Newsline for Jan. 21, 2015

Photo by Joel Brumbaugh-Cayford

1) Donations to Nigeria Crisis Fund meet board’s matching challenge

2) Some Nigerian Brethren are attacked again after returning to their homes

3) Suffering under Boko Haram: The horror of what everyday life in northeast Nigeria has become

4) Groundbreaking consultation explores the meaning and practice of ‘believers baptism’ for the future unity of the church

5) GFCF supports agriculture in North Korea, garden project for inmates in Brazil, farmer’s market in New Orleans

6) Lancaster Church purchases uniforms and supplies for homeless students

7) Intercultural retreat to be hosted in Atlantic Northeast District in May

8) Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center offers series of continuing education events

9) Brethren bits: Bethany seeks executive for institutional advancement, more job openings, General Offices gives warehouse space for MLK Food Drive, Service Sunday is Feb. 1, Winter Park celebrates 90 years, Frederick hosts Ken Medema, Rais Bhuiyan at Bridgewater, more.

Quote of the week:

“The danger in how we remember MLK [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] today (as a hero of mythological proportions) is that we believe he set a commendable standard that is impossible to meet. We think we should honor him by remembering and being amazed by what he accomplished, when really we should honor him by stepping into his shoes, learning from his successes and shortcomings, and carrying forward his legacy…. When we remember MLK, let’s not put him on a pedestal and in so doing take ourselves out of the hot seat.”

— Emmett Eldred is a Church of the Brethren member and a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University. He was on the denomination’s National Youth Cabinet, and following the inspirational speech by Jarrod McKenna at last year’s National Youth Conference he founded where he blogs and invites others to contribute as well. He also has begun a project to send 1,000 letters in support of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Find out more at .


1) Donations to Nigeria Crisis Fund meet board’s matching challenge

More than $500,000 has been raised for the Nigeria Crisis Fund, meeting a matching challenge issued by the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board last fall. As of Dec. 31, 2014, the Nigeria Crisis Fund had received a total of $506,100.50 in donations.

“Once again the Brethren have amazed me,” commented general secretary Stan Noffsinger. “At a time of year when there are many demands on our finances, members of the church have generously given. We are part of a family of churches that span the globe and when one is in crisis, all join with them, just as the church did after the Haiti earthquake. We don’t expect that generosity to wane because we’ve met the challenge match. We will walk with the Nigerian Brethren through this time of turmoil so they are not alone.

Photo by David Sollenberger
Women and children waiting to receive food and supplies distributed by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The half million dollars donated to the Nigeria Crisis Fund, and the matching amount from the Church of the Brethren denominational reserves, will provide funding for such distributions of food and relief materials to Nigerians displaced by violence.

“We hear frequently from Samuel Dali, president of EYN, that the e-mails and letters and financial assistance serve as a tremendous encouragement at a time when Nigeria is frequently overlooked by the international community,” Noffsinger added. “They know their church family cares for them, cares for the displaced people, the orphaned children, and the widows.”

The Nigeria Crisis Fund supports the crisis relief effort of the Church of the Brethren and Brethren Disaster Ministries working cooperatively with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). For details about this relief effort, go to .

In Oct. 2014, the denomination’s Mission and Ministry board challenged Brethren to raise a half million dollars for the crisis response effort in Nigeria, pledging to match that with funds from denominational reserves. At that time the board also committed $500,000 from reserves, and approved an allocation of $500,000 from the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund.

The amount cited above does not include an allocation of $500,000 from the Brethren Disaster Relief Auction, which was given to the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund with flexibility for part or all of it to support the Nigeria Crisis Response, as the rapidly changing situation in Nigeria requires.

With the matching challenge now met, the Church of the Brethren has more than $2 million in funds that have been donated or allocated to the Nigeria crisis response effort.

Many people and churches contributed

Donations toward the matching challenge came from individuals and congregations, with many church groups holding special fundraisers and events in support of EYN and its members as they continue to face violence in the northeast of Nigeria, and many thousands of Nigerian Brethren are displaced from their homes.

“The response to the plight of our Nigerian brothers and sisters is exciting,” said Carl and Roxane Hill, co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response. They shared the following story of how “one small church with a big heart” raised money toward the matching challenge:

“During December, they decorated their Christmas tree with a Nigerian emphasis, topping it with an angel in Nigerian clothing. This church does a ‘mug dump’ each month. The idea is to put all your daily loose change into a mug and then at the end of the month bring it to church and dump into a larger container.

“They choose different ministries to give to each month. December was designated for Nigeria. They gathered $1,700. This money is enough to purchase over 60 bags of grain in Nigeria. Each bag will feed a family of six people for six weeks. So their little ‘mug dump’ will feed 364 people for 6 weeks.

“Who would think loose change for a month could do so much?”

For more about the crisis in Nigeria and the cooperative effort of EYN, Brethren Disaster Ministries, and the Church of the Brethren, go to .

2) Some Nigerian Brethren are attacked again after returning to their homes

Photo courtesy of Carl & Roxane Hill
The Nigeria Crisis Response Team of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) with Roxane and Carl Hill (at right).

Nigeria crisis response co-directors Carl and Roxane Hill have provided an update from recent events in northeast Nigeria, where some members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) have suffered repeat attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in recent days.

“Since Christmas many displaced persons had returned to their homes in northeast Nigeria,” the Hills report. “They had begun holding services outside burnt and destroyed churches. But last week Boko Haram again attacked some of the same areas causing another wave of confusion and terror.

“As one Nigerian told us, ‘I am getting more and more disturbed, confused, and traumatized as I hear the news. The cries of my Muslim and Christian communities in the North East has reached to a level of great concern.’”

Other recent reports from Nigerian Brethren include allegations that Nigerian men who are escaping the violence by running to the mountains in Cameroon are being killed by the Cameroonian army, and that there are no official camps for displaced people in Nigeria being organized by the Nigerian government. Displaced people are staying with families and friends, and in uncompleted buildings, schools, mosques, and churches. “Facilities everywhere are overused and virtually every church and mosque has turned into an IDP camp,” the Hills report–making the Brethren effort to establish temporary housing for displaced people even more crucial at this time.

The Hills ask the American church to continue in prayer and support for Nigeria: “Pray for the people of Nigeria as they face this continuing crisis. Pray also that the assistance the US church is providing can be used to strengthen the church and its people in Nigeria. Special prayers for all those who have lost family members.”

Nigerian Baptist leader critiques lack of international response

In related news, a Nigerian Baptist leader has castigated the international community for ignoring the plight of people suffering extreme insurgent violence in northeast Nigeria, while attention is being paid to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places.

“My consternation is in the attitude of the international community toward the huge destruction going on in Nigeria. The earnestness with which they intervened in the ISIL attack in Syria and Iraq, or the Taliban problem in Afghanistan, etc., is not shown in the case of Nigeria,” said Samson Ayokunle, president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), the largest Baptist World Alliance member organization in Africa with approximately 3.5 million members in some 10,000 churches.

He accused the world community of devaluing Nigerian lives. “Does it not matter to the rest of the world if Boko Haram continues to kill hundreds of people every week? Are these people less human than those being killed in other place where they have gone to directly intervene? My people are being killed like animals and the whole world is just watching.”

Read the full release from the Baptist World Alliance at .

3) Suffering under Boko Haram: The horror of what everyday life in northeast Nigeria has become

This report is provided by Cliff Kindy, a Church of the Brethren volunteer working in Nigeria with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), from an interview with a Nigerian woman who escaped from Boko Haram-held territory in northeast Nigeria. Kindy is volunteering with the Nigeria crisis response, a cooperative effort of EYN, Brethren Disaster Ministries, and the Church of the Brethren in the United States:

Last July the small community of Wagga was attacked by the Boko Haram, an extremist Islamist insurgent group. Over 300 of these terrorists came into the village riding on motorbikes and in cars. Most of the Christians fled the village realizing that they would become the primary targets if they stayed.

After a few days, the Boko Haram returned and burned the churches in Wagga and did the same in the larger community of Madagali, which is close by. Although EYN is the largest church presence in this region, not only were EYN churches destroyed but also those belonging to the Church of Christ in Nigeria, Assemblies of God, and the Roman Catholics. There were eight EYN churches burned. The Boko Haram militants settled in Madagali leaving only a small contingent in Wagga.

Since it was just Muslims left in Wagga, Boko Haram called all the Muslim men, “Come, let us pray together.” They issued an ultimatum, “Who would like to join us?” A handful agreed to join. The rest asked for time to consider the invitation until the next day. Boko Haram immediately took nearly 200 of the men, old and young, to a large hall.

They were separated into groups of ten. The first ten were killed with an ax, the next ten killed with a cutlass and the third group killed with a gun. Then the process was repeated over and over. Later one of each ten was granted “mercy” and so fled. The most elderly were spared and those under 15 were incorporated into Boko Haram and trained as new fighting recruits. The slaughter led some who had volunteered to reconsider and later escape.

In Wagga the small Muslim community had prayed five times each day. They removed their shoes and washed their feet before praying as do most Muslims. Boko Haram prays just once each day, about seven in the morning, and leaves their shoes on while praying.

Boko Haram did not kill the women when they came to Wagga, but took all the food from the houses leaving nothing for the women. Sarah (not her real name) was a single parent farmer, growing groundnuts, red and white beans, and maize. Now she was rarely able to leave her home. When she did she was required to so cover her head that neighbors could barely recognize her or she them. The few Christian women still in Wagga made a pact with the Muslim men who remained that they would live together, not as married couples but as cover from Boko Haram. Those men were able to slip away at times to grind grain for the women to eat.

Sarah is a Christian, but whether Christian or Muslim, living conditions for women were horrible. She and three other women would meet together for prayer whenever the men went out. Her prayer was always, “God, how can I escape to the mountains?”

When Boko Haram first raided Wagga Sarah had fled to safety in the mountains. She returned when she realized her 13-year-old mentally challenged daughter was missing. She remained in Wagga for the sake of her daughter who was later brutally raped by Boko Haram in the six intervening months. The population of Wagga and Madagali has now almost evaporated to only about 200 people in the two communities.

The day after Christmas Sarah awakened at 11 in the night and a vision told her to run for safety. She and one of her friends, who agreed to join her, fled to the mountains. Surprisingly they found 43 other women and 2 men who had similarly fled from other places. They crossed safely into Cameroon to Mokolo village where they found some immediate assistance. Then again as a group they crossed the border and found refuge in Yola. From there Sarah came to Jos where her brother has been caring for two of her young children who had escaped in July. She does not know whether her daughter is still alive but she does praise God for the chance to again see her people.

— This is the most recent story from Nigeria posted on the Church of the Brethren’s new Nigeria blog. The blog also features daily devotions from EYN. Find the blog at . To contribute to the Nigeria Crisis Fund to support the crisis response effort, go to .


4) Groundbreaking consultation explores the meaning and practice of ‘believers baptism’ for the future unity of the church

A three-day consultation took place in early January involving representatives from six different “believers baptism” church traditions to share their understandings and practices of baptism and to explore how their thinking has changed in light of the emerging theological convergence on baptism and growing ecumenical encounter over the past 30 years. This was the first time such a gathering has taken place, and thus represents an historic moment in the life of these traditions.

The traditions who gathered for the event in Kingston, Jamaica, included the Baptists, Brethren, Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Mennonites, and Pentecostals. The 18 participants came from Jamaica, Kenya, Germany, Paraguay, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Church of the Brethren participants were Bethany Theological Seminary president Jeff Carter and Denise Kettering-Lane, assistant professor of Brethren Studies at the Church of the Brethren seminary, sponsored by the General Secretary’s Office. Kettering-Lane presented a paper on behalf of the Church of the Brethren, and Carter co-authored the conference report.

Open and honest reflection

The Believers Baptism Consultation in Jamaica, January 2015

The initiative for the consultation grew out of the annual meeting of the Secretaries of Christian World Communions in 2012, which noted fresh thinking and official agreements around the mutual recognition of baptism between churches who practice “infant baptism” and those who practice “believers baptism.”

The agenda of the consultation included presentations from each of the traditions on their past and current teaching and practice of baptism, with attention to how their understandings have changed or developed, along with the opportunity to discuss the presentations. A representative of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC) also was present to provide input from the perspective of the wider global discussion on baptism within the ecumenical movement.

The highlights of the consultation, as stated in a report on the meeting, included:

— gratitude for the opportunity to have an open and honest reflection on the meaning, practice and shared understandings of baptism among the participants;

— naming the potential found in the image of “being on a journey” for the Christian life, with different forms and expressions of initiation and confession, while sharing a similar call to discipleship;

— the significance of understanding the Holy Spirit as a source both of our diversity as well as our unity in Christ;

— the need for a re-examination of the language of “sacrament,” “ordinance,” “sign,” and “symbol” as ways to acknowledge that God is the primary actor in baptism;

— the need to recognize the continuity between ecumenical reception of other traditions as church, and the practices that marks each tradition as a unique expression of the body of Christ.

The full text of the report on the meeting will be shared with both the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions and the Faith and Order Commission of the WCC with the hope that it will move the discussion and work on the mutual recognition of baptism and Christian unity forward.

Participants in the consultation

Baptist World Alliance:
Rev. Neville Callam, General Secretary, Baptist World Alliance (Washington, D.C.)
Rev. Dr. Glenroy Lalor, Lecturer, United Theological College of the West Indies (Kingston, Jamaica)
Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville, Pastor, First Baptist Church (Richmond, Va.)

Church of the Brethren:
Rev. Dr. Jeff Carter, President, Bethany Theological Seminary (Richmond, Ind.)
Dr. Denise Kettering-Lane, Assistant Professor of Brethren Studies, Bethany Theological Seminary (Richmond, Ind.)

World Convention of the Churches of Christ:
Dr. John Mark Hicks, Professor of Theology, Lipscomb University (Nashville, Tenn.)
Dr. Gary Holloway, Executive Director, World Convention of Churches of Christ (Nashville, Tenn.)
Dr. Mark Weedman, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, Johnson University, (Knoxville, Tenn.)

Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council:
Rev. Dr. Marjorie Lewis, President, United Theological College of the West Indies (Kingston, Jamaica)
Rev. Dr. David M. Thompson, United Reformed Church and Emeritus Professor of Modern Church History, University of Cambridge (England)
Rev. Dr. Robert K. Welsh, General Secretary, Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Mennonite World Conference:
Rev. Dr. Fernando Enns, Professor of (Peace-)Theology and Ethics, Free University Amsterdam (Netherlands) and University of Hamburg (Germany), member of Central Committee of World Council of Churches
Dr. Alfred Neufeld, Rector, Protestant University of Paraguay (Ascension, Paraguay)
Rev. Rebecca Osiro, Mennonite World Conference Eastern Africa Representative, and pastor of Mennonite Church in Nairobi, Kenya

Dr. Cecil M. Robeck, Professor of Church History and Ecumenics, Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, Calif.)
Rev. Dr. Tony Richie, Pastor, New Harvest Church of God (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Adjunct Professor of Pentecostal Theology (Cleveland, Tenn.)
Rev. Dr. Daniel Tomberlin, Pastor, Vidalia Church of God (Vidalia, Ga.)

Faith and Order Commission of WCC:
Rev. Dr. Dagmar Heller, Academic Dean of the Ecumenical Institute (Bossey, Switzerland) and Executive Secretary for Faith and Order, WCC (Geneva, Switzerland)

— This report is from a release provided by Robert K. Welsh.

5) GFCF supports agriculture in North Korea, garden project for inmates in Brazil, farmer’s market in New Orleans

The Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) of the Church of the Brethren has announced several recent grants totaling $22,000. A grant of $10,000 supports agricultural education in North Korea via the work of Robert and Linda Shank at PUST university in Pyongyang. A grant of $10,000 supports a Brethren-led gardening project involving prisoners in Brazil. A grant of $2,000 supports the work of Capstone 118 to begin a small farmer’s market in New Orleans, La.

The allocation of $10,000 for the work of Robert and Linda Shank with undergraduate and graduate students at PUST University in Pyongyang, North Korea, is in addition to previous allocations to the project totaling $6,802.45. The Shanks, along with undergraduate and graduate students they have trained, will continue crop breeding work on corn, rice, other grain crops, and fruit crops, and will add sweet potatoes as a new crop. A significant new emphasis will be working together with nine county nurseries for the distribution of tissue-cultured raspberry plants for sloping marginal lands. This work is done in conjunction with the Ministry of Land and Environmental Planning, a government agency. Funds will be used for field evaluation materials, lab improvements, tissue culture materials, seed stock, and greenhouse supplies.

The allocation of $10,000 to support the work of the Rio Verde congregation of Igreja da Irmandade-Brasil (Church of the Brethren in Brazil) will aid the work of the church with prison inmates. The Rio Verde congregation, under the direction of pastor José Tavares Júnior, has developed a multi-faceted program working with inmates in the local prison and their families. This work includes a gardening project involving 32 prisoners, which provides food for meals for 400 inmates at the prison. Four charities in the city also are receiving vegetables to improve the meals they serve to people in their programs. The gardening project has been in existence for five years, and recently has rented new land for expansion. Funds will be used to cover costs associated with drilling a well, setting up irrigation, purchasing vegetable seeds and transplants, and covering bank transfer fees.

The grant of $2,000 to Capstone 118 in New Orleans, which some may know as Capstone Community Gardens and Orchard in the Lower 9th Ward begun by Church of the Brethren member David Young, will aid a farmer’s market. Last year Capstone worked with several community partners to begin a small farmers’ market as a way of not only providing fresh produce, but also to help local food producers generate some income. The funds will benefit both local producers and recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly known as food stamps). SNAP recipients who shop at the market would be provided with a coupon which entitles them to 20 percent more free produce when used at the market. The market vendors would collect the coupons and exchange them for reimbursement from Capstone.

For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund go to .

6) Lancaster Church purchases uniforms and supplies for homeless students

By Al and Lois Hansell

Photo courtesy of Lancaster Church of the Brethren
The director of the Homeless Student Project of Lancaster, Pa., Nicki Spann (left), stands with Lois Hansell (right), one of the coordinators of “Be An Angel” at Lancaster Church of the Brethren.

Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has been purchasing supplies and uniforms for the 1,200 homeless students in the city of Lancaster since 2009. The Hunger and Poverty Group formed in 2008, and one of the members suggested the name “Be An Angel” for the school program. It was quickly accepted.

We have been doing Be An Angel for six years from 2009-2014. Every summer (June to mid-August), our members contribute money or make purchases themselves. We order most of the uniforms from a wholesale factory in New York City. It is hard to believe that there are so many homeless students in such a small city.

Here is a summary of our efforts since 2009:

Year               Supplies         Uniforms         Total Given
2009               $  5,000               ____               $  5,000
2010               $  1,100            $  6,500             $  7,600
2011               $  1,645            $  8,550             $10,195
2012               $  1,750            $11,000             $12,750
2013               $  1,185            $14,009             $15,194
2014               $  1,000            $17,123 **         $18,323

Total              $11,680            $57,182            $68,862


Photo courtesy of Lancaster Church of the Brethren
Uniforms and supplies purchased by Lancaster Church of the Brethren “Be An Angel” project help homeless students in Lancaster schools.

The $57,182 purchased 4,055 uniforms over the past five years.

**We purchased 1345 uniforms in 2014.

The Hunger and Poverty Group also started a “2 Cents a Meal” effort in 2009. We give two-thirds of the money to the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund, and one-third to the Lancaster County Council of Churches. The congregation gives about $6,500 per year to this.

Lancaster Church of the Brethren has a robust outreach program. We just completed a campaign for the Mobile Health Clinics in Haiti, raising over $100,000 in two years. We are currently raising funds for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Over $10,000 has come in so far without a challenge goal.

We think it is good to share what congregations are doing; it is a great form of encouragement.

— Al and Lois Hansell coordinate “Be An Angel” at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.




7) Intercultural retreat to be hosted in Atlantic Northeast District in May

A weekend intercultural retreat with the theme “All God’s People Say Amen” will be hosted in Atlantic Northeast District at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren on May 1-3. The retreat is co-sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries and Intercultural Ministries.

The even is described as “a weekend encounter with ourselves” and “a learning opportunity for those who want to experience a fresh wind in their community and those who want to be that fresh wind.” Participants will discuss what it means to be an intercultural church in the 21st century.

The retreat schedule includes plenary sessions, workshops, and worship. Presenters include Craig Smith, district executive minister of Atlantic Northeast District, who will preach on Sunday, May 3, at a joint service.

Plenary I on the topic, “We Are All Urban,” will be led by Congregational Life Ministries executive director Jonathan Shively.

Plenary II on the topic “Racial Reconciliation for Christians in Post-Racial America” will be led by Drew Hart, who in social media circles is known as an Anablacktivist–a term he has coined from his experiences being raised in a non-denominational African American Christian community and finding Anabaptism as an adult. He writes, teaches, and preaches about a Christian response to the issues of race and ethnicity that make headlines, and his blog can be found at Christian Century.

Plenary III on the topic “Bienvenidos Iglesia de los Hermanos (Welcome to the Spanish Church of the Brethren)” will be led by Joel Peña who will share how Hispanic ministries will bring renewal to churches in America. He will share from his experiences as pastor of Alpha-Omega congregation in Lancaster, Pa., and his participation in Hispanic ministries leadership for the denomination, recently representing the denomination at an ecumenical, national gathering of Hispanic leaders.

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 . For questions contact Intercultural Ministries director Gimbiya Kettering at or 847-429-4387.

8) Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center offers series of continuing education events

The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) based at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is holding a series of continuing education events. Heading the series is “Lives of Devotion: Biblical Approaches to Spiritual Life” taught by biblical scholars Bob Neff and Christina Bucher.

“Lives of Devotion” will take participants beyond the Psalter to delve into the Bible’s devotional texts and their varied spiritual “dispositions.” Participants will study Jeremiah 11-20, Job 38-42, Song of Songs, and prayers in 1 and 2 Chronicles, especially the “prayer of Jabez,” using Corinne Ware’s work on spirituality in later Israel to guide reflection. The format will include both lecture and discussion, with some questions posed to participants in advance. The event is April 29, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Susquehanna Room at Elizabethtown College. Cost is $60 and includes light breakfast, lunch, and 0.6 continuing education units. Registration and payment are due April 13. For more information and a registration form go to .

Also planned in the series:

“Emotional Intelligence: The Difference that Makes the Difference,” taught by Don Booz on Aug. 22, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Nicarry Meeting House in the Brethren Home, New Oxford, Pa. The event offers 0.4 continuing education units. More details to come.

“The Gospel of Mark and Twenty-First Century Ministry,” with Dan Ulrich, New Testament scholar from Bethany Theological Seminary, as keynote speaker, plus panelists from multiple ministry contexts, takes place Nov. 9, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. Cost is $60 and includes light breakfast, lunch, and 0.6 continuing education units.

“The Book of Chronicles and the Church: Theology, Continuity, Innovation, and the Kingdom of God,” will be taught by Bethany Seminary dean Steven Schweitzer in Spring 2016.

Contact the SVMC office with questions or for more information, or 717-361-1450.

9) Brethren bits


Service Sunday, a day of worship that celebrates the Church of the Brethren’s rich history of living out its faith through service, will be recognized on Feb. 1. Congregations and leaders are asked to use this Sunday to recognize all who serve. This year’s theme, “Side by Side: Imitating Christ’s Humility,” is based on Philippians 2:1-4. Worship resources surrounding this theme are available at .

— Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., seeks a dynamic and energetic leader with fundraising experience to serve as executive director of Institutional Advancement. As senior administrator and primary fundraiser, this person will lead fundraising efforts with creative and proven strategic approaches to successfully position the seminary for the future as well as cultivate and deepen relationships with alumni/ae, supporters, and friends in the Church of the Brethren. Founded in 1905, Bethany is the Church of the Brethren graduate school for theological education. It seeks to equip spiritual and intellectual leaders with an Incarnational education for ministering, proclaiming, and living out God’s shalom and Christ’s peace in the church and world. Bethany’s educational program bears witness to the beliefs, heritage, and practices of the Church of the Brethren in the context of the whole Christian tradition. In partnerships with Earlham School of Religion, the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, and the Church of the Brethren denomination, Bethany embodies ecumenical cooperation in the Anabaptist-Pietist tradition and innovation in programming, curriculum design, and economic stewardship. The new executive director of Institutional Advancement will join the seminary at an exciting time of growth and innovation as the Seminary expands program, institutes new initiatives for residential and distance learners, and continues to raise its profile in the Church of the Brethren and larger ecumenical community. A full position description is at . Interested individuals should provide a letter outlining their interest in and qualifications for the position, resume, and names and contact information for three references. Reviews of applications will begin Feb. 1, and continue until an appointment is made. Applications and nominations may be submitted electronically or by mail to: Rev. Dr. Jeff Carter, President, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374-4019; .

— Creation Justice Ministries, formerly the National Council of Churches (NCC) Eco-Justice program, is seeking candidates for the position of executive director. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the executive director will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for Creation Justice Ministries’ programs and execution of its mission. The overarching responsibility will be to continue and enhance the program ministries and encourage and enable member communions to address eco-justice issues through their own programs. Creation Justice Ministries, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is an ecumenical organization representing the creation care policies of 38 Christian denominations including mainline Protestant, Orthodox, Baptist, and peace churches. Based on the priorities of its members, it educates, equips, and mobilizes Christian communions/denominations to protect God’s Creation, providing collaborative opportunities to build ecumenical community and raising a collective witness in the public arena echoing Christ’s call for just relationships among all of Creation. A detailed position description is available. The position is located in Washington, D.C. A competitive salary and benefits package commensurate with experience is offered. Apply by sendin resume, salary requirements, cover letter, and three references to . Applications will be reviewed starting March 16.

— The Church of the Brethren is seeking to fill the position of 2015 Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) intern. The purpose of the BHLA intern program is to develop interest in vocations related to archives, libraries, and Brethren history. The program will provide the intern with work assignments in the BHLA and with opportunities to develop professional contacts. A full position posting is available. Interested candidates may request an application packet by contacting: Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120; ; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. All submissions must be completed by April 1.

— The Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., provided warehouse space for the city’s annual Martin Luther King Day Food Drive. This was the fourth year in a row the denomination provided facilities for the drive which collected canned and boxed foods from congregations, businesses, community groups, and individuals. The food was delivered to the warehouse space at the church’s General Offices, sorted by youth volunteers from the community, and then donated to area food pantries to be distributed to people in need. Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren was one of the congregations that helped collect the food. More than 8,400 pounds of food was sorted with help from youth who participate in the Boys and Girls Club. Joe Wars, who formerly served on the city’s human rights commission, organized the drive. Don Knierem from the Church of the Brethren staff also worked with the event.

— The Youth and Young Adult Office welcomed the Young Adult Steering Committee to the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., last week. Members of the committee include Jess Hoffert, Heather Houff Landram, Amanda McLearn-Montz, Mark Pickens, and Kyle Remnant. The group was led by Laura Whitman and assisted by Kristen Hoffman, in their planning for the 2015 Young Adult Conference.

— “The students of Christopher Dock Mennonite High School attended a powerful presentation on Wednesday by Musa Mambula, the national spiritual adviser for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), also known as the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria,” reported Eric Fitzsimmons of “The Reporter” newspaper in Lansdale, Pa. Mambula has been on a lengthy speaking tour in Pennsylvania and other areas, and is receiving coverage from local media. The Reporter article noted that Mambula spoke about the history of the Brethren movement in Nigeria “and its founders commitment to loving ‘like Jesus. Standing with those who are at the margins, loving even their enemies, praying for those who persecuted them.’ A love, Mambula continued, ‘that precludes violence and killing.’” Read the full article at .

— The Council of District Executives is holding its winter meeting Jan. 15-22 in Florida. Also meeting concurrently are other denominational leadership groups including the Inter-Agency Forum and the Annual Conference officers.

— Bethany Seminary’s next Engage campus visit day is March 27. “Engage is an opportunity for prospective students to experience a day on the Bethany campus attending classes, worship, and meeting with faculty and current students,” said an announcement. “This is an excellent opportunity to explore the possibility of pursuing theological education and to discover what makes Bethany unique and distinctive. Come experience Bethany by joining others and our community for a day of study, worship, information, and discernment.” Find more information, a tentative schedule, and registration for Engage at .

— Since October, On Earth Peace’s Nonviolent Social Change ministry has been applying the organizing skills of Kingian nonviolence to the issues that have been publicly framed by Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, Mo., reported the On Earth Peace newsletter this week. “Our Racial Justice Strategy and Research Team has conducted more than 20 conversations with people in and beyond our current constituency, as the team identifies ways that On Earth Peace might encourage or catalyze our supporters and congregations to challenge extrajudicial killings of people of color and related issues.” Team members and advisors include Tami Grandison, Matt Knieling, Ashley Olson, Sharon Crossen, Bill Scheurer, Beth Gunzel, Tobé Ekwealor, Gail Atchinson, Melisa Grandison, and Matt Guynn. The team’s first phase of work is expected to complete in late January, the newsletter reported.

Image courtesy of Pacific Southwest District

— Pacific Southwest District is celebrating the installation of Russ Matteson as district executive minister on Feb. 28 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. “Plan now to join the PSWD Policy Board for this special time of consecration at Pomona Fellowship Church of the Brethren,” said an announcement in the district newsletter.

— In more news from Pacific Southwest, the district already has released the theme and logo for its 2015 district conference planned for Nov. 13-15 at Hillcrest, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in La Verne, Calif. Led by moderator Eric Bishop, the conference will focus on the theme, “Justice: Called to Be Just Christians” (Matthew 5:1-12 and 25:33-45). Follow the moderator’s blog at .

— The Global Women’s Project has welcomed Carol Leland of Harrisonburg, Va., as a new member on its steering committee. She is joining steering committee members Pearl Miller of Warrensburg, Mo.; Kim Hill Smith of Minneapolis, Minn.; Emily Matteson of Modesto, Calif.; Tina Rieman of El Cerrito, Calif.; and Anke Pietsch of Lebanon, Ohio. Among resources for upcoming events offered by the Global Women’s Project are resources for celebrating International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8. “GWP has a number of beautiful writings and ideas for celebrating women on our website at . Just click on the tab for International Women’s Day Resources. We are continually adding to our resources for this important day,” said the newsletter. Another Global Women’s Project resource is the annual Lenten Devotional Calendar. Last year’s calendar designed with help from Etch Marketing and Design Studio–a student-run, nonprofit marketing and graphic design firm affiliated with McPherson (Kan.) College–was so popular that it was printed a second time. Order individually or multiple copies for a church or receive a page of the calendar by e-mail each day through Lent, beginning Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18. Contact .

— Winter Park (Fla.) Church of the Brethren celebrates its 90th anniversary on Feb. 15. The celebration begins at 10 a.m. and will include a service led by pastor Robert Dunlap, and a video presentation “90 Years & Going Strong.” “Many visitors, former members, and pastors who’ve been a big part of the ministry over the years have been invited,” said an announcement. A lunch in the adjacent Bethany Fellowship Hall will be provided for everyone who has come to help celebrate. Streaming online at will be provided. For more information contact Tanya Hastler, 407-644-3981 or .

— Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren is hosting “A Night to Remember: A Ken Medema Concert” on Saturday, Feb. 14. Dessert starts at 7 p.m., and the concert is from 7:30-9 p.m. in the sanctuary. Tickets are $10 per person. “Save the date!” said the church newsletter.

— Virlina District is planning Pilgrimage XIX for March 13-15 at Camp Bethel. The event is an annual spiritual retreat for adults of all ages. “It is for the young and old, for the new Christian and the one who has been a Christian for decades,” said an announcement in the district newsletter. “Pilgrimage is for everyone because no matter where a person is on his or her faith journey, it is always good to take another step and draw closer to God.” The weekend includes talks, small groups, fun, worship, and more. For more information contact 336-765-5263 or .

— The next classes in the Ventures series hosted by McPherson (Kan.) College will be held on Feb. 7 and March 14. The Feb. 7 courses will be taught by J.D. Bowman on the topics “Innovation on a Timeline: Embracing Your Creativity Angles” (morning) and “Come to the Table, but Bring Your Crayons” (afternoon). The March 14 courses will be taught by Bob Bowman and are titled “Reading the Bible for Spiritual Growth” and “Reading Church History for Spiritual Growth.” Each course costs $15 and will be taught online. Go to for more details and how to register.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College is hosting a presentation by Rais Bhuiyan, who just weeks after the tragic events of 9/11 was shot in the face by a white supremacist, who at that time called himself “the Arab slayer.” Bhuiyan, a Bangladeshi American, will speak on “The Healing and Transforming Power of Forgiveness” at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, in Cole Hall, said a release from the college. “The man who shot him was Mark Stroman, who confessed to shooting Bhuiyan and killing two other South Asians. He was sentenced to death. After conferring with the families of the other victims, Bhuiyan worked to save Stroman’s life with pleas for clemency that, in 2011, reached the US Supreme Court,” the release said. “Even though Stroman was executed in July 2011, Bhuiyan continues his World Without Hate campaign to promote healing, compassion, and forgiveness. Bhuiyan was named a 2011 American of the Year by Esquire magazine. He received the national 2011 Peace and Justice Award from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Excellence for Human Service Award from United for Change.” His presentation is co-sponsored by the Anna B. Mow Lecture Series and the college’s Center for International Education. The event is free and open to the public.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Deborah Brehm, Jeff Carter, Madeline Dulabaum, Emmet Eldred, Erika Fitz, Theresa Ford, Mary Kay Heatwole, Carl and Roxane Hill, Gimbiya Kettering, Cliff Kindy, Pat Marsh, Nancy Miner, Stan Noffsinger, Randi Rowan, Robert K. Welsh, 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 Jan. 27. 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"]