Newsline for May 14, 2016


 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
     because he has anointed me
          to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
     and recovery of sight to the blind,
          to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”

— (Luke 4:18-19).












1) Brethren letter urges US to take part in talks about nuclear disarmament
2) When to ban nuclear weapons is key issue at UN working group
3) CCS participants learn about the root causes of mass incarceration


4) Joe Detrick to serve as interim director of ministry
5) Daggett hired as project director for Shine, following Stutzman retirement


6) Preaching seminar is offered by Bethany alumnae


7) New resources include summer Guide for Biblical Studies, curriculum guide for ‘Seagoing Cowboy’

8) Brethren bits: Remembrances, personnel, jobs, volunteer positions, Brethren Bible Institute, colleges give honors to faculty and students, Bridgewater students to work at Brethren camps, WCC protests treatment by Israel, bill on draft registration, more

Quote of the week:

“Imagine your group doing this spiritual practice together…. Give each child a paper plate with an ice cube and a cotton ball on it. Have children hold an ice cube in one hand. Ice can be like the hard and cold parts of our lives when we feel annoyed, jealous, irritable, and unforgiving. Lay down the ice cube and hold the cotton ball between both palms. Pray:
God, you love each one of us.
Hold us gently in your great love
so that we can love others
as you love us. Amen.”

— A prayer exercise from Shine, a Sunday school curriculum published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia. Find out more at and .

Advance registration for Annual Conference closes June 6. The 2016 Conference takes place June 29-July 3 in Greensboro, N.C. Those who take advantage of the opportunity to register in advance at may save up to $75. After June 6, onsite registration from June 28-July 3 will cost $360 for a delegate (advance registration is just $285) and $140 for a non-delegate adult attending the full Conference (advance registration is just $105). Detailed information about Annual Conference as well as advance registration is at .

Regarding hearings at Annual Conference: No hearings will be held on new queries coming this year because only business items that have been accepted by the delegate body are eligible for hearings. Two hearings are scheduled for the first evening, June 29, from 9-10 p.m. Hearings will be held by the Review and Evaluation Committee and the study committee elected for Vitality and Viability. These two committees “will share what they have done in the past year and receive comments and questions from Conference-goers,” reported Conference Office director Chris Douglas. “Neither committee is bringing a final paper to the delegate body this year, so these are interim reports and conversations.”

A note to readers: Newsline will not appear next week. Please expect the next regularly scheduled issue on May 27.

1) Brethren letter urges US to take part in talks about nuclear disarmament

The Church of the Brethren’s interim general secretary Dale Minnich has sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the United States to participate in international talks about nuclear disarmament.

In related news, former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren Stan Noffsinger has been in Geneva, Switzerland, as a representative of the World Council of Churches (WCC) at the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament. Noffsinger is continuing as a Church of the Brethren member on the WCC Central Committee, elected by the WCC Assembly. See the story below or the WCC release at .

Letter on nuclear disarmament

The letter concerned the May 2-13 meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. The Church of the Brethren is sending the letter as part of the WCC, which has been holding meetings in Geneva related to the Open-Ended Working Group, and as a member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

The letter urges, among other actions, that the US establish a new precedent by taking an active part in this main session of the Working Group, engage with other countries in good-faith negotiations, and focus on the “concrete effective legal measures that will need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons” in two core areas: the legal provisions necessary for an explicit, comprehensive, and binding prohibition of nuclear weapons; and prohibitions against assistance or inducements to carry out the prohibited actions.

The full text of the letter follows:

20 April 2016

The Honorable Mr. John Kerry
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Greetings from the Office of the General Secretary of the Church of the Brethren.  We are writing in regard to the 2-13 May 2016 meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.

This letter assesses the OEWG’s task in terms of the obligation to negotiate in good faith.  It considers results and remedies for advancing cooperative security.  On that basis we would request that the United States of America:

A. Establish a new precedent by taking an active part in this main session of the Working Group.

B. Engage with other states in good-faith negotiations in order to build on the findings of the humanitarian initiative and translate its positive momentum into substantive progress.

C. Focus on the “concrete effective legal measures that will need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons” in two core areas:

a. The legal provisions necessary for an explicit, comprehensive and binding prohibition of nuclear weapons.  Judging from other similar legal instruments, these will include a ban that applies to development, production, possession, acquisition, deployment, stockpiling, retention and transfer.

b. Prohibitions against assistance or inducements to carry out the prohibited actions.  The scope should include participating in or financing nuclear weapons programs; claiming or accepting protection from nuclear weapons; the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territory of a non-nuclear-weapon state; hosting another state’s nuclear weapons; participation in preparations for use; assisting with nuclear targeting; supplying nuclear-capable delivery vehicles; supplying fissionable material without comprehensive safeguards; and stockpiling weapons-grade fissile material.

This Working Group’s first session was constructive and well-led.  All states have been encouraged to participate.  It is an important opportunity for the international community.  However, we share in the widespread disappointment over the results of recent disarmament diplomacy.  We therefore look to our government to help to reverse what has become a pattern of chronic failure.  Here are three parameters for such progress.

Exercise basic obligations. All states, not only nuclear-weapon states, are under general and specific obligations to negotiate nuclear disarmament in good faith.  The UN Charter, various General Assembly resolutions and Article VI of the NPT oblige all governments to do so.  The 1996 decision of the International Court of Justice affirms the task as a double obligation – an obligation to negotiate and an obligation to bring to conclusion.  We expect our government to exercise this obligation at the OEWG.

Assess results. Numerous examples in the field of nuclear disarmament indicate that good-faith negotiations have become rather scarce. Certain processes consist of repetitious speeches instead of genuine debate; some are stalled indefinitely; others have never started.  Conclusive negotiations are rare; unilateral decisions are common.  Even when there are agreements, results are often meagre compared to rhetoric.  Examples include: outcomes from the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission; proposals for a Fissile Materials Treaty, a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty, Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, a Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, comprehensive Negative Security Assurances and de-alerting agreements; entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; and commitments from NPT Review Conferences, especially those related to disarmament.  We expect our government to endeavor to help break this pattern at the OEWG.

Good-faith remedies.  One critical practice is to negotiate in good faith.  Characteristics of this approach include:

— Good faith is recognized and exercised as a fundamental working principle of international law, one without which international law may collapse.  Current chronic failures in nuclear disarmament may be understood as a collapse of law in this field.

— Good faith generates legitimate expectations.  Regrettably, nuclear-armed states have chosen not to participate in the Working Group (or in much of the humanitarian initiative).  Perhaps this suggests an aversion to dealing with the legitimate expectations of other states? If so, it would indicate a serious breach of good faith.

— Good faith supports negotiation through to a successful conclusion, sustains awareness of the interests of other parties and perseveres until constructive compromise is reached.

— The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties implies that good faith is a general obligation of cooperation among all states which are party to a treaty.

The obligation to negotiate in good faith is an obligation to adopt a certain behavior in order to achieve a certain result. The legally binding bargain at the heart of the NPT shows this clearly. The NPT obligation to negotiate nuclear disarmament in good faith is the “necessary counterpart to the commitment by the non-nuclear-weapon states not to manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons”.  The obligation requires:

— The behavior of negotiating in good faith. Such behavior is a legitimate expectation of the non-nuclear majority of NPT signatories in return for their fulfillment of the reciprocal obligation not to acquire nuclear weapons.

— Good-faith negotiations which achieve a certain result.  In the case of the NPT, the result is “effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”.

Shared outcomes.  Collective efforts undertaken since the NPT Review Conference in 2010 have generated outcomes which enjoy the support of growing majorities of states and civil society organizations.  The broad support is due in part to the fact that these outcomes have exercised the obligation of states to negotiate in good faith. What is more, the outcomes have rekindled the majority will to do what only a majority can do—to make new law and close the existing legal gap around nuclear weapons.  Various interventions and Working Papers propose new legal measures for consideration by the Working Group.

The OEWG itself faces a good-faith test on two levels: First, are the negotiations open to all and block-able by none?  Early indications are positive on this count.  Second, will the outcomes help to fulfill universal humanitarian obligations which nuclear weapon put at risk?

Thank you for your attention. We would appreciate hearing your response to these concerns and having the opportunity to discuss our government’s contributions to the OEWG. The Office of Public Witness for the Church of the Brethren located in Washington, D.C. would be more than willing to further engage in this conversation or questions you might have regarding this request.

We are making these requests as part of the World Council of Churches, an association of churches from all regions which is committed to achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world, and as members of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

With best wishes for substantive progress at the Working Group,

Sincerely yours,

Dale E. Minnich
Interim General Secretary
Church of the Brethren

2) When to ban nuclear weapons is key issue at UN working group

Photo courtesy of Stan Noffsinger
World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit (left) reads into the record a WCC position paper on nuclear disarmament. At right is the Church of the Brethren’s Stan Noffsinger, who was at the meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, related to a United Nations working group on nuclear weapons, as a delegate from the US churches.


From a World Council of Churches release:

When is the right time to ban a very bad thing? Nations have faced the question in banning slavery, torture, chemical weapons, and more. Over 100 governments and civil society organizations including the World Council of Churches (WCC) are debating the question again at a United Nations working group on nuclear weapons. The forum meets three times in 2016.

Former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren Stan Noffsinger is an ecumenical delegate, along with Anthony Adebayo from Nigeria. Both are members of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.

A long-deadlocked problem

A solid majority, intent on progress after decades of deadlock and including virtually all non-governmental organizations present, is calling for action as soon as possible. Many, including the WCC, stress the need for an explicit legal ban.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit noted in a statement to the group that recent evidence on the catastrophic impact of nuclear weapons “has rekindled the majority will to do what a majority can do–make new laws to close the legal gap around nuclear weapons.”

Nevertheless, a solid minority of governments is insisting that existing treaties and remedies are enough, even though those steps have been pending for years and do not include a ban of nuclear weapons. The debate is spirited and solution-oriented but, tellingly, the nine countries that actually have nuclear weapons have chosen not to attend.

The WCC general secretary said success on this long-deadlocked problem will require negotiations in good faith, a basic legal obligation of all states which is stipulated in nuclear treaties and court cases.

“Recent history would indicate that good-faith negotiations on nuclear disarmament have become rather scarce. Some forums are stalled indefinitely; others have never started,” Tveit said. This working group is “an opportunity to break such patterns. It is open to all, block-able by none and tasked with advancing a great common good.”

Member churches and ecumenical partners in the Ecumenical Peace Advocacy Network contacted 15 governments in advance of the working group. “Churches in every region of the world look for substantive progress,” Tveit said.

In an interfaith statement, the WCC and Pax Christi International joined Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus in calling on all governments to fulfill their obligation to negotiate the path to nuclear disarmament, in good faith. Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction that have not been banned.

Groups of states and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which includes the WCC, are proposing negotiations to ban nuclear weapons as early as next year. The working group is charged with identifying “concrete effective legal measures” needed for a world free of nuclear weapons. It is mandated to bring its findings to this year’s UN General Assembly.

Find out more about the WCC project “Churches engaged for nuclear arms control” at

3) CCS participants learn about the root causes of mass incarceration

Photo by Kendra Harbeck
The Christian Citizenship Seminar group met in New York and Washington, .D.C., to study the problem of mass incarceration.

By Kendra Harbeck

“Brethren, our game is strong…and the story ain’t over yet!” This call to action from Richard Newton heralded the start of Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) 2016. Each year CCS brings together high school youth to learn about a social justice issue and put their faith into practice through political advocacy on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

The event is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry and Office of Public Witness. This year, 38 youth and 10 advisors from 10 congregations gathered under the theme “Proclaiming Freedom: The Racial Injustice of Mass Incarceration.”

The call of the gospel

Newton, professor of religious studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, based his call to action on that of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19: bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives, and letting the oppressed go free. Newton stressed the challenge of making a difference, asking what we can do for individuals who are oppressed or imprisoned instead of building walls between us and them.

“Let’s be real, things will be hard,” Newton commented about how difficult it is to change the system. A superpower nation doesn’t come to be without getting a good deal, and slavery was that deal to fuel a superpower, he noted. When slavery ended, in order to keep the superpower running laws were made that allowed for lesser treatment of people like immigrants and people of color. The Civil Rights movement ended those laws, but the system found a loophole–making a prisoner less than a person.

“What the Gospels show us is that it’s a challenge, but you’re up for it,” Newton encouraged the youth. “You will do work that people 2,000 years ago thought impossible, because of your hard work and God’s gifts given to you. The story yet to be written is us saying, ‘Where are the oppressed? Where are the captives? Is Jesus there for them too?’ There are chances everywhere to take those steps.”

Challenging statistics

The statistics are indeed hard and challenging. The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s prison population. There are 2.2 million prisoners in the US, and the country spends $80 billion per year on the mass incarceration system. African Americans and Hispanics make up roughly 25 percent of the US population but account for 58 percent of the US prison population. Put another way, there are more African-American men in prison today than were enslaved in 1853.

Photo by Kendra Harbeck
Some of the leaders for CCS 2016: from left, Youth and Young Adult Ministries director Becky Ullom Naugle, Elizabethtown College professor of religious studies Richard Newton, Office of Public Witness peacebuilding and policy associate Jesse Winter, and Office of Public Witness director Nate Hosler.

In light of these statistics, Ashley Ellis stressed to the participants that they can’t discuss mass incarceration without looking at it through lenses of racial justice, social justice, and spiritual justice. Ellis works as a re-entry advocate and the coordinator for restorative justice programs in Brooklyn schools, and studies at New York Theological Seminary.

Ellis explained how high recidivism rates trace to the fact that people leave prison and come home to the exact same conditions that sent them to prison. “Learning how to accept opportunity is a learned skill,” Ellis said. “What if no one’s taught you that skill because there have never been opportunities there? What are you to do when the resources aren’t there?”

What’s more, people with a criminal record find even fewer resources than before they entered prison. They may lose access to publicly subsidized housing and government food benefits, and many states strip them of their right to vote. Numerous jobs become off-limits, and for those able to find a job, up to 100 percent of their wages may be garnished to pay for the costs of their imprisonment.

Ellis led participants to examine the idea of shared liberation and the need for radical empathy in place of sympathy and charity. In Matthew 25, Jesus challenges followers to provide for all in need because each person is a reflection of Christ himself. Ellis extended the challenging call of Christ: “When I was hungry, did you not just give me food but sit down and eat with me? When I was outside and homeless, did you invite me in, and did you try to figure out why I was outside to begin with?”

Speaking to youth who may be far removed from the issues of mass incarceration and racial injustice, Ellis pointed out that we have to learn how to get closer to the pain. She asked, “How do we become present with people whom we don’t understand in order to build understanding? How do we venture into wilderness we’ve been told not to go to, or where we’re afraid to go to?” She continued, “Nobody wakes up and chooses to be a murderer, to be a criminal. We have to look at why and see the rest of the person.”

A lack of justice

CCS participants met with Roy Austin, staffer with the White House Office of Urban Affairs and a former prosecutor. “What we lack right now is procedural justice, a sense of fairness,” he told the participants, citing the more than 20 cases around the US where city police departments have established patterns of arresting African Americans at disproportionately high rates.

“We are so short-sighted in this country,” Austin said. “We follow the quickest and easiest route of locking people up.” He advocated for investments into education initiatives, employment and community programs, and mental health care that would provide better economics and better safety in the long run.

The mass incarceration system also lacks logic, Austin said, citing lack of evidence-based logic in a variety of elements: Nonviolent drug sale conviction automatically requiring 25 years of imprisonment or the prohibition from becoming a barber or beautician. Racially biased minimum sentencing for drug convictions. Placing juveniles in solitary confinement. Prison education and skill-training programs that don’t take into account learning disabilities (which affect the majority of inmates) or real-world job opportunities.

“We are doing a horrible job of preparing people to be successful upon release,” Austin stated, while citing the recidivism rates of 60-70 percent for federal and state prisons.

Finally, “if it’s not the money argument that works here, if it’s not the logical, it’s got to be the moral argument,” Austin concluded. Mass incarceration is “touching everyone. It’s touching every community.” He pointed to children as young as four being kicked out of school and thus criminalized. The high rate of suspensions in schools and the huge racial disparities of those suspensions mean many students of color are set up for failure. “They’re not criminals; they’re our fellow human beings.”

Austin left the group with words of affirmation for the power of youth: “You have the most amazing voice and the most amazing power to create change. Keep speaking up. Make it really loud and clear that you and your generation won’t accept this.”

Photo courtesy of La Verne Church of the Brethren
CCS participants from La Verne, Calif., meet with Representative Grace Napolitano during their visits to Capitol Hill.

Visits to Capitol Hill

On the eve of the visits to Capitol Hill, a CCS regular provided tips for approaching congressional offices. Jerry O’Donnell, who served in Brethren Volunteer Service as workcamp coordinator for the Church of the Brethren and then served with Global Mission in the Dominican Republic, now works as press secretary for Representative Grace Napolitano.

“You have the voice that your representatives need to hear, and if your voice isn’t raised, it’s not part of the discussion,” he told the youth. “You are the youth of the Church of the Brethren. You are representing the values of the church and taking them to the highest offices in the land. Bring whatever energy and determination you have…. Put your faith into action and let your voice be heard.”

Participants also received challenge and encouragement from Aundreia Alexander, associate general secretary for Justice and Peace for the National Council of Churches. She elaborated on a number of messages, such as that there are more school resource (police) officers in schools than nurses or social workers, primarily due to the lack of these latter professionals in schools with poor students of color, and that the drug laws were created decades ago intentionally to target African Americans. Her overall message was that racial injustice and racism affect everyone and demand solidarity.

“This isn’t a black rights issue: it’s a human rights issue,” she said. “It’s an all-of-us issue. Racism keeps us from being the best we can be as a nation…. Ultimately we are all created in the image of God. God didn’t choose that this image is less than that image. We decided that. We all have the love of God within us.”

The youth and their advisors spent the final afternoon of CCS meeting with representatives and senators or their staffs. They advocated for specific bills geared toward reducing racially biased minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders, and toward prioritizing and incentivizing recidivism reduction programs such as drug rehabilitation and job training.

Youth reflect

The youth reflected on their congressional visits, mirroring the messages they’d been receiving all week: even in the face of a massive system, one dedicated voice means something. “I realized I can make a difference,” said a youth from Pennsylvania. A youth from Michigan realized that “Congress people are actually people–not robots.”  Reflected a youth from Washington, “I’ve learned it’s not just one protest action. It can go beyond that.”

“My hope is that students who enjoy what they’re doing this week will take it to the next level in college,” Newton remarked. “This isn’t a one-time thing; it’s one step in the longer journey of the Brethren life of peace and justice. We’ll continue to work on this together.”

— Kendra Harbeck is office manager for the Church of the Brethren Office of Global Mission and Service.


4) Joe Detrick to serve as interim director of ministry

The Church of the Brethren has hired Joe Detrick as interim director for the Office of Ministry. He will begin in this position on June 22, working out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and from his home in Seven Valleys, Pa. This interim assignment is expected to continue for one year.

Detrick is a former district executive and brings related skills and experience to the Office of Ministry leadership position, including experience in pastoral placement and in training search committees, providing resources for conflict transformation and leadership development for pastors and church boards, developing a mission and vision process for a district board, coordinating Ethics in Ministry training, developing budgets, and interpreting and implementing church polity. He served in Southern Pennsylvania District as district executive minister for 13 years, 1998-2011, and more recently was interim district executive for Pacific Southwest District for a year from Jan. 2014-Jan. 2015.

He has served two pastorates, in Indiana and in Pennsylvania, totaling 16 years of pastoral ministry. From 1983-88 he was on the denominational staff as coordinator of orientation for Brethren Volunteer Service. He is an ordained minister and holds a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary, and a bachelor’s degree from Manchester College (now Manchester University).

5) Daggett hired as project director for Shine, following Stutzman retirement

Joan Daggett of Bridgewater, Va., has accepted the position of project director for Shine: Living in God’s Light, the children’s Sunday school curriculum produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia.

Rose Stutzman is retiring June 30 as project director for Shine. Stutzman led the team that developed the Shine curriculum through conceptualization, implementation, and launch, from 2013-16. She also served as Gather ’Round editor 2006-14. Prior to her work with Gather ’Round, she and her husband, Mervin, served with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Kenya, where she was an elementary school teacher. Additionally, she worked at Mennonite Publishing House 1995-2002 as an editor and director of Faith and Life Resources.

Joan Daggett to work with Shine

Daggett is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and was a writer for the Jubilee curriculum and a trainer for Gather ’Round, both also co-published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia.

Since 2011, Daggett has been executive director at the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va. From 1998-2011, she was associate district executive of the Church of the Brethren’s Shenandoah District. In those years, she coached congregations on matters related to Christian education, faith formation, nurture, and discipleship, and provided staff support for the Disaster Ministries Auction. She also led numerous curriculum trainings during her time with the district.

“Christian education and discipleship formation have been my passion and calling in life,” said Daggett in accepting the position. Before 1998, she was director of Christian education in a Presbyterian church and a co-pastor in a Church of the Brethren congregation. She is a graduate of Bridgewater College and Bethany Theological Seminary, and has a certificate in nonprofit management from North Park University. The search committee named Daggett’s experience working with previous curriculum projects, ordination, and additional education in nonprofit management as being beneficial in the role of project director for Shine.

“Joan is especially strong in building relationships with congregations,” said Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press. “She brings exceptional experience to this position.”

Amy Gingerich, editorial director for MennoMedia, commented, “We are excited to bring Joan’s passion for sharing about Christian formation to the Shine team.”

Daggett will work out of the Harrisonburg office of MennoMedia, and will begin full-time later this summer.

Find out more about Shine at or .


6) Preaching seminar is offered by Bethany alumnae

By Jenny Williams

If you are looking to grow as a preacher and are open to exploring your preaching practice with a peer group, consider the Homiletic Peer Coaching seminar held at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., Aug. 8-11. This collaborative formation experience is being planned and led by Bethany alumnae and preaching pastors Jeanne Davies and Katie Shaw Thompson.

Both Davies and Thompson are enrolled in the David G. Buttrick Homiletic Peer Coaching Program at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tenn. In this ecumenical two-year certificate program, they have participated in and led homiletic peer coaching groups and will use the same curriculum for the seminar at Bethany. Attendees will participate in two models for the homiletic peer-group process, first examining preacher formation through case studies. Sermon formation will then be explored through questions brought by participants for the group to address.

Enrollment in the Homiletic Peer Coaching seminar is limited to 10 accepted participants, and continuing education credits are available. For this initial peer group, Bethany Seminary will provide a scholarship for 50 percent of the $600 tuition cost, bringing each participant’s cost to $300. The application deadline is June 30. For more information and to apply, go to .

Davies and Thompson describe the curriculum as “inductive, drawing out of participants the gifts and opportunities for growth–with which God has already endowed the preacher–in a setting that utilizes the wisdom and discernment of the peer group, as led by the Holy Spirit. The peer coaching method allows for a wide variety of theological outlooks, experience, training, and cultural backgrounds.” As participants engage with each other’s questions, experiences, and learning, they develop and deepen their own preaching practices.

The training methods in the David B. Buttrick Homiletic Peer Coaching Program were developed by two Vanderbilt professors: Dale P. Andrews, distinguished professor of Homiletics, Social Justice, and Practical Theology; and John McClure, Charles G. Finney Professor of Preaching and Worship. They also serve as faculty in the certificate program. Among other invited instructors was Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany.

Davies and Thompson were among only six applicants accepted into this first cohort of the peer coaching program. Other denominations represented are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Church of Denmark. They look forward to graduating from the program in Jan. 2017 following a final intensive session, with the upcoming seminar at Bethany serving as their capstone project.

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


7) New resources include summer Guide for Biblical Studies, curriculum guide for ‘Seagoing Cowboy’

New resources from Brethren Press include a summer quarter of A Guide for Biblical Studies–the Bible study curriculum for adult Christian education–on the theme “Toward a New Creation,” and a new curriculum guide for the illustrated children’s book “The Seagoing Cowboy.”

Summer ‘Guide for Biblical Studies’

“Toward a New Creation” is the theme for the summer quarter of “A Guide for Biblical Studies” covering the months of June, July, and August. The writer of the lessons and study questions is Jim Eikenberry, co-pastor along with his wife Sue of Mount Wilson Church of the Brethren outside of Lebanon, Pa. The author of the “Out of Context” column is Frank Ramirez, pastor of Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind. The book is designed for a Sunday school class or small group Bible study, and offers suggestions for daily Bible reading, questions to prepare for the class, a weekly lesson, questions for studying the text together in a small group, and an “Out of Context” column each week. Order one copy for each class participant. Purchase online at for $4.50 per copy, or $7.95 for large print, plus shipping.

Curriculum guide for ‘Seagoing Cowboy’

A new Common Core-based curriculum guide is now available for teachers interested in using the new illustrated hard-back children’s book, “The Seagoing Cowboy,” as an educational resource. The book is about the experience of a “seagoing cowboy” who helped take livestock to a devastated Europe after World War II with Heifer Project, now Heifer International. The book is written by Peggy Reiff Miller and illustrated by Claire Ewart. The curriculum guide is developed by Leigh Courtney, Ph.D., and incorporates Common Core State Standards for literacy and math. It includes discussion questions, activities, sequencing story events, “A Day in the Life of a Seagoing Cowboy” activity sheet, and a “Helping Here at Home” chart. Download the curriculum guide for free from . Purchase the book from Brethren Press at for $18.99 plus shipping.

 8) Brethren bits

Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren will hold a ground-breaking ceremony for its new addition this Sunday, May 15. Activities include worship at 10 a.m. followed by a carry-in meal at 11:15, and the ground-breaking service at approximately 12:30 p.m. All are welcome to join the church for this celebration. The congregation, established in 1961, purchased the existing 2,932 square foot building from the First Church of God that same year. Throughout the past 55 years the church has seen times of decline in the 1980s and 1990s followed by steady growth since 2000. “We’ve outgrown our space,” said pastor Dennis Beckner in a release. “Our children’s ministry, youth ministry, and young adult ministry has grown in recent years which has made us tight on space.” The church has used the former parsonage as classroom and youth group space since the early 1990s. The addition to the current building has been in the works since 2000. “We originally voted to move to a new site back in the early stages of this process,” Beckner said. “But as upgrades to the current building were completed and the realization of how much space we would be able to afford in an entirely new building became clear, we found that we were being led to stay right where we are now.” The new addition will add a total of 3,634 square feet to the current building, and is expected to be completed by Christmas.

— Remembrance: Betty Jeanne Brooks Campbell, 90, died May 9 at Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind. She was a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in India. She was born in Bulsar, Bombay Province, India, the daughter of Harlan and Ruth Brooks who were Church of the Brethren missionaries. Her grandparents, D.L. and Anna Forney, were also missionaries there at the time. She grew up in India and attended Woodstock School, a boarding school for missionary children. After returning to the United States she attended La Verne (Calif.) College, now the University of La Verne, and Manchester College, now Manchester University, where she met her husband Glen Campbell. They were married June 8, 1948, at Walnut Street Church of the Brethren. She taught school while she and her husband prepared for mission work, and he received a master’s degree in agriculture at Cornell University and then continued his studies at Bethany Biblical Seminary in Chicago. In 1952 they sailed on a freighter to Bombay, India, where her parents were waiting to greet them. They served at several mission points in India for 18 years, then returned to the US to settle in Indiana. They served Liberty Mills Church of the Brethren from 1970-76 and the Guernsey/Pike Creek congregations from 1976-91, in South/Central Indiana District. Most recently, she lived at Timbercrest for ten and half years. She was preceded in death by her husband Glen (2010), daughter Margaret Ann (1999), and son Phil (2016). She is survived by her son John, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A memorial service took place May 13 at the Timbercrest Chapel. Memorial gifts are received to Timbercrest Senior Living Community, and to Manchester Church of the Brethren.

— Remembrance: Georgia Bagus, a former employee of the Church of the Brethren at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., passed away May 9 at Delnor Hospital in St. Charles, Ill. She worked part-time for the former General Board in several capacities, serving as part-time secretary to the General Secretary from 1984-87, in 1995 returning on a part-time interim basis as transition support to the Treasurer’s office, and in 1996 serving as part time secretary to the Treasurer’s office. A memorial service was held May 13 at St. Patrick Parish in St. Charles. “Please hold Georgia’s husband, Brian, and her family and friends in your prayers for comfort,” said a prayer request from the General Secretary’s office.

— Remembrance: Robert O. “Bob” Smith, 68, of Eldora, Iowa, died at home on April 22 after a 3 1/2 year battle with cancer. From 1985-92 he was manager of Camp Pine Lake, a camp of the Church of the Brethren’s Northern Plains District. “We are grateful for Bob’s ministry with our camping program. Please keep Bob’s family in your prayers,” said district executive Tim Button-Harrison in a remembrance in the district newsletter. Smith was born Nov. 26, 1947, in Waterloo, Iowa, to Orville C and Leona E. (Stout) Smith. Farming was his life-long goal, and he was the first in the history of Fredericksburg (Iowa) FFA to achieve the American Farmer Award that is only earned by 1 in 1,000 FFA members, said an obituary. He graduated from McPherson (Kan.) College with a degree in agriculture. He married Linda K. Allebach and later returned to Waterloo. He brought a new Pioneer funds investment program to Iowa, instead of returning to the family farm, and also owned numerous rental properties. A move to Eldora as manager of Camp Pine Lake brought him back to childhood days of attending church camp there. A new chapter in his life opened when he married Debra J. (White) Hightshoe. In later years he discovered a passion for driving semi-truck as a company driver for a few years before buying his first semi, and had a total of six in his fleet as an owner operator leased to Mara Transport. After 14 years in business as R.O.S. Express, his health forced the close of that dream. He was an active member of Eldora United Methodist Church, serving as a church trustee, and was a member of the Eldora Kiwanis, where he was currently vice president. He is survived by his wife Debra J. Smith and children Anisa M. Smith of Eldora, Galen R. Smith and Erin of Smithville, Mo., Trevor R. Smith of Des Moines, Iowa, and granddaughter. A memorial service was held on April 29 at Eldora United Methodist Church. Find a full obituary at .

— Ken Neher has been employed as the new executive director for Wenatchee (Wash.) Brethren Baptist Homes, DBA Garden Terrace. He will begin in June. Neher served for several years as director of Funding for the Church of the Brethren denomination, and also has previously served as district executive in Pacific Northwest District.

— Fabiola Fernandez of Elgin, Ill., has been hired as systems specialist for the Church of the Brethren, working at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin. She starts on May 23 in the Information Technology office. She is a 2015 graduate of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., where she earned a bachelor of science degree in operations management and information systems. She also holds an associate’s degree from Elgin Community College. Her previous work experience has been in retail sales. She carried out a student internship abroad with Human Connections in Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico.

— Frederick A. Miller of Greenwood, Del., will begin June 22 as the 2016 intern in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. The BHLA is located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. A lifelong member of the Church of the Brethren, he graduated in 2014 from McPherson (Kan.) College with a bachelor of science degree in Historic Automotive Technology. He also has attended the Delaware Technical and Community College, where he studied design engineering technology and architectural drafting. He has worked at Camp Mardela, a Church of the Brethren camp near Denton, Md., and has been a student librarian at McPherson College and an archival intern at Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Ind.

— On Earth Peace is welcoming two new interns. Bryan Hanger is starting as Peace Day organizer, working to promote and support organizing efforts for Peace Day on Sept. 21. He is a student at Bethany Theological Seminary working toward a master of arts degree with a concentration in peace studies. He formerly served as advocacy assistant in the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. Christine Kindler is starting as organizer for the Stop Recruiting Kids Campaign, working to expand the campaign through social media and public advocacy. She is a student at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peace, working toward a master of arts degree in conflict transformation with a focus on the intersection of militarization and psychosocial trauma. On Earth Peace offers paid internships for college students and recent graduates. More information, including current openings and application instructions, can be found at .

— Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., seeks a half-time admissions counselor to work with the seminary admissions team starting in July. The position reports to the interim executive director of admissions and student services. The admissions counselor will oversee direct contact with potential students to help generate robust enrollment, enacting recruitment strategies as set forth by the interim executive director and the admissions team; will engage in face-to-face interactions and needs to be able to demonstrate excitement and enthusiasm in a wide variety of recruitment situations; will make new contacts with prospective students that reflect a growing diversity in the student body, strengthening existing prospective relationships, and inviting persons to attend Bethany by assisting them in discernment from prospective conversations to enrollment. This position requires broad travel within the United States. The office location is negotiable. Qualifications include admissions experience and a master of divinity or master of arts degree in a theological field, preferred; a bachelor’s degree with admissions experience is acceptable. Affinity with the values and mission of the seminary is required, and an understanding of the Church of the Brethren, in the Anabaptist-Pietist tradition, is preferred. Multicultural competency and the ability to engage with potential students of all age ranges and with individuals at all levels of university and denominational structures is required. Applicants should demonstrate strong interpersonal and oral and written communication skills, a collaborative working style, self-motivation, and task management skills. The use of social media and electronic communication is expected. For a complete job description, see employment . Application review will begin immediately and will continue until an appointment is made. To apply, send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to or by mail to: Attn: Amy S. Gall Ritchie, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374. Bethany Theological Seminary’s policy prohibits discrimination in employment opportunities or practices with regard to race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or religion.

— Messenger magazine seeks an editorial assistant who will serve as an intern through Brethren Volunteer Service. The volunteer will write articles and assist the editorial team. The position, located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., provides room and board, insurance, and a small stipend. For more information contact Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, associate editor of Messenger and director of News Services, at .

— Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community invites local young people, ages 12-18, to a summer of service as junior volunteers. This youthful and energetic group interacts with residents of the retirement community, gets a taste of the health care field, and builds lasting relationships. For more information, contact Laura Ipock, director of volunteer services, at 540-828-2682 or by Friday, May 20. Mandatory orientation is June 15-16, and the program runs through the end of July.

— Elkins (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren will celebrate its 65th anniversary on Saturday, June 18, with a special program beginning at 2 p.m. “Everyone is invited to come and help us reminisce and share an afternoon with old friends and family,” said an announcement from West Marva District. For additional information contact pastor John Knoll at 304-677-5780.

— McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren hosts a performance of the McPherson Community Brass Choir under the direction of Jerry Toews at 5 p.m. Sunday. The brass choir will give a Sousa-style concert. There is no cost to attend. The concert will feature professional jazz trombonist Denny Brunk on jazz numbers, and virtuoso trumpeter Kyle Unruh, McPherson High School Band Instructor, among other performers. The McPherson Brass Choir has been together since the early 1970s, said an article in the McPherson Sentinel. See .

— “Praise the Lord! Mortgage is paid!” said an announcement from Shenandoah District. “The last payment on the Shenandoah District Office has been made–more than 11 years ahead of schedule!” The district newsletter reported that the district purchased the former parsonage of Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in 2002, with a 25-year mortgage note for $225,000. The former parsonage was converted into the district’s headquarters. The final payment on the mortgage was scheduled for Oct. 1, 2027, but “thanks to a very successful capital campaign by Brethren Woods, which included paying down the mortgage, the office is paid for. Brethren Woods made debt reduction contributions of $76,000. And, by beating the schedule by 11 years, the District has saved about $75,000 in interest charges,” said the district newsletter.

— Camp Galilee in West Marva District is offering a Senior Citizen’s Camp on June 7, beginning at 9 a.m. The day’s events include breakfast and lunch, a program, and opportunities for fellowship. A free-will offering will support Samaritan’s Purse. Register by May 27. Call the district office at 301-334-9270.

— The Brethren Bible Institute is scheduled for July 25-29 on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. This event is sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF). The courses offered this year include “Church Leadership and Administration,” “The Book of Judges,” “The Supernatural World,” “Relationships,” “The Book of Ecclesiastes,” “The Beloved Old Man on an Island–John, “More Than a Prophet: Jesus and the Gods of This World,” “History of the Christian Church,” “How to Study the Bible,” and “The Book of Job.” Instructors are Craig Alan Myers, Eric Brubaker, Carl Brubaker, Wilmer Horst, Fred Beam, John Minnich, and Steve Hershey. Total cost for dormitory students including room, board, and tuition, is $250 for the week. Applications must be completed by June 25. Continuing education credit is available for ordained ministers. Request an application form by mail to Brethren Bible Institute, 155 Denver Road, Denver, Pa., 17517.

Photo courtesy of Juniata College
Three faculty members have been honored with Juniata College’s Beachley Awards. They are shown here with the Juniata president and other college staff: Regina Lamendella, assistant professor of biology and recipient of the Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching, at left; Jay Hosler, professor of biology and recipient of the Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching, center; Dominick Peruso, professor of accounting and recipient of the Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service, second from right.


Three Juniata College faculty members were honored May 3 with distinguished teaching and service awards during the Spring Awards Convocation in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts on the college campus in Huntingdon, Pa. Honored for their work were Dominick Peruso, professor and chair of accounting, business, and economics; Jay Hosler, professor of biology; and Regina Lamendella, assistant professor of biology. Peruso was honored with the 27th annual Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service. Hosler was named the 49th recipient of the Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching. Lamendella received the Henry and Joan Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching (for faculty members with fewer than six years of service).

Bridgewater (Va.) College has recognized three students in the department of Philosophy and Religion for academic excellence. Andrew Bollinger and Kelsey Limbert, who will graduate May 14, and Laura Michaelis were recognized for academic excellence at the college awards ceremony on May 1. Bollinger received the Religion Award; he is a philosophy and religion major with a minor in English, is a member of the Brethren Student Movement, serves as secretary of the Interfaith Board, and is the son of Glenn and Debbie Bollinger of Bridgewater, Va. Limbert received the Philosophy Award; she is a philosophy and religion and Spanish double major with a minor in peace studies, is a member of the leadership team for the Brethren Student Movement, serves as a coordinator on the Spiritual Life Board, and is the daughter of Brad and Linda Limbert of Brookville, Ohio. Michaelis received the Ruth and Steve Watson Philosophy Scholarship Award, presented to a rising junior or senior. Michaelis, a philosophy and religion major with a minor in psychology, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Michaelis of Oakton, Va.

Four Bridgewater College students have received the 2016 Summer Christian Experience Scholarship and will spend 10 weeks in the summer working at Church of the Brethren camps. Each student was awarded $2,800 from the scholarship program, which is funded by the Bridgewater College endowment fund. Receiving the scholarships are: Gabriel Lake, a sophomore from Eldersburg, Md., who will serve at Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Va.; Dafne Espinal, a freshman from Reading, Pa., who will serve at Camp Elder in Fairfield, Pa.; Imani Harris, a junior from Ashland, Va., and Lacey Householder, a junior from Williamsport, Md., both of whom will serve at Shepherd’s Spring in Sharpsburg, Md. The Summer Christian Experience Scholarship Program was created to memorialize a number of outstanding church leaders, and enables students to gain valuable experience and training in various forms of Christian ministry while providing useful service to church-related camps.

World Council of Churches (WCC) staff and partners were detained or deported by Israeli authorities after traveling to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for a climate justice meeting. In a release, WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit termed the treatment unprecedented and intolerable. “The WCC protests the excessive, unreasonable, and wholly unwarranted treatment by the Israeli authorities of these representatives of WCC member churches and staff traveling to engage in discussions on climate change and environmental stewardship, at the invitation of and hosted by WCC’s member churches in the region,” he said. Members of the WCC Working Group on Climate Change from as many as 13 countries reported they were held for hours of interrogation, including tough intimidation and detention in prison-like conditions for up to three days. “We react in different ways emotionally to experiences like this,” Tveit said. “For all of them, I think it was totally unexpected and very disturbing, for most of them shocking, as they have never experienced anything like this before.” Although there have been small incidents in the past, there has been nothing approaching this level of intimidation of WCC by Israeli authorities, Tveit added. He said he had no reason to believe there would be any problem for people traveling to this meeting, particularly since there have been other such meetings over many years, not only related to climate change but also to ecumenical relations, peacemaking, and theological reflection. For many years, the WCC has drawn on resources and counterparts from both Palestine and Israel to promote peaceful relations and coexistence, the release said. All traveling participants from the working group are now safely out of Israel. The WCC called on the government of Israel for an apology as well as to desist its aggressive behavior toward WCC member churches and staff. Read the WCC statement at .

The Senate Armed Services Committee has joined its counterpart committee of the House of Representatives in adding a provision to the pending National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 that would extend the authority of the President to order women as well as men to register for the military draft. The Center on Conscience and War (CCW)–a longterm partner organization for the peace churches–is closely following these developments in Congress, where competing pieces of legislation have the potential either to subject young women to the requirement to register along with young men, or end draft registration and the Selective Service System altogether. A separate House bill HR 4523 would repeal the Military Selective Service Act, abolishing the registration requirement for everyone, while requiring that “a person may not be denied a right, privilege, benefit, or employment position under Federal law” for having refused or failed to register before the repeal. An online petition is collecting signatures in support of abolishing the draft registration requirement altogether, at . The CCW staff recently wrote an opinion piece about this situation that was published by Sojourners, find it at .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Dennis Beckner, Deborah Brehm, Tim Button-Harrison, Melodie Davis, Marianne Ejdersten, Kendra Harbeck, Mary Kay Heatwole, Ralph McFadden, Nate Hosler, Nancy Miner, Dale Minnich, Stan Noffsinger, John Wall, Jenny Williams, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for May 27.

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