Newsline for Aug. 17 2017

Church of the Brethren Newsline
August 17, 2017

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

1) Shenandoah District shares prayerful reflection following Charlottesville
2) Many Brethren across the country gather, pray, speak about Charlottesville

3) Nancy S. Heishman named director of the Office of Ministry

4) Support and sponsorship grows for ‘Inspiration 2017′
5) Events at ‘Inspiration 2017′ (NOAC) to be live streamed

6) Brethren bits: Remembrance for Floyd Mitchell, BVS extends deadline for Fall orientation, Office of Public Witness shares resources on drones, congregations celebrate anniversaries, Chiques posts video from DR workcamp, dementia series repeated at Cross Keys Village, more


1) Shenandoah District shares prayerful reflection following Charlottesville

Shenandoah District executive minister John Jantzi, whose district includes the area of Charlottesville, Va., shared the following prayerful reflection following on the events of this past weekend:

Words in response to Charlottesville

Listen to the words of Jesus and our brother, the Apostle Paul:

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these’” (Mark 12:28-31, NIV 2005).

“You are all sons/daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we all are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28, NIV 2005).

These words of scripture do not need explanation. In the spirit of these words, let us engage together in prayer for the horrific tragedy in Charlottesville and our nation:

— Confess and repent together of any attitudes and behavior that is less than God’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves.

— Pray together, specifically, for our Church of the Brethren pastors who live and work in the immediate vicinity of Charlottesville. Pray for wisdom, compassion and discernment as they seek the face of Jesus together.

— Pray that we will truly become the vision of Galatians 3. All barriers that divide will be dismantled under the power of the Holy Spirit and the strength of following Jesus together.

Seeking Christ together in the spirit of lament and grief,

— John Jantzi serves as district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Shenandoah District.

2) Many Brethren across the country gather, pray, speak about Charlottesville

Many Brethren across the country have been involved in prayer gatherings, prayer walks, vigils, and other gatherings responding to the events in Charlottesville, Va., while others have helped issue a variety of statements. Here is a sampling:

Bethany Theological Seminary president Jeff Carter and his family were among the seminary community who attended a candlelight vigil held in a park in Richmond, Ind., on Sunday evening. Find the newspaper story and photos of the vigil at .

The Office of Public Witness has shared a Facebook post calling Brethren to seek insight for responses to Charlottesville from Annual Conference statements including the 1991 statement on “Brethren and Black Americans.” The Facebook post said, in part, “In addition to the thoughtful reflections shared by Samuel Sarpiya and others this week, we would like to highlight a segment of the 1991 Report of the Committee on Brethren and Black Americans that calls for specific action by individuals and congregations. We recognize the strides our leadership must make to confront racism in our own work, and we additionally challenge congregations to take these steps to break down racism in local communities. The list from the committee, although 26 years old, is still extremely relevant and provides a starting point for action on confronting racism and systemic injustice.” Find the Annual Conference statement online at .

A statement from the Pennsylvania Council of Churches bears the signature of Elizabeth Bidgood Enders, chair, who pastors Ridgeway Community Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa. “As Christians, we profess the belief that all human beings are created in the image of God,” the statement says, in part. “Many of the groups that participated in the rally in Charlottesville–including the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and others–see their fellow human beings of different races and creeds as inferior or less than human, and seek to make the United States a white-only nation. These beliefs, espoused by persons who also claim the mantle of Christianity, are antithetical to scripture and our understanding of a loving God that pronounced all of creation good. They fly in the face of our understanding of Jesus, who welcomed all persons regardless of their place in society. We believe that God calls us to love our neighbor–all neighbors–love our enemies, and treat others as we wish to be treated, with dignity and respect.” Find the full statement at .

“Thanks to the 15 members of Oak Grove Church of the Brethren who came out to the Unity vigil sponsored by Roanoke [Va.] Mayor Sherman Lea,” said a Facebook post by pastor Tim Harvey, who also is a former moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. “Hundreds of Roanoke citizens were in attendance,” he added. Find a news report of the Roanoke Unity vigil at .

On Earth Peace has responded with a statement posted on its staff blog, “The Faithful Steward.” The statement reads, in part, “On Earth Peace stands with the Church of the Brethren, its pastors, leaders, agencies, and members, in rejection of the racist violence and white supremacist intimidation on display once again in Charlottesville, Virginia (August 12, 2017). The ‘Unite the Right’ marchers chanted words of hatred against Jews, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to all those who were targeted in these chants, to the injured, and to the families of those who have died. We are outraged and horrified that anyone should have to experience such physical and spoken cruelty against their very being with threat of violence….” The statement went on to address “false equivalency” and other aspects of the national conversation that has ensued following the events in Charlottesville. Find the statement at .

Steve Crain, pastor of Lafayette (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, was one of the local faith leaders to sign an open letter to the greater Lafayette community to stand against “Unite the Right,” as published in the “Journal & Courier.” The interfaith group wrote, in part: “We affirm the right to free speech and peaceful assembly. However, this violent demonstration was an act of racism, religious extremism, bigotry and blind hatred. It is a result of systematic racism, and for too long, as a nation, we have remained silent when we should have spoken up. We have retreated into our own comfortable lives, when we should have reached out to others. We are not with you, torch-bearers. What you share is not a light in our world….” Find the full letter at .

York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., hosted an interfaith prayer service planned for this evening. The community was invited.

Among ecumenical partners of the Church of the Brethren, the World Council of Churches (WCC) issued a release in which its general secretary, Olav Fykse Tveit, expressed his condolences to people who are grieving and called for an end to violence. “Terror and violence against peaceful people seeking justice in Charlottesville must be condemned by all,” he said. “We are proud of moral leadership by clergy and lay people standing against this promotion of racism and white supremacy,” Tveit added. “We stand in solidarity with those who continue to use nonviolent means to work against racism and extremism.”


3) Nancy S. Heishman named director of the Office of Ministry

Nancy Heishman preaching at Annual Conference 2009. Photo by Glenn Riegel.

The Church of the Brethren has called Nancy Sollenberger Heishman as director of the Office of Ministry. She will begin in this role on Nov. 6, working out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and from her home in Tipp City, Ohio.

She has served in pastoral leadership at West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City since September 2011, first as co-interim pastor and then as co-pastor along with her husband, Irvin Heishman. Since July 2015, she also has been coordinator of Spanish-language ministry training programs at the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

Previously, she worked on behalf of the Mission and Ministry Board in the Dominican Republic as co-mission coordinator and then, toward the end of her time in the DR, as director of the theological program there. The Heishmans also have served in pastorates in Pennsylvania and Delaware, in Atlantic Northeast District.

She was moderator of the 2014 Annual Conference, serving in the highest elected position in the Church of the Brethren.

Heishman holds a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary and a master’s degree in piano performance from the University of Cincinnati. Her continuing education has included coursework in both Spanish and English.


4) Support and sponsorship grows for ‘Inspiration 2017′ 

NOAC participants in a walk for Nigeria sponsored by Brethren Benefit Trust at the 2015 older adult conference. Photo by Nevin Dulabaum.

by Debbie Eisenbise and Gimbiya Kettering

This is the 25th anniversary year (and 14th gathering) of the National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), and we are especially grateful for the sponsorship and leadership of denominational agencies, Fellowship of Brethren Homes communities, and other nonprofits who have an opportunity to share their mission with the conference participants.

Sponsorship for “Inspiration 2017″ has increased 300 percent over the average of previous years, with increased support from sponsors who have participated for many years and some new partners. Sponsorship subsidizes participants’ costs while still enabling us to bring in exciting speakers and new presentations and opportunities.

“Inspiration 2017,” the title for this year’s NOAC, gathers together generations of people whose lives have been touched by our church. Participants will range from church members, to those with deep Brethren family roots, to those who have moved to places without a local Church of the Brethren congregation and who want to continue to connect, to alumni/ae of Brethren colleges. With keynote speakers, interest groups, and lots of fellowship time, the conference inspires and refreshes the commitment to discipleship.

“Education is an important component of what we do, which is why Brethren Benefit Trust is proud to once again serve as a sponsor of NOAC events and have the opportunity to share our personal interests and knowledge with others,” says BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. “That is why in addition to focusing on the ministries of BBT through several learning sessions, we will also offer NOAC sessions on photography and Brethren heritage.” BBT was created by Annual Conference to provide pension, insurance, and educational services to the employees, retirees, and organizations of the Church of the Brethren denomination. BBT is sponsoring a keynote address presented by Jim Wallis, the NOAC News Retrospective, and the fitness walk.

Bethany Theological Seminary is another perennial supporter of the conference. Bethany president Jeff Carter says NOAC “embodies the value of lifelong learning and speaks to our shared faith commitments. For the seminary, the gathering includes many alumni/ae as well as those who support the work and witness of the seminary. Together, we are the continued story of the church which should be proclaimed again and again.” This year, Bethany is sponsoring a sermon by Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden, and the second annual coffee house hosted by Chris Good and Bethany alumnus Seth Hendricks.

Other sponsors include

— Heifer International, which is supporting Peggy Reiff Miller’s plenary speech, and a service trip in which volunteers will read to students at Junaluska Elementary School;

— Upper Room Books, which is supporting a keynote presentation by Missy Buchanan, a prayer room, and an exhibit with books for sale;

— the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, which is sponsoring daily Bible studies led by Stephen Breck Reid, whose book “Uncovering Racism” will be for sale at the Brethren Press bookstore;

— The Palms of Sebring, Fla., which is sponsoring a sermon by Susan Boyer;

— the Ron and Mary E. Workman bequest, which is providing new binders to be used for songbooks during the week.

Held in western North Carolina at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center on Sept. 4-8, “Inspiration 2017″ welcomes all people age 50-plus to participate. Registration is open through the first day of the conference. Information is available at .

A program of Congregational Life Ministries, “Inspiration 2017″ is made possible by numerous volunteers working throughout the year and serving during the conference, Church of the Brethren staff and support staff in various departments, and our financial sponsors. Thanks to all of you!

— Congregational Life Ministries staff Debbie Eisenbise and Gimbiya Kettering provided this report. Eisenbise director of Intergenerational Ministries and is a staff leader for NOAC. Kettering is director of Intercultural Ministries.

5) Events at ‘Inspiration 2017′ (NOAC) to be live streamed

“Inspiration 2017″ will be the first National Older Adult Conference to be live-streamed on the Internet. All keynote addresses, worship services, afternoon programs, and daily Bible studies will be available to view live online through a partnership with Enten and Mary Eller and Living Stream Church of the Brethren. This is especially important for conference “alumni/ae” who are no longer able to travel to the conference location in Lake Junaluska, N.C., and who long to be part of the NOAC community.

Once the conference starts, streaming will be available through following prompts at . Following the conference, DVDs of these presentations will be available for purchase by contacting or 847-742-5100 ext. 306.

“For the first time, people all over the nation will be able to be part of plenary sessions, Bible studies with Dr. Stephen Breck Reid, and worship services,” said an invitation made in particular to residents of Church of the Brethren retirement communities. “Speakers include nationally recognized ecumenical leaders such as Jim Wallis, Missy Buchanan, and Rodger Nishioka, and denominational leaders Wendy McFadden, Susan Boyer, and Peggy Reiff Miller.”

The NOAC organizers have invited retirement communities to schedule special screenings of NOAC events, use them as part of the activities offered to their residents, incorporate worship sessions into chapel services, or hold small group Bible studies with NOAC sessions.

Here is the streaming schedule for “Inspiration 2017″ (all times are Eastern Standard Time):

Monday, Sept. 4:

7-8:45 p.m., worship on the theme “Generation to Generation: Welcoming Jesus” (Luke 2: 25-38) with preacher Rodger Nishioka

Tuesday, Sept. 5:

8:45-9:50 a.m., Bible study on the theme “Moses and the Sandwich Generation: Between Jethro and Joshua” (Exodus 18:13-18 and Deuteronomy 31:7-8) led by Stephen Breck Reid, sponsored by the Fellowship of Brethren Homes

10:30-11:45 a.m., keynote presentation on the theme “Bringing the Generations Together to Faithfully Navigate the Joys and Jolts of Aging” given by Missy Buchanan, sponsored by Upper Room Books

4-5 p.m., afternoon program titled “Wading in the Water: Stories from the Depths” presented by Jonathan Hunter

7-8:45 p.m., evening program titled “NOAC News: From Trolleys to Tubs. The Inside Story” presented by the NOAC News Team of David Sollenberger, Chris Brown, and Larry Glick, sponsored by Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT)

Wednesday, Sept. 6:

8:45-9:50 a.m., Bible study on the theme “Not Grimm’s Fairytales: Female Solidarity Across Generations” (Ruth) led by Stephen Breck Reid, sponsored by the Fellowship of Brethren Homes

10:30-11:45 a.m., keynote presentation on the theme “The Bridge to a New America” with speaker Jim Wallis of Sojourners, sponsored by BBT

4-5 p.m., afternoon program titled “Beyond Today: Why the Future of the Church of the Brethren Is Intercultural, Intergenerational, and Calls Us to Plant Churches in New Places and do Church in New Ways” presented by Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya, with Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries

7-8:45 p.m., worship on the theme “Generation to Generation: Sharing Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:1-7) with preacher Susan Boyer, sponsored by the Palms of Sebring

Thursday, Sept. 7:

8:45-9:50 a.m., Bible study on the theme “Generations Under Stress” (Esther 4: 13-17) led by Stephen Breck Reid, sponsored by the Fellowship of Brethren Homes

9:50-10 a.m., dedication of gifts of Church World Service kits and books for Junaluska Elementary School

10:30-11:45 a.m., keynote presentation titled “Delivering Hope to the Next Generation” given by Peggy Reiff Miller, sponsored by Heifer International

4-5 p.m., afternoon program presenting “Birds of Prey from the Balsam Mountain Trust,” led by naturalist Michael Skinner

7-8:45 p.m., Memorial Slide Show produced by BBT, following by an evening program titled “Hymn Sing: Hymns Old and New” led by Chris Good and Seth Hendricks

Friday, Sept. 8:

9-11 a.m., worship on the theme “Generation to Generation: Loving Jesus” (Mark 10:13-16) with preacher Wendy McFadden, sponsored by Bethany Theological Seminary

For more information go to .

Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Floyd H. Mitchell, 92, of Martinsburg, Pa., passed away on Aug. 14, at the Village at Morrisons Cove with family by his side. A longterm pastor in the Church of the Brethren, he had served on the former General Board of the denomination. He also served terms on the Standing Committee, the Bethany Seminary Board, and the Interchurch Relations Committee, and was Annual Conference preacher in 1968. The youngest of six children, he was born Aug. 29, 1924, to Zion and Martha Mitchell in Boones Mill, Va. He was educated at Bridgewater (Va.) College and Bethany Theological Seminary, where he earned master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees. He married Kathleen Hull in 1945, enjoying more than 71 years of marriage together. During his long career, he spent 75 years in ministry as a pastor with Church of the Brethren congregations in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. After officially retiring, he served three interim pastorates, and worked for some years as chaplain of the Village at Morrisons Cove. He gave many hours volunteering at the Village and for Middle Pennsylvania District. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen, and children Wayne Mitchell and daughter-in-law Maureen Mitchell of Roaring Spring, Pa.; Glenn Mitchell and daughter-in-law Theresa Shay of Spring Mills, Pa.; Mark Mitchell and daughter-in-law Heidi Schmidt of St. Charles, Ill.; grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Aug. 19, at 11 a.m., at Memorial Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg. A time of visitation with the family will be held from 10-11 a.m. at the church. Memorial gifts are received to the Village at Morrisons Cove or Memorial Church of the Brethren.

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is extending the deadline for applications to participate in the Fall orientation unit. The deadline has been extended to Aug. 31. Dates for the orientation unit are Sept. 24-Oct. 13, at Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa. For more information go to .

— The Office of Public Witness encourages congregations to host drone warfare documentary screening. “As drone strikes become all too common, the Church of the Brethren has taken a leadership role in the faith community’s response to drone warfare,” said an announcement. “Our 2013 Annual Conference Resolution on Drone Warfare makes it clear that the use of drones is at odds with our commitment to peace. To educate communities on these pressing issues, the Interfaith Drone Network has created five 30-minute documentaries, which can be shown in church congregations to start the conversation on drone warfare.” Office of Public Witness director Nathan Hosler is featured in two of the documentaries, providing a peace church perspective. The office will provide access to the documentaries and an easy-to-use discussion guide. Contact .

— The Office of Public Witness is sharing an invitation to young adults who are interested in learning more about Israel/Palestine, and getting involved in advocacy. “Check out this upcoming Churches for Middle East Peace ‘Millennial Voices’ conference, and let the Office of Public Witness know if you are interested in attending!” The event is co-sponsored by Millennial Voices for Peace (MVP) and Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), and is titled Choose Hope 2017 Advocacy Summit. It will “provide a holistic space for millennials–including, college, seminary and graduate students as well as young professionals–who wish to engage in a national campaign for peace and justice in the Holy Land,” said an announcement. The event takes place Nov. 12-14 in Washington, D.C. Find out more about the conference at .

— Salem Church of the Brethren in Southern Ohio District is celebrating 200 years of ministry. Included in the anniversary events is the opportunity to join in a celebration choir, which will sing on Sunday, Oct. 1, in a service to begin at 10:30 a.m. There will be one rehearsal on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. Contact if you are interested and able to participate in the celebration choir. “The more the merrier! Join us!” said an invitation. Other anniversary events include a reunion style picnic on that Saturday, a display of the history of the Salem Church, a Sunday morning Communion Breakfast, and following the worship service a Fellowship Luncheon.

— Newton (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is celebrating 100 years on Sunday, Oct. 1. “We invite your participation by photos, presence, prayers and memories,” said an invitation from the Western Plains District. The celebration will include morning and afternoon events, with a noon carry-in dinner. District executive Sonja Griffith will be part of the occasion and Roger Shrock, who has worked for the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, Sudan, and South Sudan, will bring the morning message. For more information contact Carol or Cloyd Thomas at or 620-345-3114.

— Virlina District is sharing special anniversaries of several of its congregations: First Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount celebrated 60 years on Sunday, Aug. 13; Henry Fork Church Church of the Brethren celebrates 100 years on Sunday, Aug. 20; Mount Hermon Church of the Brethren celebrates 125 years on Saturday, Aug. 26, with a 6 p.m. event; Blue Ridge Church of the Brethren celebrates 130 years on Sunday, Sept. 17; Green Hill Church of the Brethren celebrates 100 years on Sunday, Oct. 22.

— Members of Chiques Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., recently went on a workcamp trip to the Dominican Republic. The group has posted a 5 minute video about the experience, which included service with the Dominican Brethren. Among other people featured in the video is Carolyn Fitzkee, who is a mission advocate in Atlantic Northeast District. Go to .

— Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va., is hosting an overnight event called “Cardboard City” on Sept 22-23 to benefit Family Promise of Shenandoah County. “Participants will build their own cardboard houses and take part in other activities, including The Homeless Journey and packing blessing bags,” said an announcement. The event will raise funds to help homeless children and their families. Groups and individuals are encouraged to participate or sponsor others. Contact Becky Leland at 540-333-1976 or for more information.

— Michigan District holds its district conference Friday and Saturday, Aug. 18-19, at New Haven Church of the Brethren in Middleton, Mich.

— Shenandoah District is reporting a record result from its annual disaster ministries auction. The district “raised a record $225,214.29 to support the disaster response efforts of the Church of the Brethren,” said the district e-newsletter this week. The previous record of $221,196.22 dated to 2011. Included in the 2017 amount “is $10,925 given in memory of the late Warren Rodeffer and earmarked for local disaster relief efforts. Mr. Rodeffer, longtime project and equipment manager for the Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Coordinating Team, died May 4 at the age of 79,” said the district newsletter. “The grand total for 25 years of the disaster ministries auction: $4,537,035.62!”

— “Embracing the Moments,” a free series of dementia workshops for caregivers, is being offered again at Cross Keys Village in New Oxford, Pa. “Earlier this year my team and I offered, under the label Embracing the Moments, a toolkit of caregiving knowledge and skills assembled for a greater understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias. This series was well received and we are presenting it again starting on September 7,” said an announcement from Jennifer Holcomb, one of the presenters. “The goal is to share effective techniques to communicate and to engage your loved one, while reducing stress and optimizing overall quality of life. The workshops run every other Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and we will be meeting in the Gallery Room in the Mission Point Health Care building. This is a free program, but space is limited and registration is required.” Go to .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Shamek Cardona, Debbie Eisenbise, Jennifer Holcomb, John Jantzi, Gimbiya Kettering, Ralph McFadden, Emily Tyler, Jenny Williams, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Over the summer, Newsline will go to an every-other-week schedule, to allow for vacation time for staff. Please continue to send news tips and submissions to the editor .

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