Newsline for October 13, 2016

“Then Jesus told them…about their need to pray always and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Annual Conference moderator Carol Scheppard leads chapel at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, on the theme for the 2017 Conference, “Risk Hope.”


1) Group of Chibok schoolgirls are released from captivity
2) Disaster ministries, mission staff assess hurricane damage, begin planning for response
3) Global Food Initiative supports medical training for Brethren in DR, cultural/garden exchanges


4) National Junior High Sunday calls youth to ‘Grow in Wisdom’
5) ‘Vision for new hope’ is theme of Advent Offering for Church of the Brethren ministries

6) Brethren bits: Remembering Parker Marden, Nat. Campaign for Peace Tax Fund seeks volunteers, Lick Creek ice cream social for Habitat, W. Pennsylvania’s 150th district conference, World Hunger Auction distributions, Bridgewater students give meals to CROP, and more

Quote of the week:

“With memory came hope. Remember who you are.”

— Annual Conference moderator Carol Scheppard, leading chapel at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., this past Wednesday, Oct. 12. She was preaching on the Annual Conference theme for 2017, “Risk Hope,” and stories from the Old Testament about the experiences of the ancient Israelites who turned back to God and remembered what it meant to be faithful when the prophets reminded them of their true identity as people of God. Find out more about Annual Conference at .

A Sunday morning consecration service for general secretary David Steele will be live-streamed via Facebook, during the fall meeting of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board. The denomination’s board meets this weekend at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill.
     The consecration service will be streamed on Sunday, Oct. 16, 8:30-9:30 a.m. (central time), on the Church of the Brethren Facebook page at . This is the first time denominational staff will use Facebook Live for this purpose, and viewers are asked to be understanding of any issues that may occur. The service also will be recorded and will be available to view via Facebook following the service, or later in the week at .
     On the board’s business agenda are an orientation for new board members, 2016 financial updates, a 2017 budget, discussion of the Annual Conference query “Living Together as Christ Calls,” a new mission philosophy document, and a proposal for use of proceeds from any eventual sale of part of the Brethren Service Center property, among other business.
    A full report from the board meeting will appear in Newsline next week.


1) Group of Chibok schoolgirls are released from captivity

Photo courtesy of Roxane and Carl Hill
Students at Mount Vernon Nazarene University are just one of the groups around the world who have been praying for the release of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok. These students formed a prayer circle, Nigerian style, after hearing a presentation by Carl and Roxane Hill about the Chibok girls and the Nigeria Crisis Response.

The Nigerian government says 21 of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April 2014 have been freed in negotiations with the insurgents, according to reports from media outlets today including the Associated Press and ABC News. The negotiations were carried out with help from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government.

Church of the Brethren staff have received confirmation of this news from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). EYN president Joel S. Billi sent confirmation after he talked with Chibok parents and the Bring Back Our Girls organization in Nigeria. The majority of the girls abducted from the school in Chibok are from Nigerian Brethren families.

“We receive this news with great joy,” said Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service. “As a church we have been in active prayer for these individuals since their abduction. Congregations continue to pray specifically for each girl. Jesus said that we should pray always and not lose heart and we have steadfastly been doing so and we will continue to do so.

“We also express gratitude to all parties involved in this negotiated release. We know that both the IRC and the Swiss government have been actively involved in working toward peace and relief in Nigeria in many ways, and we are not surprised that they have been involved in this settlement.

“We do continue to call for the release of all individuals held against their will,” Wittmeyer said, “not just those from Chibok.”

Some 197 of the Chibok students remain in Boko Haram hands, and “it is not known how many of them may have died,” said the AP report, as published on According to AP, the freed girls are in the custody of Nigeria’s Department of State Services, which is the country’s intelligence agency. Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told the AP that talks will continue for the release of the rest of the Chibok girls.

Find the AP and ABC News report at . Find information on the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren and EYN at


The “Premium Times” of Nigeria has reported the 21 names given by the Nigerian government:

1. Mary Usman Bulama
2. Jummai John
3. Blessing Abana
4. Lugwa Sanda
5. Comfort Habila
6. Maryam Basheer
7. Comfort Amos
8. Glory Mainta
9. Saratu Emannuel
10. Deborah Ja’afaru
11. Rahab Ibrahim
12. Helen Musa
13. Maryamu Lawan
14. Rebecca Ibrahim
15. Asabe Goni
16. Deborah Andrawus
17. Agnes Gapani
18. Saratu Markus
19. Glory Dama
20. Pindah Nuhu
21. Rebecca Mallam

Find the newspaper report at


2) Disaster ministries, mission staff assess hurricane damage, begin planning for response

Staff of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries have been assessing storm damage and needs in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. A Church of the Brethren response is being planned, with funding through donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund; go to to support this effort.


Photo by Ilexene Alphonse
Destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew in the Cayes area of Haiti.


The Haitian Church of the Brethren (l’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti) “continues a comprehensive evaluation of the impact on Brethren families and communities,” reported Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. “Early reports indicate flooding and mudslides damaged homes in a number of communities with Brethren families. The heavy rains destroyed crops and killed livestock, causing great concern about longer term hunger and food insecurity in this already food insecure country.”

Brethren Disaster Ministries plans to work closely with the Haitian Brethren, the Global Food Initiative (GFI), and the Haiti Medical Project in carrying out a response effort. Winter noted that a supply of canned chicken provided by the Southern Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Districts arrived in Haiti recently and will be the first point of distribution to the most vulnerable families.

Although Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) was put on alert and had volunteers ready to provide childcare on the east coast, the American Red Cross has asked them to “stand down” for the moment. CDS expected to be asked to respond in Florida, but the hurricane actually caused more flooding and damage in North Carolina. Associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller today reported that another CDS team is being identified and will be ready to go if and when CDS receives the call for North Carolina.

Updates from Haiti

Ilexene Alphonse, Global Mission staff in Haiti, has been traveling to affected areas and sent a brief report on Wednesday, after returning from the town of Cayes.

“Three of us went to Cayes in public transportation,” he reported. “We went to a village called Mathurine, what we saw there is heartbreaking. Everything destroying, houses, schools, churches and gardens. They lost everything. We didn’t see anyone there to help them.”

The Brethren group brought along a small amount of relief goods, children’s clothing and shoes, which “the people received like manna from Heaven,” Alphonse reported. “We saw children crying for food, they are really hungry. Places people are sleeping are places many of us will never let our dogs sleep in.

“We saw a lot of relief trucks but all went to Jacmel at this point and left those people in dire need.”


Photo by Ilexene Alphonse
A home destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in the area around Croix des Bouquets, Haiti.


Alphonse also has visited a place that suffered much destruction close to the Church of the Brethren ministry center in the Croix des Bouquets area near Port-au-Prince. “When I got there and saw where mothers sleeping with their children I could not hold my tears. I can’t really find words to describe what I saw in those communities,” he reported.

There are other places where Brethren families are affected, Alphonse said, but he has not yet been able to visit them. In the two communities he has visited, there was no loss of life but losses of houses, schools, churches, livestock, clothing, and household supplies.

He reported that the following numbers issued by the Haitian government are being quoted in the Haitian media, showing the effects of the hurricane on the whole nation: 473 deaths, 75 people still missing, 339 people injured, 175,000 people displaced.

GFI manager Jeff Boshart also has reached out to Haitian Brethren leaders in the United States and in Haiti, and has received some reports.

From Haitian Brethren leader Jean Bily, Boshart learned that news from Brethren communities is still coming in, but reports so far indicate that most damage is to agriculture with loss of crops and animals, and impacts on health including the fear of further cholera outbreaks. “The only exception is in the extreme northwest of the country and that isn’t getting much press,” Boshart reported. “The news is on the southwest but the storm tracked over the northwest part of the island as well, and we [the Church of the Brethren] have a presence in the town of Bombardopolis.”

For five years the GFI has funded a goat-raising project with school students in Bombardopolis through CEPAEB (Coordination des Enfants Pour le Progres Agricole et Educationnel de Bombardopolis). The program has lost livestock Bily reported, and there was damage to numerous houses. Bily plans to travel to Bombardopolis to get pictures and more details.

Boshart also shared brief reports from other areas where Haitian Brethren staff are gathering information:
— The Tom Gato community southwest of Port-au-Prince, in the mountains above Leogane, where houses were rebuilt following the earthquake, also lost crops and animals.
— Morne Boulage and La Ferrier lost crops and animals. There was already a project underway there to build latrines in coordination with Haiti Medical Project, and a further response effort may be an opportunity to work on more latrines for these communities.
— Remosaint is a very isolated mountain community to the north of Port-au-Prince, and a member of the National Committee of l’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti plans to visit there and bring back news.
— Another concern in Haiti is the downing of avocados from many trees. Bily reported that at this time of year, school children count on avocados for one meal (likely breakfast) on their way to or from school. Also, earlier this year a new pest arrived in Haiti, the sugar cane aphid, and wiped out the sorghum harvest in many places. “This on top of widespread hunger from last year’s El Nino drought will mean much hunger in the coming months,” Boshart said.

Ludovic St. Fleur, a minister based in Florida and a founding minister of the church in Haiti, reported from his contacts in the Bombardopolis area as well as the south of the country. St. Fleur’s congregation in Miami is considering taking on the task of receiving donations of material goods to help out those in need in Haiti, but is assessing the associated costs of shipping the goods and distributing them.

BDM seeks funding for hurricane response

Brethren Disaster Ministries is working on a funding request to support the Church of the Brethren and the Church World Service (CWS) responses in Haiti. Winter plans an initial emergency grant request from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to fund emergency relief operations and to develop a larger response plan, in cooperation with the Haitian Brethren, GFI, and the Haiti Medical Project.

“It will take awhile for the Haitian Church of the Brethren to develop their goals and to work with them on a response plan,” he noted.

A second EDF grant request will be made in support of the CWS response. “This will support the CWS work in the far southwest and northwest departments of Haitil,” Winter said. “This grant will support home repair and rebuilding, a focus on agriculture and livelihood programs including seed distribution, animals, and micro-credit activities, and psychosocial programs.”

Church World Service update

A CWS report issued this week focused on areas where the humanitarian organization has been active following the 2010 earthquake. It also reported a much higher death toll than the Haitian media reports that Ilexene Alphonse shared, saying that there have been 842 deaths.

“In the towns of Ganthier and Boen, Haiti, CWS has led an ACT Alliance program to build and repair houses for families displaced by the 2010 earthquake. Ganthier has been flooded, but all of the houses in this program as well as schools that CWS helped construct in the aftermath of the earthquake are still standing,” the report said. “Some are now serving as shelters.”

CWS is taking part in the ACT Alliance response, which will support housing repair, help to rebuild damaged or destroyed infrastructure, animal shelter, seed distribution and grain storage, road repair, micro-credit, soil conservation, and psychosocial support.

“Based on learning from the 2010 earthquake, CWS will advocate with Haitian authorities (Ministry of Agriculture, IBESR -child welfare agency, CNSA-National Commission on Food Security) and selected agencies of the UN system (UNICEF) that the voice of local Haitian organizations and communities be heard and that they have a role in recovery and rehabilitation efforts,” the report said.

For more about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries go to . For online donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund go to . To send support for the hurricane response by mail, send checks to Emergency Disaster Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.


3) Global Food Initiative supports medical training for Brethren in DR, cultural/garden exchanges

The Global Food Initiative (formerly the Global Food Crisis Fund) issued a grant of $660 for representatives of Iglesia de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) to travel to Santiago, DR, for a week of training with Medical Ambassadors International. Other recent grants support cultural/garden exchanges partnering indigenous communities in Lybrook, N.M., and Circle, Alaska, as well as agriculture in Haiti.



Medical training in the DR

Six representatives were selected by the junta or board of the church in the DR to attend the medical training. They came from both the Dominican and Dominican Haitian congregations of the church. The training, which took place Aug. 23-27, was the first phase of the training program with more in-depth training to follow. The grant was used to cover lodging, meals, and books related to Medical Ambassador’s Community Health Evangelism program.

Cultural/garden exchanges

Cultural/garden exchanges will connect two indigenous communities, the Gwich’in community of Circle, Alaska, and the Navajo community of Lybrook, N.M. An allocation of $3,775 will pay for three representatives involved with community gardening efforts in Lybrook to travel to Circle for an exchange of gardening ideas and cultural concerns–Jim Therrien of Tokahookaadi Church of the Brethren, along with two Navajo representatives from Lybrook.

A grant of $3,103.40 funds four representatives involved with community gardening efforts in Circle to travel to Lybrook for an exchange of gardening ideas and cultural concerns with Navajo gardeners–Bill and Penny Gay, members of Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren in Decatur, Ind., along with two Gwich’in representatives from Circle.

The community gardens in Lybrook and Circle have received grants through the Going to the Garden initiative of the Office of Public Witness and the GFI.

Haiti agriculture

An allocation of $4,410 from the Global Food Initiative Fund has funded an evaluation of agriculture projects in Haiti for the 2015-16 program year. The project is nearing completion of year 4 of a 5-year plan. This year’s evaluation is jointly sponsored by the Haiti Medical Project in order to be more comprehensive and to include an evaluation of community health work. To strengthen this year’s reporting, a statistician has been added to the evaluation team. The statistician, a lawyer by training, has worked with Haiti Medical Program doctors in the past to provide mobile clinic statistics. The grant will cover salary, food, and lodging for the evaluation team; fuel costs; report preparation; and a concluding meeting with the National Committee of Eglise des Freres in Haiti.

Art show fees benefit hunger

In more news from the initiative, a donation has been received from Janelle Cogan, who organizes an on line art competition where fees are collected and donated to a worthy cause. This is the second time the initiative (formerly as GFCF) has received a donation from this online art show called “Colors of Humanity.”

“You are welcome to check out our Landscapes show, where the donation came from,” wrote Cogan to initiative manager Jeff Boshart. Go to . The show will run until the end of this month.



4) National Junior High Sunday calls youth to ‘Grow in Wisdom’

“Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity…. Do not neglect the gift that is in you” (1 Timothy 4:12, 14a).



The theme for the 2016 National Junior High Sunday in the Church of the Brethren is “Grow in Wisdom” with a scripture theme from 1 Timothy 4:12-15. The suggested date for the annual observance is Sunday, Nov. 6. Find worship resources, logos, and more free downloads at .

This special Sunday is an opportunity for congregations to call youth into leadership, and invite junior highers to help lead worship for the whole church. Resources are offered to aid junior high youth and their adult advisors to plan and lead a worship focused on the theme.

Resources include calls to worship and benedictions and other liturgy, aids for preparing a sermon and ideas for responding to a sermon, a children’s story, ideas for music and hymns, and more.


5) ‘Vision for new hope’ is theme of Advent Offering for Church of the Brethren ministries

By Matt DeBall

“A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1-2).

The annual Advent Offering for Church of the Brethren ministries is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 4, the second Sunday of Advent. The theme, “Vision for New Hope,” is inspired by Isaiah 11:1-10 from the lectionary.

Worship resources related to the theme and scripture were written by Eric Landrum, pastor of Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. These free resources may be downloaded at .

The biblical exegesis for Isaiah 11:1-10 was written by Debbie Eisenbise, director of Intergenerational Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, and a staff member of Congregational Life Ministries. A theme interpretation and children’s activity sheet were prepared by Matt DeBall and Cherise Glunz of the denomination’s Donor Relations staff.

— Matt DeBall is coordinator of donor communications for the Church of the Brethren.


6) Brethren bits


Photo courtesy of CPT
A prayer concern shared by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) asks for prayer for a new team of peacemakers. “Give thanks for seven new CPTers who recently completed training in the Czech Republic and the fresh energy they will bring to teams working in the field. Pray for their strength and wisdom as they join our Indigenous, Palestinian, Kurdish, and Colombian partners and partners working with refugees and migrants to transform violence through the nonviolent power of God’s truth.”


Remembrance: Parker Marden, 77, the 13th president of Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., has died. Manchester president Dave McFadden shared a remembrance and prayer request with the university community: “Please keep Parker’s wife, Ann, and their children, Jon and KerriAnn, in your thoughts and prayers.” Marden had been in failing health for some time, and had been living in Topsham, Maine, since his retirement. He led the school–then Manchester College–from 1994-2004. “On Parker’s watch, Manchester increased diversity among students and faculty,” wrote McFadden. “He elevated our national profile and raised our international consciousness. He led the institution through most of The Next Step comprehensive campaign, which strengthened the endowment, made significant capital improvements to campus, and expanded the donor base. During a 31,000-mile national tour, Parker met with 10 percent of Manchester’s living alumni. He liked to tell them why he was proud of Manchester and that they should be too.” He was a native of Worcester, Mass. He graduated from Bates College in Maine. He earned a master’s degree and doctorate from Brown University. He taught sociology at Cornell University, Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., and St. Lawrence University. He came to Manchester from Beloit College, where he had been vice president for academic affairs and dean. Find the remembrance from the university at .

The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF) is seeking a volunteer in each congressional district to communicate with representatives about the Peace Tax Fund Bill and urge for its passage. Time commitment is two to four hours a month. The NCPTF will provide resources, information, and contacts for this work. To learn more go to . To sign up contact 888-PEACE-TAX or .

Lick Creek Church of the Brethren has donated $1,037.94 to Habitat for Humanity of Williams County, representing “the entire proceeds from its annual ice cream social,” according to the “Bryan Times.” The social was held July 23. The newspaper reported that church members Sherrie Herman, Marge Keck, and Jim Masten–who also is a member of the Habitat board for the county–presented the check to Mary Ann Peters, the county’s Habitat executive director, and board members Michael Cox and Joe Pilarski. Find the newspaper report at .

Western Pennsylvania District holds its 150th annual district conference on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa. The theme is, “All for the Glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

“The World Hunger Auction steering committee was blessed to be able to disburse $60,000 from the various 2016 activities,” reports the Virlina District newsletter. The committee distributed $30,000 to Heifer International, $15,000 to Roanoke (Va.) Area Ministries, $6,000 to the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative, and $3,000 each to Heavenly Manna Food Bank, Stepping Stone Mission, and Lake Christian Ministries. “Many people shared their talents, resources, time and efforts to make these results possible,” the newsletter said. “The committee expresses deep appreciation to all who participated in the many events and activities in 2016.”

Bridgewater (Va.) College will hold a CROP Meal from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27, in the main dining hall in the Kline Campus Center. Faculty, staff, and members of the community will be able to purchase CROP Meals surrendered by students and enjoy “dinner out” in the dining hall. The meals have been paid for on the student meal plan, and all proceeds go directly to CROP’s hunger relief, education, and development programs in the US and around the world. Cost of the meal is $8 for adults, $6 for children 12 and under. College students also will be seeking sponsors for the Bridgewater/Dayton area CROP Hunger Walk that begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30, at Bridgewater Community Center. A release from the college said that “last year’s CROP Meal and Hunger Walk raised more than $6,300 for Church World Service.

“Seek Peace and Pursue It,” an exhibition showcasing nine noted peacemakers, will open at the Alexander Mack Memorial Library at Bridgewater College on Oct. 22. The exhibition, which centers on peacemakers whose papers and artifacts are in Bridgewater College Special Collections and the Reuel B. Pritchett Museum Collection, will run through Dec. 9. Admission is free and open to the public. A release from the college noted that “individuals honored in the exhibition are former Bridgewater College president and peace advocate Paul H. Bowman; local Civil War evangelist John Kline; Peace Corps volunteer Lula A. Miller; author and teacher Anna B. Mow; founder of the Brethren Alexander Mack Sr.; Brethren ambassador W. Harold Row; missionary to China Nettie M. Senger; humanitarian Naomi Miller West; and Nobel Peace Prize nominee M. Robert Zigler.” The exhibition will feature displays of documents and artifacts from the lives of these peacemakers. Bridgewater seniors Charlotte McIntyre and Allegra Morrison and Bridgewater College special collections librarian Stephanie S. Gardner curate the exhibition.

“Have a listen to the latest podcasts created by Brethren young adults,” invites Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren, which hosts the Dunker Punks podcasts. New episodes include “Spiritual Training Regimen (#14)” and “Gender is a Galaxy (#15).” Subscribe to the podcast series on iTunes or stream it from .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Ilexene Alphonse, Jeffrey S. Boshart, Matt DeBall, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Kendra Harbeck, Mary Kay Heatwole, Suzanne Lay, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for Oct. 21.

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