Newsline for March 18, 2015

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

NEWS
1) Mission and Ministry Board meets in Pennsylvania, discusses mission and church vitality among other business

2) ‘Resolution on Christian Minority Communities’ adopted by board, recommended to Annual Conference

3) Church of the Brethren dividend from Brethren Mutual and Brotherhood Mutual is largest ever

4) Applications for nursing scholarships are due soon

NIGERIA NEWS
5) Dynamics of violence in Nigeria changing dramatically, aid still needed as displaced begin return home

6) EYN district leader in Maiduguri helps provide ‘an island in the desert’

7) Internally displaced people in Nigeria experience disempowerment as well as loss

UPCOMING EVENTS
8) ‘Early bird’ registration for National Junior High Conference ends soon

9) Young Adult Conference is planned for Pennsylvania in May

10) Brethren evangelicalism topic of panel discussion at Bridgewater College

11) Brethren bits: Remembering Wilfried Warneck, farm worker ministry seeks executive, Congregational Life executive leads vitality workshop, four-issue Basin and Towel series available, Material Resources ships to Congo hospitals, Pike Run Church celebrates 100 years, and much more


A note to readers: Newsline will be on “spring break” next week. The next regularly scheduled issue is planned for March 31.


Quotes of the week, heard at the Mission and Ministry Board meeting:

“One of the measures of congregational vitality is how long people hang around after worship to be together.”
— Becky Ball-Miller, chair of the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board, during this weekend’s meeting hosted by Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. It was the first time in many years that a full meeting of the board has been hosted by a congregation, and on Sunday morning, board members and staff worshiped with some 14 churches in the surrounding area (see the full board report below).

“It is immigrant faith communities that in many ways are revitalizing faith in this country.”
— Annual Conference moderator-elect Andy Murray reporting on the focus on immigration at the annual gathering of Christian Churches Together, where he represented the Church of the Brethren along with moderator David Steele and Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden (see the CCT report in the March 4 issue of Newsline at www.brethren.org/news/2015/newsline-for-march-4-2015.html ).

Find a photo album of the Mission and Ministry Board meeting at www.bluemelon.com/churchofthebrethren/spring2015missionandministryboard


1) Mission and Ministry Board meets in Pennsylvania, discusses mission and church vitality among other business

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Mission was one of the major topics of discussion at the Mission and Ministry Board’s spring meeting held at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

The Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board met at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren over the weekend of March 13-16. Meetings were led by board chair Becky Ball-Miller, who is completing her term of service on the board by mid-2015.

It was the first time in many years that a full meeting of the denominational board has been hosted by a congregation. On Sunday morning, board members and several staff worshiped with some 14 churches in the surrounding area: Ambler, Annville, Chiques, Conestoga, Elizabethtown, Ephrata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Middle Creek, Mountville, Richland, Stevens Hill, West Greentree, as well as the Brethren Village retirement community. Board members or staff preached or gave Sunday school presentations for several of the churches.

A major action of the board was the decision not to renew the General Secretary’s contract, which ends on July 1, 2016–a decision made mutually with general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger. (See yesterday’s Newsline Special at www.brethren.org/news/2015/general-secretary-concludes-service-at-end-of-contract.html .)

Also on the business agenda were a conversation about the Church of the Brethren mission work and mission philosophy, a proposal for boosting church vitality, and a “Resolution on Christian Minority Communities.”

A positive financial report for 2014 was received, among other reports. The financial report highlighted very generous giving by congregations and individuals. Much of that generosity has been directed to the Nigeria Crisis Response and the Nigeria Crisis Fund, responding to the distressing situation of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). However, concern also was expressed for the financial health of the Core Ministries of the denomination, which depend on unrestricted giving. (A fuller report on 2014 financial results will appear in a future issue of Newsline.)

Three board committees met: the Board Development Committee, Audit and Investment Committee, and a new Strategic Planning Committee. The latter was made a standing committee of the board, with the function of reviewing the strategic planning process of the board and staff.

Times of worship were led by board member Gilbert Romero, of Montebello, Calif.

Mission conversation:

Much of Saturday’s meeting focused on the mission work of the Church of the Brethren, and church members and groups particularly active in mission were invited to attend. Groups present included the denomination’s Mission Advisory Committee, Brethren World Mission, and the Brethren Mission Fund of the Brethren Revival Fellowship. Also present were representatives of the Haiti Medical Project, district executives, and district mission representatives, among others.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The denominational board invited guests and groups active in mission work to attend a Saturday session where an update was shared about the Nigeria Crisis Response, and the group engaged in “table talk” about how the mission philosophy documents at Annual Conference relate to the current strategic goal on mission.

The conversation on mission included a detailed report about the progress of the Nigeria Crisis Response from Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer and associate executive director Roy Winter, who also heads up Brethren Disaster Ministries. The conversation also covered the most recent Annual Conference mission philosophy documents and the current strategic goal for international mission. Former mission worker Irv Heishman, who worked in the Dominican Republic for some years, was given an opportunity to pose a sharp critique of the mission efforts focused on informing how the church engages with cultures around the world.

A “table talk” discussion followed, including board, staff, and guests. The conversation focused on two questions: Do the Annual Conference statements on mission adequately serve the Church of the Brethren today? Are there inconsistencies between the Annual Conference statements and the current strategic goal for mission? Responses were shared and submitted to the board for further consideration.

Church vitality:

As requested by the board, staff made a proposal for a “Church of the Brethren Vitality Project.” At its Oct. 2014 meeting, the board requested a proposal to use $250,000 per year for five years to boost church vitality, if the board released those funds from reserves. Table talk with board, staff, and guests gave feedback about the proposal. Later in the meeting, the chair announced that because much of the feedback was not supportive, the board would return to the idea at another time.

In other business:

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Members of the Lancaster congregation provided fabulous food and generous hospitality to the members of the board and staff.

— A “Resolution on Christian Minority Communities” was approved and recommended to the 2015 Annual Conference for adoption. (See full story below, or online at www.brethren.org/news/2015/resolution-on-christian-minority-communities.html .)

— Brian Bultman’s appointment as treasurer of the Church of the Brethren was approved, and he was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the denomination’s Program Feasibility Committee.

— A term extension for Patrick Starkey, a current member of the board from Cloverdale, Va., was approved by the board for confirmation by the Annual Conference. Adding one year onto Starkey’s term is part of an effort by the Nominating Committee to complete the staggering of terms after the 2008 merger of the Association of Brethren Caregivers and General Board to form the Mission and Ministry Board.

— Jeff Bach’s appointment to the Brethren Historical Committee was approved. Bach directs the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies and teaches in the Religious Studies department of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.

— The board received a report of a large insurance dividend from Brethren Mutual Aid and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, through that company’s Partnership Group Program. (See full story below, or online at www.brethren.org/news/2015/church-of-the-brethren-receives-insurance-dividend.html .)

For more information about the Mission and Ministry Board, go to www.brethren.org/mmb . Find a photo album of the meeting at www.bluemelon.com/churchofthebrethren/spring2015missionandministryboard .

2) ‘Resolution on Christian Minority Communities’ adopted by board, recommended to Annual Conference

The denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board has approved a “Resolution on Christian Minority Communities” and recommended it to the 2015 Annual Conference for adoption.

The resolution, adopted without discussion, focuses on “the destruction of Christian communities in regions where Christians are targeted as religious minorities,” citing Romans 12:5, “We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another,” and Galatians 6:10, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.”

“While we are deeply concerned about the persecution of religious minorities regardless of religion or tradition, we feel a distinct call to speak out on behalf of those who are brothers and sisters in the body of Christ,” the resolution says, in part.

Areas where Christian communities are suffering severe persecution, are rapidly diminishing, or are in danger of disappearing altogether include northeast Nigeria, other areas of north Africa, and the Middle East particularly Palestine and Israel, Iraq, and Syria.

“Additionally, in this year commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide,” the document states, “we reaffirm our commitment to stand with targeted minority groups across the world and call not only for increased awareness of their persecution, but for renewed efforts by the church and the international community to build solidarity and protect minority religious groups who are under threat.”

The resolution identifies seven steps for Brethren to take in response:

— praying for sisters and brothers in Christ across the globe;

— learning about the experience of Christians in places of persecution and conflict;

— extending expressions of love and support to those communities;

— committing to participate in interfaith dialogue and peace initiatives;

— supporting advocacy efforts of the church in places where it is in danger of disappearing;

— developing relationships with Muslim and other religious communities in the US in an effort for mutual understanding; and

— reaching out “with hospitality and welcome to those in our own communities who have entered the United States in search of refuge from persecution, violence, and threats to their lives and their faith.”

Read the full resolution at www.brethren.org/mmb/documents/2015-3/exhibit-6-resolution-on-christian-minority-communities-mmb.pdf .

3) Church of the Brethren dividend from Brethren Mutual and Brotherhood Mutual is largest ever

Photo by Matt DeBall
Church of the Brethren staff receive a check for the insurance dividend from Brethren Mutual Aid and the Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. This is the largest such check ever received by the denomination, over several years of participation in the program.

The Church of the Brethren denomination has received an insurance dividend of $182,263 from Brethren Mutual Aid and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, through the company’s Partnership Group Program. Brethren Mutual Aid is the sponsoring agency for the program, which rewards the annual claims experience of the congregations, camps, and districts that make up the group along with the denominational organization.

This represents the largest dividend check ever written by this program, said Annual Conference moderator David Steele in his report to the Mission and Ministry Board. However, it also will be the last because of restrictions that Brotherhood Mutual falls under as it moves to a new legal status as a national corporation.

The Annual Conference officers and general secretary Stan Noffsinger, who make up the denominational Leadership Team, have decided to share the dividend in the following manner:

— $2,000 to each Church of the Brethren agency, district, and camp that participates in the insurance program;

— $1,000 to the Finance Office to cover the expense of administering the funds;

— the remainder to be divided between the Ministry Assistance Fund that aids ministers experiencing financial need, and the Nigeria Crisis Fund’s support for trauma healing and training for leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

The Church of the Brethren denomination is donating its $2,000 back into the larger project so that it will be divided between the Ministry Assistance Fund and the Nigeria Crisis Fund. Moderator Steele said that the denomination is inviting the other recipient agencies, districts, and camps to consider doing the same.

Brotherhood Mutual returns excess premiums not needed to pay losses, up to a certain level, as part of its Partnership Group Program. The company grants the dividend if the denominational group collectively enjoys a better-than-average claims experience.

For more information about Brethren Mutual Aid go to www.maabrethren.com . For more about Brotherhood Mutual visit www.brotherhoodmutual.com .

4) Applications for nursing scholarships are due soon

By Randi Rowan

Nursing scholarships are offered by the Church of the Brethren every year. Shown here: Dorothy Grim, 2014 nursing scholarship recipient.

The Church of the Brethren awards a limited number of scholarships each year to individuals enrolled in a nursing program. Candidates for the scholarships must be enrolled in an LPN, RN, or nursing graduate program and must be members of the Church of the Brethren.

The scholarships are awarded from the Health Education and Research Endowment, established in 1958 to receive gifts raised through a fund drive authorized by the 1949 Annual Conference to reopen the Bethany Hospital School of Nursing. In 1959, Annual Conference authorized that the resources be placed in an endowment fund with the interest to be used primarily to grant loans and scholarships for nursing students in the school of their choice.

Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates will be awarded to a limited number of applicants. Preference is given to new applications, and to individuals who are in their second year of an associate’s degree or third year of a baccalaureate program. Scholarship recipients are eligible for only one scholarship per degree.

Nominees must be members of the Church of the Brethren. Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted by April 1. Candidates awarded scholarships will be notified in July and funds will be sent directly to the appropriate school for the fall term.

For more information and the application form go to www.brethren.org/congregationallife/nursingscholarships.html . For questions contact Randi Rowan at 800-323-8039 ext. 303 or rrowan@brethren.org .

— Randi Rowan serves in the Congregational Life Ministries office of the Church of the Brethren.

NIGERIA NEWS

5) Dynamics of violence in Nigeria changing dramatically, aid still needed as displaced begin return home

By Cliff Kindy

The dynamics of the violence in Nigeria are changing dramatically in the recent weeks. Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgent group, has lost the momentum that they previously had in waging battles where they chose and usually overcoming any opposition. They have been unable to hold the initiative in any recent conflicts. They have sustained heavy losses, had hundreds of fighters arrested by Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. Their camps and headquarters have been overrun by Nigerian troops supported by heavy air bombardment.

Boko Haram fighters are scattered but in their frustration are striking out at any soft targets. So places like Chibok are again facing attacks from those groups. An EYN member from Chibok reported that Boko Haram had gone door to door in that community killing inhabitants and burning houses. Suicide bombings are scattered across the north of Nigeria. Individuals carry out those bombings–one seven-year-old girl was strapped with a bomb and another recent suicide attack was a man boarding a long distance bus when his explosives detonated. But Boko Haram is no longer able to rally large forces for any major attacks. There are even reports that Nigeria has arrested the Boko Haram leadership.

With these changing dynamics and some communities protected by Nigerian security for a couple months already, individuals and families are anxious to return home. But what does that mean on the ground?

They return with nothing in most cases. Where do they start? What do they eat? Where will there be protection from the rains? What about tools? Seeds? Animals? Electricity? Community infrastructure?

Homes have been burned. Churches are leveled, clinics bombed. Belongings have been looted and carried off. There are no longer stores or shops in most communities. Bridges are destroyed. Cars were stolen. Tools are missing or unusable. Wells in some communities have dead bodies in them. Maybe the departing Boko Haram raiders left explosives to greet returnees. Energy is sapped by the original trauma and there is new trauma facing those returning home.

Government is not likely to generate the massive aid needed in this kind of situation. Relief aid will only make a small dent in the total rebuilding of society that will be required. How does a community gather the united energy required to begin the process of starting over from scratch?

Churches thrive on hope. The love of the church provides encouragement and support when everything is at the bottom. Just as the early church in Acts lived an alternative reality from the Roman political system, so that will be true today with a church like EYN in Nigeria. The woman who told me about Chibok under attack again will be among the leaders of the trauma healing group that crisscrosses EYN in Nigeria and Cameroon.

Returning home will start with little steps from NGOs like Women and Youth Empowerment for Advancement and Health Initiative supplying families with machines to generate income, animals and seeds for providing food. Other NGOs like Lifeline Compassionate Global Initiatives through their interfaith efforts with displaced families are building the relationships for healed societies that will be required if communities will succeed in overcoming enormous obstacles. Both of these NGOs are among others that are funded by the Church of the Brethren.

The Crisis Management Team of EYN is still doing emergency feeding, is just starting on building temporary housing for displaced families, and is ready to begin the training of a large cadre of trauma trainers who face an enormously daunting task. At the same time the team is helping EYN itself recover from the total displacement of its organization. But what lies ahead is larger by far than all they have tackled thus far. Re-establishing devastated communities from scratch is nearly impossible for strong organizations that have done the work previously, but for a group like EYN, which has no experience in disaster response, can it even be imagined?

Yes, the hard work of thinking ahead is started in EYN. Church of the Brethren volunteers are walking alongside EYN. The experience of EYN-related NGOs can pave the way for larger responses. EYN is a strong church with creative leaders. EYN’s reliance on God’s care and leading will cover many stumbles in the months and years ahead. The future is rising from the ashes. People are returning home.

— Cliff Kindy, a Church of the Brethren volunteer who wrote this while in Nigeria, has since returned home safely. He spent some three months in Nigeria working with the Nigeria Crisis Response. He is a Church of the Brethren farmer and peace activist from northern Indiana, and previously served in Iraq and the Middle East with Christian Peacemaker Teams.

6) EYN district leader in Maiduguri helps provide ‘an island in the desert’

By Carl and Roxane Hill

Photo by Roxane Hill

Maiduguri is the capital city of Borno State located in northeast Nigeria. It has many distinctions. One is that it is credited as the birthplace of the Islamist insurgent group, Boko Haram. It is the largest city in all of northeast Nigeria with a population of over 2 million. During the violence that has been gripping this part of Nigeria many people have sought refuge in this heavily fortified city, swelling the population by some 50 to 100 thousand. The marketplace in Maiduguri has been closed for some weeks to protect its citizens from suicide bombings.

We met Rev. Yohanna when we were teaching at Kulp Bible College of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). He was not only a lecturer there but served as the campus chaplain. His children were all well versed in English and found us to be welcoming to them and people they could talk to. We really enjoyed this family. However, last December the Chaplain (as we called him) was transferred to become the DCC Secretary of Maiduguri. Besides being a very dangerous assignment the temperatures can get as high as 115 degrees.

As Boko Haram violence escalated throughout 2014 Maiduguri became a bastion of safety for Christians and moderate Muslims. The military also decided that Maiduguri would be protected and additional forces were stationed there. The offensive conducted by the Boko Haram surrounded Maiduguri and became an important target for the terrorists to capture. Fighting rages all around this city in the desert. But it has held out against the radical Islamist sect. As supplies were brought into the city Rev. Yohanna served as the chairman of the Distribution Committee and provided relief materials for over 50,000 people. He organized peaceful distributions and was one of the only ones to keep accurate records. Based on his documentation the government was able to gauge the amount of supplies to be delivered.

Rev. Yohanna told us that it was a big job to be responsible for so many needy people. He said not all were grateful but most of the people praised God for his fair and honest work. “I really saw the hand of God in this work.”

— Carl and Roxane Hill are co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren. They are currently visiting and meeting with leaders of the crisis response team of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

7) Internally displaced people in Nigeria experience disempowerment as well as loss

By Cliff Kindy

Being an internally displaced person (IDP) in Nigeria means that one is no longer able to live in one’s own home. Here in Nigeria one and a half million persons have become displaced because of the attacks and threats from Boko Haram. Being displaced means having to relocate to another place. It might entail moving to the home of friends or family who are quite welcoming. It might mean living in the bush where conditions might be minimal but a higher level of security is felt. Or it might mean settling into a camp where there are many other IDPs and some level of support from NGOs or government.

Recently I talked more deeply with an IDP who is living at the Catholic Retreat Center in Yola. Through marriage she is connected with the bishop of this region and was invited to live here with her extended family when Boko Haram took over her village. She and her family are from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Her father pastored at Lassa.

Shelters for displaced people in a “care center” being built in Nigeria through a partnership of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and the Church of the Brethren in the United States.

She has been here for five months. At home she would be busy with tasks that care for her family. Here she sits and waits for food to be given to her. She and her relatives spend the day moving her mat from one shady spot to another as the scorching sun moves across the day. She waits for clothes to be provided for her needs because she had to flee with just what she was wearing. She says she feels she has no power.

At home she has her own garden. If she needs food she goes “to pick the food, cashews, lemons, groundnuts,” to feed her family. If she needs clothes she has them in her house or can sell farm produce or animals for money to buy them. She has resources to purchase school supplies for her children.

Here she feels unable to help others–her family or neighbors. She is without the resources that are so available to her at home. This city is a strange place where she does not have access. At home she has connections but here she is rootless and powerless.

What does this feeling of powerlessness do over a long period? One begins to feel very small and helpless. A recognition of total dependency on others builds a new reality. Where one had been self-reliant and quite independent one becomes incapable of changing the dynamics that impact one’s life. For sure the larger problems appear beyond one’s influence. The problem of violence from Boko Haram seems untouchable. And even the smaller issues begin to appear like mountains.

Prayer? Her prayer that Boko Haram would be stopped before reaching her village was not answered. Her prayer that her needs would be met in a positive way seems to be answered only minimally. Her prayer that the threat of Boko Haram would be eradicated by the government so she could return home has seemingly not been heard. Despair starts to set into her life. Does God even care?

The monotony of life here at the Center is nothing like her life in the village. There she can constantly influence her future. Here she has few ways to change her future. Living door to door here with other IDPs who are similarly disempowered and dependent makes her feel small and worthless.

Later in the evening one of her neighbors exploded with anger for the entire neighborhood to listen in to the family squabble. Having no diversions of work or community activity allows tensions to build between people until they explode. Are there networks of healing in this place?

Continue to pray for Asabe and all the IDP’s in Nigeria. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

— Cliff Kindy, a Church of the Brethren volunteer who wrote this while in Nigeria, has since returned home safely. He spent some three months in Nigeria working with the Nigeria Crisis Response. He is a Church of the Brethren farmer and peace activist from northern Indiana, and previously served in Iraq and the Middle East with Christian Peacemaker Teams.

UPCOMING EVENTS

8) ‘Early bird’ registration for National Junior High Conference ends soon

By Kristen Hoffman

Thinking about attending National Junior High Conference 2015? Online registration is open! We encourage you to register soon to take advantage of special early bird rates. Through March 31, the cost is $160 per person. After March 31, the cost for regular registration is $185 per person. Travel scholarships are available to those who live west of the Mississippi River. For more information and to register, visit www.brethren.org/njhc or call 847-429-4389.

National Junior High Conference is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry, which is a part of Congregational Life Ministries. The conference will be held on June 19-21 on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Junior high youth and their adult advisors will be invited to consider Romans 12:1-2 and the theme, “Living the Change: Our Offering to God.”

The theme asks participants to consider taking their everyday, ordinary life–our sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life–and place it before God as an offering. As junior high youth encounter a number of changes in their lives, NJHC 2015 will encourage them to live the changes in ways pleasing to God.

The event will be enriched by worship speakers Lauren Seganos, Steve Schweitzer, Amy Gall-Ritchie, and Eric Bishop. Seth Hendricks will be coordinating music, and worship will be coordinated by Rebekah Houff and Trent Smith. In addition to four celebrations of worship, there will be time for learning in workshops and for play during recreation.

We are excited to announce that our special evening activities include a performance by Chris Ivey, an interactive juggler, and an evening carnival complete with fun games, snacks, and music. We look forward to meeting and worshipping with you in Elizabethtown!

— Kristen Hoffman is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and coordinator of this year’s Christian Citizenship Seminar and National Junior High Conference.

9) Young Adult Conference is planned for Pennsylvania in May

By Laura Whitman

The 2015 Young Adult Conference will be held at Camp Swatara near Bethel, Pa., from May 22-24. The conference for those that are age 18-35, sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The theme for the conference, that will shape worship and workshops is: “You Shall Go Out With Joy: Transforming the World’s Thorns with Joyful Action” based on Isaiah 55:12-13.

Featured speakers are Andy Murray, Samuel Sarpiya, Karen Duhai, and Joanna Johnson. Andy Murray is the moderator-elect of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. Samuel Sarpiya is a Church of the Brethren pastor and church planter in Rockford, Ill. Karen Duhai, originally from Bedford, Pa., is currently in seminary at Bethany, in Richmond, Ind. Joanna Johnson grew up in the Methodist Church and is attending Tulane University in New Orleans, La.

The worship coordinators are Rachel Witkovsky of Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, and Kelsey Murray of Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Musical leadership is by Rachel Bucher Swank of Annville, Pa.

There will be plenty of time for fellowship, games, and singing around the campfire. Registration is now open and scholarship requests will be accepted until April 17. Cost is $125 or $150 after April 30. Register now at www.brethren.org/yac . Please contact Laura Whitman with any further questions at lwhitman@brethren.org or 847-429-4323.

— Laura Whitman is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and is helping to coordinate Young Adult Conference and National Older Adult Conference.

10) Brethren evangelicalism topic of panel discussion at Bridgewater College

By Mary Kay Heatwole

A panel of Brethren scholars will discuss the influence of evangelicalism on the Church of the Brethren on Thursday, March 19, at Bridgewater (Va.) College. The session, which will consider the impact of modern, mainstream evangelicalism on a fellowship with deep roots in Anabaptism and Pietism, will take place in the Boitnott Room, at 7 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

Panelists are Carl Desportes Bowman, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia; Josh Brockway, Congregational Life Ministries, Church of the Brethren; and Karen Garrett, coordinator of assessment, Bethany Theological Seminary.

Bowman will speak on “Evangelicalism Among Members: The Brethren Member Profile Revisited.” Brockway’s topic is “The Brethren Are Hip,” and Garrett will discuss “Hitchhiking in the Middle of the Road: A Brethren Approach to Evangelicalism.”

Evangelicalism, or born-again faith, was part of the Brethren from their birth more than 300 years ago in Germany, but it always co-existed with a distinctive commitment to nonconformity in a wide variety of beliefs and practices.

“Recently, however, Brethren outsiderness has almost disappeared while evangelicalism has increased significantly,” said Stephen Longenecker, the Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor of History at Bridgewater College. “The panel will ponder the impact of this shift.”

The sponsor of the event is Bridgewater College’s Forum for Brethren Studies, whose mission is to encourage scholarship on the Bridgewater campus and within the Church of the Brethren, especially on Brethren heritage.

For more information contact Stephen Longenecker at slongene@bridgewater.edu.

— Mary Kay Heatwole works in the Office of Marketing and Communications and is editorial assistant for Media Relations at Bridgewater (Va.) College.

11) Brethren bits

Wilfried Warneck

— Remembrance: The Brethren Service office in Europe has shared a remembrance of Wilfried Warneck, a leader of Church and Peace who passed away on March 10 at age 85 in Wethen, Germany, where he lived for the last 11 years. “We celebrate his life which was dedicated to following Jesus, his roots in the community life of Laurentiuskonvent, and his tireless engagement to challenge the churches to commit themselves to a biblical life of nonviolence and justice,” said a notice from Church and Peace, which has been a partner with Brethren Volunteer Service for some decades. Church and Peace is a European ecumenical network made up of congregations, communities, organizations, and individuals committed to active witness for peace. Warneck served as executive secretary from 1975-1990. A funeral service was held on Monday, March 16. Memorial donations are received for Church and Peace.

— The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness has shared information about a leadership search by the National Farm Worker Ministry. The National Farm Worker Ministry, a faith-based organization committed to justice for and empowerment of farm workers, seeks a dynamic, passionate executive director with demonstrated nonprofit leadership skills and commitment to social justice. Further position and application information can be found on the NFWM website at NFWM Executive-Director Position Announcement. Review of applications will begin April 6 and will continue until filled. Go to http://nfwm.org .

— Congregational Life Ministries executive Jonathan Shively is the presenter for a two-day continuing education event in Illinois and Wisconsin District on the topic “Congregational Vitality: The Shape and Practices of the Church in Mission.” The event takes place at Dickson Valley Retreat Center in Newark, Ill., on Monday, April 20, from 7-9 p.m., through Tuesday, April 21, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. “A congregation’s mission effectiveness is integrally tied to its vitality,” said an announcement from the district. “Its vitality is an indicator of the capacity of the congregation to recognize and release the spiritual gifts with which God has graced it. Spiritual gifts are an expression of discipleship. This workshop will explore congregational mission vitality as an outgrowth of spiritual gifts rooted in discipleship. The discipleship process will be explored, gifts will be defined, vitality will be described, and practical tools will be shared to promote health and mission for your congregation. Bring your questions, experience, and best practices as we learn together.” Cost is $50 for workshop, lunch, lodging, and .8 continuing education units. Registrations are due by March 20. Contact Illinois/Wisconsin District Office, 269 E. Chestnut St., Canton, IL  61520; 309-649-6008; bethc.iwdcob@att.net .

— More than a year ago, Congregational Life Ministries set out to document the markers of Congregational Vitality–gathering, calling, forming, and sending–using dozens of examples shared from within the denomination. With the recently published issue of “Basin and Towel” on “Sending,” this four-issue series is now complete. If you are not a regular subscriber or if you would like to be able to share additional copies of this series, it is now available as a set. Numbers are limited. Contact Randi Rowan at rrowan@brethren.org or 800-323-8039. Cost for the set, including shipping, is $15.

— Material Resources has packed and shipped a 40-foot truckload of bandages and medical supplies donated by the White Cross to American Baptist International Ministries hospitals in the Congo. Material Resources is a Church of the Brethren program working out of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The program stores, processes, packs, and ships relief materials within the United States and around the world, on behalf of ecumenical partners. The White Cross is a volunteer ministry of American Baptist women and churches. Among other things, they roll bandages and give money to buy hospital supplies. “Rolled bandages save lives!” said a release from the International Ministries. “What does a Band-Aid cost? Ten cents? Now imagine running a hospital serving patients who make less than a dollar a day. The cost of daily dressing changes for a burn, surgery, or deep laceration, paid at US rates, might exceed a year’s income for most patients.” Read the release at www.internationalministries.org/read/56658-the-white-cross-container-arrived .

— A guest post by Church of the Brethren young adult Jenna Walmer has been shared on the Office of Public Witness blog. Walmer, who will attend Bridgewater (Va.) College in the fall, writes about her work to discern a calling in life, and how it relates to a “job shadowing” visit she made to the Office of Public Witness. She had been preparing to become a physical therapist, but “being raised in the Church of the Brethren provided me with a passion for peace, and as I grow up that passion burns brighter,” she wrote. “Fast forward to this past summer in Colorado, I had a change of heart. I spent a few days with seminary professors before National Youth Conference exploring my call. During Exploring Your Call, we explored ways we know it is God’s will for what we are pursuing. One that especially applies to me is the compelling of the Holy Spirit, or nudges from God.  Over the past few years, the word “peace” has been etched in my heart, and during that week I recognized that this is where I was being ‘nudged.’” Read her full blogpost at https://www.brethren.org/blog/2015/guest-post-jenna-walmer-reflects-on-her-call-and-a-visit-to-the-office-of-public-witness .

— Bethany Theological Seminary’s Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults has issued a reminder that registration is still open for “Anabaptism, the Next Generation,” an event held at the seminary in Richmond, Ind., on April 17-19. The event is for those in ministry with young adults and welcomes all who want to explore the growing edges of Anabaptism. Go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/YAForum2015 for more information and to register.

— Pike Run Church of the Brethren in Somerset, Pa., is celebrating its 100th anniversary on Sunday, April 19. “We are inviting friends of the district and community to share in the afternoon service at 3 p.m.,” said an invitation in the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter. A meal will follow the service.

— An “Early Christian Meal” will be held at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community Church of the Brethren on Good Friday evening April 3, at 6:30 p.m. “Space is limited, so please make your reservations by Palm Sunday morning,” said an invitation in the Western Plains District newsletter. A donation of $6 per person is requested. “Because this is a somber and reflective experience, it may not be suitable for your younger children,” said the invitation. The experience will recreate the biblical account: “This is the night that will be recreated at the Early Christian Meal. Those of us who have known Jesus will gather together in a time of sorrow, doubt, reflection, worship, questioning, mourning. In the crowd will be people we may recognize from our own experiences, people like Peter, or Mary Magdalene, or Zaccheus. They, with us, will recall their experiences with Jesus and share their feelings on this evening. Followers will recall the last supper and remember Christ’s words in the sharing of the bread and the wine. The setting and mood will be one of worship and reflection as we share a traditional meal of the time and as we remember Christ’s influence on each of our lives. As a follower of Jesus, you are invited to share in this special experience.” For more information or to make reservations call coordinators June Switzer (620-728-5810) or Terri Torres (620-960-0523).

— A 3rd Annual Spring Fair is planned for Saturday, May 9, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., at Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Glenville, Pa. All Star York Suburban Jazz Band and the York Jr. Symphony Wind Ensemble, as well as the EHMIS Show Choir are featured, and the event includes food options such as rotisserie chicken, and pit beef. A bounce house, a Silent Auction, and a butterfly release are part of the activities. The event benefits the Lazarus Food Pantry of Carroll County, Md. Contact 717-637-6170 or see www.blackrockchurch.org .

— An all-district “Auction and Relief Sale for Nigeria” is planned by Northern Indiana District for June 27 at Creekside Church of the Brethren in Elkhart, Ind. The fundraiser for Nigeria crisis relief is to include an auction, a bake sale, food, entertainment, and children’s activities. “We envision it as an opportunity to showcase the gifts and generosity of the N. Indiana district on behalf of persecuted and displaced people in Nigeria,” said an invitation written by Rosanna McFadden on behalf of the district board and the Creekside Church Outreach Team. The district hopes that the EYN Women’s Choir may be able to be present on the day of the auction. In an additional effort, the district’s children are invited to get involved in “Kids for Change,” a program in which children collect 40 quarters ($10) to dedicate to Nigeria. “We will collect and consecrate the canisters at district conference in September,” McFadden wrote.

— Camp Bethel’s annual Sounds of the Mountains Festival of Music and Storytelling is April 17-18. It will be the 14th festival hosted by the camp located near Fincastle, Va. This year’s event features nationally known tellers Donald Davis, Dolores Hydock, Patrick Ball, and Baba Jamal Koram, as well as performances by After Jack and the Back Porch Studio Cloggers. Tickets and information are available at www.soundsofthemountains.org .

— Shepherd’s Spring, a camp and outdoor ministry center in Mid-Atlantic District, is holding a Birdwatcher Retreat on May 1-3. The event is for beginner to intermediate birders and is “a great family opportunity,” said an announcement. “It will include some basic bird watching techniques, bird games, migration information, planting and feeding suggestions for your backyard, and time to listen to the sounds of the birds in the area.” The retreat is led by professional ornithologist and executive director of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory Chris Eberly, and University of Maryland- Eastern Shore biology professor Doug Ruby. Cost for the full retreat package including two night’s lodging and four meals is $125. A reduced price is available for those who do not wish to stay overnight. Bring your own binoculars and field guides. Call 301-223-8193.

— This year the Outdoor Ministries Team of Western Plains District offers a new experience for campers: “On the Edge” Survival Camp held Aug. 2-7 at Camp Mt. Hermon in Kansas. The camp is limited to 12 campers (half girls, half boys) who have completed grades 7 to 10. Leaders/co-directors will be Randall Westfall and Jan Hurst. Cheryl Mishler will be the spiritual adviser and nurse. Learn more at www.westernplainschurchofthebrethren.org/2015/02/22/new-on-the-edge-survival-camp-in-august .

— Jean Lichty Hendricks, a 1969 graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College, is one of this year’s recipients of the college’s Citation of Merit award for most distinguished alumni. Hendricks is a member of the Church of the Brethren who has been a teacher, and a minister in the church, and served for seven years as president and general manager of the Mutual Aid Association for the Church of the Brethren. She also has worked for McPherson College as director of church relations and in several volunteer roles. For more about the award and its recipients, see a report in the “McPherson Sentinel” at www.mcphersonsentinel.com/article/20150311/NEWS/150319821/-1/news .

— The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College holds its annual banquet on April 9 at 5:30 p.m. The meal will be followed by a program at 7 p.m. that includes the Durnbaugh Lecture given by Donald Kraybill on the topic, “The Young Center: From Swamp to International Center of Scholarship.” Kraybill is Distinguished College Professor and Senior Fellow at the Young Center. Cost for the dinner is $15. Reservations are required by March 26. The lecture is free of charge and reservations are not required. On April 10, from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Kraybill and others will present the Durnbaugh Seminar on the topic, “How a Maverick Amish Group Impacted Federal Hate Crimes.” Cost for the seminar, which includes lunch, is $10 and reservations are required by March 26. For more information, call 717-361-1470 or visit www.etown.edu/youngctr/events .

— “Living Out Our Relationship with the Living Lord” is the title for the next Spiritual Disciplines folder for the Easter season, from the Springs of Living Water church renewal initiative led by David and Joan Young. The folder runs from April 12 through Pentecost on May 30. “Along with the Epiphany Season, the Easter Season is one of the two seasons of joy in the Christian year with the resurrection celebrated and baptisms held,” says the announcement of the new folder. The folder follows the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians and assists individuals and congregations in scripture reading and prayer, following the Brethren practice to live the meaning of the text each day. An insert provides an overview of spiritual disciplines and ways to put them into practice. Both the folder and the Bible study questions, which can be used for group study, are written by Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren south of Pittsburgh, Pa. Find the folder and Bible study questions at www.churchrenewalservant.org under the Springs button at II, B. For more information contact David and Joan Young at 717-615-4515.

— Applications for the Peace First Prize Fellowship program for young people age 8 to 22 are due by March 30 at 5 p.m. (eastern time). The prize celebrates the contributions of youth peacemakers by recognizing five young people for their compassion, courage, and ability to create collaborative change. “Through a two-year $25,000 Peace First Fellowship, we will invest in their leadership as peacemakers and share their stories with the nation,” said an announcement of the program. For US-based peacemakers only, the program is a two-year investment in young people with a track record of making change in their communities in the United States. Go to http://peacefirst.org for more information.

— The “Goshen (Ind.) News” has published a piece about the many ways Nelda and Dana Snider have been active in service work, as an expression of their faith. The couple are members of Middlebury Church of the Brethren and recently were honored by the Middlebury Chamber of Commerce as Volunteers of the Year. Find the news piece at www.goshennews.com/news/local_news/you-should-know-nelda-and-dana-snider/article_b15cf751-e312-5c36-9880-72cb581bbdfc.html

— The “1,000-plus Letters for Nigeria” campaign is close to achieving a landmark 200 days of writing letters about the situation of Nigerian Brethren to people and organizations of influence across the United States. The campaign is led by Dunker Punks blogger Emmett Eldred. Today–day 198 of the campaign–letters went to Cross-Lines Community Outreach in Kansas City, Kan.; Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, based in Mission, Kan.; and Inter-faith Ministries of Wichita, Kan. Find out more about the campaign and the Dunker Punks movement at http://dunkerpunks.com .


Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jim Beckwith, Kristin Flory, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Mary Kay Heatwole, Carl and Roxane Hill, Nate Hosler, Cliff Kindy, Donna Kline, Pat Krabacher, Randi Rowan, Jenna Walmer, Jenny Williams, Loretta Wolf, David Young, 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 March 31. 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.