Newsline for April 15, 2016

1) Developments at the Brethren Academy offer opportunities for students

2) Emergency Disaster Fund grants help begin new disaster rebuilding site in Detroit

3) Old meets new as Bermudian meets Bittersweet

4) Global Women’s Project Steering Committee meets in Virginia

5) Brethren bits: Heifer posts seagoing cowboy video stories, Ken Medema’s song created for Children’s Disaster Services, new church starts in Illinois/Wisconsin District, Shenandoah District collects CWS kits, lots of college news, and more



“‘There is no “just war,”’ the some 80 participants of the conference state in an appeal they released Thursday morning. ‘Too often the “just war theory” has been used to endorse rather than prevent or limit war,’ they continue. ‘Suggesting that a “just war” is possible also undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacities for nonviolent transformation of conflict.’”

— From a National Catholic Reporter story about a first-of-its-kind Vatican conference that “bluntly rejected the Catholic church’s long-held teachings on just war theory, saying they have too often been used to justify violent conflicts and the global church must reconsider Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence. Members of a three-day event co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the international Catholic peace organization Pax Christi have also strongly called on Pope Francis to consider writing an encyclical letter, or some other ‘major teaching document,’ reorienting the church’s teachings on violence.” Read the full report at .

1) Developments at the Brethren Academy offer opportunities for students

Photo courtesy of the Brethren Academy
The worship celebration at Monitor Church of the Brethren in Western Plains District when Joshua Leck completed his EFSM program.


At the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, women and men are equipped for leadership in the church through four training programs: Training in Ministry (TRIM), Education for a Shared Ministry (EFSM), Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano (SeBAH-CoB), and district-based Academy Certified Training Systems (ACTS). The academy also offers continuing education opportunities for those who have completed seminary degrees or ministry training programs.

This year the academy is announcing three new tracks for congregations that are working to develop leadership from within their own membership, through EFSM. These tracks are offered for those congregations and their potential ministers who are working toward credentialing in the denomination’s new “commissioned minister” status.

A partnership for ministry education

The academy is a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and its Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary. Offices are on the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind. Another partner is the Mennonite Education Agency, which provides many of the required courses in the Spanish-language ministry training program SeBAH-CoB. This denomination-wide certificate level program parallels the ACTS programs available to English-speaking students.

The academy staff includes executive director Julie Mader Hostetter, administrative assistant Fran Massie, TRIM and EFSM Ministry Training Programs coordinator Carrie Eikler, and Spanish-Language Ministry Training Programs coordinator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman. A number of Bethany Seminary teaching faculty also provide leadership for the academy.

New EFSM tracks

This year the academy is announcing new tracks for congregations that are working to develop leadership from within their own membership, through the Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) program. These tracks are offered for those congregations and their potential ministers who are working toward credentialing in the denomination’s new “commissioned minister” status.

Track 1 continues the EFSM program’s current format for congregations with a bi-vocational pastor, aiding that person in developing as a pastoral leader alongside lay leadership from within the congregation.

Track 2 is offered for congregations that are working to develop a group of people who will serve together as a ministry team.

Track 3 serves congregations seeking to develop pastoral leadership in a specialized ministry area such as Christian education, visitation, pastoral care, music, evangelism.

Track 4 is for Spanish-speaking congregations with a bi-vocational pastor, to aid that person in developing as a pastoral leader alongside lay leadership from within the congregation.

Continuing education offerings

A variety of continuing education options are provided in partnership with the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Seminary as well as colleges, districts, congregations, and other agencies. Leadership from the academy, the seminary, and the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center based at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College coordinate a schedule so that courses on Church of the Brethren history, theology, and polity and practices are offered on a rotating basis in order for students and pastors to have ongoing access to these topics.

A Directed Independent Study Unit for TRIM and EFSM students is offered in conjunction with the Ministers’ Association pre-Annual Conference event. Additional annual continuing education events are the on-campus and online Clergy Tax Seminar, and insight sessions at Annual Conference.

Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar


Photo by Julie Hostetter
The first cohort in the SMEAS (Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar) was a group of camp leaders: (from left) Tara Hornbacker, Bethany Seminary professor; Joel Ballew of Camp Swatara, Karen Neff of Camp Ithiel (on screen), Jerri Heiser Wenger of Camp Blue Diamond, Barbara Wise Lewczak of Camp Pine Lake, Linetta Ballew of Camp Swatara. and Wallace Cole of Camp Carmel.


A Camp Leaders Cohort launched in 2015 as the first cohort of the Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar. This new continuing education program offers an intensive experience with a cohort of people involved in similar work for the church.

The launch event was a retreat on Nov. 19-21, 2015, at Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry and Retreat Center in Mid-Atlantic District and included six leaders from five camps. A second retreat was planned for March this year.

Upcoming cohort groups are scheduled for bi-vocational ministry and for chaplains. Those interested may contact Julie Hostetter at the Brethren Academy.

Photo courtesy of the Brethren Academy
The group of students and district TRIM coordinators at the 2015 summer orientation.


The academy by the numbers, in 2015

— 65 students from 18 districts participated in TRIM.

— 8 students and their supervising pastors from 6 districts participated in EFSM.

— 2 new district TRIM coordinators, Howard Ullery of Pacific Northwest District and Andrew Wright of Southern Ohio District, were welcomed into the group of 18 coordinators. Some coordinators serve 2 districts.

— 5 TRIM students and 3 EFSM students completed their programs, were recognized at the 2015 Annual Conference, and have now fulfilled the educational requirements for ordination consideration by their districts

— 11 TRIM students from 7 districts participated in the summer 2015 orientation.

— 1 residential class at Bethany Seminary, 2 classes hosted at McPherson (Kan.) College, and 4 online courses were organized by the academy. Students, pastors, and lay people participated in these offerings.

— 12 students from Atlantic Northeast District and 6 students from Pacific Southwest District participated in SeBAH-CoB, with 1 student in Puerto Rico District continuing her program in a Mennonite and Church of the Brethren cohort.

— 5 pastors from Atlantic Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern Pennsylvania Districts are mentors and supervising pastors for students from the “Supervision in Ministry” class held via Adobe Connect and onsite at the Atlantic Northeast District office.

— 1,822 ministers attended the “Healthy Boundaries 201″ training in ministerial ethics, with 56 sessions held in the 24 districts of the Church of the Brethren. A “Healthy Boundaries 101″ webinar training also was held for 10 TRIM students and others needing the introductory training. Attending the training every 5 years is a requirement for each minister in the denomination. The trainings assured completion of the denominational ordination review for clergy in 2015.

For more information about the academy–plus new informational videos with staff outlining programs–go to .

For questions, contact or 765-983-1824.

— Julie Mader Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, contributed to this report.

2) Emergency Disaster Fund grants help begin new disaster rebuilding site in Detroit

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed recent grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to begin a new rebuilding project site following flooding in Detroit, Mich.; to continue an ongoing rebuilding project site in Colorado; and to help support the work of Brethren volunteers at an ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) in South Carolina.


An allocation of $45,000 has opened a new Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in northwest Detroit, where record flooding was caused by a large storm system that drenched the area with up to six inches of rain in just a few hours on Aug. 11, 2014. More than 129,000 homes in the greater Detroit area were damaged, and FEMA declared it the worst disaster of 2014. Currently there are still families living in homes that have not been cleaned and sanitized, in many cases with mold presenting a very serious health hazard. The Northwest Detroit Recovery Project has been working on the northwest side of the city for almost a year, but the group that had been providing volunteers to complete the work concluded their project at the end of January.

This grant funds the expenses for Brethren Disaster Ministries to start up the project, including the expenses of moving equipment and setting up volunteer housing; the first several months of operational expenses related to volunteer support; and specific mold remediation equipment and gear required for the safety and health of volunteers. A portion of the grant may go to the Northwest Detroit Recovery Project to help with construction materials as the group searches for other funding to continue the work.


An additional allocation of $45,000 continues funding for a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in northeast Colorado following flooding caused by heavy rains in September 2013. Brethren Disaster Ministries started repair projects in May 2015, with volunteer housing first located in Greeley, then in Loveland. In June the location for volunteer housing will move to First United Methodist Church in Loveland, where it will stay until August when the project is expected to close.

Since October 2015, Brethren Disaster Ministries has worked almost exclusively with the Larimer County Long Term Recovery Group in the county where the current housing site is located. In February, work also began with the Loveland Housing Authority and Boulder County Long Term Recovery Group.

South Carolina

A grant of $5,000 provides financial assistance to Church of the Brethren volunteers serving on the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) in South Carolina, where Brethren Disaster Ministries is working through a partnership with the United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The DRSI project is repairing homes damaged in flooding in October 2015. The partnering agencies of the DRSI have been awarded $87,500 in grant money for the construction materials needed to contribute to the rebuilding work. Each group is responsible for providing their own vehicles, food, and a $50 per person per week housing fee that is given to the hosting location. In an effort to encourage Brethren volunteers to support the project, Brethren Disaster Ministries would like to offer financial assistance. Funds will be used, when requested, to pay the host site the $50 per person weekly fee.

Find out more about the Emergency Disaster Fund at .

3) Old meets new as Bermudian meets Bittersweet

By Gimbiya Kettering

Photo by Gimbiya Kettering
The Bittersweet Gospel Band plays at Bermudian Church of the Brethren.

When the founders of Bermudian Church of the Brethren in East Berlin, Pa., stood on their hill and looked over the river where baptisms occurred, they must have felt like they were on holy ground. As pastor Larry Dentler says, “We have been here since before America was America.”

In many ways, this a congregation that continues traditions that predate the Declaration of Independence, such as a love feast in the original sanctuary with soup cooked on the old stove held on the first Sunday in May–regardless of when Easter falls. The drive to the church, through picturesque fields, can feel like stepping back in time. Once inside the sanctuary, it is easy to picture the original members standing together to sing German hymns a capella.

The original members of Bermudian Church of the Brethren may not have imagined a music style described as a combination of “salsa and soul.” But the congregation’s tradition of hospitality continued when the church hosted the Bittersweet Gospel Band during its East Coast Tour.

Bittersweet was founded by Gilbert Romero of Restoration Church of the Brethren in Los Angeles, Calif., formerly Bella Vista Church of the Brethren, and is managed by Scott Duffey, pastor of Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren. The band uses its tours to strengthen and expand the work of Bittersweet Ministries, an outreach ministry serving people in northwestern Mexico by sharing the gospel, building homes, distributing food, and building relationships.

The modern, multicultural sound of the band reminds us of our call as Christians to be a part of Jesus’ work in the world today. It is catchy, contemporary music that brings people to their feet, clapping, swaying with arms around each other, and praising the Lord.

Photo by Gimbiya Kettering
Bittersweet’s Gilbert Romero interacts with the Bermudian congregation.

Bermudian today is a congregation connected to the issues of our time and the wider world–as evidenced by a new building, a youth room with a foosball table, and people wearing t-shirts supporting the Nigerian mission. The Bermudian congregation and guests from neighboring churches who attended the Bittersweet concert were clearly moved during the screening of the band’s most recent music video “Cardboard Hotel.” This song is inspired by the outreach and church planting happening at the site of a dump on the Mexico-US border, where impoverished, displaced families search through the trash for anything that can be eaten, burned for warmth, reused, or sold.

It is a meager life on the dump, especially for the children who have had to help their families and provide for themselves by searching through the trash piles. Yet the ministry of Bittersweet, supported by Brethren donations, recognizes them as brothers and sisters in Christ and seeks to accompany them.

Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer has been to the mission in Mexico that is supported by Bittersweet Ministry and says, “There is a real opportunity for the Brethren to have a witness there, with great linkages with us. I wish we had more time and money to do witness there.”

You can watch the Bittersweet video, “Jesus in the Line” at .

— Gimbiya Kettering is director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren and a member of the Congregational Life Ministries staff.

4) Global Women’s Project Steering Committee meets in Virginia

The Global Women’s Project Steering Committee.

A release from the Global Women’s Project.

Harrisonburg, Va., was the site for the March Global Women’s Project Steering Committee meeting. Members enjoyed the warmth of the valley of Virginia both in weather and welcome.

Our face-to-face gathering time was spent considering our connections with our partner projects, program planning, budgeting, and sharing and reporting from our work assignments. We are open to exploring new possibilities to partner with small, women-led projects that lead to economic, educational, life-sustaining benefits for their families and communities.

Connecting with local congregations and communities is an important part of our semi-annual face-to-face gathering and we offered worship leadership at Linville Creek Church of the Brethren. Special thanks to the Linville Creek congregation and pastor Nathan Hollenberg for this opportunity.

A highlight of our weekend time was a visit and learning opportunity at New Community Project in Harrisonburg, guided by Tom Benevento. New Community Project models and teaches energy efficiency, eco-building principals, sustainable transportations, engagement with the community, and outreach to people on the margins of society.

Pearl Miller completed her term on the Steering Committee. We will miss her wise presence and capable leadership. A special welcome to our newest member, Carla Kilgore.

The year 2018 will mark the 40th anniversary of the conception of Global Women’s Project. We are excited to begin the early stages of planning for this anniversary celebration. Be observant of future informational news releases and celebratory opportunities.

5) Brethren bits

— Heifer International has begun posting videos telling the stories of seagoing cowboys throughout April, with a new video story posted each week. This week’s video is an interview with Church of the Brethren member and former seagoing cowboy Merle Crouse. Find it at .

— A video recording of Ken Medema’s song created for Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) during the 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) has been posted online. Medema is a Christian musician and songwriter who has performed at numerous Church of the Brethren events in addition to NOAC, including Annual Conferences and National Youth Conferences. The song, which Medema created during an impromptu onstage performance, is called “Teach Me How to Play Again.” Find it at .

— A new Parables Community has been started as a new church congregation in Illinois and Wisconsin District, hosted at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill. The kick off event for the Parables Community took place on Sunday, April 10. The Parables Community is designed to be a congregation with children and adults who have special needs, and their families. “We will open up the social norms for worship so that everyone is free to sing out, speak up, move, dance, stim, and flap during the service,” said an announcement in the district newsletter. “It will be a ‘no shushing’ zone where all are free to come as they are and celebrate together.” The community hopes to become a place of empowerment where all of the participants’ gifts are welcomed, all serve in some way, and “every part of the Body of Christ is honored and necessary to the life of the whole.” Jeanne Davies is serving as the pastor. Visit to learn more.

— Illinois and Wisconsin District also has announced an emerging worshiping and service community called the Gathering Chicago, led by pastor LaDonna Nkosi who formerly served at Chicago (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren. The Gathering Chicago “will host retreats, prayer trainings and meetings, Peace in the City conferences, and serve as a place of spiritual refreshment, prayer, and intercession for those working and serving for justice, peace, healing, and restoration in and for the city,” said the announcement. The ministry will be located in the Hyde Park area of Chicago. The first launch event is planned for May 15, from 5-7 p.m. at 1700 E. 56th Street on the 40th floor. This event will include a Love Feast with feet washing and communion as well as intentional time for prayer.

— The Shenandoah District Office is again a Kit Depot for Church World Service and will collect kits through May 12. “You may bring your completed school kits, hygiene kits, and clean-up buckets to the depot from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday,” said an announcement from the district. For guidelines on assembling kits and buckets, go to .

— The annual Sounds of the Mountains Storytelling Festival is this weekend at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., on April 15-16. “In recent years, we’ve tended to schedule performers who make us laugh a lot,” said a Facebook post from the camp. “It’s no accident. This Festival is guaranteed fun and funny, plain and simple. Your ribs will ache…in a good way!” Tickets are available at the door, and food is offered all weekend. For more go to .

— The last Ventures course for the 2015-16 season, “Technology for Congregations,” will be held April 23 from 9 a.m.-12 noon (central time). Ventures courses are hosted by McPherson (Kan.) College and provide continuing education for church leadership. “In this course, there will be opportunity to explore various strategies to improve congregational communication, visibility, and even outreach by leveraging technology solutions that are affordable and appropriate for different contexts,” said an announcement. “Conference calls, virtual meetings, phone trees, e-mail strategies, websites, streaming or recorded services, and copyright considerations will be some of the topics. Of special interest will be an hour devoted to Internet safety with guest presenter Brandon Lutz, a school district Internet specialist in the greater Philadelphia area.” Enten Eller will be the main presenter. He has owned and operated his own computer business for over 30 years and is the former webmaster and director of Distributed Education, Electronic Communication, and Educational Technology at Bethany Theological Seminary. To register for the course, visit .

— Melanie A. Duguid-May, a former denominational staff member who served as ecumenical officer for the Church of the Brethren, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind. The honorary degree will be part of ceremonies in which the university will be graduating its first pharmacy class on May 14, and launching its first pharmacogenomics program on May 17. Duguid-May is a 1976 graduate of Manchester University. She currently is the John Price Crozer Professor of Theology at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y., where she has been on the faculty since 1992. “She has focused her career on contemporary Christian life and faith, guiding Christians through the often-choppy confluence of faith and 21st-century challenges,” said a release from the university. “She teaches courses that explore religion, violence and peacemaking, the image and role of women in Christian tradition, Christian faith and LGBT persons, as well as courses in Christian belief and the life and thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” In addition to earning a degree in religion and peace studies from Manchester, she also holds a master of divinity degree, a master of arts degree, and a doctorate in Christian theology, all from Harvard Divinity School. Her writings have been published widely in academic, ecclesial, and ecumenical anthologies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and journals. Her books include “Jerusalem Testament: Palestinian Christians Speak, 1988-2008″ (Eerdmans Publishing, Co., 2010), “A Body Knows: A Theopoetics of Death and Resurrection” (Continuum Publishing, 1995), and “Bonds of Unity: Women, Theology, and the Worldwide Church” (Academy Series No. 65, Scholars Press, 1989).

— Jonathan Rudy, peacemaker-in-residence with Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking, was recently named senior advisor for human security for Washington, D.C.’s Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP). The alliance works for peaceful and just societies around the world, serving as a think-tank and advocate for more than 100 member organizations. “By linking policymakers and citizens, AfP  imagines innovative solutions to the most pressing conflicts facing our world today,” said a release from the college. “The program on Human Security specifically works to achieve a people-centered security strategy, which has been found to be more successful, cost-effective, and sustainable than traditional approaches. The program opens channels of communication between the Pentagon and local community organizations working to build human security through conflict prevention and peacebuilding.” Rudy’s work in the field of human security spans 30 years on three continents. Since 2005 he has been part of a team that has trained military officers in the Philippines in the area of conflict transformation and peacebuilding. His past involvement with the AfP has given him the opportunity to advise and engage civil society and military, in the US and around the globe, on people-centered security. He teaches two Humanities courses in the Peace and Conflict Studies minor at Elizabethtown: “Conflict Dynamics and Transformation” and “Peacebuilding Themes and Trends.” Read the full release at .

— Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has been awarded a $1 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to identify, select, and offer scholarships to at least four undergraduate students per year studying biology, physics, chemistry, earth and space science, general science, or mathematics with certification to teach in secondary schools. The program obligates the students upon graduation to teach science in rural school districts for at least one year for every year of scholarship support, said a release from the college. “Energizing STEM Teaching Across Rural Schools” (E-STARS) would use Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarships, a National Science Foundation award worth $15,000 per academic year, to support Juniata juniors and seniors studying science or math as they approach graduation and secondary teaching certification for teaching grades 7-12. Once they graduate, recipients of the scholarship would be obligated to teach biology physics, chemistry, earth and space science, or mathematics in a rural school district for a minimum of two years for each year they received the scholarship in any rural school district identified within the program. In addition to the scholarship, each E-STAR scholar will have a summer internship either in a research lab, doing statistical consulting, working on education research, or as a counselor for a middle school science camp. The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program honors Robert Noyce, who collaborated on the first integrated circuit, or microchip, and later cofounded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel Corporation in 1968.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced its first graduate degree program, a Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT). The college anticipates welcoming its first group of graduate students in May of 2017, said a release. “Bridgewater has offered a highly successful and well-regarded bachelor’s degree in athletic training since 2001. After the 2016-17 academic year, the college will no longer admit undergraduate athletic training students and will instead admit undergraduate students to a 3+2 master’s program in addition to admitting graduates of other four-year institutions to its two-year post-baccalaureate master of science program. The two-year, 63-credit post-baccalaureate program focuses on preparing the athletic trainer of the future. To learn more go to .

— The National Council of Churches (NCC) is publicizing an effort encouraging churches to display banners opposing anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States. The effort is led by Interfaith Action for Human Rights, the Shoulder to Shoulder campaign in which the Church of the Brethren participates through its Office of Public Witness, and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Justice. “The campaign follows in the tradition of similar banner campaigns, such as Save Darfur, Stand with Israel, and Black Lives Matter,” said the NCC newsletter. “It aims to demonstrate that faith communities stand together with the Muslim American community.” There are three banner options, displaying the following statements: Honor God: Say No to anti-Muslim Bigotry; We Stand with our Muslim neighbors; [Organization Name] stands with Muslim Americans. Banners come in two sizes: two foot by six foot, costing $140; and three foot by nine foot, costing $200. Banners are weatherproof vinyl and have mounting grommets for easy hanging or posting. Price includes UPS Ground shipping and handling. For more information go to .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jan Fischer Bachman, Jenn Dorsch, Elizabeth A. Harvey, Mary K. Heatwole, Julie Hostetter, Gimbiya Kettering, Nancy Miner, John Wall, Walt Wiltschek, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for April 22.

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