcia began her work with the Church of the Brethren in July 2010 as coordinator of donor invitation. She was promoted to associate director of donor communications in Oct. 2012. During her tenure she has led the redesign of the denomination’s special offerings, including adding a fourth offering emphasis at Pentecost, and has redesigned the Congregational Outreach Planning packet and reporting process. She has edited the eBrethren newsletter and has been a part of producing Church of the Brethren live reports at Annual Conference.

In addition she has been part of music and worship leadership at several conferences, was a chapel committee member for the weekly chapel service at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, and has written for a number of church publications including Newsline and “Messenger” where she has had a regular column focused on simple living.

In previous service to the denomination, she worked at Brethren Benefit Trust as administrative office assistant Feb. 2009 to July 2010.


7) Webinar offers faith perspective on Pentagon spending

By Brian Hanger

Join us for a webinar for a Faith Perspective on Pentagon Spending on Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Just how big is the Pentagon Budget? As we wind down from over a decade of war, Pentagon spending should be dramatically reduced. But in reality, US Pentagon spending remains excessive and contributes to the militarization of our foreign and domestic policy.

The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness is collaborating with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, the American Friends Service Committee, and others on a webinar that will provide an informative and engaging presentation on the consequences of spending so much on the Pentagon. As members of the faith community, our engagement with policy is rooted in spiritual conviction. In seeking a world that is free from war and the threat of war we must examine its true costs.

Please join us on Oct. 29 from 3-4 p.m. (eastern) for this important conversation by signing up here: .

For more information contact Nate Hosler, director of the Office of Public Witness, at .

— Bryan Hanger is advocacy assistant at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness based in Washington, D.C.

8) Academic symposium on the book of Job features leading Brethren scholars

An academic symposium on “The Book of Job and Brethren Tradition” will be held at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on Nov. 5, featuring leading Brethren scholars. The registration deadline is today, Oct. 22. Download a registration form from or contact 717-361-1450 or .

The day-long event, which offers continuing education credit for ministers, is co-sponsored by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, Elizabethtown College’s Department of Religious Studies, and Bethany Theological Seminary. It takes place at the Susquehanna Room at the college from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with registration opening at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $60, which includes lunch and .6 continuing education credit.

Headlining the event is keynote speaker Bob Neff, an Old Testament scholar and president emeritus of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. Neff has been a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Bethany Theological Seminary, and also has served a term as general secretary of the Church of the Brethren. In recent years he has been a popular Bible study leader at Annual Conference and National Older Adult Conference.

Additional presentations on theological issues, teaching, preaching, and pastoral care on Job in a Brethren context, will be given by Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary; Steven Schweitzer, academic dean at Bethany Seminary; Christina Bucher, professor of religious studies at Elizabethtown College; Tracy Wenger Sadd, chaplain at Elizabethtown College; David Leiter, an Old Testament scholar and pastor; and Frank Ramirez, a scholar and pastor.

9) Brethren bits

Irven Stern

— Remembrance: Irven F. Stern, 86, first principal and founder of Kulp Bible School (now Kulp Bible College) in Nigeria and a former district executive in the Church of the Brethren, died on Oct. 20. Along with his wife, Pattie, he was a missionary in Nigeria from 1954-62. The couple also served as co-executives of Pacific Southwest District from 1985-93. In addition, he served pastorates in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa, and California. Stern also co-authored “Invitation to Adventure: A 12-Week Study/Action Course on Church Growth.” He was born in Fredricksburg, Iowa, on March 8, 1928. He attended McPherson College, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Northwestern University. He married Pattie Bittinger in 1950, and she preceded him in death in 2006. As an avid gardener, he built his own greenhouse and started a business called Plants Please. Stern was an active member of McPherson Church of the Brethren, and even after a debilitating stroke in 2008 left him unable to walk or communicate verbally, he still attended church regularly. In 1991, Irven and Pattie Stern were honored by McPherson (Kan.) College with the Alumni Citation of Merit for service to profession, community, church, and college. He has three children: Gayle Bartel, Susan Boyer, and Gary Stern. He also has grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Oct. 28 at McPherson Church of the Brethren. Memorial contributions are received to McPherson Church of the Brethren, McPherson College, or the EYN Compassion Fund.

— James K. (Jamie) Risser has concluded his service as director, Brethren Disaster Ministries. He began in the position on July 1. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors,” said an announcement from the Church of the Brethren human resources office.

— Mary Ann Grossnickle began Oct. 20 as interim coordinator of hospitality at the Zigler Hospitality Center at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Her primary responsibilities are to coordinate meals and lodging for groups, guests, and volunteers visiting the Brethren Service Center, and oversee hospitality volunteers as well as the food service team.

— Richard Best began Oct. 20 as temporary full time baler for the Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. His work will include folding and baling quilts, filling tables, assisting with cardboard baling, and other warehouse duties.

— Laura Whitman of Palmyra, Pa., started Oct. 20 in a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) assignment as special projects coordinator in Congregational Life Ministries. One of her projects will be to assist with preparations for the 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC). She is working out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She is a 2014 graduate of Juniata College with a major in social work.

— Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Palmyra, Pa., has concluded a search for a full-time chaplain. Audrey Finkbiner has been serving as interim chaplain following the untimely death of former chaplain Norm Yeater. Mary Alice Eller will join the staff as chaplain effective Nov. 17. She is a second career clergyperson with a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary, presently serving with her husband, Enten Eller, in a team ministry position at Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. She has completed an extended unit in Clinical Pastoral Education, and has served chaplain rotations at Brethren Village, Peter Becker Community, and the Lutheran Community at Telford. She also has served with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and was a program coordinator at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center in Elizabethtown, Pa.

— Shine: Living in God’s Light, the new Sunday school curriculum from Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is accepting applications for curriculum writers. The curriculum is for children age three through grade 8. Accepted writers must attend  a Writers Conference in Indiana on March 6-9, 2015. Shine pays for meals and lodging during the conference and covers reasonable travel expenses. More details are available at . Applications and sample sessions are due by Dec. 15.

— “Join our Anti-Racism Transformation Team,” said an invitation from On Earth Peace. “The time is now for racial justice…as it has always been and always will be.” Since 2002, On Earth Peace has been engaged in an intentional process to understand how racism and other social oppressions prevent the organization from fully living in to its purpose of answering Christ’s call through powerful peace programs of training and accompaniment. Recognizing that racism affects all institutions and in an effort to live out the mission of the organization, On Earth Peace is seeking volunteer members to serve on an institutional Anti-Racism Transformation Team. For more information go to . Applications are available online at . Applications should be submitted on or before Jan. 15, 2015. Please submit questions to .

— October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in an announcement from the Family Life office in Congregational Life Ministries. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men over the age of 18 experience physical violence from an intimate partner. Domestic violence affects individuals of every age, race, ethnicity, gender, religion or socioeconomic status. If you or someone you know is involved in a harmful relationship, please visit the Church of the Brethren’s website for useful information, including national hotline numbers and bulletin inserts at .

— There is a change in the series of webinars on “Opportunities and Challenges of Post-Christendom” offered jointly by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries, Center for Anabaptist Studies at Bristol Baptist College in the UK, Anabaptist Network, and Mennonite Trust. Lloyd Pietersen and Nigel Pimlott are trading webinar dates because of changes in their personal schedules, said an announcement from Stan Dueck of the Congregational Life staff. Pimlott’s webinar on the subject “Youth Work after Christendom (Revisited)” will now take place on Nov. 20 at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (eastern time). Pietersen’s webinar on “Reading the Bible after Christendom” is now scheduled for Feb. 26, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (eastern time). Registration and more information is at .

— A Celebration of Heifer International at Peace Church of the Brethren in Council Bluffs, Iowa, kicked off with an intergenerational worship service on Oct. 12 using resources from Animal Crackers, wrote pastor Laura Leighton-Harris in a report to Newsline. “We opened our service with a clip of ‘The Circle of Life’ from Lion King. Our youth and adults brought the Litany of Praise to life with their various animal sounds and movements. ‘Noah’ shared his story and the youth asked him for some animals to give to folks in other countries. Our youth handed out the arks and calendars during the offering time. ‘All Creatures of Our God and King’ and ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ were a few of our hymns.” A display table in the Fellowship Hall brings awareness of the program for groups who use the church facility and for those attending rummage sales, she added. A jar made by late members of the congregation, Jane Nelson and Toots Conaway, was set out for donations. Church member Anne Brooks and her students made a variety of animal bracelets, key chains, and bookmarks for sale, with the monies going to Heifer. Other fundraisers include a raffle for one of the plush animals around Christmas time, and a youth donation can at the Annual Trunk or Treat on Oct. 31. “In November after our collections of the arks and the other donations, the next fun part will be in selecting the animals for the individuals and families all around the world,” she reported. “We have many in our congregation for whom Heifer is very special and meaningful.”

— Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren held its First-Fruits Celebration this Sunday, Oct. 19. The guest speaker was Fred Bernhard, a “long-time friend of FCOB and noted church leader,” said the church newsletter. The morning also featured delicious “Tasting Stations” around the church, and was preceded by an annual Fall Festival held Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Miller Farm in Buckeystown with opportunities for fun and building community with the whole family including hayrides, face painting, games, pumpkin decorating, building a scarecrow to take home, s’mores and hot dogs. A special event was the congregation’s Third Annual Fall Bake-Off in two categories–desserts and side dishes–for children, youth, and adults. Recipes had to contain apples or pumpkin/squash.

— Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., will hold a Spiritual Renewal Weekend, “Harvest of Thankfulness,” on Nov. 15-16. The leader will be Tara Hornbacker, professor of ministry formation, missional leadership, and evangelism at Bethany Theological Seminary. Saturday’s service at 7 p.m on “The Other Commandment” will be followed by an ice cream social. After Hornbacker’s sermon at the 10 a.m. worship on Sunday, on the topic, “For Everything?” she will meet with youth. A carry-in meal at noon will be followed by an informal closing at 1:30 p.m. in the fellowship hall.

— Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., had 19 walkers participate in the Elgin CROP Walk on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 20. “We had a great time walking in the CROP Walk yesterday and raising money to help Church World Service fight hunger,” she reported via Facebook. “We raised more than $2,800 thanks to our generous sponsors.”

— Ted and Company TheaterWorks featuring Ted Swartz will present the Fall Spiritual Focus at Bridgewater (Va.) College on Nov. 4, in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. Ted Swartz and Jeff Raught will present “Creation, Dysfunction, and Destiny” at 9:30 a.m. and “Jesus Stories” at 7:30 p.m. Both performances are free and open to the public, said a release from the college. Swartz is well known among Brethren for his performances and leadership at National Youth Conferences and other venues, and will be one of the presenters at the 2015 Annual Conference.

Contributors to this Newsline include Marie Benner-Rhoades, Jeff Boshart, Susan Boyer, Deborah Brehm, Joshua Brockway, Daniel D’Oleo, Stan Dueck, Chelsea Goss, Brian Hanger, Mary Kay Heatwole, Gimbiya Kettering, Peg Lehman, Laura Leighton-Harris, Nancy Miner, Jeff Shireman, Craig H. Smith, Laura Whitman, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next issue of Newsline is scheduled for Oct. 28. 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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