Newsline for Jan. 6, 2015

Image courtesy of Brethren Press

“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage” (Matthew 2:2).

1) Children’s Disaster Services cares for children affected by California building collapse
2) Church of the Brethren leaders attend annual Anabaptist leadership meeting

3) Youth ministry names National Youth Cabinet for 2015-2016
4) Matt DeBall is hired as coordinator of Donor Communications

5) Church of the Brethren offers ‘We Are Able’ workcamp

6) CCEPI distribution: A story from the relief effort in Nigeria

7) Brethren bits: Job openings, delegate registration for Annual Conference, workcamp registration, webinars, update on Enders church, church leadership conference planned for May, new members of the COBYS board, more.

Quote of the week:
“Jesus came to his own; his own received him not, but the poor and rejected, the foreigner and stranger were drawn to the light…. The Lord is come; it is our time to rise and shine.”
— From Sandy Bosserman’s meditation for Epiphany, Jan. 6, in “Awake: Devotions for Advent Through Epiphany” from Brethren Press.

1) Children’s Disaster Services cares for children affected by California building collapse

By Kathleen Fry-Miller

Photo courtesy of CDS
Children’s Disaster Services volunteers care for children in Pico Rivera, southern California, following evacuation of an apartment complex.

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has responded in Pico Rivera, southern California, following evacuation of a multi-apartment complex due to a partial collapse of the building. The CDS response ended today. CDS is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren and part of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

A team of both experienced and newly certified CDS caregivers provided a caring presence, listening ear, and creative play opportunities for children from the apartment complex to express their feelings. The team shared play materials that were previously packed into a Kit of Comfort to support the children as they tried to understand their experience.

About 14 children attended the children’s center each day.

Our hearts go out to the residents as they seek new shelter for their families. Many thanks to the volunteers who served and to project managers Mary Kay Ogden and Joanne Wagoner, both from La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren.

— Kathleen Fry-Miller is associate director of Children’s Disaster Services. For more information about this ministry go to .

2) Church of the Brethren leaders attend annual Anabaptist leadership meeting

Denominational leaders attended the annual meeting of the Council of Moderators and Secretaries (COMS) of Anabaptist denominations and groups, on Dec. 12-13, 2014. Representing the Church of the Brethren were Annual Conference moderator David Steele and moderator-elect Andy Murray, and general secretary Stan Noffsinger.

Also at the meeting was leadership from the Mennonite Church USA, the Conservative Mennonite Conference, the Missionary Church, the Brethren in Christ, and Mennonite Central Committee.

Noffsinger moderated the meeting, and the Mennonite Church USA staff led by executive director Ervin Stutzman hosted it at Mennonite Church USA offices in Elkhart, Ind.

The annual COMS meetings “foster ongoing relationships with other Anabaptist church leadership,” Noffsinger said.

As part of the 2014 meeting, he was able to give a presentation on the Nigeria crisis to COMS, Mennonite Church USA staff, and other interested parties from the Mennonite Church. Noffsinger reported that a connection made at that presentation has begun a conversation between Brethren and the Mennonite Church in Switzerland. The Swiss Mennonites also partner with Mission 21 to support Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

Following on the COMS meeting a press conference on the Nigeria crisis was sponsored by Northern Indiana District, organized by district executive Torin Eikler. Find a WSBT-TV Channel 22 report at .


3) Youth ministry names National Youth Cabinet for 2015-2016

A new National Youth Cabinet has been named by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry, led by director Becky Ullom Naugle. She reported that the new cabinet hopes to hold its first meeting in February.

Members of the 2015-2016 National Youth Cabinet are:

Krystal Bellis from Ankeny Church of the Brethren in Northern Plains District,

Yeysi Diaz from the Cristo Nuestra Paz/West Charleston congregation in Southern Ohio District,

Jeremy Hardy from Hagerstown Church of the Brethren in Mid-Atlantic District,

Alexa Harshbarger from Bremen Church of the Brethren in Northern Indiana District,

Olivia Russell from Olympic View Church of the Brethren in Pacific Northwest District,

Digby Strogen from La Verne Church of the Brethren in Pacific Southwest District.

Adult advisors to the cabinet are Glenn Bollinger from Shenandoah District, and Emily Van Pelt from Virlina District.

Becky Ullom Naugle, director of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry, will work with the cabinet to create a theme and resources for National Youth Sunday 2015 and 2016. For more about the denomination’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry go to .

4) Matt DeBall is hired as coordinator of Donor Communications

Matt DeBall

Matt DeBall has accepted the position of coordinator of Donor Communications for the Church of the Brethren. He began his work in this position on Dec. 15, 2014.

The major responsibility of this position is to create and maintain relationships with Church of the Brethren congregations and individuals, encouraging donor awareness and involvement in denominational ministries, with the goal of increasing giving to and support of the mission and ministries of the church.

DeBall began his work with the Church of the Brethren in Feb. 2013 as program assistant in the office of Donor Relations.


5) Church of the Brethren offers ‘We Are Able’ workcamp

By Hannah Shultz

During the summer months, the Church of the Brethren holds a variety of workcamps in various locations around the country. Workcamps provide participants the opportunity to express their faith through action by serving local communities, practicing simple living, and building community with one another. Christian worship and devotions are an important aspect of

Photo by Workcamp Ministry
The 2010 “We Are Able” workcamp poses for a group photo in front of the sign at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

workcamps as youth and adults share together and learn how to connect faith to service. Workcamps also provide a place for play, recreation and celebration through opportunities to explore what the local community has to offer.

Workcamps are offered primarily to junior and senior high youth, although there are opportunities for all ages to participate. Every other year, the “We Are Able” workcamp is offered to youth and young adults with intellectual disabilities, ages 16-23. In the summer of 2015, this workcamp will be hosted by the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., from June 29-July 2.

“We Are Able” provides a unique opportunity for those with disabilities to participate in a workcamp, work together to complete service projects, and enjoy recreation in Maryland. In past years, these participants have volunteered with SERRV International, an organization that sells fair trade products in an effort to support artisans and farmers around the world and reduce poverty. Workcampers also have volunteered in the Material Resources warehouse of the Church of the Brethren. Work projects often include sorting and packaging products for health kits or school kits.

Todd Flory, a previous “We Are Able” director, reflected on some of his experiences at the workcamp: “I’ve been a part of the leadership for the ‘We Are Able’ workcamp for two years. Each experience is unique with different people, personalities, and activities. But each workcamp furthers my belief that God is working through individuals in often subtle ways to increase love, compassion, and understanding in the world. Through the two main service projects during the workcamp–working in a fair-trade store and assembling health kits to be distributed worldwide–a sense of community is brewing. Working to assure the proper items are included in a health kit or correctly packaging a fair-trade Christmas ornament, participants spend hours talking, laughing, collaborating, and supporting one another. Community and fellowship are forged amid the many simple good works spreading love and justice.”

This workcamp also is offered to young adults who feel led to work with those with disabilities. These young adults spend the week working side by side with the “We Are Able” participants, volunteering with them and getting to know them.

Although many workcamp participants are members of the Church of the Brethren, workcamps welcome those from any faith background. Anyone who is interested in “We Are Able” either as a participant or a young adult assistant should contact Hannah Shultz in the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Office at 847-429-4328 or . More information can be found at .

Online registration for all workcamps opens Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. (central time) at .

— Hannah Shultz is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and assistant coordinator for the Workcamp Ministry of the Church of the Brethren.


6) CCEPI distribution: A story from the relief effort in Nigeria

By Cliff Kindy

Photo by Cliff Kindy
CCEPI distribution of relief goods in Nigeria

On Dec. 10 the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI) team gathered food supplies at the temporary headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Displaced families had gathered and were already registered for ease in distribution. CCEPI is one of the EYN-connected NGOs that is being funded by Brethren Disaster Ministries through its Nigeria relief appeal.

There was a rope outlining the area for supplies and CCEPI team to operate. Rebecca Dali, director of CCEPI, called out names and as families came to the rope each family received a plastic bucket, a large mat, 20 kilograms of maize, a blanket, 2 soaps and a bag of beans.

It was a colorful scene with bright scarves, children being nursed, other children playing in the clusters of people, a corner of elderly folks sitting patiently to receive some assistance and other hopeful, unregistered displaced folks waiting to see if supplies would stretch for them as well.

In the background the regular routine of the busy compound continued its usual pattern. EYN staff were in and out of their offices, which were being spruced up with furniture to allow a more functional facility. A private school had delivered a huge load of relief supplies to the headquarters earlier that day. There were stacks of yams, toiletries, dried food goods, and other edibles ready for distribution to the people displaced from the northeast of Nigeria.

Back at the rope around the CCEPI distribution circles of people were sharing with each other. An EYN pastor from Michika who had been hit by three bullets as Boko Haram moved into his home area in September was there, still healing. Though he had not registered he was hoping supplies would stretch to him.

A Church of Christ pastor and his wife were among those waiting. He had just finished an office management course and was returning home when Boko Haram reached his region. The family fled to Yola and then on to Jos when rumors of an impending attack on Yola spread. He was the one in the crowd advocating for the group of elderly patiently waiting at the edge of the circle. It seemed these elders were not on the registration list and he wanted them to get first opportunity at any extra supplies.

The distribution went smoothly for the over 100 families. Having it off the road in a closed area with sufficient staff facilitated the process. Only a singing ZME choir (EYN women’s group) would have improved the setting!

— Cliff Kindy is serving in Nigeria as a Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteer. For more stories from Nigeria, go to the Nigeria blogsite .

Coming soon to the Nigeria blog will be daily devotions from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). EYN’s daily devotional for 2015 will be posted a week at a time, appearing in mid-week for the following week. Each day’s entry will include a scripture text and a brief meditation written by an EYN member. EYN is providing the resource to the Church of the Brethren in the US for those who wish to join the Nigerian Brethren in their daily devotions.

7) Brethren bits

Wilbur Rohrer, Suzanne Schaudel, and Robert Wintsch have been called to serve on the COBYS Family Services Board of Directors, effective Jan. 1. Motivated by Christian faith, COBYS Family Services educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential through adoption and foster care services, counseling, and family life education. COBYS is affiliated with Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren. Rohrer retired in April after serving 52 years as owner and operator of Rohrer’s Quarry, Inc., and also serves as an ordained member of the ministry team at Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in Lititz, Pa. He served 34 years on the Board of Directors at Brethren Village and also chaired the Church Development Commission for the Atlantic Northeast District Board. Suzanne Schaudel is a retired German teacher who taught for 27 years, and is active at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren where she serves as secretary of the board and previously served on the board of the Alpha and Omega Community Center in Lancaster. Robert Wintsch is an employee benefits specialist consultant for Wells Fargo Insurance and a member of Mechanic Grove Church of the Brethren in Quarryville, Pa. He served as Atlantic Northeast District moderator and a member of the district board, chairing the Stewards Commission. He recently completed service on the board of the Brethren Housing Association in Harrisburg, Pa.

— Applications for the position of workcamp assistant coordinators for 2016 are due this Friday, Jan. 9. The workcamp assistant coordinators serve through Brethren Volunteer Service and help plan and lead the Church of the Brethren summer workcamps for the year, working with Emily Tyler, coordinator of Workcamps and BVS Recruitment. The position begins Aug. 2015 and runs through the summer of 2016. A position description and application form are available at .

— Jan. 15 is the deadline for applications to serve on the new Anti-Racism Transformation Team of On Earth Peace. Since 2002, On Earth Peace has been engaged in an intentional process to understand how racism and other social oppressions prevent the organization from fully living in to its purpose of answering Christ’s call through powerful peace programs of training and accompaniment. Recognizing that racism affects all institutions and in an effort to live out the mission of the organization, On Earth Peace is seeking volunteer members to serve on an institutional Anti-Racism Transformation Team. For more information go to . Applications are available online at . Please submit questions to .

— Mennonite Central Committee is seeking an MCC Nigeria representative to serve in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, starting June 15. The MCC Nigeria representative oversees all aspects of Mennonite Central Committee’s program in Nigeria including program planning, financial management, supervising personnel, maintaining partner relationships, and program evaluating and reporting. In Nigeria, MCC currently works in the areas of HIV/AIDS, income generation, literacy, water, peace building, trauma healing, and interfaith bridge building. For more information see . Please send inquiries to by Feb. 15.

— Delegate registration for the 2015 Annual Conference on July 11-15 in Tampa, Fla., is now open online at . Delegate registration opened yesterday, Jan. 5, and continues through Feb. 24. The early registration fee is $285 per delegate. Beginning Feb. 25 the fee increases to $310. Congregations may pay by credit card or by check. Registration for nondelegates and housing reservations for delegates and nondelegates will begin on Feb. 25. More information about the Conference including hotels, airport transportation, directions, and conference theme and worship leadership can be found at .

— The Workcamp Office has posted a sample registration at . By viewing the sample registration ahead of time, participants and advisors may be prepared to have all of the information they need when workcamp registration opens Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. (central time). This summer, workcamps are offered for junior and senior high youth, young adult, “We Are Able,” and intergenerational participants. The wide variety of locations and projects allows participants to express their faith through action in new and unique ways. View the sample registration, workcamp schedule, and descriptions of workcamps at .

— The webinar series on Christian practices for teens continues Jan. 6 at 8 p.m. (eastern) on the topic “Work and Choices” led by Bekah Houff of the Bethany Seminary staff. This is one in a series of webinars offered jointly by staff of the Church of the Brethren, Bethany Theological Seminary, and On Earth Peace, geared to pastors, parents, and anyone who works with youth. This series takes the form of a book study of “Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens” edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. Having a copy of the book is helpful but not required. The book may be purchased through Brethren Press at or by calling 800-441-3712. To join the webinar participants need to join the video and audio portions separately. To join the video portion, go to and enter the phone number and access code given below (the technology used for this webinar works best with non-mobile devices). After joining the video portion, participants need to join the audio portion by dialing 877-204-3718 (toll free). The access code is 8946766. For those who wish to view the web portion via an iPad, please download the link from the iTunes store (Level 3), and have the conference telephone number and access code available to enter. You still need to join the audio portion with the Audio Login credentials. The name of the app is Level 3. To request continuing education credit contact Houff at prior to the webinar.

— “Telling the Truth and Shaming the Devil: A Postcolonial Take on Urban Mission in the 21st Century,” is the title of a Jan. 22 webinar jointly sponsored by the Church of the Brethren, Baptist Mission Society, Baptists Together, Bristol Baptist College, and Urban Expression UK. This webinar was originally set for last October but had to be postponed to Thursday, Jan. 22, at  2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time). The online workshop will offer an assessment of urban mission in the 21st century “by means of a Black theological analysis, offering critical reflections on the challenges of undertaking urban mission and the post-colonial realities to be found across the global north, where issues of plurality and power abound, within the all-enveloping shadow of empire,” said an announcement from Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren. Presenter Anthony Reddie is professor of Christian theology at Bristol Baptist College and editor of the academic periodical “Black Theology,” who has written numerous articles and books on Christian education and Black theology. Register at . Attendance is free but donations are appreciated. Ministers may receive 0.1 continuing education unit for attending the live event online. For more information contact Stan Dueck at .

— Jan. 12, at 8 p.m. (eastern time) On Earth Peace is offering an Agape-Satyagraha Training Webinar for adults, titled “Kingian Nonviolence Part 1.” The webinar is for interested people to learn more about the Agape-Satyagraha Training that On Earth Peace offers for youth at various sites throughout the country, and is intended for adult mentors, site coordinators, parents, and other interested adults. The second part of this webinar is scheduled for March 9. For log-in information, contact Marie Benner-Rhoades at .

— Musa Mambula is continuing his speaking tour in Pennsylvania in early January. He is the national spiritual adviser to Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Mambula will speak about the crisis situation in Nigeria at Indian Creek Church of the Brethren on Jan. 11 at 5 p.m. and at 7 p.m. Both presentations are open to the public, the second will focus on the Church of the Brethren response and will include fundraising. Mambula will speak at Coventry Church of the Brethren on Sunday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m. He also will speak for chapel at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School on the morning of Monday, Jan. 12. “It’s just kind of mind-boggling in terms of having the chance to have somebody from another country talk about how a church that preaches non-violence is living out in the midst of this extreme violence,” Indian Creek pastor Mark Baliles told a newspaper who has published a lengthy article about the upcoming events and the Brethren involvement in the Nigeria crisis. Find the “Souderton Independent” article by reporter Bob Keeler at .

— Enders Church of the Brethren in Nebraska will not be repaired, the “Imperial Republican” newspaper is reporting. “What was once a school and then a church now stands empty,” the news report said. “The building that housed the Enders Church of the Brethren for many years will not be repaired, according to church members.” Last June a storm took much of the roof off the church and caused serious water damage. Church member Charlotte Wine told the paper that the congregation is “at a standstill as to what will become of the building and property.” Find the news report at .

— A church leadership conference on the theme “Gifted by God… Called by the Church… Empowered by the Holy Spirit” is planned for May 14-16 at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren. The conference is sponsored by the Council of District Executives of the Church of the Brethren and will feature worship, workshops, and plenary sessions. Speakers will include Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary; Belita Mitchell, a past moderator of Annual Conference and pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa.; and Leroy Solomon, vice president for institutional advancement at Ashland Theological Seminary. The event is for all church leaders, and “congregations are encouraged to bring the entire board or leadership team,” said an announcement. More information and details will shared as they become available.

— Virlina District has announced an “Older Adult Escapade” on March 21, sponsored by the district’s Commission on Nurture. The event takes place 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Summerdean Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., for everyone over 50 years old and it is free. “Come enjoy lunch, fellowship, fun, laughter, and be spiritually refreshed!!!” said the announcement. “Bring a friend, meet new friends, rekindle old friendships!”

Image courtesy of Northern Plains District
Northern Plains District Conference logo for 2015

— Northern Plains District has changed venues for its 2015 district conference on July 31-Aug. 2. The new venue is South Waterloo (Iowa) Church of the Brethren. The change was made to better accommodate technology, keyboard, and acoustic needs of guest leader Shawn Kirchner, who is a well known Church of the Brethren musician and member at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. “As you may know Shawn grew up in the South Waterloo congregation so they are very excited to be able to host him for the ‘big meeting,’” said an announcement. The conference will include a district-wide choir led by Kirchner. The meeting will focus on the theme of joy and a text from 1 Chronicles 18:8-10, the Message version, which reads in part: “Sing to God! Play songs for God! Broadcast all God’s wonders! Revel in God’s holy name, God-seekers, be jubilant!”

Enrollment continues for pastors and ministers who wish to attend the next Springs Academy in church renewal, said an announcement from the Springs initiative. “Pastors enter a refreshing spiritual journey, participate in spiritual disciplines, and take a thorough course in church renewal that builds on the strengths of a church,” said the announcement. “Participants have lively discussion on how to assist a congregation in spiritual growth using disciplines folders. Pastors receive training in servant leadership to work in concert with their congregation to discern a vision and carry out units of revitalization.” To view a video about the Springs Academy made by David Sollenberger, go to the Springs website at . Also available at the website is an academy brochure. The textbook for the class is “Springs of Living Water, Christ-centered Church Renewal” by David S. Young with foreword by Richard J. Foster. Sessions are held by telephone conference call with five sessions to be spaced from Feb. 4 until April 29. In order to accommodate everyone’s schedules, interested participants are asked to identify the best days of the week for them to participate in the class. Continuing education units are available. Contact David and Joan Young at 717-615-4515.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deborah Brehm, Stan Dueck, Don Fitzkee, Kathy Fry-Miller, Bekah Houff, Cliff Kindy, Becky Ullom Naugle, Stan Noffsinger, Hannah Shultz, Emily Tyler, Susan Wenger, Roy Winter, 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. 13. 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"]