Newsline for September 7, 2018

Church of the Brethren Newsline
September 8, 2018

Photo by Jan Fischer Bachman.


1) Samuel Dali joins Bethany seminary community

2) Atlantic Northeast District issues response to Elizabethtown church


3) Camp Harmony seeks executive director


4) Brethren Academy announces upcoming courses

5) Brethren bits: Corrections, Remembering Matthew Meyer and Laura Abernathy, anniversaries, Brethren college news, Election Day love feast, district conferences, and more.

2017 Election Day love feast at Camp Brethren Woods. Courtesy of Camp Brethren Woods.

Quote of the week:

“Another divisive election season is heating up. No doubt we will sit next to people in the pews who vote differently than we do. This doesn’t have to divide us. Come together on election night to make the same choice together, Jesus Christ. Come together to wash feet as Jesus taught us to, serving one another, and practicing the life we’re called to live together.”
—from a Brethren Woods (Keezletown, Va.) announcement of their second “Election Day love feast,” scheduled to be held at the camp on Nov. 6.

1) Samuel Dali joins Bethany seminary community

By Jenny Williams

Samuel Dali

Samuel Dante Dali of Nigeria is serving as current international scholar in residence at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. He and his wife, Rebecca, arrived the first week of August and will remain in residence through the end of December.

Samuel Dali served as president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) from 2011 to 2016, the period when EYN was most severely affected by violence from Boko Haram. A theological scholar, Dali has served as academic dean and head of the Department of Church History at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria and as chairman of its governing council. He has also held the positions of lecturer and treasurer at Kulp Bible College.

He is also known for his work in peacebuilding and advocacy with ecumenical, interfaith, and political entities in northeastern Nigeria, especially with internally displaced peoples. He has pastured the EYN congregation in the city of Jos and is a member of the Interfaith Forum against corruption. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from McPherson (Kan.) College, a Master of Theology (M.A.Th.) from Bethany, and a Ph.D. in theology and church history from the University of Birmingham (England).

Dali will attend selected classes and join discussions during his time at Bethany. He is also working on two books, the first of which addresses the political theology of Anabaptism and its historical position of refraining from involvement in government, and the challenges this poses for Nigerian society. The second will document 100 years of peaceful service and influence of the Church of the Brethren in northern Nigeria, a mission that began in 1923.

Rebecca Dali, who has received international recognition for her humanitarian work with the oppressed in Nigeria, will work on a book that recounts how women and children often suffer the brunt of insurgency and violence in northern Nigeria, drawing on her doctoral research and her work with the Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives, which she founded in 1989.

During his residency, Samuel Dali is open to speaking engagements around the denomination. To extend an invitation, contact Mark Lancaster, assistant to the president for strategic initiatives, at 765-983-1805 or

2) Atlantic Northeast District issues response to Elizabethtown church request

Atlantic Northeast District has issued a response to a letter from the Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, as reported in the Aug. 24 Newsline, asking the district to withdraw the business item “Policy on Same-Gender Marriage” from consideration at next month’s district conference.

The response, written by district board chair Jeff Glisson, district moderator Misty Wintsch, and district executive Pete Kontra, begins, “The Church of the Brethren has for many years discussed the issue of human sexuality, and most recently same-gender marriage, so we understand that there are no easy answers to the issues that divide us. Therefore we recognize that the decisions we make as the Body of Christ are to be made very carefully, knowing that they will impact all of our lives.”

It notes that the origins of the district’s Policy on Same-Gender Marriage proposal “began with many members of the district asking questions and sharing concerns around the issue of ministers performing same-gender weddings” and “what happens” if a minister chooses to do so.

The response goes on to review the timeline of the process: Drawing on two previous Atlantic Northeast District Conference actions included in the policy, the District Ministry Commission in September 2017 sent a letter to all congregations and ministers in the district reminding them of those actions. The letter concluded by noting that a process to handle these issues would be developed once a new district executive arrived.

Kontra began as district executive on Jan. 1, and soon after the District Ministry Commission began the process. The proposed policy was presented to the Atlantic Northeast District Board at their June meeting and was approved by a vote of 19 yes, 3 no, and 1 abstention. The proposed policy was then shared with the district as an item of business to be presented and voted upon at district conference Oct. 5-6.

“Prior to district conference, six area meetings are scheduled in September for all members to gather together to discuss the business items, to share and listen to one another, and to pray together as we prepare for district conference where we will discern how we move forward as a district,” the response says. “None of this, nor any other issue or conflict we may face will ever diminish God’s love for all of us and our call to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Our prayer as district staff and leadership is that we will be unified by what we do well together as we serve Jesus Christ and that our conversations will always be tempered by grace and love even when we disagree. May it be so by God’s grace.”

3) Camp Harmony seeks executive director

Camp Harmony, owned and operated by the Western Pennsylvania District, is seeking an executive director. The 113-acre camp is located in Hooversville, Pa.

The camp is looking for someone with a proven track record of accomplishment in business planning and management, budgeting, fundraising, and marketing. Experience in residential camp, outdoor recreation, and challenge course programs is also preferred.

Responsibilities include supervision of staff, maintaining financial sustainability, growing camp enrollment, and compliance with ACA standards. Active church membership is required. More details and application information can be found at

4) Brethren Academy announces upcoming courses

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has provided announcements and reminders of numerous upcoming courses:

  • “Introduction to Hebrew Scriptures,” an online course, will be offered Oct. 17-Nov. 11, with instructor Matt Boersma. Registration deadline is Sept. 12
  • “Narrative Theology,” a weekend intensive, will be offered at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., Nov. 1-4 with instructor Scott Holland. Registration deadline is Sept. 27.
  • “Introduction to Pastoral Care,” a January intensive, will be offered at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., Jan. 14-16 with instructor Sheila Shumaker. Registration deadline is Dec. 5.
  • “Church History II,” an online course, will be offered Jan. 23-March 12 with instructor Kendall Rogers. Registration deadline is Dec. 10.
  • “Race and the Congregation,” a weekend intensive, will be offered Feb. 21-24 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., with instructor Eric Bishop. Registration deadline is Jan. 17.
  • “Survey of the Bible,” a weekend intensive, will be offered March 1-3 at Miami (Fla.) Haitian Church of the Brethren with instructor Steven Schweitzer. Registration deadline is Jan. 25.
  • “How to Think Theologically,” an online course, will be offered March 13-May 7 with instructor Nate Inglis. Registration deadline is Feb. 6.
  • “Church of the Brethren Polity,” an online course, will be offered April 3-May 19 with instructor Torin Eikler. Registration deadline is Feb. 27.

More information is at

5) Brethren bits

In this issue: Corrections, Remembering Matthew Meyer and Laura Abernathy, anniversaries, Brethren college news, Election Day love feast, district conferences, and more news by, for, and about Brethren.

Corrections: In the Aug. 24 edition of Newsline, the final speaker at the Sixth Brethren World Assembly was misidentified. Jared Burkholder of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches gave the final address on Saturday evening. And in the same issue, Barbra Davis’ position was incorrectly given in the “Brethren bits” section. Davis grew up in the Ankeny (Iowa) congregation but now serves as pastor of several congregations in the Kansas City area. Barbara Wise Lewczak is serving as interim pastor at Ankeny.

Matthew Meyer

Matthew Meyer, who served the Church of the Brethren General Board from 1979 to 1993, passed away on Aug. 27 in Geneva, Ill. Meyer, 90, served as director of evangelism and Annual Conference manager during his denominational tenure and also helped to re-establish National Youth Conference in the early 1970s. An ordained minister, he also served pastorates in California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, and he served as a Seagoing Cowboy with Heifer International in 1946. He was an alumnus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 22 at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

Laura Abernathy, who was a significant contributor to the disability ministries of the Association of Brethren Caregivers through the Disabilities Network, died Aug. 10. Abernathy, 96, was for many years the voice of “Messenger on Tape” that was distributed to visually impaired people throughout the United States. She was an alumnus of Manchester College (North Manchester, Ind.), Michigan State University, and DePaul University. A celebration of life service will be held Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. at Fairwood Golf & Country Club in Renton, Wash.

Laurel Branch Church of the Brethren in Floyd County, Va., will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Sept. 30. It was a meeting point of the Topeco Church of the Brethren prior to becoming a separate congregation.

Spring Run Church of the Brethren (McVeytown, Pa.) will celebrate the 160th anniversary of the dedication of its church building Oct. 6-7. It will include love feast Saturday evening and worship, a fellowship lunch, and program on Sunday, along with a historical display.

Beaver (Iowa) Church of the Brethren will hold a closing worship service at 11 a.m. this Saturday, Sept. 8, followed by lunch. The service will celebrate 117 years of ministry at the church.

Brethren Woods (Keezletown, Va.) will again hold an Election Day love feast, on Tuesday, Nov. 6. “Another divisive election season is heating up,” said an announcement from the camp, located in Shenandoah District. “No doubt we will sit next to people in the pews who vote differently than we do. This doesn’t have to divide us. Come together on election night to make the same choice together, Jesus Christ.”

Camp Blue Diamond (Petersburg, Pa.) will hold its annual Heritage Fair on Sept. 22. The day includes food, a 5K run, music, crafts, children’s activities, a dunk tank, and an auction.

Bridgewater (Va.) College will mark Constitution Day and the International Day of Peace with a lecture from Allen W. Groves, university dean of students at the University of Virginia, on Sept. 19. His topic: “Free Speech at a Crossroads: How a Core Constitutional Value Can Move Us Towards a Deeper Understanding of Difference, Critical to Peace.”

McPherson (Kan.) College is marking the 100th anniversary of its theater program with a production of “The Hourglass,” by William Butler Yates, Sept. 6-8, according to a report in the “McPherson Sentinel.” The play was first performed in the college’s Mingenback Theater in 1918.

The fifth “Asamblea” (annual conference) of Iglesia Evangélica de los Hermanos—Una Luz en Las Naciones (the Church of the Brethren in Spain) is taking place this weekend in Gijon, Spain. The conference theme is “Widening the Harvest.”

District conference season continues with several meetings scheduled in the next few weeks. Northern Indiana meets Sept. 14-15 at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind.; South/Central Indiana meets Sept. 15 at Grandview Church of the Brethren (Pendleton, Ind.); Missouri/Arkansas also meets Sept. 14-15 at the Windermere Conference Center (Roach, Mo.), as does Southern Pennsylvania at Newville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Pacific Northwest meets Sept. 21-23 at Camp Myrtlewood (Myrtle Point, Ore.); and West Marva meets Sept. 21-22 at Moorefield (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren.

Northern Plains held its district conference Aug. 3-5 at South Waterloo (Iowa) Church of the Brethren. Delegates called Lucinda Douglas as moderator-elect, voted to disorganize Beaver Church of the Brethren, and adopted a budget of $109,160.

Shenandoah District is leaving the moderator position open this fall after the sudden death of district moderator Richi Yowell in July. The district leadership team has instead called four people to provide leadership: former moderator Jonathan Brush will convene Saturday business; Jon Prater of the District Discernment Team will share the first read of that team’s work; David Miller will oversee action on the constitution; and district leadership team chair Wayne Pence will do the delegate briefing. Shenandoah’s district conference is scheduled for Nov. 2-3 at Antioch Church of the Brethren (Woodstock, Va.).

The Bittersweet Gospel Band is doing a five-district tour this fall. Stops include Antioch Church of the Brethren (Rocky Mount, Va.) Sept. 26; Verona (Va.) Community Center Sept. 27; Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren Sept. 28; Lampeter (Pa.) Church of the Brethren Sept. 29; and Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and Bermudian Church of the Brethren (East Berlin, Pa.) Sept. 30, with worship concerts at each location. Band members include Gilbert Romero, Scott Duffey, Thomas Dowdy, Leah Hileman, Trey Curry, Andy Duffey, David Sollenberger, and Tyler Roebuck.

Jay and Marlene Grossnickle, members of Lakeview Church of the Brethren, served as grand marshals of this year’s “Brethren Days” parade in Brethren, Mich., on Sept. 2, according to a report in the Manistee (Mich.) News Advocate.

Brethren writer Frank Ramirez and composer Steve Engle have penned a new musical, “The White Buggy,” which will premiere at the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres in Nappanee, Ind., Sept. 17. Ramirez and Engle have been working on the production for the past four years. The action centers around the workings of an Amish-Mennonite weekly newspaper.

Episode 65 of the “Dunker Punks Podcast” features Manchester University student Nolan McBride, sharing after his semester spent in England about his experience of a pilgrimage and confirmation ceremony. The latest episode is available at, or subscribe on iTunes:

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