Newsline for Nov. 21, 2017

Church of the Brethren Newsline
November 21, 2017

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

1) Church of the Brethren workcamps repair church buildings, homes in Puerto Rico
2) Brenda Reish concludes employment at Bethany Seminary
3) South Central Indiana District goes above and beyond in collection for Nigeria, Haiti
4) Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference proclaims good news
5) West Marva District adopts resolution on same-sex marriage.
6) President of EYN meets with Nigeria’s vice president
7) Brethren bits: Remembering Julie Hostetter, job opening, Sankofa Journey, UN rep. queries High Commissioner for Human Rights, Clergy Tax Seminar, CWS alert on termination of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians, news from congregations, more


A prayer request from Nigeria:

A leader in the EYN disaster team, Yuguda Mdurvwa, is requesting prayer for those affected by the bombing of a mosque in the Angwan Shuwa area of Mubi. The headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) are located close to the city of Mubi in northeast Nigeria. Media are reporting that at least 50 people were killed, and many others injured in the bombing of the mosque. Mdurvwa reported to Brethren Disaster Ministries by e-mail early this morning about the overall situation in Mubi: “The situation is calm, but movement is being checked by security. Such attacks have been experienced in Madagali, Maiduguri, and Gwoza for the past three weeks. May God continue to guide and protect his people.” Find the CNN report on the bombing at .


1) Church of the Brethren workcamps repair church buildings, homes in Puerto Rico

Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers work to repair a roof in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Bill Gay.

Church of the Brethren volunteers have done repairs to church buildings and homes in Puerto Rico this month. The church buildings receiving repair are connected with Segunda Iglesia Cristo Misionera (Caimito Church of the Brethren) and some nearby homes. Two groups of volunteers, totaling seven people, assisted with the project which received support from Brethren Disaster Ministries

In related news, a container of relief goods and supplies for Puerto Rico has been prepared for shipment. However, “it has been a frustrating process” because of port delays and trucking challenges in Puerto Rico, reported Roy Winter, associate executive director for Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Workcamp at Caimito

The workcamps at Caimito Church and Community Center were organized by Shirley Baker, with Jeff Bruens, disaster project leader, providing construction leadership and other volunteers coming from churches in the continental US. These small but productive teams repaired the roof and ceiling at Segunda Iglesia Cristo Misionera, provided partial repairs to the Caimito Community Center that is affiliated with the church, repaired the Brethren House, and worked on two homes in the area.

With these repairs the Brethren House is now able to host volunteers, although it still does not have electricity. Additional work projects are being organized and planned for 2018, but details are not yet available.

Container of supplies

A 20-foot container of supplies left the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., today, Nov. 21, bound for Puerto Rico. The supplies were purchased and assembled weeks ago, but port delays in Puerto Rico, difficulty finding an available container, and the challenge of trucking supplies from the San Juan port to Bayamon Church of the Brethren delayed the shipment.

“The Puerto Rico Brethren have developed a distribution plan and are excited to receive these supplies, generators, canned chicken, water filters, and much more, valued at over $40,000,” Winter said. “The container also carries a complete set of construction tools to assist with home repair and rebuilding.”

A church-based response

Puerto Rico District, under the leadership of district executive José Otero, is organizing a church-based response to Hurricane Maria with support from Brethren Disaster Ministries staff and financial grants.

To date, more than $28,000 in grant funds have been sent to Puerto Rico District, some coming from special donations received by several districts of the Church of the Brethren, and some through the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF). These funds are helping meet short-term and emergency needs for food, shelter, and supplies in the communities around each of the seven Churches of the Brethren in Puerto Rico.

The church boards of each of the seven congregations are assessing needs in their communities following the hurricanes, and providing case management. The assessments are scheduled to be completed by Dec. 1, leading to a detailed planning meeting between Brethren Disaster Ministries staff and district executive Otero. The Puerto Rico District board will meet Dec. 9 to further assist in response planning and approve a response budget for the next year.

— Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries, contributed to this report. Find out more about Brethren Disaster Ministries at . Contribute financially to the Puerto Rico hurricane response by giving to the Emergency Disaster Fund at .

2) Brenda Reish concludes employment at Bethany Seminary

by Jenny Williams

After 19 years of service to Bethany Theological Seminary, Brenda Reish will conclude her employment as executive director of business services and treasurer on December 31, 2017.

Reish came to Bethany in August 1998, when the business offices of Bethany and Earlham School of Religion were joined. She held the position of business manager for both schools and treasurer for Bethany until 2002, when a separate business office was established for each school. She then served as executive director of student and business services and treasurer for Bethany until a separate Admissions and Student Services Department was created in 2016.

As treasurer under three Bethany presidents, Reish has been responsible for institutional finances as an internal auditor, maintaining compliance with institutional policy. During her tenure, Bethany has received clean audits each year and the endowment has grown from $10 million to $39 million. She has managed the institution’s financial records and reporting and has overseen the annual budget process.

In the position of executive director of student and business services, Reish was also responsible for admissions, financial aid, student development, and other student services.

Since her hiring, Reish has served as administrative liaison to the Business Services Committee, Audit Committee, Investment Committee, and previous Student and Business Services  Committee of the Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees. In addition, she was instrumental in engaging Concord Advisory Group as Bethany’s investment advisors.

Reish’s responsibilities also have ncompassed maintenance of and improvements to Bethany’s buildings and grounds. In the early 2000s, she oversaw the finishing of Bethany’s lower level, named the Nicarry Ministry Center. More recently she supervised the remodeling of Brethren House–Bethany’s guest house–and Mullen House, Patterson House, and Carver House as student residences within the newly named Bethany Neighborhood.

“Brenda has provided faithful service to Bethany Theological Seminary for nearly two decades,” said Jeff Carter, president. “Her careful management of the seminary’s finances during a time of great change has benefited both the seminary community and program as well as all those who have moved from their studies to service in the church and world.”

— Jenny Williams is director of Communications at Bethany Theological Seminary.

3) South Central Indiana District goes above and beyond in collection for Nigeria, Haiti

South Central Indiana District leaders including district executive Beth Sollenberger (at right) present a check to Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele (at left) for the special fundraising project that gave more than $28,000 to well projects in Haiti and Chibok, Nigeria, and to the Nigeria Crisis Response. Photo courtesy of South Central Indiana District.


South Central Indiana District has raised $28,800 to support the Church of the Brethren’s work in Nigeria and in Haiti, in a special district-wide project. The concept for the special giving emphasis started last fall at the district board’s annual retreat, when board member Brad Yoder suggested raising money to build wells in Haiti.

“Then the concept, ‘We ought to give something away,’ took hold,” according to district executive minister Beth Sollenberger.

The district established a committee for the project, offered a workshop in the spring to share information with church members, and announced a goal of receiving $10,000 by the time of the district conference this year.

With 45 churches, the initial idea was to challenge each of the district churches to raise $200. Lots of people thought this was not realistic, Sollenberger remembers, because it had been many years since the district took on such a project. But with a lot of work and enthusiasm on the part of district leaders, the project took off and exceeded expectations. The district office sent out publicity. District board members made personal calls to churches encouraging them to participate. “The money started coming in,” Sollenberger recalls.

Churches started to give generously, and many came up with unique and interesting ideas for raising the funds. Soon the district staff realized, in Sollenberger’s words: “Oh goodness, we’re going to make it. Then our eyes got big because we were going to do more than make it!”

In the end, the vast majority of the district churches sent in a check, and a gift was given in the name of every person in the district. In Sollenberger’s estimation, the whole district took part.

A success like this “is amazing, in our world and our life together,” she says. “The money is exciting, the amount is amazing, but for me the participation is the over-the-top part.” She recalls a time, not so many years ago, when South Central Indiana District “was labeled the most divided in the denomination…. So to come back with an offering like this is really fun.”

The district’s gift will be shared as follows, says Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service: half will go to water projects in Haiti, a quarter will support the digging of wells in Chibok, Nigeria, and a quarter will go to the Nigeria Crisis Response.

Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele personally received the large check from the district, during the district conference this fall. He commented, “I knew they were planning to present a check, but was overwhelmed by the amount!” The district conference sang the “Doxology” together when the check was presented.

“We had so much fun that we’re trying to figure out what to do next!” Sollenberger says.

Stay tuned!

4) Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference proclaims good news

by Kevin Kessler

The head table at Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference 2017. Photo by Ralph Miner.


The Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference on Nov. 3-4 was held at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., on the theme, “Don’t Be Afraid, I Bring You Good News” based on Luke 2:10. The conference was capably led by moderator Allegra Hess, a member of the York Center congregation.

The conference began with worship led by ministers from the Northeast Region of the district. Christy Waltersdorff preached on the theme, setting the tone for the remainder of the conference. Waltersdorff proclaimed, “Christ calls us to another way of living, a way that is not defined by fear but courage; a way that is not defined by weakness but strength; a way that is not defined by anxiety but faith.” She asked these questions: “What if this darkness (fear) is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if God is seeking to birth something wondrous in our congregations, in our districts, in our denomination, in our world? And what if we get to be a part of that new life?”

During the business session, delegates and conferencegoers were able to experience the courage of our district, which continues to carry out faithful ministries in our congregations despite the challenges of living out the mission of Christ in a post-Christendom and post-Christian era. Our district has initiated two new, non-traditional ministries–the Parables Community and the Gathering Chicago. Jeanne Davies, founding pastor of the Parables Community, shared the value of providing a space and opportunity for worship for persons with disabilities and their families. LaDonna Nkosi, unable to be present, nonetheless provided video and live presentations expressing the value of providing opportunities of prayer, partnership, and service on Chicago’s south side. These two emerging ministries are testaments to not being afraid, serving unmet needs in spite of the obstacles that at times seem overwhelming.

Six congregations (Rockford, Polo, Stanley, Canton, Cerro Gordo, and York Center) were given the opportunity to share a three-minute presentation about ministries in which they are engaged. Each congregation is actively involved in their community, outwardly focused, and embarking on creative ministry initiatives. In addition, a video of district activity and ministries was produced and viewed by all who were present. Find it at .

Camp Emmaus and Camp Emmanuel continue to provide an environment for building relationships, enriching our faith, and positively impacting the lives of youth for years to come. Despite overwhelming financial obstacles as a result of late and inconsistent State of Illinois Medicaid disbursements, Pinecrest Community and Pleasant Hill Village continue to provide outstanding service to those who need assisted and extended care.

All of these ministries are evidence of new life that the district celebrates and supports through prayer, relationship, and money. The district is finding renewed energy, excitement, and cohesiveness through efforts to sustain these Christ-centered ministries.

Fear has been a part of this district. We have been afraid of how theological differences may fracture our relationships. We have been afraid of how financial reserves are being used. We have been afraid of the aging of and decline in membership. Other fears have surfaced over the years as well.

What we discovered, or maybe re-discovered, at this district conference is that we are not paralyzed by our fears. Instead, we are holding on and moving ahead in the strength of the word of God proclaimed through the prophet Isaiah: “I have chosen you and have not abandoned you. Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

– Kevin Kessler is district executive minister for Illinois and Wisconsin District.

In an additional news tidbit from the Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference, moderator Allegra Hess shared that the one dozen freshly laid brown eggs from the “Brethren hens” that she owns raised $50 in the district conference auction. The auction proceeds go to the district budget.

5) West Marva District adopts resolution on same-sex marriage.

A resolution on same-sex marriage was approved by West Marva District at its district conference held Sept. 16 at Moorefield (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren. The resolution was adopted by a simple majority, with two dissenting votes.

The text of the resolution follows:

West Marva District Church of the Brethren Resolution on Same-Sex Marriage

Whereas: The Church of the Brethren’s official position on covenantal relationships between homosexual persons is that they are “an additional lifestyle option but, in the church’s search for a Christian understanding of human sexuality, this alterna-tive is not acceptable” (1983 Annual Conference Statement, Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective); and

Whereas: West Marva District “Core Beliefs Disciplines and Practices” document states on page 10, “Marriage is a life-long commitment of love between a man and a woman…” (adopted by District Conference September 16, 2006); and

Whereas: The Church of the Brethren recently finished a study on the 1983 Annual Conference Statement, Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective and again affirmed in 2011 the Church’s position on the homosexual lifestyle; and

Whereas: “The Church of the Brethren upholds the biblical declaration that heterosexuality is the intention of God for Creation,” (1983 Annual Conference Statement on Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective); and

Whereas: The Church of the Brethren has reaffirmed a commitment to “extend Christ-like comfort and grace to homosexual and bisexual persons” (1983 Annual Confer-ence Statement, Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective).

Therefore be it resolved that the West Marva District Church of the Brethren,

Reaffirms the denominational position that “covenantal relationships between homosexual persons is [sic] an additional lifestyle option but, in the church’s search for a Christian understanding of human sexuality, this alternative is not acceptable” (1983 Annual Conference Statement, Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective); and

Affirms that ordained or licensed ministers are not permitted to perform or officiate at any same sex marriage;

Affirms that regardless of state and federal laws, marriage is a God-ordained covenant that can only be entered into by one man and one woman;

Affirms that the use of West Marva District buildings, camps, properties, or churches for the use of same sex ceremonies is prohibited;

Reaffirms a commitment to extend Christ-like comfort and grace to Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered (LGBT) persons in the spirit of the 1983 Annual Conference Statement, Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective;

Affirms that the West Marva District will recognize for leadership positions only those persons that uphold the teachings of the Bible and the West Marva core Beliefs.

Recognizes that conversations about LGBT concerns will continue outside the query process, and in the spirit of the 1983 Annual Conference Statement, Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective, such conversations will not be deemed to violate any District policies.

6) President of EYN meets with Nigeria’s vice president

by Zakariya Musa

Joel S. Billi, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) visited Nigerian Vice President Yomi Osinbanjo. Photo by Zakariya Musa.


Joel S. Billi, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) visited Nigerian Vice President Yomi Osinbanjo on Nov. 16, at the Presidential Villa in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.

In more news from EYN, the church’s disaster relief staff continues its distribution of food to internally displaced people (IDPs). EYN had another successful Sunday distribution in which relief materials were conveyed to IDPs in Jalingo, Taraba State. Some 250 people were aided with food items including rice, Maggi cubes, salt, and  cooking oil. However, many people went home empty handed as the number of IDPs is still high in the state.

Meeting with Nigeria’s vice president

Rev. Billi in an interview highlighted the mission to the “number two citizen” of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “to congratulate him for being elevated to be the second person in Nigeria.” He said the EYN leadership intended to make the visit last year, but could not due to some protocol and procedures.

“Secondly, we were there to thank and encourage him for his maturity and good leadership he has displayed when he was Acting President when the President was in Great Britain undergoing medical treatment,” Billi said. “Solely, the whole nation was on his shoulders and he led Nigeria aright, so we were there to say kudos to him for representing Nigeria and for standing firm. Nigeria was almost shaking because of the uncertainty of the sickness or ill health of the President. He was able to stabilize the nation, despite the news that was flying on social media here and there, some very inciting and some irritating.

“Then we were there to thank the regime for the 103 Chibok girls that were recovered from the hands of Boko Haram terrorists, to plead and request them [the Nigerian leadership] to make an extra effort to bring [home] more or all of the remaining school girls and all of the abducted women, children, old, and young people who are still at large,” Billi said. “We don’t know their whereabouts so we were there to request him talk to his leader, the President of this great nation. We informed him on our members and other Christians and even non-Christians that are still displaced. We did mention the huge number of our members who are still displaced in Minawao, Cameroon. We said we want them to bring these members back to Nigeria.”

Billi said that he was able to bring to the notice of the Vice President the reoccurring attacks on several communities in the north east, mentioning some of the volatile Local Government areas in Borno and Adamawa States.

On the team [who joined Billi in the meeting] were Daniel Y. C. Mbaya, EYN general secretary;  Zakariya Amos, administrative secretary; Samuel B. Shinggu, spiritual advisor; Wakuma D. Mshelbwala, director of Finance; Suzan Mark, director of the Women’s Ministry; Safiya Y. Byo, director of Education; and Zakariya Musa, head of EYN Media.

EYN leadership has so far visited two of the three state governors of the states most affected by Boko Haram–Borno and Adamawa States–and is committed to meet the Yobe State governor, who turned down a courtesy call last year. The courtesy call would have been part of the “Sympathy, Reconcilation, and Encouragement” tour the church leadership carried out within and outside Nigeria when it met its devastated members.

— Zakariya Musa serves as head of media for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

7) Brethren bits


The Conference Office has released the logo for the 2018 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, on the theme, “Living Parables.” The Conference takes place July 4-8 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find out more at .


— Remembrance: Julie Mader Hostetter, 66, former executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and former staff of the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries, passed away on Nov. 12 in Bridgewater, Va. Her leadership of the Brethren Academy–a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Seminary–began in 2008. In this role, she was a member of the Ministry Advisory Council, assisting with oversight of ministerial education in the Church of the Brethren and the recent revision of the Ministerial Leadership Paper. Academy programs and responsibilities expanded during her tenure, including in 2011 launching of the Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano (SeBAH-COB) certificate program in cooperation with the Mennonite Education Agency. Development of an EFSM Spanish-language track also began during her tenure, as did the position of coordinator of Spanish-language ministry training programs. Hostetter administered and led many sessions for the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program underwritten by the Lilly Endowment Inc. This was succeeded by Sustaining Ministerial Excellence in 2015. In 2015, the academy assumed responsibility for ministerial ethics training in the denomination, involving dozens of seminars nationwide, many led by Hostetter. She retired from the academy this January. Her previous work for the denomination included service as a pastor and service as one of the former Congregational Life Team members. She coordinated the Congregational Life Team for Area 3 (Southeast) December 1997-April 2005, then became academic coordinator for United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. She received her master of divinity from United in 1982 and, after graduation, served on the school’s administrative staff for more than five years. In 2010 she completed a doctor of ministry degree through the Center for Ministry and Leadership Development at Union-PSCE (Union Presbyterian Seminary) in Richmond, Va. She first became involved in church work when she started as a church organist at age 15. Over the years, her volunteer service to the church included a term as moderator of Southern Ohio District in 2013. Ecumenical involvements including service as interim executive director of Metropolitan Churches United in Dayton. She wrote numerous Christian education resources, and for several years helped edit and produce the “Seed Packet” newsletter as a joint publication of Congregational Life Ministries and Brethren Press. She is survived by her husband of 44 years, Michael L. Hostetter; daughters Elizabeth (Kate) Hostetter and husband Rick Thompson of Tennessee, and Abigail Hostetter and fiancé Joel Parker of Virginia; and grandchildren. To honor her dedication to ministry education, Hostetter’s family has established the Julie Mader Hostetter Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership Scholarship Fund. Memorial gifts are received to this fund care of Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374. After a private burial, a memorial service will be held at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. Condolences may be shared at .

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks a full-time development coordinator to serve as a member of the Peacemaker Corps in expanding financial capacity and building fiscal sustainability. Responsibilities include creating and implementing funding strategies, providing administrative oversight, cultivating major gifts, overseeing donor acquisition and renewal, writing and managing grants, organizing events, and participating in the overall work of the administrative team. The position involves close collaboration with a development working group and includes some international travel to meetings and/or project sites each year. Candidates should demonstrate passion for cultivating donors to support the work of CPT, commitment to grow in the journey of undoing oppressions, and ability to work independently and collaboratively as part of a dispersed team across continents. Preference is for candidates with development experience and a focus on grassroots social change organizations. This is a three-year appointment. Compensation and benefits include: $24,000 per year; 100 percent employer-paid health, dental, and vision coverage; four weeks of annual vacation. Location is based in Chicago, Ill. Start date is negotiable; the position is available as of Jan. 15, 2018. To apply, submit electronically, in English, the following to : cover letter stating motivation/reasons for interest in this position, a résumé or CV, a list of three references with e-mail and daytime telephone numbers. Application review begins Jan. 5, 2018. See the full position description at .

— Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no online Town Hall Meeting with Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya in November.

— Belita Mitchell and Nancy Sollenberger Heishman have shared a Sankofa Journey experience. Mitchell pastors First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and is a former Annual Conference moderator. Heishman has begun this month as director of the Office of Ministry for the Church of the Brethren. The Sankofa Journey on Oct. 26-29 traveled to the cities of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma in Alabama, and to Memphis in Tennessee. The goal was “to visit various sites of importance in the civil rights period of our nation’s history,” Heishman said. The Sankofa Journeys are organized by the Evangelical Covenant Church for the purpose of “Seeking to assist Christ-followers in their journeys toward a righteous response to the social ills of racism.” Heishman reported, “Our group consisted of 17 cross-racial, same-gender pairs of participants. It was a powerful experience that was both sobering and inspiring.” Mitchell commented, “Being a part of the experience was deeply moving for me as I relived some of my own history; and was able to share with others in their sobering and firsthand exposure to the brutality of racial injustice.”

— Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, Doris Abdullah, was at a recent meeting between the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and the NGO community, at UN headquarters in New York. “I was the fourth person called upon,” she reported to Newsline. “He spoke directly to my question on the situation in northern Nigeria. I thanked him for meeting with us, civil society, and gave my wishes that he could come to New York more frequently. NGOs in Geneva have access that is not given to us here in New York. My introduction of the Church of the Brethren included the fact that the Chibok girl we were praying for here in New York is still unaccounted for…. But mainly I wanted him to know now that some girls had been returned, the rest have seemingly been forgotten. And the despair, hunger and struggles are still going on in the area as the terror of Boko Haram continues.” Abdullah added that she is working on a request to receive a formal response from the High Commissioner.

— “Join us for this informational and instructive seminar!” invites the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. The next Clergy Tax Seminar is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a break for lunch. Deb Oskin returns as the leader for this event. Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend either in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or online. Participants will learn how to file clergy taxes correctly and legally, and how to comply with regulations while maximizing tax deductions. Participants may earn .3 continuing education credit. This seminar is highly recommended for all pastors and all other church leaders who wish to understand clergy taxes including treasurers, steward commission chairs, and church board chairs. Sponsors include the Brethren Academy, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary. Registration costs $30 per person. Current Bethany, TRIM/EFSM/SeBAH, and Earlham School of Religion students may attend at no cost, although registration is still required. Registrations are not complete until payment is received. The registration deadline is Jan. 19, 2018. Register at .

Claysburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren had an outdoor baptism on Aug. 20, “where we baptized six people and received one by a reaffirmation of faith,” pastor Ron Bashore reported to Newsline. On Nov. 19, the church received two more members by letter of transfer, “for a total of nine new members” in 2017.


— Henry Fork Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., held a vigil for those killed in the mass shooting at a church in Texas earlier this month. Pastor Ronald Coleman told WDBJ Channel 7, “Twenty-six people these innocent people, those children, I went home that Sunday evening and I couldn’t sleep. So the next morning I made some phone calls that we needed to send our love and our support to those folks.” Find the news report and a video at .

— Four Church of the Brethren congregations joined together for a combined Thanksgiving meal and service on Sunday evening, Nov. 19, in the Ashland, Ohio, area, according to the “Times-Gazette.” The group included the Dickey Church, First Church, Maple Grove Church, and Mohican Church, which hosted the event.

— Wyomissing (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting an interfaith service of Thanksgiving on Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. Dale Davis, pastor of Immanuel United Church of Christ in Shillington, will deliver the message. Participating faith communities will include First Unitarian Universalist Church of Berks County, the Islamic Center of Reading, the Reading Buddhist Community, Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom, and Washington Presbyterian Church USA, according to an article in the “Reading Eagle.”

— “Poetry scene thriving in Northwest Philadelphia,” reports the Montgomery News/Germantown Courier, and Germantown Church of the Brethren is at the center of it. The church is hosting a Poetify event next week, in a series that will feature Germantown poets RuNett Nia Ebo and Victoria Peurifoy, along with an open microphone where all-local talent can perform in a profanity-free environment, the paper reports. “Added in the mix is poet Terri Lyons. She already has a soldout crowd for the ‘Philly Flow’ that was scheduled to feature her along with the Mark Jackson Band soloist Carolyn Sims-Nesmith. Poetify is scheduled from 3-7 p.m. on Nov. 26, and a meal will be available for purchase during the evening.
See the article in the Montgomery News/Germantown Courier at .

— Dupont (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is offering its annual Christmas Dinner Theater again this year. “This Little Light of Mine” will be presented on Friday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Dec. 10, at 6 p.m. Cost is an $8 donation. A description of the program was featured in the “Continential Enews”: “Miss Marie is a slightly disorganized Sunday school teacher in charge of organizing the church’s Nativity program. Adeline, a young girl with very little church experience, joins the children participating in the Nativity. What Miss Marie thought was going to be a routine Nativity Pageant becomes an opportunity to explain Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.” The meal includes chicken parmesan, salad, garlic bread, pie, drink, and dessert. Reservations are requested; call the church office at 419-596-4314.

— Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., hosted a Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension class on the painting and prepping of barn quilts, on Oct. 30. “Ideally, the concept will result in a barn quilt trail that will premier via a website and driving trail in Franklin County,” organizers told the “Franklin News-Post.” Barn quilts are decorative four-by-four foot painted boards that are nailed on barns, sheds, and garages, and the newspaper reported that “they really look like a sewn quilt. Each was designed by the owner to put their creativity on display.” See .

— In a news tidbit from the Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference, moderator Allegra Hess shared that the one dozen freshly laid brown eggs from the “Brethren hens” that she owns raised $50 in the district conference auction. The auction proceeds go to the district budget.

— Youth gathering at Camp Inspiration Hills in Northern Ohio District for the Senior High Winter Fest on Dec. 1-2 will be assembling Church World Service (CWS) Hygiene Kits alongside other more usual youth activities. An invitation said, “Join us for tie dye t-shirt making, spending time with new and old friends, and learning about Jesus!”

— Timbercrest, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in North Manchester, Ind., holds its Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.,m.-2 p.m. The event features cocoa, cookies, and more. “Come see the district’s Christmas tree!” said an invitation from South Central Indiana District.

— In another note from Timbercrest, there will not be a retirement party to celebrate David Lawrenz’s 45-plus years of service to the community, at his request. Instead, persons are invited to honor him by giving a gift to the Pathways to Wellness Campaign. More details about the campaign can be found at .

— Cross Keys Village, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in New Oxford, Pa., has announced the holiday schedule for its Harmony Ridge Train Room. “Another season for a beloved holiday tradition,” said the announcement. The Train Room features a “magnificent model railroad display” and is open to the public on the following dates, from 1-4 p.m.: Nov. 25 and 26, Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, and 27-31. Children of all ages and generations are welcome. Entrance is free.

Samuel and Rebecca Dali, who have been leaders in Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), have been touring the United States to speak about the continuing crisis in Nigeria. This cake celebrated the Dalis and their faithfulness during their visit to the Brethren Heritage Center in Ohio. Photo by Pat Krabacher.


— Church World Service (CWS) has issued an Action Alert after federal officials terminated the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti, effective July 22, 2019. This follows the recent TPS terminations for Sudan and Nicaragua. “Our Senators and Representatives need to hear that their constituents stand with Haitian TPS holders and call on Congress to ensure all TPS holders can stabilize their immigration status and are protected from family separation,” the alert said, in part. “Ending TPS is devastating to tens of thousands of families in the United States, including the 27,000 US citizen children with a Haitian TPS holder parent. When TPS expires, those families will face impossible choices: separation, moving US citizen children to harsh and dangerous conditions in an unfamiliar country, or risk deportation by remaining in the United States without legal status. Since the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s recovery has been marred by subsequent and intervening natural disasters, public health crises, ongoing displacement, and hunger. Terminating Haiti’s TPS designation now means turning our backs on the vulnerable Haitians whom we pledged to protect, and places considerable burdens on the country as it struggles to rebuild.” CWS is calling on supporters to contact their members of Congress.

— Alan Stucky, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Wichita, Kan.,was one of the ministers and church goers interviewed for an article titled, “When Churchgoers Pack Heat,” in the “Wichita Eagle.” He told the newspaper that the beliefs of the historic peace traditions are rooted in teachings like the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers” and “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also,” the paper reported. “We are not ignoring the reality of evil in the world, but we are trying to not participate in that cycle of violence,” Stucky said. Find the article at .

Newsline is the e-mail news service of the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to the editor–Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren–at . Contributors to this issue of Newsline also include Jan Fischer Bachman, Kendra Harbeck, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Kevin Kessler, Fran Massie, Belita Mitchell, Zakariya Musa, Jen Smyers, Beth Sollenberger, Jenny Williams, Roy Winter.

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