Newsline for May 22, 2017

Church of the Brethren Newsline
May 22, 2017

“For if you keep silence at such a time as this…” (Esther 4:14).

1) EDF grants go to Kenya drought, flood responses in Missouri and W. Virginia
2) GFI grants go to China, Africa Great Lakes region, the DR, community gardens, nutrition program in DC
3) Christian groups begin global prayer and fasting ‘For Such a Time’
4) Millions join hearts and minds to pray for end to famine
5) Prayer requested for the millions of people facing famine
6) Brethren Benefit Trust adopts 2017 Department of Defense investment screens
7) EYN president warns pastors of bowing to material things, at KBC graduation

8) Annual Conference 2017 offers special programming, opportunities for spiritual enrichment, continuing education

9) Districts announce new leadership

10) Brethren bits: Correction, remembering Allen Hansell, personnel, job opening, seeking “Another way of living” statements, August workcamp in Nigeria needs participants, and more


June 5 is the last day for online registration and housing reservations for the 2017 Annual Conference, which takes place in Grand Rapids from June 28-July 2. After June 5, the next opportunity to register is onsite in Grand Rapids, where registration fees will increase from $105 to $140 for nondelegates, and from $285 to $360 for delegates. For registration and more information go to .


1) EDF grants go to Kenya drought, flood responses in Missouri and W. Virginia

Destruction caused by flash flooding in West Virginia. FEMA.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed its most recent allocation from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to support Church World Service (CWS) response to a drought in Kenya. Another recent grant funds the start of a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project site in Missouri. Earlier this year, a similar grant funded a limited project in West Virginia.


An allocation of $25,000 supports the CWS response to a drought that is affecting 2.7 million people. Crop failures are projected at nearly 70 percent. The Kenyan government has declared a national disaster and issued an urgent call for global assistance. The drought is projected to last until July, and is attributed to a late start to last year’s short rainy season.

CWS is leading the ACT Alliance response to address emergency water, sanitation, food security, and protection needs. CWS and local partners have been supporting community-based access to water, education, livelihoods, and disaster preparedness in four counties. The broader ACT Alliance response includes a larger geographic area than the CWS response alone.

Funds will support CWS and ACT Alliance in emergency water provision and food assistance as well as broader food security work, repair and rehabilitation of water sources, seeds and agricultural support, emergency preparedness, recovery, and livelihood restoration.


An additional allocation of $25,000 opens a Brethren Disaster Ministries project site in Eureka, Mo., following flooding caused by winter storm Goliath in December 2015. The dangerous combination of heavy rain, snow, and river flooding set historic water level records across the state of Missouri. Brethren Disaster Ministries worked with multiple partners in Missouri to arrange for three separate groups to serve for one-week periods in the Eureka area to help affected families rebuild.

Recently, a volunteer group arrived on April 30 to find the area bracing for more devastating flooding, and worked to fill and place sandbags to try and spare buildings in downtown Eureka from flooding. The group also moved furniture and appliances out of homes expected to flood. The recent storms brought at least 10 inches of rain in 10 days, damaging or destroying hundreds of businesses and homes, many of which had just recovered from the 2015 flooding.

Following a confirmed opening date, this grant covers expenses for moving equipment and setting up volunteer housing, and will underwrite the first several months of operational expenses related to volunteer support. Small portions may go to local partners and for weekly groups that serve prior to the opening of a full Brethren Disaster Ministries project site. Prior EDF grants to this project amount to $4,000, in a grant given in October 2016.

West Virginia

An allocation of $35,000 funded a limited Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in Clay County, W.Va., in response to flash flooding in June 2016. The project was active from mid-February to mid-April. Brethren Disaster Ministries worked with the Greater Clay Long-Term Recovery Committee and the organization that received the FEMA Disaster Case Management Program funding to help repair and rebuild homes for survivors of the flood.

Find out more and donate to the Emergency Disaster Fund at .

2) GFI grants go to China, Africa Great Lakes region, the DR, community gardens, nutrition program in DC

A farm family in Rwanda. Photo by Jay Wittmeyer.


The most recent grant from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative will help improve the diets of clients of a hospice in China. Other grants approved in recent months aid agricultural work in the Africa Great Lakes region, the education of leaders among Brethren in the Dominican Republic, and several community gardens in the United States that are connected with Church of the Brethren congregations. An additional domestic allocation supports the Brethren Nutrition Program of Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren.


An allocation of $10,000 has been given for the You’ai (Brethren) Care ministry led by Ruoxia Li and Eric Miller in Pingding, China. You’ai Care is connected to the Yangquan You’ai Hospital. Funds will cover food preparation appliance purchases, nutrition classes, kitchen staffing at the hospital, and fruit and protein to supplement and improve the diets of hospice patients. The ministry sees this as a possible two-year partnership with the Global Food Initiative, and will look to other funding sources for long-term sustainability of the program if successful.

Africa Great Lakes

An additional allocation of $12,500 continues agriculture work among the Twa people in Rwanda. The project is administered by ETOMR (Evangelistic Training Outreach Ministries of Rwanda). Funds will be used for seeds, fertilizers, land rental, tools, and matching funds for a motorcycle to be used for project supervision. Previous grants to this organization made between 2011 and 2015 total $35,206.

A grant of $10,000 has supported agriculture work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The recipient of the grant, Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development (SHAMIRED), is a ministry of Eglise des Freres au Congo (Church of the Brethren in the Congo). This grant continues agricultural work primarily with 250 Twa families, along with 50 Brethren families who will also be working under the direction of SHAMIRED to raise crops such as peanuts, cassava, bananas, corn, and vegetables. Previous allocations to this project were made from 2011 to 2016, totaling $32,500.

Dominican Republic

An allocation of $660 helped six representatives of Iglesia de los Hermanos in the Dominican Republic to travel to Santiago for a week of training with Medical Ambassadors International. The group came from both the Dominican and Dominican Haitian congregations of the DR church. Phase 1 was completed in August 2016 with the six candidates giving an in-depth report to all pastors and board members at a December pastors’ retreat, as well as being required to form community development groups in their own communities.

Community gardens

A number of allocations this year have gone to community garden projects that are connected with Church of the Brethren congregations:

— $1,300 has been given to support a vegetable gardening project in Circle, Alaska, which is an outreach of Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren in Decatur, Ind., through the leadership of Bill and Penny Gay.

— $3,000 funds community outreach work of Tokahookaadi Church of the Brethren in Lybrook, N.M., which is connected with the community garden of Lybrook Community Ministries. Church members will provide fresh produce to neighbors who are food insecure, giving instructions on how to cook and prepare meals with the produce and inviting them to join cooking classes at the church, with fresh produce purchased to augment the vegetables and herbs currently being produced in the community garden.

— $1,000 offers funding for a community garden of an ecumenical group that includes New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, where the community has been declared a food desert by the FDA. A garden project was begun last year with 40 plots. The people who rent plots donate their first harvest to the local food pantry, and some donated vegetables are sold at a farmers’ market, with funds used to upgrade the property.

In an additional domestic allocation, $10,000 has been given to the Brethren Nutrition Program located in Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren. The Brethren Nutrition Program currently serves roughly 100 lunches a week to guests from a variety of backgrounds. Most are housing-insecure and stay on the street, in shelters, or in assisted housing. Funds from this grant help replace the stove ventilation system in the church kitchen.

For more information and to donate to the work of the Global Food Initiative, go to .

3) Christian groups begin global prayer and fasting ‘For Such a Time’

A Nigerian woman receives a bag of food at one of the distributions of aid made through the Nigeria Crisis Response. This distribution was organized by the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives, one of the Nigerian nonprofits that partner in the Nigeria Crisis Response that is a joint effort of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Photo by Donna Parcell.

In a concerted effort identifying the need to work on hunger and famine relief, a number of Christian groups in the US and internationally have announced a season of prayer and fasting that began on Sunday, May 21. According to the United Nations and other experts, 20 million people are at risk of starvation in four regions–northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen–and millions more are suffering from drought and food shortages.

Bread for the World is joining with Christian denominations and other ecumenical and faith groups in the United States in the initiative “For Such a Time as This: A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Advocacy.” The effort is in response to the push by the US administration and members of Congress for “deep cuts to programs vital to people struggling with hunger and poverty,” said a Bread release.

The initiative began with a three-day fast starting Sunday, May 21, on the Global Day of Prayer called by the World Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches. This initial fast continues through Tuesday, May 23.

Thereafter, the initiative continues with a day of prayer and fasting on the 21st of each month “because that is the day when most individuals and families run out of SNAP [food stamp] benefits,” the release said.

Scriptural inspiration is found in the book of Esther, the story of the queen “who risked her life to ask the Persian king to save the Jewish people–her people–from genocide,” the release noted. “In the days leading up to her meeting with the king, she called for a time of national prayer and fasting. During these unsettled times, we need everyone to get involved to ensure that people struggling with hunger and poverty receive the help they need. Take inspiration from Esther and join the fast.”

The webpage offers a fasting guide, a link to register as a fasting participant, and other resources. Participation in the fast also may be registered by texting FAST to 738-674.

The Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service recommends a video call to prayer and fasting from the Episcopal Church, which is found at .

4) Millions join hearts and minds to pray for end to famine

Women carry water in South Sudan. Photo by Paul Jeffrey / ACT Alliance.

From a World Council of Churches release

On May 21–the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine–millions of people from faith communities, organizations, and neighborhoods across the world prayed, tweeted, posted, and talked face-to-face about the urgent action needed to aid 20 million people facing famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Nigeria.

Standing with those caught up in the crisis, people prayed for peace, and for a galvanized international response to what the UN has called the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945.

Led by the World Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Global Day of Prayer brought an emotional outpouring of love and hope that crossed world borders via social media, news headlines, and quiet circles of prayer rippling out from churches everywhere. Responders, residents, relief workers, families–many have loved ones either caught up in the crisis or responding to it.

The Global Day of Prayer comes days before the Group of Seven (G7) meets in Italy to discuss, among other issues, global food security. The number of people globally in need of food assistance has risen 35 percent in the last year, from 80 to 108 million people.

Christians were asked to pray for the mobilization of funding to meet the funding gap for the aid response (only $1.3 billion of the $4.9 billion needed for an international aid response as been received); for more to be done to foster peace; and for the drivers of extreme hunger (including climate change) to be addressed.

The WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit said, “We can extend this prayer to all of our sisters and brothers who are in need of food to sustain their lives.” He added, “We can make a difference in this situation. Let us stand together and reflect. Let us pray and act to respond to this crisis.”

Tveit concluded, “The world is one family, praying and responding together, to end famine, to end violence and to bring peace. To ensure that there is sufficient and nutritious food for all, to live life to its fullest.”

In East Africa, the South Sudan Council of Churches encouraged all churches in the country to join the global prayer event. Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan. Nigeria, Yemen, and Somalia are at imminent risk of famine.

Below is just a sampling of stories and quotes shared on May 21. Responses continued to be posted, turning the Global Day of Prayer into a lasting response that has great potential to bring about change.

David Beasley, new executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) based in Rome, urged people to observe the Day of Prayer as he traveled. “Just left Jordan and now in South Sudan. Pray and hope for peace,” he tweeted. Dozens of people also shared a quote from WFP country director, Joyce Luma, in South Sudan: “Humanitarian assistance alone is not enough. If conflict continues, the scale and intensity of needs may escalate and outstrip the ability of relief agencies to meet them.”

Angelo Achuil, faith and development coordinator for World Vision South Sudan said: “Christians in South Sudan have been praying for peace and safety–and for their children to have a future free from violence. Congregations are desperate for an end to the starvation, conflict and displacement that are tearing apart their communities. They are grateful for the prayers of the global church and want people of faith to continue praying. But they also want them to cry out to their leaders to bring justice and peace and to provide the emergency aid that will help them survive this crisis. They feel like the world has forgotten them.”

The Uniting Church in Australia, as part of celebrating 40 years as a uniquely Australian church, included the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine within its 40 days of prayer from May 14 to June 22. The prayer, offered by Rob Floyd, National Director of UnitingWorld, was particularly for those in Africa who are facing famine: “We pray for the people of South Sudan and our partner the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan,” the prayer read. “Bless them as they care for their people and as they work to feed the growing number in their communities facing starvation.”

The Salvation Army International Headquarters in the United Kingdom urged people to pray for meaningful, long-lasting partnerships between community members, local authorities, national governments, churches and nonprofits. “We all have a part to play,” read a Salvation Army tweet. “Ask God to protect and enable access routes for aid agencies to deliver emergency food supplies safely and promptly.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shared a prayer with its members and partners. “Look with mercy, gracious God, upon people everywhere who are affected by famine or drought,” the prayer read. “Rouse us from our complacency and help us eliminate cruelty wherever it is found. Strengthen those who seek equality for all. Grant that everyone may enjoy a fair portion of the abundance of the earth; through your son, Jesus Christ Our Lord.”

The ICCO Cooperation, a non-governmental organization that works to eradicate poverty, inequality and injustice, led a response to the Day of Prayer from its regional office in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa. Bradley Dawson, advocate, shared Bible verses, including Matthew 25:35: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.”

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank promoted a collective response as people enjoyed a meal. “As we share our supper tonight let us pray together to respond and end hunger on the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine.”

Choice Souls Media in Nigeria, based its response on Psalm 112:7. “Lord, we trust in the covenant you have over Nigeria, we refuse to be afraid of the famine, recession, corruption, bad leadership, wickedness in high places. We pray in faith and we trust you for a turn around and for perfecting all that concerns Nigeria.”

Advocate Sarah Park found a new perspective on second helpings of food, and began setting an empty plate next to her own whenever she sets the table. “When I learned that 20 million people are currently facing famine in East Africa, it was a difficult number to comprehend and be moved to action.” she wrote. “In spite of this, I truly believe that hope is always present in the midst of suffering. So this is my response as a global citizen and human being. Every time I sit down for a meal in the months to come, by setting an extra empty plate, I am convicted to pray and donate to those afflicted by food insecurity and famine in East Africa, and I am reminded that why I may not have the power to feed 20 million, I can be a blessing to one.”

Eze Kingsley Chizoba, an agriculture and biotechnology engineer in at the University of Nigeria, shared a simple prayer that resonated with many: “Nigeria is in the hand of God. Join me to pray for Nigeria.”

Go to for the WCC release that announced the effort, and links to the video message from Tveit, a Prayer Wall using the hashtag #praytoendfamine, a map of churches committed to praying worldwide, webinars, a resource pack, and more.

5) Prayer requested for the millions of people facing famine

From the Global Mission and Service office

More people face famine today than at any time in modern history, with 20 million people at risk of starvation and millions more suffering drought and food shortages. In light of this, the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches invited us to take part in a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on May 21.

We join in their prayers:

We pray for the people, churches, wider society, and the governments of South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen. We also pray for all the neighboring countries, which are also affected and are receiving and hosting millions of displaced people.

We pray for the strengthening of the prophetic voice of the churches. We also pray for the ministry of accompanying individuals and communities with their preferential attention and ministry to the marginalized and the poor.

We pray for the strengthening and adequate resourcing of the ongoing work of the churches in the affected areas. We also pray for the revival among churches and faith communities to respond to this crisis and for the diaconal work of church communities.

Give us the humility, courage, and willingness to respond to the needs of our sisters and brothers in dire situations in a compassionate, timely, and sufficient manner.

We pray for children in the famine- and drought-affected countries and their welfare, that the appropriate interventions might be directed to them.

We also pray for peaceful and safe working conditions of humanitarian workers and communities on the front lines, that their lives are protected and access to humanitarian assistance is secured.

We pray for peace and durable solutions that will end conflict and violence. We pray that communities can live, mobilize their resources, benefit from the fruits of their labor, in their own environment, living without domination and fear.

6) Brethren Benefit Trust adopts 2017 Department of Defense investment screens

The Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) board has adopted 2017 Department of Defense screens for investments. Each year as part of its Brethren values investing initiatives, BBT’s Board of Directors approves investment screens by adopting two Department of Defense lists comprised of companies that earn significant revenue from US military operations.

One list identifies the top 25 publicly traded defense contractors based on the size of contracts awarded by the Department of Defense, and the other list includes all publicly traded companies that generate more than 10 percent of their revenue from Department of Defense contracts.

The firms on the DOD lists are screened from BBT’s investment portfolios by all investment managers, and BBT also avoids being a customer of any of these companies.

Find the two lists on the BBT website:

— “2017 Top 25 Publicly Traded Companies Receiving Prime Contract Awards from the US Department of Defense” is online at

— “2017 Department of Defense 10 Percent List: Companies Screened Due to Greater than 10 Percent of Gross Revenues from Prime Contracts with the US DoD” is online at .

(Information provided by Jean Bednar of the BBT communications staff.)

7) EYN president warns pastors of bowing to material things, at KBC graduation

Joel S. Billi, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), warned pastors of bowing to material things and called them to be different in society, at the 52nd graduation ceremony of EYN’s Kulp Bible College in Kwarhi. The president, who expressed his joy in this occasion at EYN’s highest theological institution, was represented by vice-president Anthony A. Ndamsai.

2017 graduates from Kulp Bible College (KBC) in Nigeria. Photo by Zakariya Musa / EYN.


The college graduated 38 students with bachelor of arts degrees in Christian Religious Studies, 19 with diplomas in Christian Religious Studies, and 9 with certificates in theology. It was the second graduation of degree (BA) students.

He encouraged the graduating and continuing students to learn hard to enable them to face the challenges of globalization. The “person who ceases to learn, terminates to grow,” he said. He also called on EYN’s sons and daughters to support the college to actualize its vision.

College provost Dauda A. Gava in his speech informed the gathering about affiliating the college with the University of Jos. Also speaking at the occasion, the chair of the KBC Board of Governors drew attention to the college housing, that the old student houses should be phased out and new structures put in place. Professor Paul Amaza charged the graduation candidates to be good ambassadors. Director of education Safiya Y. Byo in her address appreciate the college for maintaining standards. Former provost and the chairman of the day, Toma H. Ragnjiya, called on the school authorities to encourage KBC alumni to support the college.

Donations were made by the well-wishers in cash and kind. One of the donations was the present of 200 text books by Elder Peter Lale, the third occasion on which he has donated books.

— Zakariya Musa serves on the communication staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).


8) Annual Conference 2017 offers special programming, opportunities for spiritual enrichment, continuing education

“Risk Hope” is the theme for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 2017

Organizers of the 2017 Annual Conference highlight special programming for this year’s annual meeting of the Church of the Brethren, taking place in Grand Rapids, Mich., June 28-July 2. In addition to business sessions for delegates, all attendees will have opportunities for spiritual enrichment, continuing education, fellowship, and family oriented activities.

Highlights include a “Jubilee Afternoon,” when a wide range of activities replace the business session, inspired by the call for jubilee in Leviticus 25:10-12. Other highlights are an opportunity to participate in “Witness to the Host City” to aid local ministries for refugees and the homeless, and the annual BBT Fitness Challenge 5K, among others. Pre-Conference events add additional continuing education opportunities. On Annual Conference Sunday, July 2, all Church of the Brethren congregations are invited to worship as one virtual church by sharing in the worship webcast from Grand Rapids (find more information about these activities below).

A key business item–“Authority of Annual Conference and Districts Regarding the Accountability of Ministers, Congregations, and Districts”–already is prompting much discussion. Denominational leaders have prepared a “Q&A” guide to help answer questions in advance of the Conference. Go to .

June 5 is the last day for online registration and housing reservations for the Conference. After June 5, the next opportunity to register is onsite in Grand Rapids, where registration fees increase from $105 to $140 for nondelegates, and from $285 to $360 for delegates. For registration and more information go to .

Annual Conference Sunday

Congregations and individuals from across the country and around the world are invited to worship together as one virtual church on Annual Conference Sunday, July 2, by sharing in the worship webcast. “You can broadcast the service live to your church and worship with thousands of other Brethren!” said the invitation. Go to for information and instructions.

Participants in a variety of time zones will be able to join in the webcast at any time, or restart the broadcast from the beginning, and will be able to comment and chat online with the webcast coordinator. A bulletin for the Annual Conference Sunday worship service will be available in June, to download and print from the Annual Conference website.

Also to be webcast are the business sessions and the daily worship services from the Conference, according to the following schedule (all times are Eastern):

June 28: Opening Worship at 7-8:30 p.m.

June 29: Morning Business Session at 8:30-11:30 a.m., Afternoon Business Session at 2-4:30 p.m., Evening Worship at 7-8:30 p.m.

June 30: Morning Business Session at 8:30-11:30 a.m., Evening Worship at 7-8:30 p.m.

July 1: Morning Business Session at 8:30-11:30 a.m., Afternoon Business Session at 2-4:30 p.m., Evening Worship at 7-8:30 p.m.

July 2: Annual Conference Sunday Worship Service at 8:30-10:30 a.m.

There is no registration fee to participate in webcasts, but viewers are asked to consider making an online donation to help make the ministries of the Church of the Brethren known through the webcasts.

Pre-Conference continuing education

Three Congregational Care and Vitality Workshops are offered by Congregational Life Ministries on June 28, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. “Growing in Faith, Faithful in Service: Deacon Ministry 101” will be led by Stan Dueck, director for Transforming Practices. “Becoming a Listening and Discerning Congregation” will be led by Debbie Eisenbise, director of Intergenerational Ministries. “Conflict Transformation 101” will be led by Josh Brockway, director for Spiritual Life and Discipleship. To register using a credit card, go to . Cost is $15 per person, with an additional $10 for ministers wishing to earn .3 continuing education credit.

The Brethren Ministers’ Association Continuing Education Event on June 27-28 will feature guest speaker Lillian Daniel on the topic, “Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong to.” Author of the book with the same title, Daniel is from First Congregational Church in Dubuque, Iowa, and has taught preaching at a number of schools including Chicago Theological Seminary, the University of Chicago Divinity School, and her alma mater, Yale Divinity School. The three sessions are “Four Types of Nones” on June 27, 6-9 p.m.; “Spirituality Without Stereotypes” on June 28, 9-11:45 a.m.; and “Religion Without Ranting” on June 28, 1-3:45 p.m. Register at or request a registration form from .

Training in Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation is offered by On Earth Peace on June 28 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The training will provide an introduction to the philosophy and methodology of Martin Luther King, Jr. Cost is $60, with .7 continuing education credit available to ministers for an additional $10.

Jubilee Afternoon

For a second year in a row the Conference schedule will include a “jubilee break” on Friday afternoon. “It was in that spirit of celebrating God’s blessing and mercy and of returning to right relationship with God and with each other that Annual Conference instituted its first Jubilee afternoon last year in Greensboro,” explained moderator Carol Scheppard. “The plan rose in response to concerns voiced by brothers and sisters from across the denomination. They worried that the heavy focus on contentious issues during business sessions would eventually erode the effectiveness of Annual Conference in meeting its own mission statement.”

This year’s Jubilee Afternoon will include, among other things, musical performances by Ken Medema and Jonathan Emmons; opportunities to visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (with a special exhibit by the famed artist Ai Weiwei), and the Grand Rapids Art Museum; equipping workshops; special programming in the exhibit hall; and service projects benefitting greater Grand Rapids.

Witness to the Host City

Four ministries in the Grand Rapids area are the beneficiaries of the “Witness to the Host City” this year: Bethany Christian Services, the Refugee Education Center, Well House, and Mel Trotter Ministries.

Donations will be received for Bethany Christian Services, an affiliate of the Church World Service (CWS) Immigration and Refugee Program, and the Refugee Education Center.

Service projects on the Jubilee Afternoon will take volunteers to the Well House, an urban garden project for the homeless, and to Mel Trotter Ministries, a shelter that also offers food for the homeless. Volunteers who do not want to go offsite will have an opportunity to sort and box donations at the convention center.

Find suggested donations by clicking the “Witness to the Host City” link at .

BBT Fitness Challenge

Brethren Benefit Trust is sponsoring the annual BBT Fitness Challenge, a 5K run/walk on the morning of Saturday, July 1. The event starts at 7 a.m. at the Meadows at Millennium Park in Grand Rapids, about six miles from the conference center and about a 10-minute drive. Participants are responsible to secure their own transportation.

Register by downloading the registration form from and mailing a completed copy to the address indicated. The early-bird fee is $20 until May 26, increasing to $25 for onsite registration after that date. Families of four or more people may register for $60. Participants will receive a race packet including a T-shirt and bib number, which they may pick up at the BBT booth in the Annual Conference exhibit hall prior to the race or at the race start.

For questions, contact Diane Parrott at 800-746-1505 ext. 361, or .

For detailed information about Annual Conference scheduling and events, as well as business items and more, go to .


9) Districts announce new leadership

Three districts in the Church of the Brethren have announced new leadership. David Banaszak has been hired to lead Middle Pennsylvania. Kris Hawk will be the new district executive minister for Northern Ohio. Tabitha H. Rudy is interim associate district executive for Virlina.

Middle Pennsylvania

David F. Banaszak has been called to serve as district executive minister for Middle Pennsylvania District, beginning Sept. 5. He currrently is pastor of Clover Creek Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, Pa.

Banaszak was licensed at Windber Church of the Brethren in Western Pennsylvania District in 1985, and was ordained in 1993 at Clover Creek Church of the Brethren in Middle Pennsylvania District. He is a graduate of Penn State University, and received a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in 1992. He also has attended Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

His pastoral experience has included service at Church of the Brethren congregations in the districts of Shenandoah and Illinois/Wisconsin, as well as Middle Pennsylvania. His leadership in Middle Pennsylvania has included serving as the district’s Standing Committee Delegate, as Ministry Formation director, chair of the Ministers’ Calling and Credentialing Team, and on the Ministers’ Education and Support Team.

Northern Ohio

Kris Hawk has been called as district executive minister of Northern Ohio District beginning June 1. She served as interim district executive beginning in 2016. Previously, she was the pastor of visitation at Akron Springfield Church of the Brethren.

Hawk was licensed at Akron Springfield Church of the Brethren in Northern Ohio in 2003, and ordained in the same congregation in 2008. She is a graduate of the University of Akron, attended Ashland Seminary, and graduated from the district’s three-year reading course. In volunteer service to the church, she was moderator for the district in 2010, and from 1999 to 2006 she served on the district board, which she chaired 2002-06.

Her previous career was in nursing and health-care administration, including experience as a nurse with Summa Hospice, vice-president of Medicare Operations at Northeast Professional Home Care, and administrator of Family Home Health Services.


Tabitha H. Rudy begins June 1 as interim associate district executive minister for Virlina District, in a part-time position. Originally from Monte Vista Church of the Brethren in Franklin County, Va., she is a member of Ninth Street Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. She is a 2017 graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary, where she earned a master of divinity degree. She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Ferrum College and a master’s degree from Hollins University. She taught at the high school level for several years, and also filled a summer pastorate in the district and an internship in the district resource center.

10) Brethren bits

— Correction: Ministers who participate in “Healthy Conversations as Spiritual Practice,” an online course from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, to be offered from Sept. 13-Nov. 8 and taught by Reba Herder, will earn 2 continuing education units. A previous issue of Newsline gave an incorrect number of units.

“Where do you see ‘Another way of living’ in the Church of the Brethren?” said an invitation for church members to use their phone cameras to make brief videos for use at Annual Conference this summer.

The videos should answer this question in one sentence, and no more than 15 seconds.

“Try a selfie–or record someone else. If you have more than one sentence to say, make more than one video,” said the invitation.

E-mail videos and any questions to by May 24.

— Remembrance: Allen T. Hansell Sr., a former member of the denominational staff who also served as a district executive in the Church of the Brethren, died on May 10. He was district executive minister for Atlantic Northeast District from November 1989 until October 1997. He then served as executive director of the Office of Ministry for the Church of the Brethren from October 1997 until December 2001. He was an ordained minister, and served as a pastor for 22 years earlier in his career. He worked as director of church relations for Elizabethtown (Pa.) College from 2005 to 2008, and also served on the college board of trustees. He served on the board of Bethany Theological Seminary in the mid-1990s. In other volunteer service to the denomination, he was on the South African Task Committee, and the Urban Task Committee, and chaired the advisory board of the Susquehanna Valley Satellite of Bethany Seminary, among other volunteer appointments. He was born in Middletown, Va., on Nov. 11, 1936. In 1959, he married Lois Carper Hansell. He was a graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College and held both a master of divinity and a doctor of ministry from Bethany Seminary. Most recently he was a member of Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. His reflection on the nature of living and God’s role in our lives appeared in the December 2016 “Messenger” magazine and in Messenger Online (see ). “Each of us is called to be a healing tree for others,” he wrote. “And when our lives are over and we have done what we could, we continue to flow in the River of Life, moving toward that great and eternal Ocean of Life where there is no pain and no suffering.”

— Sherry Chastain has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as program assistant for Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services, starting May 23. Her previous work at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., was for IMA World Health as a senior Human Resources associate and executive assistant.

— Atlantic Northeast District seeks a district executive minister to fill a fulltime position. The district comprises 70 congregations, 6 fellowships, and 3 projects for a total of 79 churches, and is culturally, theologically, and geographically diverse. The district has a strong interest in unity, cross-cultural ministry and in service. The preferred candidate is a spiritually wise pastoral leader who offers inspiration and works collaboratively to envision, guide and oversee the work of the district. Responsibilities include serving as the administrator of the board of the district, facilitating and giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of ministries as directed by District Conference and the district executive committee and board, and providing links to congregations, the Church of the Brethren, and Annual Conference agencies; assisting congregations and pastors with placement; providing oversight and administration for district office and staff; facilitating and encouraging the calling and credentialing of people to set-apart ministry; building and strengthening relationships with congregations and pastors; using mediation skills to work with congregations and/or agencies in conflict; fostering unity in the district. Qualifications include a clear devotion to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant spiritual life with a commitment to New Testament values and to Church of the Brethren faith, heritage, and polity; membership in the Church of the Brethren; ordination; a bachelor’s degree, with a master’s degree or master of divinity or higher degree preferred; pastoral experience; strong relational, communication, mediation, and conflict resolution skills; strong administrative and organizational skills; competence with technology and willingness to adapt to changing technology; passion for the mission and ministry of the church; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership. Apply for this position by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to . Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide letters of reference. Upon receipt of a resume, a candidate profile will be sent that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is July 31.

— Global Mission and Service seeks more participants to join the August workcamp in Nigeria, working on a construction project together with members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The workcamp is scheduled for Aug. 17-Sept. 3. More information can be found at . More information about the Nigeria workcamps may be found at .

— Fairview Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., held its 85th Anniversary Celebration Service on Sunday, May 21. A lunch followed the service.

— Shenandoah District is saying a big thank you to those who helped out with the 25th annual Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction. “Volunteers had worked at the Rockingham County [Va.] Fairgrounds most of the week in preparation for the opening of the auction schedule on Friday afternoon, and volunteers worked throughout the rest of Friday and all day Saturday to assure that every segment of the auction progressed smoothly,” said the thank you note sent out by e-mail. “While some figures such as the number of meals served are still being computed, other totals such as the amount of money raised will not be confirmed until the books are closed in late July or early August.” Of the available results, 1,000 school kits were assembled for Church World Service, and 75 gallons of oysters were eaten over the course of the weekend. The auction supports the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

— On May 2, the 7th annual Living Peace Recognition Banquet sponsored by Shenandoah District Pastors for Peace recognized three people, a congregation, and a community-based non-profit for ministry to inmates and former prisoners, reports the district. Those recognized included Roma Holloway and Elaine Shank of Montezuma Church of the Brethren, who led Bible studies for female inmates at Rockingham County Jail for 13 years; John Sayre, a retired minister who is now a member of Bridgewater Church of the Brethren, who served as chaplain for the Rockingham County Jail for 32 years; Larry Erbaugh and Wayne Pence representing Mountain View Fellowship Church of the Brethren, where members maintain a collection box to pay for incidentals that inmates need, visit and correspond with inmates, and continue contact after prisoners are released; and J.D. Glick of Sunrise Church of the Brethren, on behalf of Gemeinschaft Home where he served on the founding committee and as board chair for the agency that aids newly released prisoners transitioning back into civilian life.

—  Cross Keys Village will be hosting “Making a Difference in the Lives of People with Dementia,” a free half-day presentation sponsored by Visiting Angels and Good News Consulting on Friday, June 2, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Nicarry Meetinghouse. The village is a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in New Oxford, Pa. Kenneth Brubaker, former Chief Medical Director for the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and the Office of Long Term Living, will be speaker and panelist. This comprehensive seminar is designed for family caregivers. For more information go to .

— The Global Women’s Project received $4,039 in donations through its annual Mother’s Day Project this year. “Many thanks to those of you who participated in our Mother’s Day Project and donated in honor of someone special to you. It was a very successful year,” said an e-mail to supporters. “This will help us support and empower women and girls around the world through our partner projects.”

— The next Springs of Living Water Spiritual Disciplines folder is written by Tim Harvey, pastor of Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., who adapted the format for a study of the Psalms for use in worship during the early summer. Running from June 6 until July 16, the folder has a reflective introduction to the Psalms, which ends with a question, “How are we to pray in light of the blessings and challenges of this time and place.” Then the folder offers daily reading from the Psalms for personal reflection and prayer. In a release from the Springs of Living Water initiative led by David and Joan Young, Harvey notes: “As I worked on this guide, I did it thinking that families could read at least some of the Psalms together. Most Psalms are short enough that one Psalm could be read aloud each night at dinner, or bedtime, or some other time appropriated for your family schedule. If you do not already have time set aside for family devotions, perhaps the Psalms could be the place to start.” The folder is found on the Springs of Living Water website at .  For more information about the folder, or the next Springs Academy for Pastors that takes place via teleconference call starting Sept. 12, call 717-615-4515 or e-mail .

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College alumni Kenneth L. and Rosalie E. Bowers (class of 1959 and ’58) will contribute, over time, $5 million to the college’s BE Inspired Campaign. A release from Elizabethtown reported that in recognition of their generous support, the college will name a new $23.4-million facility in their honor: The Bowers Center for Sports, Fitness, and Wellness. A portion of their support also will provide long-term sustainability of the new facility and other programs, the release said. Construction of the Bowers Center is scheduled to begin in the fall, and is expected to be completed by December 2018.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College’s student news organization, BC Voice, has received recognition for its student-run newspaper publication, “Veritas.” In the fall of 2015, the staff of “Veritas” and Spark Radio merged to form a new multimedia student news organization, BC Voice. The newspaper earned second place nationally for its enrollment category from the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA), according to a release from the college. The ASPA annually recognizes newspapers and other publications and considers such factors as page design, graphics, headlining, cover design, photography, and excellence of writing. “Veritas” editor-in-chief is Katherine Hinders, a senior communication studies major from Herndon, Va. BC Voice executive director is Megan Ford, a senior psychology major from Leesburg, Va. To view BC Voice’s work, visit

— Bridgewater (Va.) College senior Megan LaPrade, a member of Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren, received the Merlin and Dorothy Faw Garber Award for Christian Service at the annual college awards ceremony on May 7, according to an article in the “August Free Press.” The award is named “in memory of the late Dr. Merlin Garber and his wife, Dorothy, who were Bridgewater College alumni and deeply involved in the life of the Church of the Brethren as pastors,” the article noted. LaPrade graduated on May 20 as a mathematics major who also has been in the Teacher Education Program. She was coordinator of the college’s Spiritual Life Board this year, as well as treasurer and coordinator of the Interdistrict Youth Cabinet, and coordinator of the Roundtable regional youth conference that Bridgewater College hosts for youth in the six southeast districts of the Church of the Brethren. Find the article at .

 “Brethren Voices” takes a look at the new technology that is coming down the road in the form of electric vehicles, in its latest program. “Brethren Voices” is a community television show produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. “The age-old question, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ is taken seriously by Brethren,” said an announcement from producer Ed Groff. “For this Brethren Voices program, the question is, ‘What Would Jesus Drive?’ Some members of Portland Peace Church of the Brethren are attempting to choose alternative energy cars as a matter of their faith. We took a quick poll and discovered that 30 percent of the congregation is driving electric or hybrid vehicles. Four electric vehicles and 5 hybrid cars are being driven by members of this small church.” Charles Smith, Anna Meyer, and Craig and Pam Enberg are interviewed by Brent Carlson about their switch to alternative energy cars. Brethren Voices cameras attend the Portland Auto Show. The program is complemented by Gary Graunke of the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association. To purchase a copy contact Groff at .

— Amber Hanson Shaw of Black Rock Church of the Brethren threw out the first pitch at yesterday’s Baltimore Orioles game. In an article titled “Hanover woman goes to bat against breast cancer,” the “Evening Sun” newspaper reported: “After two diagnoses and 13 chemotherapy treatments, Hanover breast cancer patient Amber Shaw will throw out the first pitch at Camden Yards on May 19.” She was part of the 2017 Honorary Bat Girl Contest, and won the recognition from the Orioles after sharing her story. Jan Croasmun, administrative assistant for the church office, wrote to Newsline that the church has been praying for Shaw for a long time. The congregation learned “this good news last Sunday during our joys and concerns time in worship and we were thrilled,” she wrote. The newspaper article tells the story of Shaw’s journey battling breast cancer, which has led her to a new career path in mammography at Hanover Hospital. Go to .

 “The Crooked Road, Episode 2: Faith and Family,” one of a series of videos about the origins of American country music and its connection to land and place, sponsored by John Deere, features a descendant of a Brethren leader who was a musician in the Crooked Road area of Virginia. Scott Mullins of the New Harvest Brothers Band is interviewed about the roots of his family’s long involvement with country music, and credits his great grandfather and Church of the Brethren leader Doc Mullins. Go to .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jean Bednar, Jeff Boshart, Shamek Cardona, Jenn Dorsch, Jan Croasmun, Elizabeth A. Harvey, Mary Kay Heatwole, Fran Massie, Nancy Miner, Zakariya Musa, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, David S. Young, 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.

Go to to subscribe to the Church of the Brethren Newsline free e-mail news service and receive church news every week.

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