Newsline for September 30, 2016

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
A footwashing basin and towel await World Communion Sunday.


1) Children’s Disaster Services completes its service in Baton Rouge

2) Northeast Nigeria experiencing food crisis, Brethren response team continues food distributions

3) Brethren bits: Personnel and jobs, next listening session with the general secretary, prayers for S. Sudan, webinar from a conference on justice and peace, last day for “early bird” orders for new Brethren Press books, church anniversaries, special gift to EYN, and more


Quote of the week:

“We come into the presence of our glorious Lord to worship and bow down. We come with humble hearts realizing our unworthiness. We come to dedicate our denomination, our district, our local church, and our individual lives to the service of the One who died so that we might have life. May all that we do, think, and say be for the glory of God.”

— A call to worship shared by Western Pennsylvania District, suggested for use on Oct. 9 as a ay of preparing for the district’s annual conference to be held on Oct. 15 at Camp Harmony. The call to worship is based on 1 Corinthians 10:31, which is the theme text for the conference.


1) Children’s Disaster Services completes its service in Baton Rouge


Photo by Ginger Florence
A CDS volunteer reads to children during a response by Children’s Disaster Services in Baton Rouge, La.


Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has completed six weeks of volunteer work caring for children and families affected by severe flooding in Louisiana. The 29 CDS volunteers who took part set up childcare centers in multiple locations in Baton Rouge, including shelters, and worked with two partner organizations–FEMA and the American Red Cross.

The last CDS volunteers returned home this week, after closing out the project on Sept. 26. The five volunteers made up the sixth CDS team to serve in Baton Rouge over the course of a lengthy assignment that logged a total of 750 child contacts.

CDS staff have received good feedback from partner organizations about the work in Baton Rouge, and even children who were cared for have written “sweet notes” about the CDS volunteers, said CDS program assistant Kristen Hoffman.

“We are grateful for all the volunteers who served over six weeks in Louisiana. And we are keeping an eye on the flooding in Iowa and Tropical Storm Matthew,” in case of a need for more CDS services, she said.

Find information about the ministry of Children’s Disaster Services at


2) Northeast Nigeria experiencing food crisis, Brethren response team continues food distributions

UNICEF and other groups are warning of a serious and worsening humanitarian crisis in areas of northeast Nigeria where food and other assistance is not reaching people in need, in particular young children. The Associated Press has published an interview with UNICEF nutrition chief for Nigeria, Arjan de Wagt, who spoke of the likelihood of thousands of deaths of children to famine and associated diseases.

Problem areas include camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) in and around the city of Maiduguri. The Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) through the work of the EYN Disaster Team and CCEPI, has been supplying food and household items to people around Maiduguri.

Another distribution is planned for mid-October, reports Nigeria Crisis Response coordinator Roxane Hill. “The EYN churches in Maiduguri have been housing and caring for hundreds to thousands of displaced persons,” she reports. “A medical team often accompanies the food distributions to provide limited health services to the IDPs. We also have had four trauma workshops in Maiduguri, and a training of workshop leaders is planned.”

The main Church of the Brethren and EYN response has been focused south of Maiduguri in southern Borno State and Adamawa State, notes Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries, who recently returned from a visit to Nigeria. “This is good because few organizations are working in these areas, while many are working around Maiduguri,” he says. “Also, some parts of the Maiduguri area are not safe for NGOs, and some aid workers have been killed.”


Photo by Donna Parcell
Members of a fellowship tour help with a distribution of aid during a trip to Nigeria in August.


Underlying causes

Brethren involved with the Nigeria Crisis Response report a variety of underlying causes for the food crisis. Winter says that one challenge in the Maiduguri area is simply numbers: “The Maiduguri area has around 1.5 million IDP, more than double the normal population.”

Hill reports that government corruption is a main reason food is not getting to people in IDP camps and to others in need. “There has been government money set aside in Nigeria for feeding the people in the northeast but due to corruption of the system, the needy people are not receiving the help,” she says. “We are confident that our EYN Disaster Team funds allocated for food are reaching the most vulnerable in the areas where we do the food distributions.”

Inflation is another reason for the crisis. “The price of commodities in the market is untouchable for many people,” writes EYN communications officer Zakariya Musa. “For instance, maize is sold at N21,000 [in Nigerian Nairi], four times that of last year’s price.”

He also notes that the government and large humanitarian NGOs (non-governmental organizations) may not be serving the many IDPs who are living with families in host communities. “They are hardly recognized by the government or NGOs in times of assistance.”

The AP report notes additional reasons for the crisis including the inability of displaced people–who are mostly farmers–to plant their crops. Displaced people who have begun going back home have been returning to their land too late for this year’s planting season. Additionally, attacks by Boko Haram continue in rural and isolated areas, and prevent the distribution of food aid where the danger is too high.

Go to to find out about the work being done in Nigeria to distribute food and other aid through the Nigeria Crisis Response.

Find a blogpost by Zander Willoughby about his visit to Maiduguri and the experience of participating in trauma workshops there, at


Photo by Donna Parcell
Nigerian women line up to receive food aid at a distribution organized by CCEPI, a partner organization in the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).


Alarming numbers

“As many as 75,000 children will die over the next year in famine-like conditions created by Boko Haram if donors don’t respond quickly, the UN Children’s Fund is warning,” wrote AP reporter Michelle Faul in the article published by ABC News on Sept. 29.

De Wagt told the AP that severe malnutrition is being found in 20 to 50 percent of children in pockets of northeast Nigeria. “Globally, you just don’t see this. You have to go back to places like Somalia five years ago to see these kinds of levels,” he said. Find the AP article at



A gift of $500 in US dollars has been given by the Croix des Bouquets congregation of l’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) to Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The envelope in which the check was enclosed made its way through several hands before it was presented to the group of leaders who received it on behalf of EYN, including Joel S. Billi, Daniel Mbaya, Anthony Ndamsai, and Samuel Shinggu. Dale Minnich, who at the time was interim general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, had carried it from Haiti to the US; Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service, had carried it from the US to Nigeria.

Shown above: EYN president Joel S. Billi with the envelope from the Haitian congregation.

3) Brethren bits

Cindy Sanders was installed as district executive minister for Missouri and Arkansas District, at the recent district conference. Jim Tomlonson presided at the installation service.

Ellen Lennard has joined Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) as employee benefits specialist. Since June 27, she has worked with BBT on a temporary basis. Previously she was in Seoul, South Korea, where she taught English for two years. She also has been a legal assistant for a law office prior to her years in teaching. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Loyola University Chicago, and resides in Elgin. She begins her permanent full-time duties for BBT on Oct. 4.

Bethany Theological Seminary announces an opening for the full-time position of executive director of Admissions and Student Services, with an immediate starting date. This is an opportunity for a creative professional seeking to invest their growing knowledge and experience in the development of an enhanced Department of Admissions and Student Services, including recruitment, student development, alumni/ae relations, financial aid, and Title IX compliance. A focus of the department is to help identify and encourage leaders to develop their gifts for a changing church through graduate theological education. The position is responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating a dynamic recruitment and retention strategy to create a multiethnic seminary community with a strong international student presence, and will also represent the seminary at events related to recruitment and enrollment management, develop relationships with prospective students, design creative presentations for small and large group settings, and meet with church and college constituents. The work will include significant travel for student recruitment and professional and institutional development. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree, with a master’s degree preferred. Affinity with the values and mission of the seminary is required. Three to five years of professional experience in higher education, specifically admissions or enrollment management with demonstrated success in recruitment and retention strategy, is required. Applicants should demonstrate strong oral and written communication, listening, and organizational skills; the ability to help individuals discern their vocational calling; and the eagerness to work as part of a team. Experience in communications technology and multi-cultural recruitment is highly preferred. The seminary is particularly interested in inviting applications from women and Hispanics, African-Americans, and other ethnic minorities. A complete job description with application information is available at . Application review will begin Nov. 1.

Shine: Living in God’s Light, the Sunday school curriculum produced jointly by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is accepting applications for curriculum writers. The curriculum is for children age 3 through grade 8. Accepted writers must attend a writers conference in Virginia, March 2-5, 2017. Shine pays for meals and lodging during the conference and covers reasonable travel expenses. More details are available at . Application and sample session deadline is Dec. 1.

Brethren Woods seeks to fill a part-time hourly position of Outdoor School coordinator, beginning in early 2017. The coordinator will facilitate appreciation of the outdoors by welcoming local school groups for outdoor education programming at the camp located near Keezletown, Va. Tasks include hosting groups, coordinating registrations, recruiting and training volunteers, and assisting with publicity. The position runs on an hourly basis as needed, primarily during the months of September to November and March to early June. The ideal candidate will be a committed Christian who can work effectively in a team relationship with camp staff, will possess strong organizational skills, have experience with group dynamics and management, and have knowledge of age group characteristics. College graduates with teaching experience in some capacity are preferred, and individuals who bring diversity are encouraged to apply. Send a cover letter and resume to Tim and Katie Heishman at .

The next listening session with Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele is Saturday, Oct. 1, at Oakland Church of the Brethren in Bradford, Ohio, immediately following conclusion of the Southern Ohio District Conference. Three more listening sessions are scheduled for this fall: Oct. 8, immediately following conclusion of the Atlantic Northeast District Conference at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Leffler Chapel; Nov. 3, at 7 p.m., at the Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community; and Nov. 12, during a “break-out” session at the Pacific Southwest District Conference at Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. More listening sessions will be held in other districts after the first of the year. For more information contact Mark Flory Steury,Donor Relations representative, at .

— “Pray fervently for peace” for South Sudan, said a recent Global Mission prayer request. “South Sudan’s former vice president, Riek Machar, issued a call for armed resistance against the government of president Salva Kiir. The call heightens the risk of renewing the civil war that began in 2013 and has morphed into an ongoing violent conflict, despite a peace agreement.” The prayer request noted that tens of thousands of people have been killed in the violence, and more than a million have fled South Sudan as refugees.

“Join us and other communities of faith for the Rome Conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace Webinar,” said an invitation from the Office of Public Witness of the Church of the Brethren. This second webinar coming out of the conference is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 9-10 a.m. (Eastern time), and will focus on “Experiences of Nonviolence and Jesus’ Way of Nonviolence.” The invitation describes the event held in Rome in April as “a ground-shifting conference on the topic of Gospel nonviolence and just peace.” The Vatican’s Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace was a co-sponsor. The four-part webinar series addresses questions such as: How do recent experiences of nonviolence help illuminate our understanding of Jesus’ way of nonviolence and engaging conflict? What has the latest scholarship and praxis revealed about Jesus’ approach and practices for nonviolence and engaging conflict? The webinars also offer some time for discussion. The moderator is Ken Butigan, senior lecturer in the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies Program at DePaul University in Chicago. Speakers include Jamal Khadar, a Roman Catholicpriest and rector of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary; Anne McCarthy, OSB, who lives at Mary the Apostle Catholic Worker in Erie, Pa.; Terry Rynne, founder of the Center for Peacemaking at Marquette University. Each webinar is recorded for re-use. Those interested in participating are encouraged to register, even if they cannot attend the live webinar, and will be given access to the recording. Find out more and register at .



Oct. 1 is the last day for pre-publication orders and “early bird” discounts for two new books from Brethren Press: “Witnesses to Jesus: Devotions for Advent Through Epiphany” by Christy Waltersdorff, and “Speak Peace: A Daily Reader” edited by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Order online at .

“Save the dates!” invites the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC), which is announcing upcoming events in its continuing education series for ministers and others who are interested. “Preaching the Reign of God: Prophets, Poets, and Conversations” led by Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm on Nov. 10 at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. “Re-imagining Art for Worship” will be led by Diane Brandt on March 18, 2017, at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. “Understanding Our American Muslim Neighbors” will be led by George Pickens on March 25, 2017, at Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. “Ten-Plus Reasons to Love Leviticus” will feature keynote speaker Bob Neff and a panel including Christina Bucher, David Leiter, Frank Ramirez, and Brode Rike, on April 24, 2017, at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. For more information go to .

A Heritage Weekend will be held Oct. 8-9 at Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., to celebrate 168 years as a congregation and 150 years as the site for the first Virlina District Conference (formerly the First District of Virginia and later the First and Southern Districts of Virginia). Events include love feast and communion on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m: worship with special guest musicians Pantasia, a flute ensemble, on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 11 a.m., followed by a carry-in dinner; and a hymn sing sponsored by the New Conference German Baptists on Sunday evening at 6 p.m. For more information, call 540-334-5758.

Mt. Vernon Church of the Brethren in Waynesboro, Va., will celebrate its sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary with a traditional homecoming service at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 9. Find out more about the celebration and the church’s history at .

Cedar Run Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., will celebrate its 120-year anniversary with a homecoming service at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2. Former Pastor Bill Zirk will be the guest speaker with special music by Simply Folk. A carry-in lunch will follow. For more information, call 540-896-7381.

Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren hosts a performance of Ted & Co.’s “12 Baskets and a Goat” on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 3:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Baskets of bread will be auctioned to benefit Heifer International. The performance will feature the original play “The Jesus Stories: Faith, Forks, and Fettucine” written and performed by Ted Swartz and Jeff Raught.

Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren hosts a fall concert of “Harmony and Hope” presented by the Valley Brethren Mennonite Heritage Center. The event features the groups Into Hymn and Rescored, and takes place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16. Proceeds benefit the work of the Valley Brethren Mennonite Heritage Center. Suggested donation is $10.

Southern Ohio District holds its district conference on Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at Oakland Church of the Brethren in Bradford, Ohio. The theme is “In Christ Alone.” Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Seminary, will be guest speaker. The ministry chosen for support at this conference is the Wide Arms Security Blankets and congregations and individuals are bringing blankets to donate to this new ministry in the district. Wide Arms Security Blankets is a vision of Brandi Motsinger from Stony Creek Church of the Brethren, and supports the St. Vincent DePaul Women and Family shelter. See .

The books are closed on the 2016 Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction, announces the district newsletter, “and the great news is the two-day event in May raised $210,585.98! The grand total raised over the 24-year history of the auction now stands at more than $4.3 million!” Next year’s auction will celebrate the event’s 25-year anniversary, on May 19-20, 2017.

The Shenandoah District Pastors for Peace will host a fall learning circle on the topic “Christ in Communities: Church and Public Witness,” on Saturday, Nov. 19, at Brethren Woods, a camp and outdoor ministry center near Keezletown, Va. Nathan and Jennifer Hosler, bi-vocational ministers at Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren, will provide leadership. Nathan Hosler also serves as director of the Church of the Brethrens Office of Public Witness. Cost is $25. Ministers may earn .5 continuing education units. Registrations are due no later than Nov. 14. Go to .

Saturday, Oct. 1, is the date for the Camp Mack Festival at Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind. The live auction is set to begin at 10:30 a.m.

Camp Eder holds its 38th annual Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. A live auction to benefit the camp, which is located near Fairfield, Pa., starts at 9:30 a.m. Live music starts at 11 a.m. The day includes a pork and turkey meal, with the meat cooked overnight buried in pits. There will be apple butter making, demonstrations of glass blowing and blacksmithing, children’s games and activities, and more. Go to for more information.

In more news from Camp Eder, young adults are invited to join a group hiking part of the Appalachian Trail on Nov. 4-6. The “2016 Fall Young Adult Hike” is an overnight backpacking experience. Cost is $35. Go to for more information.

Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center is planning a 25th anniversary campfire on Nov. 5, starting at 4 p.m. The camp and retreat center is located near Sharpsburg, Md. The evening includes a potluck meal, soup, chili, s’mores, and more. Cabin and tent camping are available for Friday and Saturday overnights. RSVP by Oct. 28 to 301-223-8193.

The Children’s Aid Society of Southern Pennsylvania District holds its annual fundraising dinner on Oct. 29 at 5:30-9 p.m., hosted at Greencastle Church of the Brethren. The event features music by DayStar, and will celebrate the society’s 30 years of service to at-risk children in Franklin County, Pa. For more information go to .

Juniata College has formed a partnership with Next-Genius, an educational initiative based in Mumbai, India. Next-Genius “identifies talented students in India and matches them with colleges in the United States that offer curriculums that focus on critical thinking,” said a release from the college in Huntingdon, Pa. “Juniata will award a full-tuition scholarship to one of the top candidates that emerge from a nationwide competition sponsored by Next Genius. According to the Next Genius website,, thousands of students from across India enter the educational competition each year.” In November, Juniata president James A. Troha and Ran Tu, associate director of international recruitment, will travel to Mumbai to participate in the final selections for the Next-Genius educational competition.

The Fellowship of Brethren Homes is featured on the October edition of “Brethren Voices” produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. Consisting of 22 retirement communities around the United States, the homes “provide more than just a place to live; they are places to call home,” said an announcement from producer Ed Groff. “Related to the Church of the Brethren, they provide exceptional modern amenities, myriad leisure time opportunities and a network of friends. The Fellowship of Brethren Homes provides skilled nursing, assisted living, state-of-the art Alzheimer units, and beautifully designed, independent living options. As a ministry to those who are aging and their families, the 22 retirement communities are committed to providing high quality, loving care for older adults.” The show visits three of these retirement communities: Cross Keys Village–The Brethren Home Community of New Oxford, Pa., the Cedars of McPherson, Kan., and Lebanon Valley Brethren Home of Palmyra, Pa. “You’ll also be treated to the ‘Search for the Elusive White Squirrel,’ which happens to also live at Lebanon Valley Brethren Home,” said the announcement. The show’s September program featured the Church of the Brethren workcamp which was held in Portland, with 21 youth and advisors traveling from Lititz, Pa., and Bridgewater, Va., to work at area non-profit agencies which provide emergency food, clothing and shelter  to families in need. Upcoming programs will feature Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren involvement in Nigeria, and the community outreach of a congregation in Arlington, Va. Contact Ed Groff at

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jean Bednar, Joan Daggett, Emerson Goering, Ed Groff, Roxane Hill, Kristen Hoffman, Zakariya Musa, John Wall, 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 Oct. 7.

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