Newsline for June 17, 2015

Photo courtesy of BDM

1) Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers help clean up after Colorado tornado

2) ‘Basin and Towel’ publication is discontinued

3) Bethany Seminary calls new executive director of institutional advancement

4) National Junior High Conference worship will be webcast

5) Brethren bits: Corrections to Nigerian Brethren tour schedule, Fahrney-Keedy acting president, Spurgeon Manor seeks development officer, NRCAT letter, Senate acts on torture legislation, BVS events in Maryland, BHLA newsletter, videos from Bethany event, more

1) Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers help clean up after Colorado tornado

By Kim Gingerich and Tim Sheaffer

On June 4, around 6:30 p.m., an EF3-rated tornado touched down in Berthoud, Colo. The tornado was 200 yards wide with maximum sustained winds of 135-140 miles per hour. It tracked 5 miles during the 13 minutes it was on the ground.

Photo courtesy of BDM
Youth and advisors from Mohican Church of the Brethren in West Salem, Ohio, help with clean up of debris after a tornado hit Berthoud, Colo. The youth group has been volunteering at the Brethren Disaster Ministries project site in Colorado.

On Friday evening volunteers with the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project site in Greeley, Colo., decided to drive to the area that was struck to see if there was anything we could do to help. Phone calls were also made to the Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs) Brethren Disaster Ministries is currently working with to see if they knew of any immediate needs.

Late Saturday morning we received a call notifying us of a family that needed assistance in clearing out the many trees that had been extensively damaged on their property. With chainsaw, gloves, and bug spray in hand, we headed out to Tim and Mim’s. Along with some other volunteers, we began cutting down trees and removing the many limbs and branches that were strewn about the property.

The owners could not stop thanking us as they worked right with us. A smile and look of gratitude, mixed with relief, crossing their faces every time they spoke those words.

After working for several hours, we asked this couple if they were aware of anyone else that might be in need of a helping hand. They were quick to let us know of several neighbors who they believed needed some assistance also.

We headed across the street to a property that included a petting zoo. Once we met up with the property owner, Nicole, she was more than willing to take us out to the fields to show us the pieces of twisted metal, boards with nails, and other debris that had been placed there by the mighty winds of the tornado. She related her story of trying to get all the animals to safety before the storm struck. The camels were penned up in a small area–she was afraid to let them out in the fields where they usually roamed for fear of injury from the strewn about debris. As we told her that we could bring a group of volunteers during the week to pick up the debris, you could see the sense of relief in her face. She was eager to have our help.

The youth group and advisors from Mohican Church of the Brethren in Ohio, who were in Colorado to volunteer, were more than willing to pitch in. They combed many acres of fields picking up debris, making it safe once again for the camels and other animals.

Back at the volunteer house that evening, I heard several of them comment about the power of a tornado. Seeing the devastation that a tornado can cause brought home the reality of its destructive powers in a very real way.

Even though both of the families we helped clean up had been through a frightening ordeal, they said that they were fortunate, that God was watching out for them, and that others were far worse off than they were.

On Saturday we visited two other houses that Tim and Mim told us about. The first house had a horse trailer land in the middle of the living room. The roof and windows were gone. Fear and shock remained on the face of the wife. They said thanks, but no thanks, to our offer of help. We have come to understand that people react in many different ways in the face of storms.

The final house we went to was a total loss. The brick chimney was intact but was laying in the yard. The side of the house was gone, and the homeowner was sitting on a chair in the exposed living room. Many people were working in the driveway packing up belongings that could be salvaged. They worked under the direction of a young lady who, when she saw pictures of this house in the news, immediately recognized it as the home of a former teacher. She had called him to ask what she could do to help, and then got busy organizing a group to pack up the salvageable belongings of her former science teacher.

“Serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13). This is the scripture text on the back of the Brethren Disaster Ministries t-shirts. In times of need, in the storms of life, it is our call to serve one another in love–love that moves us to acts of compassion. Neighbor helping neighbor, student helping teacher, stranger helping stranger….each serving one another in love.

It is Christ’s example. How can we do anything less?

— Kim Gingerich and Tim Sheaffer are serving as long-term project leaders for Brethren Disaster Ministries, which this year started a new rebuilding project site in Greeley, Colo. For more information about Brethren Disaster Ministries go to .

2) ‘Basin and Towel’ publication is discontinued

Basin and Towel series focused on congregational vitality, 2014

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren has announced that the magazine “Basin and Towel” will discontinue publication following the July release of Vol. 6, Issue 2 titled “Transitions.”

Founded in 1999 by the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC), the “Caregiving” magazine specifically supported deacon ministries for more than a decade. In 2010, after the merger of ABC and the General Board to create Church of the Brethren Inc., the publication transformed into a resource for congregational leaders and was renamed “Basin and Towel.” Over the last 5 years, through 6 volumes and 17 issues, some 1,500 regular readers have benefited from reflections on congregational vitality and practical leadership support.

Citing refocused priorities, staffing changes, and ongoing budget considerations, Jonathan Shively, executive director for Congregational Life Ministries stated: “It has become clear that we can no longer sustain the quality of, and our commitment to the magazine. Therefore the difficult decision has been made to discontinue publication. We are grateful for the contributions of our writers and the support of our readers. While ‘Basin and Towel’ will no longer be available, Congregational Life Ministries will continue to provide important leadership accompaniment and congregational formation resources.”

Subscribers will receive a letter detailing the process for addressing subscriptions with a remaining balance.

For assistance with congregational vitality, discipleship formation, and leadership support contact Congregational Life Ministries at or 847-429-4303 or find online resources at .


3) Bethany Seminary calls new executive director of institutional advancement

Mark Lancaster of Santa Rosa, Calif., has been named executive director of institutional advancement at Bethany Theological Seminary, beginning July 1. He comes to the seminary with more than 20 years of experience in directing programs and raising funds for an array of nonprofit organizations.

Most recently he helped found Electronic Health Records International, which provides medical software to church-related hospitals and clinics in the developing world. In his role as director of international operations, he has focused on building relationships with international church bodies, ministries of health, and investors.

Lancaster also has worked internationally for a number of other organizations, including the Global Footprint Network, Seva Foundation, Presbyterian Hunger Program, American Friends Service Committee, and Ministry of Money. In helping to address multiple issues related to human rights, global inequity, health, and economic development, he built relationships among NGOs, religious institutions, and philanthropic entities in the West and across the developing world. In addition, he served as chief development officer for the annual fund at Western Maryland College in Westminster, Md. Other positions of leadership have included board chair of Heifer International and membership on boards and committees of Bread for the World, the Brookings Institution, and the Commission for the Advancement of Women.

An elder and ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church, Lancaster has pastored three congregations and served in campus ministry while teaching college courses in philosophy and religion at Western Maryland College. He received a bachelor of science degree from Frostburg State University and a master of divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary. Lancaster also graduated from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation and has served as a spiritual director for more than 20 years.

Lancaster is married to Bethany alumna Barbara Sayler, who has been called to pastor Beavercreek Church of the Brethren, east of Dayton, Ohio.

— Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.


4) National Junior High Conference worship will be webcast

Worship services at the National Junior High Conference taking place this weekend at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College will be webcast. The conference is offered by the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Junior high youth from across the denomination will gather the weekend of June 19-21 for a faith formation experience that will include worship, fellowship, workshops, recreation, and more.

Link to the webcasts at .

The conference worship schedule and speakers:

Friday, June 19, at 7:15 p.m. (Eastern time): Lauren Seganos, a member of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., is a student at Andover Newton Theological School outside of Boston, Mass. As part of her education, she is a seminarian at the Memorial Church of Harvard University.

Saturday, June 20, at 9 a.m. (Eastern): Bethany Seminary dean and professor Steve Schweitzer teaches courses in Old Testament, and a new course on Science Fiction and Theology, at the Church of the Brethren seminary in Richmond, Ind.

Saturday, June 20, at 7 p.m. (Eastern): Amy Gall Ritchie works with students at Bethany Theological Seminary, and has been a pastor and spiritual director in the Church of the Brethren.

Sunday, June 21, at 9 a.m. (Eastern): Eric Bishop is a member of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, moderator of the Pacific Southwest District for 2015, and a graduate of the University of La Verne. He is vice president of student services for a community college in southern California.

For more information about the Youth and Young Adult Ministry, go to .

5) Brethren bits

— Corrections have been made to the published schedule for the summer tour of the EYN Women’s Fellowship (ZME) Choir and the BEST group of Nigerian Brethren. In addition to several corrections, two concert dates were inadvertently omitted from the itinerary, both in Shenandoah District: July 1 at 7 p.m. at the Carter Center for Worship and Music at Bridgewater (Va.) College; and July 2 at 7 p.m. at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va. A full updated schedule is online at .

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., has announced the appointment of acting president Cassandra P. Weaver, upon the retirement of president Keith R. Bryan. Weaver, chief operating officer, began as acting president effective May 30, and will perform the duties of the president during the interim time until a full-time president/CEO is secured, said a release. Weaver joined Fahrney-Keedy in 2007.

Photo courtesy of @TrinityPrez
University Park Church of the Brethren in Hyattsville, Md., hosted a t-shirt memorial to victims of gun violence in the greater Washington (D.C.) area.

— Spurgeon Manor, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Dallas Center, Iowa, has approved the addition of a new position on staff, according to an announcement from Northern Plains District. The community seeks candidates for a director of development. The purpose of this position is to plan, organize, and manage all fundraising activities for Spurgeon Manor. Responsibilities include maintaining accurate files on all donors and fundraising events. The development officer will work with interested parties in the calculation of gift annuities. Contact Spurgeon Manor director Maureen Cahill for more information at .

— The National Religious Campaign Against Torture sent a letter expressing concern about the use of torture to the United States Senate in advance of today’s Senate vote approving legislation that bans the US from subjecting prisoners to waterboarding, “rectal feeding,” and other torture techniques that have been employed in past administrations. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of the American religious leaders who signed the letter calling for support of the McCain-Feinstein amendment prohibiting torture, when the Senate voted on the amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act. “The Hill” reported on the Senate action as follows: “In a 78-21 vote, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle supported a new prohibition on ‘enhanced interrogation’ practices and other novel detention methods…. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would limit the entire US government to the interrogation and detention techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual. That would codify in law an executive order delivered by President Obama days after he entered office in 2009 and expand the scope of a 2005 law that limited the Pentagon–but not intelligence agencies such as the CIA–from engaging in the harsh interrogations. The measure would also require the government to update the Army Field Manual every three years, to make sure it both complies with US law and ‘reflects current, evidence-based, best practices for interrogation.’ It would also require the International Committee of the Red Cross to get ‘prompt’ access to anyone detained by the US government.” Find “The Hill” report at . For the NRCAT letter see .

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is holding a Connections Dinner at Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren at 5 p.m. on June 22, and at Brownsville (Md.) Church of the Brethren at 4 p.m. on June 28. On June 24, a BVS Ice Cream Social will take place at Long Green Valley (Md.) Church of the Brethren at 7 p.m. All are welcome. Call or text BVS recruitment volunteer Ben Bear at 703-835-3612 or go to the BVS Facebook page for more information.

— The Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) has begun publishing a newsletter titled “BHLA News and Notes.” Issue 2, now available online, includes an article by Stephen Longenecker about the late Ralph Smeltzer’s role in the Civil Rights struggle in Selma, Ala. Smeltzer served for many years on the denominational staff of the Church of the Brethren. Go to .

— Bethany Theological Seminary is making available videos of talks from the 2015 Young Adult Forum “Anabaptism, the Next Generation.” Go to . Included are videos of Church of the Brethren speakers Josh Brockway, Jeff Carter, Dana Cassell, Russell Haitch, Tara Hornbacker, Steve Schweitzer, Laura Stone, and Dennis Webb as well as ecumenical speakers Chuck Bomar and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. The schedule from the event also is available. “Plan to join us for next year’s Young Adult Forum, April 15-16, 2016,” said the announcement.

— Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., welcomes Philip Gulley as preacher next Sunday, June 21. The church’s newsletter reports that the popular author, storyteller, and Quaker minister will speak on the topic, “So We Must Think Anew,” with a focus on Exodus 13:17-22. After worship and a potluck lunch, Gulley also will lead a storytelling workshop. Worship begins at 10:30 a.m. The afternoon workshop begins at 1 p.m. For more information about the Beacon Heights Church go to .

— Southeastern District has announced that there will be a Benefit Auction on June 27 at 8:30 a.m. at the Jonesborough (Tenn.) Flea Market to benefit the Jackson Park Church of the Brethren Land Fund. Food and drinks will be available for purchase, as well as a variety of auction items. “Bring your chair and join us for a fun day,” said the announcement.

— Camp Bethel is offering day camps at three congregations in June and July, according to an announcement from Virlina District. The free day camps are for families in the congregation and communities in Roanoke/Salem, Franklin County, and Henry County. Peters Creek Church of the Brethren, Roanoke, Va., will host a day camp on June 15-19 (see ). Antioch Church of the Brethren will host a day camp in Franklin County on July 13-17 (see ). Bassett Church of the Brethren will host a day camp in Henry County on July 27-31 (see ). Campers will enjoy games, crafts, songs, Bible lessons, nature lessons, daily “Voice Your Choice” group activities, as well as site-specific outdoor adventures, said the announcement. The summer theme is “Power Up: Live in the Holy Spirit!” Contact 540-992-2940 or .

— Good Shepherd Home, a Church of the Brethren-related community in Fostoria, Ohio, has built a new therapy facility to serve not only it’s residents, but the general public as well. A release reported that this is the result of a three-year capital campaign and construction program providing a large therapy gym with consultation rooms; occupational therapy house with kitchen and laundry; two swimming pools, a plunge pool and another pool with two treadmills for resistance aquatic therapy. The home also has added 18 more beds to the facility. Chris Widman, executive director, has overseen this construction campaign. A celebration was held with an open house on the afternoon of June 14.

— Western Plains District held its “First Annual Western, Western Plains Picnic” in connection with KonXion on June 13 at Bethel Church of the Brethren in Arriba, Colo. Information about the district’s new program that promotes congregational visits and exchanges, called KonXion, is at .

— Southern Ohio District is holding a Brethren Disaster Ministry Sewing Bee on June 20, at 9 a.m., at Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren Baron Street building. “Sewers bring your sewing machine for sewing school bags. Others may bring scissors to cut out gowns for baby kits,” said an invitation from the district. Lunch will be served.

— Shenandoah District is publicizing World Refugee Day on June 20. An e-newsletter from the district shared an invitation “to consider the plight of refugees who have been displaced from their homelands and who have the courage, stamina, and resilience to seek a fresh start in a new country. For example, 9.5 million Syrians have been displaced, and 3 million have fled to neighboring countries. Worldwide, there are 43 million refugees and internally displaced persons.” The district’s Refugee Resettlement Task Team is offering to meet with congregations or groups within congregations to talk about how to be involved. Contact Dean Neher, RRTT coordinator, at .

— Citing Matthew 25:35, the World Council of Churches (WCC) executive committee has spoken out on migrant crises with concern especially for those “driven to undertake journeys of desperate risk and danger.” In a statement the committee said, in part: “All members of the international community have a moral and legal duty to save the lives of those in jeopardy at sea or in transit, regardless of their origin and status.” The committee met in Armenia from June 7-12. In its public issues statement on migrants, the WCC executive committee identified the multiple contemporary crises as “an escalating global problem, with different expressions and responses in different contexts” and fatal consequences including the deaths of unprecedented numbers of migrants and refugees seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, and the deaths of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants on the Andaman Sea. A release from the WCC also identified the recent killings of Ethiopian Christian migrant workers by the so-called “Islamic State” in Libya, and xenophobic violence against migrants in South Africa as illustrative of the vulnerability of people who leave their home countries in pursuit of safety and a better life for themselves and their families. The WCC is urging all countries to provide for generous, safe, and accessible procedures for the legal migration of people, is calling on all governments to fulfil their moral and legal duty to save lives and refrain from any actions that might further endanger lives, and is calling on the international community and governments to commit to stronger and more effective long-term international action to resolve conflicts, end oppression and occupation, and eliminate the extreme poverty that drives population movements. The statement also “invites WCC member churches and ecumenical partners, together with all people of goodwill, to promote a more open and welcoming approach to the stranger, and to the neighbour in need and distress.” Find the full statement at .

— Lois Hoffert’s 85 years of music ministry will be celebrated on Sunday, June 28, at Lewiston Church of the Brethren in Northern Plains District with a short ceremony and a lunch following worship. Hoffert turned 92 on June 13. She first played the piano in church at age seven, said an article in the district newsletter. “Lois grew up on a farm near Quinter, Kan., the youngest of four children and the daughter of music loving parents,” according to the article. “There was always a piano in the home. She remembers evenings with her father holding an oil lamp at the piano while her mother accompanied their singing. Her mother, Edna Metsker, was the church chorister and was instrumental (pardon the pun) in the church’s purchase of its first piano. Up to that time all singing was accapella. Edna, who had learned to play the organ from her older sister, began giving Lois piano lessons at the age of 5. Two years later Lois had an opportunity to play a special number during worship. Her mother suggested the hymn, ‘Wonderful words of life,’ because of its simple melody. Lois remembers playing the bass part with one finger.” The article added that at her retirement ceremony, Hoffert will accompany a men’s chorus as they sing this same song.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Ben Bear, Jane Collins, Jenn Dorsch, Kim Gingerich, Bryan Hanger, Michael B. Leiter, Ralph G McFadden, Becky Ullom Naugle, Tim Sheaffer, Jonathan Shively, Jenny Williams, 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 June 23. 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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