Newsline for September 16, 2016

“Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19).


Photo courtesy of the Workcamp Ministry
Workcampers spell out love



1) Ministry adds four new locations, involves 350 participants in summer workcamps
2) Children’s Disaster Services sends another team to continue work in Baton Rouge
3) Alaska gardening project continues to enrich nutrition for communities
4) Nigerian Fellowship Tour visits IDP camps, schools, and other crisis response sites
5) Ecumenical leaders of WCC and NCC issue joint statement on Holy Land


6) Lamar Gibson hired as development director for On Earth Peace


7) Peace Day 2016 is scheduled for Sept. 21, Brethren will be participating
8) Atlantic Northeast District hosts Christian/Muslim workshop with Musa Mambula

9) Brethren bits

Quote of the week:

“I’m happy to share that Bethany Theological Seminary has been included among the list of Seminaries that Change the World again this year.”

— An announcement from Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter. This year’s is the fourth annual list of “Seminaries that Change the World” issued by the Center for Faith and Service, according to the Huffington Post. The article, titled “What We Love About This Year’s Seminaries That Change the World,” had this to say about Bethany: “The Bethany Neighborhood is an intentional community based on mutuality and simplicity where students live and learn together sharing resources. The Peace Forum offers a weekly lunch and speaker series focusing on diverse peace and justice topics.” Find the Huffington Post piece at . A press release from the Center for Faith and Service is at .


1) Ministry adds four new locations, involves 350 participants in summer workcamps

Photo courtesy of Rachel Witkovsky
Youth paint a fence at one of the 2016 workcamp sites.

By Deanna Beckner

Eighteen workcamps blazed with holiness this summer as about 320 workcampers and 30 directors and guest coordinators gathered together to serve in the name of Christ, sharing their time and talents. “Blazing with Holiness” (1 Peter 1:13-16) was the theme for the Church of the Brethren workcamps in 2016.

The workcamps provided opportunities to serve in a variety of settings from camps to food banks to homeless shelters. New workcamp locations in 2016 included Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Va.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Camp Mardela in Denton, Md.; and Portland, Ore.

Portland workcampers partnered with Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) projects at Human Solutions and SnowCap, where they were able to witness some of the impact that BVS has had on the community, as well as work on some needed projects.

The Knoxville workcamp materialized from a workcamp coordinator’s service experience with Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) at the 2012 National Young Adult Conference. KARM was visited along with three other sites, and provided a place of work for the Knoxville workcampers this year.

Brethren Woods and Camp Mardela became workcamp sites through a continued partnership with Church of the Brethren outdoor ministries, allowing workcampers to visit beautiful spaces for worship and fun. Some workcampers took advantage of the new family pricing for the Intergenerational Workcamp at Camp Mardela and brought along multiple members of the family to serve together.

The workcamp staff wishes to say “thank you” to all who participated with workcamps in one way or another. Workcamps break down barriers and allow all to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world, and your dedication to this important ministry is appreciated. The workcamp staff hopes to see all of you again soon.

Deanna Beckner is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and assistant coordinator for the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry. Find out more and view the 2016 workcamp photo albums at .


2) Children’s Disaster Services sends another team to continue work in Baton Rouge

Photo courtesy of CDS
Children play while cared for by Children’s Disaster Services in Baton Rouge, La. These children created a long evacuation route with cardboard and play vehicles.

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has sent another team of volunteers to continue caring for children and families who have been affected by the extreme flooding in Louisiana. On Thursday, CDS staff shared via Facebook, “While we thought our team that left yesterday would be our final Baton Rouge team, things changed and we were asked to send in another team.

“Shelters are all consolidating, so this new group will be serving in the new shelter, arriving tomorrow. Sending kind thoughts and prayers to the families in Louisiana who are weary and struggling, and to our volunteers and partners!”

Associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller reported by e-mail that this is the sixth Baton Rouge team fielded by CDS. So far, 29 CDS volunteers have worked on this response in Louisiana, serving 519 children.

“The team tomorrow will be in a large consolidated Red Cross shelter at the Celtic Media Center in Baton Rouge,” Fry-Miller wrote. “This is a ‘hardship’ assignment, so volunteers have been sleeping in a large staff shelter on cots.”

For more information about the Children’s Disaster Services, which is a part of the Brethren Disaster Ministries, go to .


3) Gardening project continues to enrich nutrition for Alaskan communities


Photo courtesy of Bill and Penny Gay


By Bill and Penny Gay

This was our tenth summer of traveling to Alaska to encourage, teach, and promote vegetable gardening. Bill went to Circle at the beginning of April, six weeks earlier than the usual mid-May arrival, hoping to make this year the most beneficial and successful yet.

Bill experimented with different seed varieties early on, then started several thousand plants. Several folks were on the fence as to whether to have a home garden, which presented a challenge of just how many plants to start. Many desired to have a home garden, but some could not because of employment or medical needs that would keep them out of the village. However, more homes had gardens, small and large, than ever before. Entire groups of plants changed ownership from us to the residents as more vegetables would be grown than last year–an answer to prayer!

When new and existing gardens were prepared, we used the council’s tiller. This opened the door for use to use the tiller purchased by the Global Food Initiative (formerly the Global Food Crisis Fund) on both maintenance instruction and gardening in 2017. We plan to include the youth in gardening principals and proper maintenance of not only the tiller but of any other tools or supplies.

The May weather allowed for some earlier than usual planting. This allowed us to show that proper planning could result in two or more plantings of various vegetables. One such benefit was the use of the greens from turnips, beets, and carrots being boiled as part of the food for sled dogs. We even had a third planting just for the greens, even though the vegetables would not mature. Circle resident Albert Carroll won the yearly dog sled race at the Spring Carnival because his dogs “ate their veggies”! Other mushers are planning to have gardens next year.

A meeting was hosted in Circle regarding fish and wildlife regulations. Although not the topic of discussion, the flourishing gardens were noticed and talked about by many in attendance including Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. He and his wife are Native Alaskans and were amazed that we would come so far, and amazed at how God has called us to this service. He offered support and will be a great connection to help further our work.

Early harvested vegetables were used for the Elder’s Lunch Program, which continued until the full harvest was completed. The elders were grateful and very pleased to have fresh vegetables for lunch several times a week. The Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) plans to use this as a model for other villages.

A blessing this summer was the use of Facebook. Penny attended a Going to the Garden gathering in May in Wisconsin meeting with other Church of the Brethren members who are involved with different levels of gardening throughout the country. The group agreed that Facebook would be used for communication and sharing. Penny reluctantly signed up that next week as she was trying to hold out using any form of social media. Facebook became a great means to share with our family and friends around the world in almost real time, something we had been able to do before with limited access to technology.

In 2009, Bill coined the phrase, “The seeds we were sent there to plant are far more important than the planting of the seeds for the gardens.” A product of such planting is being involved with Circle community life each summer. Potlatches, the 4th of July community celebration, birthday parties, community work projects, beading lessons, or simply visiting have been cherished and we feel beneficial to all involved.

On a larger scale, the 2020 Gwich’in Gathering is scheduled to be in Circle. This coming together of the villages takes place every two years and is a week-long time to celebrate, discuss, remember, and support each other. Environmental issues bring world-wide concern and coverage. We will be helping to prepare this 2020 meeting beginning next summer in 2017. For many thousand years the Gwich’in have lived in such a remote part of Alaska and Canada that no one really cared much about them, or their lands. But the world is now taking notice of the importance of this land and those living here.

We will have the opportunity next summer to visit and help restore a house, barn, and yard, and  to even plant a garden on an island location related to the history of the three Gwich’in brothers who controlled the Circle portion of the Yukon River in the 1800s. Bill had the opportunity to travel down river to that location, where one of those brothers lived, which is now owned by his great grandchildren.

Being somewhat centrally located on the Yukon River, Circle is a place where people “float” into your life, from around the globe. Canoers and other adventurers have become friends, and stories have been shared of adventure and far-off places. Many have expressed how beautiful the gardens are, not believing the sight of apple trees. Thanks to two professors from Fairbanks, Circle has apple trees growing.

Things are truly growing in Circle, including the presence of the Church of the Brethren!

Bill and Penny Gay work in Alaska each summer, creating and encourage community gardening. They are members of Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren in Decatur, Ind., which is a sponsor of their work, and over the years they have received funding support from the Global Food Initiative (formerly the Global Food Crisis Fund). Read more about this unique gardening effort at .


4) Nigerian Fellowship Tour visits IDP camps, schools, other crisis response sites

Photo by Donna Parcell
Hundreds of people at worship in the Michika congregation’s temporary church building. The congregation’s church was destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents.

By Donna Parcell

In August, a group of seven Church of the Brethren members traveled to Nigeria with the goal of building relationships, encouraging, praying with, and physically standing by our brothers and sisters of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

I served as a volunteer in Nigeria in the spring of 2015, and I was so impressed with the faith and resilience of the EYN church that I was anxious to return, to reconnect with friends, and to see the progress that had been made.

Our tour visited Masaka IDP (internally displaced persons) camp near Abuja. In 2015, this camp was just starting construction. Not only is construction complete, but it is fully occupied. It was nice to see the little touches that each family did to make their houses into homes. We were warmly welcomed by excited children who were eager to play games and sing songs. The women shared with us that they were hungry, but were proud of their crops that would soon be ready to harvest. Concern was expressed over the church, which was a simple stick structure with so many holes in the roof that it was impossible to worship during rainy season. I am pleased to say that a donation has provided a solid tin roof for the church.

We visited Favoured Sisters school, which is a boarding school for children orphaned by the Boko Haram attacks. Many of these children witnessed the murders of their parents. While the trauma will take years to heal, there was a noticeable change in the children from last year. In 2015 they were very quiet and obviously traumatized. This year they were smiling, laughing, and singing. When they drew pictures, there were many pictures of houses and families, and fewer pictures of traumatic events. There was much less shyness and many more smiles. The children are encouraged to memorize Bible verses, and can choose which verses they memorize. They were excited to recite for us. One young boy had memorized the entire book of Jonah!

While in the area of Jos, we visited the skills center sponsored by the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI), a nonprofit organization headed up by Rebecca Dali. Here people are taught computer skills and sewing skills. They also make soap, perfume, jewelry, and other products to sell. CCEPI does an amazing job at providing care for the people affected by Boko Haram. We were also able to participate in a food distribution. We registered and talked with the widows, and were impressed at how patiently they waited and how grateful they were for everything they received.

Our tour was honored to be able to travel to Kwarhi to visit Kulp Bible College and the EYN headquarters. In 2015, I was able to travel to this area, but it was with a military escort and we needed to be several hours away before dusk. This year, we traveled without an escort and actually stayed overnight for two nights. While still at heightened security, it felt much less intense and signs of progress were everywhere. Although there are still broken windows and other signs of damage, Kulp Bible College is back in session, and the students are so happy to be there. Additionally, EYN leadership was in the process of moving back to Kwarhi from their temporary headquarters in Jos. Exciting times!

While in Kwarhi, we traveled to Michika to worship in one of the destroyed churches. There was so much joy in the service! The congregation is excited to rebuild, and has begun raising funds to do so. It was so inspiring worshiping with the congregation in the temporary church, right next to the destroyed church. The roof of the temporary church was made from the charred tin of the destroyed roof. After the service, the pastor showed us his destroyed parsonage and told us the story of the Boko Haram attack. The choir van full of bullet holes was still parked there. The church building was reduced to rubble. The only thing remaining intact was the baptismal, which is still being used.

Our last stop was the Gurku Interfaith IDP camp where Christians and Muslims live together. In 2015 this camp was about halfway completed. Now it is fully occupied. In Gurku, each family has to make the bricks used to construct their home. This gives them a sense of pride and ownership. The camp also has many innovative ideas. It has a fully operational clinic. There is a large oven for the widows to bake bread to sell. Problems with the water source being too far from the camp were solved by solar panels that pump the water to the middle of the camp. There is a church, and donations have been received to begin construction on a mosque. Fish hatcheries have been added, as an added source of income for widows. There is a teacher, but there is still the need for a school.

Throughout our time in Nigeria, we were graciously hosted by so many people. Even those who had little to give opened their homes and hearts to us. It was overwhelming and humbling. I continue to be inspired by their generosity, graciousness, and hospitality.

While the trauma that our brothers and sisters of EYN have faced will take generations to fully heal, progress is being made. There was such a sense of hope and faith. Their resilience is inspiring, but there is still much work to be done. The focus shifts now to rebuilding homes and churches, getting children back to school, and providing the people with enough food.

Let us continue to support, encourage, and pray for each other.

Donna Parcell was a volunteer with the Nigeria Crisis Response in the spring of 2015, and also has been a volunteer photographer on the news team for Annual Conference in recent years.

There are several opportunities to join a workcamp trip to Nigeria in upcoming months. Workcamps are planned for the following dates: Nov. 4-23, 2016; Jan. 11-30, 2017; and Feb. 17-March 6, 2017. Find out more at


5) Ecumenical leaders of WCC and NCC issue joint statement on Holy Land

The general secretaries of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) have issued a joint statement on the Holy Land, focused on the unresolved conflict in Israel and Palestine. The statement from the WCC’s Olav Fykse Tveit and the NCC’s Jim Winkler emerged from a WCC/NCC Consultation on the Holy Land, and was release on Sept. 14. The statement follows in full:

Statement by general secretaries Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit (World Council of Churches) and Jim Winkler (National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA)

NCC/WCC Consultation on the Holy Land

14 September, 2016

No people should be denied their rights and, certainly, no people should be denied their rights for generations. The unresolved conflict in Israel and Palestine is primarily about justice, and until the requirement of justice is met, peace cannot be established. As Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza nears the 50-year mark, generations have been suffering under this reality. The possibilities of a viable two-state solution, for which we have long advocated, are more elusive and, seemingly, more unrealistic than ever.

The crisis in Israel and Palestine has brought together representatives of the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA for an important consultation in Arlington, Virginia from September 12-14, 2016. More than 60 representatives of churches and church-related organizations from around the world gathered because we hear the cries of all who are yearning for peace and justice in the land we call Holy. We have particularly valued the participation of Palestinian, Native American, South African, and Israeli participants who have shared their insights and lived experience.

Although this consultation has focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we know it takes place in the context of a region beset by war and violence and are mindful of the various situations throughout the Middle East.

Fifty years is also a milestone in terms of the Biblical year of Jubilee, reminding us all of the need to seek proper times to reestablish justice so that people can live. “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family.” (Leviticus 25:10, NRSV)

We are well aware that no one person or group of people or government is blameless, that crimes and depredations have been committed by many over many years, but the cycle of violence must be broken. Too often the structural and permanent violence against a whole people is ignored.

But keeping an entire population under occupation and even in a closed area, such as Gaza, in prison-like conditions is a grave and unsustainable situation. We are also well aware that Israel is the occupying force and has commanding power over the people of Palestine and, thus, bears special responsibility for taking the initiative.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NRSV) This is not hollow rhetoric employed by Jesus of Nazareth. Truly, those who follow the path of peace will be blessed in the kingdom of heaven and we pledge our support for all those who seek to bring an end to this conflict.

We call for an end to the occupation and to settlements on occupied land, with all its grave and deteriorating dimensions for the Palestinian people, but also for Israel and the whole region beyond. We ask for full respect and protection of human rights defenders, for the rights to tell the truth, to express concern, and to take democratic, non-violent actions for justice and peace. We are deeply concerned by Israeli legislative and other measures to curtail the work of Palestinian and Israeli development and human rights organizations, as well as the lack of transparency concerning investigations into international humanitarian (including faith-based) organizations in the Gaza Strip and the possible negative consequences to delivering critically needed aid to this besieged area.

In this consultation, we have been particularly focusing on the severe effects on children and youth, and particularly the use of administrative detention and the unacceptable use of solitary confinement of Palestinian children.

We have been gathered here in the capital of the USA, and thus we call for the United States to:

— cease its practice of arming various state and non-state actors in the Middle East and, in particular, to reconsider its proposed $38 billion military aid package to Israel, for the last thing needed at this time is more weapons.

— end the current wave of legislative efforts to penalize the use of non-violent economic measures to influence policy in Israel.

Churches have used such strategies to advance the rights of people and further the cause of justice both domestically and internationally for many years including the Montgomery bus boycott, apartheid South Africa and, currently, on behalf of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. We have met in the United States and have met with U.S. government representatives here because the United States holds enormous power to support the status quo or to take bold steps to peace. Similarly, the churches in the United States have tremendous potential, which must be mobilized, to call on the American government to do much more to secure a just and lasting peace for Israel and Palestine.

Indeed, too often religion has been used to justify the occupation. Too often, religion has been used by Christians, Jews, and Muslims to further hatred and violence. We have seen religion similarly misused in countless other circumstances and we see parallels between the crisis in Israel and Palestine and the struggles for racial justice in the United States and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of churches who follow the call of the Prince of Peace to work for just peace in many contexts of the world. Most often, this means standing in solidarity with people around the world who are suffering oppression and violence.

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA,,  continues to be part of this ecumenical movement for unity, justice, and peace.

The current situation in Israel and Palestine demands urgent action. One cannot keep an entire people subject to pressure and violence for many years and not expect a violent reaction. We do not endorse violence, but we know people are losing hope and faith in the efficacy of nonviolent means.

We encourage our churches to observe the upcoming World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, September 18-24 (, and join in actions for a just peace in the coming Jubilee year.

As followers of Christ and as people of the Abrahamic tradition, we are spiritually wounded by the continuing hatred and animosity between Jews, Christians, and Muslims and yearn for a new era of peace, harmony, and cooperation so that the land we all call Holy will be shared by and cared for by all who live there. “Hoping against hope, he (Abraham) believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations,’ according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ (Romans 4:18, NRSV).

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary, World Council of Churches
Jim Winkler, president and general secretary, National Council of Churches, USA



6) Lamar Gibson hired as development director for On Earth Peace

Photo courtesy of On Earth Peace
Lamar Gibson

Lamar Gibson has been hired as development director for On Earth Peace. He has worked for nine years in both private businesses and the nonprofit sector as a fundraiser and as a consultant on business operations and development. His work for On Earth Peace will include engaging existing supporters while also expanding the community to include people “from even more denominations and walks of life,” said an announcement in the agency’s e-mail newsletter.

Gibson has traveled extensively to study the history of movements that have defined the world, particularly within the American South. He was born and raised in Greensboro, N.C., in the Southern Baptist and Pentecostal traditions. “His faith journey eventually led him to the Episcopal Church where he found alignment between the synergy of social justice and biblical teachings that provide the foundation for his approach to change-making,” said the announcement.

He was able to attend many of the On Earth Peace events at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Greensboro this summer, and met many people from the agency’s board, staff, and community of practitioners.

Gibson began his work for On Earth Peace on Sept. 6. He may be contacted at .



7) Peace Day 2016 is scheduled for Sept. 21, Brethren will be participating

A number of Church of the Brethren congregations, districts, colleges, and other church-related organizations and groups from across the country will be participating in Peace Day 2016 on or around Sept. 21. This year’s theme is “Called to Build Peace.”

The annual observance of the International Day of Prayer for Peace is held each year on Sept. 21, initiated by the World Council of Churches to coincide with a United Nations international day of peace. On Earth Peace encourages, publicizes, and provides resources for Peace Day events in the Church of the Brethren and beyond. Bryan Hanger is serving as Peace Day 2016 organizer for On Earth Peace.

Here is a small sampling of Brethren events planned for this year’s Peace Day:

Image courtesy of On Earth Peace

— Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren is inviting its members to an International Day of Peace Interfaith Gathering is planned for Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 7-8 p.m. at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Fort Wayne, Ind. Refreshments will follow a prayer hour.

— Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren is planning for an Ecumenical and Interfaith Peace Event at a public park, that will feature music.

— An “Everylight online prayer vigil” is led by Rebecca Herder, an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. She is posting one-sentence prayers every 24 hours, with an invitation for others to engage “in a way that resonates with your heart–commenting, sharing, reflecting, adding your own,” said an announcement. “It’s not enough to create a world of peace but together we can change the conversation about peace in our world.” Find out more at .

— Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., will be having a Peace Walk and Prayer Vigil on campus.

— Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., will offer a Meditation for Racial Peace for students, staff, and faculty.

— The Virlina District Peace Day Service will be held at Roanoke (Va.) Oak Grove Church of the Brethren on Sunday, Sept. 18, at 3 p.m. “Former Youth Peace Travel Team members from Virlina (and beyond) will be sharing with us about their experiences and inspiring us to consider how we are each called by God to build peace,” said a district announcement. “As we will discover from the study of scripture and the testimonies from sisters and brothers, each of us are invited into God’s holy work of peace building. Come, worship, pray and remain afterwards for a brief time of refreshments and fellowship.”

— Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo., will hold a Peace Fest to End Gun Violence, which will include educational sessions, worship, recreation, and food.

— Smith Mountain Lake Community Church of the Brethren is planning an inspirational evening service on Sunday, Sept. 18, that will include prayer, a sermon on peace, music, and a time of fellowship following worship. Peace doves will be displayed on the front lawn of the church.

Find out more at


8) Atlantic Northeast District hosts Christian/Muslim workshop with Musa Mambula

By Kelly Bernstein

On Oct. 13 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Atlantic Northeast District office in Elizabethtown, Pa., Dr. Musa Mambula will teach about Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). He will speak about EYN in an age of persecution and terrorism, facing the challenges of Boko Haram, and building Christian/Muslim relations.

Mambula also will also focus on the Christian and Muslim perspectives on peace, the biblical concept of peace, the roles of women and youth in peace building, and barriers and strategies for peace building.

In an interview in 2009 in Lancaster Online, Mambula commented: “In the challenges we are passing through, I am emphasizing our peace stand: tolerance, respect for each others’ religions, dialogue and community–showing real, deep love for our neighbors. We do not believe in retaliation. We must show love, compassion and forgiveness and preach peace.”

Mambula is son to one of the first Church of the Brethren mission evangelists to the Kanmue tribe in Adamawa State, Nigeria, and is a gifted teacher, preacher, administrator, and guidance counselor. He has authored and co-authored more than 40 journal articles and 6 books, and has participated in seminars and workshops at national and international levels. He most recently served as National Spiritual Advisor for EYN, and currently is a visiting scholar at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

There is a $40 charge for the event. Lunch is included, and ministers may earn .6 units of continuing education credit. For more information and to register, visit . For more information about Atlantic Northeast District, visit .

Kelly Bernstein is communications manager for the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Northeast District.


9) Brethren bits

This Sunday, Sept. 18, is the suggested date for the Mission Offering to support Church of the Brethren mission efforts around the world. The theme is “Persevere–Stand Together in Faith” (Philippians 1:27). Find resources and more information at .

Barb York is resigning as Payroll and Accounts Payable specialist for the Church of the Brethren, effective Oct. 7. She has worked at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., for more than 10 years. Her work has included preparing checks for vendors, maintaining records on special contracts, processing payroll, maintaining the church extension notes system, and other critical payroll and accounts payable functions.

The Anabaptist Disabilities Network has announced that Denise Reesor of Goshen, Ind., begins Oct. 3 as next program director. Christine Guth, outgoing program director, will work side-by-side with Reesor for about six weeks as she learns about her new role. Guth concludes her work with the network in mid-November. The Church of the Brethren participates in the Anabaptist Disabilities Network through the Disabilities Ministry of the Congregational Life Ministries.

Southeastern District has an opening for a director of the School of Spiritual Learning (SSL) Program that works with licensed and ordained ministers in the district. This program provides needed training for completion of licensing requirements as well as continuing education credits for pastors to fulfill their five-year ordination reviews. To express interest in this position send a resume with letter of interest by e-mail to or via postal mail to Southeastern District Office, P.O. Box 252, Johnson City, TN 37605. Resumes will be accepted through Oct. 15.

The Global Mission and Service office is praising God for a successful gathering of the emerging Brethren group in Venezuela. “Pastors from 41 Venezuelan congregations and ministries expressed intent to affiliate with the denomination,” said a prayer request. “United States Brethren Fausto Carrasco and Joel Peña joined with Alexandre Gonçalves, pastor with the Brazilian Church of the Brethren, to provide continued training in Brethren beliefs and practices and ministerial ethics. Pray for wisdom and harmony as this group continues to develop.”

The next Campus Visit Day at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., is Wednesday, Oct. 19. “This is a chance for anyone considering theological education to spend the day on campus attending class, meeting with current students and faculty, and getting a taste of what Bethany is all about,” said an announcement. “The day will also include our weekly chapel service and a chance to learn about the academic offerings and generous financial aid and scholarships available.” Lodging is provided for those who need it. To see the schedule for the day and register to attend, go to .

On Earth Peace and the Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) is seeking congregations and districts to host the newly revised version of MoR’s Matthew 18 workshop. “We have been working again on re-envisioning the workshop with the best of the old material alongside current materials we have gathered,” said an announcement in the On Earth Peace e-mail newsletter. “It has been our desire to see a reinterpretation of Jesus’ words that will invite us to walk more closely with one another in truth and love.” If interested, contact On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer at or 847-370-3411.


Photo by Zakariya Musa
EYN President Billi offers a blessing to the new congregation


Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria has granted autonomy to and conferred Local Church Council (LCC) or congregational status, to the LCC Kwalamba. A release from EYN (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) noted that this is the second congregation to be granted LCC status under the administration of new EYN president Joel S. Billi. General secretary Daniel Y.C. Mbaya gave a sermon at the event, and charged the new congregation: “You have to be prayerful, you must accept change for Christ, must be faithful and give cheerfully.” The event also included a history of the new congregation which was created under LCC Vurgwi, in the DCC or church district of Garkida, recited by church secretary Philip Ali. A former chairman of the EYN Trustees, Matthew A. Gali, is credited with initiating the establishment of the fellowship in 1983 or 1984. One of the seven pioneer members, Dankilaki Gyaushu, started worship in 1986 under a guava tree in front of Mallam Luka Baidamu’s house, the release said. The LCC certificate was presented to the pastor and evangelist James Dikante, and the congregation’s 170 members.

Plymouth (Ind.) Church of the Brethren will celebrate its 100th anniversary as a congregation in a Homecoming Worship and Celebration Event on Sunday, Sept. 18, reports Linda Starr who chairs the Celebration Committee. Festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. with worship, which will include organ and piano duets, special choir selections, a blending of the old and new with pastor Tom Anders preaching. A video of original footage of the groundbreaking ceremony of the church building will be shown following worship. Everyone is invited to participate in a potluck meal following worship, with the opportunity for anyone wishing to speak to share memories or messages. The afternoon program will feature Plymouth’s Mayor Mark Senter giving a proclamation from the city, introduction of guests and all former pastors, and former members who are visiting. Several displays depicting the church’s many projects and interesting memorabilia, photos, and documents will be available, as well as a trip to the past with oral history information about the seagoing cowboys, Sunday school classes, and more. A time capsule will be buried with the planting of two trees at the culmination of the event.For additional information contact the church office at 574-936-4205. The church’s website is .

Two churches in South Central Indiana District are celebrating significant anniversaries on Sunday, Sept. 18. Bethel Church of the Brethren celebrates its 130th anniversary with special events in the afternoon. Arcadia Church of the Brethren celebrates its 160th anniversary with a homecoming and worship beginning at 10 a.m., and a “Pitch-In Dinner.”

Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren pastor Belita Mitchell will preach for the 46th Annual Dunker Church Service in the restored Dunker Church at the Antietam Civil War battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md. on Sunday, Sept. 18. The service starts at 3 p.m. It will take place on the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam and commemorates the peace witness of the Brethren during the Civil War. Mid-Atlantic District is sponsoring the service, which is free and open to the public. For more information, call Eddie Edmonds, 304-267-4135; Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey, 301-733-3565; or Ed Poling, 301-766-9005.

Sam’s Creek Church of the Brethren holds a 35th annual Homecoming on Sunday, Sept. 25. The guest speaker is Twyla Rowe, chaplain at the Fahrney-Keedy retirement community in Boonsboro, Md. Tina Wetzel Grimes is the guest musician. Events begin with worship at 10:30 a.m., followed by a fellowship meal.

— Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., is hosting a presentation by Kathy Kelly, a peace activist, pacifist, writer, and speaker. The event is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 18, starting at 2 p.m., co-sponsored by the church’s Outreach and Witness Ministry Group, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice, Elgin’s First Congregational Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, Ill. Kelly will speak on “confronting government violence” as a member of peace teams that worked in Gaza, Afghanistan, and Iraq, “remaining in combat zones during the early days of both US-led Iraq wars,” said an announcement. “She has been arrested in the course of her peace work over 60 times, at home and abroad. In 2005, Kelly, a Chicago resident, co-founded Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end US military and economic warfare.” There is no charge to attend; all are welcome.

It is a banner weekend for district conferences, with five Church of the Brethren districts holding their annual meetings.
Missouri and Arkansas District meets Sept. 16-17 at Windermere Conference Center in Roach, Mo., on the theme, “Servant Love” (John 13:3-5). The district has announced hymn 307 in Hymnal: A Worship Book, “Will You Let Me Be Your Servant,” as the hymn theme for the conference. John Thomas is serving as district moderator. Guest speaker for the two-day event is Carol Scheppard, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.
West Marva District Conference is Sept. 16-17 at Moorefield (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren, led by moderator Carl Fike. The theme for the conference will be “Stir Up the Gift” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Speaking for the Friday evening worship service will be Don Fitzkee, chair of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board.
The dates of Sept. 16-17 also will see Southern Pennsylvania District meeting together for an annual district conference at Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren in Mifflinburg, Pa.
The Northern Indiana District Conference is held on Sept 16-17 at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind.
Sept. 17 is the date for the South Central Indiana District to meet on the theme, “Reconnecting on Common Ground,” at Mexico (Ind.) Church of the Brethren. Among special events, the district will be collecting clean-up buckets for Church World Service.

Western Plains District has set a goal of giving $200,000 to the Nigeria Crisis Fund. The district newsletter reports: “Individuals and churches are invited to contribute as they feel led to share their resources. So far we have given $126,000  starting in 2014 with just under $74,000 to go to meet our goal.”

Juniata College has been rated 108th in the “US News & World Report” 2017 rankings of the best liberal arts college in the nation, according to a release from the college located in Huntingdon, Pa. “The US News rankings are an important indicator of of overall quality and we are glad to be rated in the upper tier of liberal arts colleges,” said James A. Troha, president of Juniata College, in the release. Juniata College was rated at 108, “along with four other liberal arts institutions, including Drew University, in Madison, N.J., Hope College, in Holland, Mich., Lake Forest College, in Lake Forest, Ill., and Stonehill College, in North Easton, Mass.,” the release said. “Last year, Juniata was rated at 105. In this year’s ratings, there are three institutions tied at 105th place, directly followed by the five schools rated at 108.”

Bridgewater (Va.) College will host a lecture by Dr. Bennet Omalu, the first person to identify, describe and name Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) as a disease in football players and wrestlers. The lecture sponsored by the Anna B. Mow Symposium on Comparative Religious Ethics takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Nininger Hall. “Omalu will speak about his research into brain damage in football players who have suffered repeated concussions in the course of normal play,” said a release. “Omalu made a career breakthrough when he became the first doctor to discover and identify chronic brain damage as a major factor in the deaths of some professional athletes. He first discovered CTE as the result of an autopsy he performed on Mike Webster, a legendary Pittsburgh Steeler and Hall of Famer. He continues to work as a forensic pathologist, neuropathologist, and epidemiologist. He is the president of Bennet Omalu Pathology Inc., a private medico-legal consulting corporation, which he founded, and he works part-time as a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist at San Joaquin County in California. The program is free and open to the public.

In more news from Bridgewater College, Ted Swartz of Ted & Co. will present the Fall Spiritual Focus on Tuesday, Sept. 27, in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. Swartz will present “The Big Story” at 9:30 a.m.–the story of the whole Bible in 60 minutes or less–and “Laughter Is Sacred Space” at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Office of Spiritual Life and Bridgewater College Active Minds respectively, both performances are free and open to the public. Swartz and Ted & Co. have been popular presenters at numerous Church of the Brethren events including Annual Conference and National Youth Conference.

The Global Women’s Project steering committee will meet in South Bend, Ind., for its annual fall meeting on Oct. 14-16. “Some areas of focus for our meeting that weekend include preparing our annual newsletter to share updates on our partner projects, brainstorming new members for our team (if you are passionate about the work of GWP and feel called to give your time and talents, please contact us!), and discerning how best to utilize the wonderful increased generosity we have seen from donors in the past few years,” said an announcement. “If you’re in the area, we would love to see you on Sunday morning, where we’ll be worshipping with the Crest Manor Church of the Brethren.”

The World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, an annual event, will be observed this year beginning on Sept. 18, said a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). “Churches throughout the world will join in prayer for the sake of peace based on justice for the peoples of Israel and Palestine,” said the release. The theme for this year’s observance is “Dismantling Barriers.” A “liturgy resource toolbox” is available at .

More than one million refugees have fled South Sudan’s ongoing civil war says the Associated Press, reporting new figures released by the United Nations. The refugees are “overwhelming aid agencies and creating one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters,” said AP, reporting that South Sudan joins Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia as countries that have produced more than one million refugees. Most of the people fleeing South Sudan are women and children, and most of them are being hosted in Uganda, but other countries that have received refugees from South Sudan include Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Congo, and the Central African Republic. “The UN praised the countries, some of the world’s poorest, for allowing refugees to enter,” the AP piece reported. In addition to the refugees, another 1.6 million people are displaced inside South Sudan, out of a population estimated at more than 12 million people.

“Flower ministry blooming at Longmeadow Church of the Brethren” proclaims the Herald-Mail newspaper. “From about mid-June into November, as long as they can keep the flowers going after the first frost, the Eckstines’ Sunday routine means getting up with the sun, when they can see the flowers. Trays in hand, they clip flowers and take them into the house where Rachel arranges them, then they deliver them to the church before the service.” The article on the work of Allen and Rachel Eckstine to support the congregation in Hagerstown, Md., through their love of flowers, may be found online at .

Peter Herrick of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren has been featured in the Carroll County Times in a story about his coast-to-coast bicycle ride with the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. The group visited organizations serving people with disabilities across the country, and did fundraising for those organizations. Herrick told the paper, “I was overwhelmed by the support” of his home congregation in particular, who in just a few hours helped him raise $500 toward the total $8,000 he raised. Find the newspaper article at .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deanna Beckner, Kelly Bernstein, Deborah Brehm, Debbie Eisenbise, Bill and Penny Gay, Bryan Hanger, Mary Kay Heatwole, Kathy Fry-Miller, Roxane Hill, Zakariya Musa, Donna Parcell, Linda Starr, John Wall, 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 Sept. 23.

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]