Newsline for April 19, 2019

“The earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened…” (Matthew 27:51).


1) Planting potatoes, harvesting choirs in Rwanda
2) Office of Peacebuilding and Policy signs on to letter about Syria
3) EAD 2019 stirs up ‘good trouble’ for healing of national and global problems


4) Gimbiya Kettering resigns from Intercultural Ministries


5) NOAC registration begins May 1
6) Brethren Volunteer Service announces orientation units


7) This journey is one that no one should have to bear

8) Brethren bits: Celebrating love feast in Rwanda, correction, remembrances, job opening, Clergywomen’s Annual Conference Breakfast, Donnels Creek’s 210 years, 46th Brethren Bible Institute, Mother’s Day Gratitude Project, and more

Quotes of the week:

“The death of Jesus Christ marks the breaking in of a new world where God reigns. What Jesus has been teaching and describing throughout his ministry is now a reality. The promises of God’s faithful presence are being seen and experienced as the Son lays down his life.”

From “New World Coming” by Edward L. Poling, the Brethren Press Lenten devotional for 2019.

“We grieve over the incalculable loss as the Notre Dame cathedral burns, and we pray for all for whom Notre Dame is and represents a spiritual home, particularly during Holy Week.”

From a World Council of Churches (WCC) release after the April 15 fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit recalled a Dec. 4, 2015, ecumenical service in which hundreds of people from many nations and confessions joined in a service for God’s Creation at Notre Dame during the UN climate conference. “As we prayed for our common home, the beautiful setting of the cathedral served to draw us even closer together,” recalled Tveit. “As decisions are made about repairing the structure, we will pray for the firefighters who preserved what they could, for those craftspeople who will be doing the repairs, and for those millions of people for whom the cathedral holds so much meaning.”

“In the midst of Holy Week, world attention is focused on the accidental fire that very nearly consumed the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Let us also remember the three African American Baptist churches recently burned to the ground in Louisiana by an intentional act of arson in what is being investigated as a hate crime.”

From a press release and statement of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the US.

1) Planting potatoes, harvesting choirs in Rwanda

Rwandan brethren sing in the field
Photo by Jeff Boshart

By Jeff Boshart

In 2012, the Global Food Initiative (GFI) began supporting a potato project of Evangelistic Training Outreach Ministries of Rwanda (ETOMR) among the Twa people in the village of Bunyove in northwest Rwanda.

The Twa, sometimes known as pygmees, have traditionally been a hunter-gatherer people who would hunt game animals and sell the meat to others as a way of garnering some income. Numerous forces caused an end to the nomadic lifestyle of the Twa, including war and forest hunting land being turned into protected areas for wildlife. The Twa were forced to live as refugees in camps that became a collection of mud huts on the edge of farming communities. Conditions in these camps were bleak and the Twa turned to stealing and begging to survive.

The founder of ETOMR, Etienne Nsanzimana, is also the leader of the Church of the Brethren in Rwanda, previously serving another denomination as a pastor for many years. Nsanzimana tried for years to make inroads with the Twa in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, but without success. After two years of working with Twa leaders and teaching them how to grow potatoes and peas, he and the Brethren had their first breakthrough. Several people gave their lives to Christ and began attending a Brethren church.

Along with learning to grow their own food for the first time, the Twa, with the support of Brethren members, were taught the importance of savings and received assistance in opening savings accounts. They also received sewing classes and learned how to sew their own clothing. Another major advance for the Twa came when they were able to purchase health care in Rwanda’s national health care system. Conflict resolution skills were also taught.

In fact, the progress made by the members of the Twa community in Bunyove is so dramatic that Twa from other communities have begun saying that they are no longer recognizable as Twa as they have such nice clothing and their children are going to school, some even graduating from high school.

In 2018, in the nearby Mudunde Church of the Brethren, a Twa choir formed called the Makerubi Choir. Nsanzimana believes that this is the first Twa choir ever formed in Rwanda, but the good news doesn’t end there! Recently, members of the Makerubi Choir traveled to a neighboring village to evangelize Twa people living in that community. Several community members converted to Christ in Humure and now they too have formed a Twa choir.

Alexander Bashame is director of the Makerubi Choir and a man of vision. In a meeting with GFI manager Jeff Boshart and GFI volunteer Chris Elliott, he expressed a hunger to learn much more. His hope for his people is that they will learn to raise pigs and chickens so that they can earn enough money to buy cows. Once they buy cows, he believes they will be able to begin buying land and owning their own homes and farms.

This is a story of faithfulness: pastor Nsanzimana’s faithfulness in seeking new ways to present the gospel to a hurting people, the faithfulness of the Twa for sticking with the potato project for seven years, the faithfulness of GFI donors in supporting this effort, and ultimately God’s faithfulness to his people for their courage and dedication.

In parting, Boshart and Elliott offered words of encouragement to the Twa leadership from Matthew 25:23, “Well done faithful servants, for you were faithful with little things…things as small as potatoes.” The meeting concluded with plans already formulating for a livestock project to begin later this year.

— Jeff Boshart is manager of the Global Food Initiative. For more information go to .

2) Office of Peacebuilding and Policy signs on to letter about Syria

Office of Peacebuilding and Policy Logo

The Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy has signed on to a letter to President Trump regarding Syria. The letter signed by seven faith-based denominations and organizations, some of whom are engaged in providing support for peacebuilding efforts in Syria and humanitarian assistance to displaced Syrians, called for the complete withdrawal of US troops from Syria. It also urges the US administration to address root causes of insecurity in the region.

The letter was sent to the White House as well as various contacts in the administration. It is posted online at and also follows below:

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

April 10, 2019

Dear President Trump,

As faith-based denominations and organizations, some of whom are engaged in providing humanitarian assistance for displaced Syrians and supporting peacebuilding efforts within Syria, we are writing in support of your decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. We urge you to take steps toward a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops, while addressing the root causes of insecurity in the region, engaging robustly in diplomatic negotiations, and providing humanitarian and reconstruction assistance.

Because we firmly believe there is no effective military solution for dealing with the region’s complex security issues and protracted crises we support the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Syria, including U.S. forces. Based on our experience in the region, we believe the best way to ensure that ISIS and other extremist groups do not reemerge is to address the underlying drivers of insecurity, through support for community-based initiatives that prevent and resolve conflict and increase social cohesion.

Furthermore, we urge the U.S. government to engage fully in diplomatic efforts to reach a negotiated solution to the Syria crisis. In order to be effective, these negotiations must involve all parties who are active in the conflict. As part of these negotiations, we urge you to support a robust and inclusive process for Syrian men and women to develop a new constitution that respects the rights of all Syrians.

We remain deeply concerned by the dire humanitarian situation faced by Syrians, with as many as 13 million people still in need of emergency assistance, more than 6 million people displaced internally, and more than 3.6 million people registered as refugees outside of Syria. In the year ahead, it will be vital to maintain emergency assistance, while also investing in early recovery activities such as livelihoods projects.

At the same time, the well-being of Syria’s people and the future stability of the region depend on rebuilding the country which has been devastated by war. Rather than withholding reconstruction funding and seeking to impose sanctions on countries that provide reconstruction funding, the U.S. should recognize the importance of helping the people of Syria rebuild.

In sum, we urge you to pursue a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops, while also taking steps to address the deep-seated political, social, and economic grievances at the root of the crisis in Syria, including, but not limited to, ISIS.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns.

Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
Mennonite Central Committee US Washington Office
Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, Church of the Brethren
Pax Christi International
Presbyterian Church (USA)
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

3) EAD 2019 stirs up ‘good trouble’ for healing of national and global problems

The Pennsylvania delegation at EAD 2019
The Pennsylvania delegation at EAD 2019. Photo courtesy of Alicia Bateman

By Alicia Bateman

Over the first weekend of April, members of various Christian churches gathered in Washington, D.C., to learn about and advocate for political action. This national gathering, called Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD), is a three-day conference headed by leaders of many Christian denominations and attended by Christians from across the United States. This year’s theme was “Troubling the Waters for the Healing of the World,” and participants were encouraged to stir up “good trouble” to initiate positive change.

The gathering included sermons, music, panel discussions, workshops, and time to connect with organizations and working groups that are advocating for social change both nationally and globally. There was significant emphasis on cross-denominational conversations, as well as gatherings within church groups.

The conference had two main policy foci, one domestic and one international. The national agenda was for support of the “For the People Act” that focuses on voting rights, campaign finances, and ethics. The act works to protect civil rights and self-determination of American voters by removing barriers to voter participation, including increasing accessibility to polling places as well as strengthening and modernizing voter registration. It also aims to implement fair and just election oversight and restore the voting rights of returning citizens.

The international policy focus was to raise support for the “Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act.” This act has bipartisan support and requires the federal government to work in conjunction with global civil society to develop a 10-year strategy to reduce global violence. Senate Resolution 80 also was supported, which would establish a Human Rights Commission in the Senate.

On the final day of the conference, attendees took to Capitol Hill and met with the offices of their senators and congresspeople. These meetings allowed participants to have a direct conversation with the offices that represent them on issues that they care deeply about. Members of the advocacy group were able to share stories about how each piece of legislation would create a positive impact for them, the country, and the wider world.

While not everyone in the offices held the same views regarding the policy agenda, it was important to start such conversations and let them know that these issues are important and require action. Just as members of many denominations gathered to worship, learn, and share during this conference, we must encourage similar collaboration in our government to create “good trouble” for the healing of our world.

4) Gimbiya Kettering resigns from Intercultural Ministries

Gimbiya Kettering

Gimbiya Kettering has resigned as director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, effective May 31. She has served in the position since Jan. 7, 2013. As director of Intercultural Ministries, she has been a member of the staff of Discipleship Ministries (formerly Congregational Life Ministries) and has worked closely with the Intercultural Ministries Advisory Committee.

“Gimbiya’s leadership and passion have built a strong foundation for intercultural ministries in the Church of the Brethren,” said Joshua Brockway, co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries. “We look forward to partnering with the Intercultural Ministries Advisory Committee to envision the strategy and staffing needed to live into the vision of Revelation 7:9.”

Kettering has focused the ministry’s efforts on the Annual Conference mandates in the 2007 statement “Separate No More: Becoming a Multi-Ethnic Church,” with scriptural inspiration from Revelation 7:9. Under her leadership, the ministry continued to give the Revelation 7:9 Award to recognize church members and congregations for contributing to a vision of intercultural ministries in their communities, the denomination, and the world at large.

In recent years, she initiated and organized the Dikaios and Discipleship pre-Annual Conference study tours focused on racial justice and worked on “Continuing Together” conversation opportunities including a November 2018 Native American Heritage Month joint project with the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, among other efforts. She has written articles for “Messenger” and led numerous workshops in various settings across the denomination.

Find more information about the Intercultural Ministries at .

5) NOAC registration begins May 1

NOAC 2019 logo "Reaching into joy"

Registration begins May 1 for National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) to be held Sept. 2-6 at
Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in western North Carolina. The theme is “Reaching Across Generations, Beyond Differences, Through Conflict, into Joy.”

NOAC is a gathering for adults 50 and older “who love learning and discerning together, exploring God’s call for their lives, and living out that call by sharing their energy, insight, and legacy with their families, communities, and the world,” says the NOAC website.

Registration cost per person is $195 before July 15, or $225 after that date. First-time attendees get a $20 discount. Early registration for those needing handicapped accessible housing in the most convenient location at the Terrace building began April 22 and continues through April 30. Registration does not include housing or meals. After registering, participants may go to the Lake Junaluska housing reservations website to make lodging reservations. To preview housing options, go to . Contact the Lake Junaluska office at 800-222-4930 ext. 1.

Participants are requested to register online if possible at . Paper registration forms are available on request, call 800-323-8039 ext. 302.

Schedule and special events

The NOAC schedule includes daily worship services, day trips, service projects, workshops, arts and crafts activities, and more. New this year is a Welcome Festival on Monday afternoon during registration. While registrants wait to pick up room keys they will enjoy local musicians, play games, tie-dye bandanas for people with cancer, and eat snacks.

The preachers:

Monday: Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary
Tuesday: Jennifer Keeney Scarr, pastor of Trotwood Church of the Brethren near Dayton, Ohio

Wednesday: Jeanne Davies, pastor of Parables Community in Lombard, Ill., with a focus on those with disabilities and their families

Thursday: Walt Wiltschek, pastor of Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren and at-large editor for “Messenger”

Friday: Dennis Webb, pastor of Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren

Day trips:

Tuesday and Wednesday: Biltmore Estates historic house museum in Asheville; $70 per person includes transportation, lunch, admission

Tuesday: Graveyard Fields: Hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway; $20 per person includes transportation, lunch

Tuesday and Thursday: Arboretum of North Carolina; $25 per person includes transportation, lunch, donation, and parking

Wednesday: Museum of the Cherokee Indian; $30 per person includes transportation, lunch, workshop fee, admission

Wednesday and Thursday: Carl Sandburg Home and Farm; $25 per person includes transportation, lunch, admission

Thursday: Basilica of St. Lawrence and Asheville Botanical Gardens; $25 per person includes transportation, lunch, donations
Service opportunities:

Daily: Book Drive will collect new and gently used children’s books for Junaluska Elementary School

Daily: Volunteer to usher at worship services

Daily: Sing with the NOAC Choir for worship led by choir director Michelle Grimm; fee for music cost is collected at the first rehearsal

Tuesday: Reading to students at Junaluska Elementary School; $15 includes transportation and lunch

Wednesday: Assembling Hygiene Kits, materials provided; $10 covers cost of materials

Thursday: Fundraising walk around the lake, sponsored by Brethren Benefit Trust

Sign-up for some of these activities and events will be online as part of registration. Find details and more information as links on the main NOAC web page at .

6) Brethren Volunteer Service announces orientation units

BVS orientation dates

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has announced the dates and locations of orientation units for the rest of the year. BVS offers orientations to train prospective volunteers to serve fulltime for one or more years at projects across the United States and in several other countries around the world. For more about BVS go to .

The remaining units to take place in 2019 are:

Summer Unit 322
July 21-Aug. 9
Inspiration Hills Camp in Burbank, Ohio
Deadline for applications is June 7.

Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) Unit 323
Aug. 18-26
Camp Swatara near Bethel, Pa.
Deadline for applications is July 5.

Fall Unit 324
Sept. 22-Oct. 11
Camp Emmaus in Mount Morris, Ill.
Deadline for applications is Aug. 9.

For more information contact Jocelyn Siakula, BVS orientation coordinator, at or 847-429-4384.

7) This journey is one that no one should have to bear

Remembering columbine 4-20-1999

By Gail Erisman Valeta with Tom Mauser

On April 20, 1999, Tom and Linda Mauser joined a club that no one wanted to join: the parents of a child victimized by gun violence. Their son, Daniel Mauser, was a victim of the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colo.

The journey is one that no one should have to bear. And the journey is not over. At the 20th Anniversary of Columbine, 14 news outlets came to Littleton to interview families of the victims willing to participate. Here is one early article coming out of those interviews, with more to be printed and broadcast on the anniversary: “Columbine Families Gather to Tell Stories Nearly 20 Years After,” published by the Colorado Sentinel on March 23 and online at .

Tom’s advocacy for sensible gun laws was driven by a special question from his son two weeks before the tragedy. Based on something he heard in a conversation, Daniel asked his dad if he was aware there were loopholes in the Brady Bill, a law that requires passing a background check before buying a gun. Two weeks later, Daniel was killed with a gun purchased through one of those loopholes–the gun show loophole. 

Tom took a one-year leave of absence from his job to lobby the state legislature to pass stronger gun laws. When they failed to do so, he led the effort to offer Colorado voters a ballot initiative to close that gun show loophole. Colorado voters passed that initiative in 2000 by a vote of 70 percent to 30 percent.

Tom has continued working to pass sensible gun laws and educate others about sensible solutions. He has testified numerous times at hearings at the State Capitol, and speaks at rallies and churches. That included accepting an invitation to speak at Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren, where he later became a member.

Are there concerned people of faith in your congregation or community who want to promote a different response to gun violence than just “thoughts and prayers?” Presentations from speakers’ bureaus or from the Internet can be offered. There are gun violence prevention organizations in many states you could join, as listed at .  

While many churches are not willing to take on this issue (Tom was even uninvited from a presentation when the pastor experienced “push back” from opponents), we should all be able to agree something must be done and offer “another way of living” that has passed on peacemaking for over 300 years.

 Gail Erisman Valeta is pastoring Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo., where Tom Mauser is a member.

8) Brethren bits

— Correction: The Blackwood Brothers Quartet concert scheduled for July 3 at 8:30 p.m. at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Greensboro, N.C., is free only to registered Conference attendees. Name tags will be required for entrance. Concert tickets will be available for purchase for $50 at the door and in the onsite Conference office for those who are not registered attendees.

— Remembrance: George Milton Kreps, 87, who directed the Church of the Brethren mission in Ecuador, died April 2. He and his family lived in Ecuador 1955-70, returning to the US briefly in 1959 when he attended Bethany Seminary and earned a master of divinity degree. Dale Minnich, a former mission worker in Ecuador, described Kreps as “a perceptive and visionary leader,” reporting that after an initial volunteer assignment beginning in 1955 he assumed leadership of the work in Ecuador including staff in education, agriculture, public health, family planning, church planting, theological education, and community development. Kreps was born in Pottstown, Pa., to John and Elizabeth (Hess) Kreps. He grew up in Coventry Church of the Brethren. He completed a degree in sociology at Manchester College. His first marriage in 1953 was to college classmate Wilma Lois Studebaker, and their four children were born while the family was based in Ecuador. In 1970 they relocated to Columbus, Ohio, where he worked for Franklin County Children’s Services. He earned a master’s in anthropology and a doctorate in sociology from Ohio State University. During this time he lost his first wife to cancer. He became a professor at Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. In 1978 he married Marty Woolson LeVora. After retirement they moved to Frederick, Md., where he taught at Frederick Community College, did volunteer chaplaincy at Frederick Memorial Hospital, and attended Middletown United Methodist Church. He is survived by his wife, Marty; children Susan (Terry) Luddy of Pittsburgh, Pa., Teri (John) Lightner of Harlingen, Texas, Steven (Seiko) Kreps of Charlotte, N.C., Joel (Joann) Kreps of San Diego, Calif., Scott LeVora of Boyd, Md., Brad (Holly) LeVora of Urbana, Md., and Barbara LeVora of Columbus, Ohio; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Memorial gifts are received to the Homewood Foundation in Williamsport, Md.; Middletown United Methodist Church; and Heifer International.

— Remembrance: Jacob Jay Stevens, 79, a former employee in the Church of the Brethren treasurer’s office, died April 3 at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. He was born Dec. 8, 1939, in Hollsopple, Pa., the youngest of the eight children of Cora (Imler) and Jacob Stevens. He worked at Hallman’s Chevrolet in Johnstown, Pa., and attended Cambria-Rowe Business College in Johnstown following high school graduation. In October 1962, he moved to Elgin to work in the treasurer’s office at the Church of the Brethren General Offices starting in October 1962. There he met Catherine (Cathy) Ann Weimer, whom he married on April 12, 1969. In 1970, he took a job with the Union 76 Oil Company (later Unocal) in Schaumburg, Ill., as an accountant and retired from that job in December 1994. He fully retired in 2000 after working at Chase in Elgin for several years. He is survived by his wife, Cathy; son Cortland Stevens; daughter Joylyn Johnson and her husband, Eric Johnson; and grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin on April 14. A memorial service at Maple Spring Church of the Brethren in Hollsopple will be held later this year. Memorial gifts are received to Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren.

— Remembrance: Janet Flory Flaten, 65, of Bridgewater, Va., passed away April 11. She served the Church of the Brethren as a music teacher at Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria, from 1976 to 1982. She was born in Bulsar, India, on Nov. 26, 1953, a daughter of the late Wendell and Marie (Mason) Flory. She earned her first bachelor’s degree in music from Bridgewater College, class of 1976. She then taught music at Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria, where she met Dale Flaten. They married on July 12, 1980, and returned to the US to start a family in 1982. She started work at Bridgewater Home as a CNA in 1994, then returned to school and earned a second bachelor’s degree in nursing from James Madison University, class of 2000. She transitioned into an RN role and continued her work at Bridgewater Home until she retired in 2018. She was a member of Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. She was preceded in death by her sister, Mary Jo Flory-Steury. She is survived by her husband, Dale; son Leroy Flaten and wife Allison in Norfolk, Va.; and daughter Sharon Flaten, who currently is working in Jos as part of Bethany Theological Seminary’s educational partnership with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). A memorial service will be held at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren on Saturday, May 11, at 11 a.m., with pastor Jeffery Carr officiating, followed by a time of fellowship. Memorial gifts are received to the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service program. Online condolences may be sent to the family at .

The Global Mission and Service program is praising God for the first love feast of the Brethren Church of Rwanda. “The celebration of this ordinance follows a time of congregational training and discussion of Brethren beliefs and practices, as detailed in the book by Galen Hackman,” said the program’s weekly prayer guide. “The inaugural Rwandan love feast took place on Palm Sunday for the Mudende and Humure congregations. The Gisenyi and Gasiza congregations will celebrate love feast on Easter Sunday.”

— The Church of the Brethren seeks a fulltime manager of information technology to work at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The major responsibility is to manage the information technology needs and activities for the General offices including application design, development, maintenance, and network applications at the direction of the director of Information Technology. Required skills and knowledge include understanding of Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Church of the Brethren; knowledge and experience to implement a vision for ongoing technical growth that will coordinate efforts at many levels of the denomination; strong technical skills in database management and systems analysis; verbal and written communication skills; positive customer service attitude; ability to assist in budget development and management; knowledge of Raiser’s Edge system, VOIP phone systems, Microsoft Office Suite, and related products; a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in information technology or related field. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to or to Human Resources Manager, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

— The Clergywomen’s Annual Conference Breakfast will feature “Snapshots of Calling.” As a way of celebrating stories of calling, clergywomen from throughout the denomination are invited to submit photos of people who were instrumental in their calling to ministry. A visual presentation of submitted photos will be created by Julia Largent of McPherson (Kan.) College, and inspiring stories will be welcomed during the July 4 program led by Donna Ritchey Martin, co-pastor of Grossnickle Church of the Brethren. To submit a photo go to This form asks for information about who is in the photo and their role in the clergywoman’s calling. It requires use of Gmail/Google Drive to submit photos. Others may email information and photos to Largent at . Please supply photos in original size for best quality, and rename the photo file name to include the submitter’s last name. For questions about how to make submissions, contact Largent.

Rally to end drone warfare

— “Join us as we protest the US weaponized drone program,” said an invitation from the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy to church members to join the May 3 Rally to End Drone Warfare in Washington, D.C. The event will start with a gathering in Edward R. Murrows Park at H and 18th Northwest. “The US drone program is illegal, immoral, and ineffective, and negatively impacts our neighbors around the world,” the announcement continued. “At this rally, we will call for an end to CIA drone strikes, and for General Atomics to sign a commitment to not develop Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. The speaker program will begin at 12 p.m., and at the end of the hour we will march towards the General Atomics offices on 19th Street.”

— “Navigating Change: Proceed with Caution” is the title of a Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center continuing education event at Cross Keys Village in New Oxford, Pa., on May 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jennifer Holcomb, director of Memory Support at Cross Keys Village, is the presenter. “Every three seconds someone around the world develops symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or another related dementia,” said an announcement. “Preparing for change in that person is critical and inevitable. Together we will learn best practices to steer the conversation when driving poses challenging, how to effectively manage a hospital stay, and best approaches to use when behaviors pose as a threat.” Registration is due April 22. Cost is $60 including a light breakfast, lunch, and 0.5 continuing education credits, or $50 without the continuing education credit. Contact the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center for registration, at 717-361-1450 or .

— Donnels Creek Church of the Brethren in Springfield, Ohio, is celebrating its 210th anniversary on April 28-30 with a conference on the theme “Discovering the Heart of God and the Future of Our World.” Contact the church at 937-964-8032.

— Reading (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is one of the participating churches in the 5th Apostle Build, which is also the 50th Alliance Area Habitat for Humanity home, according to an article from “The Alliance Review.” “The home will go to Angela Anderson and her three teenage children,” the report said. “During a groundbreaking ceremony in early March, Anderson explained her joy at receiving the home. ‘I’ve always worried about the boys not having someplace to go if something would happen to me,’ Anderson said.” Read the full report at .

— The pastor and members of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren were interviewed by “LAist” for an online and radio series exploring Los Angeles County’s 88 cities. Characterized as “a small town with a welcoming heart,” the piece noted that it is the story of La Verne Church of the Brethren that “helped La Verne become the city it is today.” Brethren interviewees including pastor Susan Boyer, as well as Katrina Beltran, 24, who grew up in La Verne and whose grandfather, Chuck Boyer, was an influential figure at the denominational and local levels. The piece reviews the role that the Brethren played in the history of the city, first called Lordsburg, and in the history of the University of La Verne, which was founded by the Brethren and continues to have strong church connections. The piece also reviews the role the congregation has played in leading out in peacemaking and extending a welcome to all in the community. “A big part of the Church of the Brethren are its pacifist values,” Beltran is quoted, “and specifically here in La Verne, inclusion and equality are two of the biggest values.” The article features pictures of the church building and notes that “a peace pole stands outside the church, with welcoming messages in different languages for all the cultures in the area, and rainbow flags fly on both sides of the chapel’s doorway.” Find the full article at .

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren pastor Greg Davidson Laszakovits is interviewed in an article titled “Elected Officials in Our Nation’s Capital Could Learn from Lancaster, America’s ‘Refugee Capital,'” published by Lancaster Online. “In Washington, the debate over immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees is mostly political and philosophical,” the article says. “In Lancaster County, the subject is personal. Here, refugees endure long waits for family members to join them in this place where they’ve been welcomed, where they’re valued as individuals and as workers in a local economy that needs them. And where a network of agencies and religious organizations stand ready to assist them as they rebuild their lives.” Laszakovits reported that his congregation has helped refugees from Iran, Myanmar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “They have made us a richer community economically, culturally, religiously.” Read the full article at .

— The Shenandoah District office is again hosting a Church World Service Kit Depot drop off, to be open through May 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. School kits, hygiene kits, and emergency clean up buckets will be received at the side door of the green Brethren Disaster Ministries garage. For instructions for dropping off kits, call the district office at 540-234-8555.

CPT steering committee
The Christian Peacemaker Teams steering committee: (back row, from left) Marcos Knoblauch (Peacemaker Corps representative from Argentina, serving with the Colombia Program), Julie Brown (Peacemaker Corps representative from the US, serving with the Iraqi Kurdistan Program), Jakob Fehr (German Mennonite Peace Committee representative); (middle row, from left) Rafael Lopera (Congregation of St. Basil representative from Colombia), Annelies Klinefelter (at-large representative from the Netherlands), Chrissy Stonebreaker-Martínez (at-large from the US), Nathan Hosler (chair and Church of the Brethren representative, director of the denomination’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy); (front, from left) Steve Heinrichs (Mennonite Church Canada representative), Tori Bateman (at-large from the US, a member of the staff of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy), Marie Benner-Rhoades (vice-chair and representative of On Earth Peace, an agency of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference), Timothy Wotring (Presbyterian Peace Fellowship representative). Not pictured but present at the meeting via teleconference: Jason Boone (Mennonite Church USA representative), Carolina Gouveia Santana (Peacemaker Corps representative from Brazil, serving with Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Program). Remaining members not pictured: Omar Harami (at-large representative from Palestine), Wilson Tan (at-large representative from Singapore). Photo courtesy of Nathan Hosler

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is giving thanks for a successful steering committee meeting held last week. Chairing the committee is Nathan Hosler, director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. Marie Benner-Rhoades, from the On Earth Peace staff, is serving as vice-chair. The organization shared the following prayer request: “Pray for an increase in the size of Christian Peacemaker Teams’ donor base and that the organization finds a full-time Development Coordinator soon. The needs of CPT’s partners in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine and the immigrants’ rights community are great; we want to continue supporting them to the best of our ability.”

— The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) “turn faith into action for peace,” said an announcement of the latest Dunker Punks Podcast. “Experience what that means through this interview brought to us by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. Monica McFadden interviews Tori Bateman on her recent trip with the CPT delegation to Iraqi Kurdistan. Learn more about becoming involved and find out what Christianity, peacemaking, and tea have in common!” Listen at . Visit for more information.

— The Global Women’s Project is announcing its annual Mother’s Day Gratitude Project. This is “an opportunity for you to honor a woman you know and love by celebrating and supporting women around the world,” said an announcement. “Instead of buying more material gifts for your loved one, express your gratitude with a gift that keeps on giving. In return, your chosen recipient(s) will receive a lovely, hand-written card indicating that a gift has been made in her honor, with a brief description of GWP.” For more information go to .

— The 46th annual Brethren Bible Institute has been announced by the sponsoring group, the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF). The institute’s summer term will take place July 22-26 on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The theme scripture is Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Twelve courses will be offered. Cost is $300 for dormitory students or $125 for commuting students. To register, request an application form from Brethren Bible Institute, 155 Denver Rd., Denver, PA 17517. Applications must be completed by June 25.

— In a joint statement, the Liberian Council of Churches and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) expressed gratitude to the US administration for its extension of the deadline for people affected by the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program dating back to March 1991. “This program, set to end its ‘wind-down’ period on March 31, 2019, and thus force deportation of 4,200 Liberians currently living under protected status in the United States, has been extended one year,” said a release. “On a recent trip to Liberia to address the 32nd General Assembly of the Liberia Council of Churches, General Secretary/President Jim Winkler pledged to Bishop Kortu K. Brown, President, members of the LCC, and the Liberian people in general through the mass media, that NCC would advocate to protect the status of Liberians in the US. This is a response to the biblical mandate to welcome and care for the sojourner and immigrant and refugee. A bill currently before Congress would help protect Liberians in the US: the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Jack Reed, will give Liberians an opportunity to apply for permanent residency and, eventually, a path to citizenship.”

Delta 8 tool to track modern slavery
UN civil society conference

— News of the launch of a new United Nations data tool on modern-day slavery has been shared by Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren’s representative to the UN. This interactive data tool called Delta 8.7 has been created by the UN University Centre for Policy Research, and “shows a mismatch between where modern slavery occurs, and where governments are spending resources to address it, [and] could help make a positive impact on policy debates surrounding the issue,” said a UN announcement. “Check out a modern slavery map which includes information on the organizations that work with the business sector to combat modern slavery.” Find the map and more information at .

— In more news from Abdullah as UN representative, registration is open for the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference on Aug. 26-28 in Salt Lake City on the theme “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Cities and Communities.” This is “the premier event in the civil society calendar at the United Nations,” said the website. “It typically attracts an average of 2,000 representatives from more than 500 civil society organizations from over 100 countries…. This international forum also brings together senior UN System officials, prominent international civil society organizations, academicians, public opinion makers, and international media to discuss issues of global concern.” Participation is open to representatives of civil society organizations associated with the UN Department of Global Communications or in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, with others welcome to register with an endorsement from a United Nations entity that is familiar with their work and can provide feedback on their eligibility. Conference segments include roundtable discussions, NGO workshops, exhibits, youth-led activities, networking opportunities, and side events that reflect the theme of the conference. A call for applications to organize workshops is open, with a deadline of May 17. Submissions will be reviewed by June 10. Workshop details are at
 . More about the conference is at .

— “The Nation” newspaper in Nigeria reports on a vigil held in Lagos by the advocacy group Bring Back Our Girls. Prayers were raised for the schoolgirls–now women–abducted from Chibok by Boko Haram five years ago on April 14. Samuel Dauda, a former EYN pastor serving in Chibok for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), was present alongside a leader of Bring Back Our Girls, executive director of Enough Is Enough Nigeria, other Christian pastors, and Muslim imams. The advocacy group planning the vigil also held simultaneous vigils in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, London, New York, and Washington, D.C. The event featured the reading of a prayer written for the girls by Jewish rabbis in New York titled “An Interfaith Prayer for Chibok–Five Years in Captivity.” Read the full article at .

Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Doris Abdullah, Jan Fischer Bachman, Alicia Bateman, Jeff Boshart, Jacob Crouse, Nathan Hosler, Tom Mauser, Nancy Miner, Dale Minnich, Debbie Noffsinger, Jocelyn Siakula, Gail Erisman Valeta, Christy Waltersdorff, and Newsline editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren, contributed to this issue. Please send news tips and submissions to . Find the Newsline archive at . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren emails, or make changes to your subscription, at .

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