Newsline for July 31, 2015

“And when they could not bring [the paralyzed man] to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him” (Mark 2:3-4, paraphrased).

1) Open Roof Award honors disabilities efforts of two Church of the Brethren congregations

2) Material Resources contributes to shipment of relief supplies for Syrian refugees

3) Southeastern District begins consideration of query focused on On Earth Peace, adopts ‘Resolution on Same-Sex Marriage’

4) US and Nigerian Brethren gather for love feast at Camp Ithiel in Atlantic Southeast District

5) Rare Bible at Bridgewater College nominated for statewide preservation program

6) Nancy Sollenberger Heishman named to Brethren Academy staff

7) NOAC to meet in September on the theme ‘Then Jesus Told Them a Story’

8) Webinar ‘Healthy Boundaries 201′ meets requirements for ordination review

9) On Earth Peace invites congregations to participate in Peace Day 2015

10) Bethany Seminary’s Presidential Forum weekend to explore ‘Just Peace’

11) Activity book will help children understand Nigeria crisis, among other new Nigeria-related resources

12) After Amen

13) Brethren bits: Correction, remembrances, personnel notice from Office of Public Witness, job opening at World Student Christian Federation, Mission and Ministry Board sets 2016 budget parameter, and much more

Quotes of the week:

“For the past month, I have been praying–or trying to pray–for the grieving families of those killed, the congregation of Emanuel AME Church, for the people of Charleston, the leaders of South Carolina, for the wider African Methodist Episcopal denomination, for all of us as Americans…. I may never find the words for the prayers that I want to articulate. But, in my silence, I am also preparing for the strength and courage for the actions I need to take next week and the week after that. The actions that will make a difference.”
— Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, in “After Amen,” a first post in a series of blogposts planned as a way of continuing the conversation about how race, culture, ethnicity, and language impact our relationships with one another and how we do ministry in the church. Find the full blogpost included in this issue of Newsline as a feature article, or go directly to .

“The Disabilities Ministry is committed to opening doors and building bridges in the Church of the Brethren and beyond so that all may worship, serve, be served, learn, and grow in the presence of God as a valued member of our Christian community.”
— From the Church of the Brethren Disabilities Ministries (find out more about this ministry at ). This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. “By prohibiting disability-based discrimination, this landmark legislation protects nearly one in five people in the United States against unfair treatment,” said a release from the Social Security administration in celebration of this milestone law and other legal protections for people with disabilities (see the Faces and Facts of Disability website at ).

A NOTE TO READERS: Newsline will not appear for the next two weeks while the editor is on vacation. The next regularly scheduled issue is planned for later in August.


1) Open Roof Award honors disabilities efforts of two Church of the Brethren congregations

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Representatives of churches honored with the Open Roof Award for 2015 pose for a picture with Debbie Eisenbise, who presented the award on behalf of Congregational Life Ministries and its Disabilities Ministry.

The 2015 Open Roof Award was presented on behalf of the Disabilities Ministry of Congregational Life Ministries to two Church of the Brethren congregations: Cedar Lake Church of the Brethren in Northern Indiana District, and Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren in Shenandoah District. The award was given to representatives of the two churches during the Mission and Ministry Board meeting in Tampa, Fla., in advance of Annual Conference.

The two congregations have been honored for making specific efforts to “ensure that all may worship, serve, be served, learn, and grow in the presence of God, as valued members of the Christian community.”

Accepting the award on behalf of the Cedar Lake Church were delegates Bob and Glenda Shull. Pastor Scott Duffey and Becky Duffey accepted the award on behalf of the Staunton Church.

Along with a certificate, each congregation received a copy of a brand-new book, “Circles of Love,” published by the Anabaptist Disabilities Network, of which the Church of the Brethren is a member. The book features stories of congregations that have broadened their welcome to include persons with various abilities. One chapter of the book tells the story of Oakton Church of the Brethren, one of the previous recipients of the Open Roof Award, which now number 16.

Following are the citations that were read at the board meeting:

Cedar Lake Church of the Brethren:

“You have made significant strides through the years to accommodate the needs of your members, and empower all people for engagement in worship and in service. In doing so, you have found ways to expand your welcome to others in your community. This is an on-going commitment.

“As a congregation you have supported and helped to raise children with severe brain trauma who are now adults active in the congregation and serving as ushers, greeters and grounds keepers. In addition, Cedar Lake supports students with ‘physical and learning challenges’ who participate in a work / service program overseen by the local high school’s special education department. Some of these students are members of the church. Along with being a placement for this program during the school year, the church provides summer opportunities for service as well.

“Cedar Lake has paid special attention to the Christian education needs of all, utilizing the gifts and abilities of a member with a degree in special education to assist in children’s programming. As that program expands, staff considerations include a commitment to continue to meet all children’s particular physical and emotional needs.

“In addition, you have met challenges posed by age-related disabilities providing large-print and projected texts and hearing enhancement devices. And the congregation has remodeled for accessibility allowing those with wheel chairs easy access to the building. Hand railings and automated doors welcome all who might need extra physical assistance.

“You have clearly seen opportunities presented by the varying abilities of your members and through the years have responded with creativity and compassion. And so we thank you, the Cedar Lake congregation, for being a blessing to your local community, and to the denomination.”

Staunton Church of the Brethren:

“Staunton Church of the Brethren has discovered that making a few changes can make a world of difference to those whose disabilities might otherwise compromise their level of participation in the life of the church. Several members sent their testimonies to be shared today:
–Bill Cline, who uses a walker, writes: ‘We used to have to use the back door on the lower level to get the fellowship hall; now we have the elevator. I don’t know how we’d get in the church without it.’ With regard to worship, he comments: ‘The screen is a lot easier to read than the hymnal [and] shorter pews are a wonderful help with walkers.’
–Rosalie McLear, who also uses a walker, writes: ‘I used to say “As long as I can climb the steps I will do it,” but a stroke made me change my mind. The elevator has been a big help.   [And] I can take my walker into the bathroom stall and have some things I can hang on to.’
–Don Shoemaker, who uses a wheelchair, writes: ‘Now we can get to the basement without going outside and around.’ Norma Shoemaker commented that without the changes ‘after serious health issues…[Don] would not have been able to attend [any longer].’

“The changes to the building have created a worship space with a cross evident in the center of the sanctuary where the pews have been shortened for accessibility. A screen (with attention to clear uncluttered text) allows those with limited sight to participate in worship. And hearing devices have enabled a member to remain active in the choir.

“We congratulate the Staunton congregation in breaking down barriers to continued active participation and leadership through sensitivity to the needs of your members and renovations made to accommodate them.”

Find out more about the Church of the Brethren Disabilities Ministries at .

2) Material Resources contributes to shipment of relief supplies for Syrian refugees

The Church of the Brethren Material Resources program has loaded two 40-foot containers filled with Hygiene Kits and School kits, and shipped them to aid Syrian refugees fleeing from the violence afflicting the Middle East. This shipment was arranged by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in partnership with Church World Service (CWS), reports Material Resources office coordinator Terry Goodger.

Following is an IOCC report on the charity’s aid to Syrian refugees, reprinted here with permission:

Syrian refugees risk lives to find safety in Greece 

Photo by Rebecca Loumiotis/IOCC
Brothers Bayas, 11, Abdurrahmal, 6, and Aymullah, 4, enjoy a moment of fun and relaxation on the Greek island of Chios as their weary mother, Amina looks on. The Syrian family endured a long and grueling trip by land and sea to escape war in their country. IOCC is providing Syrian refugees arriving at the Greek immigration reception center with access to improved shower and sanitation facilities so that they can take care of their personal hygiene in privacy and with dignity.

Summer is the height of tourist season in the Greek isles, but Amina, 35, isn’t on the island of Chios with her husband and three young sons for a vacation. The Syrian refugee family is in flight from Damascus. Their long and arduous trek took them through Lebanon and into Turkey, where they hiked a grueling 200 miles across the country to reach a boat that would carry them to safety in Greece.

Also part of their group were several Syrian youth under 18 traveling alone or with distant relatives, like Sahir, 17, a member of Amina’s extended family. They travel at great risk with the hope to reach Western Europe and register as underage refugees, which would allow their parents to join them.

The eastern Aegean isles have been inundated by the flow of Syrian refugees arriving by sea. The island of Chios, which lies just four miles from Turkey, has received more than 7,000 newcomers since last March. The influx of refugees has overwhelmed local authorities on this small island of only 32,000 inhabitants as they struggle to register refugees and provide basic shelter and food to the men, women, and children who arrive daily at Chios’ small and outdated immigrant reception center.

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) with its local partner, Apostoli, the humanitarian arm of the Church of Greece, is responding to the dire needs of the refugees by improving poor hygiene and health conditions in the crowded reception centers. Newly installed portable showers along with renovated plumbing and sewage systems provide the travel weary refugees with a place to take care of their personal hygiene in privacy and with dignity. IOCC is also providing 1,700 personal hygiene kits customized to meet the needs of men, women, or infants, and reinforcing good hygiene practices through bilingual posters in English and Arabic and one-on-one awareness talks with refugees of all ages.

In addition, school kits filled with writing and coloring supplies will be distributed to 200 school-aged children including Amina’s three boys, Bayas, 11; Abdurrahmal, 6; and Aymullah, 4. “I just want my children to be safe and happy,” said the tearful and exhausted mother. “There was nothing we could do in Syria, with our lives in danger all the time.” In spite of her tired state, Amina and her husband were already eager to move their family on to the next step of the journey–to a new country where their children can receive a good education and grow up far from the memories of war.

IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is providing immediate and ongoing humanitarian assistance to families in need who have endured four years of Syria’s brutal civil war. Since 2012, IOCC has provided relief to 3 million people displaced inside Syria, or living as refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Armenia, and Greece.

IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered $534 million in relief and development programs to families and communities in more than 50 countries. IOCC is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 140 churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy, and a member of InterAction, the largest alliance of US-based secular and faith-based organizations working to improve the lives of the world’s most poor and vulnerable populations. To learn more about IOCC, visit .

3) Southeastern District begins consideration of query focused on On Earth Peace, adopts ‘Resolution on Same-Sex Marriage’

Southeastern District’s 2015 conference has given support to consideration of a query focused on On Earth Peace, which has the potential to come to the 2016 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren. The district conference also adopted a resolution on same-sex marriage, according to a review of the district conference written by district moderator Gary Benesh and distributed by the district office.

In addition to these two items of business, the Southeastern District Conference also enjoyed dynamic worship, carried out a service project collecting 148 Clean Up Buckets for disaster relief at a total estimated value of $7,400, received a report from Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger on the international mission work and other ministries of the denomination, and lifted up reports from the district’s leadership and its two camps–Camp Placid and Camp Carmel–and the John M. Reid Nursing Home, among other business.

Representatives of 31 churches, 1 fellowship, 2 camps, and 1 nursing home attended, with 197 people registered including 105 delegates, 68 non-delegates including adults and children, and 24 youth and youth workers.

Business items express concern about sexual orientation, same-sex marriage

The Southeastern District Conference resolution on same-sex marriage was adopted as part of a revision of the district’s constitution and by-laws. It was developed after two years of discussion, prayer, and study, report the district executive ministers.

In part, the resolution states that the district “will not accept” the following: performance of same-sex covenants or marriages by its licensed or ordained ministers, performance of those ceremonies on any property that is part of the district, and “any materials or anyone promoting the acceptance of the practice of homosexuality as a lifestyle that is approved by God.” (The full text of the resolution appears below.)

The district conference support for consideration of a query focused on On Earth Peace, received from Hawthorne Church of the Brethren in Johnson City, Tenn., sets in motion a process within the district that has the potential to bring the query to the 2016 Annual Conference.

The process will include: processing of the query by the district board in September, followed by an opportunity for churches to review and discuss the query and give input to the district, and a specially called District Conference in time to meet the deadline for putting the query on the 2016 Annual Conference agenda.

The district moderator also announced that he will write to the denominational Review and Evaluation Committee requesting examination of such issues, and is available to lead meetings about related issues in congregations in the district, including discussions of the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

The district’s concerns about On Earth Peace include that “the group has issued a statement of inclusion for full participation in the church by all regardless of sexual orientation and practice which is in conflict with Annual Conference statements,” Benesh wrote, in addition to other concerns centered on wording and imagery in the agency’s printed annual report for 2015.

The Southeastern District “Resolution on Same-Sex Marriage” follows in full:

We affirm that for the church scriptures provide the final authority for defining practices for followers of Christ and for His church. Timothy 3:16 states that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Therefore, it is our attempt as a body of Christian believers to follow the teachings and commandments in this holy book.  

In regards to marriage Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” And he went on to say in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Marriage is set forth as the bond between a man and a woman. Jesus re-affirms this scripture in Mark 10:6-8.

In the Old Testament in Leviticus 18:22 says “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. The New Testament in Romans 1 likewise speaks against such practices as does I Corinthians 6:9-11)

In addition, Annual Conference in 1983 stated that same sex covenants are not acceptable to the Church of the Brethren.

We therefore affirm that
1. All are invited and welcomed to come and worship the Lord.
2. Marriage is a God ordained covenant that should be entered into by one man and one woman.
3. The Southeastern District will not accept performance of same-sex covenants or marriages by its licensed or ordained ministers.
4. The Southeastern District will not accept the performance of those ceremonies on any property that is a part of the Southeastern District. 
5. In addition we will not support any materials or anyone promoting the acceptance of the practice of homosexuality as a lifestyle that is approved by God.

4) US and Nigerian Brethren gather for love feast at Camp Ithiel in Atlantic Southeast District

By Bob Krouse

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The Nigerian Brethren group that toured in the United States this summer included an EYN Women’s Fellowship Choir and members of the BEST group, along with EYN denominational staff. Shown here: the whole tour group poses for a picture during a visit to the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Following the closing worship service of the 229th Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, in Tampa, Fla., there was a second gathering of Brethren at Camp Ithiel in Atlantic Southeast District. The EYN Women’s Fellowship Choir and a number of other guests from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) stayed at the camp for a time of rest and recovery following a demanding tour that took them to Church of the Brethren congregations across the United States.

My wife and I lived and served in Nigeria in the 1980s and then again from 2004-06. We now live in Florida and were delighted to spend some extra time with our Nigerian brothers and sisters. The years we spent in Nigeria were brief compared to other missionaries who spent most of their lives there. Nevertheless, we have a deep affection for the people and culture of Nigeria.

When our plane touched down in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, nearly 20 years after our earlier time of service there, it felt remarkably like returning home. The fragrant scents of charcoal fires, kerosene lamps, and the reddish dust of Nigerian earth conjured up vivid memories and emotions. On our return to Nigeria we sensed the familiar fragrance of home.

The gathering of Nigerian and US Brethren at Camp Ithiel provided a similar sense of coming home. Following the closing worship service of Annual Conference, the Nigerian group headed to the camp about two hours away, and prepared for their final concert of the tour which took place later that evening.

When they arrived at the camp they discovered that their drums and other instruments were in another vehicle that was on its way to Lancaster, Pa. No worries. The concert went off without a hitch with the help of a couple of trash cans as drums, a set of bongos, and a beaded shaker from the office of camp director Mike Neff. The dining hall at Camp Ithiel has seldom been livelier.

The following morning was set aside for conversation. The day began with impromptu conversations, followed by an open conversation moderated by John Mueller, district executive of Atlantic Southeast District. For nearly three hours, the little white chapel at Camp Ithiel buzzed with conversation. Nigerian guests shared stories of tragedy and triumph, thanksgiving and praise. They were generous in their appreciation for the financial aid and prayer support offered by US Brethren.

When the conversation concluded, the group prepared to celebrate love feast. Brethren from Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Nigeria gathered in the dining hall for the love feast meal, then returned to the chapel for feetwashing and the bread and the cup of communion. The Nigerians significantly outnumbered the Americans, like at that first Brethren worship service in Garkida, Nigeria, in 1923.

A bronze plague has been placed under the Tamarind tree where that first gathering in Nigeria took place, inscribed with the scripture lesson mission founder Stover Kulp read that day: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

That was the essence of the love feast service at Camp Ithiel–members of the family of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as cornerstone. Mixed among the Nigerians were former missionaries, Brethren Volunteer Service workers, Global Mission and Service staff, and people who have never set foot in Nigeria. I was amazed to discover that one of the Nigerians had visited our home when he was just a boy, when we lived in the Nigeria in the 1980s. I still have the picture I took of him 30 years ago, when he and several other boys were sitting on our front porch.

When we gathered that afternoon for love feast, we thought we had come together as strangers. We were reminded once again that in Christ Jesus we are no longer strangers but members of the same family. Our family may be scattered in many placed around the globe, but when we come together as the family of God, it feels very much like we have come home.

— Bob Krouse is project director of the Gathering, a church planting project of Atlantic Southeast District, and a former moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.

5) Rare Bible at Bridgewater College nominated for statewide preservation program

By Mary Kay Heatwole

The Venice Bible–which was printed in Italy in 1482-83 and now reposes in the Reuel B. Pritchett Museum Collection at Bridgewater (Va.) College–has been announced as a nominee in the Virginia Association of Museums’ Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program.

The program is designed to build awareness of artifacts that sometimes need constant daily care and of the important work that museums do to maintain their collections. The “Top 10” honorees are selected by an independent review panel of collections and conservation experts from the Library of Virginia, Preservation Virginia, Virginia Conservation Association, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, and an independent conservator.

The People’s Choice Award goes to the artifact that collects the most votes during the public voting component of the campaign.

The Venice Bible, which is also known as the Biblia Latina cum postillis Nicolai de Lyra, 1482-1483, was donated to Bridgewater in 1954 by the Rev. Reuel B. Pritchett. It is listed on several important lists of incunabula–the first printed books–and is printed in Latin. The 2,715-page volume contains some untranslated, handwritten annotations, and features some capital letters illuminated with gold leaf. Some pages feature decorative flourishes. It is bound in vellum.

Stephanie Gardner, special collections librarian at the college’s Alexander Mack Memorial Library, said the Bible needs basic cleaning and conservation as well as re-housing to a more suitable environment.

“It is an honor to participate in the program, and to share with the college and local communities some of the curatorial work that we do with special collections, including the Venice Bible,” said Gardner. “The Bible was housed in a special showcase for many years. We discovered, recently, that while beautiful, the housing was not providing proper preservation for this important artifact.

“I hope,” she continued, “that everyone will vote for the Venice Bible as their favorite artifact, and consider donating to its preservation and conservation.”

Public voting for favorite artifacts will determine who receives the People’s Choice Award. Voting runs from Aug. 1 to Aug. 23 and may be done at .

“It’s a special privilege to be a steward of this rare part of history,” said Andrew Pearson, director of the Mack Library. “I encourage all of Bridgewater’s friends and alumni to help vote this to the People’s Choice Award as part of this honor and encourage donations to support its preservation.”

— Mary Kay Heatwole serves in Bridgewater College’s Office of Marketing and Communications and as editorial assistant for Media Relations.


6) Nancy Sollenberger Heishman named to Brethren Academy staff

Photo by Glenn Riegel
Nancy Sollenberger Heishman

Nancy Sollenberger Heishman has been named part-time coordinator of the Spanish-Language Ministry Training Programs for the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, beginning July 22.

She will administer the Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano (SeBAH-CoB) educational program, design and administer the new Spanish-language track of the Education for a Shared Ministry (EFSM) program, and work with various constituencies to provide leadership for Spanish-language ministry training programs.

Heishman previously served as interim pastor of Cristo Nuestra Paz in New Carlisle, Ohio, and interim coordinator for the SeBAH-CoB program. As a former mission co-coordinator for the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic, she also served as director of theological education for Iglesia de los Hermanos en la Republica Dominicana. She holds a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary and will continue to co-pastor West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City, Ohio, with her husband, Irv Heishman.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary. Each will contribute funds for this staff position, training programs, and resource and leadership development.


7) NOAC to meet in September on the theme ‘Then Jesus Told Them a Story’

By Kim Ebersole

Interest in attending the 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) is running high, with more than 850 people already registered. The event takes place Sept. 7-11 in Lake Junaluska, N.C. Registration continues up to the start of the conference, with a $25 first-timer discount on the registration fee available to people who are attending for the first time.

The conference theme is “Then Jesus Told Them a Story” (Matthew 13:34-35), and storytelling in many forms will be interwoven throughout the conference. New this year is the NOAC Coffee House featuring singer/storyteller Steve Kinzie. NOAC participants also are invited to perform. Contact Debbie Eisenbise at or 847-429-4306 if you want more information.

A great line up of speakers and performers is planned, including Ken Medema, Brian McLaren, Deanna Brown, Robert Bowman, Robert Neff, Christine Smith, LaDonna Nkosi, Alexander Gee, comedian Bob Stromberg, and the musical group Terra Voce. The NOAC News Team returns to delight the NOAC audience with their zany antics.

In addition there are workshops, creative arts classes, and a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Continuing education units are available for many presentations and workshops, which is a great benefit for ordained clergy attending the conference.

Service is always a meaningful part of NOAC, with Thursday being designated “Service Day.” People who have served in Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), Brethren Disaster Ministries, Children’s Disaster Services, or Church of the Brethren workcamps are invited to wear t-shirts from their experience. BVS will have special alumni t-shirts available at NOAC. Contact Emily at or 847-429-4396 by July 31 to order a shirt. Suggested donation is $15.

“Share a Story,” an outreach project to the Junaluska Elementary School, also is new this year. Our goal is that at least 350 new illustrated children’s books for students in grades K-5 will be collected. Books should be non-religious and without any inscription. NOAC participants are invited to bring books along or purchase books at the Brethren Press bookstore at NOAC, which will feature a display of appropriate books.

At the 2015 Annual Conference, participants purchased 20 illustrated children’s books to donate to the Junaluska elementary school, jump starting the NOAC service project.

The Church World Service “Kits for Kids” project continues. Monetary donations to purchase items for kits are especially welcome in advance of NOAC. Checks should be made out to the Church of the Brethren and sent to the NOAC Office, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. A list of items needed for the kits can be found at . Items and completed kits should be brought to NOAC.

“One World, One Church: NOAC for Nigeria!” is the focus of a fundraising walk around Lake Junaluska on Thursday morning of the conference. All the money raised will benefit the denomination’s Nigeria Crisis Fund. The young adult volunteers, coordinated by BVS volunteer Laura Whitman, and Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), are coordinating this year’s walk.

NOAC participants are invited to volunteer in a variety of other ways–sing in the choir, serve as an usher, be a greeter at registration, or assist people with their luggage as they arrive or depart. Especially needed are people with medical training to staff 30-minute drop-in clinics to take blood pressures and answer health questions. Contact Laura Whitman at or 847-429-4323 if you can help in any of these ways.

With conference registrations as high as they are, lodging at the Lake Junaluska Conference Center is near capacity, but registrants are encouraged to contact the center about available lodging on the grounds and in nearby hotels. Ask to be put on Lake Junaluska’s lodging waiting list as there are often cancellations. The phone number for lodging information and reservations is 800-222-4930 ext. 1.

Visit for more information about NOAC or contact Kim Ebersole, director of NOAC, at or 847-429-4305.

— Kim Ebersole is director of National Older Adult Conference, serving on the staff of the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries.

8) Webinar ‘Healthy Boundaries 201′ meets requirements for ordination review

A webinar from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership titled “Healthy Boundaries 201 and Ethics in Ministry Relations Training” will offer ordained ministers another opportunity to complete requirements for ministerial ethics training for the 2015 ordination review.

The webcast is scheduled for Aug. 15, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Eastern time), with a break for lunch.

Julie M. Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy, will lead the webinar and the training. Dan Poole, director of Educational Technology at Bethany Theological Seminary, will provide technology support.

Ministers interested in attending the webinar may contact the Brethren Academy at . A website link will be e-mailed to participants a few days prior to the webcast, to connect participants to the webcast online. The registration fee of $30 covers the cost of a book to be used during the sessions and a .5 continuing education unit certificate upon completion of the webinar.

Registration and payment must be sent to the Brethren Academy. For more information contact .

9) On Earth Peace invites congregations to participate in Peace Day 2015

Image courtesy of On Earth Peace

Peace Day (Sept. 21) is quickly approaching, and On Earth Peace is urging your congregation to participate in praying for peace and building a culture of peace this year. The Church of the Brethren holds the belief that creating and standing for peace is a duty of followers of Jesus, holding to verses like Romans 14:19, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

For 2015, On Earth Peace is inviting congregations or community groups to develop a Peace Day prayer event designed around what is going on in our world and in your own communities. A series of questions to consider in your planning are posted online at .

We encourage each group to develop a local prayer focus, based on the specific concerns your own community is experiencing related to violence and injustice. Sample topics: challenging military recruitment, working for reconciliation across divided communities, challenging exclusion, resisting war and occupation, caring and advocating for refugees, challenging gun violence, praying for healing after a local shooting, celebrating the Black Lives Matter movement, praying for our sisters and brothers in the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), and praying for the Israel/Palestine conflict. Pick topics closest to your members’ hearts, and spotlight unresolved conflicts in your own community.

When your group or congregation has selected a local theme and started to make plans, please share them with our new Facebook group: OEP-PeaceDay .

If you have any questions or would like guidance or conversation as you develop Peace Day activities or themes, send an email to .

Peace Day Facebook group

We are also excited to announce that this year we have created a new space for organizers and participants of Peace Day to congregate; our Facebook group OEP-PeaceDay.

Here is where you will find all relevant and necessary information regarding this year’s campaign for peace. We strongly encourage everybody to join, and participate by frequently updating us on your Peace Day 2015 plans. It is our hope that you will find this group to be an uplifting online community where ideas can be shared and developed. Consider posting about local, national, and global issues regarding peace.

Lectionary Texts for Sunday, Sept. 20, the day before Peace Day:

James 4: “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Mark 9: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

— This article is reprinted from the On Earth Peace e-newsletter “Peace Builder.”

10) Bethany Seminary’s Presidential Forum weekend to explore ‘Just Peace’

By Jenny Williams

Bethany Theological Seminary’s seventh Presidential Forum weekend, scheduled for Oct. 29-31, will feature internationally known speakers, Bethany leadership, and presenters from the peace church traditions on the theme “A Pilgrimage of Just Peace.” Registration and complete information on the event is available at .

“Conflict is relational, and often it arises from a variety of factors: economic, environmental, racial, religious, etc.,” says Jeff Carter, president of Bethany. “In order to create a culture of peace and prevent conflict, peacemaking must be equally relational. Drawing from experts in a variety of fields, the forum will address the cost of not having peace and the ecumenical call for a just peace, which includes truth, reconciliation, and restorative justice. I am excited to have this collection of distinguished scholars at Bethany to deepen our conversation and expand our witness.”

World Council of Churches leader Fernando Enns will open the plenary sessions with “The Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.” A professor of peace theology and ethics at VU University Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, Enns served as moderator of the WCC’s reference group for the Decade to Overcome Violence and is now moderator of the reference group on just peace.

Enns will be joined by plenary speakers Elizabeth Ferris of the Brookings Institution and James S. Logan of Earlham College.

Elizabeth Ferris is co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement and teaches at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Policy. Her presentation is entitled “Humanitarian Crises: The Crying Need for a Just Peace.”

James S. Logan will speak on “‘Everywhere Ferguson’ and the Racial Crucible of the Christian Peace Churches.” He holds the National Endowment for the Humanities Endowed Chair in Interdisciplinary Studies at Earlham, where he teaches in the religion department and directs the Program in African and African American Studies.

Sharon Watkins, president and general minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), will speak during Friday evening worship and in a talk-back session.

To begin the weekend’s activities, the traditional Pre-Forum Gathering welcomes alumni/ae and friends to campus for educational lectures, worship, and fellowship with the Bethany community. On Friday, faculty and guest speakers will address the forum theme from their respective fields of study and experience:

— Ben Brazil, director of the ministry of writing program at Earlham School of Religion, will speak about “Travel and Justice: The Moral Maze.”

— Christina Bucher, Carl W. Ziegler Professor of Religion at Elizabethtown College and a Bethany trustee, will speak on “Pondering Joshua in Search of Just Peace.”

— Carol Rose, pastor and former director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, will give an address “On Tiptoe to See: The Bible, Oppressions, and Transformation.”

— Scott Holland, Slabaugh Professor of Theology and Culture at Bethany, will speak on the topic, “Does Religion Still Matter in Seeking Cultures of Just Peace?”

In six breakout sessions, Brethren, Mennonite, and Quaker presenters also will speak to the interpretation and manifestation of peacemaking, from an historical look at the Brethren peace position to arts-based community organizing.

Space is limited to 165 participants. A discounted registration fee will be offered through Sept. 5. Continuing education units are available for both the Pre-Forum Gathering and the Presidential Forum. For more information, contact or call 800-287-8822.

— Jenny Williams is director of communications at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.


11) Activity book will help children understand Nigeria crisis, among other new Nigeria-related resources

Photo by Glenn Riegel
Nigeria resources are displayed at the Annual Conference bookstore offered by Brethren Press. Here, the new t-shirts proclaiming Nigerian and American Brethren “One Body in Christ” are displayed beside the new children’s activity book on Nigeria, “Children of the Same Mother,” among other resources.

A children’s activity book “Children of the Same Mother” aims to help American children understand the crisis affecting Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). It is just one of the new Nigeria-related resources offered by Brethren Press, and debuted at the bookstore at the 2015 Annual Conference in Tampa.

Also among the new resources:

An art print of Sandra Jean Ceas’ #BringBackOurGirls artwork highlights the abduction of the schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria, with a small gingham dress representing each of the more than 200 girls who were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014.

T-shirts that proclaim “One Body in Christ” bear the names of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in a bright batik-style graphic on a black cotton t-shirt fabric. (See order information below.)

Children’s activity book

The 32-page magazine-style “Children of the Same Mother: A Nigeria Activity Book” was created at the initiative of Global Mission and Service, written by Jan Fischer Bachman, and designed by Paul Stocksdale. A foreword by Kathleen Fry-Miller of Children’s Disaster Services advises on how to talk with children about the crisis.

Colorful illustrations, stories, games, and puzzles make the activity book attractive for all ages of children. Information about Nigeria and the Church of the Brethren Mission in Nigeria–out of which EYN grew as an independent African church–will bring children, older siblings, and parents closer to the Nigerian Brethren.

An excerpt:

How can I help? Pray. EYN leaders say that prayer and fasting help them the most. We can tell God how sad we are for the ways that things have gone wrong. We can ask for God to keep people safe and make sure they have enough food and a place to sleep. We can tell God how we long for peace to come again. We can give thanks for the beautiful examples of all those helping each other. And, because God told us to, we can pray for the people who are attacking and hurting others, for we know that by doing this they are injuring themselves too.

To purchase these resources

“Children of the Same Mother: A Nigeria Activity Book” is available for $5 per copy or $4 each for orders of 10 copies or more.

The art print of Sandra Jean Ceas’ #BringBackOurGirls artwork inspired by the abduction of the schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria, is available for $25.

T-shirts proclaiming “One Body in Christ” are available in three colors (orange, blue, or green), each printed on a black cotton t-shirt fabric. Cost is $25.

Purchases of these two latter items will help support the Nigeria Crisis Fund. Shipping and handling will be added to the prices listed above. Order online at or call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.


12) After Amen

By Gimbiya Kettering

After tragedy comes prayer. What comes after prayer?

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26, KJV).

For the past month, people have shared articles and essays and online photo albums with me on every possible social media platform about the shootings, about the shooter, about South Carolina’s flag, and about the complicated, terrible story of race in our country.

I have been grateful for every day that has passed in peace–without protests turning violent and self-destructive. I have stopped mid-step to listen to the radio reports about Charleston. I have read articles and editorials and tweets but I have not known what to say.

For the past month, I have been praying–or trying to pray–for the grieving families of those killed, the congregation of Emanuel AME Church, for the people of Charleston, the leaders of South Carolina, for the wider African Methodist Episcopal denomination, for all of us as Americans.

Often words have failed me in the rising tide of my grief, rage, and confusion. I have wanted, perhaps more than anything, to be able to push back time. But I cannot continue to pray for a return to the week before last week, before any of this happened, and to pray for something different. That is not the type of intercession God does.

I may never find the words for the prayers that I want to articulate. But, in my silence, I am also preparing for the strength and courage for the actions I need to take next week and the week after that. The actions that will make a difference.

What have you done or said in response to the shootings at the Emanuel AME Church?

How have people received your contributions?

What actions do you think we could take as individuals, as congregations, and as a denomination to be part of the healing after these shootings and other incidents of racialized violence in our community?

Please share your stories so that they can inspire me and others who are seeking a ways forward in our broken, beautiful world. You can send your stories to or call me at 800-323-8039 ext. 387.

— Gimbiya Kettering is director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, serving on the staff of Congregational Life Ministries. This blogpost is the first in a series that is planned as a way of continuing the conversation about how race, culture, ethnicity, and language impact our relationships with one another and how we do ministry. For questions or to share comments with the Intercultural Ministries, please contact . More about the denomination’s Intercultural Ministries is at .

13) Brethren bits

Roma Jo Thompson (center, above) receives a plaque in honor of her late husband R. Jan Thompson, at the Annual Conference Blood Drive. At left is Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries, with Church of the Brethren General Secretary Stan Noffsinger at right. Photo by Glenn RiegelTidbits of news from the 2015 Annual Conference that took place in Tampa, Fla., on July 11-15. For a full review of the Conference go to :Brethren Disaster Ministries dedicated the blood drive at Annual Conference to honor the life and ministry of the late R. Jan Thompson, who died on Jan. 12. A plaque in his honor was on display during the two-day blood drive, and at the close of the event was presented to his wife, Roma Jo Thompson. He had started the annual blood drive in 1984. R. Jan and Roma Jo Thompson were the first full-time directors of the programs now known as Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services, respectively.

Congratulations to the four winners of the Brethren Press $1,000 church library book giveaway at Annual Conference: Locust Grove Church of the Brethren, Columbia City Church of the Brethren, Guernsey Church of the Brethren, and Decatur Church of the Brethren. Each selected an assortment of titles for their church libraries thanks to the generous gift of an anonymous donor. The Brethren Press library book giveaway started in 2011 and over the past five years has yet to have a duplicate winner.

Brethren Press is thanking everyone who stopped by the Annual Conference bookstore and those who attended the Brethren Press and Messenger dinner with speaker Peggy Reiff Miller. She is the author of an upcoming children’s picture book from Brethren Press, “The Seagoing Cowboy.” The Brethren Press staff also thanks authors Joyce Rupp and Alex Awad for stopping by the bookstore to sign books and share stories with Conference attendees.

The Brethren Revival Fellowship celebrated 50 years of publishing at some of its events in Tampa during the 2015 Annual Conference. The BRF has published details of its history over those 50 years in the latest issue of the “BRF Witness” newsletter, on the theme “Brethren Revival Fellowship: 50 Years of Publishing.” Contact the BRF Witness editor at 717-626-5079.

Annual Conference participants purchased 20 illustrated children’s books to donate to the Junaluska elementary school, jump starting a new service project at National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), which is held in Lake Junaluska, N.C., on Sept. 7-11. New this year at NOAC is “Share a Story,” an outreach project to the Junaluska Elementary School. The goal is that at least 350 new illustrated children’s books for students in grades K-5 will be collected. Books should be non-religious and without any inscription. NOAC participants are invited to bring books along or purchase books at the Brethren Press bookstore at NOAC, which will feature a display of appropriate books.


— Correction: A recent “Brethren bit” about the 32nd World Hunger Auction at Antioch Church of the Brethren included two errors. The Antioch Church is located in Rocky Mount, Va. The correct link to the auction website is .

— Remembrance: David L. Huffaker, 81, a former member of the Church of the Brethren denominational staff, passed away July 14 at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio. He served as Planned Giving officer for the former General Board from 1992 until his retirement in 2001. In volunteer service to the church, he served on the Brethren Retirement Community board from 1976-1993, serving six years as chair. He also was a co-owner of Huffaker Plumbing and Heating with his brother Keith, and co-owner of Cardinal Tool. He is preceded in death by his son Chris Huffaker. He is survived by his wife Marcia (Wheelock) Huffaker of West Milton, Ohio; daughters Annette (Nick) Beam of Pleasant Hill, Ohio, and Becky Ward of West Milton; grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service was held July 20 at Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren. Memorial contributions are received to the Brethren Retirement Community Resident’s Aid Fund. Online condolences may be left for the family at . A full obituary is at .

— Remembrance: Conrad Snavely, 97, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, died July 19 at Timbercrest Healthcare Center at the retirement community in N. Manchester, Ind. Born May 19, 1918, he was married to Irma Snavely, with whom he served in Nigeria from 1968-73. His mission posting in Nigeria was in the business office and at Hillcrest School in Jos. His first wife, Irma, died Sept. 18, 1998. He then married Bertha Custer on April 15, 2000. She died this year on July 11. Conrad Snavely also was a Church of the Brethren pastor in Virginia, Indiana, and Michigan. He served as director of Camp Brethren Heights, Rodney, Mich., for six years. He also was on the maintenance department of Manchester College, now Manchester University, for seven years. He was a member of Manchester Church of the Brethren since 1979. His volunteer service to the church included a term on the Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference, and a term of service as moderator of the Michigan District. He was a graduate of Manchester College and Bethany Biblical Seminary. He is survived by sons James Snavely of San Benito, Texas, and Brent Snavely of Royal Oaks, Mich. A memorial service was held July 25 at the Timbercrest Chapel. Memorial gifts are received to Wabash County Habitat for Humanity or the Memorial Garden Fund at Manchester Church of the Brethren. The full obituary can be found at .

— Remembrance: Jerry Rodeffer, 60, of Snohomish, Wash., passed away on July 19, following a brief illness. He served as chief financial officer for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) in the early 1990s, overseeing financial operations and investments for pension, insurance, and socially responsible investing. He also is the husband of BBT’s director of Employee Benefits, Lynnae Rodeffer. It was after achieving national and international distinction for his farming involvement with Jersey cattle that he retired and joined the BBT staff. He continued to be an active supporter of dairy youth and was a coach for the Washington State 4-H Dairy Judging team that competed in Madison, Wis., last year. Memorial gifts are received to the Washington 4-H Foundation Dairy Endowment Fund. A celebration of life and fellowship meal was held July 25 at Cross View Church in Snohomish. In addition, a memorial service will be held at Buck Creek Church of the Brethren in Mooreland, Ind., on Saturday, Aug. 8, beginning at 11 a.m. A meal will follow. Several of the BBT staff will drive to Indiana and attend the service and luncheon. “Please continue to hold the Rodeffer family in prayer for peace and comfort,” said a prayer request from the Church of the Brethren General Offices. See for the full obituary.

— Remembrance: Emlyn Harley Kline, 87, of Manassas, Va., passed away July 20 at the Bridgewater Retirement Village. He served as a seagoing cowboy with Heifer Project, delivering cattle to Europe after World War II, and in the early 1950s volunteered with Brethren Volunteer Service for several years in Greece. In other volunteer service to the church, he was elected as a member of the Board of Trustees for Bridgewater College in 1985 and in 2000 became a Life Trustee of the college. A life-long resident of Manassas, he was a dairy farmer, and devoted member of Manassas Church of the Brethren. In his work with agriculture, he traveled to China in 1975 on an agricultural tour when that country opened up to western tourists, and was a member and served on the board of the Soil and Water Conservation District of Prince William County, Va., for many years. He is survived by his wife Vera; children Michael Kline and wife Charlene of Madison County, Kathy Kline-Miller and husband David of Pennsylvania, Ruth Mickelberry and husband David of Madison County, Christa Harrell and husband Louis of Alexandria; grandchildren; and great-grandchild. The funeral service was held July 24. Memorial gifts are received to Manassas Church of the Brethren. An online guest book is at .

— Kate Edelen will be working with the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness on a part-time basis through this fall as a policy analyst and advocate on Nigeria. Previously she served with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), where she was a research associate and conducted research and analysis on peacebuilding, environment, and counterterrorism policy, with a special focus on Africa. During her time at FCNL she conducted field research in Nigeria. Her educational background includes a Fulbright fellowship at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) in Norway, where she conducted research on the relationship between political violence and climatologically-affected water resources in South Asia. She holds a degree in Water Science, Policy, and Management from the University of Oxford. Her work at the Office of Public Witness will support the broader work of the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren in cooperation with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

— The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) seeks a creative, innovative, dynamic, and energetic person to fill the position of Communication Campaign coordinator for eight months starting in September. The WSCF is an ecumenical organization empowering Christian students and young adults to engage in the work of peace, justice and global action, following Jesus’ call to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release of the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18). The WSCF supports Student Christian Movements regionally and globally in their work to build local networks of engaged students on campuses and communities and organizes conferences and other activities to provide opportunities for leadership training, biblical and theological reflection, ecumenical engagement, mutual support, and social change and action. The WSCF includes more than 1 million members in 90 countries around the world. In addition to running this campaign, the Communication Campaign coordinator will be responsible for the WSCF-NA website, e-newsletter, and database. Work location is anywhere in Canada and the US, with a preference for New York City. For more information and to apply, go to .

— Setting a budget parameter for denominational ministries in 2016 was one task of the Mission and Ministry Board at its July 11 meeting in advance of Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla. The denominational board set next year’s Core Ministries budget parameter at $4, 893,000. The board also welcomed leaders from Church of the Brethren bodies in Brazil, Haiti, Spain and the Canary Islands, and Nigeria, and guests from Rwanda and Burundi. Numerous reports were received including a financial review, a Brethren Service Center marketing report, and board members’ comments on a faith expedition to Israel and Palestine, among others. Board members were invited to sign a letter regarding the situation in Israel and Palestine which is being sent to their congressional representatives. In addition, the board celebrated the 2015 Open Roof Award, presented by the Disabilities Ministry to two congregations this year: Cedar Lake Church of the Brethren in Auburn, Ind., and Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren. Closing the meeting was a farewell to members who are leaving the board including Becky Ball-Miller–who has served as chair, Brian Messler, Tim Peter, Pam Reist, and Gilbert Romero. Don Fitzkee will serve as chair for the next term in the board’s work.

— Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of 100 religious leaders in a group known as the “Circle of Protection” who have asked the US presidential candidates: “What would you do as president to offer help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world?” Christian Churches Together (CCT), a national ecumenical organization of which the Church of the Brethren is a member, is supporting the efforts of the Circle of Protection and urging church members to ask themselves, “What can you do?” Suggestions for action include watching the candidate videos outlining their plans to address hunger and poverty at . Another idea is to ask the “poverty question” as presidential candidates prepare for debates. CCT gave the example of Fox News and Facebook announcing a partnership to set the questions for the Republican candidates’ upcoming debate: “The debate will also incorporate data from Facebook that will be used to gauge how strongly certain political issues are resonating with different demographic groups. This information will feed into the questioning put forth by the debate’s hosts.” The “National Catholic Reporter” has published some answers from candidates who have responded so far to the “poverty question” at .

— The On Earth Peace nonviolence organizing ministry is supporting Zandra Wagoner, campus chaplain at the University of La Verne, Calif., and a Church of the Brethren minister, to be present in Missouri on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death “and the beginning of the Ferguson movement,” said an e-mail announcement. Wagoner plans to be in St. Louis on Aug. 7-11 and is anticipating participating in a major civil disobedience action on Aug. 10, the announcement said. “Please join me in prayers and celebration as Rev. Dr. Zandra Wagoner goes forth in the Spirit to gather with the #BlackLivesMatter movement in Ferguson,” wrote On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer.

— The National Council of Churches is publicizing a conference at a church in Ferguson, Mo. “We Are All Ferguson” aims to bring people together in productive ways for a series of workshops and conferences on Aug. 2-9 at Wellspring Church, a United Methodist congregation. “The event will bring together community and business leaders to address the racial and economic issues that became widely known in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown last year,” said the announcement. Wellspring pastor F. Willis Johnson Jr. said in the announcement: “We Are All Ferguson is not just about the ZIP code. It’s about the shared human experience and the realities we’re all faced with across the country of immense inequities, injustice and the need for us to work toward the eradicating of them.” Find out more about the event at .

— David Sollenberger is making available a DVD recording of the EYN Women’s Fellowship Choir performance in North Manchester, Ind., one of the stops on the choir’s recent tour. The Nigerian Brethren choir from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) was a bit hit at Annual Conference as well, where they sand for three of the worship services and gave a concert during an Insight Session slot. The cost is a donation of $20 to the Nigerian Crisis Fund, make checks out to Church of the Brethren-Nigeria Crisis Fund and David Sollenberger will forward them to the denominational offices. To order a copy of the DVD contact .

— Spiritual Life director Josh Brockway is the keynote speaker for a Shenandoah District teacher training event on Saturday, Aug. 29, from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on the topic, “Equipping God’s People–Discipleship Formation.” The district’s Congregational Care Advisory Team is sponsoring the training, which is hosted by Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren. Presenters and panelists also include Ricky and Beverly Funkhouser, Joan Daggett, Linda Abshire, Helen Silvis-Miller, and Bill Wood. “The focus of the event will be equipping and making perceptive Christians as transforming influences in the world, through effective and creative educational ministries of the church,” said an announcement in the district newsletter. Workshops will address: “Attracting and engaging youth and young adults in study, growth, and discipleship,” “Role of creative storytelling in children’s ministry,” and “Identifying educational opportunities for those who are differently abled in our congregations.” The registration fee of $20 includes lunch, and should be sent to Shenandoah District Church of the Brethren, P.O. Box 67, Weyers Cave, Va., 24486, no later than Aug. 17.

— The Global Mission and Service office requests prayer and praise for the opportunity for three leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and their spouses to spend “sabbatical” time in the United States and visit with several Church of the Brethren congregations. “These visitors include Jinatu Wamdeo, EYN general secretary, and his wife Rachel; Mbode M. Ndirmbita, EYN vice president, and his wife Tarfaina; and Zakariya Amos, EYN administrative secretary, and his wife Tabitha,” said the prayer request. “Pray for a time of rest and restoration and blessed interactions.”

— In related news, Somerset (Pa.) Church of the Brethren will be hosting Mbode Ndirmbita and his wife Tarfaina on Friday, Aug. 7. There will be a potluck dinner at 6:30 p.m. with a time of sharing and fellowship. Contact the church at 814-445-8853 for questions.

— Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, will be the main presenter at the Virlina District New Church Development Committee event on Oct. 9-10, titled “Growing Leaders in New (and Older) Congregations.” The retreat takes place at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va. The theme will focus on leadership development in congregational life, with a special focus on new church plants. The registration fee of $60 includes admission to the retreat as well as dinner on Friday and breakfast and lunch on Saturday. The retreat opens with an optional session at 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9. The main retreat will begin with registration at 4 p.m. on Oct. 9, and will continue through Saturday afternoon at 4:15. Continuing education units will be available for those attending. A brochure is available from the Virlina District Resource Center. For further information, including how to register, contact the District Resource Center at or 540-362-1816; or contact Doug Veal, Virlina District New Church Development Committee chairperson, at 540-992-2042 or .

— Tanka, a Native American natural foods organization, has blogged a thank you to the Church of the Brethren workcamp group that visited earlier this summer–complete with photos of the youth and their advisors. Go to .

— Henry Fork Church of the Brethren helped sponsor a Candle Light Service in remembrance of the nine people killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. The Candle Light Service was held the evening of July 8 at the Pigg River Community Building on South Main Street in Rocky Mount, Va. The Henry Fork Church sponsored it jointly with several African-American congregations. “We want our community, both black and white, to come together and name this act as evil,” said an announcement of the service in the Virlina District newsletter. “The events of the past few days in Charleston demonstrate that we have not met the mark of where God wants us to be.”

— Creekside Church of the Brethren in Elkhart, Ind., has reported the amount raised at a Nigeria Relief Auction it hosted recently on behalf of Northern Indiana District. The auction raised $14,204 for the Nigeria Crisis Fund, after expenses. “Congregations, the district very much appreciates your hard work and donations. Thank you all!” said the announcement from Angi Harney of the Creekside Church.

— Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren is hosting the annual Bridgewater College Alumni Choir concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 16. Directed by Dr. Jesse E. Hopkins, professor emeritus of music at Bridgewater College, the concert features college alumni as vocalists and conductors. Admission is free.

— Mt. Pleasant Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va., is raising funds for Gary Sturrock and his family as he prepares for a kidney transplant. “A donor has been found, and the family needs support to meet expenses not covered by insurance,” said the Shenandoah District newsletter. Fundraising events include a benefit lawn party on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 3-7 p.m., sponsored by the deacons, featuring food including Mt. Pleasant’s chicken barbecue, Patty’s ham pot pie and beans, and homemade ice cream, plus music by the Knicely Family and Adoration and Doyle Moats Sr., a dunking booth, a “cruise-in,” and a toddler train. In cooperation with Quaker Steak & Lube in Harrisonburg, all day on Friday, July 31, 20 percent of food purchases at the restaurant were donated to the transplant fund.

— The year’s district conferences are beginning to be held across the denomination:
Northern Ohio District held its 2015 district conference this past weekend, July 24-25, at Mohican Church of the Brethren in West Salem, Ohio.
Also this past weekend, on July 24-26, Southeastern District met in district conference at Mars Hill (N.C.) University.
Northern Plains District meets in district conference on July 31-Aug. 2 at West Des Moines (Iowa) Christian Church.
On July 31-Aug. 2 the Western Plains District Conference is hosted jointly by McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren and McPherson College.
Southern Plains District Conference is set for Aug. 6-7, at Clovis (N.M.) Church of the Brethren.
On Aug. 14-16, Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich., will host the Michigan District Conference.

— Southern Ohio District has announced an Adult Vacation Bible School on Aug. 3-6 at Salem Church of the Brethren. “This is an intergenerational event and all ages are welcome,” the invitation said. “Step back in time and experince the excitement of a biblical marketplace! Learn about Jesus and how people lived in bible times. Become a member of the twelve tribes of Israel and enjoy music, drama, storytelling, crafts, and more!” All ages are welcome. Children under 4 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Sack lunches are provided. A flier with details about the program is at .

— Shenandoah District’s Family Fun Day on Aug. 22, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., is sponsored by the district’s Auction Coordinating Committee. “Pie and cake judging will be held again this year,” said an announcement. The day also features food, games, pony rides, face painting, and music from the Hatcher Family, Pete Runion and Diana Cooper, and Lisa Meadows. “A new event this year is the Children’s Silent Auction from 1-2 p.m. Children will want to bring some money!” said the announcement. Location is 502 Sandy Ridge Rd., Waynesboro, Va., rain or shine.

— Camp Eder is offering a Young Adult Canoe Trip on Aug. 2-9. “Canoe cruise on the scenic Saranac Lakes in upstate New York,” said an announcement. “We’ll spend the days paddling on beautiful lakes reflecting the surrounding mountains and then spend the nights talking around the campfire and sleeping under the stars.”

— “Chosen to Live a Life of Love by the Law of Love” is the title of the new spiritual disciplines folder from the Springs of Living Water Initiative in church renewal led by David and Joan Young. The folder runs from Sept. 6 to the start of Advent, Nov. 28. “Embarking on a grand journey into Galatians and Ephesians written by the Apostle Paul, this folder has daily scripture readings for a time of prayer, following the Brethren practice to live the meaning of the text each day,” said the announcement. “Folders are designed to assist churches in congregational vitality and may be used individually, or by the entire congregation possibly coordinated with sermons, or for small group Bible study. Both the folder and Bible study questions to go with it are written by Vince Cable, retiring pastor of the Uniontown Church and becoming a Springs Ambassador.” Find the folder and questions on the Springs of Living Water website at . For more information, contact or 717-615-4515.

— Heeding God’s Call is asking for support in opposing the opening of a new gun store in Philadelphia, at the site of the former Colosimo’s, a notorious gun store which the movement helped to shut down. Heeding God’s Call is a movement to end gun violence on the streets of America’s cities, initiated at a Philadelphia conference of the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers). “You will recall the happy day in late 2009 when we learned Heeding God’s Call had embarrassed federal authorities into (finally!) shuttering notorious Colosimo’s Gun Center,” said the request for support. “That single gun shop, according to Philadelphia law enforcers, accounted for 20 percent of guns recovered from crime in the city. The new owner of Colosimo’s gun range, calling itself The Gun Range, is seeking a zoning variance to open a new gun store at the site, right around the corner from the old Colosimo’s store. This despite overwhelming community opposition, an earlier refusal by Phila. L & I, and the proximity of residences, senior housing, restaurants, a concert venue, and two faith communities.” Heeding God’s Call will host a public demonstration against the new gun store at the corner of Spring Garden and North Percy Streets at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9, three days before the Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing. For more information contact .

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is requesting prayer for Kurdish villagers living in the mountainous border region between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey, where bombing has resumed. “In 2012, Turkey and the Kurdish resistance entered into a delicate truce,” said the prayer request. “The bombing ended in the area where the villagers of Basta live. They rejoiced and put money into building a new mosque with the hope that people would come back to the village. This week the bombing started again.” On a related Facebook post, CPT reported that the villagers “were going to decide over the next few days if they should flee the village and go down to the valley.” Find the Facebook post and pictures from the village at . For more information about the work of CPT, which began as an initiative of the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers) go to .

— Christian Peacemaker Teams is calling attention to a “significant increase in the targeting of Palestinian children by Israeli occupying forces,” witnessed by CPT members working in Hebron’s Old City. “From soldiers confiscating their bicycles to chasing them down in the street, the Israeli occupying forces are stripping children of their fundamental right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities,” the release said. In one example from the release, on Sunday, July 19, a six-year-old boy “was swarmed by the heavily armed Israeli military, forced to empty his pockets, and aggressively interrogated.” The release cites Articles 31 and 37 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: “States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities…. States Parties shall ensure that no child be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” CPT is sometimes able to advocate for the rights of Palestinian children, the release noted, “but despite the presence of human rights observers, there is still a lack of accountability for Israeli occupying forces. Find the full CPT release and a list of recent incidents involving Palestinian children in Hebron at .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Kim Ebersole, Debbie Eisenbise, Terry Goodger, Matt Guynn, Mary Kay Heatwole, Nathan Hosler, Gimbiya Kettering, Bob Krouse, Nancy Miner, Bill Scheurer, Doug Veal, Jenny Williams, David Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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