Newsline for June 3, 2015

Photo by Regina Holmes

1) Children’s Disaster Services cares for children affected by Texas storms, flooding

2) District executives sponsor conference celebrating gifts, calling for leadership

3) Transforming ‘thorns’ into joyful action at Young Adult Conference

4) Global Food Crisis Fund gives more than $90,000 in grants

5) Ministry Summer Service pairs interns with mentors for church ministry

6) The EYN pastor’s wives’ conference: A joyful reunion

7) Trauma healing in Nigeria: A cathedral of tears and forgiveness

8) Brethren bits: Mullich resigns from BDM, Neff to intern at BHLA, CPT seeks coordinators, Nigerian Brethren give thanks for escapees, Healthy Boundaries 201 at Annual Conference, webinar about World Refugee Day, more


ANNUAL CONFERENCE REGISTRATION REMINDER: Wednesday, June 10, is the last day for housing reservations and online registration for the 2015 Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla., on July 11-15. After June 10, on-site registration will be available in Tampa prior to the start of the Conference, for an additional fee. Register now at www.brethren.org/ac .


1) Children’s Disaster Services cares for children affected by Texas storms, flooding

“Our Children’s Disaster Services team in Houston is keeping busy,” reported Kathy Fry-Miller, associate director of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS). A CDS volunteer team has been caring for children and families affected by the storms that have hit Texas recently, causing tornados and also widespread flooding in north-central areas of the state.

Photo courtesy of CDS
A Children’s Disaster Services volunteer cares for children at a shelter in Houston, Texas, responding to storms, tornados, and flooding that hit central Texas in May 2015.

As of last evening, the CDS volunteer team has made a total of 51 child contacts at the child care center they have set up in a shelter in Houston, Texas. On Sunday the volunteers cared for 17 different children, both morning and afternoon, whose homes “had been lost in a tornado that came through with the storm system,” Fry-Miller said.

The American Red Cross has reported that more than 8,000 homes have been affected by the storms across Texas, with 12 Red Cross shelters open and some 2,000 Red Cross volunteers working in the state. Today, the shelter is moving to another location in Houston and the CDS team will move with the shelter.

“Waters are not yet receding, so shelters will remain open as long as they are needed,” Fry-Miller said. “Late last week,  a number of counties in Texas and Oklahoma received Federal Major Disaster Declarations. The number of counties with this designation continues to rise. For residents, this means more resources are now available to them as they seek assistance for their families.”

The CDS volunteers and the care they provide to children has been making a difference for families at the shelter in Houston. CDS project manager Kathy Howell wrote: “Anyone who had visited the center yesterday or earlier sure saw a world of difference today. They were amazed and so appreciative of our presence. One of the moms was so happy this afternoon to get three hours to herself to run errands. She expressed what a difference it made for her mental health!”

Fry-Miller expressed thanks to volunteers who could go to Texas to serve on short notice and for the additional CDS volunteers who are standing by, ready to help if needed. “And gratitude for the work of the Red Cross in this response,” she added, “as well as the children and families who are sharing and caring even in this time of loss.”

Children’s Disaster Services has been serving children and families affected by disaster since 1980. It is a ministry of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. For more information go to www.brethren.org/cds .

2) District executives sponsor conference celebrating gifts, calling for leadership

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The three plenary speakers at the CODE conference on leadership: (from left) Jeff Carter, Belita Mitchell, and Lee Solomon

“Are you fanning into flame your gift? Have you started any fires yet?” asked Belita Mitchell, who spoke for the opening plenary of a conference on leadership sponsored by the Council of District Executives (CODE). The conference on May 14-16 was the first such CODE event, and was hosted by Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren.

Mitchell, who pastors First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and is a former Annual Conference moderator, focused on the first section of the theme of the conference, “Gifted by God.” Referencing the relationship of New Testament leaders Paul and Timothy, she noted that everyone needs a teacher to learn how to use their gifts for leadership. When leaders are not taught to receive and use their God-given gifts, the church suffers, she said.

“We each are going to have to use our gifts if the church is to survive and grow. Fan the flame and pass the torch,” she said. “Let God lead and use the gifts that God has given us!”

The conference brought together some 100 people to hear Mitchell’s remarks, and those of two other plenary speakers–Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary, and Lee Solomon, who comes out of the Brethren Church tradition and who served at Ashland University for some 20 years. Participants also had opportunity for small group learning and discussion at numerous workshops on topics related to leadership.

“It is not by accident that you all are called,” Carter said, focusing on the second part of the theme, “Called by the Church.” God calls leadership in order to advance discipleship, he told the conference. “God is scripting you into the history of the world,” he said. “It’s because of Christ…. How do you lead? By following in his steps.”

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

However, churches often are distracted by the how of leadership, and forget the why, he warned. Among leadership “hazards” that he identified: paying too much attention to technique, and not enough to culture. He defined church leadership as “having the eyes to see where God is already moving and going to join in that work.” The three qualities every church leader must possess, he said, are “the three p’s”–being present, prepared, and proactive.

Solomon, who addressed the third part of the theme, “Empowered by the Holy Spirit,” urged attention to the individual interactions that he said lie at the heart of church leadership, because they reveal the presence of God’s Spirit.

He referred to the “Where’s Waldo?” books, in which children have to search for the Waldo character who is hidden somewhere in plain sight on each page. Similarly, he said, God is on every page of the Bible, and in every individual interaction. “Yet many of us leaders in the church today are asking ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Where is that Spirit of power that is promised to us?”

The mystery of God’s presence may be found in the one-on-one interactions within the church, and with people in the surrounding community, he said. Solomon interspersed stories of such personal interactions with gospel stories of Jesus’ personal interactions, which brought healing into the lives of those he touched.

“It is not enough to teach this power of the presence of the Spirit,” he warned church leaders. “We must live it ourselves every day.”

The conference ended with worship led by pastor Paul Mundey of the Frederick congregation, and a service of anointing. Mundey closed the event by focusing on the humility required for church leadership. The church leader’s calling is not focused on self, he emphasized, but on proclaiming the name of Jesus, and “serving the kingdom of God.”

Participants who came forward to receive anointing were given a special blessing, that they might “accept and courageously be bold to utilize the gifts God has given you.”

Find a photo album from the conference at www.bluemelon.com/churchofthebrethren/codeleadershipconference .

3) Transforming ‘thorns’ into joyful action at Young Adult Conference

By Katie Furrow

Photo courtesy of Youth & Young Adult Ministry
The 2015 Young Adult Conference

Collect. Plant. Grow. Tend. When we came together as a group for Young Adult Conference over Memorial Day weekend, our focus during worship, workshops, and small groups was on these four themes. Overall, we reflected on and discussed how we can take the negative and painful “thorns” of our world and transform them into “joyful action” meant to bring God’s kingdom into this world.

As young adults, we have been uniquely blessed and challenged with this role. We find ourselves in a difficult time filled with thorns–few of us have known a life that hasn’t been consistently colored by the impact of war, we have watched as our planet and its inhabitants struggle with the impact of climate change, and most recently we have become witnesses to the corruption and brutality of forces meant to keep us safe. We have been told that our generation is doomed to fail when it comes to making a positive difference in any of these challenges, and sometimes it’s easy to believe that there is truth in that statement. Sometimes it’s easy to let the thorns take over.

However, when events like Young Adult Conference happen, those thorns get pruned back, as we are rejuvenated in the hope of our future and of the role of young adults who are going to make positive change happen. This is most evident to me in the creativity in young adults’ approach to handling the problems of our world. During workshops, we talked about topics ranging from beating Boko Haram by addressing literacy, to how we can use comic book characters to help us better understand our roles in society. We’ve been given the responsibility to make the world a better place in spite of some fairly high odds, and it is this creativity that is going to make the difference; after all, unique challenges call for a unique response.

Over the course of the weekend, we discussed the little things we can do in our own lives, through relationships and spiritual practices, that can lead to the joyful action to which we are called. These little things were the most inspiring, as they served to remind us that any act, no matter how small, can still have an untold effect on the world.

Through shared experiences like Young Adult Conference, we are able to come together to combat the negative aspects of our world that so often hold us back. We are able to plant new ideas, and we are equipped with resources to grow and tend new movements.

And through all of this, we emerge with a new sense of empowerment and ability to face the challenges that are ahead.

— Katie Furrow of Monte Vista Church of the Brethren in Callaway, Va., has been serving through Brethren Volunteer Service at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C.

4) Global Food Crisis Fund gives more than $90,000 in grants

The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) has allocated a number of grants totaling more than $90,000. The allocations support Proyecto Aldea Global in Honduras, THARS in Burundi, a community garden related to Mountain View Church of the Brethren in Idaho, two community garden projects in Spain, and agricultural training in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Honduras

The sum of $66,243.27 over two years has been allocated to Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG) in Honduras. The funds will be given as follows: $42,814.36 in 2015, and $23,428.91 in 2016. These allocations fund the final two years of a four-year proposal received by the GFCF in 2013, allowing PAG to integrate 60 new families into its “Producing to Grow” small animal program in 2015 and another 60 in 2016. Previous GFCF grants to PAG have supported a micro-credit project with Lenca Indians in 2011-12, and the “Producing to Grow” project in 2013-14.

Burundi

A grant of $16,000 helps fund a farmer training project in Burundi. The recipient is Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS). The training project will reach 700 participants from two separate groups: Self Help Groups of women who experienced trauma during Burundi’s civil war, and the Twa people who have experienced violence and discrimination from Burundi’s dominant Tutsi and Hutu groups. The GFCF grant will purchase seeds, fertilizer, and hoes, and also will support training seminars, agricultural trainers, administrative costs associated with beginning the new program, and travel expenses to Burundi for THARS executive director John Braun.

Idaho

A grant of $3,688.16 is purchasing a pump for a community gardening project of Mountain View Church of the Brethren in Boise, Idaho. The Mountain View congregation works in partnership with the Idaho Office for Refugees’ Global Gardens program, with gardeners coming from various regions of the world including Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The project was the recipient of two separate $1,000 grants through the Going to the Garden grant program. Funds will cover purchase of the pump and the associated electrical work for installation.

Spain

A grant of $3,251 supports a communal gardening project in Asturias, Spain. The project, under the direction of Mano Amiga a los Hermanos (a ministry of Una Luz en las Naciones–A Light in the Nations Church of the Brethren), began last year with a donated piece of property in Villaviciosa. Funds will cover the rent of an additional piece of land as well as the purchase of vegetable seedlings, seeds, fertilizer, and irrigation systems. Some of the produce grown will be given to the neediest in the community and the rest will be sold to help the project sustain itself in the future.

A grant of $1,825 supports a community gardening project on the island of Lanzarote–one of the Canary Islands of Spain. The project is operated under a ministry of Iglesia de Los Hermanos de Lanzarote, which is related to the Church of the Brethren in Spain. The garden will serve between 30-40 families from 8 different countries: Spain, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Columbia, Cuba, Venezuela, Equador, and Uruguay. Church members and their neighbors will work together on this project, intentionally focusing on reaching those who are unemployed and not receiving any government services. The grant will cover seeds, fertilizer, hoses, water, and rent for the gardens.

Democratic Republic of Congo

An allocation of $2,680 supports a two-day training seminar on improved methods of banana production in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The training provided by World Relief staff, benefits 45 participants involved with agricultural programs of Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development (SHAMIREDE) and Eglise des Freres au Congo (Church of the Brethren in the Congo). Charles Franzen, country director for World Relief in the DR Congo, and a member of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren, has helped arrange for the training.

For more information about the Global Food Crisis Fund go to www.brethren.org/gfcf .

5) Ministry Summer Service pairs interns with mentors for church ministry

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The Ministry Summer Service group for 2015

Ministry Summer Service (MSS) orientation is being held this week at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Interns arrived over the weekend, mentors arrived on Monday afternoon, and the group continues its orientation through Wednesday.

Ministry Summer Service is a program for college-age students to experience and be mentored in church ministry in a variety of settings including congregations, camps, retirement communities, and denominational programs. Included in the MSS group are the members of the Youth Peace Travel Team. MSS is sponsored by the Ministry Office and the Youth and Young Adult Ministry, led respectively by associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury and director Becky Ullom Naugle. Dana Cassell is helping to lead the MSS orientation as well.

The interns and mentors who will be serving together this summer:

Christopher Potvin will be mentored by Gieta Gresh, serving at Camp Mardela near Denton, Md.

Renee Neher will be mentored by Rachel Witkovsky, serving at Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

Brittney Lowey will be mentored by Twyla Rowe, serving at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a retirement community near Boonsboro, Md.

Caleb Noffsinger will be mentored by Ed Woolf, serving at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Zander Willoughby will be mentored by Glenn Bollinger, serving at Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren in Bridgewater, Va.

The Youth Peace Travel Team of Annika Harley, Brianna Wenger, and Kerrick van Asselt, is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office and Office of Public Witness, along with Bethany Seminary, On Earth Peace, and the Outdoor Ministries Association. The team will be mentored by Becky Ullom Naugle, Nathan Hosler, Marie Benner-Rhoades, Rebekah Houff, and Marlin Houff.

The MSS interns will lead chapel for the General Offices on Wednesday morning, prior to embarking on their summer of service.

6) The EYN pastor’s wives’ conference: A joyful reunion

The 2015 EYN pastor's wives conference held in Nigeria

Photo courtesy of Peggy Faw GishThe 2015 EYN pastor’s wives conference held in Nigeria

by Peggy Faw Gish

The Jos church sanctuary was packed once again, this time with women all in similar yellow-patterned clothing, with “EYN Pastors’ Wives” written on it in Hausa and English. It was the Pastors’ Wives Annual Conference of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Lively chatter filled the hallways and the churchyard during the breaks as hundreds of women milled around reuniting with each other.

“How to Overcome Crisis” was the theme of the conference and of the Bible studies and discussions led by sister Rebecca Dali. She looked at many scripture passages that focus on the inevitability of suffering and ways of dealing with it. Then she applied what was read to the threat of Boko Haram, with even some practical advice about things a person should take with them if they need to flee immediate threat.

When women asked questions about whether we are expected to forgive and try to live again, aside of people who wronged us, her answer was an emphatic, “Yes!”

One sister gave an emotional prayer, crying, and calling on God to help us not just focus on the evils of Boko Haram, but to change our own hearts and root out the envy, selfishness, greed, hatred, and other seeds of violence in our lives.

Another woman I greeted told me that she saw friends here she hadn’t seen for a long time. “Because of the disastrous times we’ve been through,” she said, “I didn’t know if some of these friends were still alive or not until we met again here. And that makes this reunion a particularly joyful one!”

— Peggy Faw Gish  has been working in Nigeria as a volunteer with the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). She is serving in Nigeria with support from the Global Mission and Service office and Brethren Disaster Ministries. For information about the Nigeria Crisis Response see www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .

7) Trauma healing in Nigeria: A cathedral of tears and forgiveness

By Dave Klassen, with Carl and Roxane Hill

Photo courtesy of MCC/Dave Klassen
A trauma healing workshop in Nigeria is held under the shade of trees

Musa* grew up in a close-knit family that did not change even as they became adults. The siblings looked out for each other and their parents. When Boko Haram insurgent activity increased in 2014, the family became concerned for the welfare of their parents and tried to get them to move to a safer place. The parents refused, saying that at their age, they had no interest in running away from home.

During the latter half of 2014, the Boko Haram successfully took over more and more territory in northeast Nigeria, carrying out their destructive activities as they went. Often they would arrive in a community suddenly and people would run for their lives. Musa’s community suffered one of those attacks where people scattered into the countryside, only to regroup some time later to assess who was living, who was dead, and what had been stolen or destroyed. People came to him and told him that they had seen his father’s lifeless body. As hard as it was to accept this news, it was even harder for him to tell his mother.

Musa shared this story with a group of 20 other members of his community–men and women, Christian and Muslim–at a trauma resiliency and awareness workshop supported by Mennonite Central Committee in cooperation with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Mugu Bakka Zako, MCC peace coordinator, shared with the group that it is very important to tell their stories to each other. He said that the road to healing trauma starts with telling your story to others who care. Tears are part of the healing.

Displacement and trauma

People fled from the Boko Haram in stages. Many thought they would be safe in neighboring villages, but when those were attacked, they were forced to flee again. Some squatted with friends or relatives. Others lived in schools or took shelter in abandoned houses or sheds. Most lost their homes, their food stocks (which they had planned to feed their families until harvest at the end of November this year), and other personal possessions.

At the beginning of Dec. 2014, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimated that there were 1.5 million people displaced within Nigeria and approximately 150,000 Nigerian refugees who had fled to the neighboring countries of Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. EYN is the largest Christian denomination in the areas affected by Boko Haram. EYN leadership estimates that at the height of the displacement, 70 percent of the church’s estimated 1 million members and adherents were not living in their home communities. Approximately 100,000 have found refuge in one of the many camps that have been set up for displaced people.

As the security situation changes, some of the displaced people are now returning home. However, particularly when Christians return home, they meet an uncertain welcome. In some cases, neighbors who are Muslims betrayed the Christians to Boko Haram. It also is known that many Muslims suffered under Boko Haram.

Photo courtesy of MCC/Dave Klassen
A participant weeps as he shares his story with a trauma healing workshop

Nevertheless, trust that may have been fragile to begin with is now broken. Traumatized people returning home face not only destroyed properties and lost loved ones, but uncertainty in relationships with their Muslim neighbors.

As this trauma project was being developed, EYN president Samuel Dante Dali commented, “Reconciliation is not a choice but a necessity. The primary goal is to see that the present society is healed; the process that brings about the healing is reconciliation. Inasmuch as reconciliation is very painful in this context, it is a necessity because that is the only process that will bring about healing.”

MCC has responded to EYN’s call to address trauma by putting together a one-year project developing a trauma resiliency model contextualized for Nigeria. Seven individuals from MCC, EYN, and an ecumenical Christian organization called TEKAN Peace, have been trained as trauma facilitators at a HROC (Healing and Reconciling our Communities) training in Kigali, Rwanda. They in turn are training more facilitators, who are facilitating groups of people to come to terms with their trauma while working toward reconciliation and possible forgiveness to stem the tide of violence. The project is designed around a sustainable model, training “listening companions” with limited resources.

Rifkatu’s story

Rifkatu is one of those who ran for her life when Boko Haram suddenly attacked her community. She held her month-old child as she told her story. She was almost nine months pregnant with her tenth child, working on her farm with two of her other children, when they heard gun shots. Within minutes they saw people running from the violence. She wanted to return to town to find the rest of her family, but her children begged her to run. Thankfully, her family soon came, running with the rest of the community. Together they hiked into the surrounding hills, where they hid for a number of days before moving on toward the safety of Cameroon.

After two more days Rifkatu could run no further. Her body was wracked with fatigue, so she entered the home of a local resident and begged for shelter and rest. The woman of the house gave Rifkatu a room and there she gave birth to a baby boy, Ladi, meaning Sunday, the day he was born.

Ibrahim’s story

Ibrahim was one of those chosen to participate in the third trauma resiliency workshop, meeting under a “cathedral” of mango trees in a community of displaced people resettled in Nasarawa State with the help of EYN and the Church of the Brethren. Ibrahim shared his own story of trauma escaping from the clutches of the Boko Haram.

Ibrahim described how he had been captured by Boko Haram, and was sitting in the front seat of their stolen vehicle between the driver and a fighter carrying a gun. Five other people were captured along with him. All were being taken to the headquarters of the Boko Haram in the Sambisa Forest.

His captors asked him if he was a Christian. Ibrahim had no problem attesting to his faith in Jesus Christ despite knowing that his chances of survival would be much higher if he told them that he prayed to Allah five times a day. His fellow captives were not convinced by this bold strategy, but when Ibrahim grabbed the gun from the fighter on his right and leaped out the car door, they did not hesitate but ran after him into the bush.

Photo courtesy of MCC / Dave Klassen
The trauma healing team

The startled Boko Haram fighters immediately took off running after Ibrahim. Slowly they were gaining on him so he discarded the gun and kept fleeing. His pursuers picked up their gun and stopped running. When asked if he had thought of turning the gun against the Boko Haram, Ibrahim said, “I wanted to save my life. We are not taught to kill. I didn`t even think about shooting them.”

As Ibrahim shared his story with the group, he came to the part of forgiveness. He told the group that he was not ready to forgive the Boko Haram for the way they had destroyed his life and the lives of his community. He felt that justice should be done before forgiveness could be considered.

Asabe, one of the facilitators, responded to Ibrahim by sharing her own story of forgiveness and how it had been such an important part of her journey toward healing. She shared how her sister, a Muslim woman, had been the one to challenge her by asking, “Are Christians not the ones who preached forgiveness?”

By the end of the three-day workshop, Ibrahim knew that he had discovered something he had never understood properly before, despite a lifetime of active involvement as a member of EYN. As he shared what he had learned with other members of his community, they complained that it was unfair that he had been chosen for the workshop and they had been left out of this learning and healing experience. Several hours of sharing later, these friends expressed their gratefulness to Ibrahim for having passed on what he had learned, particularly around the gift of forgiveness.

As each day of the trauma workshop passed, and Rifkatu returned to sleep with her family, they started to notice a change. “I’m happy now,” she daid. “I have been healed from the trauma I have gone through. My conviction now is to pass this healing experience on to the many others from my community who have also experienced the horrors that create trauma.”

Other testimonies

Isa is Muslim. In October last year he was attacked at his home by Boko Haram. His brother was slaughtered while he and his family were able to run away, leaving his 90-year-old parents behind. He and his family fled to Yola and finally to Abuja. He belongs to a mixed family of Christians and Muslims. They used to live in peace with the Christians in their family and the community. The families visited each other during Christmas and Sallah (Muslim) festivals. He fears that the crisis has ruined the existing relationship between these groups. Isa says: “I wonder how my immediate Christian relatives will cope with the situation on the ground knowing that the crisis will greatly affect them. I have attended two workshops on trauma healing organized by EYN and MCC. Initially, I had darkness in my heart, though I don’t know the people that killed my brother. But I had this bitterness in my heart and wished that something bad should happen to them. I tell you, people are going home purposefully to take revenge on the people responsible for their pain. This is creating a lifetime of hatred among families and groups of people. The workshops I attended have helped me greatly because I have learned a lot from the experiences shared by people. I see Christians sharing all that happened to them, how difficult their situation has been, and how they are being healed and saying they have forgiven the people that killed their loved ones and looted their property. At first it was unbelievable, because I thought it could not be possible due the level of hurt they have been through. I imagined myself in their shoes and it was painful. To an extent, I am healed from what happened to me and have changed the way I look at these crisis issues. I hope to reach out to as many Muslims in my community as well, but I can’t guarantee you that this is going to be easy. Aside from being hungry, people are still angry and have hatred buried deep inside them.”

Hannatu is married to a pastor and has two children. The family lived in a community where they had Muslim neighbors. On the day of the Boko Haram attack, her husband had already fled to a safer area but she remained at home to harvest their crops. She was at a neighbor’s and heard gunshots. As she ran back to her home, she saw the Muslim neighbor coming with a knife, seeking to kill her husband. Fortunately her husband was not at home. Hannatu also fled the area and met her husband in Yola. They then traveled to Abuja where they attended a trauma workshop. Hannatu says: “The workshops have helped me forgive my neighbor, who wanted to kill my husband.”

*Full names of trauma healing participants and those giving testimonies have been omitted.

— Dave Klassen works with Mennonite Central Committee in Nigeria, where MCC is a partner organization in the work to provide trauma healing workshops with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Carl and Roxane Hill are co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren in a cooperative effort with EYN. For more information go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .

8) Brethren bits

— Betsy Mullich has resigned as program assistant in the Brethren Disaster Ministries office at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Her resignation takes effect on June 12. She has served in this role since Feb. 16, 2009. Mullich became “the hub of the BDM wheel keeping many moving parts working and flowing,” said the notice of her resignation. She has been “information hub” and “part of a database guru duo” for Brethren Disaster Ministries, and also has served as greeter for visitors to the office and warehouse facilities in New Windsor, handling both little details and vital relationships. “The stability that Betsy has provided to BDM has allowed the ministry to expand its programs to meet many different current needs for disaster relief for families in the US and in the world,” said the announcement.

— Aaron Neff will serve as the 2015-16 intern for the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. He is a 2015 graduate of Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., where he received a bachelor of arts degree in music and history. A member of the Church of the Brethren, he has attended National Youth Conference, the Christian Citizenship Seminar, and the Bridgewater (Va.) College Round Table.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks a personnel coordinator and Palestine Project support coordinator. Starting date for the personnel coordinator is Dec. 1, 2015, with likely participation in CPT’s peacemaker training in October. The position is a 100 percent full-time equivalent, two-year term, with a possibility of a third year. Stipend is a CPT stipend, need-based, up to $2,000 per month for full-time work. Full health coverage is provided. Location is Chicago, Ill., in an office equipped with accessible ramp and facilities on the ground floor. Application and relevant materials must be sent electronically to hiring@cpt.org by June 30. Find details at www.cpt.org/personnelcoordinator . Starting date for the support coordinator for the Palestine Project based in Al-Khalil/Hebron is Sept. 1. The position is a 50 percent full-time equivalent, with a three-year renewable contract. Stipend is a CPT stipend, need-based, up to $1,000 per month for part-time work. Full health coverage is provided. Preferred location is global, with ability to enter Israel, Palestine, and the United States. An exception is for Palestinian applicants living in the West Bank. Application and relevant materials must be sent electronically to hiring@cpt.org by June 30. CPT is engaged in an organization-wide process of transformation to undo racism and other oppressions and is working towards more truly reflecting the wide human diversity. Persons of the global majority are strongly encouraged to apply. Details are at www.cpt.org/palestinecoordinator . The mission of Christian Peacemaker Teams is building partnerships to transform violence and oppression, with a vision of a world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation. CPT is committed to work and relationships that: honor and reflect the presence of faith and spirituality; strengthen grassroots initiatives; transform structures of domination and oppression; embody creative nonviolence and liberating love. For more information about CPT go to www.cpt.org .

— Nigerian Brethren are giving thanks for 35 people from EYN families who escaped from Gwoza, a community overtaken by Boko Haram early in the insurgency. Boko Haram had claimed Gwoza as its headquarters but recently has been forced out of the area by the military. EYN sent the Nigeria Crisis Response staff a list of 16 adults, many of whom escaped Gwoza with one or more children. Most of the people on the list were from the EYN congregations of Gavva No. 1, Gavva No. 2, and Gavva No. 3. It was reported that the escapees spent four days on the way from Gwoza before the Nigerian military took them to safety in Maiduguri.

— Amnesty International has released a 130-page report documenting horrific human rights abuses by the Nigerian military in recent years, as it has battled against the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency. “In the course of security operations against Boko Haram in north-east Nigeria, Nigerian military forces have extrajudicially executed more than 1,200 people; they have arbitrarily arrested at least 20,000 people, mostly young men and boys; and have committed countless acts of torture. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Nigerians have become victims of enforced disappearance; and at least 7,000 people have died in military detention,” said the introduction to the lengthy and detailed document. “Amnesty International has concluded that these acts, committed in the context of a non-international armed conflict, constitute war crimes for which military commanders bear both individual and command responsibility, and may amount to crimes against humanity.” Amnesty International is calling on the US Congress and the Obama administration to work with the new Buhari government in Nigeria to end the use of torture and break the culture of impunity, and is specifically calling for investigation of nine senior Nigerian military figures for war crimes. “Leaked internal military documents show categorically that senior military officials were regularly updated on the high rates of deaths among detainees through daily field reports, letters, and assessment reports sent by field commanders to the defense and army headquarters. Nigeria’s military leadership therefore knew, or should have known, about the nature and scale of the crimes being committed,” said Amnesty International general secretary Salil Shetty in an opinion piece originally published in “Foreign Policy.” Read the opinion piece at http://allafrica.com/stories/201506031517.html . Find the full Amnesty report at www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr44/1657/2015/en .

— The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is providing a “Healthy Boundaries 201″ training session at Annual Conference this year in Tampa, Fla. Licensed and ordained clergy needing this training along with the overview of the 2008 Ethics in Ministry Relation Paper are invited to register for this continuing education event. This training session will take place at Tampa’s Marriott Waterside Hotel on Friday, July 10, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., with a break for lunch. Leadership is provided by Lois Grove, who recently retired as Minister of Leadership Development for Northern Plains District and who has served as TRIM coordinator for the district, and by Tim Button-Harrison, district executive for Northern Plains District. If interested in attending this Healthy Boundaries 201 training, please contact the Brethren Academy at academy@bethanyseminary.edu . Instruction for the training will be offered in English. A resource book is available in Spanish. The fee is $20. The registration deadline is June 30. Mail registration and fee to the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374. For questions contact Fran Massie at academy@bethanyseminary.edu or academy@brethren.org or go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/academy .

— The Church of the Brethren’s Office of Public Witness is inviting Brethren to a webinar about World Refugee Day. The webinar is hosted by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition on June 15 at 4 p.m. (Eastern time). Titled “Standing in Solidarity with Refugees on World Refugee Day and Beyond” the webinar anticipates World Refugee Day on June 20, and will include advocacy updates about Syrian refugees, protections for Central American children and families fleeing violence, and positive refugee legislation. “We will discuss how people of faith can advocate around these important issues,” said the announcement. “As June 29-July 2 is Refugee Community Advocacy week, we’re encouraging everyone to schedule local, in-district visits with Senators and Representatives while they are in their local district offices.” RSVP at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/16eunXY1jD9Px09ooeOddQi5F44aFRo2EV1s0YPpqJJ0 . The call-in number is 805-399-1000, code 104402. The link for the visual portion of the webinar is http://join.me/faith4immigration .

— “Historical documents wanted,” said an announcement from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. “In an effort to reclaim storage space, church leaders often discard documents, not realizing that they tell the story of the work of people of God in communities around the world. If you have items relating to the history of your congregation, district, or even ministries of the national church, even bulletins from special services, please forward them to the BHLA.” The archives’ addreess is BHLA, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

— The 26th annual World Hunger Auction Bike Ride is scheduled for June 6, beginning at 8 a.m. at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va. “The World Hunger Auction and its other local events have raised more than $1 million over the past 30 years,” reports an article about the bike ride, published in the “Franklin News-Post.” “Funds have been distributed through Heifer International, Roanoke Area Ministries, Heavenly Manna, and Church of the Brethren Global Food Crisis Fund. In 2014, the bike ride included 37 riders and generated over $4,100. Last year’s World Hunger Auction events raised a total of $50,750.” The ride will include routes for every age and fitness level, including 5, 10, 25, and 50 mile routes, and rest stops with refreshments for the 25 and 50 mile routes. Support will be available for all the riders in case of repairs or other needs. Read the article at www.thefranklinnewspost.com/article.cfm?ID=30047 . Registration and pledge forms are at www.worldhungerauction.org and registration forms will be available the morning of the ride. Contact pastor Eric Anspaugh at 540-488-4630.

— “Play golf and help children!” said an announcement of the 4th Annual Franklin County Golf Tournament to benefit the Children’s Aid Society. The benefit specifically aids the Frances Leiter Center in Chambersburg, Pa. The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Pennsylvania District. The golf tournament takes place June 25 at the Chambersburg Country Club, with registration from 12 noon-1 p.m. and the tournament start at 1 p.m. Fee for the four-person scramble is $85 for an individual player and $320 for a foursome team. Registration includes a box lunch, greens fees, carts, range balls, snacks, prizes, and appetizers following the tournament. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For a registration form and sponsorship information go to http://files.ctctcdn.com/5abcefe1301/cd7c7622-9701-4ea0-a49b-284960a36fca.pdf . For more information about the Children’s Aid Society go to www.cassd.org .

— “Practical Renewal, Celebrating the Joy of Following Jesus” is the title for the Spring of Living Water Spiritual Disciplines folder this summer. Springs of Living Water church renewal initiative is led by David and Joan Young. The folder provides daily readings of scriptures according to the theme, along with questions for each passage following the Brethren practice to live the meaning of the text each day. The folder is written by Thomas Hanks, pastor of Friends Run and Smith Creek Church of the Brethren near Franklin, W.Va. Find the folder on the Springs website at www.churchrenewalservant.org . “The folders are very helpful in developing new spiritual energy for individuals and congregations as they seek their next step in their spiritual journey,” said a note from the Springs Initiative. For more information, contact David and Joan Young at 717-615-4515.

— On June 13, Mission 21 is celebrating “200 Years of Basel Mission” with a reception and gala dinner at its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. Mission 21, formerly Basel Mission, is one of the Church of the Brethren’s partners in the Nigeria Crisis Response and for many years has been a partner in mission with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Mission 21 has posted a short video to help celebrate the anniversary. View it at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis/response.html . Find out more about Mission 21 at www.mission-21.org .

— Reuters has reported news from the World Food Program (WFP), that food shortages threaten some 200,000 people in northern Cameroon “after cross-border raids by Islamist sect Boko Haram forced people to flee their homes and fields.” Dated May 29, the report anticipated that “food production in one of Cameroon’s poorest regions is likely to be further hit by insecurity just as food reserves run low with the approach of the lean season,” and cited United Nations expectations for more refugees and displaced people in northwest Cameroon even though military efforts in Nigeria have been pushing Boko Haram insurgents out of areas they had been overtaking earlier this year. Reuters cited a statistic from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, that “the number of people in northern Cameroon who have fled their homes due to cross-border violence has tripled since January to 106,000,” and that in the past six months the WFP has struggled to get funds and “was only able to provide food assistance to 68,000 displaced people in April in May, and only for two weeks.” A WFP spokesperson said 35 percent of children in border areas are malnourished. Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has said that thousands of EYN church members are among the refugees who have fled into Cameroon in order to get away from the insurgent violence that has plagued northeast Nigeria. Find the Reuters reports at http://allafrica.com/stories/201506010293.html .


Contributors to this Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Deborah Brehm, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Katie Furrow, Peggy Faw Gish, Bryan Hanger, Carl and Roxane Hill, Dave Klassen, Nancy Miner, Becky Ullom Naugle, Jay Wittmeyer, David Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next regularly scheduled Newsline is set for June 9. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.