Newsline for Feb. 10, 2015

1) Ballot is announced for the 2015 Annual Conference

2) General registration and hotel reservations for Annual Conference 2015 begin soon

3) Opportunities at Tampa Conference include meaningful worship, Florida sights, and the work of the church

4) Brethren mission worker involved in auto accident in Nigeria

5) Brian Bultman begins as CFO, executive for Organizational Resources for the Church of the Brethren

6) Julie Kingrey resigns as assistant director of Financial Operations for Brethren Benefit Trust

7) ‘Dear Ms. Grace, my name is Linh’: Vietnamese students learn from a Brethren life story

8) Death Row Support Project: DRSP News, Issue 7, February 2015

9) Brethren bits: Remembering Sidney King, “All God’s People Say Amen,” Congregational Life exec. leads Shenandoah meeting, new playground at Camp Placid, recommendations of Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare, and more.

Quote of the week:

“In many respects, Ash Wednesday is the trumpet blowing in Zion. It is a liturgical wake-up call for God’s people, reminding us the season of Lent is here. The trumpet blares, echoing across the hills and reverberating through the valleys. The trumpet call rallies us to pay close attention to our bent on drifting, to own our inclination for normalizing a growing separation from our Creator.”

— Craig H. Smith, district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Northeast District, writing in “Searching for the Kingdom of Heaven,” the Lenten devotional from Brethren Press. This is excerpted from the devotion for Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18. The devotional is published in a pocket-sized paperback format suitable for individual use and for congregations to supply to their members. Purchase for $2.75 per copy. Go to www.brethrenpress.com or call 800-441-3712.

A note to readers: Newsline will not appear next week. The next issue is scheduled for Feb. 24.


1) Ballot is announced for the 2015 Annual Conference

The ballot has been announced for the 2015 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, to take place in Tampa, Fla., on July 11-15. The Nominating Committee of the Standing Committee of district delegates developed a slate of candidates, and the Standing Committee then voted to create the ballot that will be presented to the delegate body in July.

Nominees are listed by position:

Annual Conference Moderator-Elect:
Michael Benner of Loysburg, Pa., in Middle Pennsylvania District
Carol Scheppard of Mount Sidney, Va., in Shenandoah District

Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee:
Founa Inola Augustin of Miama, Fla., in Atlantic Southeast District
Deborah Lynn Payne of Jonesborough, Tenn., in Southeastern District

Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee:
Beth M. Cage of St. Charles, Minn., in Northern Plains District
Michael S. Miller of Thomasville, Pa., in Southern Pennsylvania District

Review and Evaluation Committee:
Ben S. Barlow of Ellicott City, Md., in Shenandoah District
Tim Harvey of Roanoke, Va., in Virlina District
Leah J. Hileman of East Berlin, Pa., in Southern Pennsylvania District
Cathy Simmons Huffman of Rocky Mount, Va., in Virlina District
Robert D. Kettering of Manheim, Pa., in Atlantic Northeast District
Dale E. Minnich of Moundridge, Kan., in Western Plains District
David K. Shumate of Roanoke, Va., in Virlina District
Craig H. Smith of Elizabethtown, Pa., in Atlantic Northeast District
Phillip C. Stone Jr. of Linville, Va., in Shenandoah District
Fred Wilson Swartz of Bridgewater, Va., in Shenandoah District

Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board:
Area 1 —
Paul Albert Liepelt of Sipesville, Pa., in Western Pennsylvania District
Rebecca Miller Zeek of Duncansville, Pa., in Middle Pennsylvania District

Area 4 —
John Hoffman of McPherson, Kan., in Western Plains District
Vandna Christina Singh of Panora, Iowa, in Northern Plains District

Area 5 —
Mark Bausman of Twin Falls, Idaho, in Idaho District
Mary Fleming of Elk Grove, Calif., in Pacific Southwest District

Bethany Theological Seminary Trustee:
Representing the laity —
Lynn M. Myers, (incumbent), of Rocky Mount, Va., in Virlina District
Deborah Hoffman Wagoner of McPherson, Kan., in Western Plains District

Representing the clergy —
Marla Bieber Abe of Carlisle, Pa., in Southern Pennsylvania District
Christopher Bowman of Manassas, Va., in Mid-Atlantic District

Brethren Benefit Trust Board:
Harry Spencer Rhodes, (incumbent), of Roanoke, Va., in Virlina District
Kay Weaver of Strasburg, Pa., in Atlantic Northeast District

On Earth Peace Board:
Randy Cosner of Dayton, Va., in Shenandoah District
Christy Crouse of Warrensburg, Mo., in Missouri and Arkansas District

For more information about the 2015 Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac . Delegate registration is now open online at that address. General registration and hotel reservations for nondelegates will open online on Feb. 25.

2) General registration and hotel reservations for Annual Conference 2015 begin soon

Logo design by Debbie Noffsinger
Logo for Annual Conference 2015

General registration and hotel reservations open online on Feb. 25 for the Church of the Brethren 2015 Annual Conference. The Conference takes place in Tampa, Fla., on July 11-15. General registration will be available at www.brethren.org/ac where online registration for delegates already has begun.

The general registration for nondelegates begins at 12 noon (central time) on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at which time Conference hotel reservations for both delegates and non-delegates also will be available.

After registering, participants will immediately receive an e-mail giving a link to reserve rooms at a Conference hotel. Delegates who already are registered also will receive the e-mail link on Feb. 25 to secure their hotel reservations.

Conference facilities in Tampa

The Conference will meet at the Tampa Bay Convention Center. The headquarters hotel will be the Tampa Marriott Waterside. Also in the Conference hotel block is the Tampa Embassy Suites Downtown.

The Conference hotel rate at the Marriott Waterside is $109 for one to four persons per room. At the Embassy Suites, the rate is $114 for one person per night including a hot breakfast for one, with each additional person in the room charged an additional $10 per night.

More details about these two hotels are on the Conference website. This room rate is only available through the e-mail link, the hotels cannot give the negotiated Conference rate directly.

For any questions, call the Conference Office at 847-429-4365.

3) Opportunities at Tampa Conference include meaningful worship, Florida sights, and the work of the church

The Conference Office is highlighting a number of special opportunities on the schedule of the 2015 Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla., July 11-15, in addition to doing the work of the church together. Conference-goers this year may enjoy activities unique to Florida–such as outings to view dolphins in their natural habitat–as well as worship opportunities including a Sunday evening with the music of Ken Medema and the comedy and drama of Ted and Co.

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Florida venue

Conference-goers and their families may enjoy some of the sights of Tampa and its seaside location during this annual meeting. Among special opportunities being organized by the Conference Office are Dolphin Trips scheduled for Monday, July 13. A boat will come to the dock at the Convention Center to pick up people who have signed up and purchased a ticket. Tickets will cost $25 per person. Trips will leave at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. for an hour and fifteen minute boat ride. Sign up as part of online registration for the Conference, beginning at 12 noon (central time) on Feb. 25 at www.brethren.org/ac . Tickets will be on a first come, first served basis.

Meaningful worship

Annual Conference Sunday will be celebrated on Sunday, July 12, when Church of the Brethren congregations around the country are invited to worship together by participating in the webcast from Tampa. The Annual Conference Sunday morning worship will be shared via a live video webcast and local congregations may broadcast the service in their own sanctuaries, to join together as one virtual congregation with other Brethren across the denomination. More information about how to join the Annual Conference Sunday webcast will be made available.

The Sunday evening program on July 12 will feature musician Ken Medema and Ted and Co. with Mennonite actor Ted Swartz. Medema and Swartz are well known to Brethren of all ages through their participation in denominational events over the years, including previous Annual Conferences, National Youth Conference, and National Older Adult Conference. The Sunday evening program will be open to all Conference participants, and will take place from 7-8:30 pm.

Schedule overview

Photo by Glenn Riegel
Ted Swartz of Ted & Co. (left) hams it up with musician Ken Medema onstage at last year’s National Youth Conference (NYC). Both have provided inspirational leadership at previous Church of the Brethren events including Annual Conferences, NYCs, and National Older Adult Conferences.

The overall schedule for the Conference also includes numerous opportunities for fellowship including a Conference-wide ice cream social, fellowship for delegates who will be seated at round tables again this year, and table fellowship at meal events, among others.

The ice cream social for the whole Conference is on the opening night, Saturday, July 11, in the Convention Center. The ice cream social is free for all Conference-goers, and will take place from 8:30-10:30 p.m.

Also on the schedule are daily worship services, catered meal events, hearings on Conference business, insight sessions, support groups, age group activities for children, youth, and young adults, and additional special activities for single adults and other groups.

Business sessions are scheduled at 2-4:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, July 12, and 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 2-4:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, July 13-14.

The Conference opens with worship starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, and closes with worship on Wednesday morning, July 15, ending by 10:30 a.m.

For an overview of the schedule and more information about the 2015 Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac .


4) Brethren mission worker involved in auto accident in Nigeria

By Carl Hill

At the end of a busy work week, Church of the Brethren mission worker Cliff Kindy was involved in an auto accident while traveling from Yola to Jos, Nigeria (approximately 200 miles). He and his party appeared unhurt, but the driver of another car suffered a broken leg in the accident.

Photo courtesy of EYN
Cliff Kindy (left) with Dr. Samuel Dali, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), after the accident.

Traveling by car in Nigeria can be an experience in itself. Speed limits and ordinary rules of the road do not always apply when trying to get from one place to another. Last Saturday, during this trip that usually takes about eight hours, the front tire came off the car somewhere in Bauchi State. The driver lost the ability to keep the car on the road and it veered off into a field where it eventually came to a stop. Meanwhile, the tire continued to roll down the middle of the road where it struck the driver’s side door of an on-coming pickup truck. The tire caused considerable damage to the truck and the driver’s leg was broken by the impact.

Photo courtesy of EYN

Another car was soon sent to pick up Kindy and the others, and they continued to their destination. It was not until the next morning that he suffered the after-effects of the ordeal. Before too long, he was surrounded by his new friends in Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), his glasses were straightened out, and a few band-aids were put on to patch up our bruised ambassador. Kindy contacted his wife back in the States to let her know what had happened and to assure her that he would be alright.

Markus Gamache, EYN staff liaison, visited the man who was injured in the accident and encouraged him.

We are praying for Cliff Kindy and we believe that God has been watching over him while he has been in Nigeria. The support shown to him by members of EYN leadership is a sign that everything he has been doing there is being appreciated and serves as a testimony to the outstanding work he has been doing.

— Carl and Roxane Hill are co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren. More about the Nigeria Crisis Response is at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .


5) Brian Bultman begins as CFO, executive for Organizational Resources for the Church of the Brethren

Brian Bultman

Brian Bultman, CPA, of Plainfield, Ill., has been appointed chief financial officer and executive director of Organizational Resources for the Church of the Brethren. He began work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Feb. 9.

“I am excited about the skills that Brian brings to this position, and hope you will join me in welcoming him to the Church of the Brethren,” said Stan Noffsinger, general secretary.

Most recently Bultman has been CFO of NYMEO Federal Credit Union in Frederick, Md., from 2013-2014, where he held responsibility for management of the Accounting, Auditing, Payments, and Information Systems departments, as well as the compliance function, and was part of the Senior Management Team.

From 2004-2013, he worked for Healthcare Associates Credit Union in Naperville, Ill., where he was vice president for Information Systems and chief information officer from 2004-2010, and senior vice president and CFO from 2011-2013.

Previously, he served at three credit unions in Illinois, as vice president of Finance for the Kane County Teachers Credit Union in Elgin from 2001-2003, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Narda Credit Union in Lombard from 1998-2001, and director of Auditing and Compliance at the Baxter Credit Union in Deerfield from 1990-1998.

He holds a master of science in Management Information Systems from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, and a bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Illinois CPA Society.

6) Julie Kingrey resigns as assistant director of Financial Operations for Brethren Benefit Trust

Julie Kingrey has tendered her resignation as assistant director of Financial Operations for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). Her resignation comes after her husband’s work was relocated to North Carolina.

Kingrey has been employed by BBT for a short time, since Aug. 25, 2014. She has been a tremendous asset, in part due to her prior work with BBT while employed by the Nottingham Company–one of BBT’s vendors–and assigned as account manager.

BBT will determine next steps for the Finance Department. Meanwhile, Bob Mosley has agreed to work on a contracted basis to assist with audit papers. He will start work on Monday, Feb. 16.

— Donna March is director of Office Operations for the Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust.


7) ‘Dear Ms. Grace, my name is Linh’: Vietnamese students learn from a Brethren life story

By Jess Corrigan and Linh

On Friday, Jan. 30, the English Communication Skills Class at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, had the pleasure of celebrating Ms. Grace Mishler’s and Miss Lan’s birthdays in the classroom. Our guest, Grace Mishler, took center stage as the 12 students in attendance introduced themselves. She is a Social Work Project Developer at the university.

Photo courtesy of Jess Corrigan
Grace Mishler (seated, in an orange blouse) with an English class in Vietnam.

The students talked about their jobs, studies, and interests. Everyone spoke clearly and confidently, which was a source of pride for me since the class has only been going for three weeks. It is always a pleasure to invite guests to the class and Grace is a suitable candidate because she paints images when she tells her stories.

The students were entertained when I asked Grace what her first job was. This led to some hilarity when she came up with a string of jobs the first being a prison guard. A graduate of life’s university, our guest had worked in a variety of professions. Her care work involved helping teenage boys and girls who were in dire straits, a stint taking care of people in a mental health institution. And oh! she once worked as an ice cream seller and drove a catering truck. For the past 14 years Grace has been a Social Work Project Developer in Vietnam.

While telling us about the farm where she grew up with seven siblings, Grace embroidered her stories with so much color and imagery especially as she remembered the plants, fruit trees, and vegetables which kept the family going during the long harsh winters. Her mother had to preserve fruit and vegetables–a practice familiar to most Vietnamese people. This provided a vocabulary list which included: apples, peaches, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, peas, beans, squash, and pumpkins.

Grace also provided a vivid description of how maple syrup is extracted from the maple tree. Her father would drill a small hole into the tree trunk allowing the sap to drain into a container, then filled jars with syrup available for sale.

Miss Tran, a business woman, took the initiative to thank our guest, concluding with a humorous remark, “I hope someday I will be able to taste the maple syrup from your farm.”

When asked if the students wished a return visit from our guest, all hands were raised and we left the class for our weekend break. Grace later commented on how she felt happy and relaxed during the visit.

It was the least we could do on her birthday.

Jess Corrigan

Dear Ms. Grace,

Photo courtesy of Jess Corrigan
Linh (third from left in the back row) with her English class in Vietnam.

My name is Linh from the English Communication Class at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities here in Ho Chi Minh City. My English teacher is Ms. Jess from Scotland.

I would like to thank you for visiting our class last Friday and sharing your interesting stories with us. When I heard about how many different jobs you had, I was surprised. You are the first person I’ve met who had worked in various fields, from a bank teller, an ice cream maker, a driver, and even a prison guard, etc.

Normally in Viet Nam, when you graduate from college or university, you will use your degree to look for a job in the field that you learned at college. It is unlikely that they would change from one company to another so often. But you had a variety of jobs. I wonder how interesting it must have been to have experience in so many things like you. You knew what a bank teller has to do. You knew how to make ice cream in an ice cream store. You knew how to drive a catering truck safely and effectively. And being a prison guard, you had a rare chance to know how a prison was run in reality. (Even though it made me wonder what had led you to this job. Was it hard? Was it dangerous? Was it interesting?) Each of your jobs brought you a different experience. When I listened to your stories, and saw your happy face, I couldn’t stop thinking how interesting it is to have many different jobs like you. It was like an adventure, a job-adventure. It made your life very colorful, didn’t it? Most people who work in one field after graduating do not have as many colors as yours.

This world is large, very large, and colorful too. It is great to experience many different things in life like you. I really wish to have an interesting life like you. Thanks for sharing your  job adventure stories with us.

Oh! And when you talked about your childhood on a farm: wow! I really envy you. You grew up on a big farm with different animals: cat, dog, horse, cow, and so on. Your house was even near a big wood with maple trees. I grew up in a small town in Binh Dinh province, in the middle of Viet Nam. I did not live in a city, my home is small but comfortable. I like planting trees and raising animals very much. But there was no place in my home to plant anything.

About animals, I did once raise a cat. That happened when my father brought home a little white cat. It was really cute. When it was little, my sister and I tried hard to keep it from running out of our home. Well, there is a main street in front of our home, and there are many big trucks driving by, so it is dangerous. But when our cat got bigger, how could you prevent a cat from going out? It just went out at night and came home in the morning. Home is just a place to eat and sleep for my cat. But, it was still cute and it was a brave cat. It chased out all the big dogs in the neighborhood who dared to venture near our home. It wasn’t scared of any big dog.

Until today I still think that it was part of my fault that my cat’s life ended too soon. One morning, it was found in a well with another cat. I could only guess that it got into a fight with the other cat, and then…they both  fell into the well. Since then I haven’t raised any animal and probably won’t until I know how to take better care of the animal. Just feeding it isn’t enough.

As you can see, my childhood wasn’t as interesting as you. It was mostly about school, television, and hard work. So, when I heard your stories, I thought what an interesting childhood you had.

Once again, Ms. Grace, thank you for visiting our class and talking about the interesting things you have experienced. I believe you still have many interesting stories to tell us. Personally I would like to hear more details on how you got your jobs? And any other stories you may wish to share with our class.

I  wish you good health, and please visit our class when you have free time!!!

Yours sincerely,


— Jess Corrigan, an English teacher from Scotland who is working in Vietnam, and Linh, a student in her English class, provided these reflections for Newsline. Grace Mishler is serving in Vietnam through the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service.

8) Death Row Support Project: DRSP News, Issue 7, February 2015

By Rachel Gross

Dear Friends of DRSP — Four years ago, a group here in North Manchester, Ind., asked me to talk to them about the Death Row Support Project, as well as general issues related to the death penalty. A week later, I met with individuals from that group interested in writing to someone on death row. I took to the meeting all of the letters we had from death row prisoners waiting for pen pals. Several people attended; they passed the letters around, reading through them until each person settled on someone they wanted to write.

One of the letters circulated that evening was from Raymond Johnson, who is on death row in Oklahoma. David Waas, a retired Manchester University professor and a member of Manchester Church of the Brethren, selected Raymond’s letter and began writing to him.

We ask correspondents to write at least once each month, and more often if possible. Raymond is a prolific letter writer; it seemed like every time I saw David at church, he would say, “I got another letter from Raymond!”

Within a few months, David started sending Raymond a copy of pastor Kurt Borgmann’s sermon each week. Raymond very much appreciated the theology expressed in those sermons, as well as the beliefs and views that David expressed in his letters.

One day, David got a letter from Raymond in which he said, “I would like to be a member of your church!” Over time, Raymond continued to express that sentiment.

Eventually, David took this request to pastor Kurt and the church’s Executive Board. The board suggested that Kurt begin writing to Raymond, which he did. On Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, Kurt preached about Jeremiah’s prediction of God’s people returning home after being in exile (Jeremiah 31:7-14). Here is part of his sermon:

“Over the last almost 11 months, I have been corresponding with a prisoner on death row in Oklahoma. I started the correspondence because I was asked to by the church board. Raymond is his name, and David and Becky Waas have been writing to him for some years now and sharing with him their Christian love and the messages and spirit of our church. Almost a year ago, Raymond asked them if he could become a member of our church, so the church board asked me to engage in a conversation with him about that.

“Raymond lives on death row. He does not have a home. He wants this to be his home; us to be his home.

“I have to confess that this has been a testing journey for me (and when I say confess, I mean that in the most open sense, because Raymond will read these words–I send him the sermon by mail every week). It’s been a testing journey for me because I cannot quite wrap my head around the idea of murder. I cannot fathom it–what possesses a person to kill another. I cannot fathom it and I cannot stomach it. And yet…what Raymond and I have shared with each other across these months of writing back and forth is not inhumanity, but humanity. When I talked in a sermon in early November about upcoming stewardship enlistment–a sermon about the stewardship of self, Raymond made his own commitment card and sent it tucked into a letter. The card said this: ‘I, Raymond Johnson, commit to being the best me I can be and giving of myself freely, and in love and in service, to further the kingdom and still strive to be a light in darkness. All I have is myself, so I strive to better it and give more of it. In God’s service, Raymond.’

“The Church Board, at our last meeting, back in December, decided to accept Raymond into membership. (That’s the way it works in our church when someone asks for membership–the pastor brings the request, and the board takes a vote.) So, sometime soon, we receive Raymond into membership. He comes home.”

Photo courtesy of DRSP

This will not be the first time a person on death row has joined the Church of the Brethren. About 30 years ago, Wanda Callahan, then pastor of Jacksonville (Florida) Church of the Brethren, baptized at least one person on Florida’s death row, and I believe that person was then a member of the congregation.

There is a man on death row in Pennsylvania who grew up in the Church of the Brethren. In a letter exchange last year, he and I discovered that we both attended the 1985 Annual Conference. He said he was a kid at the time, there with his parents, and his main memory is playing four-square. This person now has a pen pal who graduated from Manchester University. When he writes to her he sends a piece of origami he has created.

When we started the Death Row Support Project in 1978, I certainly had no idea of the impact it would have on hundreds of lives. And it certainly did not occur to me that someone on death row would become a member of my church. I am grateful for those heeding Jesus’ call to visit those in prison, including by letter-writing. And I am grateful that our church can be home for Raymond Johnson.

Praying for a world where all find home,

Rachel Gross

P.S. An update! On Monday, Jan. 26, the man in Pennsylvania who created the origami shown above had his sentence commuted from death to life without parole (lwop). LWOP is not much different from a death sentence, but it still feels like good news.

— Rachel Gross is director of the Death Row Support Project, P.O. Box 600, Liberty Mills, IN 46946; www.brethren.org/drsp; www.facebook.com/deathrowsupportproject .

9) Brethren bits

Carl and Roxane Hill, co-directors of the denomination’s Nigeria Crisis Response, were hosted last week by Lakewood Church of the Brethren in Millbury, Ohio. Church members observed a day of fasting before enjoying a wonderful dinner and fellowship together. Afterwards, the Hills presented a slide show about life in Nigeria, the violence that is taking place now, and the church’s response to the crisis. If your church or district wants to hear more about what is happening in Nigeria and what the Church of the Brethren is doing to walk with our sisters and brothers in the Nigerian Church of the Brethren, contact Kendra Harbeck at 847-429-4388. She can arrange speakers to come to churches or districts to present on Nigeria including Carl and Roxane Hill, Jay Wittmeyer of the Global Mission and Service, Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries, or Larry Glick who is offering presentations in the persona of Elder John Kline. Photo by Barbara Wilch

— Remembrance: Sidney Elizabeth King of Nampa, Idaho, passed away on Jan. 27 following a long illness. She had served as district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Idaho District from Nov. 1989 through Dec. 1998. She also served as treasurer of the Council of District Executives. Prior to that, she served on the denomination’s General Board from 1986-1989. Other church involvements included the Womaen’s Caucus. She was a licensed minister, and a public accountant, and had a business providing bookkeeping and income-tax services. A celebration of life service was to be held today, Feb. 10, at Mountain View Church of the Brethren in Boise, Idaho.

— More information about “All God’s People Say Amen,” an intercultural retreat on May 1-3 hosted by Atlantic Northeast District and Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, is now available at www.brethren.org/intercultural/godspeople2015 . The retreat is co-sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries and Intercultural Ministries. The schedule includes plenary sessions, workshops, and worship. Craig Smith, district executive minister of Atlantic Northeast District, will preach on Sunday, May 3, at a joint service. The plenary sessions will be led by Congregational Life Ministries executive director Jonathan Shively, “Anablacktivist” Drew Hart who writes and speaks about Christian response to the issues of race and ethnicity, and Joel Peña, pastor of Alpha-Omega congregation in Lancaster, Pa. Early bird registration costs $40, or $35 per person for groups of three or more (valid until April 1). Find more information and registration at www.brethren.org/intercultural/godspeople2015 . For questions contact Intercultural Ministries director Gimbiya Kettering at gkettering@brethren.org or 847-429-4387.

— Congregational Life Ministries executive Jonathan Shively will provide leadership for “Cultivating for a Great Harvest”–the annual church development conference of Shenandoah District. The conference takes place Feb. 21, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at Mountain View Fellowship Church of the Brethren in McGaheysville, Va. Shively’s presentation will be on calling and equipping leadership. Cost to attend is $25 per person or $20 per person for groups of more than five from a congregation. For a brochure and more information go to https://files.ctctcdn.com/071f413a201/8cd1265b-224a-490a-930e-d195334592b9.pdf .

— “With Winter comes Spring, Spring comes rain, help us build the Ark one board at a time…” said an announcement of a fundraiser for a Noah’s Ark Playground at Camp Placid in Blountville, Tenn., in Southeastern District. A love offering event is planned for March 22, at Camp Placid. A quartet will sing starting at 6:30 p.m.

— “Christ the Lord Has Risen; Alleluia; And He Goes Before Us Today” is the title for the Springs of Living Water Spiritual Disciplines folder for the season of Lent and Easter, running from Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, through Resurrection Day, April 5, and Easter week. The Springs of Living Water church renewal initiative is led by David and Joan Young. “With Lent a season of preparation and repentance, Easter is a season of new life and knowledge that the Risen Christ goes before,” said the announcement. Using Sunday and daily lectionary readings that follow the Brethren Press bulletin series, the folder helps individuals and congregations in daily prayer, following the Brethren practice to live the meaning of the text each day. The folder also has Bible study questions written by Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren south of Pittsburgh, Pa. The folder can be used for individual or group Bible study. Find the folder and Bible study questions on the Springs website at www.churchrenewalservant.org under the Springs button. The use of the folders has now spread to three prisons, the Youngs report, as congregations reach out in their ministries. For more information contact David and Joan Young at 717-615-4515.

— Former students and graduates of the peace studies program at Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind., are showcased in a new “Peacemakers Project” online. So far, profiles of the current work of six peace studies grads have been posted including Natalie Rivera (2003), Matt Guynn (1995), Sarah Hall (2007), Yvonne Dilling (1979), Rachel E. Long (2006), and Kourtney Reed (2013). Go to http://manchesteruniversity.tumblr.com/tagged/Peacemakers .

— Bridgewater (Va.) College will host a presentation by David Radcliff, director of the New Community Project, titled “1,000 Piece Puzzle” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. “Radcliff, who has just returned from Myanmar and South Sudan, will share stories and photos from his journey, which was undertaken to promote peace,” said a release from the college. Radcliff teaches courses at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College in the areas of globalization, environmental care, and poverty and hunger, and leads Learning Tours to the Arctic, Amazon, Nepal, Myanmar, Sudan, and Central America. He is a 1975 Bridgewater graduate and recipient of the college’s 2008 West/Whitelow Humanitarian Award. His presentation is sponsored by the Glen E. Weimer Peace Lecture Series. The program is free and open to the public.

— In more news from Bridgewater College, Stephen Longenecker, the Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor of History, will speak about his book “Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. Longenecker’s book explores the religious history of antebellum and Civil War era Gettysburg, shedding light on the diversity of American religion and the intricate ways it interacted with the broader culture, a release said. He has written five other books, including “Shenandoah Religion: Outsiders and the Mainstream, 1716-1865″ and “The Brethren During the Age of World War: The Church of the Brethren Encounter with Modernization, 1914-1950: A Source Book.” Sponsored by the Anna B. Mow Lecture Series, the event is free and open to the public.

— The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation has awarded a grant to the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests to initiate an online Center for Queer Anabaptist/Pietist Studies. The announcement of the initiative came in the BMC NewsNet e-mail newsletter. “The project, which will be developed over the next three years, will have three primary areas of focus,” the newsletter said: “I. Holding Sacred Memory–The Oral History Project, featuring films and interviews collected from individuals, families and congregations. II. Enhancing Competency and Awareness–The Online Training and Resource Center, offering lgbtq related courses, webinars and resources for pastors, parents and allies. III. Building Connections–The Network for Queer Scholars, Seminarians and Artists, a means to encourage, develop, showcase, and connect scholars and artists who are doing lgbtq related work.”

— Final policy recommendations of the Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare have been released online at www.peacecoalition.org/dronesconference . The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness staff were involved in planning for the event, and reported on it in Newsline on Jan. 27 ( www.brethren.org/news/2015/interfaith-community-calls-to-end-drone-warfare.html ). Headlined, “Immediately Halt Lethal Drone Strikes,” the document quotes from various religious traditions including the New Testament (1 Peter 3:11), and states that the recommendations emerge from “our growing concern about the use of lethal drones by the United States and other countries” centered on “the nature of lethal drones as a weapon, namely their use in targeted killings of specific individuals most of whom are Muslims, their impact upon targeted communities, their operation by remote control, and the consequences that drones increase hostilities.” In addition to the recommendation to immediately halt targeted lethal drone strikes, other recommendations call for transparency and accountability on the part of the US administration in acknowledging the strikes, accounting for victims, explaining official criteria for the “kill list,” and more. The document also calls on Congress to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force and calls on the President “to rescind the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency, Joint Special Operations Command, or any other government agency or contractor to use weaponized or lethal drones,” among other measures. Find the full document at www.peacecoalition.org/dronesconference .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeffrey S. Boshart, Deborah Brehm, Jane Collins, Jess Corrigan, Chris Douglas, Rachel Gross, Mary Kay Heatwole, Carl and Roxane Hill, Grace Mishler, Nate Hosler, Jon Kobel, Donna March, Nancy Miner, David Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline will be postponed until Feb. 24. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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