Newsline for November 5, 2016

“Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life’” (Revelation 21:6).

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford


1) Grants support disaster rebuilding following flooding in Michigan and S. Carolina


2) Julie M. Hostetter to retire from leadership of the Brethren Academy
3) Introducing the 2017 Young Adult Steering Committee


4) The Challenge of Abundance: Moderator’s reflection for November 2016

5) Brethren bits: Personnel announcements and job openings, BBT insurance services, district conferences, special services of communion and love feast on Election Day



1) Grants support disaster rebuilding following flooding in Michigan and S. Carolina

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to support rebuilding projects in South Carolina and Detroit, as well as disaster relief work in South Sudan.

In related news, Brethren Disaster Ministries reports that with support from an EDF grant announced earlier this month, the Haitian Church of the Brethren (l’Eglise des Freres Haitiens) has begun distributing food and supplies to survivors of Hurricane Matthew. On Oct. 20 the first distribution was held in Bois Leger, when 73 families received food and supplies, as well as canned chicken provided by Southern Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Districts. Tarpaulins were provided to 25 families.


Photo by Ilexene Alphonse
Relief distribution in Haiti.


South Carolina

An allocation of $45,000 has opened a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project near Columbia, S.C., to continue the recovery from the October 2015 flooding. FEMA received more than 101,500 registrations for aid from those affected by the flooding. Brethren Disaster Ministries has been working through a partnership with the United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to help repair some of those damaged homes as part of the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI). The DRSI partner site will be closing after Oct. 29, and will not be available for volunteer support from any denomination. In order to continue the much needed long-term recovery work in the state and help fulfill the commitments of this grant funding, Brethren Disaster Ministries is opening a rebuilding project in the same area of South Carolina.


An additional allocation of $35,000 continues rebuilding work by Brethren Disaster Ministries in northwest Detroit, Mich. The project is rebuilding homes destroyed or damaged after a large storm system drenched southeastern Michigan in August 2014. The Northwest Detroit Recovery Project has been the sole group working on the northwest side of the city supporting homeowners for the past two years. Since April, volunteer labor has been provided primarily by Brethren Disaster Ministries. The grant will underwrite operational expenses related to volunteer support, including housing, food, and travel expenses incurred on the project, and volunteer training, tools, and equipment needed for the rebuilding work. At the end of the year, it will help cover moving expenses as the project is packed up and moved to another site to be determined. Small portions of the grant will go to the Northwest Detroit Flood Recovery Project to help with construction materials. A previous grant of $45,000 was made to this project in March.

South Sudan

An additional allocation of $5,000 has continued the Church of the Brethren response to increasing food insecurity in South Sudan. At the time of the grant request, Brethren mission worker Athanasus Ungang reported some 2,100 households and another 1,000 individuals who might not survive without some type of aid, in the area where the relief work has been carried out. This grant supported additional distributions of food aid, after a first and second distribution of food had been completed. Since that time the crisis expanded, with South Sudan calling it a state of emergency due to food shortages in the state of Imatong. Grants totaling $18,000 supported the previous food distributions that were made earlier this year.

For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund and to contribute financially to these relief efforts, go to



2) Julie M. Hostetter to retire from leadership of the Brethren Academy

Photo courtesy of Bethany Seminary
Julie Mader Hostetter

Julie Mader Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, has announced her retirement effective Jan. 31, 2017. She has served in this role since 2008. The Brethren Academy is a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary.

“With more than 40 years of experience as a pastor and as denominational staff, Julie has touched many lives and worked diligently to strengthen ministerial leadership training in the Church of the Brethren,” said Bethany Seminary academic dean Steven Schweitzer, in a release from the seminary. “Her commitment to people and process, to relationships and excellence in her work has been a hallmark of her ministry.”

Along with oversight of denominational certificate-level ministry programs, including Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM), Hostetter provided leadership for continuing education. The Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) program underwritten by the Lilly Endowment Inc., continued to give many pastors the opportunity for spiritual, intellectual, and relational growth under her leadership. SPE was succeeded by the Sustaining Ministerial Excellence program in 2015, offering similar experiences for persons in other forms of ministry.

In addition, new training for supervisors of ministry students was offered in 2014 through Supervision in Ministry classes. To better serve Spanish-speaking Brethren in ministry training, the Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano (SeBAH-COB) certificate program was launched in cooperation with the Mennonite Education Agency in 2011. In 2015 the academy assumed responsibility for ministerial ethics training in the denomination, involving dozens of seminars nationwide, many led by Hostetter.

In previous years, she served on the staff of the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries as one of the former Congregational Life Team members (CLT). She coordinated the Congregational Life Team for Area 3 (Southeast) from Dec. 1997 through April 2005, when she accepted a call to become academic coordinator for United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. She received her master of divinity from United in 1982 and after graduation served on the school’s administrative staff for more than five years. In 2010 she completed a doctor of ministry degree through the Center for Ministry and Leadership Development at Union-PSCE (now Union Presbyterian Seminary) in Richmond, Va.

Hostetter first became involved in church work as a church musician, when she started as a church organist at age 15. Over the years, her volunteer service to the church has included a term as moderator of Southern Ohio District in 2013, and ecumenical involvements including service as interim executive director of Metropolitan Churches United in Dayton. She has written numerous Christian education resources, and for several years helped edit and produce the “Seed Packet” newsletter as a joint publication of Congregational Life Ministries and Brethren Press.

— Jenny Williams, director of communications for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., contributed to this release.


3) Introducing the 2017 Young Adult Steering Committee

By Paige Butzlaff

The Young Adult Steering Committee met in September to discuss and plan the upcoming 2017 Young Adult Conference. The committee includes: Rudy Amaya (Pasadena, Calif.), Jessie Houff (Hurleyville, N.Y.), Amanda McLearn-Montz (Iowa City, Iowa), Renee Neher (Lombard, Ill.), Kyle Remnant (Cincinnati, Ohio), and Mark Pickens (Harrisburg, Pa.).


Young Adult Steering Committee meets to begin planning the 2017 Young Adult Conference.

Young Adult Conference will take place May 26-28, 2017, at Camp Harmony, near Hooversville, Pa. It offers people ages 18-35 a chance to enjoy fellowship, worship, recreation, Bible study, service projects, and more–all with other fantastic young adults!

Registration for this event is $150, which includes food, lodging, and programming. A non-refundable deposit of $75 is due within two weeks of registering. Scholarships are available. Upon request, a letter will be sent to the young adult’s congregation asking to provide a $75 scholarship. Scholarships are also available to actively serving BVSers.

Online registration opens at 12 noon (central time) on Jan. 20, 2017, at . Theme and speaker information, as well as a schedule, are coming soon! If you have any questions, please contact Paige Butzlaff ( or 847-429-43889) or Becky Ullom Naugle ( or 847-429-4385) in the Youth/Young Adult Ministry Office.

— Paige Butzlaff is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker serving in the Youth and Young Adult Ministry. She is from La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren.



4) The Challenge of Abundance: Moderator’s reflection for November 2016

By Carol Scheppard

Scriptures for study: Amos 1-4

“Risk Hope,” the 2017 Annual Conference theme, emerges as a recurring chorus from an Old Testament saga of tragedy and redemption–the story of Israel’s progressive descent into exile. Staring down obstacles and situations very reminiscent of our 21st century challenges, our ancestors in faith made mistakes, suffered consequences, and endured darkness, but in the midst of it all they found their footing in their identity story, and ultimately welcomed God’s powerful presence in their midst. That presence launched them on a new path to abundance and blessing.

This month we turn our attention to the time of the Divided Kingdom. After the golden age of the United Kingdom under Kings David and Solomon, Israel divided. The 10 northern tribes called the general Jeroboam back from exile in Egypt and made him king over them, while in the south the two tribes of Judah swore allegiance to Rehoboam, son of Solomon. In the years that followed the northern kingdom, Israel, under such powerful kings as Jeroboam, Omri, and Ahab became wealthy and powerful. Judah, by contrast stayed small, essentially serving as a vassal to the more powerful Israel.

The prophet Amos was a shepherd from Tekoa, a village in the hills south of Bethlehem in Judah. He came to Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II, a powerful king who ruled Israel through a time of peace and great prosperity. In their wealth and power, the people of Israel corrupted their true service to God. They forgot the law, practiced many forms of idolatry, and understood their wealth and power as a sign of God’s pleasure with them and their pursuits. They trusted in their apparent favored status and had no concern for righteous living, no premonition of coming dark times, and no fear of opposing powers. The prophet Amos came from Judah to lay bare their sins and proclaim God’s displeasure. Amos warns Israel, “Do not be so sure of God’s endorsement. Just because you are the Chosen of God, doesn’t mean he’s not out to get you.”

Read: Amos 1:1-2:3

The beginning of Amos’ prophecy only encourages Israel’s arrogance. Amos provides a survey of the surrounding nations, proclaiming God’s judgement on their military aggression and violent activity. “Yes,” the people of Israel might well have said, “they are evil foreign nations and our God will certainly wipe them out and give victory to us!”

Read: Amos 2:4-16

Note how Amos’ tone and message shift as he begins to address God’s people, still including them in the judgement motif (“for three transgressions…and for four, I will not revoke the punishment”). Judah he condemns “because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept his statutes…” God’s people were given the law, and so they are held to a higher standard than the rest of the nations. Judah will face judgement, but it is Israel who first receives the full force of God’s wrath.

Amos gives a detailed list of Israel’s transgressions, all in blatant disregard for God’s commandments to worship God alone and take care of one another. They enslave the righteous, abuse the poor, commit incest and child abuse, and engage in a variety of idolatrous acts. God had blessed them to bless others–their abundance was to provide for all God’s people–but they squandered it in corrupt living and injustice.

Read: Amos 3

God’s covenant with God’s people names them as both the Chosen of God and the Servant of God. With real blessings come real expectations, and those expectations, when not met, carry real consequences. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Amos reminds the people that God means business: “Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey?” (Obviously not). “Proclaim to the strongholds in Ashdod, and to the strongholds in the land of Egypt, and say, ‘Assemble yourselves on Mount Samaria, and see what great tumults are within it, and what oppressions are in its midst.’” Amos calls on the Philistines and the Egyptians, highest on Israel’s list of evil peoples, to witness to the sins of Israel and to God’s directed punishments.

Read: Amos 4

Amos’ reference to the women of Samaria as the “cows of Bashan” is a bit of a joke. Bashan was a wealthy region known for its fine cattle. But God’s judgement in the face of Israel’s arrogance is no laughing matter. “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.”

Questions for consideration

— Throughout the scriptures, Israel struggles most to be faithful in times of abundance. What is there about prosperity that causes us to lose our way?

— Do we see the list of transgressions described in Amos 2 at work in our own world? Where, how, and why?

— What role does arrogance play in our modern world? Can you think of modern-day examples of links between arrogance and disaster?

— Is it possible to enjoy prosperity and be faithful? If so, how?


— Carol Scheppard is moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.


5) Brethren bits

“So important. So easy to enroll,” says an announcement from Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) insurance services, regarding open enrollment. “Do you have enough insurance coverage for those costly dentist visits and eye exams? Brethren Insurance Services offers affordable dental and vision insurance that makes all those unexpected extras (like fillings, braces, contacts and glasses) a little easier. Click here to find out more about our coverage from Delta Dental and EyeMed.” Brethren Insurance Services offers an array of ancillary products for ministers and other employees (and retirees) of congregations, districts, and camps.  Visit to find rates, options, and enrollment forms.

Kelly Wiest, administrator at Casa De Modesto, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in California, is retiring effective Dec. 15. “We wish you the very best Kelly, as you find new adventures and opportunities for your life,” said an announcement from Fellowship of Brethren Homes director Ralph McFadden.

The Church of the Brethren has hired James Miner as Yearbook specialist, working with Brethren Press at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. He brings more than 20 years of experience in the field of data processing, and previous experience working in the IT department at the General Offices. From October 1981 through May 1992 he was a computer programmer and systems analyst for the former General Board. He most recently has been a software engineer for Kronos in Schaumburg, Ill. He also is serving as web administrator for Camp Emmaus and for Illinois and Wisconsin District of the Church of the Brethren, and from 2001 to 2010 he was district youth advisor. He holds degrees from Elgin Community College and from Manchester College (now Manchester University) where he earned a degree in math and computer science. He is a life-long member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin.

Esther Harsh has been called as district youth coordinator for Northern Ohio District. She is a graduate of Malone University with specific training in youth ministry, and has served as a missionary in Ukraine for more than six years, teaching life skills to orphans and orphanage graduates through personal relationships. Her experience also includes working as the educational director for the Boys and Girls club of Massillon, Ohio. She is from Zion Hill Church of the Brethren.

The Office of Ministry and Bethany Theological Seminary seek to fill the full-time position of executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. The primary functions of the position are to oversee certificate programs in ministry education, continuing education for ministers, and educational events focused on leadership development in the Church of the Brethren. Candidates should possess the following qualifications and abilities: five years of effective leadership in pastoral ministry; ordination and active membership in the Church of the Brethren; a master of divinity degree; a record of regular continuing education experiences. Residence in Richmond, Ind., or the surrounding area. A complete job description is available at . The application deadline is Dec. 1. Interviews will immediately follow, with the position to be filled by Jan. 31, 2017. Send resumes by postal mail or e-mail to: Steven Schweitzer, Academic Dean, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374; . The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is a ministry training partnership of Bethany Theological Seminary and the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry. 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.

Middle Pennsylvania District seeks a district executive minister to fill a full-time position available June 1, 2017. The district comprises 55 congregations, and is culturally and theologically diverse. Its congregations are rural, small town, and city. The district has a strong interest in church renewal. The preferred candidate is a spiritually wise pastoral leader who offers inspiration and works collaboratively to envision and manifest the work of the district. Responsibilities include serving as administrator of the board of the district, facilitating and giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of ministries as directed by the district conference and the Coordinating Team, and providing linkages to congregations, the Church of the Brethren, and Annual Conference agencies; assisting congregations and pastors with placement; facilitating and encouraging the calling and credentialing of persons to set-apart ministry; building and strengthening relationships with congregations and pastors; using mediation skills to work with congregations in conflict; promoting unity in the district. Qualifications include a clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant spiritual life with a commitment to New Testament values and to Church of the Brethren faith and heritage; strong relational, communication, mediation, and conflict resolution skills; strong administrative and organizational skills; competence with technology; passion for mission and ministry of the church; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership. Membership in the Church of the Brethren, ordination, and pastoral experience are required. A bachelor’s degree is required, a master of divinity degree is preferred. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to: . Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide letters of reference. Upon receipt of a resume, a candidate profile will be sent that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is Feb. 1, 2017.

Bethany Theological Seminary, the seminary of the Church of the Brethren, announces an opening for the full-time position of administrative assistant for Admissions and Student Services with an immediate starting date. The seminary is located in Richmond, Ind. This is an opportunity for a person with strengths in caring for details and supporting colleagues in the mission of the Admissions and Student Services Department. Responsibilities include overseeing student accounts, financial aid, and the Federal Work-study program. This person will also be a vital part of the admissions team and will provide needed support to student development and alumni/ae relations. Eligible applicants will hold the minimum of an associate’s degree. Affinity with the values and mission of the seminary is required. Experience in student billing and the handling of confidential materials is preferred. Qualified applicants will be personable and able to be self-directed, manage a complex workload with attention to details, offer office support to colleagues, and quickly respond to phone and e-mail requests from prospective and current students. Experience with SalesForce, Excel, iContact, Cougar Mountain, or other accounting software, and creating webforms would be helpful. A complete job description is available at . Application review will begin on Nov. 7 and will continue until an appointment is made. To apply, send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to: Rev. Dr. 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.

Three district conferences are taking place this weekend: Atlantic Southeast District meets on Nov. 4-5 at Sebring (Fla.) Church of the Brethren. Illinois and Wisconsin District meets Nov. 4-5 at Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren. Shenandoah District meets on Nov. 4-5 at Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va.

York Center Church of the Brethren is partnering with Lombard Mennonite Church to host an Election Day Communion service on Tuesday evening, Nov. 8, in Lombard, Ill. “This short service will contain singing, scripture, a lament for the political divisiveness in our country, and of course, Communion,” said an announcement from York Center pastor Christy Waltersdorff. For more information contact Hillary Watson, Associate Pastor, Lombard Mennonite Church, 630-627-5310. Waltersdorff added, “We are also having a service of prayer for our nation the week after the election at York Center.” The prayer service on Wednesday, Nov. 16 will start at 7 p.m.

An Election Day Love Feast co-sponsored by Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center and Shenandoah District is being held on Nov. 8, 7-8 p.m. at the camp’s Pine Grove Building. The camp is located near Keezletown, Va. “It has been a long and divisive presidential election season,” said an invitation. “Whether you plan to vote Democratic, Republican, independent, third party, write-in, or not at all, let’s join together after the polls close to make the same choice together: Jesus Christ. Election Day Love Feast is an opportunity to affirm that our first allegiance is to Jesus, and this allegiance is more important than party, candidate, or country. Jesus is our true savior and the one with the actual power to change the world.” The event will include feetwashing or hand washing, a light Fellowship Meal of snacks, and communion.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jean Bednar, Paige Butzlaff, Nancy Miner, Becky Ullom Naugle, Carol Scheppard, Christy Waltersdorff, Jenny Williams, Roy Winter, 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 Nov. 11.

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