Newsline for December 1, 2018

Jeremiah 29:11
Background image by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford


1) Global Mission visit to Nigeria strengthens relationships, finds hope in EYN’s continuing ministry despite crisis

2) Paradise Church of the Brethren lost in fire

3) Children’s Disaster Services continues Camp Fire response

4) Yearbook Office announces changes for collecting congregational information


5) Children’s Disaster Services offers volunteer training workshops in early 2019


6) Advent resources are available from Brethren Press

7) Brethren bits: Compelling Vision conversations, nominations sought for 2019 ballot, disaster volunteer needed in Puerto Rico, CCS registration opens soon, Global Mission prayer request, Bethany podcasts, chuch anniversaries, and more

Quote of the week:

“Advent is a season for waiting…. Waiting is active rather than passive. We nurture our attentiveness to signs of God’s presence and activity in the world and bear witness to God’s promises in word and deed. Such waiting requires the patience to be present in the moment, trusting that God will reveal things previously unknown to us.”
— Rhonda Pittman Gingrich in the introduction to “Wait and Hope,” the 2018 Advent devotional from Brethren Press. Price for regular print size is $3.50. Order at or call 800-441-3712.


1. Global Mission visit to Nigeria strengthens relationships, finds hope in EYN’s continuing ministry despite crisis

Wittmeyer, Ndamsai, Billi
(L to R) Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer, EYN Vice President Anthony Ndamsai, and EYN President Joel Billi. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

A visit with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) by Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer and News Services director Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford took place Nov. 1-19.

The two Church of the Brethren staff were welcomed with generous hospitality by the Nigerian Brethren, led by EYN president Joel Billi, vice president Anthony Ndamsai, and general secretary Daniel Mbaya. EYN staff liaison Markus Gamache hosted the visit and provided logistics.

Wittmeyer’s goal for the trip was to strengthen the Church of the Brethren relationship with EYN and bring encouragement to Nigerian Brethren as the country’s crisis continues. Violent attacks by Boko Haram insurgents and violence by extremist Fulani herdsmen continue in the northeast and central belts of Nigeria.

A photo album of the trip is at More in-depth reporting and interviews with EYN leaders will appear in Messenger,the Church of the Brethren magazine. To subscribe contact your congregation’s Messenger representative or go to

A church committed to ministry

The trip included several days spent at the EYN headquarters in Kwarhi, with side trips to nearby sites of importance to the Brethren including Garkida—former headquarters of the Church of the Brethren Mission. Wittmeyer and Brumbaugh-Cayford also visited ten EYN congregations around the northeast of the country, four camps for displaced people, and several schools. Brumbaugh-Cayford had an opportunity to attend part of the annual meeting of the EYN Female Theologians Association.

EYN female theologians meeting
EYN Female Theologians meeting. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

EYN’s top leadership and staff in the areas of education, community development, agriculture, health care, disaster relief, women’s ministry, communications, micro-finance, and more made time for meetings with the American visitors. Conversations revealed a commitment by the Nigerian church to continue and renew ministries that have been threatened by the crisis. Only four years previously, EYN staff had fled Kwarhi when Boko Haram overran the area and occupied the church headquarters, and the future of many church ministries had been in jeopardy.

EYN President Joel Billi at Gurku Church celebration
EYN President Joel Billi presides over the autonomy celebration of EYN Gurku Church. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

However, EYN is now experiencing growth in several areas: the number of congregations and districts, attendance at congregations–many of which have been rebuilding churches that were destroyed in the violence, and new facilities in Kwarhi. For example, EYN celebrated the “autonomy” or full congregational status of a new congregation at the Gurku Interfaith Relocation Camp. The camp was founded by Gamache, and the celebration happened to be scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 18, the last day of the trip. Wittmeyer was asked to preach.

A tour of the newly re-named Kulp Theological Seminary (formerly Kulp Bible College) by provost Dauda Gava highlighted the school’s certification as a seminary through its relationship with the University of Jos. A visit to the library found boxes of books donated by the American Brethren being prepared for cataloging.

EYN president Billi led a tour of a new office building under construction at the EYN headquarters, designed to adjoin and connect with the large conference center on campus. A new banquet hall also is being built. The new buildings will greatly increase and improve office facilities for EYN staff, and will allow EYN to host a large ecumenical conference of Nigerian churches in January.

In Jos, the visit included time with Brethren Volunteer Service worker Judy Minnich Stout. She is placed with EYN to work on preparing Nigerian Brethren to improve their English skills for participating in Bethany Seminary classes at the EYN Tech Center.

Although the ministries and departments of EYN are returning to normal or even growing, four of EYN’s districts are still not functional because of the violence and displacement of church members. This is even as EYN celebrated the start of a new district in Lagos, the largest Nigerian city located in the south of the country.

Markus Gamache presents bibles
Markus Gamache presents a gift of Bibles and hymnals from a workcamp group to EYN #1 Michika. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Many Nigerian Brethren are still displaced and unable to return to communities such as Gwoza and Bama, where attacks occurred while Wittmeyer and Brumbaugh-Cayford were in the country. During a visit to EYN #1 Maiduguri, still the largest EYN congregation counting some 3,500 members despite its history of twice being destroyed and rebuilt, pastor Joseph Tizhe Kwaha told about violent attacks on nearby villages. He shared his grief about the killing of a church member just two weeks previously. The city is protected by Nigerian military and an air force base, but Boko Haram attacks continue in the countryside all around. Kwaha, who led a tour of the nearby IDP camp that is supported by the church, spoke of the difficulties for a congregation and displaced community that cannot safely go out of the city to farm.

Pastors, retired ministers, and other community leaders spent time with the visitors in various towns and at the IDP camps, telling the stories of their communities and the efforts to return and rebuild in places where violence has taken a large toll. During an afternoon in Michika, the visitors toured a couple of EYN congregations that have been rebuilding. All of the Christian churches in Michika were destroyed when Boko Haram took the area in 2014. EYN Watu has rebuilt its church, but EYN #1 Michika is still working to construct a very large new building, and has received help from workcamp groups from the US. During the visit to EYN #1 Michika, Gamache presented two boxes of Bibles and hymnals in Hausa and English donated by the workcamp group.

The trip culminated with an invitation to meet with US ambassador W. Stuart Symington. EYN president Billi, general secretary Mbaya, staff liaison Gamache, Wittmeyer, and Brumbaugh-Cayford took part in the meeting on the last afternoon of the trip. The event was considered an important opening for new connections between EYN and the US diplomatic community in Nigeria.

Students in Lassa sing
Students at Education Must Continue Initiative School in Lassa welcome guests with a song. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

2. Paradise Church of the Brethren lost in fire

A report from Pacific Southwest District and district executive Russ Matteson

The Camp Fire in Butte County in northern California overran the town of Paradise and other smaller communities on Thursday, Nov. 8. Lost in the fire were all of the buildings on the property of Paradise Church of the Brethren, which includes the main church facility and sanctuary, the parsonage, a youth building, and two rental cottages.

All persons who were a part of the congregation did get out of Paradise safely and are now living with relatives in other parts of northern California. The congregation’s membership was very small, as was the case with the Rock Fellowship, which had been renting space from the church and sharing in worship and ministry for the last many years.


Paradise youth building
What is left of the Paradise Church of the Brethren youth building after the Camp Fire. Photo courtesy of Brethren Disaster Ministries

In the face of this devastation the congregation has let the district know that they will not continue in ministry.

Rains over the Thanksgiving weekend helped firefighters reach 100 percent containment and extinguish the Camp Fire. Joel Price, district Stewards Chair, and district executive Russ Matteson visited pastor Melvin Campbell and his wife, Jane, on Nov. 28. As is the case with so many of those displaced, they are trying to figure out what steps to take next. At this time, residents are still not being allowed back into Paradise to see if anything can be salvaged from homes that have been destroyed.

Paradise parsonage
Paradise Church of the Brethren parsonage after the Camp Fire. The pastor and his wife were able to evacuate but left their home and belongings behind. Photo courtesy of Brethren Disaster Ministries

There is a need to provide support in spiritual and material ways to the Brethren who were affected by the fire. People have lost their homes and their possessions because the fire moved so quickly that there was no time to grab much before evacuating. The district is receiving donations to provide direct support to help with the needs of the pastor and members of the Paradise congregation as they seek to recover. Checks can be sent to:

     Pacific Southwest District of the Church of the Brethren
     P.O. Box 219
     La Verne, CA 91750
     Please note “Paradise Fire.”

Mail donations to support the Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) response and Brethren Disaster Ministries plans for a long-term recovery response to the Camp Fire to:

     Emergency Disaster Fund
     Church of the Brethren
     1451 Dundee Ave.
     Elgin, IL 60120. 
     Please note “Camp Fire Response.”

Continue to hold these church members in your prayers as they move forward and seek healing and answers. We encourage you to remember all those affected by this fire, and other wildfires, in your prayers. Also, keep in your prayers the first responders who continue to fight fires, ensure safety, search for the missing and deceased, and so much more.

3. Children’s Disaster Services continues Camp Fire response

CDS Volunteer in California
Children play at the Disaster Recovery Center in Chico, California. Photo by Kathy Duncan

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) continues to aid children and families affected by the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise in northern California. Two new CDS teams are being deployed this week.

A new team of four volunteers is traveling tomorrow to support a Red Cross “Family Support Center” in a different location from the CDS team that has supported the state’s Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Chico. That first team of eight volunteers deployed Nov. 16 and, after completing about two weeks of service, was replaced this week. Another eight volunteers arrived in Chico on Wednesday and Thursday and are working at the DRC as that part of the response continues.

In related news, a couple with Brethren roots who lost their home in the Camp Fire has been featured by National Public Radio station KQED. “No Time to Rebuild: A Family Says Goodbye to Paradise After 58 Years” tells the story of Arlene and Ellis Harms, ages 89 and 92 respectively, who moved from La Verne to Paradise in 1960. Ellis was a principal of the elementary school in Paradise. He told KQED that the school “was built by WPA [Works Progress Administration] in 1935, and it’s gone. The church that we came to Paradise for as well is gone.” That church was Community Church of the Brethren, where in previous years Arlene played piano and organ. Go to .

CDS also has been featured in the fall 2018 issue of “Action in Education,” an alumni magazine from DePaul University’s College of Education. Find the CDS article on page 4 at .

Camp Fire situation ‘is difficult’

CDS volunteers aid children affected by Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Fla.
CDS volunteers aid children affected by Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Fla. Photo by Kathy Duncan

CDS volunteers in the center at Chico have been serving about 50 children daily, but earlier this week those numbers increased to 65 and 70 children a day, according to Patty Henry, who has been one of the CDS project managers.

“The situation is difficult” for the families displaced by the fire, said Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. Among current difficulties, many affected families are living in a tent city without services, CDS project managers have reported. Officials are trying to get these families to move closer to the service centers or shelters so they can provide them with more support.

Winter shared stories about two children who survived the fire. One nine-year-old boy told a CDS volunteer about driving through flames to escape, and that he simply closed his eyes and prayed. Another boy, age 11, displayed his anger about the difficult situation through rough play in the CDS childcare center, and defied directions from his caregivers. He told a CDS volunteer that he wished he had died in the fire.

“My goal with this [sharing children’s stories] is to help people understand the intensity for the children, families, and CDS volunteers,” Winter said.

For more information about Children’s Disaster Services go to

How to help

Mail donations to support the CDS response and Brethren Disaster Ministries plans for a long-term recovery response to the Camp Fire to:

Emergency Disaster Fund
Church of the Brethren
1451 Dundee Ave.
Elgin, IL 60120. 
Please note “Camp Fire Response.”

Give online to the CDS response at

To be trained to serve as a CDS volunteer, register for a volunteer training workshop at

Brethren Disaster Ministries is working closely with Pacific Southwest District of the Church of the Brethren to respond to the fire. The district is collecting funds to provide direct support to Paradise Community Church of the Brethren and its pastor Melvin Campbell and his wife, Jane. Mail contributions noted for the “Paradise Fire” to: 
Pacific Southwest District Church of the Brethren
P.O. Box 219
La Verne, CA 91750

4. Yearbook Office announces changes for collecting congregational information

2018 COB Yearbook Cover

by James Deaton

A November letter from the Yearbook Office has informed all Church of the Brethren congregations that changes are forthcoming in the way directory and statistical data will be collected. No Form B will be mailed this fall but instead will be combined into a later mailing. This is the first step, and further changes will be made over the course of a couple of years. More details and instructions will be sent to congregations and districts in early 2019.

The end goal is to reduce the collection of information from multiple forms and mailings to a single mailing that will be sent out early each year. There also will be an online option for congregations to submit their information–something many congregations have asked for. There will still be a paper option for those who prefer that.

“We appreciate the time and effort you put into completing these forms each year–a vital way for the church to stay connected,” said Yearbook specialist Jim Miner. “Form B and other forms are used to collect directory and statistical information from congregations. Much of it is published in the annual Church of the Brethren Yearbook.”

For questions and more information contact the Yearbook Office at or 800-323-8039 ext. 320.

5. Children’s Disaster Services offers volunteer training workshops in early 2019

CDS Volunteer in Chico, California
CDS volunteer at the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Chico, Calif., interacting with children affected by the Camp Fire. Photo by Kathy Duncan

A series of volunteer training workshops will be offered by Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) in early 2019. Cost to attend one of these workshops, where potential volunteers are trained to serve with CDS, is $45 for early registration or $55 for registrations mailed less than three weeks before the event. CDS volunteers receiving retraining pay only $25. The workshop fee includes all meals, curriculum, and one overnight stay.

Here are upcoming dates and locations:

Feb. 22-23, 2019, at United Presbyterian Church in Oakdale, Pa. The local contact is Tina Hammett, 724-350-1827,

March 1-2, 2019, at St. James Lutheran Church in Redding, Calif. The local contact is Katie Swartz, 530-551-1095,

March 23-24, 2019, at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. The local contact is Kathy Benson, 909-837-7103,

April 10-11, 2019, in Chicago, Ill. (Child Life Specialist specific). Location and more information to be announced.

April 12-13, 2019, at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind. The local contact is Zander Willoughby, 260-982-5108,

For more information and to register for a CDS volunteer training workshop go to Contact the CDS staff at or call 800-451-4407, option 5.

6. Advent resources are available from Brethren Press

Advent begins in just a few days, on Sunday, Dec. 2, and there are new Brethren Press resources to help prepare for this special season.

Wait and Hope“Wait and Hope” by Rhonda Pittman Gingrich is the 2018 Advent devotional, offering daily readings, scriptures, and prayers for Advent through Epiphany. This pocket-sized devotional is suitable for individual use and for churches to provide to their members. “Advent is a time for engaging God’s word and grounding ourselves in the hope of the kingdom rather than personal wishes and desires,” said a description from Brethren Press. “This season, examine the words and actions of both the prophets and the central figures in the Christmas story, and rediscover the gift of waiting in patient expectation for God’s ultimate promise, Jesus.” Price per copy is $3.50. Order online at or call customer service at 800-441-3712.

25 Days to Jesus“25 Days to Jesus,” a hard-cover illustrated children’s book written by Christy Waltersdorff and illustrated by Mitch Miller, is a colorful Advent devotional for young children. “Meet those whose lives were changed by the birth of Jesus,” said a promotion from Brethren Press. “Through a daily scripture, story, and prayer, begin a Christmas tradition the whole family can share.” Price per copy is $18.95. Order online at or call customer service at 800-441-3712.

Shine early childhood winter 2018The winter quarter of Shine, a curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, also begins Dec. 2, on the first Sunday of Advent. This quarter’s theme is “Journeys with Jesus.” Curriculum is offered for early childhood, primary, middler, junior youth, and multi-age classrooms. The Bible outline for primary through junior youth focuses on the Gospel of Luke, studying the Advent and Christmas narratives about Jesus’ early life, followed by studies of several of the parables Jesus told. Order curriculum online at or from customer service at 800-441-2712. For more information and sample sessions visit

7. Brethren bits

Compelling Vision Gathering at Manassas Church of the Brethren
Compelling Vision gathering at Manassas Church of the Brethren. Photo by Regina Holmes

Compelling Vision conversations continue in Church of the Brethren districts across the country. Shown here is a recent Compelling Vision gathering in Mid-Atlantic District, hosted at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren (photo by Regina Holmes). A Compelling Vision Spiritual Connection page has been started on Facebook to help church members connect with the process from around the denomination. Find it at

Nominations for denominational offices appearing on the ballot at the 2019 Annual Conference are sought, with a deadline of Saturday, Dec. 1. “You can help shape the future of the church!” said an announcement from the Conference Office. “Each member of the Church of the Brethren is invited to recommend possible nominees for the 2019 Annual Conference ballot. As you pray about this, who comes to mind? Whom will the Lord prompt you to nominate?” A list of open positions, forms, and more information about the nomination process are at


Hurricane damage in Puerto Rico
Hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Brethren Disaster Ministries

Brethren Disaster Ministries seeks a program volunteer for the Puerto Rico disaster response. A Spanish speaking long-term volunteer or contract worker is needed to support the Brethren Disaster Ministries project in Puerto Rico, ideally starting in Feb. 2019. This is an exciting and critical role necessary for the home rebuilding project in Puerto Rico to continue. The right person will provide Spanish translation that supports the project by communicating with the clients served, the local churches, and other partners. The volunteer/contractor will be part of the project leadership team providing support to short-term volunteers, coordinating the volunteer household, transporting volunteers to the airport, and providing administrative support for the project. This role can also be shared by the right married couple. A minimum term will be four months, but a longer term is preferred. For more information contact Jenn Dorsch-Messler at 410-635 8737 or

Brenda Sanford Diehl of Calvary Church of the Brethren has been hired as Shenandoah District director of communications, starting Jan. 1. She comes to the position with a background in public relations and writing for various religious groups, and has worked in diverse capacities including as a 4-H extension agent, recreation superintendent, and with the Handley Regional Library System. A student in the Christian Growth Institute, she is a graduate of James Madison University and earned a master of public administration degree from Virginia Tech. During December she will be oriented to the position by working with Ellen Layman, current communications assistant, who is retiring Dec. 31.

CSS Logo 2018

Registration for the 2019 Christian Citizenship Seminar opens in just five days on Dec. 3 at 12 p.m. (central time) or 1 p.m. (Eastern). “Make sure to register ASAP, it’s limited to the first 60 people,” said an invitation from coordinator Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred, who is serving as Youth and Young Adult Ministries assistant. CCS provides high school-age students the chance to explore the relationship between faith and a particular political issue, and then act from a faith perspective regarding that issue. “Creative Solutions to Violence Conflict Worldwide” () is this year’s theme. The $425 registration fee includes event programming; lodging for five nights; two dinner meals, one in New York City and one in Washington, D.C.; and transportation from New York to Washington. Participant bring additional money for most meals, sightseeing, personal expenses, and subway and taxi fares. Dates are April 27 – May 2, 2019. For more information and to register, go to

Grace Mishler
Grace Mishler

The Global Mission and Service office seeks prayer for Grace Mishler as she travels in Hong Kong. Mishler is a Global Mission worker in Vietnam. In Hong Kong, she will be presenting at an international forum at the City University, sharing with faculty, students, and the blind community about her work with babies afflicted with the vision-impairing condition of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). “Pray that her presentation can increase awareness of ROP and help generate resources to prevent the condition,” said the prayer request.

Bethany Theological Seminary has announced a new podcast series, “Like a Mustard Seed.” Faculty, staff, students, and guests are being invited to share perspectives on a variety of theological, global, and cultural topics. Initial episodes feature Bethany president Jeff Carter; Rebecca Dali, a member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria); and Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship. New episodes will be created and posted about twice a month when semesters are in session. Go to

In September, Tucson (Ariz.) Church of the Brethren “decided that the time had come for them to conclude their ministry at the end of 2018,” reports Pacific Southwest District in a recent newsletter. “There will be a final worship giving thanks for the work of this congregation through the many years on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 3 p.m. followed by a time of refreshments and visiting. All are welcome at this time of remembering and thanksgiving. If you cannot come we encourage you to hold the congregation in your prayers as they gather.” Part of the closing will be a blessing for the ministry of Fuenta de Vida Assembly of God church, which is purchasing the space to move from their current location. Funds from the sale of the property are being held aside by the district for a period of five years to support the possibility of new Church of the Brethren work in Tucson in the future.

Ankeny (Iowa) Church of the Brethren celebrated its 150th anniversary on Sept. 29-30. The theme “150 Years and Our Story Is Still Unfolding” was the focus of the celebration. Barbra Davis preached on Saturday on “The Cornerstone” from Ephesians 2:17-22. On Sunday, Keith Funk preached on “The Priority of Jesus” from Matthew 6: 33-34. Many former pastors sent messages and shared memories, and several were present to share during the service, reported Barbara Wise Lewczak. “Some of the special features were a slide show of photos from the past, several photo albums and other memorabilia, a hymn sing, a choir including present and past members and guests, children’s time led by Natalie and Krystal Bellis, with a history of the Ankeny Church of the Brethren written by the children of the congregation many years ago. It was a precious way to hear the history shared.” A memory book was prepared by Dee Reynolds and daughters Rhonda Bingman and Terri Hansen and presented to all attendees. The composite photo for the anniversary celebration is courtesy of Max Bechtol.

Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va., has been celebrating its 150th anniversary throughout 2018. After selecting the theme, “To God Be the Glory for 150 Years,” the church chose “To God Be the Glory” for its theme song and installed theme banners in the sanctuary and by the road outside, according to a report from George Bowers. In April, the church shared an “Old Tyme Sunday” complete with old-time dress, separate seating for men and women, and a slide show of past members and events. In July, an outdoor worship service and picnic were held at a park with children’s games and cakewalks. In September, a Celebration and Homecoming were held with a fellowship meal. Part of the celebration has been sale of 150th Anniversary Cookbooks, commemorative mugs, and t-shirts. Throughout the year, weekly trivia questions from old minute books were shared in the bulletin and during announcements in worship. Along the way, long-time members were interviewed and recorded memories. Monthly articles on Antioch’s history appeared in the church newsletter. One additional event is planned for December, a Beard Contest. “Prizes will be awarded for longest, scraggiest, fullest, and most Brethren,” Bowers writes. “Antioch looks forward to what God will do in the years to come!”

University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College, Pa., is celebrating 50 years as a congregation jointly aligned with the Church of the Brethren and the American Baptists. An article in the Centre Daily Times, “‘Welcoming love’: How 2 State College Churches Joined 50 Years Ago, with a Lasting Effect,” quoted pastor Bonnie Kline Smeltzer on why the relationship has worked so well over the years. “The American Baptists and the Church of the Brethren share some core values and principles,” she told the paper. “Both are congregational in authority and practice the priesthood of all believers…. Both practice Believers’ baptism…. And both denominations believe that people are responsible for their relationship with God and their spiritual growth. There is no force in religion and belief.” Read the article at

Southern Ohio/Kentucky District seeks prayer for the Constance congregation, which has vacated its building due to structural concerns. The district e-newsletter reports that “worship is being held in space provided by the nearby Hebron Lutheran Church” and that the congregation is selling its current property and seeking a new permanent location.

“Somewhere in the world, 250 victims of a disaster will have a small head start on rebuilding their lives thanks to efforts by the Annville Church of the Brethren,” reports the Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News. The report went on to note that “church members have good reason to believe their 250-bucket project will ultimately help many more people.” Some 50 volunteers from the church and Lebanon Valley College packed the clean-up buckets in an effort benefiting Brethren Disaster Ministries and Church World Service, which will distribute the buckets to families and communities affected by disasters. “These buckets are going to people who are experiencing one of the worst times in their lives, and we pray that our love and Jesus’ love is felt by those who receive these buckets,” pastor Paul Liepelt said. Find the news report at

A letter to supporters of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC), following on the center’s 25th anniversary celebration, included a list of impressive accomplishments. The letter from executive director Donna M. Rhodes listed more than 480 courses held through SVMC; more than 375 instructors who have taught graduate, TRIM, or ACTS courses; more than 680 students who have participated in ACTS or TRIM courses; 535 graduate course registrations since 1993; and 1,700 continuing education certificates given. “We rejoice in our firm foundation, celebrate the present, and anticipate the future,” Rhodes wrote. SVMC serves five Church of the Brethren districts: Atlantic Northeast, Southern Pennsylvania, Middle Pennsylvania, Western Pennsylvania, and Mid-Atlantic. Find a Newsline report about the Nov. 3 celebration hosted at Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren at

The latest episode of the Dunker Punks Podcast features Alyssa Parker, Racial Justice Organizing intern for On Earth Peace, with her mother, Jennifer, and grandmother, Sandra. The three discuss their hopes for the future of the church in terms of growing youth and racial diversity. The podcast is an audio show created by more than a dozen Brethren young adults across the country. Listen on the episode page at or subscribe at .

Each December, “Brethren Voices” features an alternative gift giving suggestion. This year the show is encouraging a financial gift to Brethren Disaster Ministries. “As last year, the number of disasters has almost reached the countless number and Brethren Disaster Ministries has been very busy,” said an announcement from producer Ed Groff. Also in December, the show features a song by Andy Murray, “A Christmas Carol,” as a music video accompanying photos of volunteers with Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services. The show also received permission from Ken Medema to share one of his improvised compositions about Children’s Disaster Services, “Teach Me How to Play Again.” Find “Brethren Voices” at or request a copy by contacting .

“Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20) is the theme for the 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The event is observed annually, with recommended dates of Jan. 18-25. A variety of print resources are available to order including a daily scripture and prayer guide, worship service, prayer card, poster, bulletin cover, and more. Purchase resources at . For more about this world-wide ecumenical observance and additional online resources go to .

Global church organizations including the World Council of Churches (WCC), Lutheran World Federation, and ACT Alliance are calling for renewed global solidarity and urgency of action to support communities most affected by climate change, as a United Nations climate summit kicks off in Poland. “There is no more time to waste in short-term self-interestedness,” said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, who urged the UN to ramp up pledges from participating nations in order to still be able to meet the goal of no more than 1.5 degree Celsius increase in global temperatures. “Urgent adaptation and mitigation measures, transformation of economic systems, deep behavioral change, and supportive national and global policies and institutional arrangements are needed now to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change,” he said. Find the WCC release at . A Nov. 7 statement from the WCC Executive Committee is at .

General offices in the snow
General offices in the snow. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]