Newsline for May 6, 2016

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you” (2 Timothy 1:5).

1) ‘In Tune’ event at Bethany creates a beautiful dissonance

2) May is Older Adult Month

3) Song and Story Fest celebrates its 20th anniversary

4) Brethren bits: Personnel, jobs, call for Inglenook dessert testers, developments in legislation on the draft, Brethren Voices features moderator Andy Murray, E-town’s interfaith studies major gets attention from the NY Times, more


Quote of the week:

“…We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own.
It says: ‘Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.’…”

— From a proclamation by Julia Ward Howe, one of the foundations of our celebration of Mother’s Day each year. Howe, who was an abolitionist and suffragette, wrote her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870, calling mothers to unite in promoting world peace. In 1873 she began a campaign for June 2 to become “Mother’s Peace Day.” Find the full text of her proclamation at http://womenshistory.about.com/od/howejwriting/a/mothers_day.htm .

1) ‘In Tune’ event at Bethany creates a beautiful dissonance

By Rachel Witkovsky

Dissonance is the tension created from the use of two or more musical notes that just don’t seem to go together. When produced correctly or added into a larger chord, however, they create a lovely tension. A lot of churches are facing this dissonance in a metaphorical way as they attempt to include all musical preferences in a single worship service. But this dissonance doesn’t have to be disastrous. Out of the clash of genres can come something even more beautiful.

The participants at Bethany Theological Seminary’s event, In Tune, received a taste of this. The event was held on the seminary campus the weekend of April 15-16 and was part of the programming of the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults.

Chris Monaghan, senior pastor at Gateway in Richmond, Ind., started the conversation by calling for a “TRUCE” (TRadition Uniting with CrEativity). More than just a truce, though, he challenged work toward an alliance–learning new and creative ways to fuse our different types of music and worship ministries. We all have a lot to learn from each other.

Young hymn writer Adam Tice is doing just that. His hymns represent a melding of so-called contemporary influences with the traditional hymn structures of meter, rhyme, and other poetic elements. Tice, a member of the Mennonite tradition, saw a theological whole that needed to be filled in the area of hymn writing. Using these same traditional structures, Tice is able to explore images that were never used in the good old standards. This familiarity gives people a kind of comfortable jumping off point.

Photo by Rachel Witkovsky
In Tune brought a diversity of worship music to an event at Bethany Seminary.

But even starting at a place of comfort, dissonance is fundamentally uncomfortable. Nationally known Christian artist Tim Timmons dug into this truth when he started asking tough questions that made participants think about what they were singing, and expected the group to answer them. “What if we acted like what we were singing is actually true?” he challenged. Then he asked, “How did Jesus worship? …By asking a lot of questions,” he said, “inviting people into their own story and then helping them own their own response.”

“There’s a difference between being still and being constricted,” said Michaela Alphonse, a leader with the New Covenant School in Haiti. In her church, you’re allowed to move. You’re allowed to sing out of tune. The holy is found in the freedom to worship as God moves you.

“The point is not to get everybody to love the song,” urged Leah J. Hileman, music minister at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, “it’s to love God and love each other more than you did last time you got together.”

The dissonance created by our differing music tastes in the church today could take an ugly turn. It could scream into our ears and make us want to end the musical agony altogether. Or something creative and beautiful could emerge. Out of the tension held within the dissonance could come a beautiful resolution, a beauty that no one ever saw coming.

The presenters at In Tune are just a few of the leaders making something new come from dissonance, and we need to nurture this development. That is exactly what Bethany Seminary is doing with events like this and the Young Adult Forum held last year. As someone who is a young adult, and also working with young adults in our denomination, I am so grateful for these opportunities for discussion and collaboration. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

— Rachel Witkovsky is director of Young Adult Ministries and worship coordinator at Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

2) May is Older Adult Month

By Debbie Eisenbise

Youth Sunday, graduations, Pentecost, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day–May is a busy month! The Office of Intergenerational Ministries encourages congregations to also celebrate May as Older Adult Month.

Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 as Senior Citizens’ Month (later renamed Older Americans’ Month), for the Church of the Brethren this is an opportunity to affirm older adults’ gifts, highlight participation, and engage in meaningful discussions about generations, aging, and our shared life together.

A variety of congregational resources are available online at www.brethren.org/oam/older-adult-month.html including links to video recordings from the 2015 National Older Adult Conference. A number of congregations have used sermons, Ken Medema’s songs, Bob Bowman’s Bible studies, and other excerpts in worship and adult Christian education classes. Materials for children’s times and intergenerational discussions are also listed. Brethren Press’ new picture book, “The Seagoing Cowboy” by Peggy Reiff Miller, encourages young and old to explore Brethren history together.

While May is designated as Older Adult Month, the Fellowship of Brethren Homes (www.brethren.org/homes ) appreciate connecting with congregations throughout the year. The fellowship is made up of Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities across the nation.

And in the fall, information about our National Older Adult Conference will again appear as we get ready for an inspirational gathering in September 2017. Look for promotional DVDs at this summer’s Annual Conference, and connect with us on Facebook at Church of the Brethren NOAC.

— Debbie Eisenbise directs the Church of the Brethren’s Intergenerational Ministry, as part of the staff of Congregational Life Ministries.

3) Song and Story Fest celebrates its 20th anniversary

This year’s Song and Story Fest, a family camp and gathering of Brethren musicians and storytellers, will mark a milestone: the 20th anniversary of the annual event. The 2016 Song and Story Fest is scheduled for July 3-9 at Camp Blue Diamond near Petersburg, Pa.

“We’ve been gathering for these Song and Story Fests for a long time now,” said the brochure for the event. “We’ve been fed by the sharing of music, stories, and life’s happenings. We have reflected on being people of faith in these troubled times. We’ll take some time to remember and celebrate our journey together. But we aren’t finished yet! We continue to seek out the movement of God in our lives and the wider world, and to enjoy and celebrate that movement as well as to join in amplifying it.”

This year’s storytellers and workshop leaders are Heidi Beck, Marie Benner-Rhoades, Deanna Brown, Debbie Eisenbise, Bob Gross, Kathy Guisewite, Reba Herder, Jonathan Hunter, and Jim Lehman. Campfire, workshop, and concert musicians are Louise Brodie, Jeffrey Faus and Jenny Stover-Brown, Chris Good, LuAnne Harley and Brian Krushwitz, Joseph Helfrich, Bill Jolliff, Peg Lehman, Lilly Nuss, Ethan Setiawan, and Mike Stern.

More information and online registration for this “intergenerational camp for all ages” is available at http://onearthpeace.org/song-story-fest-2016 . On Earth Peace is a co-sponsor. Contact Ken Kline Smeltzer at bksmeltz@comcast.net for questions.

A “beloved event” returns to Cross Keys Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in New Oxford, Pa., on May 14. “Come to our pond area at 10 a.m. for a very special moment,” said an announcement. “It is a spring highlight at Cross Keys Village: hundreds of Monarch butterflies taking flight before an appreciative audience, many of whom have sponsored one of the beautiful and delicate creatures in memory or honor of a loved one.” The event also includes children’s activities, face painting, and goody bags, and performances by the Hanover Middle School’s Steel Drum Band and Emory H. Markle Intermediate School’s Show Choir “Fortissimo.” The event is free and open to the public.

4) Brethren bits

Emma Jean Woodard is serving as acting district executive for Virlina District, in the absence of district executive David Shumate who is undergoing a lengthy hospitalization. “On top of her usual duties, she is assuming additional necessary tasks in David’s absence,” said an announcement from Noel S. Naff, Virlina District board chair. Shumate has been hospitalized since April 17, and is being treated for bilateral pneumonia in an intensive care unit. Naff’s letter noted the serious nature of Shumate’s illness and said that he is not allowed any visitors at the hospital. The district is requesting prayer for him and his family, and for Woodard and the rest of the district staff. “We anticipate this to be a lengthy hospital stay and recovery,” Naff’s letter said. “Brothers and sisters, please continue to uplift the Shumate family and caregivers during this difficult time and the district staff as they carry on.”

The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) board of directors has selected Eric M. Chase as their new executive director. CAS is an agency of Southern Pennsylvania District of the Church of the Brethren. Chase started in this new position on May 15. His resume includes more than 25 years of executive planning, administration, communications, marketing, fundraising, and family counseling experience in the nonprofit sector. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master of science degree in counseling education, and is currently working on a master of divinity degree. He has served on executive staff of local Boy Scout of America Councils for the past 18 years. Prior to his work with the scouts he served as director of Prevention Services, inpatient drug and alcohol family counselor, and outpatient drug and alcohol counselor. He has been an interim pastor and a board member of nonprofit organizations over the years. The Children’s Aid Society has served the needs of hurting children and their families in south central Pennsylvania for more than 100 years. A crisis nursery, art and play therapy, family advocacy, and a crisis hot line are services provided by CAS.

The Church of the Brethren Workcamp Office has announced that the assistant coordinators for the 2017 season will be Deanna Beckner and Shelley Weachter. Beckner has spent the last year coordinating workcamps for the 2016 season, and will stay on for another year. She is a graduate of Manchester University and originally comes from Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren in Northern Indiana District. Weachter will graduate from Bridgewater (Va.) College in May with a degree in Math Education. She is originally from Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren in Mid-Atlantic District. She will join the Workcamp Office in August to begin the work of planning the 2017 workcamp season.

The Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) has opened up the hiring process for two positions. The DRSI is a joint ecumenical initiative of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the disaster ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Applicants are sought for the following positions: a case management specialist, and a LTRG (long-term recovery group) formation specialist. Applications will be accepted until 12 midnight (Eastern time) on May 31. For more information including position descriptions go to www.discipleshomemissions.org/dhm/dhm-ministries/disciples-volunteering/drsi .

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is seeking an executive director. CMEP works to encourage US policies that actively promote a just, lasting, and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights, and religious freedom for all the people of the region. CMEP is a coalition of 22 national church denominations and organizations in Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions, including the Church of the Brethren. Each of these denominations and organizations is represented on the CMEP board of directors, which sets CMEP’s mission, positions, and policy. Decisions are made by consensus of this group. The executive director develops and carries out the vision of CMEP through speaking, fundraising, and supervision/management of staff and office functions; will effectively communicate policy and theological positions of CMEP to a broad range of church, NGO, and government representatives; will build on the institutional strengths of the member organizations and institutional history of CMEP while creatively engaging a shifting political and ecumenical landscape. To meet these objectives the executive director: communicates and advocates to expand support for CMEP policy objectives; works to build and maintain consensus within the member organizations though maintaining relations with CMEP board chair, CMEP executive committee, and CMEP board member organizations; nurtures and maintains communication and relationships with administration and Congressional leadership, as well as with Washington-based organizations working on Middle East issues; fundraises through speaking engagements, seeking foundation funding, and fostering relationships with potential donors; stays abreast developments in Israel-Palestine the Middle East with recognition that fine-grained analysis will be handled by the legislative director; and supervises CMEP staff and office functions, among other tasks. The following characteristics and experience are strongly preferred: an advanced degree in political science, public policy, theology, or other relevant field; 10 years of related work experience and 5 years of management experience; strong history in relation to a member church or the ecumenical community; experience working in an advocacy, policy, or interfaith/ecumenical engagement; direct knowledge and experience with the Middle East; excellent written and verbal communications skills in face-to-face exchanges, public speaking, and writing of diverse materials; experience in non-profit fundraising; ability to work under pressure and as a team member; ability to travel in the US and abroad is essential. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. Send CV and cover letter to jpic@hnp.org and cmepexecdirector@gmail.com with the subject line: CMEP Executive Director.

The Brethren Nutrition Program is looking for a new Food Ministries coordinator for this position located at Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren. For more than 30 years, the church has operated the Brethren Nutrition Program, a soup kitchen that helps feed neighbors in need on Capitol Hill by serving hot and healthy lunches. This is a full-time stipend position (with housing provided) with the expectation of a 40-hour work week. While most hours will be Monday-Friday, occasional weekend work is required. 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, and may be asked to assist in other church outreach activities and office work as needed and time allows. Requirements include a post-secondary education or relevant life experience; some experience in social work, social justice ministries, or working with marginalized populations; flexibility, persistence; skills of administration, organization, and development; a valid driver’s license. 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. A two-year commitment is required, with a three-month trial period. Housing will be provided at Brethren House, a community house for volunteers (including Brethren Volunteer Service volunteers). A stipend and food allowance will be provided, 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. For more information or to apply, send a cover letter and a resume to bnp@washingtoncitycob.org . The position begins on Aug. 15.

Dessert testers needed. Creating “The New Inglenook Cookbook” was such an adventure, that Brethren Press has decided to do it again. “Inglenook Desserts” will continue the tradition and feature more dessert recipes and more memories. Would you like to help test recipes? If so, go online and complete this simple form: www.brethren.org/bp/inglenook/be-a-tester.html . Previous testers must reapply. Testing will begin very soon, and will continue through this year. E-mail questions to inglenook@brethren.org .

The Center on Conscience and War (CCW) is closely following developments in the House of Representatives, where competing pieces of legislation have the potential either to subject young women to the requirement to register for the military draft along with young men, or end draft registration and the Selective Service System (SSS) altogether. Most recently, the House Armed Services Committee attached an amendment to the military spending authorization that would require extension of the draft registration requirement to women. However, CCW staff report that “the chair of the House Armed Services Committee (who voted for the amendment) has called for a Department of Defense study of the effect on national security and mobilization if SSS is abolished.” At the same time, another 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. CCW staff have informed Newsline that it may be quite some time before any of this pending legislation goes through the full process for adoption by the House, and then would have to undergo the same type of process for consideration by the Senate. In the meantime, an online petition is collecting signatures in support of abolishing the draft registration requirement altogether. Find it at https://diy.rootsaction.org/petitions/pass-the-new-bill-to-abolish-the-military-draft . Find more extensive information in an article from the Church of the Brethren “Messenger” magazine, written by CCW staff Bill Galvin and Maria Santelli, at http://www.brethren.org/messenger/articles/2016/abolishdraftregistration.html .

— “US News and World Report” has published an article that reviews the history of resistance to draft registration in the early 1980s, and interviewed several draft resisters and former officials of the Selective Service System. The article focuses on the problem faced by officials then, and anticipated again if the registration requirement is extended to every young adult woman in the nation–that many would refuse to register and many others would simply not follow the requirement. When President Jimmy Carter issued Proclamation 4771 in 1980 requiring all men age 18 to 26 to register, the government was “faced with far more people who had initially refused to register in the start-up period than they had ever imagined,” said Edward Hasbrouck, who was jailed for refusing to register for the draft in the 1980s, “It was beyond their worst nightmare–they were self-deluded in the way people today who think they can just wave their wand and women will sign up for the draft are self-deluded…. They thought the best way to create the impression they had scared everyone into registering was to go after a small group and have well publicized prosecutions of the most vocal non-registrants…. So they seized upon the people who already wrote them letters and said they won’t register.” The report also interviewed, among others, Dan Rutt, a Christian pacifist raised a Methodist but with Mennonite family history, who told the magazing, “In my book, I couldn’t register under any circumstances. I’m just not going to participate in the war machine, it’s as simple as that…. I’m a Christian who believes the example and commandment of Jesus is very specific.” Find the article at www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-03/gender-neutral-draft-registration-would-create-millions-of-female-felons .

Annual Conference moderator Andy Murray is interviewed in the May episode of “Brethren Voices,” the television show produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren for use on community access cable. The episode called “Meet the Moderator” reviews Murray’s life and his work for the church. For a copy, contact Ed Groff at grofprod1@msn.com .

Oakton (Md.) Church of the Brethren is planning a fundraising walk for the Brethren Nutrition Program, the only soup kitchen operating on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The walk will take place on Sunday May 22, stepping off from the Oakton Church at approximately 12:30 p.m. “The whole family is welcome!” said an invitation. “We will practice a buddy system so that everyone–fast or slow–is safe and looked after on the nearly two-mile route. Last year, we raised over $2,300 to help the BNP fix their plumbing. This year’s funds are scheduled to be used for the ongoing efforts to feed 30-60 people a day.”

Members and advisors of the youth group from New Hope Church of the Brethren in Dunmore, W.Va., spent April 30 volunteering at the Brethren Disaster Ministries Center at the Shenandoah District Office. The district newsletter reported that, after raising more than $2,500 for supplies for Church World Service kits, they assembled 34 school kits, 25 hygiene kits, and 40 emergency clean-up buckets, then swept the garage and cleaned the district’s vehicles.

“Don’t miss an episode of the Dunker Punks Podcast,” says an invitation to listen to this audio show created by a team of a dozen or so Brethren young adults. The latest episode tackles the issue of statelessness, and features Nate Hosler, director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, talking with Segma Asfaw of the World Council of Churches, and Jeff Boshart who is manager of the denomination’s Global Food Crisis Fund. The conversation touches on “the vulnerable state of being without a nationality,” said the announcement. Also among recent Dunker Punk Podcasts, an Earth Day bonus episode on ecological theology featured Jonathan Stauffer and Bethany Seminary professor Nate Ingles, and in a previous episode Emmett Eldred interviewed Micheal Himlie about his upcoming Biking for Peace benefit ride across the country. Stream or download each episode by clicking through from the show page at http://bit.ly/DunkerPunksPod . There are also links to subscribe on iTunes, add on Stitcher, and find all the show’s social media pages.

Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s new interfaith leadership studies major has drawn the attention of the New York Times. The newspaper recently published “A Laboratory for Interfaith Studies in Pennsylvania Dutch Country,” written by Samuel G. Freedman. Students who are involved in the major and are taking interfaith studies courses at Elizabethtown are interviewed, as well as college president Carl J. Strikwerda, and college chaplain Tracy W. Sadd who is a lead instructor for the major and an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. According to the report, “This unassuming dot on the intellectual landscape–1,800 students on 200 acres in the Pennsylvania Dutch heartland–had become the nation’s beta tester in the emerging academic discipline. While Elizabethtown is the only college to confer a bachelor’s degree in the field, 16 others around the nation have started minors, certificate programs, or course sequences in interfaith or interreligious studies, according to Interfaith Youth Core, a national group promoting the trend. For undergraduates, the potential career paths range from social-justice nonprofit organizations to international business. In addition, many theological seminaries offer master’s degrees involving interfaith ministry or chaplaincy. Eight Elizabethtown students signed up for the major in the first year, and 750 students have taken at least one course related to the subject.” Sadd explained the need for the new major very simply, telling the Times, “What’s called for now is interfaith peacemaking.” Read the New York Times article at www.nytimes.com/2016/04/30/us/alaboratory-for-interfaith-studies-in-pennsylvania-dutch-country.html .

Photo courtesy of Western Plains District
A McPherson (Kan.) College group poses for a picture in Colorado during a spring break trip to work with Brethren Disaster Ministries on a rebuilding project near Loveland.


Fifteen McPherson (Kan.) College students and two staff members traveled to Loveland, Colo., to work with Brethren Disaster Ministries over spring break. “Each day, students were divided into groups to work on repairing houses that were damaged by flooding several years ago,” said a report in the newsletter of Western Plains District. “The group spent most of the week re-roofing community members’ homes, but also got snowed in one day, allowing them to help around the church they stayed in during the week. The group enjoyed being able to spend spring break serving others, as well as getting to spend the last day hiking in the beautiful mountains.” McPherson College sponsors Alternative Spring Break each year, free of charge to students, giving them an opportunity to give back to the chosen organization.

Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced a number of student awards at the end of this academic year, including some of special interest to the church: The Esther Mae Wilson Petcher Memorial Scholarship, given in memory of a former Church of the Brethren missionary to Nigeria, is being awarded to Katie Smith. The scholarship is given each year to a rising senior who demonstrates leadership in campus activities with emphasis on religious life. Senior Melissa McMindes has received the Merlin and Dorothy Faw Garber Award for Christian Service. The award is named in memory of the late Dr. Merlin Garber and his wife, Dorothy, who were Bridgewater alumni and deeply involved in the life of the Church of the Brethren as pastors. For her award, McMindes received a certificate and will have her name added to a plaque in the Carter Center for Worship and Music.

Fahrney-Keedy Senior Living Community near Boonsboro, Md., has announced the launch of a new program called “At Your Service!” which provides in-home companion care for seniors. The program was launched May 1. According to a release from the community, it offers a wide range of services including housekeeping, seasonal chores, laundry xervices, meal preparation, shopping, errands, transportation, companionship, medication reminders, and more. “At Your Service! provides exceptional quality services in the comfort and familiarity of your own home to give your family and yourself peace of mind knowing you are safe, secure, and content!” the announcement said. “Our ‘companions’ are all FKHV employees and are trained in CPR. They are bonded, have current driver’s licenses with a clean record, and all of our staff have been cleared by mandatory background checks. You can be assured with At Your Service! that your safety and personal care are in professional hands.” For more information, contact Deborah Anthony, RN-BC, director of Home Based Community Programs, at 301-671-5019 or danthony@fkhv.org , or see www.fkhv.org .

In more news from the Fahrney-Keedy community, a Spring Fest Open House and All-you-can-eat Pancake Breakfast fundraiser will be held on Saturday, May 14. The pancake breakfast is served from 8-10 a.m. for $6 for adults and $3 for children over 5 years old. Younger children under five will eat for free. The open house will be from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Visitors will be able to enjoy a guided tour by walking the campus or by riding in an electric golf cart. “This will also be a great opportunity to discover what’s new as well as inquire about our plans for future growth,” said an announcement. For more information, call 301-671-5038 or 301-733-6284 or visit www.fkhv.org .

A Biking for Peace team will be setting out soon for their ride across the United States to promote peace and nonviolence. An announcement from Western Plains District noted that one of the riders, Michael Himlie, is a member of the Church of the Brethren and attended McPherson (Kan.) College for a portion of his college career. The announcement also noted when and where the riders will be traveling through the Plains states: May 19 in Colorado, riding from the Utah border to Durango; May 20 in New Mexico, riding from Farmington to Elkhorn Lodge; May 21 in Kansas, riding from Dodge City to Cunningham; June 24 in Nebraska, riding from South Sioux City to Orchard. For more detailed information on the schedule and route, go to www.bikingforpeace.org .

A first-ever Olympic refugee team has been welcomed by United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games and receive the Olympic Cup Award on behalf of the UN. The Olympic Games begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August. “For the first time in history, talented athletes who have been forced to flee their homes will get a chance to chase gold,” said Ban Ki-moon, who was quoted in media releases about the break-through for the world’s growing refugee population. “Their fellow refugees will see outstanding contenders who give hope to all. And the world will see refugees the way they deserve to be seen: as talented, strong and inspiring people.” His statement continued: “Refugees want homes, not tents. They want a flag that waves for their rights. And they deserve a world that gives them more than assistance; they deserve a world that is at peace. Let us all be on the team of refugees until there is no need for a refugee team at all.”

World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has issued a statement urging the international community to put an end to the “culture of impunity” in Syria. The statement comes on the heels of news of an air strike that targeted the Kammouneh Syrian refugee camp, killing at least 28 people and severely injuring dozens of others. “This outrage can in no way be considered as a military operation targeting armed groups, but clearly amounts to a war crime,” reads the statement. “This atrocity follows a tragic escalation of violence in Aleppo, where six hospitals have reportedly been deliberately shelled, leaving hundreds of people killed and wounded–among them babies, children, doctors, and medical personnel.” The WCC underscored its long-held belief that all governments have an obligation to protect the lives and dignity of their citizens, and to protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms. “This escalation of extreme violence is ethically unconscionable and condemnable especially when so many innocent and vulnerable people are targeted in this way,” reads the statement. “The World Council of Churches, together with the churches in our fellowship, prays that our Lord receives all the victims in Syria in His mercy, and keeps their families and beloved ones in His Love, granting them courage and patience in their grieving.” The full text of the statement is at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/statements/air-strike-on-syrian-refugee-camp .

Linda Lefever Alley, an ordained minister and spiritual director in the Church of the Brethren, was baccalaureate speaker for Eastern Mennonite Seminary on April 29. Her message was titled “Call and Dwelling for Tenuous Times,” using scriptures from John 15:5-9 and John 21:15-19. She has been the administrator for the seminary’s Congregational Resource Center since 2005, is events coordinator for seminary events, and is administrator for the seminary’s Summer Institute in Spiritual Formation. She is retiring from these positions on June 30 and will devote her ministry to spiritual direction and retreat leadership.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Robert Alley, Jenn Dorsch, Debbie Eisenbise, Deborah Haviland, Mary Kay Heatwole, Nate Hosler, Ralph McFadden, Nancy Miner, Suzanne Lay, Eli Mast, Howard Royer, Emily Tyler, Rachel Witkovsky, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for May 13.

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