Newsline for July 23, 2016


1) Mission and Ministry Board addresses budget concerns, sets stage for new financial campaign
2) Brethren sign on to letter urging steps to mend divisions between communities, law enforcement
3) Mission and service executive joins in meetings at White House, State Department
4) Situation in South Sudan deteriorates, Brethren donate vehicle to relief effort
5) CDS deployments to California, W. Virginia, mark record number so far this year
6) Haiti Medical Project expands to include maternal care, water projects, dispensaries
7) EYN embarks on nationwide ‘Sympathy, Reconciliation, and Encouragement Tour’


8) Craig Smith to retire from leadership of Atlantic Northeast District
9) Amy Beery named admissions counselor for Bethany Seminary

10) Brethren bits: Wrap Up of Annual Conference, personnel, jobs, workcamp gets media attention, 45th anniversary of National Farm Worker Ministry, On Earth Peace Anti-Racism Transformation Team, annual World Hunger Auction, new items display “When Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies…,’” and more


Quotes of the week:

“Give thanks for the signing of the peace accords that ended five decades of civil war in Colombia. Pray for the encouragement of all those still struggling for justice, restitution, victims’ rights, and legal protections guaranteed to them under Colombian law.”

— “Prayer for Peacemakers” for July 20, from Christian Peacemaker Teams. CPT, which was begun by the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren, has had teams of peacemakers working in Colombia for many years. Find out more at .

“The Pokémon craze continues. For now. But soon it will pass. I said ‘yes’ to Jesus a long time ago, and part of saying yes to Jesus meant saying yes to outreach. And hospitality. And being a good neighbor. And offering a cup of cold water. I have no illusions that our little cooler of water will somehow bring about God’s kingdom or create world peace. But with all of the current ugliness in our world, I am grateful to help strangers be kind to strangers. So we will be faithful in the small things. We will seize the fleeting opportunities, in hopes of building lasting bridges in Jesus’ name.”

— Jeremy Ashworth who pastors Circle of Peace Church of the Brethren in Peoria, Ariz., writing about discovering a virtual Pokémon character living in the church’s labyrinth prayer path, and what he did next. This new feature from Messenger Online, “Pokémon Go and a Cup of Cold Water,” is at .


1) Mission and Ministry Board addresses budget concerns, sets stage for new financial campaign


Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
International guests are welcomed at the Mission and Ministry Board meeting held just prior to the 2016 Annual Conference in Greensboro, N.C. At the podium is Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer, standing with Brethren representatives from the churches in Brazil, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Also welcomed were representatives from the church in Nigeria.


The Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren held its summer meeting on June 29 in Greensboro, N.C., with a focus on finances. On the agenda were approval of a 2017 budget parameter for the Core Ministries of the denomination, approval of budget revisions for this year 2016, and affirmation of plans for a new financial campaign, among other business.

Budget decisions

The board made revisions to the denomination’s 2016 budget for Core Ministries, and approved a Core Ministries budget parameter for 2017. Both decisions represent efforts to shore up the Core Ministries funding with “draws” or “bridges” from other funds held by the denomination, as well as reductions in spending that have been recommended by the Financial Planning Working Group that includes both staff and board members.

At its March meeting the board named five board members (Don Fitzkee, Carl Fike, Donita Keister, David Stauffer, and John Hoffman) along with the executive staff to the Financial Planning Working Group. The group was charged with the task of bringing a new financial plan to the Annual Conference meeting, not to be based on program reductions but on a new sustainable vision that includes a significant new stewardship effort. Out of the work of this group, aided by consultants Lowell Flory and Jim Dodson, emerged a plan for budget revisions plus a new financial campaign.

Revisions to the 2016 Core Ministries budget include less in projected giving from congregations, and various changes in anticipated expenses–mostly related to the hiring of additional staff in some areas, and recent losses of staff in other areas.

The “bridges” totaled together for the years 2016, 2017, and 2018 amount to some $2 million to $2.5 million, which interim general secretary Dale Minnich urged the board to consider as an investment in our future. “Recognizing it is a big step,” he said, “we are investing $2 million to $2.5 million in getting to a more sustainable place and not have cuts [in staffing and program] so regularly and so deeply.”

For example, in 2016, the “bridges” consist of up to $130,990 in transfers from redirected one-time funds, and up to approximately $350,000 in transfers from the New Windsor Land, Building, and Equipment Fund. The latter decision was made in light of the intention to sell significant portions of the Brethren Service Center property located in New Windsor, Md.

In 2017, the “bridges” will amount to about $900,000 including about $541,000 in one-time use of board-designated funds, and up to $350,000 in transfers from the New Windsor Land, Building, and Equipment Fund.

Specifics of the 2018 budget will be considered in upcoming board meetings.

Revisions to the Core Ministries budget for 2016 bring the total to $4,764,000 for the year, a decrease of $50,000 from the previous budget parameter of $4,814,000.

A budget parameter of $5,352,000 was approved for the church’s Core Ministries in 2017.

As part of the budget discussions, the board received results of a telephone survey of Church of the  Brethren congregations that provided information about their giving to the denomination, and reasons congregations have cited for increasing or decreasing their financial support.

New financial campaign

The board set in motion work toward a new financial campaign to support Church of the Brethren ministries–another of the steps proposed by the Financial Planning Working Group. That group and others have been meeting with consultants in order to assess the possibilities for a campaign. It has been many years since the denomination has engaged in such a fundraising campaign.

The board discussed the various constituent groups in the denomination who may be approached, how such a campaign may help share inspirationally about Church of the Brethren ministries, and how important good communication will be to the success of a campaign, among other topics.

The board decided to “affirm the plans underway to prepare for a financial campaign to begin by the end of 2018.” The board’s recommendation to begin to prepare for a significant stewardship effort was approved unanimously.

Minnich noted, “I am proud of the board for courageous action pointing the way to a new day, and committing $2-2.5 million of reserves to operate with stability until the new plans are carried out.”

An early implementation step will be a series of listening meetings in key geographic areas, with the first of these meetings beginning in September under the leadership of general secretary-elect David Steele.

Ministry Enablement Contribution

The board approved a new “Ministry Enablement Contribution” that will be applied to all restricted gifts to the denomination. This will help cover the costs of carrying out the intended purpose of such gifts, and will replace internal cost charges that have been made to Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Global Food Initiative (formerly the Global Food Crisis Fund). The board approved a 9 percent Ministry Enablement Contribution.

The board and executive staff for some time have been searching for ways to reduce the competitive nature of fundraising in the denomination. Popular programs funded with restricted gifts have been pitted against the denomination’s Core Ministries. Competition for funding has become particularly evident with the exceptionally generous response of Brethren to the crisis affecting Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

As a result, the past two years have seen especially strong support for Brethren Disaster Ministries and Nigeria initiatives, and a noticeable shift away from giving to the core programs of the denomination. “On the one hand this causes us to rejoice about the generous out-pouring of support, while on the other hand we grieve the loss of support for the vulnerable core,” said a report by Minnich, which was shared in advance of the meeting.

The Financial Planning Working Group proposed the new Ministry Enablement Contribution to the board, noting that it represents a more equitable sharing of the costs of carrying out church ministry. A similar recommendation had been received from the denomination’s auditors.

The board action, in full, “approved a Ministry Enablement Contribution of 9 percent on all restricted gifts to help cover the costs of carrying out the intended purpose of the gift, and in the case of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Global Food Initiative to replace internal cost charges currently assessed.” Cost charges are made for expenses like rent, and services provided by staff who work in other areas such as the Finance office and Information Technology.

The Ministry Enablement Contribution will go into effect at the beginning of 2017 and will be applied to all restricted gifts received by the Church of the Brethren denomination.

In other business

The board welcomed and received comments from international guests representing Church of the Brethren denominations and missions in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nigeria.

Five congregations and one new church plant were recognized as new members of the Open Roof Fellowship (see ).

Four board members who are completing their term of service were recognized, among other business that included a number of reports and the introduction of interim staff. Retiring board members are Jerry Crouse, Janet Wayland Elsea, W. Keith Goering, and Becky Rhodes.


2) Brethren sign on to letter urging steps to mend divisions between communities, law enforcement

Church of the Brethren interim general secretary Dale Minnich has signed on to a letter from an interfaith coalition to Congressional leaders, which urges that steps be taken to mend divisions between communities and law enforcement.

“As an interfaith community, we are guided by our traditions’ foundational principles of equality, respect, love and mercy for all people, and we are committed to addressing the United States’ deep racial divisions and their consequences,” the letter says, in part. “We deplore violent attacks on law enforcement and desire constructive cooperation among all community stakeholders. We hope that Congress will lead the nation in this necessary endeavor to advance justice reforms that build trust between law enforcement and local communities, protect human life, and ensure equality and proportionality.”


The text of the letter follows in full, along with a list of religious organizations that have signed on to it:

The Honorable Mitch McConnell    The Honorable Harry Reid
United States Senate                     United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510                 Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan                         The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
United States House of Representatives   United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515                              Washington, DC 20515

July 14, 2016

RE: Interfaith Coalition Urges Immediate Steps to Mend Divisions between Communities and Law Enforcement

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan and Minority Leaders Reid and Pelosi:

Mourning the crisis of violence in the United States and recognizing that last week’s terrifying shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and Dallas are yet another reminder of the great harm caused by unaddressed racial injustices and divisions in America, the undersigned faith organizations join in prayer for healing, love and accountability. As we continue to promote civil dialogue and work to heal community divisions, we also recognize that your leadership is critical to addressing the monumental crisis of racial injustice that has plagued this nation since its inception.

According to data compiled by The Washington Post ( ), 990 fatal police shootings occurred in 2015. Surprisingly, reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation have never counted more than 460 police shootings in a single year. Addressing this shocking data disparity is a crucial first step to understanding the extent of excessive use of force by police, and therefore we seek your support for the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act of 2015 (S. 2168/H.R. 2875). The bill would require law enforcement to report data on traffic and pedestrian stops, frisk and body searches, and use of deadly force, including demographic details such as race, ethnicity, age and gender. The legislation would also provide accreditation, training and funding to law enforcement to implement best practice pilot programs.

Our organizations also urge your support for the End Racial Profiling Act (S. 1056 /H.R. 1933) to prohibit racial profiling by law enforcement and to support data collection on its prevalence. Nationwide surveys indicate that during traffic stops, black and Hispanic drivers are three times more likely than white drivers to be searched by police. Black drivers are also twice as likely as white drivers to be arrested during a traffic stop despite the fact that police generally have lower “contraband hit rates” when they search black versus white drivers. Additional studies conducted between 2002 and 2008 have shown Hispanic Americans were up to twice as likely and black Americans up to three times as likely as white Americans to experience physical force or the threat of force when encountering police ( ).

We now know that these acts of racial profiling can have deadly consequences. The Washington Post’s research ( ) found black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers. In 2015, 40 percent of police shootings of unarmed men involved black victims, even though black males comprise just 6 percent of the population. Sadly, these disturbing trends are emblematic of the racial disparities that exist at every stage of the justice system, including the federal criminal justice system.

As an interfaith community, we are guided by our traditions’ foundational principles of equality, respect, love and mercy for all people, and we are committed to addressing the United States’ deep racial divisions and their consequences. We deplore violent attacks on law enforcement and desire constructive cooperation among all community stakeholders. We hope that Congress will lead the nation in this necessary endeavor to advance justice reforms that build trust between law enforcement and local communities, protect human life, and ensure equality and proportionality. Your work is vitally important and we are eager to engage with you to accomplish these objectives.


Alliance of Baptists
American Baptist Home Mission Societies
Bread for the World
Brooklyn Zen Center
California Council of Churches IMPACT
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
Church of the Brethren
Church of Scientology National Affairs Office
Clear Vision Project
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
The Dharma Foundation
Disciples Justice Action Network
East Bay Meditation Center
Faith Action Network – Washington State
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple
Insight Community of the Desert
Insight Meditation Community of Washington
Interfaith Action for Human Rights
International Center of Chinese Buddhist Culture and Education, USA
Islamic Society of North America, Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Kentucky Council of Churches
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Mindful Meditation Community of Charlotte
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Jewish Women California State Policy Advocates
National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section
National Council of Jewish Women Illinois State Policy Advocacy Network
National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota Section
National Council of Jewish Women, New Orleans Section
National Council of Jewish Women, South Cook Section
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
New York Insight Meditation Center
Pax Christi International
Pax Christi USA
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rhode Island State Council of Churches
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Institute Justice Team
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Virginia Council of Churches


3) Mission and service executive joins in meetings at White House, State Department

Photo courtesy of the NCC
Mission executive Jay Wittmeyer records a podcast with the National Council of Churches, during a visit to Washington, D.C. The podcast speaks eloquently to the mission of the Church of the Brethren, and its witness for peace. Listen to the podcast at

Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service, met with White House officials to raise concerns about the US drone warfare program. The meeting in Washington, D.C., included other denominational leaders from other faith traditions with statements challenging US drone warfare.

The Church of the Brethren was one of the first denominations to speak out against the military use of drones, which have caused widespread civilian casualties in places where the US has not declared war. The Church of the Brethren statement was adopted by the Mission and Ministry Board in 2013, guides the Office of Public Witness’ work on this issue. This meeting was part of ongoing advocacy by the Office of Public Witness with the goal of eliminating drone warfare.

Following the meeting, Wittmeyer noted the significance of the Director of National Intelligence report on drone warfare released on July 1. “While the number of combatant deaths are significantly lower in the DNI report than those of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism,” he said, “the Obama administration is beginning to take the right steps of making its covert operations of drone warfare program more transparent.”

Find the “Summary of Information Regarding US Counterterrorism Strikes Outside Areas of Active Hostilities” released by the Director of National Intelligence at .

Find the report “Drone Warfare: Obama drone casualty numbers a fraction of those recorded by the Bureau” from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at .

Wittmeyer and Office of Public Witness director Nathan Hosler, also met with several State Department officials, and with staff of ecumenical and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to support ongoing Church of the Brethren work. These meetings aimed to expand partnerships on Nigeria and to address the rapidly deteriorating situation in South Sudan.

Wittmeyer was interviewed for a podcast of the National Council of Churches, after the round of meetings at the White House and the State Department. Listen in to his eloquent witness to Brethren peacemaking at .


4) Situation in South Sudan deteriorates, Brethren donate vehicle to relief effort

Photo by Athanasus Ungang
The new relief vehicle will help with efforts such as this delivery of relief goods to villagers in South Sudan.

As the situation in South Sudan deteriorates, with recent eruption of renewed armed conflict and United Nations reports that 4.8 million people face food shortages, the Church of the Brethren has donated a vehicle to aid staff in food distribution and other relief work.

Athanasus Ungang, who is country director for Global Mission and Service in South Sudan, has posted a video about the work of distributing food and seed relief. View it on the Church of the Brethren Global Mission Facebook page at .

S. Sudan situation marked by violence, hunger

In recent weeks, there has been more armed conflict in South Sudan, with fighting erupting around the Juba area. The violence has exacerbated an already threatening food shortage. According to Reuters, UN agencies have said that “up to 4.8 million people in South Sudan face severe food shortages in coming months, the highest level since a conflict erupted more than two years ago” (the Reuters report dated June 29 is at ).

“With increasing violence and growing crowds of people seeking protection, urgent action and support from the ecumenical community is needed in South Sudan as the country teeters on the brink of a humanitarian crisis,” reported the World Council of Churches (WCC) in a release dated July 15.

“The country is on the brink of economic collapse, and prices of food items, particularly maize flour–a staple food in South Sudan–has soared over the past days,” the release said.

A peace advisory group of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) met on June 13 in Nairobi, Kenya, and released an appeal for all partners and friends of South Sudan to contribute any amount at their disposal for immediate support of extremely vulnerable women and children affected by the crisis.

“With churches becoming sheltering places, there is a need for any humanitarian assistance that can be mobilized,” said the appeal, which also called for churches in the region and internationally to speak in one voice for peace. “The South Sudanese Church leaders feel very strongly that such a united voice could have some impact,” said the appeal.

The South Sudan Council of Churches condemned all acts of violence, without exception, in a statement that was read over the radio. “The time for carrying and using weapons has ended; now is the time to build a peaceful nation,” said the statement. “We pray for those who have been killed, and for their families, and we ask God’s forgiveness for those who have done the killing.”
Church leaders urged repentance and a firm commitment from all armed individuals, forces, and communities, and from their leaders, to create an atmosphere where violence is not an option.

Purchase of relief vehicle

A relief vehicle has been purchased for use in South Sudan, using donations to the Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and funds provided by the Global Mission and Service office. The staff at Brethren Disaster Ministries requested an EDF allocation of up to $16,400 for the purchase.

“The Church of the Brethren mission is working to build peace and strengthen communities of faith while helping meet the needs of the most vulnerable in communities where we have relationships,” said the grant request. “This work has included hosting work camps from the US, distributing emergency supplies after a fire, and distributing emergency food to starving communities.”

The EDF grant covers half the cost of the vehicle, with the other half coming from Global Mission and Service funds designated for South Sudan. It is anticipated the vehicle will be used on future disaster response and relief activities. The vehicle is a Toyota Landcruiser Hardtop Long Bed with seating for 13 people.


5) CDS deployments to California, W. Virginia, mark record number so far this year


Photo courtesy of CDS
A volunteer with Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) cares for a child who has been affected by disaster.


Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers recently returned from deployments in the areas of Kernville, Calif., and White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. CDS has had a record number of 9 responses so far in 2016, in addition to the Nigeria Healing Hearts response.

In related news, at least two Church of the Brethren districts–Shenandoah District and Virlina District–also have been working with Brethren Disaster Ministries to respond to flooding in West Virginia.

Recent deployments by Children’s Disaster Services

A team from the Southern California CDS responded to the Kern County wildfire, and cared for more than 12 children. The CDS staff is counting the California wildfire response as two different responses, reports associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller, with a second CDS team involved in a national response to a different wildfire in the same area of the state.

In updates on other recent deployments, the CDS team that served in Angleton, Texas, following flooding in the Houston area served 103 children. A CDS team deployed to West Virginia following flooding was asked to serve there through the national American Red Cross.

“We are so appreciative of your kind thoughts and prayers for the children and families affected by disasters this year, as well as our faithful volunteers,” Fry-Miller said.

CDS has two volunteer trainings to highlight this fall:

Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at Skyridge Church of the Brethren in Kalamazoo, Mich. (394 S. Drake Rd.). The local contact is Kristi Woodwyk, 616-886-7530 or .

Oct. 14-15 at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren (10047 Nokesville Rd.). The local contact is Sonja Harrell, 703-368-4683 or .

More information about CDS workshops and additional training locations can be found on the website .

Districts respond to W. Virginia flooding

Shenandoah District has been working with Brethren Disaster Ministries, West Virginia Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “to ensure that we respond in a way that best meets the needs of those affected by the recent flooding,” reported the district newsletter. The district has been helping to provide clean-up buckets to those affected by the flooding, and churches are assembling buckets. Contact Karen Meyerhoeffer at 540-290-3181 for details.

Virlina District also has been encouraging its members and congregations to help provide clean-up buckets, and has been collecting donations toward the disaster response work in W. Virginia.

Currently there is no need for donations of supplies, and no possibilities for individuals to volunteer with clean up efforts in W. Virginia. Brethren Disaster Ministries staff will be evaluating how Brethren may participate in the later long-term recovery process.

Donations to the West Virginia flood recovery may be made to the Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) online at the Brethren Disaster Ministries website. Go to and click on the “Give Now” button.


6) Haiti Medical Project expands to include maternal care, water projects, dispensaries

By Tyler Roebuck

The Haiti Medical Project began as a partnership of American and Haitian Brethren responding to health needs in the wake of a devastating earthquake in 2010. In the time since, the project has grown tremendously with the help of grants from the Global Food Initiative (formerly the Global Food Crisis Fund) and the Royer Family Foundation, and the drive of passionate individuals from both the Church of the Brethren and L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti).

The ministry has expanded from solely medical treatment to include maternal care education and aid, clean water projects, and–recently–dispensaries for low-cost over-the-counter medications.

Visitation from Project Global Village

“Next month, Project Global Village [a Church of the Brethren supported ministry in Honduras] is sending four people to Haiti to work with our group,” said Dale Minnich, interim general secretary of the Church of the Brethren and active supporter of the Haiti Medical Project. “They will be there for six days in August, going out into the various communities and seeing them in action, then critiquing them.”

The Haiti Medical Project intended to send a team to Honduras, but the US government denied their travel visas. Flights to Honduras from Haiti route through Miami, Fla.

Medicinal dispensaries

In search of a more cost-effective yet meaningful method of serving the Haitian people, the project is pursuing the establishment of medicinal dispensaries in several of the communities. “The central idea,” Minnich wrote in a report to the Royer Family Foundation, “is to make the most commonly needed medications available at quite modest cost, right down the road in one’s own community.” There are currently 11 dispensaries across the country, 8 of which are in remote communities that would otherwise take multiple days of travel to reach.

Photo by Kendra Johnson
Medical staff with patients at a mobile clinic of the Haiti Medical Project.

Mobile clinics

Haitian Brethren churches have been key participants in promoting and arranging for the clinics. Several communities have emerged as primary sites where clinics are scheduled about quarterly. Today, there are 48 clinics annually, nearly 1 every weekend throughout the year. The Haiti Medical Project estimates that it served more than 8,000 patients in 2015, with the largest mobile clinic in Acajou treating 503 patients in one day.

Water projects

Presently, there are three water projects in service, in the communities of Acajou, Morne Boulage, and St. Louis du Nord. Six more currently are undergoing studies by project staff and local “Drinking Water” committees. “Moving such projects is a slow process requiring much careful work in advance and solid involvement of local leaders to insure that whatever system is installed has committed persons caring for it over time,” according to Minnich. The project in St. Louis du Nord currently provides safe water to more than 300 school children and the community surrounding them.

Maternal care

“One of the opportunities we have in communities like our target areas is that mothers generally do not have employment opportunities outside the home,” Minnich reported. “Their primary responsibility is to care for their family and to manage home and garden. These mothers are highly motivated to learn how to improve the health and diet of their children.”

Photo by Mark Myers,

The project is addressing these women in two different ways. Monthly meetings are offered that educate mothers on nutrition, maternal care, birth control, and basic hygiene. These meetings target pregnant mothers. In 57 of such meetings, more than 540 participants have attended.

Women with children up to five years of age can bring their child to a regularly scheduled meeting to have the child’s growth progress assessed, and receive multivitamins if the child is falling behind the norm. Ten communities are being served with this type of meeting.

Matrones’ training

Due to scarce transportation opportunities, Haitian mothers often are forced to have children without any medical attention. “Haiti Medical Project is partnering with another [Brethren-related] agency, Midwives for Haiti, to train our community development nurses in how to lead a short course for local birth attendants to help them sharpen their birthing skills, learn the basics of good sanitation, learn about problem situations they may face, and learn where to get emergency help,” Minnich reported. These women, called “Matrones,” serve in 9 of Haiti’s communities, and to date 69 have been trained.

For more information about the Haiti Medical Project: .

— Tyler Roebuck is a student at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., and a Ministry Summer Service intern with the Church of the Brethren communications.


7) EYN embarks on nationwide ‘Sympathy, Reconciliation, and Encouragement Tour’

By Zakariya Musa

Photo courtesy of EYN / Zakariya Musa
EYN president Joel S. Billi at prayer on the first stop of a “Sympathy, Reconciliation, and Encouragement Tour” by the leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

Joel S. Billi, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has embarked on a “Sympathy, Reconciliation, and Encouragement Tour” to 14 zones nationwide in Nigeria.

Speaking in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State, Billi in company with his deputy Anthony A. Ndamsai, EYN general secretary Daniel Y. C. Mbaya, and the EYN spiritual adviser Samuel B. Shinggu, said EYN has suffered a blow from evil hands, “but I encourage you to stand firm.” The members who came from the remaining EYN local church councils (LCC) in Yobe gathered at LCC Damaturu, where the president addressed the members.

“Since God reconciled us unto himself, shall we continue in murmuring?” he said. “Our suffering is not anybody’s fault but the fulfilment of our loving God’s word, ‘You will be hated.’

“We at the leadership of the church will continue giving our support” he said.

Shinggu complimented the commitment of the leadership to the audience, who forfeited their Monday work schedules, saying, “We are here to justify our unity with you,” quoting Yochen Kirsch “Zumunci a kafa take,” meaning “fellowship is in the leg.”

Mbaya, who led the service, asked those present to extend the leadership’s concern and sympathy regarding those at various other congregations. Other local church councils were only represented by their pastors, because of their distance from Damaturu.

The DCC [district] chairman and pastor of LCC Damaturu, Noah Wasini, on behalf of the entire district and the pastors remaining in the zone thanked the leadership for coming. He called it a long awaited visit, since the insurgency occurred. Wasini gave a brief about the hardship they have experienced during the insurgency. Out of 6 LCCs, only 4 (Damaturu, Malari, Gashua, and Nguru) are alive. On restoring peace in the city, he said LCC Damaturu suffered the hosting of members who fled from Pompomari, Buni Yadi, Malari, and other places. He said the DCC is still scrambling to continue in service.

Photo courtesy of EYN / Zakariya Musa
The Nigeria Brethren leaders who have embarked on a “Sympathy, Reconciliation, and Encouragement Tour” include Joel S. Billi, president of EYN, along with his deputy Anthony A. Ndamsai, EYN general secretary Daniel Y. C. Mbaya, and EYN spiritual adviser Samuel B. Shinggu, among others.

Members were given chance to talk to the leaders on issues they think the leadership could take note of. One of the members, Jasinda Chinada, said they are grateful to the new administration. He said no EYN top officials have visited the area since these occurrences. Another member, Safuwa Alkali from Malari Bypass, told the team, “You are here to wipe our tears.” One of them wanted the team to go round to the destroyed churches such as Pompomari and Malari, but this was not possible due to the fact that the team wanted to pay a courtesy call to the Yobe State Governor His Excellency Ibrahim Geidam, before proceeding to the second zone (Maiduguri) that same day.

The members complained that at Malari Bypass, where they have reopened [the church], only elderly people are contained in the 7 by 42 meter worship center leaving the young ones under a tree during Sunday worship. The member who spoke on behalf of Bypass also requested a waiver of the 25 percent contribution of the LCC to [the EYN denomination] in order to enable it to regain strength.

At Buni Yadi as well, according to Yohanna Elijah, they have started worshiping with 13 to 15 in attendance, in a church of about 400 worshipers before it was destroyed. They also requested a temporary tent of worship.

A key part of the occasion was an intercession of prayers ushered by four pastors, for thanksgiving, forgiveness of sin, and supplications for the country and its citizens.

The women’s fellowship, choir, youth band, men’s fellowship, gospel team, and Boy’s Brigade were there to welcome the EYN president and his entourage. Some of them were able to present a song or two. The Hausa hymn No. 100 was sung by the congregation. The song encourages depending on Jesus to have eternal life.

President Billi left Damaturu to go to Maiduguri, after failing to be accepted to see the state governor for prayers and words of advice.

— Zakariya Musa is on the communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).



8) Craig Smith to retire from leadership of Atlantic Northeast District

Photo by Regina Holmes
Craig Smith is shown here preaching for Sunday morning worship at the 2011 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids. His sermon was titled, “Third Day People.”

Atlantic Northeast District executive minister Craig H. Smith has announced his retirement, as of the end of this year. He has served in the position for 19 years.

Smith will conclude full duties as district executive on Dec. 31. In the following three months he will serve a semi-sabbatical ending on March 31, 2017. During the semi-sabbatical, he will continue to consult with district staff, be available for transition coaching, and work with a transition team to assist the district with a smooth transition of leadership.

Atlantic Northeast District may be considered the oldest of the Church of the Brethren’s 24 districts, having within its borders the first congregation of Brethren in the Americas–Germantown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. During most of Smith’s years in Atlantic Northeast, it also was the largest of the denomination’s districts in terms of membership, only recently taking second place to Shenandoah District. It covers considerable territory geographically, including the eastern half of the state of Pennsylvania, with some congregations also in the states of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delaware, New York, and Maine.

The district staff has grown significantly under Smith’s leadership. In 2003, the district started a new staffing model to call out and employ gift-based and passion-driven Ministry Directors. The district staff now number eight people, including Smith.

An emphasis on new church planting and the welcoming of ethnically diverse congregations into the district has marked Smith’s tenure. He has encouraged support for international mission efforts of the denomination, in cooperation with the variety of mission-minded Brethren groups present in Atlantic Northeast. He also has been a leader in the Council of District Executives.


9) Amy Beery named admissions counselor for Bethany Seminary

By Jenny Williams

Bethany Theological Seminary announces that Amy Beery of Indianapolis, Ind., has been hired as part-time admissions counselor as of June 29. She earned a master of divinity from Bethany in 2013 and most recently has worked in chaplaincy for Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

Traveling throughout the country, Beery will be a spokesperson for the programs and community at Bethany in a variety of recruitment and promotional situations. One emphasis will be to make new contacts with prospective students that reflect a growing diversity in the student body, as well as the important efforts to strengthen existing prospective relationships.

Amy Gall Ritchie, interim executive director of Student Services, notes Beery’s own seminary experience and her ability to assist others in discerning how Bethany can become their seminary of choice. “Amy brings to Bethany’s mission a strong interest in walking with persons who are sensing a call to ministry in its many forms. She has developed skills in deep and dynamic listening, and is able to then provide support, information, and encouragement for the way forward. She brings a straightforward and positive character to her personal relationships.”

— Jenny Williams is director of communications for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.


 10) Brethren bits



A two-page Wrap Up of Annual Conference 2016 is available in pdf format. For a free download in full color go to . This printable Wrap Up is offered to aid church delegates in reporting about the Conference and for inclusion in Sunday bulletins and church newsletters, and for posting on bulletin board. It is offered in addition to the video wrap up of the Conference in DVD format, and the Conference sermons DVD, that are available to purchase from Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

The Church of the Brethren has hired Karen Warner as customer service representative for Brethren Press. She has been office manager for a financial group and administrative assistant at St. Hugh of Lincoln Episcopal Church in Elgin, Ill. She will continue her part-time position at the church while working part-time with the Brethren Press team at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin.

Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren for more than 30 years has operated the Brethren Nutrition Program, a soup kitchen to serve hungry neighbors on Capitol Hill, providing hot and healthy lunches to those in need. Washington City Church seeks a food ministries coordinator to coordinate the Brethren Nutrition Program. This is a full-time stipend position with housing provided, with the expectation of a 40-hour work week. While most hours are Monday through Friday, occasional weekend work is required. The church is seeking to hire someone to make a two-year commitment, with a three-month trial period. The food ministries coordinator directs the overall operations of the Brethren Nutrition Program, supervising day-to-day functions, and leading communications, public relations, and fundraising; supervises and trains the program volunteer; delegates tasks and projects to the outreach assistant as necessary; manages the kitchen any time that other personnel are not available; maintains existing volunteer relationships and regularly recruits new volunteers through a variety of community and denominational sources and events; works with the program volunteer to ensure the schedule is adequately staffed and scheduled through VolunteerSpot; procures supplies and groceries, ensuring food quality, nutritional standards, and food safety standards are strictly adhered to; carries out communication with community partners, congregations, and donors; serves as the public representative of the program; carries out strategic planning and fundraising; among other duties. As this position is embedded in the ministry of Washington City Church, the church is seeking to hire a person of Christian faith interested in urban church ministry and committed to being a part of the life and ministry of the congregation. Benefits include a stipend, food allowance, housing provided at Brethren House, a community house for volunteers (including Brethren Volunteer Service volunteers), along with health insurance through DC Health Link if no available insurance exists. Holidays, vacation, and sick days are provided.  Further details are available after application. Start date is Sept. 1, or earlier if available. Applications are due Aug. 15. To apply, send a cover letter and a resume by e-mail to .

The Shine curriculum jointly published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia seeks a half-time editorial assistant to work out of Harrisonburg, Va. The editorial assistant works closely with contracts and permissions, helps promote Shine, and assists in ensuring the accuracy and consistency of all products for this multi-component children’s Sunday school curriculum. Familiarity with Church of the Brethren and/or Mennonite organizations and belief is strongly preferred. See the full job posting at . To apply, send a resume and cover letter to .

The World Council of Churches (WCC) seeks a communication officer to serve in Jerusalem with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). Responsibilities include: to identify internal and external communication priorities, transform communications strategies into concrete action, and align messages toward WCC’s common objectives and goals. Requirements include native or proficiency in English, and ease in an international working environment and with the values and mission of the WCC. The communication officer will work in close collaboration with the EAPPI local program coordinator based in Jerusalem and the international coordinator based in Geneva, Switzerland, to communicate overall policy and advocacy priorities. In the context of a quickly changing world in communication and public relations, this position uses modern media communication tools for spreading effective messages through appropriate material, keeping people informed about goals, policies, objectives, activities, and programs of the WCC. The position holder is constantly aware of and sensitive to the needs, opinions and attitudes of all WCC member churches, ecumenical partners, and building a communication bridge between media, member churches, related organizations, and the public in general. Qualifications and special requirements include: at least 5 to 10 years of experience in communications and/or journalism, preferably in NGOs or faith based organizations; a bachelor’s or master’s degree in communication or a related field; excellent command of written and spoken English with other languages–particularly German, and/or French, or Arabic–advantageous; high level of computer literacy (standard MS office application such as Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint) and Internet based communication, including social media network. The deadline for applications is Aug. 15. Applications including CV, motivation letter, the Application Form, copy of diploma, work certificate/references are to be returned to the Human Resources Department at . The Application Form is available at .

Anabaptist Disabilities Network is seeking a program director. The network is a small non-profit, church-related organization based in Elkhart, Ind. The Church of the Brethren is a member of the network, through the Congregational Life Ministries staff and the Disabilities Ministry. The program director must have excellent written and verbal communication skills, be able to manage multiple projects at once, and have experience with print and web media writing and editing. This is a part-time position, working alongside the executive director. The Anabaptist Disabilities Network is dedicated to transforming faith communities and individuals with disabilities by full inclusion in the Body of Christ. For more information and a job description, visit . Send resumes to .

A Church of the Brethren workcamp group got the attention of News Channel 25 in Waco, Texas, when they helped an elderly resident repair her home. Working with a youth group from Lakeshore Baptist Church, the workcamp aided Lakeshore member Linda Olson who could not fix up her home because of physical and financial challenges. Find the news story and a video at .

An invitation to a dinner benefitting the National Farm Worker Ministry is shared by Jeff Boshart, manager of the Global Food Initiative (formerly Global Food Crisis Fund). The event celebrates the 45th anniversary of the ministry, with the theme, “This Far by Faith: Celebrating 45 Years Harvesting Justice with Farmworkers.” It takes place Saturday, Aug. 27, 6-8:30 p.m., at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C. (1801 Hillsborough St.), with an opportunity to go next door after the dinner for an open house at the offices of the National Farm Worker Ministry. Also included are a silent auction, an information program, and a “Giving Moment.” There is no cost to attend, but reservations are required. RSVP by Aug. 15 online at or by e-mail to .

The summer issue of the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) newsletter “The Volunteer” is available online at . The theme of this issue is gifts. Four current BVSers share their stories.

Image courtesy of On Earth Peace

“It is less than two months until Peace Day 2016!” said an invitation to join in the annual observance held on or around Sept. 21. On Earth Peace is inviting congregations, youth groups, college ministries, community groups, peacebuilders, and other “seekers of justice” to plan a Peace Day event. “We are already hearing from congregations and districts that are planning their Peace Day events, so now is the time to start planning, praying, and organizing with us!” said the invitation. Connect by filling out this online form: . For questions contact . Join the conversation on Facebook at .

The Global Mission and Service office is lifting up a recent youth conference organized by Iglesia de los Hermanos Una Luz en las Naciones (the Church of the Brethren in Spain). Some 120 participants gathered for worship, prayer, and scripture study. “The participants came from Spain, Germany, France, England, and the United States, and they represented 15 congregations, including five of the six Spanish Brethren congregations,” said a prayer request. “Pray that Iglesia de los Hermanos may continue to spread the power and love of the Holy Spirit.”

In its weekly prayer updates, Global Mission and Service continues to request prayer for this summer’s Church of the Brethren workcamps. The two current workcamp groups are serving in Portland, Ore., and Elgin, Ill. “Pray for the 21 senior high youth and advisors serving at the Portland, Ore., workcamp, hosted by Peace Church of the Brethren,” said the prayer request. “They are serving at SnowCap and Human Solutions (two Brethren Volunteer Service project sites), where they will sort and organize donated food, work on an outdoor sanctuary, and play with the children of the homeless families who are supported by Human Solutions. Pray for the 23 junior high workcampers and advisors helping to serve the hungry in Elgin, Ill. They will sort donations at a regional food bank and assist at a client-choice food pantry. The participants will spend time at the Church of the Brethren General Offices and are hosted by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren.”

On Earth Peace’s year old Anti-Racism Transformation Team (ARTT) was hosted by West Charleston Church of the Brethren in the Dayton, Ohio, area on June 24-26. The team also met in downtown Dayton at the Collabratory, said a release from On Earth Peace. ARTT reviewed and moved forward work on Strategic Directions for Anti-Racism transformation within On Earth Peace, including initiatives to bring proposals for changes to organizational policies and practices, shift meeting sites to spaces where communities of color are a majority, support board and staff changes to hiring and recruitment practices, widen On Earth Peace’s circle of connections, and support culture transformation within the organization through education and training. In this meeting ARTT also worked towards establishing internal team roles and decision making practices and explored options for structures of ongoing supportive connections with the staff and board. “As we usually meet by conference call,” said team member Carol Rose, “this face-to-face meeting was a treasured opportunity for us to deepen connections among us through gender and race caucuses and shared experiences in the community of Dayton like attending the Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow.” It was also an opportunity to contribute and to build connections with the Church of the Brethren as various team members led portions of West Charleston’s Sunday worship. ARTT member Caitlin Haynes said, “We do this work for the future.”



The annual World Hunger Auction will take place at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., on Saturday, Aug. 13, starting at 9:30 a.m. The auction includes the sale of crafts, quilts, toys, produce, baked and canned goods, special services, and much more. “Come early for the best selection,” said an invitation from Virlina District. “Through the first 30 years of the World Hunger Auction, the purpose has been to provide as much funding as possible to those facing hunger-related issues. With the exception of some expenses, all the money that is raised goes to organizations working toward that goal. The 10 Churches of the Brethren that sponsor the auction are blessed with the opportunity to serve; however, they do not receive any of the funds.” The money is distributed between Heifer International, Roanoke Area Ministries, the Church of the Brethren Global Food Initiative (formerly the Global Food Crisis Fund), and Heavenly Manna, a food pantry in Rocky Mount.

The annual Family Peace Camp held by the Historic Peace Churches in Florida is planned for Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-4 at Camp Ithiel near Orlando. Belita D. Mitchell, senior pastor at First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and a former Annual Conference moderator, will be the resource leader for the camp. The announcement notes that as “a strong advocate of the power of prayer, Pastor Belita is actively involved in a variety of community action prayer events. An ongoing area of concentration has been praying for peace in the South Allison Hill community and the city of Harrisburg. She currently serves as chair of the Harrisburg Chapter of Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence, a faith based movement devoted to gun violence prevention through the sale and distribution of illegal handguns. Her peace advocacy includes seeking peace and justice, while living a life characterized by inner peace and a ‘non-anxious presence.’” In a special offer this year Roger Seidner, who is a retired United Church of Christ pastor now attending New Covenant Church of the Brethren at Camp Ithiel, has offered to pay the $25 registration fee for the first 12 non-Brethren people who register. “What a kind gesture! Thank you, Roger,” said an announcement of the offer from organizer Phil Lersch. “We trust several of our non-Brethren peacemakers will take advantage of his generosity.” Jerry Eller is serving as camp dean. For more information contact Lersch at 727-544-2911 or .

Mid-Atlantic District has moved its office, and has announced a new address: Mid-Atlantic District Church of the Brethren, 1 Park Place, Suite B, Westminster, MD 21157; 443-960-3052; 410-848-0735 (fax). The district’s e-mail addresses remain the same.

This weekend marks the start of the Church of the Brethren’s district conference “season” for 2016. Southeastern District Conference is meeting this weekend in Mars Hill, N.C., on the theme, “Sola in Christos, Spiritus, et Scriptura: Only in Christ, the Spirit, and Scripture.”

Church World Service (CWS) is supporting a #WithRefugees Campaign of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), led by high commissioner Filippo Grandi. He has called on world leaders “to show solidarity and find solutions for people displaced by war or persecution,” said a CWS newsletter. The UNHCR has posted an online petition and is seeking signatures at . The petition will be delivered before the Sept. 19 United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants, to convene at the UN Headquarters in New York. CWS plans to play a role at that meeting. “We hope you will visit the site and sign the petition, and continue to raise this issue among your congregations and constituents,” said the CWS newsletter. “Please also visit CWS IRP+ webpages to find out other ways to be involved, especially in support of the Emergency Appeal for the refugee resettlement surge.” Go to .

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has offered prayers for peace in the United States, while condemning acts of violence including the shootings of police, and the shooting of black men by police. In a recent release, Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC Central Committee, expressed her sorrow and her hope that escalating racial tensions and violence will abate. “We pray that all of us might be catalysts for change as we work against racism and discrimination that is the root cause for anger and unspeakable violence,” she said. “We must come together globally and continue our movement as God’s people, giving hope to vulnerable people, people who have lost loved ones, people who are increasingly afraid in their daily lives.” The release noted how many prayers and statements of sorrow have “streamed in” from WCC member churches in the USA responding to the violence.


Images courtesy of Linda K. Williams
Items for sale with the slogan ‘When Jesus said Love your enemies…’ benefit Brethren Press, in a collaboration with Linda K. Williams of San Diego (Calif.) First Church of the Brethren.


Linda K. Williams of First Church of the Brethren in San Diego, Calif., is collaborating with Brethren Press to offer a number of items emblazoned with the Brethren bumper sticker slogan, “When Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies,’ I think he probably meant, don’t kill them.” In addition to the classic bumper sticker, the slogan is now available on t-shirts, mugs, water bottles, tote bags, re-usable shopping bags, throw pillows, greeting cards, necklaces, and even teddy bears, among other items. Williams is donating the profits to Brethren Press. Items are available to order at .


Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Debbie Eisenbise, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Katie Furrow, Bryan Hanger, Jenn Hosler, Nathan Hosler, Pete Kontra, Phil Lersch, Dale Minnich, Stan Noffsinger, Bill Scheurer, Craig Smith, Jenny Williams, Linda K. Williams, Jesse Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for 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 July 29.

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