Newsline for April 21, 2015

1) Mission 21 and Church of the Brethren sign MOU for cooperative work in Nigeria with EYN
2) Fellowship of Brethren Homes Forum focuses on strategic planning
3) Bethany Theological Seminary dedicates student housing

4) Don Knieriem is hired as database administrator

5) NOAC attendees are invited to take a bus to National Older Adult Conference
6) Camp Mack marks 90 years with August Homecoming

7) Churches launch resource to end corporal punishment of children

8) Circle of hands, circle of hope
9) Meeting EYN leadership: It’s all in the name

10) Brethren bits: Fahrney-Keedy seeks CEO, CMEP seeks interns, GFCF panel welcomes new members, prayer requested for trip to S. Sudan, Knobsville celebrates its 60th, 45th Annual Dunker Church Service at Antietam, Shenandoah consecrates BDM utility building, and more

Quote of the week:

“For the first time in human history, we can do more than simply envision a world free of extreme poverty; we can make it a reality. Accomplishing this goal will take two commitments: to act guided by the best evidence of what works and what doesn’t; and to use our voices to compel and challenge others to join us in this urgent cause inspired by our deepest spiritual values. The world has achieved remarkable progress in the past two decades in cutting in half the number of people living in extreme poverty. We have ample evidence from the World Bank Group and others showing that we can now end extreme poverty within 15 years.”

— From a a statement titled “Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative,” issued by the World Council of Churches joining with more than 30 leaders from major world religions and heads of global faith-based organizations. The statement launches a call to action to end extreme poverty by 2030, “a goal shared with the World Bank Group,” according to a WCC release. There is “ample evidence” that the world could end extreme poverty within 15 years, said the statement. What is needed is generating “the necessary social and political will,” it said. “We in the faith community embrace this moral imperative because we share the belief that the moral test of our society is how the weakest and most vulnerable are faring. Our sacred texts also call us to combat injustice and uplift the poorest in our midst.” Find the statement at . Read the WCC release about the joint statement at .

1) Mission 21 and Church of the Brethren sign MOU for cooperative work in Nigeria with EYN

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Mission 21 director Claudia Bandixen (left) and Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for continuing cooperation with EYN in Nigeria, to carry out crisis response cooperatively. Mission 21 has been a longterm partner with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria and the Church of the Brethren mission in Nigeria since 1950.

Mission 21, a longstanding partner of the Church of the Brethren mission in Nigeria and of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), has signed a Memorandum of Understanding about continuing cooperation in the Nigeria Crisis Response.

Mission 21 director Claudia Bandixen visited the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on April 2 to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and to hold meetings with general secretary Stan Noffsinger, Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer, and Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors Carl and Roxane Hill.

Formerly known as Basel Mission, Mission 21 is based in Switzerland. Begun in 1815, it served as an independent Christian mission society. Currently it is active in 21 nations, and several European Christian denominations are taking part. The organization started work in Nigeria several decades ago, and in 1950 it became a partner with the Church of the Brethren Mission in Nigeria and with EYN. At that time, Mission 21’s traditional areas of service in northeastern Nigeria were joined with the rest of the church body of EYN.

Mission 21’s focus is faith-based development work, Bandixen explained in an interview after the MOU was signed. The group’s four “legs” are work on health, poverty, education, and peace. In Nigeria, Mission 21 has focused on education and health care in cooperation with EYN. One of its projects dealt with HIV/AIDS in northeast Nigeria.

The understanding of Mission 21, Bandixen said, is that evangelism and church planting are the responsibility of church partners such as EYN, and that the responsibility of the mission is development. The mission welcomes the way Christian communities of faith tend to grow up in areas where it is active, but Mission 21’s goal is not to plant new churches or to recreate the European churches that support it.

Mission 21’s work in Nigeria began in the community of Gava, and its traditional area of work in northeastern Nigeria also has included Gwoza–the first town that was overrun and claimed by the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency. In recent weeks, however, the Nigeria army and military forces from neighboring countries have been pushing Boko Haram out of those areas. Because of the violence in Nigeria in recent years, Mission 21 has not had placed employees there since 2010, Bandixen said.

She noted several aspects to the MOU that are important to Mission 21, especially a focus on joint advocacy for Nigeria and for other places around the world where violence results from religious fanaticism, and where such violence is directed specifically at women and girls.

Mission 21 already is in the midst of creating an advocacy campaign, Bandixen said. The campaign will have a political component but also will include liturgical materials suitable for worship services as well as an invitation for Christians to make a personal commitment to join in. Mission 21 will be translating campaign materials into English in order to share them with the Church of the Brethren, she said.

In regard to how Mission 21 will engage the cooperative work in Nigeria, Bandixen said the organization must first send an expert to Nigeria to carry out an assessment of the situation and the needs, and then the organization will be considering next steps.

The MOU that was signed resolves to work in ecumenical partnership toward mutual mission, development projects, and relief work in Nigeria, creating a three-way partnership between the Church of the Brethren, Mission 21, and EYN, as all three work to address the ongoing Nigerian crisis.

For more about the Nigeria Crisis Response go to .

2) Fellowship of Brethren Homes Forum focuses on strategic planning

By Ralph McFadden

The Fellowship of Brethren Homes met in its annual Forum on April 14-16 in Des Moines, Iowa, and Dallas Center, Iowa. The Forum was hosted by Maureen Cahill, administrator of Spurgeon Manor retirement center in Dallas Center. Fourteen of the twenty-two Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities were represented. With guests, there were 21 people present.

Strategic planning was the focus for current and future programming. Early on in the process, the group focused on its history, its current relationship to the denomination, and a review of a survey that reported on strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

The group present at the meeting not only approved by-laws, but also approved an Executive Committee by consensus. The Executive Committee includes: Jeff Shireman, CEO of Lebanon Valley Brethren Home in Palmyra, Pa., serving as chair; Chris Widman, executive director of Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio, serving as vice chair; John Warner, CEO of the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio, serving at large; Ferol Labash, CEO of Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, Ill., serving at large; and Maureen Cahill, administrator of Spurgeon Manor in Dallas Center, Iowa, serving at large.

Future programming will work on the ways that the homes can continue to collaborate with each other, work with the denomination’s Congregational Life Ministries and Brethren Benefit Trust, and develop stronger ties with the Church of the Brethren and with its districts.

Those attending expressed strong support for understanding and acting on the values of the Church of the Brethren. The two-and-a-half days also were a time of deepening the fellowship and sharing of the CEOs and administrators of the retirement communities.

Ralph McFadden, who was hired by the Fellowship of Brethren Homes as an interim executive director, was confirmed by consensus as the permanent half-time executive director. His contract began immediately on April 16. Over a lengthy career he has served the Church of the Brethren in a variety of capacities including as executive of the Parish Ministries Commission of the former General Board. When he was coordinator of Shared Services in the Association of Brethren Caregivers from 2001 to 2005, his responsibilities included serving as staff of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. In retirement he has been a hospice chaplain, and has been involved with work at Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, Ill. He is a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

Matthew Neeley, COO of Brethren Hillcrest Homes, invited the Fellowship of Brethren Homes Forum to La Verne, Calif., for the 2016 meeting. Dates will be announced later.

— Ralph McFadden is executive director of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. For more about the Fellowship of Brethren Homes and the 22 Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities that make up the fellowship, go to . To contact the Fellowship of Brethren Homes e-mail .

3) Bethany Theological Seminary dedicates student housing

By Jenny Williams

Photo courtesy of Bethany Theological Seminary
Ribbon cutting at the new Bethany Neighborhood in Richmond, Ind.

Bethany Theological Seminary celebrated the naming of Patterson House, one of its student housing properties in Richmond, Ind., along with a dedication of the “Bethany Neighborhood” at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, April 10. In addition to members of Bethany’s administration who spoke, Amy Holthouse, president of the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce, represented the chamber.

Lowell Flory, executive director of Institutional Advancement at the seminary, spoke words of appreciation for Ivan and Clara Patterson of Greenville, Ohio, who have given years of volunteer service to the seminary. Clara Patterson served on Bethany’s board of trustees from 1987-2000, and Ivan Patterson chaired the building committee for the Bethany Center when the seminary relocated to Richmond from Oak Brook, Ill., in 1994. The Pattersons also created and managed the former Brethren Housing Organization, which provided residential properties for Bethany’s use including the newly named Patterson House.

Three student rental properties along with Brethren House, the seminary’s guest house, comprise the “Bethany Neighborhood” near the intersection of Southwest C Street and College Avenue in Richmond. Within the past two years, the rental homes have been remodeled to offer flexible living arrangements, and common backyard space has been opened up. Much of the interior work was done by Church of the Brethren volunteers from Maryland and southern Ohio, led by Miller Davis from Westminster, Md. The seminary is making the homes available at low rent to help offset student debt and build the residential student body.

Jeff Carter, president of Bethany, spoke about the importance of the neighborhood to Bethany’s program and that it is also an investment in the community. “The Bethany Neighborhood is a creative student housing project which emphasizes Church of the Brethren values of community and simplicity. Building on a 20-year presence in the Richmond community, Bethany is seeking to be a blessing to this city and our students.”

Following the ceremony, guests had the opportunity to walk through some of the houses, and refreshments were served at Mullen House.

— Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations at Bethany Theological Seminary. For more information about the seminary go to .


4) Don Knieriem is hired as database administrator

Don Knieriem

Don Knieriem’s work in the Information Technology department of the Church of the Brethren has transitioned to the salaried position of database administrator, starting April 20. This position is responsible for coordinating changes to the denomination’s computer databases, testing and implementing databases, as well as planning, coordinating, and implementing changes to the computer databases.

Knieriem began his employment with the Church of the Brethren in Nov. 2011 as data analyst and registration specialist. The position evolved into web programmer and data analyst by Aug. 2013. In previous service to the church, he has worked as a volunteer with Brethren Disaster Ministries, serving through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). He also volunteered in the BVS office for two years.

The new position of database administrator is a reflection of the need for direct oversight of database processes as the denomination’s technology and database needs continue to grow.


5) NOAC attendees are invited to take a bus to National Older Adult Conference

By Laura Whitman

National Older Adult Conference is only a few months away! If you don’t have a way to get there, why not take a bus? Four buses from around the country will be heading to Lake Junaluska, N.C., for NOAC in September.

Following are the places and districts from which buses will leave for NOAC, and contact information for each bus:

— Leaving from Hershey (Pa.) Spring Creek Church of the Brethren, contact Bill and Kitty Puffenberger at 717-367-7021 or

— Leaving from Brethren Village Retirement Community in Lancaster, Pa., contact Bill and Kitty Puffenberger at 717-367-7021 or , or Bob and MaryAnn Breneman at 717-725-3197 or

— Leaving from Western Plains District, contact David and Bonnie Furth at 620-245-0674 or

— Leaving from Shenandoah District, contact Sandy Kinsey at 540-234-8555 or

Contact the persons listed above with any questions about the bus transportation, including dates and fees. For more information about NOAC 2015, and to register for the conference, go to . The conference takes place Sept. 7-11 at Lake Junaluska (N.C.) Conference and Retreat Center in the mountains of western North Carolina.

— Laura Whitman is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and special projects coordinator in Congregational Life Ministries. She is helping to coordinate NOAC among other projects.

6) Camp Mack marks 90 years with August Homecoming

By Walt Wiltschek

The Church of the Brethren’s longest-running camps are becoming nonagenarians. Camp Mack (Milford, Ind.), the second-oldest camp in the denomination, is commemorating its 90th anniversary on the shores of Lake Waubee this year with a full slate of events. It follows Camp Harmony (Hooversville, Pa.), which turned 90 a year ago.

And the camping ministry of the church has much to celebrate. When Camp Mack asked on its Facebook page for people to share one word that captured their camp experience, words including “friendship,” “faith,” “fellowship,” “memories,” “beauty,” “quiet,” and even “cinnamon toast” quickly piled up in the comments section.

In a newsletter article, former camper Vonna Walter offered more details on her experience: “The most important thing that camp offered me, through the guidance of the amazing leaders and fellow campers, was the rich layering, year after year, of my faith in our awesome God!” Walter wrote, “I was raised by wonderful examples of Christ’s love, by my parents and my church family, but the week I spent at camp each summer was the most impactful way I experienced God.”

The highlight of Camp Mack’s anniversary observances will be a “Back to Mack” Homecoming Weekend Aug. 28-30, with a variety of opportunities to celebrate the camp’s history, share memories, and re-connect with members of the camp community along with worship, traditional camp activities, a campfire, and picnic.

The annual Camp Mack Festival on Oct. 3 also will have a 90th anniversary theme and special events–including a scarecrow contest in which the entries are to be dressed as a favorite Camp Mack staff member or Brethren historical figure.

Events already in the books include a 90th anniversary Sweetheart Banquet that took place in February and a fundraiser dinner in mid-March.

The camp has made an anniversary goal of having 90 more campers this year than in 2014.

The celebration comes at a good time for Camp Mack, which is making progress as it recovers from a fire that destroyed its centerpiece Becker Lodge in 2010. A new John Kline Welcome Center now serves the camp, and plans for a new Becker Lodge are under way. Mack is perhaps best known for its Quinter-Miller Auditorium, which features a series of Brethren history murals by Medford Neher. It’s also unique as a single camp that serves two districts (Northern Indiana and South/Central Indiana) in a densely populated Brethren area. More information is available at .

— Walt Wiltschek serves in campus ministry at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., and is a former editor of the Church of the Brethren “Messenger” magazine.


7) Churches launch resource to end corporal punishment of children

From a World Council of Churches release

A worship resource published by the Churches’ Network for Non-violence and the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children invites church leaders and Christian communities to help end corporal punishment of children. The Churches’ Network for Non-violence includes member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The resource titled “Ending Corporal Punishment of Children: A Handbook for Worship and Gatherings” includes Bible study, prayers, vigils, liturgies, and reflections, and can be used for private or collective use. It can be adapted for the local context or used to trigger ideas for further studies or reflections. It is made available online to be used free of charge.

“Corporal punishment violates children’s rights and contributes to the perpetuation of violence,” states Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Violence Against Children, in an introduction to the resource.

“Religious leaders and communities command an extraordinary moral authority and influence towards ending violence against children. They demonstrate deep respect for children’s dignity and fundamental rights, and play a crucial role in preventing and alleviating children’s suffering, supporting their families, and creating protective and caring environments for the most vulnerable children,” Pais adds.

The resource quotes Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who said, “Progress towards abolishing corporal punishment is being made, but millions of the world’s children still suffer from humiliating acts of violence and these violations of their rights as human beings can have serious lifelong effects.

“Children can be disciplined without violence that instils fear and misery, and I look forward to church communities working with other organizations to make progress towards ending all forms of violence against children,” adds Tutu.

“Faith-based support for reform is an integral part of the global movement for prohibition of all corporal punishment of children. A growing number of religious communities consider ending this commonplace violence against children [as] both a moral and religious imperative,” said Chris Dodd of the Churches’ Network for Non-violence.

“There are many examples of Christians working in solidarity with others, bound by principles of compassion and justice and a strong commitment to human rights,” Dodd added.

“Ending Corporal Punishment of Children: A Handbook for Worship and Gatherings” is available online at .

More information about the Churches’ Network for Non-violence is at . Find out about the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children at .


8) Circle of hands, circle of hope

By Peggy Gish

Photo by Susan Mark, EYN Women’s Ministry
Participants make a circle of hands at a trauma healing in Nigeria

“When I came home after escaping the attack, our home had been bombed, and everything was destroyed,” one woman said, expressing a lot of pain.

“I was away when Boko Haram attacked my village,” a man voiced with regret. “I still feel horrible that my wife had to face it and flee alone.”

“Everyone else in my village fled when Boko Haram came. I was the only one who stayed, and miraculously, I was not found and killed,” a third said, expressing his gratefulness.

“I ran home when our church was attacked,” another shared. “My husband was at home and was able to go in the car to the next village. When he called me, I told him to go ahead and escape. He answered, ‘I will wait for you to find me. We will stay together, and if we die, we will die together.’”

Heartbreaking stories flowed out from the group gathered at a trauma healing workshop in Yola, in early April, sponsored by the crisis team of EYN (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, or the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) for members now living in displacement camps or crowded in relatives’ homes. This was one of many such workshops to help members support each other in the process of healing from the violence of Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria. And more trainers are being trained so that more of the estimated 200,000 to 600,000 EYN members who have been impacted by trauma can be included.

There was no expectation that these three days of meeting together and sharing would bring any quick fix, or that it would take care of more intense traumas that call for more intensive pastoral or psychological counseling. The sessions give a framework for understanding how trauma affects them and others, and helps them choose positive ways of dealing with the emotions connected with trauma and open themselves to healing. This program is carried out with the hope of preventing the cycle of violence and trauma from continuing, knowing that when trauma is not dealt with, those who have been traumatized, in turn, can perpetrate violence and traumatize another group of people.

Exercises such as the “empty chair” gave participants space in which to “speak” to someone they lost. Remembering that the person they lost loved them, offered them grounding for dealing with their loss. Understanding the different stages of grief and allowing themselves and others patience as they navigate these at their own pace and order, provided some guidance for the process. Guessing what was in a small purse, and having its surprising contents dumped out, helped the group to see that what is inside a person who is grieving may not be what you would expect as “reasonable,” and that getting the grief out frees the heart.

Especially moving was an exercise called “Circle of hands.” One by one, in the circle, each person said, “I love this family; I wish this family____,” and filled in the blank with something, such as “hope,” “healing,” or “strength.” After his or her statement, the person put her closed hand in the circle and around the prior person’s thumb, holding out her thumb for the next one to take. The result was a circle of hands joined together, symbolic of the strength and beauty they and others who have just experienced great trauma from violence, can be given as they walk together through this difficult time, within a community of love and support.

— Peggy Gish is a volunteer with the Nigeria Crisis Response, helping to accompany members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) who have been affected by violence. The Nigeria Crisis Response is a cooperative effort of EYN with the Church of the Brethren, through Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. For more information go to .

9) Meeting EYN leadership: It’s all in the name

By Carl and Roxane Hill

In this two-part article, Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors Carl and Roxane Hill introduce two leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria): Rev. Mbode M. Ndirmbita, who serves as EYN vice president; and Rev. Ayuba, pastor of the EYN church in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city.

Meeting EYN’s vice president

Photo courtesy of Carl and Roxane Hill
Mbode M. Ndirmbita

The vice president of EYN is a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary. Mbode M. Ndirmbita graduated from Bethany in 2004 with a master of divinity degree. That year, those graduating with an M.Div were few in number. Two others graduated alongside Rev. Mbode: Paul Liepelt and Andrew Sampson.

It just so happens, I know both of these men, in one way or another. Andrew Sampson was pastor of Eel River Church of the Brethren in Indiana when I assisted him during the funeral of my father-in-law, Ralph Royer, in 2012. Paul Liepelt preceded me and my wife as a teacher at EYN’s Kulp Bible College in northeast Nigeria. It was there that Paul married his wife, Brandy. Officiating at the ceremony: Rev. Mbode.

Being Brethren has a tendency to make the world seem a little smaller.

When I interviewed Rev. Mbode a couple of weeks ago, the pronunciation of his name was one of the topics of our discussion. When I was first introduced to the vice president almost three years ago, I just couldn’t get my tongue and brain around the pronunciation of those first two consonants. I was told that you start with the “M” sound and quickly make the “B” sound before the “M” is completely finished. Then out comes the “O” and the “D” and the “E,” which also is pronounced with a long sound.

A few weeks ago this is where our conversation began. “What kind of name is Mbode?” I asked. “Well,” he said, “it’s like any name someone from America might have. I was named for my great uncle.” Then he told me the story.

“My great uncle was a very special man. Besides being my mother’s uncle he had quite a reputation. In the early days of life around the village of Chibok there were many wandering herdsmen. As farmers, we were always cautious about Fulani herdsmen. If there was ever any trouble in our area it was usually between the farmers and the herdsmen. Anyway, the herdsmen respected my great uncle. In fact, they were afraid of him. They would come close to his home just to watch him catch snakes. He could catch snakes with his bare hands. Everyone figured, if he could catch dangerous snakes with his bare hands he is someone to be feared and respected. His name, Mbode, means ‘snake’ or ‘snake catcher.’” When Rev. Mbode’s mother was pregnant with him, this uncle came and asked her, “If it is a boy, name him after me.”

However, the main reason I went to talk with Rev. Mbode was to learn what he knew about the Chibok girls who had been abducted last April by the Boko Haram. Someone told me that he had some information about the girls. It turns out that Rev. Mbode was not just raised in Chibok but spent some time there as pastor of one of the EYN churches. It was long enough ago that he didn’t just know the parents of the girls but the grandparents as well. This gained him direct access to lots of the news swirling around Chibok due to the disappearance of the 276 schoolgirls last year.

Rev. Mbode has access to the families of the escaped girls and he has been helping them find refuge away from most of the potential trouble that still exists in the Chibok area. EYN members who live in central Nigeria have been housing some of the escaped Chibok girls in their home. Based on the personal knowledge provided by Rev. Mbode, the couple are providing a stopover place for these girls before they are sent to the United States to continue their studies and find a safer place to live. Currently, there are 10 Chibok girls in the United States attending private boarding schools.

As vice president of EYN, Rev. Mbode is continuing his work as one of the main leaders of the church. The job is like many vice-presidential positions–he is counted on to provide support to the president. But besides lending his support to EYN’s president Dr. Samuel Dante Dali, he also organizes and encourages many of the larger church groups that were functioning before the violence altered the life of the church. When we talked, he was busy helping to organize the national ZME conference. ZME is the largest women’s ministry group of EYN. At the national level they were anticipating this year’s convention to be held at the site of the temporary EYN headquarters annex. Unlike most of the other groups that function in almost every church of EYN, the ZME is the only one that has remained self-sufficient. Their conference will meet and conduct business with no outside financial help.

Vice president Mbode also is responsible for organizing other national conventions. At this critical time he is putting many of the groups back together. He is organizing the men’s ministry, the boys’ and girls’ brigades, the national youth convention, and many others despite the horrific devastation experienced by 80 percent of the churches throughout the denomination. Because of dedicated and trained men like Rev. Mbode, EYN is beginning to pick up the pieces, help the denomination stay together, and move forward even during this challenging time.

Meeting the Lagos pastor

“Who is this EYN church?” This is the question people in Lagos have been asking. Lagos is the major city in southwestern Nigeria. It is about 1,000 miles from the original EYN headquarters and takes more than 20 hours to reach by car.

In January, Rev. Ayuba, pastor at the EYN church in Lagos, coordinated the distribution of over $10,000 in relief aid. The money came from a local NGO to help the IDPs (internally displaced people) in the Lagos area. The combined effort reached people of all denominations and all faiths. The congregation was able to give assistance to everyone.

The excellence of the effort got people’s attention in the Lagos area. To those interested, Rev. Ayuba gave the history of EYN and directed them to the website.

Many local people were investigating the EYN church and sought to become involved. But the Lagos church is mainly made up of transplanted people from the northeast, and services are conducted in Hausa, which is not spoken in the south. Rev. Ayuba lamented, “If only we could reach them in their Yoruba tongue, then we could spread the good news and share our message of peace.”

Let’s join Rev. Ayuba and the Lagos church as they pray that God will provide someone to bring the gospel message of peace to the Yoruba people in southern Nigeria.

— Carl and Roxane Hill are co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren, in cooperation with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). For more about the Nigeria Crisis Response go to .

10) Brethren bits

Brian Meyer, an artist and a member of First Church of the Brethren in San Diego, Calif., has been featured in “Ventures Africa” magazine for his work to paint the images of all the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok, Nigeria, on April 14, 2014 (see ).
Meyer is the creator of an image that incorporated the name of each girl into a watercolor painting featured on the cover of the Church of the Brethren “Messenger” magazine last year, and used for a social media “poster” on the one-year anniversary of the abduction last week.
Meyer’s current project is to paint an image or portrait of each girl. The San Diego Church is hosting the project and providing space to hang the paintings.
“They have published photos of 142 of the girls,” Meyer wrote in an e-mail explaining the project. “Rebecca Dali [of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria] has also helped by providing a list of 187 girls with the girls ages, parents’ names, and the like, which is the most accurate…. For those without pictures I am just leaving it blank.” Meyer has completed some 15 pictures so far, out of the 233 girls said to be missing.
Each painting is done in watercolor stretched over an 8 by 10 frame like a canvas. He is assembling the pictures on a wall at the church, which when completed will be 7 feet tall, and 24 feet wide. “I view the group as a tiles in a mega painting,” Meyer wrote, adding that he is “looking at this taking about six months to complete.”
To view the portraits that Meyer has completed, see the Facebook page at . For more about Brian Meyer and his work go to , , and .

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., seeks a CEO to lead the organization as it prepares to execute an ambitious expansion plan. In light of the current CEO’s pending retirement, the community has begun a search to fill the position in the fall of 2015, which will allow for a smooth transition and assumption of the role. Candidates should have at least a bachelor’s degree plus five years of experience in a senior leadership role in an elder care or similar facility that offers comparable living and care services. Fahrney-Keedy is seeking a candidate of high integrity who has a collaborative approach to managing an organization along with strong communication skills. In addition, the successful candidate will have demonstrated the following key competencies critical to the future plans and success of Fahrney-Keedy: financial management, the candidate must have proven ability to creatively implement new revenue generating services and programs to not only sustain the organization but also provide resources for growth, including successful experience in fundraising and grant awards typical of a large nonprofit organization as well as managing financing options; managing growth, Fahrney-Keedy has developed a master plan that includes substantial expansion of facilities on its campus, the successful candidate will have proven experience in facility and program expansion that achieves both financial objectives as well as service quality goals for residents; marketing, the candidate will demonstrate acumen for creating a favorable and promising image that is exceptionally appealing to potential residents, attracts talented staff, and generates a compelling message for donors about Fahrney-Keedy’s mission; visionary, the candidate will need to articulate a vision for the organization that honors the service-oriented traditions and spiritual mission of Fahrney-Keedy and provides a credible path for the future that navigates turbulent change facing the industry yet properly serves the growing need for elder care over the next several decades. Submit a resume no later than June 5, via e-mail to . Questions also can be submitted to this e-mail address and someone from the board search committee will respond. More information about Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village is available at . EOE.

— Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), a coalition of 22 Christian churches and church-related organizations including the Church of the Brethren, seeks interns for the fall semester to work in the coalition’s Washington, D.C., office. CMEP seeks creative, independent, and enthusiastic interns interested in working for peace regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through supporting and organizing grassroots leaders. Interns are sought in the following three areas: Grassroots/Advocacy Intern, Research Intern, Intern to the Executive Director. Interns will be part of CMEP’s work to encourage US government policies that actively promote a just, lasting, and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Internships typically lasts a semester. Start and end dates and specific work hours are flexible. A minimum of 15-20 hours per week is expected. For details about these internships go to . To apply e-mail a resume, cover letter, and brief writing sample of no more than three pages to and specify in the subject line which internship is applied for.

— Two new members–Jennifer Hosler and Tara Mathur–have been named to the review panel for the Global Food Crisis Fund, as Gretchen Sarpiya and Beth Gunzel leave the review panel. Hosler is a former mission worker in Nigeria, a bi-vocational minister at Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren, and a community psychologist trained to engage and empower communities to utilize their existing strengths and promote community well-being. Mathur is a member of Wichita (Kan.) First Church of the Brethren and a former Brethren Volunteer Service volunteer who has served in Washington, D.C., and in El Salvador where she remained for 13 years working with youth, community organizations, and international labor rights. Mathur currently works with the Worker Rights Consortium, an organization that monitors compliance with labor standards in the production of garments made around the world for consumers in the United States. For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund go to .

— The Global Mission and Service office is requesting prayer for a group of seven people from various Church of the Brethren congregations who are taking part in a service and learning trip in South Sudan. The group will be in South Sudan April 23 through May 2. Participants include former Sudan mission workers Roger and Carolyn Schrock from Mountain Grove, Mo.; John Jones of Myrtle Point, Ore.; Enten Eller of Ambler, Pa.; George Barnhart of Salem, Va.; Becky Rhodes of Roanoke, Va.; and Ilexene Alphonse, who has been serving as a Church of the Brethren mission worker in Haiti. The itinerary includes visits in the city of Juba, where a conversation is scheduled with Bishop Archangelo, head of the Africa Inland Church, and Dr. Haruun Ruun, formerly of the New Sudan Council of Churches and currently a member of the South Sudan parliament. In Torit, the group will stay at and work at the new Brethren Peace Center. In Lohilla, they will visit and work at a primary school. Other special events will include worship with the Africa Inland Church congregation pastored by Church of the Brethren mission worker Athanasus Ungang. The Church of the Brethren has a long history of work in Sudan and South Sudan, focused on peacemaking and reconciliation, relief, ecumenical partnerships, and theological education. For more information go to .

— Carl and Roxane Hill, co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response, will be presenting updates on the cooperative effort with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN or Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) at two places in Southern Ohio District in late April. On April 29 at 7 p.m. they will speak at Troy (Ohio) Church of the Brethren. On April 30 at 7 p.m. they will speak at the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio, where a typical Nigerian dinner will be served at 5 p.m. before the presentation begins. To RSVP contact or 937-833-5222 by April 28.

— Knobsville Church of the Brethren in McConnellsburg, Pa., hosted a 60th anniversary celebration on April 19. The church was established in 1955 in the old Knobsville schoolhouse. Harold E. Yeager was the guest speaker at the anniversary celebration.

— The 45th Annual Dunker Church Service at Antietam National Battlefield Park in Sharpsburg, Md., a historic Civil War battle site, is planned for Sunday, Sept. 20, at 3 p.m. (Eastern time). The service is sponsored by Mid-Atlantic District and held in the restored Mumma Meeting House, commonly referred to as the Dunker Church at Antietam. Preaching for the 45th annual service is Larry Glick, a member of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va. He has served as associate executive in Shenandoah District and as a field associate for ministry training programs in the Church of the Brethren. For more than 25 year,s however, he may be best known for his portrayals of Brethren historical figures including Alexander Mack and John Kline, as a way “to help enhance our knowledge of past church leaders, and to understand how Brethren Heritage can inform our discipleship today.” The organizers of the annual service extend gratitude to the National Park Service for its cooperation, for the use of the meeting house which is now on National Park Service property, and for the loan of the historic Mumma Bible. For more information about the event, please call Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135 or 304-671-4775; Tom Fralin at 301-432-2653 or 301-667-2291; or Ed Poling at 301-766-9005.

— A consecration service for the new Brethren Disaster Ministries utility building and kit assembly room at the Shenandoah District office will be held Sunday, April 26, in an announcement from the district. The consecration service will begin at 3 p.m., with tours of the new building and the District Office from 3:45-4:45 p.m. At 5 p.m., guests are invited to stay for refreshments, fellowship, and a “BDM Mystery Promotion.” The event will be held rain or shine at 1453 Westview Church Road, Weyers Cave, Va.

— Brethren Woods’ Spring Festival will be held 7 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, rain or shine. Brethren Woods is a camp and outdoor ministry center of Shenandoah District. “Enjoy a busy day of fishing, eating, paddling on the lake, hiking, music, riding the zip line, and shopping at the auction,” said an invitation from the district. “Two audience favorites are back, too–Dunk the Dunkard and Kiss the Cow.” Detailed information is available at .

— Bridgewater (Va.) College is honoring two alumni with Ripples Society Medals for 2015, reports a release from the college: Allen M. Clague Jr., class of 1950, and Marion E. Mason, class of 1953. Clague is a physician whose medical career spanned more than three decades including two years of alternative service as a nurse surgical assistant in the operating room at the Medical College of Virginia, after he was drafted. He has focused on family medicine with practices in Kingsport, Tenn., Roanoke, Va., and Bridgewater. He was named a Fellow in the American Academy of Family Practice in 1973 and became a Diplomate (board-certified) in family medicine in 1975. He is a life member of the American Academy of Family Practice, the Virginia Academy of Family Practice, and the Medical Society of Virginia. Mason has been a teacher and principal in Botetourt County, Va., earning a master of education degree from the University of Virginia. In 1960, Mason opted for a career in business, accepting a job as an accountant with Leggett Department Stores (now Belk), and during a 35-year career with the department store chain rose through the ranks to become controller, treasurer, and a member of the board of directors. Mason joined the Bridgewater College board of trustees in 1986 and served as vice chairman for development and public relations, in addition to taking an active role in the college’s major capital campaigns. At Bridgewater Retirement Community, where he and his wife Joan now live, he has served on the board of directors and has chaired the board of its operating division, Bridgewater HealthCare Inc.

— In more news from Bridgewater College, the school has earned a place in the 2015 Princeton Review Guide to 353 Green Colleges. According to a release from the college, “The guide profiles colleges with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability based on their academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives, and activities…. The New York City-based education services company selected Bridgewater based on data from a 2014 survey of college administrators that asked about the college’s sustainability related policies, practices, and programs.” The Princeton Review tallied Green Rating scores for nearly 900 institutions, and admitted only 353. Bridgewater’s Green Rating is 84; the highest possible score is 99, the release said.

— McPherson (Kan.) College invited John Paul Lederach to give the Religious Heritage Lecture on April 19. Lederach, whose career “has been focused addressing conflict with hope and creativity fits perfectly as the guest speaker,” said a release from the college. The lecture was presented at McPherson Church of the Brethren, focusing on “The Challenge of the Moral Imagination in Contemporary Conflicts.” The lecture was based on his book “The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace,” which gives examples of people displaying extraordinary “courage, compassion and creativity” in the face of conflict and violence around the world. Lederach is professor of international peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame, and director of the Peace Accords Matrix at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame, and is recognized internationally for his work as a consultant and mediator in places like Somalia, Northern Ireland, Colombia, and the Philippines.

— Springs of Living Water, an initiative for church renewal, announces two academies for pastors and ministers scheduled in coming months. “We are now receiving registrations for the Fall 2015 course,” said the announcement. “Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 8 to10 a.m. (Eastern time), the Foundations of Church Renewal course will be offered with 5 conference call sessions held over a 12-week period. Then beginning Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, from 8 to10 a.m. (Eastern time), the Foundations of Church Renewal course, with a bi-vocational component, will be offered in a similar 12-week component.” In the academies, pastors participate in spiritual disciplines folders, with a scripture reading and a format for prayer, as they delve into the 12 classic spiritual disciplines explored by Richard Foster in the book “Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth.” Using a guided syllabus, pastors also take part in a spiritually oriented, servant-led course for ongoing renewal of a church using the book “Springs of Living Water, Christ-centered Church Renewal” written by instructor David Young. In the academy experience, people from the congregation walk along with their pastor, also using the disciplines folder. With a reflection paper, pastors receive 1.0 continuing education credit. David and Joan Young founded the Springs of Living Water Initiative in Church Renewal 10 years ago in the Church of the Brethren. An interpretative DVD produced by David Sollenberger is available at For more information contact or 717-615-4515.

— On April 9, at 3:15 p.m., bells rang nation-wide to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., was one of the groups to host a bell-ringing, according to the Shenandoah District newsletter. “The commemoration, sponsored by the National Park Service, marks the date in 1865 when Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee met at Appomattox Court House here in Virginia to set the terms of the South’s surrender after four years of bloodshed,” said the newsletter.

— The 42nd annual Brethren Bible Institute sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) is scheduled for July 27-31 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Ten courses will be offered. Students may enroll in as many as three. Cost is $250 for those needing on-campus housing, or $100 for commuters. Contact the Brethren Bible Institute, 155 Denver Rd., Denver, PA 17517, or go to .

— The New Community Project recently sent grants of $42,000 and $7,000, respectively, to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, reports director David Radcliff. In South Sudan, the funds will support girls’ education, women’s development, and reforestation in Nimule and Narus. In Nimule, funds will be administered by the Girlchild Education and Development Association and New Community Forestry, grassroots organizations; and in Narus, by the peace office of the South Sudan Council of Churches. The project will be supporting some 250 South Sudanese girls with scholarships this year, while providing hygienic kits to these and 3,000 other girls. For the women, assistance is being offered for tailoring training, gardening programs, and for material aid and food to women at Melijo Displaced Persons Camp. The project also has begun a relationship with the Brethren in the Congo with a grant supporting several dozen girls in attending school and providing a tailoring training course for women. “Having endured a 20 year civil conflict that has cost 5 million lives and in which women have been regular targets of sexual violence, this seems like an area of our world calling for our attention,” said Radcliff. For more information, go to .

— “We remember in prayer those who have died and express our deepest sympathies to their families,” said a joint release of the World Council of Churches, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, and the Conference of European Churches. “As many as 700 people are feared dead following the capsizing of their vessel just outside Libyan waters. Rescue efforts are underway and so far 28 survivors have been found, according to media reports,” the release said. In the statement, WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit called for “renewed solidarity and action, and for a resumption and strengthening of a collective European response” to the loss of life among refugees seeking to land in Europe. “We ask for meaningful European search and rescue efforts and call on European Union Member States to contribute substantially and speedily to such efforts in order to prevent future loss of life among people driven to this desperate crossing,” Tveit said. “These tragedies are strong calls for strengthening the efforts to address the root causes for poverty, social insecurity, and conflicts in the countries from where the migrants are coming.” Doris Peschke, general secretary of the CCME, commented in the release: “Only legal and safe pathways into Europe would help to prevent these tragedies from happening. This includes increased refugee resettlement and lifting of visa requirements for people arriving from countries in conflict.” More on the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe is at .

— In more news from the World Council of Churches, WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has sent a solidarity letter to Abune Mathias, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, expressed shock over the killing of more than 20 Ethiopian Christians in Libya by the Islamic State (IS). “I speak on behalf of the ecumenical family when I say that we are shocked and appalled by the heinous and inhuman violence inflicted on these innocent faithful Ethiopians and that we strongly denounce and condemn any ideology that condones and celebrates murder and torture,” said Tveit in the letter issued April 21. “It is in such troubled and challenging times,” he continued, “that the gospel imperative of solidarity and ecumenical togetherness with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is more relevant than ever…. We stand in solidarity with your church during this painful period when you are mourning your faithful children.” Find the letter at .

— Don Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and the leading expert on the Amish, is featured in an April 20 article published by Lancaster Online, titled “Don Kraybill: Five Takeaways from Scholar’s Speech on the ‘Amish Riddle.’” Kraybill is retiring as senior fellow at Elizabethtown College’s Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies and the article reports on his keynote address for the college’s Scholarship and Creative Arts Day. Read more about Kraybill’s study of the Amish and the “five takeaways” from their plain lifestyle at .

— Ben Barlow, past chair of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board, is the subject of a feature story in “The Washington Post.” The article titled, “A Game of Healing: Still in the Game,” highlights the way the Orioles baseball team has been a “shared love of Ben Barlow and his late wife Monica. Staying involved with the team helps him cope with her loss.” Monica Barlow was in charge of media and public relations for the team for 14 years before she died in February 2014. “That meant Barlow spent much of his marriage at the ballpark or on the road with the team…. ‘I can’t imagine not being at the ballpark,’ he said.” Find the article at .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Deborah Brehm, Tom Fralin, Peggy Gish, Kendra Harbeck, Mary Kay Heatwole, Carl and Roxane Hill, Pat and John Krabacher, Ralph McFadden, Suzie Moss, Adam Pracht, David Radcliff, Laura Whitman, Jenny Williams, Walt Wiltschek, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for April 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.

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]