Newsline for Oct. 20, 2017

Church of the Brethren Newsline
October 20, 2017

“Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God” (Acts 20:28).

Puerto Rican Brethren affected by Hurricane Maria hold a plaque with Psalm 23:1 in Spanish: “Jehova es mi pastor; y nada me faltara…” / “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” Photo by Roy Winter.

1) Being the church after a catastrophe: Response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
2) Insurance check will fund denomination’s envisioning work
3) Grant to EYN supports church rebuilding effort in Nigeria
4) Global Food Initiative grants support agriculture in several nations
5) Renacer Hispanic Ministry announces new strategy plan

6) Traci Rabenstein to lead Church of the Brethren donor relations team
7) Amy Beery to direct youth programs at Bethany Seminary

8) Openings are available for continuing education opportunity in urban ministry
9) Workcamp Ministry sets 2018 schedule of events

10) Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a call to peacemaking

11) Brethren bits: Remembrances, moderator’s second online “town hall,” Brethren Disaster Ministries’ first repair/rebuilding project after Hurricane Harvey, districts receive offerings for hurricane relief, Mission Alive 2018 registration, prayer services for food justice, and more


1) Being the church after a catastrophe: Response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

by Roy Winter, Brethren Disaster Ministries

Lawrence Crepo, pastor of Arecibo (P.R.) Church of the Brethren (La Casa del Amigo), looks over the destruction in the home of his daughter, Lorena. Photo by Roy Winter.

After the devastating damage of hurricanes like Maria, civil society often breaks down.  Desperate or opportunistic people start looting or stealing and stresses keep increasing. Another part of society pulls together and helps each other, bringing out the very best in human nature…and our faith often brings out the very best of being the church. The Puerto Rican churches are an inspiring example of being the church in a crisis. While burdened with many hardships, the Puerto Rican Brethren are coming together supporting each other and reaching out to their communities.

Already struggling with damage from Hurricane Irma, Puerto Rico was struck with the eye of category 4 Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20, causing widespread damage, flooding, and storm surge. The storm did catastrophic damage to the island’s power grid, communication towers, agriculture crops, and poultry industry, while badly damaging sewage treatment plants, water supply, and roads.

One month later, only 18 percent of the homes have power, cellular phones are functioning on 25 percent of the island, and about half the island has running water, though it must be boiled or treated before use. With expected long-term delays in repairing the power grid, difficulty with communication, and limited water, the recovery in Puerto Rico will be slow and difficult.

In light of this destruction, communicating with the Puerto Rico District of the Church of the Brethren has been extremely difficult. With the help of an informal network of Brethren, and recent travel to Puerto Rico, we now know there was limited damage to church structure. In mid-October, I joined Puerto Rico District executive José Otero on a journey to visit six of the seven churches, pastors, the district board chair, and some families who suffered major damage. During our time together, we completed this initial assessment of the impact on the church and started formulating plans for recovery.

How Puerto Rican Brethren have been affected

At this time, 20 homes of Church of the Brethren members (some from each congregation) are known to have received major damage or flooding. Other homes in all the church communities have suffered a wide range of damage or were destroyed. Through district leadership, a disaster response program is being built around each congregation, doing needs assessments and organizing to provide disaster assistance in their communities and to impacted members.

At Castañer Church of the Brethren there was flooding of several buildings ruining appliances, flooring, and furnishings, but limited damage to structures. In Río Piedras (Caimito), the Segunda Iglesia Cristo Misionera church building had little damage, but the community center and several houses owned by the church had moderate to major roof damage. The other five churches reported only minor damage from the storm.

Current joint district and Brethren Disaster Ministries projects include:

— At the Rió Prieto Church (Rió Prieto Iglesia De Los Hermanos), a drinking water station is being developed for families without access to safe water. This is in the mountains, miles from safe water sources. Several large water tanks are being installed that will be filled by water trucks. Periodic food distributions also are planned. The Castañer Hospital has been using this church to provide clinics for this region.

— In Caimito (Rió Piedras) at Segunda Iglesia Cristo Misionera and community center, work teams from the US will be working to repair a few homes, the community center, and volunteer housing. Volunteer teams are being organized by a long-term Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteer, with funding from the denomination for supplies and volunteer support.

— Specific needs of families with home damage, medical needs, lack of food/water, and many other issues are being addressed by each church leadership.

— A container is being shipped from the Brethren Service Center carrying canned chicken from the Mid-Atlantic and Southern Pennsylvania Districts meat canning project, 14 generators, gas cans, power cords, chain saws, Brethren Disaster Ministries carpentry tool kit and saws, 200 water filters and buckets, 200 large heavy-duty tarpaulins, and solar lanterns.

— Funding for a part-time staff person to help facilitate the disaster response in Puerto Rico.

During my visit, Otero reported, “The church members are keeping a positive attitude,” and their faith is abundant. When visiting Judex and Nancy to see the major destruction of their home, their calm manner and warm hospitality shined above the damage. It was humbling when they, like many with damaged homes, quickly offered us coffee and a seat, even as they have so little left. When visiting pastors, we heard all about their members, their communities, and how they hope to help with the recovery. Again, it was humbling to see leaders so focused on the needs of others.

Like most of Puerto Rico, these pastors and families are challenged with no power, no water, and for many no cellular communication without driving for miles. Daily life is very difficult for all, and especially for those with health issues and young children. Many also are impacted with reduced income because of lost jobs, reduced work hours, longer travel times due to damaged roads and destroyed bridges. Simple tasks are made difficult, such as having to do laundry by hand, or needing to communicate with your employer, or needing to find cash to buy food.

How to help

Regarding coordination of Church of the Brethren activities in Puerto Rico, district executive Otero has reported that he has limited cell access and even less e-mail access. He has asked that volunteers, churches, and districts who are planning response programs or want to support Puerto Rico to contact me–Roy Winter–at or 410-596-8561. I will try to help him coordinate and communicate response activities during weekly planning calls we have arranged.

At this time, it is not possible for the churches in Puerto Rico to host volunteers from the mainland US. The lack of housing, electricity, food, and water means volunteers will add to the hardship rather than help. As mentioned above, a few self-sufficient groups of volunteers are being sent to help do temporary repairs, but those groups are covering all of their costs and staying in hotels.

A workcamp is planned for Jan. 13-20 led by Shirley Baker. Brethren Disaster Ministries expects to establish other work teams, and maybe a sustained volunteer presence when the Puerto Rican church leadership feels this is helpful. Volunteers interested in the January trip or later programs may contact Terry Goodger at or 410-635-8730.

To support the disaster relief work in Puerto Rico, give to the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) at .

Brethren Disaster Ministries has requested $100,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund be approved for a major response in the Caribbean, with a focus on Puerto Rico. Brethren Disaster Ministries is supporting the Puerto Rico District’s response and the work of each congregation by providing funds, disaster response expertise, response planning, skilled labor, and a container of critical supplies. This response will be community based, focused around the ministries of each Puerto Rican church. Brethren Disaster Ministries also will try to help communication and coordinate with other Church of the Brethren efforts to support Puerto Rico.

— Roy Winter is associate executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.

2) Insurance check will fund denomination’s envisioning work

Presentation of the 2017 insurance dividend to the Church of the Brethren by Brethren Mutual Aid president Eric Lamer. Receiving the presentation check is Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.


The Church of the Brethren earlier this year received a check of $50,000 from Brethren Mutual Aid Agency and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, representing a benefit earned through the Ministry Partner Program. The denomination’s Leadership Team has decided to use the money to fund work to frame a “compelling vision” for the denomination, with $1,000 provided to the Finance Office to cover costs of administering the money.

The new vision effort was set in motion by Annual Conference this past summer, when recommendations from the Leadership Team and the Council of District Executives were adopted. The recommendations were related to a report titled “The Authority of Annual Conference and Districts regarding the Accountability of Ministers, Congregations, and Districts,” which came to the Conference as a response to the concerns of “Query: Same Sex Weddings” (see the Newsline story at ).

Brethren Mutual Aid is the sponsoring agency for the Ministry Partner Program for the Church of the Brethren. In order to participate, a ministry must be the governing structure, such as a denomination; must have at least 50 members; and must recommend Brotherhood Mutual to its membership for property and casualty insurance. There are two ways to earn benefits, through partner payments and through Safe Ministry Rewards. The Church of the Brethren denominational partnership includes the denominational organization and those Church of the Brethren congregations, camps, and districts that also participate.

For more information about Brethren Mutual Aid Agency go to . For more about Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company go to .

3) Grant to EYN supports church rebuilding effort in Nigeria

One of the destroyed churches in Nigeria. Photo by Roxane Hill.


The Church of the Brethren has provided a second large grant to Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) to support the church rebuilding efforts of EYN members. Out of this grant of $109,000, 20 EYN churches will receive grants of $5,000 each.

EYN leaders have made the decisions about which churches will receive rebuilding grants. “After careful consideration and prayers, the below churches were selected, taking into account safety of the returnees and general peace of the areas,” reported Daniel Mbaya, EYN general secretary. “We give thanks to God that most of the areas are now relatively peaceful.”

The following Local Church Councils (LCC) are receiving grants, listed here in the District Church Councils (DCC) to which they belong:
DCC Askira: LCC Gwandang
DCC Balgi: LCC Tsiha A
DCC Chibok: LCC Mifa
DCC Dilli: LCC Dille No. 3
DCC Gombi: LCC Guyaku
DCC Hildi: LCC Kwarhi, LCC Wurokae
DCC Kwajaffa: LCC Debiro
DCC Lassa: LCC Giwa Fumwa, LCC Samuwa
DCC Mbalala: LCC Thlilaimakalama
DCC Mbororo: LCC Dri-Ghumchi
DCC Michika: LCC Jiddel
DCC Mubi: LCC Police Barracks
DCC Mussa: LCC Mussa No. 1
DCC Ribawa: LCC Wummu
DCC Uba: LCC Kilamada
DCC Watu: LCC Kwadzale
DCC Yawa: LCC Wachirakabi
DCC Yobe: LCC Malari By-Pass

This grant follows a first installment sent to EYN in March (see the Newsline report at ).

News of the grants “have ignited our spirits,” said Mbaya. “As a church, we remain grateful to brother Jay Wittmeyer and all sisters and brothers of the Church of the Brethren for this kind of support towards the rebuilding of our churches destroyed by the Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalists, the most deadly terrorist group in the world.”

The Church of the Brethren has two primary mechanisms for fundraising for Nigeria: the Nigeria Crisis Fund, which is directed toward humanitarian relief; and the Church Rebuilding Fund, which assists EYN to rebuild its churches. Find links to give to both funds at .

— Kendra Harbeck, manager of the Global Mission and Service office, contributed to this report.

4) Global Food Initiative grants support agriculture in several nations

The most recent grants from the Global Food Initiative (GFI) bolster agriculture in several nations including Burundi, Ecuador, India, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. Find out more about the work of the GFI and how to support it at .


An additional allocation of $9,872 has been given for farmer training in Burundi. The grant recipient, Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS), will use the grant for its Farmer Field School activities. Funds will pay for seeds, fertilizer, training sessions, plowing, land rental, and administrative costs. This is the third year of what THARS hopes will be a five-year project. Previous grants to this project total $26,640.


An allocation of $8,210 supports agriculture work in Ankleshwar, Gujarat State, India. The Rural Service Center (RSC) provides services to local farmers, with proceeds going to allow the RSC to support work in areas of even greater need. In the grant application, RSC contact Darryl Sankey reports, “The rural community needs exposure to modern farming techniques of leveling and tilling land, to increase the production of food grain, and sanitation and hygiene,” and “promoting usage of Bio Gas as cheap source of energy.” Funds will be used for land leveling activities (terracing) to allow for irrigation; seeds and fertilizer for crop trials; classes for adults in modern farming techniques, hygiene, sanitation, and bio-gas production; as well as costs associated with tractors and program staff salary and transportation needs.


An allocation of $6,650 supports a new rice-growing initiative in Venezuela. The project is an initiative of the Asociación Iglesia de Los Hermanos Venezuela (ASIGLEHV or Church of the Brethren in Venezuela) and Fundación Cristiana Restauración (Christian Restoration Foundation of the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela). The harvest, projected to be over 50 tons and grown on 10 hectares (approximately 25 acres), will be distributed as follows: 50 percent to Brethren church members in need, 20 percent to community groups, and 30 percent to the Venezuelan government (obligatory). Funds will be used specifically for the purchase of seed, fertilizer, pesticides, tractor rental, and a percentage to the land owner (a church member) for the use of his land. A professionally trained agronomist, also a church member, will be a consultant to this project.

Dominican Republic

An allocation of $4,750 supports a rabbit raising project of Iglesia de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic). Brethren mission worker Jason Hoover will work closely with the leadership of Iglesia de Los Hermanos on this project, which will serve 43 participants in 17 communities. Rabbits and cages will be provided as loans, and must be repaid. The grant money will purchase animals, materials for cages, water bottles, and instructional materials, and will fund training seminars. Funds also will cover the travel costs of Abe Fisher of Bunkertown Church of the Brethren, McAlisterville, Pa., who works with Juniper Missions in Haiti and who has provided training to staff and members of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti).


An allocation of $3,000 supports the establishment of two agroforestry demonstration and teaching plots in Ecuador. This is a project of La Fundación Brethren y Unida (FBU, the United and Brethren Foundation), a nonprofit that arose from the work of the Church of the Brethren in Ecuador in the 1950s and 1960s. The project will support about 500 families in the communities of Picalqui and Cubinche. Goals for use of the grant are: an agro-ecological demonstration plot working to empower young people and children of the community of Cubinche in agroecology; training for 40 young men and women in basic subjects of agro-ecological production; development of six productive reforested plots in Picalqui and Cubinche (500 trees); basic training to prepare healthy and nutritious foods that improve the nutrition of children and youth in the community. Funds will purchase seed, vegetable seedlings, organic fertilizer, wire caging, irrigation equipment, community trainings, and staff transportation. Twenty youth from each community will be selected for the project.

For more about the Global Food Initiative go to .

5) Renacer Hispanic Ministry announces new strategy plan

by Daniel D’Oleo

Daniel D’Oleo gives a workshop on Renacer at the church planting conference. Renacer, meaning “reborn” in Spanish, is a movement aimed at creating new Hispanic congregations within the Church of the Brethren. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

The board of Renacer Hispanic Ministry has developed and adapted a new strategy plan to widely reach the denomination. The new strategy plans has three foundational components:

a. Leadership development: The ministry will continue developing Latino leadership gatherings such as “Para su Gloria” during Annual Conference and in different districts of our denomination. Last year, Renacer held three of these gatherings, one during Annual Conference and two hosted by Atlantic Southeast District and Southern Pennsylvania District. The ministry also will seek to develop an online Spanish Bible academy fully developed and taught by our Latino leaders, and will seek to establish the first national Latino Brethren leadership conference by 2018.

b. Church planting: Renacer will continue to assist districts and congregations that express interest in reaching the Latino community. For that purpose, demographic studies, a list of potential church planting sites, church planter screening tools, and a church planting manual will be developed totally in Spanish. For the last several years, Renacer has had conversations with congregations and/or church development committees of the following districts: Illinois and Wisconsin, Atlantic Northeast, Virlina, Shenandoah, and Mid-Atlantic.

c. Network: The ministry will begin to gather significant information about the present and future of our Latino congregations. Our web page will be in Spanish and will connect all our congregations as well as establish more communication among them. The ministry also will develop its own blog in Spanish with translated articles, essays that would highlight our leaders, their stories, and their ministries.

Renacer Hispanic Ministry has been active for about eight years, and thanks to the support of several districts, four congregations have been developed: Renacer-Roanoke, Renacer-Floyd, Renacer-Leola, and Nuevo Comienzos. Renacer became a registered 501c3 non-profit organization ministry in June 2014.

As a ministry, we realize that we cannot do all this alone, we ask the Church of the Brethren in general to support our vision with prayer as we continue reaching and ministering to the Latino community.

— Daniel D’Oleo is a leader in the Renacer Hispanic Ministry and an ordained minister and pastor in the Church of the Brethren. For more information about Renacer Hispanic Ministry, go to www.facebook/MinisterioHispanoRenacer or call 540-892-8791.

6) Traci Rabenstein to lead Church of the Brethren donor relations team

Traci Rabenstein.


Traci Rabenstein has assumed leadership of the Church of the Brethren Donor Relations team, as of Oct. 9. John Hipps has concluded his work with the Church of the Brethren as director of Donor Relations, a position he has held since Sept. 24, 2012.

Rabenstein will work out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and from her home in Enola, Pa. She has been an employee of the Church of the Brethren since Oct. 1, 2016, when she began as Congregational Support representative in the Donor Relations team.

7) Amy Beery to direct youth programs at Bethany Seminary

by Jenny Williams

Bethany Theological Seminary has named Amy Beery as program director of youth engagement, a new part-time position. Having served as admissions counselor at Bethany since July 2016, she will assume her new duties on Nov. 1.

Beery will take the lead in planning and implementing educational programming for youth events, such as Explore Your Call (EYC) and Immerse! Reinstated in 2011, EYC is open to high school students, while Immerse! was introduced for junior high students in 2014. In recruitment efforts she will work with contacts in Church of the Brethren congregations, districts, and other youth programs and will continue building relationships beyond the Church of the Brethren. Responsibilities also include securing curriculum content, marketing, the application process, and logistics for events.

“With Amy’s background in admissions, specifically here at Bethany, she is an excellent fit for this position,” says Lori Current, executive director for admissions and student services. “Amy brings professionalism, consistency, knowledge of our youth programs, and experience with the admissions staff, which will enhance her implementation of recruitment strategies. The admissions and student services team welcomes Amy in her new role with anticipation of an exciting youth program this summer.”

Beery graduated from Bethany in 2013 with a master of divinity degree and an emphasis in youth and young adult ministry. She has served in chaplaincy at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Ind., and with Intrepid Hospice, and her social work experience has involved care and program oversight for children and teens in various life circumstances. For five years Beery coordinated Church of the Brethren junior high workcamps in Indianapolis, and she has served her congregation both as deacon for children and youth and in leadership for youth activities.

— Jenny Williams is director of Communications at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

8) Openings are available for continuing education opportunity in urban ministry

by Jenny Williams

There is still time to register for a special continuing education travel course: “A Place of Refuge: Ministry in an Urban Context” on Jan. 2-12, 2018, in Atlanta, Ga. An immersive urban experience with a focus on the ministries of care, this travel seminar is an educational partnership between Bethany Theological Seminary, the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren, and City of Refuge ministries in Atlanta.

Two course options are available; workloads will differ, but the experiences will be similar. Housing will be provided by City of Refuge. For details about the course experience, visit  . Space is limited–register soon!

Academy-level course:

Instructor is Josh Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Siscipleship for the Church of the Brethren.
Participants earn 2 continuing education credits.
Application deadline is Nov. 1.
For information and to enroll contact or 800-287-8822.
Course brochure available

Graduate-level course:

Instructor is Dan Poole, coordinator of Ministry Formation at Bethany Seminary
Participants earn 3 continuing education credits.
Application deadline is Nov. 21.
For information and to enroll contact or 800-287-8822.

— Jenny Williams is director of communications at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

9) Workcamp Ministry sets 2018 schedule of events

The Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry has released the 2018 workcamp dates and locations. This programming for next summer will offer 10 locations for service, focusing on junior high opportunities because it will be a National Youth Conference year.

“Some thrilling new locations include Burundi for young adults and Kansas City for junior high youth,” reported Grey Robinson, who is serving with the Workcamp Ministry as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker.

While senior high workcamps are offered, they are limited in number to allow senior high youth ample opportunity to participate in National Youth Conference in Ft. Collins, Colo.

The full list of the 2018 workcamp locations, dates, and descriptions can be found at . Registration will open online on Jan. 11, 2018, at 7 p.m. (central time).

10) Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a call to peacemaking

by Debbie Eisenbise

Faith Trust InstituteFaith Trust Institute brochure on domestic violence.

At last month’s National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners, spoke to us of faithfulness and of living our Christian witness. This month, Sojourners reminds us that this is a call to peacemaking in the context of our daily lives. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time for us to consider that while “one in three women experience intimate partner violence in their lives…95 percent of church-going women report they have never heard a sermon on abuse preached from the pulpit of their church.”

The Bible, particularly the Old Testament, is filled with stories of human relations, stressful family dynamics, and even abuse. The stories of Tamar, Dinah, Abram’s relationship with Sarai when they sojourned in the land of Pharaoh, the complex dynamics between Jacob and his wives, Jephthah’s daughter, all remind us that violence in intimate relationships is not a new thing. Yet God calls us to love in the midst of turmoil, and asks us to be agents of healing and witnesses to the ways of justice and peace.

The call from Sojourners is for churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples to be places of refuge for survivors of violence. But how can the survivors who attend our services know they are safe if we never denounce the violence from the pulpit or state clearly that our doors are always open for healing pastoral care?

An overwhelming majority of faith leaders (74 percent) underestimate the level of sexual and domestic violence experienced by members of their congregations. It is both naïve and irresponsible to believe that members of your congregation are immune from this violence. We know people of faith believe in the sacred worth of women–let’s make that extra clear this October.

Speaking out about domestic violence is the work of the church this month and throughout the year.

Resources available online include:

— a bulletin insert and other educational resources at ;

— our 1997 denominational statement encouraging congregations and individuals to engage in ongoing advocacy and education concerning domestic violence, download from ;

— an introduction to the video, “Broken Vows: Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence,”  available at ;

— statistical information from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence at .

Additional resources are readily available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233) and 800-787-3224 (TDD), local domestic violence shelters, and the YWCA. Copies of a brochure published by the Faith Trust Institute, “What Every Congregation Needs to Know About Domestic Violence,” are available for free from Congregational Life Ministries. Please contact or call 800-323-8039 ext. 306.

— Debbie Eisenbise is director of Intergenerational Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, serving on the staff of Congregational Life Ministries.

Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Wallace B. (Wally) Landes, 65, passed away on Sept. 21, in Palmyra, Pa. He had been a board member for the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) from 2002 to 2007, serving as chair of the ABC board in 2006 and 2007. He served as senior pastor of Palmyra Church of the Brethren for 25 years, until his early retirement in 2011. He had served previous pastorates and youth pastorates in Maryland and Illinois. He was a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary and Bridgewater (Va.) College. He also taught as adjunct faculty at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa., and at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. He is survived by his wife, Bonnie, and children Matthew and Kendra, and their families. A memorial service will be held at Palmyra Church of the Brethren on Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. The service will be followed with a luncheon and visitation in the church fellowship hall. A full obituary is posted at!/Obituary .

— Remembrance: Ella Mae Weaver, 94, a former mission worker with the Church of the Brethren, passed away on Oct. 6, at Timbercrest Healthcare Center in North Manchester, Ind. She served with her husband, Paul, at Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria, from 1961-67. In Nigeria, she served as a substitute teacher and Paul as principal at Hillcrest School. Daughter of Harry E. and Ida Rebecca (Hawbecker) Stern, Ella Mae was born on April 2, 1923, in Beaverton, Mich. In 1947 she married Paul M. Weaver and the couple spent 51 years together before Paul passed away on July 2, 1999. Both were graduates of Manchester College. After her service as a mission worker, Ella Mae also was a teacher in Elgin, Ill., and retired in 1984 from the U-46 School District as a teachers aide. In recent years she had been a member of Manchester Church of the Brethren. She is survived by son Thomas G. (Leslie) Weaver; daughter Rebecca Mae Weaver, both of Amherst Junction, Wis.; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at a later date. The full obituary is available at .

Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind., at its homecoming this year honored two Church of the Brethren members with alumni awards: Tim McElwee of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Madalyn Metzgerof Bristol, Ind.

McElwee received the 2017 Alumni Honor Award. “Few have embodied Manchester University’s values and walked its walk with as much distinction as Tim McElwee,” said a release from the school. “McElwee came to Manchester as a student and then served it in one capacity or another for more than 30 years. Since graduating in 1978, he has consistently followed the Manchester charge to make the world a better and more peaceful place.” He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, and in addition to his service at Manchester as campus pastor, director of development, vice president for advancement, Plowshares associate professor of peace studies and political science, vice president for academic resources and dean of the Office of Academic Resources, he also served the Church of the Brethren as director of the Washington, D.C., office, and worked as senior director of development for Heifer International. Currently he is senior vice president of foundations for Parkview Health.

Metzger received the Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award. “Her call to service includes being a member of the Manchester University Board of Trustees,” said a release. “As its youngest trustee, she brings an important perspective to the board’s discussions and decision-making.” Since her graduation in 1999, she has worked for Church World Service (CWS) and Everence, where she currently is vice president of marketing. Find a release about the award for McElwee at . Find a release about the award for Metzger at .

— Remembrance: H. Merle Brown, 99, passed away Oct. 12, in Elgin, Ill., following a brief time in hospice care. He retired from employment with the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren in October 1982, after 33 years of service. He served as bookkeeper at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor 1949-55, and at the General Offices in Elgin 1955-78. In 1978 he was promoted to chief accountant in the treasurer’s office, a position he held until his retirement. After his retirement from the General Board, he worked part-time for the Brethren Employees’ Credit Union and Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). Originally from Mt. Pleasant, Pa., he was a graduate of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. During World War II he was a conscientious objector, from July 1941-Dec. 1945 attending the second Brethren Cooking School at Magnolia, Ark., as a part of Civilian Public Service, and from June-Sept. 1947 working at the New Windsor Relief Center sorting relief clothing to send to Europe. He was recognized at the Mission and Ministry Board meeting in March 2016 for his work as a “seagoing cowboy,” accompanying livestock that were sent overseas as part of Heifer Project following World War II. A memorial service is scheduled for Nov. 18 at 11 a.m. at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, with a reception to follow.

— The Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren meets this weekend at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Meetings begin with orientation for new board members and continue with Executive Committee meetings, meetings of other board committees, and the meetings of the full board starting Friday evening, Oct. 20, through Monday morning, Oct. 23. The Annual Conference officers and the denomination’s Leadership Team also met this week, in advance of the board.

— Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya is issuing an invitation for Brethren to join him at a second online “town hall,” Oct. 26, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time). A web page with a link to the moderator’s invitation video with the scripture for the discussion is at . Also at that web address are detailed instructions for how to join from a PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, or Android device, how to connect via iPhone one-tap, how to participate on the telephone, and how to connect from international phone numbers.

— It is not too late to volunteer in Houston, Texas, with Brethren Disaster Ministries’ first week of repair and rebuilding following Hurricane Harvey. The opportunity on Oct 22-29 is in partnership with IOCC, an Orthodox church humanitarian agency. “This week will be focused on clean up and preparing homes for rebuilding,” said an announcement. “We are also making a list of those interested in volunteering but were not able to go this time. Please contact Terry if you are interested in volunteering for the week or for possible future dates.”

Brethren Disaster Ministries is expressing gratitude for districts who are receiving offerings and collections for disaster relief:

A special effort in West Marva District, led by board chair Grover Duling, to raise funds to assist Puerto Rican Brethren following Hurricane Maria “raised over $20,000 for Puerto Rico in just three days under Grover’s challenge,” reported Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. The funds already have been wired to the Puerto Rico District leadership.

A special disaster response offering for hurricane relief in Virlina District has received $43,670 from 41 congregations and 20 households, reported the latest district e-newsletter. “We will continue to receive offerings from our congregations to underwrite denominational efforts in response to the hurricanes that have devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States and the entire Caribbean basin.”

Josh Brockway, the Church of the Brethren’s director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship, will lead a workshop titled “A Decade of Discipleship” for West Marva District on Oct. 29. The event is scheduled for 2:30-6 p.m. at Oak Park Church of the Brethren in Oakland, Md.– Registration for Mission Alive 2018 opens online this Saturday, Oct. 21, at . The event takes place April 6-8, 2018, at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren. Find a Newsline story with more information at .

— Fatima Kurth has accepted the position of accountant/bookkeeper for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). She began her duties on Oct. 9. She brings more than 13 years of general accounting/booking experience with varying roles in that field, and is working to complete a bachelor’s degree in accounting from DePaul University. She and her family live in Carpentersville, Ill., and are members of St. Mary Catholic Church in Huntley, Ill.

— Prairie City (Iowa) Church of the Brethren on Oct. 14 celebrated the centennial of its building. The celebration included an Open House with historical displays, a Hymn Sing, and a Love Feast Service led by former pastor Jeff Bach, who currently directs the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.

— Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren hosts a conference titled “Power and Privilege: The Journey towards Justice Conference” on Oct. 20-22. The event is offered by On Earth Peace and BMC (Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests). Featured speakers are Regina Shands Stoltzfus, a professor in the Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies Department at Goshen (Ind.) College, and Matt Guynn of the On Earth Peace staff. “Goals for the conference include: exploring how power and privilege affects our individual and corporate lives, analyzing how power operates in the church, learning new ways to use power to further change, and sharing stories of liberation and healing,” said an announcement. For more information go to .

— Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren was the starting point for the 45th annual Lancaster CROP Hunger Walk on Sunday, Oct. 15. It wast the church’s first year to host the event, said a report in Lancaster Online. “The Lancaster walk alone has raised more than $1.8 million over its history. Even before Sunday’s walk was done, it had generated a prelminary total of more than $13,000,” said the report. Read it at .

— McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren on Oct. 21 hosts the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty’s Annual Abolition Conference and Annual Meeting. State senator Carolyn McGinn will speak on the costs associated with having a state death penalty, according to an article in the “Hutchinson News.” Additional speakers include Celeste Dixon, whose mother was a victim of murder, and Roger Werholtz, retired secretary of Corrections in Kansas. The article notes that “Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994. The state has not executed an inmate since 1965.” The event will start at 1 p.m. On-site registration will start at 12:30 p.m. The conference is free and open to the public.

— Eight Churches of the Brethren are among the 10 churches involved in a Growing Project of the Foods Resource Bank near Myersville, Md. The church “have come together annually to help raise money for the cause, and Sunday they celebrated their 12th harvest with a festival at the Growing Project farm near Myersville,” said a report in the “Frederick News-Post.” Church of the Brethren members Patty and Jeff Hurwitz are the project organizers and own the Growing Project farm. The newspaper reported that they “spearheaded the local fundraising campaign in 2006. Patty Hurwitz said the idea stemmed from a discussion about worldwide hunger at her church, Grossnickle Church of the Brethren. ‘We thought, “Why don’t we really do something instead of just talking about it?’” she told the reporter. The participating Churches of the Brethren are Grossnickle, Myersville, Harmony, Beaver Creek, Manor, Welty, Edgewood, and Hagerstown. Also participating are Christ Reformed United Church of Christ in Middletown and Holy Family Catholic Community. Over the years, the project has supported Food Resource Bank programs in Kenya, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicaragua, Malawi, Mozambique, the Dominican Republic, the Central African Republic, and Honduras. This year, it is supporting a program in Guatemala. Participants have raised some $300,000 for communities overseas. Find the news article at .

— New Fairview Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., is hosting the Children’s Aid Society Annual Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 21. Check in begins at 5:30 p.m. and dinner begins at 6 p.m. “Please join us for a celebration of food, fellowship, and another year of service to children and families,” said an announcement. Ticket prices are $30 for adults, and $15 for children ages 12 and under. The event this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Lehman Center.

— Maple Grove Church of the Brethren near Lexington, N.C., gets the credit for giving a young pianist/organist a chance at the start of his career, in an article about 17-year-old Caleb Sink in “The Dispatch.” The teenager “saw a sign at Maple Grove Church of the Brethren in Currytown seeking a volunteer pianist. He decided that was a ‘sign’ from God and signed up for duty,” the newspaper reported. “He remained there several months until his dad was hired as the new minister at Bethel Baptist, which coincided with another pianist becoming available to take over at Church of the Brethren.” Sink has now published his fourth book about the pianists and organists at Davidson County churches. Find the article at .

Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has shared this photo of more than 275 buckets and health kits donated by the congregation along with Annville Church of the Brethren and other churches in Atlantic Northeast District. It’s just one example of the many Brethren individuals, congregations, and districts who have been collecting Clean-Up Buckets and other disaster relief kits following the rash of disasters that have hit the US and the Caribbean in recent months. These and other Church World Service kits are warehoused and shipped from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., by staff of the Material Resources program of the Church of the Brethren.

In related news, Southern Ohio District continues a long-term project to support Church World Service kit collections. The most recent district newsletter reported, “We continue to work as a district, gathering funds and supplies for 500 Cleanup Buckets for Church World Service (CWS). The need is so great with recent flooding in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. As of Sept. 24, churches and individuals have sent about $14,600 for this project. Each bucket is valued at $75 by CWS. We work to assemble them for much less, but this project will still cost at least $20,000.” The newsletter went on to thank each person who is supporting this project, “reaching out to share God’s love by helping those in need.”

— Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo., just south of Denver, is hosting an evening conversation and documentary on guns. “We can do more than just pray for gun victims!” said an announcement. “Come for ‘Inside the Gun Debate’ documentary and hear live from the actual presenters, our own Tom Mauser and Michael Lang!” The event is scheduled for Saturday evening, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m.

— Stover Memorial Church of the Brethren helped Camp Pine Lake host the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) orientation unit from Sept. 22-Oct. 13, among other Church of the Brethren congregations in Iowa and Northern Plains District. Stover Memorial offered the BVSers and staff a chance to participate in the urban immersion living at the church house, a work project in the Des Moines community, a day of exploring the city, and an opportunity to help lead worship. The congregation also invited the unit to a dinner, where they provided the new BVS volunteers with prayer and encouragement and care packages, as well as food and fellowship.

— Mountain View Fellowship Church of the Brethren in McGaheysville, Va., on Oct. 27, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, will host a workshop led by Tara Hornbacker, professor of ministry formation, missional leadership, and evangelism at Bethany Theological Seminary. The topic is “The Present/Future of Pastoral Ministries,” and participants may earn .3 continuing education units. Cost is $10. To register, contact Sandy Kinsey at the Shenandoah District Office at 540-234-8555 or .

Fairview Church of the Brethren’s parade float. Photo courtesy of N. Plains District.


— Fairview Church of the Brethren in Northern Plains District won first prize with their float in the local Moulton Jamboree Parade, where the theme was “Show Your True Colors.” The district newsletter reported that the float will be entered into the Centerville Pancake Day parade too. “The following ‘blurb’ was read by the announcer as the float passed the judges,” the newsletter said. “A common Sunday School lesson describes the Path to Heaven visualized with colors. Black represents the darkness of our sin. Jesus came and shed his Red blood for our redemption, and when we accept Him into our lives, our sins are washed White as snow. Blue symbolizes the waters of baptism, Green the spiritual growth believers in Christ experience, while Yellow reminds us of the eternal light of Heaven. We pray that you, too, will experience the true colors of the Path to Heaven.”

— District conferences have been happening across the denomination this fall. Several districts are going to hold their annual meetings in the last part of October: Idaho District meets at Twin Falls Community Church on Oct. 20-21. Western Pennsylvania District meets at Camp Harmony in Hooversville, Pa., on Oct. 21. Shenandoah District gathers at Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., on Oct. 27-28.

— Middle Pennsylvania District is holding a “Meet and Greet” for David Banaszak, to welcome him as district executive minister. The event takes place on Sunday, Nov. 12, from 3-5 p.m., at the Bistro at the Village Green-Village at Morrisons Cove, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Martinsburg, Pa.

— West Marva District is holding an “Afternoon of Praise Celebrating God’s Blessings” for the congregations of the district, on Nov. 5 at 3 p.m., hosted at Cherry Grove Church of the Brethren.

— Camp Eder’s Fall Fest is this Saturday, Oct. 21, with a festival and benefit auction from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. One announcement of the event highlighted the home-made pies that will be available! The camp is located near Fairfield, Pa.

— In more news from Camp Eder, the camp is offering a series of “Life Outdoors–Life Skills Workshops” that are free and open to the public, held 6:30-8 p.m. the first Thursday of every month. RSVP by calling 717-642-8256. Topics are: Nov. 2, “Microgreens ‘Grow and Eat’”; Dec. 7, “Rockclimbing ‘Gravity Is a Myth’”; Jan. 4, 2018, “Knit and Crochet ‘Woven Together’”; Feb. 1, 2018, “Terrariums ‘Warm in Winter’”; March 1, 2018, “Outdoor Survival Skills ‘No Problems’”; April 5, 2018, “Beekeeping ‘Bee Ready for Spring.’”

— McPherson (Kan.) College professor Luke Chennell was included in the “40 Under 40″ listing in “Sports Car Market” magazine, in the October issue. “Also included on the list is McPherson College alumnus Jonathan Klinger,” reported a release from the college. “The list was compiled by the editors of the magazine who reviewed nominations sent in by its readers and features individuals in the automotive restoration industry who are ‘making a difference in the collector car world.’ Hundreds of names were submitted for consideration,” the release said. Chennell is an assistant professor of technology in the Automotive Restoration Department at McPherson College, teaching mechanical skills in the craft of authentic restoration and covering a broad range of automotive history from the 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen to the present day. Klinger, a 2002 graduate of McPherson, is vice president of public relations at Hagerty Classic Car Insurance. He has served five years as a member of the McPherson College Board of Trustees and is an active member of the Automotive Restoration Department’s National Advisory Board.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College’s Fall Spiritual Focus will be led by David Radcliff of the New Community Projectc. His message, “We’ve Got the Whole World…,” will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, in the Boitnott Room in Rebecca Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

— The Springs of Living Water, an initiative for church renewal, has announced that registration is open for its Spring 2018 events in the “Saints Academy” that offers courses for pastors and ministers and their church members via telephone conference call. A course for pastors titled “Implement a Christ-Centered, Servant-Led Plan” is offered on Feb. 6 and 27, March 20, April 10, May 1, from 8-10 a.m. (Eastern time). Participants may earn 1 continuing education credit. A course for church members titled “Springs of Living Water Academy for the Saints (Laity)” is offered on Feb. 11, March 6 and 25, April 15, May 6, from 4-6 p.m. (Eastern time). The instructor is David S. Young. Register by Jan. 15 by contacting 717-615-4515 .

— The next in the lecture series at Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., will be given by Carol Lena Miller of Montezuma Church of the Brethren. The lecture starts at 4 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 22, at Immanuel Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg. Miller’s topic will be “The Earth is the Lord’s: An Honest Look at Faithful Stewardship. Miller works at the Center for Global Engagement at James Madison University and “is a passionate advocate for the outdoors and wild places,” reported the Shenandoah District newsletter in an announcement of the lecture. “In her lecture, she will examine the current state of the natural world and how Christians have responded to the degradation of the environment.” A question-and-answer session will follow. An offering will benefit the center.

— Seven prayer services intended to bring opportunities for prayer, reflection, and action on food justice around the world have been released by the World Council of Churches (WCC). The effort is part of the Churches’ Week of Action on Food, which started on Sunday, Oct. 15. The worship resources are made available through the WCC’s Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. The Churches’ Week of Action on Food is a global campaign inviting the ecumenical movement, faith-based organizations, and other groups to act collectively for food justice. The worship resources were prepared in collaboration with churches in India, and interpret Psalm 23 from ecological, food-justice, and migration perspectives, said a WCC release. Download the seven prayer services in English from and in Spanish from .

— David Young, who leads Capstone Community Gardens in New Orleans, La., where vacant or blighted lots are turned into productive gardens, in September traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak at the Urban Agriculture Summit at the University of DC. Nathan Hosler from the Office of Public Witness also spoke at the event, sharing about the Church of the Brethren’s work through the “Going to the Garden” program. Young also visited the Louisiana congressional delegation, sharing his experiences as an urban farmer. Staffers from the offices of Senators Cassidy and Kennedy and Representative Richmond heard about his work. In honor of Peace Day, he also presented his work at Washington City Church of the Brethren’s Peace Day event titled “Song, Prayer and Gardening.”

— Obie Harris’s achievement of 100 years of life was recently noted in the “Martinsville Bulletin.” in an article called “Never Met a Stranger.” Harris has been a long-time member at First Church of the Brethren in Eden, N.C. Read the article at .

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Victoria Bateman, Jeff Boshart, Shamek Cardona, Daniel D’Oleo, Debbie Eisenbise, Tina Goodwin, Kendra Harbeck, Nancy Miner, Grey Robinson, Kristine Shunk, David Steele, Jenny Williams, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, Ed Woolf, 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. Please send news tips and submissions to the editor at .

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