Newsline for August 17, 2018

Church of the Brethren Newsline
August 18, 2018

Photo by Jan Fischer Bachman.

“If you want to learn, then go and ask the wild animals and the birds, the flowers and the fish. Any of them can tell you what the LORD has done.” (Job 12:7-9, CEV)


1) Fire narrowly misses Camp Peaceful Pines in California

2) Global Food Initiative grants sow seeds

3) Bethany Theological Seminary unveils new branding


4) Kendal Elmore announces retirement as West Marva District executive

5) Lisa Crouch is hired as Associate Director, Children’s Disaster Services

6) Shaye Isaacs resigns as executive assistant to president at Bethany

7) Bethany Theological Seminary seeks executive assistant to the president

8) Virlina District seeks associate district executive


9) Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership offers fall courses

10) Brethren bits: Annual Conference, Global Mission, action alert, refugee resettlement, media, anniversaries, fundraisers, and more.

Quote of the week:

“Peace is not the end in and of itself. Rather, the peace within the church is so that all believers might be edified and grow in their faith”
—Josh Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren, in a scriptural exegesis of Romans 14 for the 2018 Mission Offering materials

Fire narrowly misses Camp Peaceful Pines in California

Camp Peaceful Pines in Pacific Southwest District (Dardanelle, Calif.) is still standing after a close call with a wildfire earlier this month.

“None of Camp Peaceful Pines was damaged by the fire,” district executive Russ Matteson reported Monday evening, Aug 6. “Unfortunately almost everything else along Clark Fork Road (where the camp is located) was burned.”

A post on the camp’s Facebook page that day stated, “This just in from the Forest Service meeting: all structures still standing. A strike team was sent to save Camp Peaceful Pines! Please continue to keep Camp Peaceful Pines … in your prayers, and all those working around the clock to protect our forest!”

Matteson said work that has been done over the years to clear out dead trees and brush around the camp likely helped in saving it. He said it would be at least a week before anyone would be permitted into the area to inspect the site.

The camp, located high in the Sierra Mountains on Stanislaus National Forest land rented from the federal government, has offered camping programs and retreats for the district for more than six decades. No camps had been scheduled at Peaceful Pines this week, but a closing camp is planned for early September. A family camp and children’s and youth camps were held in July.

Camp Peaceful Pines board chair Garry Pearson was able to visit the camp with a US Forest Service escort on Wednesday and found everything at the camp intact, although he noted that the fire came quite close to a few of the outer cabins.

The Donnell Fire, one of many burning in California currently, started on Aug. 1. It has grown to cover more than 30,000 acres.

Global Food Initiative grants sow seeds

Members of the Victory Soybean Cooperative near Gurku, Nigeria. Photo by Kefas John Usman.

The Global Food Initiative (GFI) of the Church of the Brethren has made numerous grants this summer, supporting community garden projects in the US, an agriculture conference in Haiti, an educational initiative of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN—the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), and continuing hurricane recovery efforts for farmers in Puerto Rico. The five grants made since June 1 total more than $36,000 in aid.

The largest, and most recent of the grants—issued Aug. 6—will support Puerto Rican farmers who are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in September 2017. A sum of $28,491 will enable long-term projects related to produce, livestock, and a hydroponic shelter.

Four individual proposals were submitted by farmers to the disaster response committee of the denomination’s Puerto Rico District and were gathered together in issuing the grant. The funds will support the purchase of construction materials, tree seedlings, fertilizer, insecticide and herbicide, chicks, goats, sheep, fencing materials, and feed.

Earlier in the summer, a pair of grants were issued in support of community garden efforts, one at Canton (Ill.) Church of the Brethren and another at GraceWay Church of the Brethren in Dundalk, Md. Canton received $1,000 to help its project, which is being done in partnership with a local school. It hopes to provide an affordable and nutritious food supply for area residents as well as to share produce with a local food pantry. Funds are enabling the purchase of seeds, hoses, lumber, a rain barrel, and other materials.

At GraceWay, a grant of $1,569.30 will support a project that serves African immigrant refugees in the community. It hopes to improve diet and health practices among the low-income families and to promote awareness of hunger issues. An additional GFI grant of $1,000 had been made to the project in July 2017.

A grant of $500 in June allowed four members of the community development staff of Eglises des Freres d’ Haiti (Church of the Brethren of Haiti) to attend an agriculture conference sponsored by a variety of Christian non-profits and NGOs in Haiti. Funds covered registration, lodging, meals, transportation, and print materials.

The final grant, issued in July for $4,866.25, will support travel costs for three key leaders working with EYN’s Soybean Value Chain project to travel to Ghana in September. The learning trip, planned and hosted by Dennis Thompson—a semi-retired researcher from the University of Illinois and the Soybean Innovation Laboratory—will allow the EYN leaders to observe small-scale soybean processing facilities in Ghana and talk with researchers and staff. The Soybean Value Chain project is part of the Church of the Brethren’s larger Nigeria Crisis Response.

Bethany Theological Seminary unveils new branding

by Jenny Williams

A new logo, website, and graphic themes represent the culmination of work by members of the Bethany Theological Seminary community (Richmond, Ind.) to give the Seminary a re-envisioned public presence.

Those with whom Bethany is in contact will see the new elements on printed and digital communication, marketing materials, and a completely redesigned website. The site features streamlined navigation, a focus on recruitment, and a series of new photos and video.

To guide the rebranding, Bethany contracted with 5 Degrees Branding, who began the process with interviews and surveys of employees, students, alumni, and Church of the Brethren leaders. A Seminary committee continued working with the agency, first identifying themes from these conversations that represent the Bethany educational experience, values, aspirations. In addition to the Seminary’s new visual presence, the agency also created a plan for recruitment and publicity efforts. Members of the committee were Jeff Carter, president; Steve Schweitzer, academic dean; Mark Lancaster, then executive director of institutional advancement; Lori Current, executive director of admissions; and Jenny Williams, director of communications.

“A change in an institution’s outward appearance should spark interest in what is happening within its mission and program,” says Carter. “Consistent with our historic values, Bethany’s new logo depicts the power of scripture read in community, with colors that represent growth and wisdom. Our new tagline—’so that the world flourishes’—speaks to the hope of our mission while leaving room for individuals to live into the ways God is calling them to serve. With a restructured master of divinity program, a soon-to-be-revised master of arts, and new scholarships and graduate certificates, Bethany’s outward look is an expression of inward change, so that our students, and the world, might flourish.”

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

Kendal Elmore announces retirement as West Marva District executive

Kendal Elmore has announced his retirement as district executive minister of West Marva District effective Aug. 31, with compensation continuing through the end of the year. His ministry with the district began Aug. 1, 2010. In addition to his executive duties in West Marva, Elmore has been active with the Council of District Executives, serving most recently as chair of the Ministry Issues Committee.

Elmore attended Ferrum Junior College and Virginia Commonwealth University. He was licensed in the West Richmond (Va.) congregation of Virlina District in 1970 and ordained by the East Mount Carmel congregation in Shenandoah District.

Prior to serving West Marva District as executive minister, Elmore served congregations in South/Central Indiana, Virlina, Shenandoah, Western Pennsylvania, Northern Indiana, Mid-Atlantic, and Northern Ohio districts. Elmore and his wife, Carolyn look forward to retiring in the Falling Waters, W.Va., area and enjoying time with their four children and grandchildren.

The Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry said that it “expresses deep appreciation for the dedicated service Kendal has shared and wishes him God’s blessings in his retirement.”

Lisa Crouch

Lisa Crouch is hired as Associate Director, Children’s Disaster Services

Lisa Crouch has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as Associate Director, Children’s Disaster Services for Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University, with a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development/Psychology. Most recently she worked at the Michigan Medicine Children’s Hospital as a Child Life Specialist and was a CDS volunteer during the 2017 hurricane responses. Lisa begins her work on Aug. 27

Shaye Isaacs resigns as executive assistant to president at Bethany

by Jenny Williams

Bethany Theological Seminary has announced that Shaye Isaacs, executive assistant to the president, will resign effective Aug. 31. She has served Bethany in that capacity since August 2011, working with both current president Jeff Carter and former president Ruthann Knechel Johansen.

In her role, Isaacs was part of the Seminary’s Leadership Team and other executive-level committees. In addition to facilitating Bethany community activities and events, she convened meetings of the Seminary staff. She has also been the primary staff person to work with the Seminary’s board of trustees, keeping records, facilitating communication and logistical arrangements, and recording meetings.

“Shaye has faithfully served Bethany for the last seven years and has been a valuable member of the Seminary’s leadership and integral to the work of the President’s Office,” said Carter. “While I am sad to see her leave Bethany, I celebrate with her family the beginning of a new chapter in life.”

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

Bethany Theological Seminary seeks executive assistant to the president

Bethany Theological Seminary has announced the position opening for executive assistant to the president, with the primary responsibility of providing administrative and secretarial support for the president and the Seminary’s board of trustees. Other responsibilities include: facilitating and coordinating the interdependent work of the Seminary’s support staff, serving as recording secretary for committees chaired by the president and involving the board of trustees, supporting the work of the Leadership Team and Administrative Team, fostering a team dynamic among the Seminary’s departments, and providing support in human resources.

Applications will be accepted through Aug. 24.

Virlina District seeks associate district executive

Virlina District is seeking an associate district executive. The preferred candidate is someone who can listen well and is committed to the mission and ministry of the Church of the Brethren. The district office is located in Roanoke, Va. This three-quarter time position is available on Jan. 1, 2019 (approximately 39-45 hours per week), including many evenings and weekends. Travel is required both within and outside of the district. The position could be combined with a possible Children, Youth and Young Adult Coordinator position. All application materials are due to Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry director Nancy S. Heishman ( by Aug. 31.

Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership offers fall courses

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership will offer the Training in Ministry (TRIM) course “Introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Scripture” Oct. 7-Dec. 11 with Matt Boersma as the instructor. This course is available to credentialed clergy to earn 2.0 continuing education units, and to members of congregations for personal enrichment.

The Brethren Academy has also rescheduled its course, “Set Apart Ministry in the Bivocational Reality,” with a registration deadline of Aug. 24. Sandra Jenkins, pastor of Constance Church of the Brethren in Hebron, Ky., and a full-time public school music teacher, is the instructor. The class meets online for eight weeks, Sept. 26 through Nov. 20.


Brethren bits

Josiah, Christine, Rachel, and Asher Ludwick.

Annual Conference officers and members of the Program and Arrangements Committee and Worship Planning Team met at the Church of the Brethren offices in Elgin, Ill., this past week to begin preparing for the 2019 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, which will take place July 3-7 in Greensboro, N.C.

Christine and Josiah Ludwick and their children, Rachel and Asher, traveled to Rwanda this week, where they will serve for a year as Church of the Brethren Global Mission workers with the Brethren Church of Rwanda. They will be incorporating their skills with pastoral and medical care, youth work, teaching, and conflict resolution as they serve with the Rwandan Brethren. The Ludwicks are members of Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, where Josiah serves as associate pastor.

The Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy this week issued an action alert to support advocacy for preservation of public lands. The call came after a Church of the Brethren youth workcamp visited Washington, D.C., for a week of service and advocacy at the Marvin Gaye Greening Center urban garden and met with congressional representatives.

Church World Service (CWS) has shared new resources related to refugee resettlement and advocacy efforts, titled “#Welcome75k.” Find a toolkit online.

A statement titled “Welcoming the Stranger: A Call for Just Immigration Reform” recently was passed by the church board of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, and co-signed by over 100 members of the church community. It reaffirms the Church of the Brethren’s 1982 Annual conference statement on undocumented persons and refugees in the United States and urges the US government to “immediately reunite families that have been separated, abolish the zero tolerance policy, provide just due process, and treat these neighbors crossing our borders as we would want to be treated.”

Former On Earth Peace executive director Bob Gross has been appointed as executive director of Journey of Hope … From Violence to Healing, an anti-death penalty organization. Gross, a member of Manchester Church of the Brethren (North Manchester, Ind.) will be the first executive director in the 25-year history of the organization. He began his part-time volunteer duties on Aug. 1.

The “Dunker Punks” Podcast is featuring highlights from this year’s Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and National Youth Conference. It is available at, or subscribe on iTunes Podcast at:

The newest installment of “Brethren Voices,” the community television program of Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, features activities at Cross Keys Village: The Brethren Home Community of New Oxford, Pa. The program is at

Brethren Press announced this week that fall curriculum is “in stock and shipping.” That includes the “Shine: Living in God’s Light” children’s curriculum, “A Guide for Biblical Studies,” and several new Covenant Bible Studies titles. The new Advent children’s book, “25 Days to Jesus,” is also available. Learn more at

Bridgewater (Va.) College was recently named to Money magazine’s 2018-2019 list of the “Best Colleges for Your Money.” For the ranking of 727 colleges, factors such as graduation rates, tuition charges, student loan repayment rates, post-graduation salaries and 22 other data points in three categories—quality of education, affordability and outcomes—were analyzed.

Cross Keys Village: The Brethren Home Community (New Oxford, Pa.) is offering an open house of its new Memory Care Resource Center on Aug. 30, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.

Northern Ohio District requested prayers this week for Lakewood Church of the Brethren (Millbury, Ohio), which had a small fire at the church on Sunday morning, Aug. 12, after lightning struck the building’s steeple. The fire was put out, and no injuries were reported.

Bethany Theological Seminary president Jeff Carter will deliver the sermon for the 150th anniversary service at Chiques Church of the Brethren (Manheim, Pa.). The homecoming service will take place at 10:15 a.m. on Sept. 16, followed by a meal. Preceding the service, Chiques member Don Fitzkee will lead a historical presentation and time of sharing memories. He will also lead a historical bus tour in the afternoon. Advanced sign-ups are requested for the meal and the tour. Contact Linda Bruckhart at

Milledgeville (Ill.) “Dutchtown” Church of the Brethren will celebrate its 160th anniversary on Sept. 9. Pastor Richard “Rick” Koch has pastored Dutchtown for 28 years.

Blue Ridge Chapel Church of the Brethren (Waynesboro, Va.) celebrates its 80th anniversary on Aug. 19.

Pinecrest Community (Mount Morris, Ill.) marked its 125th anniversary on Aug. 11 with a worship service, musical performances, and other activities. Karen Messer, president of Leading Age Illinois, gave a keynote address.

Antioch Church of the Brethren (Rocky Mount, Va.) hosted the 35th World Hunger Auction on Aug. 11.

COBYS Bike and Hike participants. Courtesy of COBYS.

The 22nd annual COBYS Bike & Hike will be held Sept. 9, 1-5 p.m., at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The event supports COBYS ministries to children and families. The Bike & Hike includes a three-mile walk, 10- and 25-mile bicycle rides, and the 65-mile Dutch Country Motorcycle Ride, which this year will travel along scenic country roads in northwestern Lancaster County. A silent auction runs throughout the afternoon. More information is at

Brethren Woods (Keezletown, Va.) will hold its 23rd annual Golf Blast and Elzie Morris Memorial Tournament and Fundraiser on Sept. 8 at Lakeview Golf Course. Registrations are due Sept. 1.

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