Newsline for June 9, 2018

Church of the Brethren Newsline
June 9, 2018

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

“For we are God’s servants, working together” (1 Corinthians 3:9a).

1) Business item on delegate representation withdrawn from Annual Conference agenda
2) CDS sends new team to respond to Hawaii volcano
3) Nigeria project aims to save records of victims of Boko Haram violence
4) Devastated Nigerian church denomination conducts Interfaith Peace Conference

5) Kathy Fry-Miller retires from Children’s Disaster Services

6) Intercultural Ministries offers ‘Continuing Together’ call series

7) ‘I have been meaning to reach out to the Church of the Brethren for 40 years’

8) Brethren bits: Personnel, McPherson seeks spiritual life coordinator, Bethany president to represent at World Council of Churches, Brethren Disaster Ministries seeks volunteers for St. Thomas, “Voices of Conscience” at Brethren Heritage Center, Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on Sunday, June 10, and more

Quote of the week:

“I don’t know anyone whose lives haven’t been touched by suicide, and the problem in America is only growing–since 1999, the rate went up 25 percent. The best thing we can do for each other is be there, to sit with each other, and to reach out if we suspect someone is struggling. Just being present for someone does more than you’d think…. If you need help, please reach out to someone…. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.”

— From Jessica Valenti in today’s “Info@Mail” e-newsletter of “The Guardian” newspaper, reflecting on the deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.


REMINDER: June 11 is the last day for online registration for the 2018 Annual Conference at www.brethren.org/ac. After that date, registration is onsite in Cincinnati, at an increased cost.

The Conference takes place at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 4-8. The theme is “Living Parables” (Matthew 9:35-38), with Samuel K. Sarpiya as moderator.

The Conference Office encourages congregations to send an offering to Annual Conference for the Nigeria Crisis Fund. That offering will be received in worship on Wednesday night, July 4.


1) Business item on delegate representation withdrawn from Annual Conference agenda

The Leadership Team of the Church of the Brethren will be seeking Standing Committee affirmation to withdraw the new business item titled “Change in Delegate Representation at Annual Conference” due to an oversight in process.

The Leadership Team is permitted by polity to recommend polity changes. After this proposed polity change was printed in the Conference booklet, however, the Leadership Team realized that it would also involve a change to the Church of the Brethren bylaws, and amendments to the bylaws can only be proposed by the Mission and Ministry Board or by a congregation through the query process.

The Leadership Team will therefore ask the Mission and Ministry Board at the October 2018 meeting to consider amending the bylaws regarding delegate representation. If the board decides to propose an amendment to the bylaws, it will bring its proposal as a future item of business.

2) CDS sends new team to respond to Hawaii volcano

Photo courtesy of CDS.

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has sent a new team to Hawaii to continue the response to the volcanic eruption that was begun by local volunteers Petie Brown and Randy Kawate. The American Red Cross had requested a CDS team to respond on the Big Island of Hawaii. The new team arrived at the Pahoa shelter on Wednesday, June 6.

“The volcano is about five miles away from the shelter, and they need to be able to evacuate the shelter at any moment,” reported Kathleen Fry-Miller, CDS associate director.

“We are so grateful again for the work of CDS Hawaii volunteers Petie and Randy over the past month, providing some activities and nurturing interactions on a part-time basis with 76 children,” Fry-Miller said. “Now with school out and more evacuations, a full CDS team has arrived on Hawaii. Petie and Randy will join them when they can.”

For more about CDS, which is a ministry within Brethren Disaster Ministries, go to www.brethren.org/cds.

3) Nigeria project aims to save records of victims of Boko Haram violence

Stacks of records of Boko Haram victims. Photo by Pat Krabacher.

by Pat Krabacher

The Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI) Humanitarian Analysis project tells many stories. Dr. Rebecca S. Dali started the non-governmental organization (NGO) 29 years ago, in 1989 before Boko Haram violence began to plague northern Nigeria. She started CCEPI because she herself experienced hunger, gender-based violence, and extreme poverty growing up. Her passion for those struggling to live in northeast Nigeria led Dali to provide livelihood, trauma healing, protection monitoring, as well as basic food, clothing, and shelter, and most recently re-integration of abducted women into society.

Each victim of violence and abuse has a story, and so Dali began collecting the stories that have formed the basis for her graduate work and particularly her doctoral research and writings. Some of her data records have been lost during the Boko Haram insurgency, and cannot be replaced. The Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service, led by executive director Jay Wittmeyer, believes it is important to protect CCEPI data to recognize the lives and preserve the stories it represents.

Dali has collected victim data through December 2017, focused on Boko Haram-inflicted deaths through accounts from survivors. Reports are collected firsthand and documented in individual victim files during aid distribution events and status monitoring trips throughout areas where displaced Nigerians are living. Many of these reports also contain demographic information about victims including gender, religion, number of dependents and their ages, etc. This kind of data enables more detailed analysis of Boko Haram victims and survivor realities. For example, the average widow has 7.1 dependent children.

Complementing the CCEPI efforts is a project at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, where professor Richard Newton and students in 2016 researched and compiled news media reports of over 11,000 Boko Haram killings up through April 2016. All CCEPI and news media reports were stringently compiled, sorted, and filtered to remove overlapping death reports to eliminate uncertainty as to whether such reports corresponded to different individuals or the same individual reported by multiple sources.

In January this year, I had the privilege of returning to Nigeria for the Michika #1 EYN church rebuilding workcamp sponsored by Brethren Disaster Ministries. EYN is short for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Because of how fragile the CCEPI data is, and how unique the CCEPI data cache is, I suggested to Dr. Dali and Dr. Justin North, who does much of the analysis work, that I take a paper scanner to Nigeria and create a digital file of the CCEPI records.

The CCEPI team on the last day of scanning. Photo by Kwala Tizhe.

North researched and donated the scanner, and I took it with me to Nigeria. The entire eight-person CCEPI team in the town of Bukuru helped with the data prep, which required unique identification numbers be written on the paper records before scanning. They also helped with the scanning work. Preparation of the records also meant all staples had to be removed and survivors’ pictures taped back onto the individual record before scanning. Some days the electricity was off, and we had to scan using a loud generator to provide power. It was tiring work, but CCEPI was able to scan 30,679 records.

Based on the analysis of the media reports and CCEPI data, Boko Haram violence has killed at least 56,000 individuals. It is clear that the Boko Haram violence peaked in January 2015, but Boko Haram attacks are still occurring, even into 2018. For the most part, the CCEPI data is from more rural areas and is usually not reported by the media who are based in large cities. Undeniably, the vast majority of the surviving family members of Boko Haram victims are widowed women with children or other dependents.

Other CCEPI records have not yet been scanned, but the digital database of over 30,000 records means the analysis team can begin to help CCEPI share aggregate information of the many victims, and extract other information to assist in communicating the needs of widows with on average seven or more children, no house, no husband, no work, and no financial support.

The scanning and data analysis goes on. These are stories and lives that must not be forgotten.

— Pat Krabacher is a volunteer with Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. Find out more about the joint Nigeria Crisis Response effort of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria and the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis.

4) Devastated Nigerian church denomination conducts Interfaith Peace Conference

The High Table at the Interfaith Peace Conference. Photo by Zakariya Musa.

by Zakariya Musa

Devastated church denomination Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has organized a day-long Interfaith Peace Conference in Yola, the state capital of Adamawa State. President of the denomination, Joel S. Billi, spoke at the occasion urged participants from the major religions, Christians and Muslims, to be ambassadors of peace.

The EYN president showed concern that “peace has gone beyond the reach of many Nigerians, people are panicking because of lack of peace.” He said that in the past, Christians and Muslims lived not just in relative peace but total peace. “I don’t want to apportion blame to anybody, but lack of peace today in our nation; if I have to apportion blame, I will…apportion huge blame to religious leaders,” he said.

“I am so happy today seeing Muslim brothers and sisters seated side-by-side with Christians. You have made my day. All of us, the participants of the conference, must go out to be ambassadors of peace at the end of this conference,” he reiterated.

The Adamawa State governor was represented by commissioner for Trade and Commerce, the Hon. Augustine Ayuba, who called the conference “timely” and urged participants to pay attention to the presentations.

Speakers at the event, which brought Muslim and Christian scholars together to discuss topics of peace, included Yakubu Joseph, country coordinator for Mission 21, who based his presentation on a social science perspective, challenging the government to work on feedback from citizens to address real situations in the country where he said elites take and own the best of everything. Relying on oil, he said, is not helping matters and we should embrace new technology and stop the game of “who comes to the center takes the best where the national cake is being divided.” He said sacred texts are misunderstood by religions. He advised the federal government to stop sponsoring the “hajj,” an annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, and the Jerusalem pilgrimage, and feeding people with government money during Ramadan. Rather, they should sponsor humanitarian activities. “If we don’t take care of our children here in Nigeria, those we train abroad will in the future not sleep with two eyes. There cannot be peace without justice,” he concluded.

The paper was discussed by participants, with some of the following points:
— Religious leaders hide under some reasons and are refusing to tell political leaders the truth.
— Let’s teach our children to be good Nigerians, not Christianity or Islam.
— Take the conference message to the grassroots.
— Politicians have spoiled the youth; religious leaders should call on politicians.
— People are using religion as a stepping ground.
— Orient people on whom to be voted during elections.
— Change the ways extremists indoctrinate our children.
— The lion’s share of shaping our children’s behavior is in the hands of the parents.
— All we want as Nigerians is inscribed in Nigeria’s emblem.
— Take responsibility and don’t shift blame.

Bashir Imam Aliyu of the Islamic Studies Department, Federal College of Education, Yola, spoke on “Religion as a Resource of Peace: An Islamic Perspective.” “So also Allah instructed Muslims to be kind to the people of other faiths so as long as they do not fight us nor drive us away from our homes. Allah says in (60:8-9) Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes–from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion–[forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrong doers.”

Dr. Imam in his paper suggested that the aggrieved parties instead of carrying weapons against each other should sit down around tables and settle their grievances by reflecting on the abandoned injunctions that encourage peaceful living with one another. He advocated that there shall be a joint team of elders from both faiths who will sit with the aggrieved parties to settle them. “Islamic teaching has never instructed its followers to shed blood or cause any harm to any member of their religion just because of his/her belief. Any Muslim seen doing so is doing it as a result of his ignorance of Islam.”

Daniel Y. C. Mbaya, the EYN general secretary, talked on the topic “EYN as a Peace Church: Unpacking the Brethren Peace Heritage.” He gave background of the denomination, which he called “No Creed but the New Testament,” a denomination that teaches simple life. Church of the Brethren is “one of the three historic peace churches which include Quakers and the Mennonites. Peace heritage of EYN is beyond just the right teaching or right doctrine (orthodoxy), but correct practice or correct behavior (orthopraxy). Nationally and internationally, people have asked the question, ‘What is the secret of the resilience of EYN in the midst of violence and how they have reverted violence?’ It is not a hidden fact that EYN had been at the epicenter of violence only in the recent times but even in the past.”

Mbaya reiterated that despite the level of devastation, no single EYN member has taken to vengeance or retaliated. The peace heritage has made EYN to be a church that is involved in peacemaking and peacebuilding efforts across the globe. He mentioned some few practical demonstrations of EYN’s peace heritage: “There was a time when EYN members assisted Muslims in rebuilding their destroyed mosque. During violence in one of the northern states there was a Muslim Hajiya who was lodged in one of EYN’s guest houses. EYN have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly but maintained peace and continued to uphold nonviolence and pacifism.”

Patrick Bugu, former EYN director of Education and now pastor in charge in Yola, discussed “Religion as a Resource of Peace.” While emphasizing the topic, he said, “Religion teaches between people of different races and status, and teaches all adherents to live in harmony with one another. Those who blame religion as initiator of conflict should remember that religion is not a human being who is envious of their fellow men. Wars and conflict are the handiwork of bad people who only use religion to get what they want. Religion then, is a powerful tool for peacemaking and ending violence.”

The historic Interfaith Conference, which was sponsored by Mission 21, a mission based in Switzerland, was meant for 120 participants. It was successfully concluded with an open Focus Group Discussion on elections in Nigeria, titled “Should Religions Have a Role in Our Election?”

Participants were presented a certificate of attendance. In attendance were top Adamawa State government officials and people from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and from the Muslim Council of Nigeria, theological scholars, and EYN top officials. The participatory discussions made the conference so interesting, which the organizers hope will give abundant fruit to promote peaceful co-existence and restore the lost trust among Nigerians.

— Zakariya Musa is on the communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria.

5) Kathy Fry-Miller retires from Children’s Disaster Services

Kathy Fry-Miller

Kathy Fry-Miller is retiring as associate director of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), effective Sept. 13. She began leading CDS on Feb. 1, 2014, working from her home in North Manchester, Ind., and from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

Children’s Disaster Services is a ministry within Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service. Since 1980, CDS has been meeting the needs of children by setting up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers across the nation. CDS volunteers, who are specially trained and certified to respond to traumatized children, provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by natural or human caused disaster.

During Fry-Miller’s tenure of more than four years, CDS has responded to more disasters than in any similar period. The program has experienced two years of record-breaking CDS responses, and a special response to the crisis in Nigeria.

Fry-Miller has led the program through an expansion of volunteers, developed new partnerships, and secured new grant funding. Representing CDS and the Church of the Brethren on policy and procedure writing groups and at national level meetings, she has become a recognized leader in child and trauma recovery.

For more about Children’s Disaster Services go to www.brethren.org/cds.

6) Intercultural Ministries offers ‘Continuing Together’ call series

“Continuing Together–The Conversation” is an emerging conversation that takes place virtually, deepening the dialogue within the Church of the Brethren denomination about race, class, ethnicity, power, poverty/wealth, and other aspects of national and individual identity. These are “too often reduced to simplistic sound bites and binary dichotomies,” said an announcement. “As Christians and as Brethren, we are called to a new identity rooted in our faith, the grace of God moving in our midst, our connection with others in the body of Christ, and agape–a complex, encompassing love that surpasses human understanding.”

Upcoming calls:

“Remembering the History: Altars and Idols”Thursday, June 14, at 12 noon (Eastern time)

Description: “Last summer, the nation’s attention was riveted to Charlottesville, Va., as people from around the country came to rallies around the removal of a Confederate monument, that turned violent. It is a dynamic that continues around the country and the national dialogue that reveals how divided is our national understanding of how to commemorate and acknowledge our racialized history. It can be difficult to talk about the places they hold, the feelings they inspire, the history behind them, and the future for them. Shenandoah District executive John Janzti will be co-hosting the call and providing a scripture-based introduction that will include both Old and New Testament reflections on idols, altars, temples, and slave labor, to invite reflection on how our faith can shape our understanding and challenge the status quo.”

As tools to guide and inform this call, please watch:

— “Re-Righting History,” Season 1, Episode 1 of “America Inside Out” by Katie Couric on National Geographic
— The full video of Mitch Landrieu’s speech in New Orleans:

To participate in the conversation by video go to https://redbooth.com/vc/bf7e59b8fcb74dac or by telephone call 415-762-9988 with meeting ID 973478884.

“Wakanda on a Hill: Why We Are Still Talking About Black Panther”
Thursday, July 19, at 12 noon (Eastern time)

Description: “Back by popular demand–a second conversation about “Black Panther,” which has become a cultural phenomena reframing the conversation around race and culture. And considering the ways the country of Wakanda has a message for Christians. Co-hosted by Samuel Sarpiya, founder of Rockford Community Church of the Brethren and the Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation, and the 2018 Annual Conference moderator.”

Resource tools:

— “The Black Panther” movie now available for rent and purchase
— “Where the Small Town Dream Lives On,” an essay published in “The New Yorker” by Larissa MacFarquhar

August events:

“Country Road, Take Me Home: Why Are We Talking about West Virginia”

“Racial Righteousness: What Happened During the Pre-Conference Training Dikaios & Discipleship”

September events:

“Frappuccino Next Door: Gentrification and Loving Mixed-Income Neighbors”

“Beyond Swords and Bayonets: Dunkers at Antietam and During the Civil War”

October events:

“Beyond Swords and Bayonets: Dunkers at Antietam and During the Civil War”

“It’s Not Just Iowa: Does Diversity Matter if My Community Is All White?”

November event:

“30 Days of Learning about Native Americans”

Description: “In honor of Native American Heritage Month, Intercultural Ministries will be leading a 30-day challenge to widen our awareness and understanding. Each day there will be a resource tool connected to Native American history, culture, tradition. There will be a call every Thursday that month except November 23.”

For more information go to www.brethren.org/intercultural/continuing-together.html.

7) ‘I have been meaning to reach out to the Church of the Brethren for 40 years’

by Steven I. Apfelbaum

From the early 1980s, I have fond memories of the nice young lady asking for volunteers at a small college in western North Carolina. I raised my hand and volunteered to work for hours beside her, and a big draft horse. Little did I know I’d spend several days hand cutting sorghum cane on the steep slopes of a Virginia mountain farm.

The cane was bundled and then loaded on hay wagons, which were transported by mule to a shed with a cane crusher, large rollers into which we fed the cane. The sweet juice being expelled was greenish and frothy and was pumped into a stainless-steel tank strapped to a flatbed Chevy truck.

I remember the fear, as I pressed against the passenger door, while the truck crept down the mountain in low gear, a controlled descent on the greasy rutted road to town. Peering from the window, the precipice was threatening, as the juice swished from side to side, and the truck lurched along. After that drive, I needed time to regain my composure. Finally, somewhat sheepishly, I finally asked and learned that we were to make sorghum molasses in a community kitchen in town. The pickup truck with the loads of apples we picked the day before had already been delivered, the apples waiting to be cooked down to make apple butter.

I didn’t know anything about community kitchens in general or the specific kitchen where I’d be working. I later learned it was sponsored by the Church of Brethren through a program called the Food Preservation Systems–a collaboration with the Ball Canning Company. As we arrived at the nondescript building, the manager of the kitchen guided us with hand motions and we backed to the loading dock. She introduced us to the rules, and talked about safety. I learned the apple producer and sorghum farmer rented the kitchen for that day and evening.

After instruction, we entered a world of steam kettles, juicing machines, canning kettles, food slicers, deep fryers, and more. Unloading was fast, and apples went from the initial plunge in the steam kettle to a device that removed the skins and seeds. The remaining pulp and juice was slurried into another steam kettle and was cooked down, making over 100 gallons of apple butter, which was promptly canned. The sorghum juice was evaporated, creating a large white cloud of steam, as it also was reduced to over 100 gallons of “sorghums,” as it was called locally.

This experience shaped my life. I learned that locally produced food access and the community kitchen were vitally important to the community and farmers. A third of the apple butter and sorghums was given to the community. The balance was sold to visitors along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This sale, I was to appreciate, represented a substantial part of each family’s annual income. I also appreciated the linkage between land, health, family, and community well being, and the connections to food supply, human health, and livelihoods.

Professionally and personally, this experience has been influential. For 44 years, on our southern Wisconsin farm, we have grown much of our own food. And on thousands of projects with communities around the world, we have helped to restore nature and the connections between people and the land and other people. Local food provides a common tangible bond, as people work together, helping build and maintain trust and durable relationships.

I have been meaning to reach out to the Church of the Brethren for 40 years, to thank you for the vision you provided to the Virginia community, and I’m sure to others around the world. And also to express my appreciation to the Church of the Brethren for what your inspiration and vision has added to my life’s work, and in living with the earth.

— Steven I. Apfelbaum is chair of Applied Ecological Services, Inc., an award-winning ecological restoration and sciences firm based in Brodhead, Wis. His books have inspired others to appreciate life, including “Nature’s Second Chance” (Beacon Press), which won national awards as one of the top 10 environmental books of 2009. He has contacted the Global Food Initiative (GFI) to inquire about Brethren interest in helping convert the commercial kitchen of a failed golf course to a shared community kitchen for farmers to transform crops into value-added products. For more information, contact GFI manager Jeff Boshart at JBoshart@brethren.org or steve@appliedeco.com.

8) Brethren bits

Dennis Beckner, pastor of Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, preached for the Wednesday morning chapel service at the Church of the Brethren General Offices this week. He brought words of encouragement for the denominational staff, sharing about the revitalization that his church has experienced in recent years, and how that revitalization is related to the congregation’s strong connections with the wider ministries of the Church of the Brethren. His message: your work makes a difference! Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

— Haley Steinhilber ends her 2017-18 internship with the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on June 29. She will be pursuing a master’s degree in Public History at the American University in Washington, D.C.

— In related news, Madeline McKeever of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin begins June 19 as the 2018-19 BHLA intern. She graduated in 2017 from Judson University with a bachelor of arts degree in Interdisciplinary Communication and has worked for four years in the university’s Benjamin P. Browne Library as an assistant in the reference department.

— McPherson (Kan.) College seeks a coordinator of Spiritual Life. This is a part-time, 20 hours per week, exempt position, eligible for college benefits. The position reports to the Vice President and Dean of Students. The successful candidate will coordinate services related to the college’s mission of educating the whole person through ongoing faith formation and community building. The ideal candidate will foster the religious and spiritual needs of the entire McPherson College community. The ideal candidate will also have significant administrative experience and the ability to be an effective member of the Student Life team. Duties would include, but are not limited to, providing leadership and direction in managing the area of Spiritual Life, developing and implementing strategies and systems to ensure the visibility of the Office of Spiritual Life and developing and implementing a comprehensive Spiritual Life program. Other duties as required may be assigned. One to two years of experience in higher education pastoral care or Spiritual Life or similar experience is preferred. A baccalaureate degree is required. A master’s degree is preferred. Excellent written, oral, and interpersonal communications skills are necessary. Proficiency in Microsoft Office products is required. Complete the online application with a cover letter, resume, and one professional reference letter at www.mcpherson.edu/jobs/coordinator-of-spiritual-life. McPherson College is an equal opportunity employer, is committed to diversity, and encourages applications from women and people from traditionally under-represented groups.

— Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary, next week travels to Geneva, Switzerland, to represent the Church of the Brethren at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee Meeting.

— Brethren Disaster Ministries is sponsoring several weeks of clean-up help in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, following last year’s hurricanes. The effort is in partnership with the DRSI and the St Thomas Recovery Team. There are two time frames for volunteering in St Thomas: Sept. 9-22, 2018, and Jan. 6-19, 2019. Contact a district disaster coordinator to volunteer or Terry tgoodger@brethren.org for additional information. For more information about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries go to www.brethren.org/bdm.

— Bill Kostlevy, director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA), recently had an article published in “The Journal of World Christianity.” The article is titled, “Radical Holiness Mission Theory in the Church of the Brethren Experience.”

“The Nigeria Crisis Response at work!” announced Brethren Disaster Ministries in a recent Facebook post accompanying a photo of bags of maize seed and fertilizer laid out for distribution by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The post continued: “EYN in collaboration with its partners Church of the Brethren and Mission 21 assists IDPs [internally displaced people] with fertilizer in some camps and communities in Borno, Adamawa, Nasarawa States The agricultural support project will assist 2,000 beneficiaries with fertilizer and maize seed.” Photo courtesy of EYN.
— Beaver (Iowa) Church of the Brethren “decided to close and a final service will be held later this summer or early fall,” announced the Northern Plains District newsletter. “District folks are invited to come to Beaver on Saturday, June 16, from 9 a.m. to noon, to sort through things in the church and clean and tidy the inside of the building,” said an invitation. For additional information contact 515-238-5026 or 515-480-7017.

— Morgantown (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren recently hosted a community gathering to discuss immigration and refugees. According to a report from 12WBOY, “Several different faith communities from around the area gathered at the Church of the Brethren in Morgantown to discuss their views on immigration and refugees in the states. This was an open discussion for anyone in the community wanting to stand up for what they believe in.” Said one attendee, Geoff Hilsabeck, “We wanted to be together to reflect on what we share within our traditions, within our hearts, and think about how we can make this country and this world more welcoming for persecuted people.” Find the report at www.wboy.com/news/monongalia/religious-groups-in-morgantown-gather-to-discuss-current-issues-on-immigration-and-refugees/1209417135.

— Mohrsville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren hosted the ceremony crowning a new Berks County Dairy Princess on May 5. Samantha Haag was crowned the 2018-19 Berks County Dairy Princess, and Mikayla Davis was crowned alternate Dairy Princess for the county. Find the article at www.berksmontnews.com/article/BM/20180522/NEWS/180529986.

— Northern Ohio District is publishing a “Creation Care Newsletter” and “Peace Advocate News.” The latest issues are now available online. For the “Creation Care Newsletter,” Summer 2018, from the strict’s Stewardship Advocate Clyde C. Fry, go to www.nohcob.org/blog/2018/06/08/summer-2018-issue-27. For the “Peace Advocate News,” Summer 2018, from district Peace Advocate Linda Fry, go to www.nohcob.org/blog/2018/06/08/summer-2018-volume-114.

— This year’s Meat Canning Project of Mid-Atlantic and Southern Pennsylvania Districts canned 53,120 pounds of chicken over 8 days in April. The project canned 796 cases of chicken, with 398 cases going to each district, 200 cases donated to Honduras, and 200 cases donated to Cuba.

— Virlina District is holding a “Brainfreeze Brainstorm,” according to the district e-newsletter. Afternoons of brainstorming about how the district can support ministry to children, youth, and young adults will be held along with ice cream at four churches. District members are invited to attend the location and date that works best for them: Saturday, June 16, at Cloverdale Church, beginning at 3:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 23, at Henry Fork Church, beginning at 3:30 p.m.; and Saturday, June 30, at First Church in Eden, N.C., beginning at 3:30 p.m. A registration form is at www.virlina.org/events or call the District Resource Center at 540-362-1816.

— Inspiration Hills in northern Ohio is hosting this year’s Song and Story Fest, titled “The Swing State Song and Story Fest: Becoming God’s Beloved Community.” This unique family camp features Brethren musicians and storytellers. It will take place July 8-14. “At the Fest, through music, stories, and community interaction, we open ourselves to the holy so that our life, work, and struggles move more in time with the energizing Spirit of Life to help us become God’s Beloved Community,” said an invitation. Heidi Beck, Susan Boyer, Debbie Eisenbise, Kathy Guisewite, and Jim Lehman will be storytellers. Workshops and musical performances will be brought by Greg and Rhonda Baker, Louise Brodie, Peg Lehman, Erin and Cody Robertson, Mutual Kumquat, Ethan Setiawan/Theory Expats, and Mike Stern. Single persons and families are welcome. Registration includes all meals, on-site facilities, and leadership, and is based upon age.  Children 4 and under are welcome at no charge. Cost for adults is $320; teens $210; children ages 4 to 12 $150; maximum total fee per family $900. Registrations after June 15 add 10 percent as a late fee. No discount is offered for off-site, tent, or RV housing. Daily fees are $40 for an adult, $30 for a teen, $20 for a child, $100 per family, with lodging an additional $20 per night per person. Contact Ken Kline Smeltzer at bksmeltz@comcast.net for information about financial help to attend. More information about Song and Story Fest is at www.onearthpeace.org/song_and_story_fest_2018.

— Camp Pine Lake’s “Songs of the Pines Song and Story Event” will be revived this year at an All-Age Camp on Sept. 1-3. Friends with the Weather will be the special guests. The camp is located near Eldora, Iowa, in Northern Plains District. “We promise it will be an awesome time,” said an announcement. More information and a schedule will be available soon. Registration is at www.camppinelake.org.

— “Voices of Conscience: Peace Witness in the Great War,” a traveling exhibit that remembers the witness of peace-minded people against the First World War 1914-18, will be on display at the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio. The exhibit opens July 11 and closes on Aug. 11. Developed by Kauffman Museum in North Newton, Kan., the exhibit “is based on the narratives of men and women, religious believers, secular humanitarians, political protesters, and sectarian separatists,” said an announcement. “Many Brethren young men following biblical teachings, made the decision to not enter the military. This is their story along with many others. They resisted US involvement in the war, enactment of military conscription, war bond drives, denial of freedom of speech under the Espionage and Sedition Acts. For this resistance many suffered community humiliation, federal imprisonment, and mob violence at the hands of a war-crusading American public. This exhibit lifts up the prophetic insights and personal courage of World War I peace protesters, and suggests parallels to the culture of war and violence in our world today.” The exhibit also will be on display at the Church of the Brethren 2018 Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Brethren Heritage Center is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, located at 428 N. Wolf Creek St., Brookville, Ohio. For more information call 937-833-5222.

— On the latest episode of the Dunker Punks Podcast, Ben Bear interviews Jess Hoffert, who left his job in Iowa to volunteer with Principe de Paz Church of the Brethren in Santa Ana, Calif. “Listen as he explains what helped him follow this call to leave his comfort zone and how the experience has been a transformative one for him,” said an announcement. The Dunker Punks Podcast is an audio show created by more than a dozen Brethren young adults across the country. Listen to the latest on the episode page at http://bit.ly/DPP_Episode59 or subscribe on iTunes at http://bit.ly/DPP_iTunes.

— A Global Day of Prayer to End Famine has been announced for Sunday, June 10, by the World Council of Churches (WCC), World Evangelical Alliance, and All Africa Conference of  Churches, along with church-related humanitarian organizations and a coalition of partners. This will be the second annual Global Day of Prayer to End Famine to be observed in faith congregations worldwide. “Through humanitarian efforts, we have seen some enormous obstacles beaten for many people facing hunger,” said an announcement. “Unfortunately, in 2018, the risk of famine remains, and has even increased, having the potential to spread to many other areas. More people still face famine today than any time in modern history. More than 20 million people are at risk of starvation across Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Globally, millions more suffer from drought and food shortages. These crises are the result of conflict, drought, poverty and global inaction, and in most cases they are preventable. Churches have a prophetic role in calling its members, wider society and governments to make a difference during this unprecedented period of suffering.” Find out more at www.praytoendfamine.org.

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 editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren, at cobnews@brethren.org. Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Steven I. Apfelbaum, Jeff Boshart, Shamek Cardona, Jeff Carter, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Larry Heisey, Pat Krabacher, Zakariya Musa, Kevin Schatz, David Steele, Jay Wittmeyer.

Go to www.brethren.org/Newsline to subscribe to the Church of the Brethren Newsline free e-mail news service and receive church news every week.

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