Newsline for February 27, 2016

“Like cattle that go down into the valley, the spirit of the Lord gave them rest. Thus you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name” (Isaiah 63:14).


1) Christian Churches Together holds 10th annual convocation
2) Office of Public Witness urges reduction of military spending in 2017 federal budget
3) Congregational Life Ministries and ADNet extend agreement to work together
4) CCEPI graduates first set of orphans and widows in skill acquisition


5) Ronald Beachley to retire from leadership of W. Pennsylvania District


6) Bethany Seminary holds second annual young adult event

7) Brethren bits: Personnel, jobs, BRF group serves in Haiti, theology session at Ecumenical Advocacy Days, Ventures features Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Mutual Kumquat concert benefits Nigerian family, Roundtable registration is open, dinners at John Kline Homestead, more

Quotes of the week:

“This [Black History Month] really helps the reconciliation of the church. We as a culture are moving towards healing. For years many churches have highlighted just one culture. Yet we should become aware of each other’s cultures. In that way we learn to respect and preserve the cultural history of all of us.”

— Germantown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren pastor Richard Kyerematen in a Philadelphia Tribune article about the celebration of Black History Month held at the church, one among the many historic “Mother Churches” in the city that held celebrations. The Germantown Church, which is the “Mother Church” of the Church of the Brethren and other Brethren denominations in the United States, hosted a multi-generational tribute to African-American history featuring students from the Philadelphia School District, youth from the church, and adult creative and performing artists. The program was coordinated by poet and church member RuNett Nia Ebo with the help of poet Victoria Peurofoy. Find the article at www.phillytrib.com/religion/tribute-unfolds-at-stone-fixture-in-germantown/article_7dc23fa0-e600-5c8d-b5e5-19a30f3fe4c4.html .

“You can go anywhere on the back of a heifer.”

— M.R. Zigler, a leader of the Brethren Service effort in Europe following World War II. The program included the work of Heifer Project to send cattle and other animals to aid people in need following the war. A new children’s book from Brethren Press tells the story of the seagoing cowboys who accompanied heifers, cattle, horses, and other animals as they were transported by boat across the Atlantic.

    March 1 is the last day for early-bird discounts on orders of this hard-cover illustrated children’s book, “The Seagoing Cowboy” written by Peggy Reiff Miller and illustrated by Claire Ewart. “So don’t miss the boat!” says a reminder from Brethren Press. For more details on purchasing “The Seagoing Cowboy” visit www.brethrenpress.com or call 800-441-3712.

1) Christian Churches Together holds 10th annual convocation

By Wendy McFadden

At the 10th annual convocation of Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT), held in early 2016 in Arlington, Va., member churches and organizations deepened their work on racism and other issues of common concern.

Well-known anti-apartheid leader Allan Boesak gave an insider’s critique of the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa, and applied that to the struggle for racial reconciliation in the US. He drew a sharp distinction between political reconciliation, which he said has proven to be short-lived, and the Christ-centered reconciliation that is at the heart of Christianity.

“If we say ‘justice’ we must say ‘Jesus.’ If we say ‘Jesus’ we must say ‘justice,’” Boesak insisted. Describing reconciliation as “holy ground,” he said it must be “real, radical, and revolutionary.”

St. Louis pastor and activist Michelle Higgins brought a Christian view of Black Lives Matter, which she described as a “pro-life” movement. Lamenting the dehumanizing practices facing people of color, she urged churches “to tell the truth about their own history so that they might be a united front to tell God’s story in the world.” This should come naturally for Christians, she pointed out: “As a body of believers, we already participate in an alternative history. Sunday school is an alternative institution.”

At this anniversary meeting, participants reviewed the history of CCT and furthered understanding of the themes that have been examined over the past decade. In addition to race, sessions focused on poverty, immigration, and how to witness to the gospel respectfully in a multi-religious world.

Organized in 2006, Christian Churches Together is composed of 38 churches and national organizations and represents the broadest range of Christians in the country. The members are committed to meeting together for fellowship, worship, and joint efforts on issues crucial to Christian witness in the US.

— Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press, has completed eight years on the CCT steering committee, the last three as president of the Historic Protestant family. The other four families are Catholic, Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Black, and Orthodox.

2) Office of Public Witness urges reduction of military spending in 2017 federal budget

The following Action Alert was issued recently by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, under the title “Congress Has Choices! A Call to Reduce Military Spending”:

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword’” (Matthew 26:52).


On Feb. 9, President Obama unveiled his proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, requesting $583 billion for the Pentagon. This is a $2 billion increase from the 2016 budget and includes a $524 billion Department of Defense base budget and $59 billion Overseas Contingency Operations fund.

How we spend our money reveals our national priorities. These numbers contrast the $52.7 billion used for diplomacy by the Department of State and the $69.4 billion for the Department of Education. Justifying such a large Pentagon budget, much less increasing it, is difficult when other important programs remain underfunded and when such spending commits and affirms acts of US aggression.

With the budget now in Congress, our voices play an important role in considering the country we become.

In 1996, the Annual Conference renewed the Church of the Brethren commitment to being a Historic Peace Church by issuing a statement on nonviolence and humanitarian intervention. The Conference issued a call to peacemaking, stating:

“In bringing the Good News to the poor and afflicted through serving their needs and unequivocally opposing all forms of military combat, we demonstrate that the world’s priorities still reflect too much faith in military power to solve problems and too little faith in the power of love to transform social, political, economic, and environmental threats into opportunities for cooperation and human community.”

To further this mission, the Conference pledged to “support policies to reduce military spending and international arms trade.”

In the effort to be a Living Peace Church, we call on you and your congregations to urge your members of Congress to reject excessive military spending and pass a budget that faithfully represents the values of equality, justice, and compassion.

Call to action

As Congress considers the budget for next year, it is important for Senators and Representatives to hear from constituents in the coming months. Call 202-224-3121, ask for your members of Congress, and ask them to reduce military spending. To get in touch by e-mail, find your representative here: www.house.gov/representatives/find . Find your Senators here: www.senate.gov/senators/states.htm .

Here is a sample script you can use when contacting your members of Congress:

“Hi, my name is ________________, and as a member of the Church of the Brethren I know our budget represents our priorities as a nation. As Congress considers the Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2017, I urge Senator/Representative __________________ to reduce President Obama’s proposed Department of Defense allocation of $524 billion. I believe Congress has choices when spending government money, and choosing to reduce wasteful military spending can help fund other programs that address human need.”

The Office of Public Witness is partnered with other faith organizations in a “Congress Has Choices” campaign, which urges Congress to faithfully reallocate money for military spending. Click here for more information and to see our letters to Congress: _____ .

— This Action Alert was prepared by Jesse Winter, peacebuilding and policy associate for the Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. For more information about the public witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Nathan Hosler, Director, Office of Public Witness, 337 North Carolina Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003; nhosler@brethren.org ; 717-333-1649.

3) Congregational Life Ministries and ADNet extend agreement to work together

From an ADNet release:

In January 2016, Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADNet) and the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries extended an agreement to work together to advocate for persons with disabilities in the church. Since 2014, the Church of the Brethren has had a representative serving on the ADNet board of directors and has worked in cooperation with ADNet’s mission to “support Anabaptist congregations, families, and persons touched by disabilities to nurture inclusive communities.”

This renewed agreement provides for increased cooperation in disabilities ministry over the next three years. Debbie Eisenbise, director of Intergenerational Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, with primary staff responsibility for disability ministries in the denomination, serves on the board of Anabaptist Disabilities Network. She will work with ADNet staff, Kathy Nofziger Yeakey, executive director, and Christine Guth, program director, on developing resources and providing communication to support families, individuals, and congregations ministering to and with persons with disabilities of all kinds, including mental illnesses.

Church of the Brethren congregations with such a ministry emphasis are invited to join the Open Roof Fellowship ( www.brethren.org/disabilities/openroof.html ) for mutual support and encouragement. The Church of the Brethren commitment to this ministry is rooted in the 2006 Annual Conference resolution: “Commitment of Accessibility and Inclusion (ADA)” by which the denomination pledges “to work to ensure that all may worship, serve, be served, learn, and grow,” and to examine and rectify barriers to persons with disabilities with the goal of making all denominational sites accessible.

Rebekah Flores, a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., serves as an ADNet field associate on behalf of the Church of the Brethren. She is a resource person for the districts, congregations, and denomination of the Church of the Brethren. In 2016, she will serve as an ombudsman for persons with disabilities at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in North Carolina.

Anabaptist Disabilities Network currently has three volunteer field associates serving in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. A fourth, who writes for the blog, currently lives in the United Kingdom. ADNet staff and field associates are available for consultation, workshops, and presentations on issues related to disabilities.

The most recent publication developed by Anabaptist Disabilities Network is the book, “Circles of Love,” featuring stories from various Anabaptist congregations who provide supportive communities for persons with disabilities and their families. Other resources published by ADNet include “Supportive Care in the Congregation: Providing a Congregational Network of Care for Persons with Significant Disabilities,” and “After We’re Gone: A Christian Perspective on Estate and Life Planning for Families that Include a Dependent Member with a Disability” (MennoMedia).

Contact Debbie Eisenbise for more information about the Anabaptist Disabilities Network and the Church of the Brethren disabilities ministry, at deisenbise@brethren.org or 800-323-8039.

4) CCEPI graduates first set of orphans and widows in skill acquisition

By Zakariya Musa

Photo courtesy of EYN / Zakariya Musa
In December 2015 CCEPI held a graduation ceremony for the first set of students to complete a new skills acquisition program. The program aids people who have been displaced by violence, mainly widows and orphans, to become self sustaining through learning skills to earn their own livelihoods.


Director of the Center for Caring and Peace Initiative (CCEPI) in Nigeria, Rebecca S. Dali, charged the first graduates of the Livelihood Skill Acquisition Center established by CCEPI to work hard by utilizing the materials such as knitting machines, sewing machines, and computers given to them to make them economically independent.

Dali is the founder and executive director of CCEPI and wife of president Samuel Dante Dali of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

This first graduation and the 25th cake cutting ceremony of the non-governmental organization was held on Dec. 19, 2015, at Yelwa Club in Bukuru, near the city of Jos in central Nigeria.

While encouraging the beneficiaries, widows and orphans, who are also internally displaced persons (IDPs) from northeastern Nigeria, Rebecca Dali said: “The insurgents and Boko Haram killed your beloved ones but it is not the end of your life.”

In her speech, Dr. Dali presented the organization’s mission as “to alleviate suffering among vulnerable people; to promote human well being, dignity, economic development, and peace; to strengthen the capacity of individuals, families, and communities to achieve set goals in life; to pay close attention to immediate needs of vulnerable children and women; to strengthen the ability of families to live a productive life; to reduce conflict and foster peace within and among communities in northeast Nigeria, Nigeria, Africa, and the world at large.”

During the occasion she expressed appreciation to her supporters within and outside Nigeria in realizing her goals and missions. She mentioned the International Rescue Committee, the Church of the Brethren in the United States, NEMA, NERLA, and individuals such as Mr. John Kennedy Okpara.

EYN president Samuel Dali, who was accompanied to the event by EYN vice president Mbode M. Nbirmbita, appreciated the work of CCEPI among the needy. He added that EYN members are the most affected and are among the beneficiaries of the assistance, which he said, “was started in our house with our food.”

A sermon was delivered by Rev. Luka Vandi, one of CCEPI’s board of trustee executives, who encouraged the depressed to be strong in spite of life issues brought by the insurgency.

Certificates of attendance were issued to 32 graduating students who received their training in computer knowledge, sewing, knitting and other skill acquisitions. One of the graduates, Christy Hosea, who spoke on behalf of the graduating students, thanked the executive director and staff for being patient with them during the training, which led them to be the first to graduate at the year-old center.

The cake cutting was ushered by Dr. Jullee Mafyeng, chair of the board of trustees of CCEPI. A free-will donation was made in support of the new center formed to help orphans and widows achieve self sustenance.

Also during the occasion, Dr. Dali announced that the organization has acquired land in two cities for the purpose of erecting structures for the widows, orphans, other vulnerable people, and the disadvantaged to come and acquire skills in various fields, although the work has not yet started. Other challenges include means of transportation and lack of enough funds to cater to the basic needs of the teeming IDP population. She then solicited for general donations to reach out to the needy.

— Zakariya Musa serves on the communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). For information about the Nigeria Crisis Response, a joint effort of the Church of the Brethren and EYN that has helped provide funds to CCEPI and other partner organizations in Nigeria, go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .


5) Ronald Beachley to retire from leadership of W. Pennsylvania District

Ronald D. Beachley

Ronald D. Beachley has announced his plans to retire as district executive of the Western Pennsylvania District effective Dec. 31, 2016. He began his ministry as district executive on Sept. 15, 1985.

Beachley was licensed to the ministry on Dec. 26, 1965, and ordained on June 25, 1972, at Beachdale Church of the Brethren. He is a graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1969, and is a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary, where he received a master of divinity degree in 1972 and a doctor of ministry degree in 1988. He also completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education in 1971.

Over the course of his career he served pastorates in Western Plains District, Middle Pennsylvania District, Virlina District, and Northern Ohio District. He served as moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 2006, and currently is chair of the Council of District Executives.

He is married to Linda Brougher Beachley, who will continue to serve as pastor of Nanty Glo Church of the Brethren. Retirement plans include spending time with grandchildren and travel to visit family and friends.


6) Bethany Seminary holds second annual young adult event

By Jenny Williams

All who are interested in, wondering about, or intrigued by music ministry for young adults are invited to attend In Tune on April 15-16, at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. Leading musicians, both Brethren and ecumenical, will guide an exploration of musical styles that are speaking to a new generation. The event is sponsored by Bethany’s Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults.

“All churches care about music, and all smart churches care about reaching young adults,” says Russell Haitch, professor of Christian education and director of the institute. “We’ve combined both concerns into an event where people can listen to experts, sing together, and discuss why and how we do music ministry.”

Musicians leading the sessions for In Tune also find their vocation in teaching, directing, composing, and writing:

Michaela Alphonse, a Global Missions volunteer for the Church of the Brethren, coordinates theological training and student scholarships for Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti). She loves to sing, dance, and work with children, and is a licensed minister of Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren.

Leah J. Hileman, composer of nearly 300 Christian songs, is minister of music at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. She has recorded six albums and is currently completing a seventh album of Christian pop music. She is also a member of the Bittersweet Gospel Band.

Chris Monaghan is senior pastor of Gateway Church in Richmond, Ind., which seeks to transform the community through worship, teaching, and humanitarian acts. He has a master of theological studies in messianic Judaism and is a songwriter, recording artist, and author on the art of worship.

Adam M. L. Tice, named a Lovelace Scholar by the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada in 2004. Many recent hymnals and choral arrangements contain his hymns, which he began writing in seminary. He has served as associate pastor of Hyattsville (Md.) Mennonite Church.

Tim Timmons’ music and ministry are shaped by a cancer diagnosis 14 years ago that gave him 5 years to live. Whether he’s composing and performing for a national audience or worshiping with others, his desire is to open up a conversation about living an abundant and joyful life in Christ. When not touring, he gathers with family and friends for Motel Church, a makeshift congregation open to all, and which has been life changing for him.

After short talks from each guest musician, attendees will have the chance to ask questions and raise points for conversation. Small groups will explore topics on how and why to do music ministry, and the musicians will participate in a panel and discussion time. Worship will feature contributions from these leaders.

Registration is open at www.bethanyseminary.edu/ya2016 . Details are also available about the musicians, schedule, and housing. A block of hotel rooms is being held until March 15, and lodging with host families is also an option. The registration fee of $30 includes all program sessions, Friday dinner, and Saturday lunch. Contact 765-983-1809 or houffre@bethanyseminary.edu for more information.

— Jenny Williams is director of communications for Bethany Theological Seminary.


Beavercreek (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is hosting a concert and fundraiser featuring Mutual Kumquat on Saturday, March 12, at 7 p.m. Mutual Kumquat, a Church of the Brethren soul-folk-pop band that blends sacred and secular music, will perform the event as a benefit to provide medical attention for a Nigerian family with three hearing-impaired children. “A free-will offering will be collected to purchase a hearing aid for one child and cochlear implants for her sisters as well as to provide for additional medical needs,” said an announcement and invitation from the church. “Cecilia, age 13, and hard of hearing from birth, has never spoken and communicates only through signs. Omega, age 7, has a twin brother with perfect hearing. When she was a baby, Omega contracted measles. After experiencing a high fever, she was unable to hear again. Hanatu, age 4, suffered an ear infection resulting in very limited hearing. This family with seven children, facing relocation as a result of the destruction and deadly attacks by insurgents in northeast Nigeria, cannot afford the devices that doctors say can help the girls to hear.” For general information about the ongoing crisis in Nigeria, visit www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis . To learn more about Mutual Kumquat, visit http://mutualkumquat.com . For more information about the concert, call 937-426-0615 or visit www.facebook.com/Beavercreek-Church-Of-The-Brethren-327575569872 .

7) Brethren bits

Erika Fitz has resigned as program coordinator for the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) based in Elizabethtown, Pa., effective April 30.  She leaves SVMC in order to have more time to pursue art, teaching, and social activism. “At SVMC she guided students through their ministry training program with care-filled attention, and utilized her creative artistry to design a new logo for SVMC as well as update promotional materials. She added a thoughtful perspective to our continuing education events,” said an announcement from executive director Donna M. Rhodes. “While we will miss her presence and creativity, we pray God’s rich blessings on Erika’s venture into using her skill in new ways.”

The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, a ministry training partnership in the Church of the Brethren, is accepting applications for a full-time program coordinator who will oversee day-to-day management of the SVMC office based in Elizabethtown, Pa. Responsibilities include administrative support, student and instructor contacts, course record keeping, financial record keeping, and creative promotional work. The successful candidate will demonstrate strong technological, communication, and organizational skills; have the ability to maintain confidentiality; have knowledge of basic accounting skills; demonstrate positive attitude and collaborative work style; have a heart for service. Church of the Brethren membership is preferred. Send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to Donna M. Rhodes, Executive Director, at dmrhodes.svmc@verizon.net . Applications will be reviewed beginning immediately and will continue until the position is filled. For information regarding SVMC visit www.etown.edu/svmc .

The Church of the Brethren is seeking an individual to fill a full-time hourly position of systems specialist. The systems specialist reports to the director of Information Technology. Major responsibilities include providing strategic and tactical support to the Church of the Brethren by analyzing and interpreting system data to provide creative solutions; planning, coordinating, testing, and implementing changes to computer databases; assisting in website related projects including online registration forms and support of Office of Ministry secure online placement system; generating various reports, assisting users, and serving as technical assistance backup to manager of Information Technology when he/she is absent. Required skills and knowledge include skilled competency in database management and queries, communication and problem solving skills, ability to tend to multiple simultaneous projects, orientation toward details and customer service, ability to maintain confidentiality. Computer software and database experience is required. An associate’s degree or equivalent experience is required. A bachelor’s degree is preferred. The following experience is helpful: Raiser’s Edge or other Customer Relationship (CRM) system, Convio or other web-building solution experience, and/or Crystal Reports. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Request the application form by contacting: Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; humanresources@brethren.org . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

“Pray for the 13 participants from the Brethren Revival Fellowship serving with Eglise des Freres d’ Haiti, the Church of the Brethren in Haiti,” said a requqest from the Global Mission and Service office. The group will work at New Covenant School in Saint-Louis-du-Nord, Haiti, building a latrine and a clinic and leading children’s activities. “Pray that the encounters will bring encouragement and learning to all involved,” said the request.

A special session to “Explore Theology Behind the Fight Against Racism” will be offered at the 2016 Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C., in mid-April. The session takes place April 15 beginning at 1 p.m. “Christians gathering at the 2016 Ecumenical Advocacy Days will be lifting their voices in support of those who are oppressed and marginalized because of racism and classism,” said an announcement. “We only have to be familiar with the headlines of the past two years to know that these two ills are realities in our society, and on the hearts and minds of candidates and voters alike as we head toward the November election. But what is the theological basis for our message when it comes to fairness and justice?” This workshop will analyze the Christian foundations of faith when it comes to affirming the political and economic rights of all. The panel will include: Doug Foster, professor of Church History, Abilene Christian University; Joyce Shin, associate pastor for Congregational Life, 4th Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Ill.; Kenneth James, pastor, Memorial AME Zion Church, Rochester, N.Y. The moderator will be Greg Carey, professor of New Testament, Lancaster (Pa.) Theological Seminary. Register for Ecumenical Advocacy Days at http://advocacydays.org/2016-lift-every-voice .

The Ventures program at McPherson (Kan.) College is offering a Saturday morning seminar on March 5, led by Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary. The seminar will focus on trends in worship, under the title “Cymbals and Silence: The Changing Sounds of Worship and Prayer.” An announcement explained: “During the past 30 years, North Americans have witnessed some of the most surprising, powerful, and worrisome trends in worship since the time of the Protestant Reformation. What are these changes? What are we trying to ‘do’ in worship today and why? What are some of the ways that you and your congregation can invite new and faithful practices into your worship services.” The seminar will be held from 9 a.m.-12 noon (central time), and participants may attend the webinar online. There is no charge to attend, but .3 continuing education credit is available for a $10 fee. Register online and find out more about the event at www.mcpherson.edu/ventures .

Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren has posted Episode 4 of the Dunker Punks Podcast that is being sponsored by the church. A note from the congregation’s information minister Suzanne Lay notes that the most recent in the series of podcasts “features Dylan Dell-Haro exploring gender with folks he met in passing at NOAC. It’s a lot of fun hearing them talk it through and is sure to give rise to some good thought on the meaning of gender in your life.” Other recent episodes include “Undoing Oppression,” “Awakened to Empire,” and “Even When the Path Is Hard.” The effort is described as follows on its website: “Dunker Punks are united in following Christ’s radical love by the power of the Spirit to the glory of God. The podcast team speaks up to record witness of Dunker Punks growing Heaven on Earth. We relay the freedom we’ve found in obedient service, study, and community to encourage listeners in their walk on the Jesus way to God’s revolutionary reality. We see ear bud cords stretching like the mustard seed weed, as people regularly tune-in, actively engage, and enthusiastically recommend the Dunker Punks Podcast.” Find the podcasts at http://arlingtoncob.org/dpp . Listeners may subscribe on iTunes, add in Stitcher, or search Dunker Punks Podcast on Beyond Pod.

Roundtable will be held at Bridgewater (Va.) College on April 8-10. Roundtable is a regional youth conference for Church of the Brethren high school youth, planned by the Interdistrict Youth Cabinet. Tim and Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren will speak on the theme “Carefree in Christ” (Matthew 6:25-34). Walking Roots Band will provide entertainment on Friday night. Registration is open online at http://iycroundtable.wix.com/iycbc .

The annual Brethren Disaster Ministries Appreciation Dinner in Southern Ohio District will be on March 19 at 6 p.m. at Castine Church of the Brethren in Arcanum, Ohio. “Come for dinner, inspiration, fellowship, and BDM updates. First time volunteers will be recognized,” said an invitation. RSVP to Burt Wolf at 937-287-5902 or southernohiobdm@gmail.com or to Mary Weikert at 937-667-8155 or maryfweikert@frontier.com .

The Christian Education Task Team in Virlina District is sponsoring its first training day for congregational leaders and teachers on March 12, on the theme “Know, Teach, Grow, Live”
(Deuteronomy 6:6-9). “This informational and inspirational event will feature many voices from around the district and focus on How to Call, How to Equip, and How to Support those in congregational leadership and teaching positions,” said an announcement. Insights will be shared by Eric Anspaugh, Gary Basham, Angela Carr, Tabitha Rudy, Barry Lenoir, and others. Sunday school teachers, deacons, age group leaders, Bible study facilitators, board and committee members, and all others interested in congregational leadership are encouraged to attend. The event is at Roanoke (Va.) Oak Grove Church of the Brethren from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more information visit http://virlina.org/news/headliner/49-christian-ed-training-event.html . RSVP by March 9 by contacting the District Resource Center at 540-362-1816 or tara.shepherd@msn.com .

The Shenandoah District Peace Feast, also known as the Living Peace Recognition Banquet, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, at Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren. The Living Peace Award will be presented to two Brethren farmers, Mike and Susan Phillips, for their work in developing innovative and sustainable agriculture practices. They operate a 300-acre beef cattle farm and work with students from Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and Ferrum College in education and research. They are members of Cedar Run Church of the Brethren. The evening also will include a presentation by Tom Benevento of New Community Project and special music by Beth Jarrett, pastor of Harrisonburg First Church. The registration deadline is March 8. Find a registration form at http://files.ctctcdn.com/071f413a201/7489b6b8-a4ba-434a-a0f2-3b07a35276cc.pdf .

The spring candlelight dinners at the John Kline house will be March 18 and 19 and April 22 and 23, 6 p.m. each evening. “Hear the conversations of John Kline’s family and friends during the reconstruction period of the spring of 1866,” said an announcement. “Enjoy a country meal while actors come around the tables to recount their efforts to start anew after the Civil War ended nearly a year ago.” Cost is $40 per plate. Seating capacity each evening is 40 people. Groups are welcome. For reservations contact 540-421-5267 or proth@eagles.bridgewater.edu .

A group of Bridgewater (Va.) College students and a faculty member will spend spring break volunteering as construction workers with Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge Spring Break 2016, said a release from the college. The students, accompanied by Robbie Miller, college chaplain and Habitat chapter adviser, will leave for Tucker, Ga., on March 6 and return to campus March 12. For the 2016 Spring Break Challenge, the group will work in partnership with the Habitat for Humanity-DeKalb Inc. affiliate. Seniors Ashley B. Epping, a health and exercise science major from Luray, Va., and Melissa McMindes, a psychology major with a minor in cultural studies from Waynesboro, Va., are student leaders for the group. Both are making their third Habitat trip. They have participated in Spring Break Collegiate Challenges in Delray Beach, Fla., and Athens, Ala. The BC Campus Chapter, established in 1995, is one of nearly 700 campus chapters worldwide. Organized by Bridgewater students, the group is affiliated with Central Valley Habitat for Humanity in Bridgewater, and helps provide shelter to the residents of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. This is the 24th year that Bridgewater College students have used spring break to work on various Habitat projects, including three trips to Miami and one each to Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Independence, Mo. and Austin, Texas.

The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has scheduled its spring lectures and annual banquet. Amish courtship and wedding practices are the topic of the 2016 Durnbaugh Lectures on April 7-8. Karen Johnson-Weiner, professor of anthropology at SUNY Potsdam, is this year’s speaker. The author of “Train up a Child: Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools” and “New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State” and co-author of “The Amish,” has been studying culture and language use in Amish communities for more than 30 years. The lectures will be preceded by the annual Young Center banquet at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 7, in the Susquehanna Room of Myer Hall. The dinner is open to the public. Cost is $23. Reservations, required by March 24, can be made by calling 717-361-1470 or visiting www.etown.edu/youngctr/events . The Durnbaugh Lecture, “Getting Hitched Amish Style: Change and Continuity in Amish Weddings,” begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Susquehanna Room. The talk is free and does not require reservations. At 10 a.m. Friday, April 8, Johnson-Weiner presents the Durnbaugh Seminar, “Hinglefleish Frolics,” in the Young Center’s Bucher Meetinghouse. She will take an in-depth look at Swartzentruber Amish courtship and wedding practices. An optional lunch follows the seminar. Cost for the lunch is $10. The reservation deadline is March 24. The Durnbaugh Lectures, established in 1993, are funded by an endowment created to honor the work of Don and Hedda Durnbaugh, two of the original Young Center fellows.

Two additional Young Center events take place this spring. At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, center director Jeff Bach presents “Gender, Shame, and Jacob’s Hip: One Communal Society’s Views,” on the Ephrata Community’s unique interpretation of the biblical story of Jacob that allowed it to criticize patriarchy and male domination. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21, two Honors students discuss Amish and Brethren topics. Annemarie Hartzell, a senior at Elizabethtown College, discusses Brethren conscientious objectors during the Civil War, and Temple University senior Quinton Meil examines Amish interactions with the criminal justice system. Both events are free and will be held in the Bucher Meetinghouse. Contact the Young Center at 717-361-1470 or youngctr@etown.edu .

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is celebrating the historic meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill. The event was the first meeting of the heads of the Roman Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Churches since “eastern and western Christianity split over matters of doctrine in the Great Schism of 1054 and formally separated from one another in 1438,” according to a WCC release. The WCC is hailing the meeting held in Cuba on Feb. 12 as a step toward peace and unity. The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest member church in the WCC, which for the past 50 years has cooperated with the Roman Catholic Church through their Joint Working Group. “The Council therefore celebrates this important meeting of the two church leaders as a great step forward in healing the schism between Western and Eastern Christianity,” said a WCC statement. “The Pope’s openness to dialogue with the Orthodox Church leaders…shows a growing commitment to unity among Christians, which in turn is a sign of hope for peace in our world. Indeed, the meeting comes at a time of grave challenges to the vision of peace, due to unresolved conflicts in Syria, in Ukraine and elsewhere, causing intolerable suffering and displacement. Churches and Christians everywhere are called to be instruments of peace in the midst of conflict, and of compassion in response to the suffering of fellow human beings. There is more than ever before a need for concerted efforts to bring peace and stability in conflict-affected countries, and to provide protection and refuge to those who flee from war and oppression.” The statement went on to express the hope that the historic meeting, coming directly after the announcement of agreement by world powers to seek a cessation of hostilities in Syria, “will strengthen the faint glimmers of hope for an end to this appalling conflict, and to the suffering of Syria’s people.” Read the joint declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill at http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/02/12/joint_declaration_of_pope_francis_and_patriarch_kirill/1208117 . Find a video of the meeting in Cuba at www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3jNBiZq2sg .

In wake of the cyclone that hit Fiji, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed its concern and extended prayers and condolences. Tropical Cyclone Winston killed at least 29 people and left more than 13,000 in shelters. The WCC release reported that strong winds and flooding from Winston caused severe damage across the island nation, which has declared a month-long state of disaster. The Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, WCC’s member church in Fiji, was sharing relief information and public advisories with cyclone survivors and organizing volunteers to assist with relief efforts, the release said. Churches were working with Fiji Red Cross offices to pack relief supplies for the thousands of people affected by the storm. Church halls were made available for evaluation shelters.

Conscientious objector checklist, from the curriculum Call of Conscience published by the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org/co .


“It is time to abolish draft registration and restore full rights to people of conscience,” says a statement from Bill Galvin and Maria Santelli of the Center on Conscience and War (CCW). “With the combat restriction for women in the US Armed Forces now lifted, discussion of draft registration is back in the news, the courts, and the halls of Congress. But the problems with Selective Service System (SSS) registration go much deeper than gender equality. There is little political interest in bringing back the draft. Yet draft registration remains a burden upon our nation’s young men–and now, potentially our young women, as well. The extrajudicial penalties imposed upon those who choose not to or fail to register make life more difficult for many who already are marginalized, and they particularly target conscientious objectors who believe that registering with Selective Service is a form of participating in war,” the statement says, in part. On Feb. 2, the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Commandant of the Marine Corps testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in support of extending the registration requirement to women. Two days later, the Draft America’s Daughters Act was introduced in the House of Representatives to extend the registration requirement to women. CCW is instead encouraging support for HR 4523, a bill introduced on Feb. 10 into the House to repeal the Military Selective Service Act and abolish the registration requirement for everyone. “A petition is now circulating to support this sensible and timely effort,” the statement reports.

In the meantime, youth and young adults in the Church of the Brethren are still encouraged to consider conscientious objection to war, and to prepare a personal file of documentation of their stand of conscience. Find out more about conscientious objection and how to create documentation in the “Call of Conscience” curriculum, free to download from www.brethren.org/CO . A companion workbook may be purchased from Brethren Press at www.brethrenpress.com or by calling 800-441-3712.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Debbie Eisenbise, Elizabeth Harvey, Mary Kay Heatwole, Suzanne Lay, Jeff Lennard, Wendy McFadden, Nancy Miner, Zakariya Musa, Donna M. Rhodes, Paul Roth, Kathy Walston, Jesse 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 cobnews@brethren.org . 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 March 4.

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