Newsline for Jan. 26, 2018

Church of the Brethren Newsline
January 26, 2018

“Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved” (Matthew 9:17). 

1) Brethren from Dominican Republic and Spain start house churches in Europe
2) EDF gives grants to Brethren Disaster Ministries projects
3) GFI grants support gardens and gardeners, aquaponics, feeding program

4) Amy Gall Ritchie to resign from Bethany Seminary

5) Children’s Disaster Services offers spring training workshops
6) SVMC celebrates 25 years, offers continuing education events
7) Ventures in Christian Discipleship offers courses to empower small churches

8) Emergency alert! Being in Hawaii on Jan. 13

9) Brethren bits: Remembrances, QSEHRA extended, rescue of a Chibok girl. Mission Alive 2018, Seminar on Christian Minority Communities, Lindsay (New Harvest) Church of the Brethren closes, and more news by, for, and about Brethren


1) Brethren from Dominican Republic and Spain start house churches in Europe

by Jeff Boshart

A selfie from London taken during a trip by Church of the Brethren staff member Jeff Boshart (at right) and Fausto Carrasco, who hails originally from the Dominican Republic. They were visiting a new Brethren house church in London founded by Karen Mariguete (at left). Photo by Karen Mariguete.

In the 1990s, a wave of Dominicans began leaving their home country to look for a better life in Spain. Members of Iglesia de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) were among them. In time they established the Church of the Brethren in Spain and continue to plant new fellowships across the country.

As the economy has sputtered in Spain, with high unemployment since the world economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, some members are on the move again. Several church members moved from Spain to London, England, about five or six years ago and immediately started a house church. This preaching point was recognized in 2016 by the Asamblea or Annual Conference of Iglesia Evangelica de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in Spain).

Last fall, on our way to attend the 2017 Asamblea in Spain, I stopped for a brief two-day visit in London. Along with me on this trip was Fausto Carrasco, pastor of Nuevo Comienzo in St. Cloud, Fla., a fellowship of the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Southeast District. He was serving as a volunteer for the Global Food Initiative.

We visited with Karen Meriguete, founder of the church plant in London called Roca Viva Church of the Brethren, along with several other members. She recently turned over the leadership of the new fellowship to her brother, Edward De La Torres, and has begun a second fellowship in a different neighborhood of London.

Meriguete and most of the other house church members are of Dominican heritage but are Spanish citizens, which allows them to move freely across the European Union for work. Most of the members work in restaurants or as janitors and housekeepers for office buildings in the heart of London. Often, several families share small, very expensive basement apartments that rent for over $1,000 per month.

While in London, we learned of house churches starting in Holland and Germany as well–all springing from the Brethren in Spain. The vision of the leaders of the Spanish church is to reach Europe for Christ. It looks like they are well on their way.

— Jeff Boshart manages the Global Food Initiative and the Emerging Global Mission Fund, and is on the staff of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.

2) EDF gives grants to Brethren Disaster Ministries projects

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative and the task of developing new project sites following the 2017 hurricane and fire season. In addition, a grant has been given to assist families displaced by violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Disaster Recovery Support Initiative

An allocation of $50,000 funds volunteer responses in the US Virgin Islands by the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI), following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Vital infrastructure such as water, power, and communications were almost completely severed. Initial estimates reported damage to 90 percent of the 50,000 structures on the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. The plight of survivors is further complicated by the high level of poverty and heavy dependence on the tourism industry for employment.

Brethren Disaster Ministries’ initial response was through the DRSI, a partnership with the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). One DRSI staff member was deployed to St. Thomas shortly after Hurricane Maria,with supporting visits to other islands. In January, the other DRSI staff member and two UCC volunteers also deployed to St. Thomas to continue to support the development of local recovery efforts and volunteer responses. Brethren Disaster Ministries is acting as the fiscal agent for this initiative, with additional funds being provided by the UCC and the Disciples.

New project sites

An allocation of $25,000 supports Brethren Disaster Ministries in developing new project sites, providing short-term response programming and assisting with response planning related to last fall’s hurricanes and fire disasters. The money supports staff and volunteers as they travel around the hurricane and fire regions for planning meetings, evaluations, and response coordination. The grant also supports volunteers, districts, and partners who are providing short-term responses in affected areas. The funds are expected to support work in Florida, California, and the US Virgin Islands.

Democratic Republic of Congo

A grant of $10,000 to Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation in the DRC assists families displaced by violence. The country has a long history of war, armed conflict, and many different brutal militia groups. The Church of the Brethren partner, Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development, reported last July about increased armed conflict in the eastern DRC.

Shalom Ministries is assisting the growing group of families displaced from this violence, and has provided written, pictorial, and financial reports showing the effective use of the first two grants given to the effort totaling $15,000. The relief team of nine members facilitated the distribution of emergency food supplies including ground corn, beans, cooking oil, cooking salt, and soap. In total, 950 households totaling nearly 7,500 people were served by the first two grants. This third grant assists families from the villages of Ngovi, Makobola, Mboko, and Uvira.

For more information about the Emergency Disaster Fund go to

3) GFI grants support gardens and gardeners, aquaponics, feeding program

The Global Food Initiative (GFI) of the Church of the Brethren has made several grants in recent months. The grants support a Going to the Garden retreat, an aquaponics system in Haiti, two community gardens in Spain, and a feeding ministry in Mexico.

Going to the Garden retreat

A grant of $4,450 supports a second Going to the Garden retreat for community gardeners from across the denomination. The retreat will be held in New Orleans, La., hosted by GFI partner Capstone 118. The retreat will focus on the role of the church in local advocacy for healthier food systems, hands-on advanced gardening demonstrations, and social entrepreneurship. The first such retreat was held in 2016. About 15 people are expected to attend the retreat this year.


An allocation of $4,892.50 funds the set-up and development of an aquaponics system at the Church of the Brethren guesthouse in Haiti. The system, requested by the community development staff of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) is a prototype and will be replicated, in time, in other parts of Haiti in conjunction with the Haiti Medical Project. This demonstration model is based on working models designed and constructed by David Young in New Orleans, La., and Lybrook, N.M., which also have been funded by the GFI. The project is a three-way cooperation between Eglise des Freres Haitiens, Capstone 118, and the Global Food Initiative. Added technical support is provided by Peter Barlow of Montezuma Church of the Brethren in Virginia, and Harris Trobman, a project specialist in green infrastructure with the University of the District of Columbia.


An allocation of $4,455 is supporting the community garden project of the Gijon and Aviles congregations of Iglesia Evangelica de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in Spain) in Asturias. Another community garden project of the Spanish church, located in the Canary Islands and sponsored by the Lanzarote congregation, is receiving a grant of $3,850. GFI manager Jeff Boshart and GFI volunteer Fausto Carrasco visited these gardens last October.


An allocation of $1,000 supports the purchase of a new stove and refrigerator for a feeding program run by Bittersweet Ministries in Tijuana, Mexico. Leader Gilbert Romero reports that 80 to 100 people a day are served meals through the feeding program at a day care center. Communities served include Cañon of the Carriages, Salvatieras, La Nueva Aurora, and other neighborhoods of Tijuana.

For more information about the Global Food Initiative go to

4) Amy Gall Ritchie to resign from Bethany Seminary

by Jenny Williams, Bethany Theological Seminary

Amy Gall Ritchie. Photo courtesy of Bethany Seminary.

Amy Gall Ritchie, director of student development and alumni/ae relations at Bethany Theological Seminary, will resign her position as of May 15. She began her employment at Bethany in August 2003.

Ritchie’s involvement in the lives of students at Bethany has encompassed personal attention in times of discernment, crisis, and celebration; facilitating community building among students and the Bethany community as a whole; overseeing orientation for new students; serving as staff liaison for the Student Leadership Team; planning informational on-campus events as part of ministry education; and being a resource for those relocating to Richmond. As Bethany’s distance student numbers increased, building community came to include more technology, taking advantage of student attendance during intensive classes, and traveling to where they live and work.

For much of her tenure, Ritchie was the admissions contact for international students who came to Bethany. She was also called upon to lead spiritual direction as part of the MDiv ministry formation program. As a team member for a grant-funded Seminary research project, she assisted in interviewing congregations to help Bethany better prepare students for ministry in today’s contexts. During 2016 Ritchie assumed the role of interim director of admissions and student services as the department underwent restructuring. In 2017 she took on responsibility for alumni/ae relations, focusing on strengthening connections within the alumni/ae body and acknowledging their work in ministry.

President Jeff Carter stated, “Over the years Amy has assumed different roles and positions within admissions and student services depending on the needs of the Seminary. Through it all, her care and concern for the spiritual health and development of our students has remained her top priority.”

Ritchie is a 1992 MDiv graduate of Bethany and earned a DMin from Columbia Theological Seminary in 2012. That same year she began her spiritual direction practice, Hapax, and in this vocational transition, she will be expanding it to full time.

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

5) Children’s Disaster Services offers spring training workshops

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is offering several training workshops for volunteers this spring, in a variety of locations across the country. CDS volunteers work at the invitation of the American Red Cross and FEMA to care for children and families affected by disaster. Find out more about the ministry of CDS and how to become involved at .

Dates and locations of upcoming workshops follow:

March 23-24 in Shreveport, La., hosted at the Shriners Hospital for Children. Contact Tommie Hazen at 318-222-5704, 318-780-8351, or

April 14-15 at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. Contact Kathy Benson at 909-593-4868 or 909-837-7103

April 20-21 at Trotwood (Ohio) Church of the Brethren. Contact Laura Phillips at 937-837-3389,  937-371-1668, or

Two specialized trainings also are offered this spring:

March 3 at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, Syracuse, N.Y. This is a Child Life Specialist workshop for specialized training. Contact Brielle Swerdline at or 973-945-1250.

May 3 at Red Cross Square, Board of Governors Hall, in Washington, D.C. This is a specialized training for Child Life Professionals. Child life specialists and child life students are invited to register and attend. For more information regarding the details about this specialized training, visit

6) SVMC celebrates 25 years, offers continuing education events

The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018. “To commemorate this milestone, we will be sharing devotions on the 25th day of each month,” said an announcement. The first devotion is written by the center’s executive director Donna Rhodes.

In related news, SVMC is publicizing several upcoming continuing education events. These are designed for ordained Church of the Brethren ministers, but non-Brethren clergy and interested laypersons are also welcome to attend. For more information, and to register for any of the events listed below, go to . Print the registration form and mail it to SVMC to complete the registration. A listing of upcoming events is found below.

25th anniversary devotion

The first of the SVMC 25th anniversary devotions, titled “One Seed at a Time,” refers to scripture texts from Colossians 1:10 and Proverbs 9:9, which reads: “Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.”

Rhodes’ devotion begins, “As child growing up on a dairy farm, I learned a lot about seed time and harvest, the rhythm of the seasons, and ongoing work. One of my favorite activities as a small child was riding on the tractor with my dad as he worked in the fields: the soil was tilled, the seeds planted carefully, and the harvest gathered. I learned about the rhythm of planting, growing, harvesting, and the stewardship of the earth as I continued to grow and join in the work of the farm. The seeds for Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center were planted in the early 1990s as persons recognized the need for regionally-based ministry training. The vision was nurtured as conversations were held, feasibility studied, and partners invited. The seeds grew as districts and Bethany Theological Seminary joined the partnership….”

More about the anniversary and a link to the full text of this devotion are at .

Upcoming continuing education events

“Science, Theology, and the Church Today: Ministry with Youth and Young Adults” is offered on Saturday, March 24, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College in the Susquehanna Room. Presenter is Russell Haitch, professor of Christian Education at Bethany Theological Seminary.

“The Imaginative Church: Embracing and Empowering Creativity and the Arts” is offered on Saturday, April 14, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., at Mt. Wilson Church of the Brethren in Lebanon, Pa. Presenter is Dave Weiss, a Church of the Brethren artist and ordained minister.

“Memory Care: Igniting the Inner Light” is offered on Monday, May 7, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at at Cross Keys-The Brethren Community, New Oxford, Pa. Presenter is Jennifer Holcomb, director of Memory Care at the Brethren Home Community.

“Pastoral Crisis Intervention: Where to Start and What to Say” is offered in two sessions, the first on March 2, and the second on Sept. 10. Registration is handled by Dale Leverknight.

“Gospel of Peace” is offered on Nov. 12, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. Presenter is Daniel Ulrich, Wieand Professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary.

Cost is $60, which includes a light breakfast, lunch, and .6 continuing education credit.

7) Ventures in Christian Discipleship offers courses to empower small churches

The Ventures in Christian Discipleship initiative hosted at McPherson (Kan.) College offers series of courses aimed at empowering small congregations. The courses offered in coming months cover the topics of “How the Bible Came to Be the Bible,” “Revitalizing Worship Through the Arts,” and “Congregations Nurturing a Culture of Call.”

How the Bible Came to Be the Bible

Presented by Carol Scheppard, immediate past moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and a professor at Bridgewater (Va.) College, this course is offered Feb. 10, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon (central time. “The Christian Bible is a living document with a rich and spirited history,” said an announcement. “Our course will trace the Bible’s development from its early beginnings as a loose collection of shared texts and resources to its formal adoption as canon at the ecumenical councils of the late 4th century AD. We will observe the way the Christian scriptures merged with the developing Hebrew canon and will follow its ongoing transformation through the Latin Vulgate to the Luther Bible and beyond.”

Revitalizing Worship Through the Arts

Presenter Bobbi Dykema, pastor and professor serving in Pacific Northwest District, leads this course on March 17 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon (central time). “Imagine a worship service where any or all of the pieces–from the call to worship to the benediction–contained new surprises: words, images, sounds, and experiences that would engage the scripture and the congregation, all ages, in new ways,” said an announcement. “Now imagine these exciting new ways of being church happening in your congregation! Creativity is a God-given birthright to all of God’s children, and scripture calls us to bring our best before the Lord. The challenge of crafting innovative worship doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money, just joyful open hearts. Join us to learn how!”

Congregations Nurturing a Culture of Call: Why It Matters

Presenter Joe Detrick recently completed a term as interim director of ministry for the Church of the Brethren, and is a former district executive. He presents on April 14, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon (central time). “This interactive course will focus on the distinctive role congregations play in the calling and nurturing of ministerial leadership,” said an announcement. “We will hear testimonies of those who have answered the call–from biblical times to the present, and examples of congregations who have excelled in creating a climate for calling. We will examine the new Ministerial Leadership (2014) paper, highlighting various components of ‘discerning the call’ toward credentialed ministry. We will identify 10 practical ways congregations and districts can partner in the calling, training, and sustaining qualified ministerial leaders for the local, district, and national ministry needs.”

All courses available online and are open to everyone at no cost. Ministers may earn .3 continuing education units for a $10 donation. Pre-register at

8) Emergency alert! Being in Hawaii on Jan. 13

Emergency alert. Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek emergency shelter. This is not a drill.

What do you do when you are a tourist in Hawaii and your phone and everybody’s around you makes a shrill noise and displays that message? My wife, Nancy, and I found ourselves in that breathtaking moment on our last day of an otherwise exhilarating seven days in the Aloha State.It happened, as the whole world knows, on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 8:07 a.m. Nancy and I had just disembarked from our cruise ship and were awaiting the go ahead to board a bus to, of all places, Pearl Harbor. Our plane flight was not until 4:40 p.m. so we decided to include the excursion to downtown Honolulu and to Pearl Harbor rather than wait six hours in the airport.

The excursion agent, who had us lined up in the cavernous harbor terminal, had given us the signal to begin making our way to the bus when the alarm sounded. Of course our progress was halted, and the noise of 2,500 ship’s passengers in that big enclosure was instantly still. The agent was as stunned as the rest of us. Soon she received word via her phone that she was to have us all step as close to the wall as we could. There was no weeping or wailing; it was as though we were all struck numb.

As soon as reality was reborn for me, I said a silent prayer. As I thought about it later, I did not pray for deliverance from the inevitable doom, but rather that if something happened to Nancy and me our children and grandchildren would be all right. I remembered parishioners who lost loved ones in war or other tragedies. Their intense grief was quickly brought to mind. Nancy reported later that she was praying too.

Then I began thinking about words from the Psalmist, who referred to God as “fortress, shield, rock, salvation, comforter, shepherd….” Those images provided a calmness and consolation in the midst of what otherwise might have been a delirious moment, and I gained a new appreciation for the Psalmist’s situation.

We felt sympathy and empathy for a young woman, probably in her early twenties, who did panic near us. She had her family with her, and after ten minutes or so they helped her regain some composure. I could see how the threat of annihilation to someone with so much of her life before her would be much more traumatic than to those of us who have dealt with life’s tragedies, and whose time to the end is not as long as our lives up to that point.

When the all clear was sounded–again via our phones–indicating that the alert was a mistake, there was a communal sigh of relief. But it was with a subdued mood that we left the big building and boarded the tour bus. The bus driver, a native Hawaiian, began a continuous commentary comparing what the missile attack would have been like with the attack of 183 Japanese bombers on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. As we reached downtown Honolulu he ended his remarks with an emphatic, “Thank you, Jesus!”

Downtown Honolulu was a ghost town. The people on our bus and one other tourist bus were the only people evident. The driver commented about the lack of traffic, and that people must still be in their homes or shelters. We weren’t certain we could see Pearl Harbor because it had been closed following the false alert, but it reopened before we reached the site.

The possibility of what could have been did indeed make our Pearl Harbor experience more realistic and sad. The way World War II ended, with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, brought to mind the images of children and adults who suffered from the bombing, with flesh hanging from them and radiation burns. Our own flesh tingled with the thought that we were spared perhaps a similar fate, and our remorse was deepened–remorse that war ever entered human thought.

Nancy and I will be forever grateful that the alert was false. I had thought, before we went on our trip, that a missile from North Korea could be fired at Hawaii given the bullying rhetoric between the presidents of the two countries. But I went anyway, confident that it wouldn’t happen yet, at least not until after we returned home!

The experiences of that Saturday have left me with four “take aways,” to which I need to pay attention and which I commend to anyone with whom I can share these learnings:

1) Never consider that any sort of tragedy will never happen to you. That doesn’t mean we resolve never to go to Hawaii, or try any other venue, event, or experience. Just avoid that false cockiness that you are exempt from harm no matter what may come–otherwise you may be in for a very rude awakening!

2) Keep your important papers up to date, including wills, notes about where your executor may find papers and keys, etc., in the event something tragic happens to you. The thought occurred to me, while awaiting the missile attack, that my own records were not up to date. I should have done that before I even boarded an airplane!

3) Whatever faith you have or hold, keep it alive and vibrant. Nancy and I were sustained by our faith during the intense wait for an expected missile. In fact, in retrospect, that was all we had as we stood like statues against the wall. What a contrast between that vulnerable wall and the strong arms of a saving God!

4) We all need to do more witnessing for peace. I left Hawaii with this conviction. We need to work to change the basic human notion that defense exists only by having a bigger missile than everybody else, and that supremacy can be achieved by being the Big Bully. The United States needs to be great again by being the world’s leader in its respect for all God’s people, and by working at negotiation, sharing, and cooperation.

I’m beginning my witness by sharing this learning from my experience in Hawaii with everybody who will listen.

— Fred Swartz is a retired Church of the Brethren pastor who has served on the communications staff of the denomination and as secretary of Annual Conference.

9) Brethren bits

“Register for Mission Alive 2018!” said an invitation from the Global Mission and Service office. “Less than one month remains to meet the early registration discount deadline of Feb. 15. Join this chance to explore and celebrate the global Church of the Brethren and renew your energy for Global Mission!” Details and registration are at . Contact Kendra Harbeck at 847-429-4388 or with questions.

 Remembrance: Roger Forry, 81, a former member of the Church of the Brethren General Baord, died on Jan. 8 in Somerset, Pa. He was a minister and pastor who served in pastoral ministry for more than 40 years in Southern Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania Districts, where he also held several district leadership positions. In addition to his term on the General Board from 1993-1998, he served on the Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference from 2006-2008, and while on Standing Committee was chair of the Nominating Committee in 2007. A celebration of his life was held Jan. 10 at Somerset (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. A full obituary is posted at .

— Remembrance: Owen G. Stultz, 90, a former district executive minister in Virlina District, died on Jan. 16. He was born July 3, 1927, to Felix and Annie Lantz Stultz. He was licensed to the ministry in then-Northern Virginia District in 1948, ordained a year later, then advanced as an elder in 1957 while serving Sunnyside Church of the Brethren in then-First West Virginia District. He held degrees from Bridgewater (Va.) College and Bethany Biblical Seminary. In 1976, he completed a doctor of ministry at Bethany Theological Seminary. He was district executive for the First and Second West Virginia and Western Maryland Districts, which presently are West Marva District, from 1961-69. He began as district executive for Virlina District in 1969 and completed 23 1/2 years of service, retiring in 1992. After retirement he continued as an interim and associate pastor. His volunteer service to the church included representation at the West Virginia Council of Churches, and serving as a regional representative of the Mutual Aid Association. He was a member of Summerdean Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. He is survived by his wife, Flemmie, their three sons Roger (Freida), Bruce (Susan), and Carl (Nancy), and their families. Aervices were held at Summerdean Church of the Brethren on Jan. 20. An obituary was published by the Roanoke Times at

— Remembrance: Claude H. Hess, 92, a founding member of On Earth Peace, died Jan. 16 at Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa. The son of Abram Myer and Ruth Hollinger Hess, he was born in Bird-in-Hand, Pa., and was a lifelong resident of Lancaster County. In 1983, he was appointed a Pennsylvania Master Farmer. He served as president of the Master Farmers, a five-state association, in 1993. He was a founding partner of Plain and Fancy Egg Ranch, Elizabethtown, Pa., where he managed egg production from 1965-1975 before starting his own operations, Dutch Dozens Farm in Manheim, Pa., and Heritage Poultry Management Services. He was a survivor of polio, which he contracted at the age of three. In addition to being one of the founding members of the On Earth Peace Assembly, his commitment to the Church of the Brethren included sponsoring many foreign exchange students and active support for Heifer International. He is pre-deceased by his wife of 50 years, Irene Groff Hess. He is survived by his wife, Anita Carol Eppinger Hess, children Linda Hess Conklin (married to Alan S. Goldstein) and Clair Hess (married to Elizabeth Reese Hess), and grandchildren. A funeral service was held Jan. 22 at Conestoga Church of the Brethren. Memorial gifts are received to Brethren Disaster Ministries. An obituary published by Lancaster Online is at .

— The deadline for filing a QSEHRA has been extended to February, according to a communication from Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). QSEHRA stands for the Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement, “a tool that can offer some pastors pre-tax savings on healthcare premiums,” BBT reports. “It is possible that some potential QSEHRA candidates did not have time to complete the process or did not even get started before the 2018 deadline passed. But the deadline for filing a QSEHRA has been extended to February 2018.” This is “great news” for pastors or churches who have not yet set up a QSEHRA or are interested in doing so. Visit the BBT website for more information on the QSEHRA process and an application, or call Jeremiah Thompson, BBT director of Insurance Operations, at 847-622-3368.

— The Global Mission and Service office has shared prayers of thanksgiving for the rescue of Salomi Pogu, one of 276 girls and young women abducted from their school in Chibok in April 2014. “Pray for the physical, emotional, and spiritual recovery of Salomi as well as that of the 14-year-old girl who was discovered with her,” said the prayer request. “Pray that they may be reunited with their familes and re-welcomed into their communities. Pray for the Chibok girls and other victims who remain in captivity.”

— A Seminar on Christian Minority Communities is planned for March 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., hosted by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness and held at Washington City (D.C.) Church of the Brethren. “In 2015, the Church of the Brethren made a Resolution on Christian Minority Communities, expressing alarm at the trend of ‘rapidly diminishing Christian communities in places such as Iraq, Palestine, and Syria,’ and arguing that ‘the elimination of these ancient yet still vital Christian communities would not only be a human rights disaster and a loss for the peoples of the region, but also a tragic loss of historic Christian witness in the land where the church first took root,’” said an announcement. This day-long seminar has been planned to help church members and other learn more about this issue. Discussion will cover the historic and current situation, relevant US and international policies, and the theological implications of these communities. Guest speakers from government and faith-based organizations will be present. Action items for further reflection and advocacy will be included. Participants may receive .5 continuing education credit. Register at . For more information, contact .

— SERRV and the Church of the Brethren are mentioned as instrumental in starting the fair-trade movement in a recently updated entry in the Encyclopædia Britannica, written by Peter Bondarenko. Fair trade is a “global movement to improve the lives of farmers and workers in developing countries by ensuring that they have access to export markets and are paid a fair price for their products,” the article said. In a section on the history of the fair-trade movement, the piece noted that no one knows when the movement actually started, but “an instrumental development” in its development came in 1946 with a visit by American businesswoman Edna Ruth Byler to a women’s sewing group run by Mennonite Central Committee in Puerto Rico. “Byler began selling the group’s crafts to friends and neighbours in the United States.” Soon thereafter, in 1949, “a nonprofit organization called SERRV (Sales Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation and Vocations) was established in the United States by the Church of the Brethren to form trade relationships with poor communities in South America,” the article reports. “The first formal fair trade shop in the United States, where goods from SERRV and other organizations were sold, was established in 1958.” See .

— Lindsay (New Harvest) Church of the Brethren in Pacific Southwest District will be closing, the district has announced. “With beginnings in 1911 and a rich history of service and worship, the Lindsay (New Harvest) congregation voted to close this past fall due to their small size and the difficulty of continuing in ministry as a result of that,” said the announcement in the district newsletter. In November 2017, sale of the property to Vision Calvary Chapel of Porterville was completed with the congregation and the district as joint sellers. “While the closing of the congregation is a sad thing, we celebrate their faithful service through the years and the many who came to know Jesus through the Lindsay church’s ministry,” said the district announcement. “The church members are pleased that the buildings will continue in use as a church in their

— New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is hosting popular speaker Missy Buchanan at “Go-Go, Go-Slow, No-Go,” a worship and workshop event exploring the topics of aging and faith. Questions that will be addressed include, according to an announcement: What are some of the “joys and jolts of aging?” How can congregations bring their generations together to learn from each other? How can congregations encourage spiritual formation of older adults? What would spiritual formation be for the “Go-Go, Slow-Go and No-Go” older adults in our congregations? Missy Buchanan was one of the keynote speaker for the 2017 Church of the Brethren National Older Adult Conference. She has appeared on “Good Morning America” with co-anchor Robin Roberts and her mother, Lucimarian Roberts. This event takes place April 13-14. For more information and to register, call the New Carlisle Church at 937-845-1428 or email Vicki Ullery, associate pastor, at .

— Oakland Church of the Brethren is among the community organizations supporting the survivors of a deadly house fire in Greenville, Ohio. The church is helping support the children of a family who suffered the fire Jan. 13 at a mobile home community. The fire took the life of their mother. According to pastor John Sgro, his congregation was “rallying around them and wanted to help the kids the best we can,” he said in a newspaper report. He told the media that the children’s grandfather had been a member of the Oakland congregation. The church has set up a clothing drive for the family.

— Roundtable, a regional youth conference in the Church of the Brethren, will be held April 6-8 at Bridgewater (Va.) College. The speaker will be Marcus Harden, a member of Atlantic Southeast District who currently sits on the Mission and Ministry Board of the denomination. This event is planned by the Interdistrict Youth Cabinet, reported an announcement from Virlina District. For more information contact or see .

— “Camp La Verne needs help since recent burglaries,” said an announcement from Pacific Southwest District. The camp recently suffered two burglaries in the space a few weeks, reported the district e-newsletter. “The police have been notified and there may be a chance we retrieve some of the stolen items but at this time nothing has shown up. This is a plea to your congregations to look deep within their garages and work sheds and see if there are items camp might be able to use,” the newsletter said. “We appreciate anything the churches and individuals can do to help!” Needed items include recreational games, power tools, gardening and landscaping tools, among others. For more information contact Julia Wheeler at 909-720-9832 or .

— A series of “Pilgrimage Bible Studies” for the World Council of Churches’ Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace are available as free, online resources. “Seven pastor-scholars have crafted new Bible studies to enable congregations everywhere to wrestle with biblical insights into their journey of faith and the imperatives of contemporary discipleship that lie behind the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace,” said a WCC release. Susan Durber, a Reformed minister in the United Kingdom and moderator of the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission, commented that the Bible studies “provide food for the journey…. As the pastor of a small local congregation…I need so much to have the Bible in my ‘knapsack’ for the journey of faith and for my own pilgrimage, with others, on the path of justice and peace. It is a repeated wonder and blessing to me that even the most familiar passages so often bring new light into my days and open up new paths for these tired pilgrim’s limbs. I need daily bread for body and soul, and in reading the Bible with others I find food for the journey.” The Bible studies are a project of a Theological Study Group of the WCC, written by pastors and scholars from Indonesia, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Tonga, the US, and the United Kingdom. One of the authors, European Mennonite scholar Fernando Enns, has worked with Brethren to encourage the WCC to focus on peacemaking issues over the years. Currently seven Bible studies are posted online, the first of a dozen that will be issued during 2018, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the WCC. Go to .

— In more news from the World Council of Churches, the WCC and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have pledged to not only deepen their existing collaboration but also explore more joint projects to protect and provide for children. A WCC release reported that WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit and UNICEF deputy executive director Justin Forsyth signed a “Memorandum of Collaboration 2018-2021” that regulates a partnership in line with the newly approved UNICEF Strategic Plan. “A formal global collaboration between the WCC and UNICEF began in September 2015,” the release said. “As a result of the first two years of work together, a comprehensive participatory process involving 235 experts rallied WCC member churches to monitor and promote children’s rights in their communities and within their congregations through the initiative, ‘Churches’ Commitments to Children.’” Tveit said, “We share the faith that God came to us as a child. That changes our perspectives on all human beings.” Said Forsyth, “Children are the most vulnerable in any of the tragedies we deal with: forced migration, war, famine, and more. Collectively we have an obligation to protect and provide for children…. This joint effort by the WCC and UNICEF would lead to action that will save the lives of millions of vulnerable children globally.” Find resources from the Churches’ Commitments to Children initiative at .

— Ivan Patterson, a Church of the Brethren member, has been recognized for closing out his 91st year of life by making his 500th lifetime blood donation. That milestone blood donation was made at the Greenville Ministerial Association blood drive Jan. 9, hosted at Greenville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren. “Patterson is a pioneer platelet and plasma donor with Community Blood Center and a member of the original LifeLeaders apheresis team,” said a newspaper report. “He declared two years ago, ‘My goal is to get to 500 during the year that I turn 90!’ and he kept his promise. He first donated in 1945 at age 18 and his 500th donation comes less than a month before his 91st birthday celebration on Feb. 7.” Read the full story at

Newsline is the e-mail news service of the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to the editor–Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren–at . Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jean Bednar, Jeff Boshart, Sherry Chastain, Jan Fischer Bachman, Kendra Harbeck, Karen Hodges, Nancy Miner, Donna Rhodes, Fred Swartz, Joe Vecchio, Jenny Williams, Andrew Wright.