Newsline Special: Requests for Prayer

“Let my cry reach you, Lord; help me understand according to what you’ve said. Let my request for grace come before you” (Psalm 119:169-170, Common English Bible).

Over the weekend, a tragedy involving students at Manchester University, the sudden hospitalization of associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury, and a fire at Cross Keys Village, one of the Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities, have prompted calls for prayer.

Three Manchester students die in traffic accident

Photo courtesy of Manchester University
A gathering at Manchester University on Sunday evening. “This is why Manchester University is such a strong community ,” said the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs in a Facebook post. “Could have been anywhere else but many piled into the Jo Young Switzer Center to pay tribute to fallen classmates and fellow Spartans. #MUStrong.”


A traffic accident took the lives of three Manchester University students early Sunday morning, Feb. 21. The three were international students from Nigeria and Ethiopia, studying at the Church of the Brethren-related university in North Manchester, Ind.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Manchester University president Dave McFadden shared the names of the three students:  Nerad Grace Mangai, Brook M. Dagnew, and Kirubel Alemayehu Hailu.

Brook Dagnew is a brother of former Brethren Press employee Lina Dagnew, who worked on the Gather ’Round curriculum in 2010-11.

Here is McFadden’s post in full:

“It is with great sadness that I share news of a tragic accident early this morning that claimed the lives of three Manchester University students, Nerad Grace Mangai, Brook M. Dagnew and Kirubel Alemayehu Hailu.

“A fourth MU student, Israel Solomon Tamire, is being treated for injuries at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. Three other students, Nebiyu Shiferaw Alemu, Amanuel Atsbha Gebreyohannes and Dagmawi Meseret Tadesse, were not injured and have returned to North Manchester.

“A gathering for the MU community is planned for 8 p.m. this evening (Sunday) in Petersime Chapel. Students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend, reflect and provide comfort to each other as we process our grief. Campus Pastor Walt Wiltschek will lead us.

“The students had been to Ball State University and Taylor University earlier and were northbound on I-69 heading back to North Manchester. Based on what we were told, they had a flat tire and were outside of the vehicle changing it when several of them were struck by another vehicle.

“All of the students are from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, except for Nerad, a sophomore biology-chemistry major from Jos, Nigeria. Brook was a sophomore majoring in biology-chemistry and Kirubel was a first-year medical technology major.

“Please hold all of the people who love these students in your thoughts and prayers. Counseling services are available today at the Intercultural Center and we will ensure that counseling support is available for students, faculty and staff in the difficult days ahead.

“We anticipate that there will be a memorial service on the North Manchester campus in the coming days and will share details with you when plans are confirmed.

“We can’t begin to understand the tragic loss of Nerad, Brook and Kirubel, young lives so full of promise. The MU community grieves their passing and will miss them deeply.”

In an update today, the university shared a way to send condolences and also to offer monetary help to the students’ families: “For those wishing to provide support to the students and their families, in any form, you may send them to the President’s office. We will be collecting and mailing cards and support to the families of the students lost this weekend. Monetary donations can be offered as well, more information will be provided as resources are confirmed. Thank you to all who have provided so much love and support in our community’s time of grief.”

The address for cards and condolences is: Office of the President, 604 E College Ave., North Manchester, IN 46962.

Associate general secretary is hospitalized

Church of the Brethren associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury was hospitalized on Sunday morning, in Pennsylvania, after suffering bleeding in her brain. She and her husband had been driving home to Elgin, Ill., after spending time in Shenandoah District and with family in Pennsylvania.

The most recent information received from her husband, Mark Flory Steury, is that she underwent surgery yesterday. Today it is anticipated that she will be transferred to a hospital in a larger city in Pennsylvania, in order to have further testing and additional medical procedures.

“Please hold Mary Jo in your prayers, as well as Mark, the family, and Mary Jo’s medical team,” said a prayer request from the office of the General Secretary.

Updates will be posted on the Church of the Brethren Facebook page at as more information becomes available.

Fire at Cross Keys Village destroys new building under construction

Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa., suffered a fire early Saturday morning, Feb. 20. The fire destroyed a new building that was under construction, and not yet occupied, and no injuries were reported.

The community had planned to put the new building into use in June, as a 30-bed Memory Care Residence. The fire did not spread beyond the construction site. Several residents who live in the homes near the construction site had to be evacuated, but not for a long period of time.

“When there is publicity of a fire at a senior living community that people get especially concerned,” wrote Cross Keys Village COE Jeff Evans in an e-mail to the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, an organization of the Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities. “We are blessed with an outpouring of support and thankful it was not worse.”

Evans told the Evening Sun newspaper that the value of the project under construction “was $7.8 million, although it was only 15 percent complete at the time of the fire.” He added, “We don’t know the cause, but have no reason to believe it’s anything malicious.”

The Evening Sun reported that state and federal fire investigators are looking into what caused the fire. Find the newspaper report and photos of the fire at .

Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford 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 Feb. 26.

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