Newsline for February 22, 2019

Lenten Devotional 2019
Lent begins on March 6. Order Lenten devotionals now.


1) Annual Conference registration opens March 4, business schedule will focus on compelling vision

2) Compelling vision online conversation is offered March 23

3) Interfaith letter opposes CIA lethal drone strikes, Brethren invited to May 3 rally against drone warfare

4) Global Food Initiative manager visits sites in Ecuador

5) National Youth Cabinet is named for 2019-2020

6) Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel notes, prayer requests from Nigeria and Haiti, Bridgewater College project, Dunker Punks podcast, and more

Quote of the week:

“Creator God, we give you thanks and praise for the phenomenal country in which we live, move, and have our being. Our thanks also for the men and women you have called to serve in this government and specifically the US Senate. 
Our prayer is that you will equip, empower, and encourage each individual senator as they work to answer the call to serve the people of this great nation. Their decisions impact the lives of not only those they serve but also people the world over.
Help them to remember those who have little, need much, and are challenged each day of their lives. Give each senator strength to make wise decisions and the courage to stand up in the face of adversity, doing the right thing, first time and every time, putting others first in each decision rendered.
May your peace fill the lives of each Senator and those they serve until you come again to claim your kingdom. We pray in the Holy name of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.” 

— The prayer given by Church of the Brethren minister Eddie H. Edmonds of Martinsburg, W.Va., opening the US Senate session on Feb. 14. Edmond’s prayer was shown at the start of C-SPAN coverage of that morning in the Senate.
Eddie Edmonds prays for the US Senate
Pastor Eddie Edmonds opens U.S. Senate session on February 14 with prayer. Screenshot from CSPAN2

1) Annual Conference registration opens March 4, business schedule will focus on compelling vision

2019 annual conference logo

Annual Conference 2019 will be a very different event this year, according to Conference director Chris Douglas. Instead of a usual business schedule, the delegate body will spend much of its time in compelling vision conversations. Nondelegates may reserve seats at tables during the business sessions in order to fully participate in those conversations. And the Conference will hold a love feast for the first time in decades.

Annual Conference 2019 takes place July 3-7 in Greensboro, N.C., at the Sheraton/Koury Convention Center. It will be led by moderator Donita Keister, assisted by moderator-elect Paul Mundey and Conference secretary Jim Beckwith. “Proclaim Christ; Reclaim Passion” is the theme, inspired by 2 Corinthians 5:17-18.

Online registration and hotel reservations open March 4 at 12 noon (central time) at .

Compelling vision conversations

During several business sessions the delegate body, and nondelegates who reserve seats at tables, will engage in conversations intended to help the Church of the Brethren seek a compelling vision for its future.

Business sessions will include the usual reports from agencies as well as elections and some other matters, but the 2019 Conference will receive no queries or recommendations and will address no additional new business items. Business sessions will include a half-hour worship service to start each morning and an interactive Bible study during each afternoon. On Saturday afternoon, July 6, the Conference will hold love feast as part of the closing business session (see more information below).

Compelling vision conversations will take place around tables beginning Thursday afternoon, July 4, continuing through Saturday morning, July 6. Questions for conversation and a process to receive input from the tables will be led by the Compelling Vision Process Team with technical facilitation by the firm Covision, which specializes in meeting technology and guiding groups through “thoughtful process design.” The special technology for the 2019 Conference will include a computer tablet at each table, which will be used to log input during each session. The Compelling Vision Process Team will receive the input and each evening work to prepare a presentation of learnings for the next day’s session.

Delegates will be assigned to tables. Nondelegates who wish to sit at tables to participate in the compelling vision conversations should reserve a seat when they register for the Conference, and will be assigned to tables. Seat reservations are free and require no extra fee payment. Theater-style seating also will be available for nondelegates.

Nondelegates who sign up to sit at a table are asked to commit to participate in all business sessions. “If you sign up you’re expected to be there,” Douglas said, emphasizing the importance of committing to the full process.

Table reservations are a part of the online registration process for nondelegates. Those who complete their registrations without making a table reservation may contact the Conference Office to request a seat at a table if space is still available. Call 847-429-4365.

Love feast

The love feast on Saturday, July 6, will be part of the afternoon business session that starts at 2 p.m. Love feast will begin after the passing of the moderator’s gavel signifies the formal closing of business.

The love feast will be led by Keister, Mundey, and immediate past moderator Samuel K. Sarpiya. It will include the traditional meal, feetwashing, and communion service, but in a simplified way, said Douglas. The meal will be very simple, she said, perhaps consisting of a small snack. Congregations or districts may be asked to bake bread for the meal, or make communion bread for the communion service. The feetwashing will be done using traditional basins but they will hold large moistened washing cloths rather than water, which is not allowed in the convention hall. Participants will be able to choose to wash feet in a setting where only men or only women are present, or in an area that includes all who would like to participate in the ordinance together.

Those seated at tables and those in the nondelegate theater seating will all be invited to participate in the love feast.

Additional special events

The following special events at the 2019 Annual Conference are free to all Conference participants unless otherwise noted:

bus trip to the Civil Rights Museum in downtown Greensboro will be offered on Thursday, July 4, leaving the convention center at 9 a.m. An extra fee is charged.

A concert by the gospel singing group Blackwood Brothers Quartet will be offered on Wednesday, July 3, at 8:30 p.m.

An organ recital and concert by Jonathan Emmons will be given on Friday, July 5, at 11:30 a.m., immediately after the close of the morning business session.

A concert by the Brethren singing group Friends with the Weather is offered on Friday, July 5, at 8:30 p.m.


2019 pre-conference flyer

Pre-Conference gatherings and events

The Ministers Association continuing education event features David C. Olsen speaking on the topic “Saying No to Say Yes: Everyday Boundaries and Pastoral Excellence.” It takes place July 2-3 at the Koury Convention Center. Olsen is an adjunct professor with the Sage Colleges and executive director of Samaritan Counseling Center. For registration, schedule and fee information, go to . Registration begins March 4.

The Intercultural Ministries offers a Dikaios and Discipleship Pre-Conference Pilgrimage on July 2-3, starting in Greensboro and including an overnight stay at a hotel in Cherokee, N.C., and visits to the Museum of the Cherokee and Oconaluftee Living Village. The event focuses on themes including righteousness and justice, a history of faith, land and lament, and doctrine of discovery. Said an invitation: “Greensboro…is a few hours from Cherokee–a place that is at once a sacred homeland for the Cherokee tribe, a place of modern cultural rebirth, and a tourist destination. It is a place where layers of history and a modern American dream collide. Join us on a scripture inspired tour of a region to reflect on how our values–and those of our ancestors–have shaped the lives of Native Americans.” For more information about schedule, speakers, and fees, go to . Registration opens online March 4.

For more information about Annual Conference go to .

2) Compelling vision online conversation is offered March 23

The Compelling Vision Process Team is hosting an online compelling vision conversation on Saturday, March 23, at 3 p.m. (Eastern time). This is an opportunity for those who have been unable to participate in one of the district-based gatherings to take part in a compelling vision conversation.

The conversation will be held via the ZOOM platform. The link will be posted on the compelling vision Facebook page at and also on the compelling vision web page at .

The committee requests those who are planning to log in for the conversation to register, in order to have a sense of how many people will be joining the event. Register either on the Facebook page or by emailing . For any questions contact the same email address.

3) Interfaith letter opposes CIA lethal drone strikes, Brethren invited to May 3 rally against drone warfare


The Church of the Brethren has signed an interfaith letter to the US Congress about CIA drone strikes. The sign-on by the denomination’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy represented one of 25 faith-based organizations that together released the statement on Feb. 19. The letter asks members of Congress to end the CIA’s use of armed drones to carry out lethal attacks. Find the full text of the letter below.

In related news, the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy is inviting Brethren to a rally against drone warfare on May 3 in Washington, D.C. The office is part of the Interfaith Drone Network and is engaging in the work against drone warfare to fulfill the call of the 2013 Annual Conference “Resolution Against Drone Warfare” (read the resolution at ).

Rally against drone warfare

“The Church of the Brethren recognizes the destructive impacts of US drone strikes around the world,” said an Action Alert, in part. “In 2013, Mission and Ministry Board approved a resolution against drone warfare. The Church views the use of drones as a moral issue, as it does all participation in war, saying in the resolution that ‘war or any participation in war is wrong and entirely incompatible with the spirit, example and teachings of Jesus Christ,’ and that all ‘war is sin…[and that we] cannot encourage, engage in, or willingly profit from armed conflict at home or abroad.’”

The rally will bring attention to why drone warfare is immoral, ineffective, and often illegal; call for an end to CIA drone strikes; and call for General Atomics, the company responsible for the development of Predator and Reaper drones, to sign the “Future of Life” pledge on lethal autonomous weapons.

Find the full action alert at . For more information contact the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, 337 North Carolina Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003; .

Interfaith Letter to Congress on CIA Drone Strikes

February 19, 2019

Dear Members of Congress:

As members of the American faith community, we believe that all people have human rights given to us by God, and that there must be transparency and accountability regarding the use of lethal force undertaken on our behalf. Therefore we are writing to ask you to end the CIA’s use of armed drones to carry out lethal attacks.

The CIA’s use of drones to target and kill suspected militants began in 2004 and has continued through three Administrations. Reports indicate that the CIA’s program of drone strikes has expanded in the past two years to include strikes in Libya and Afghanistan. This is in addition to the CIA’s long term program of carrying out strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and possibly other countries. These strikes amount to a secret war, one that now spreads across at least four countries. There has never been a robust public or congressional debate over this war. In most cases it isn’t even officially acknowledged – despite being common knowledge in the affected countries.

Democracies must debate and take moral responsibility for decisions to use violent force. By refusing to acknowledge most of its strikes, the CIA prevents civilian victims from receiving justice and conveys moral responsibility for killing on to an American people who have never been informed about this secret war, nor had their Members of Congress vote on it.

Drones pose a unique risk for policy-makers in that they lower many of the perceived costs to the use of force and thus lower the threshold for war.  By separating American personnel from direct physical risk, drones antisepticise killing, removing both policy-makers and every-day Americans from understanding the true moral and emotional costs of taking life. The CIA program compounds this problem by making secret an already morally fraught decision to kill.

We encourage you to focus on nonviolent solutions to conflict, including diplomacy, institution-building, and humanitarian assistance. Throughout three Administrations, the CIA has been used to carry out a seemingly endless covert war without formal congressional authorization or public debate. Congress should end this secret war by ending the CIA’s authority to carry out drone strikes.


Presbyterian Church (USA)
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
National Council of Churches
Franciscan Action Network
Church of the Brethren
Sisters of Charity, BVM
Alliance of Baptists
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC)
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Center on Conscience & War
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare
Coalition for Peace Action
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
South East Asian Faith Initiatives
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Disciples Center for Public Witness (Disciples of Christ)
Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Unitarian Universalist Association, United Nations Office
American Friends Service Committee
Pax Christi USA

4) Global Food Initiative manager visits sites in Ecuador

Cows at the Fundación Brethren y Unida campus, Picalqui, Ecuador.
Cows at the Fundación Brethren y Unida campus, Picalqui, Ecuador. Photo by Jeff Boshart
Cooking class at FBU
Cooking class at Fundación Brethren y Unida, Picalqui, Ecuador. Photo by Jeff Boshart

Although the Church of the Brethren mission work in Ecuador ended in the 1970’s, the name, Brethren, lives on in two institutions: Fundación Brethren y Unida (FBU – Brethren and United Foundation), and Unidad Educativa “Brethren” (Brethren Educational Unit). FBU, located about 1 hour north of the capital city of Quito in Picalqui, is a non-governmental organization focused on environmental education for youth as well as teaching organic food production to women’s groups. Unidad Educativa “Brethren” is in Llano Grande, a community that is part of the greater Quito metropolitan area.

In 2017, following a visit by Dale Minnich, a former Brethren mission worker in Ecuador and the first executive director of FBU, the Global Food Initiative (GFI) began collaborating with FBU though two grants (2017 & 2018) supporting work with women and youth at FBU’s campus, and in neighboring communities. In January of this year, GFI manager, Jeff Boshart, made a visit to see firsthand FBU’s work, and to participate in a meeting of FBU’s board of directors as a newly appointed member.

Currently FBU is repairing and upgrading facilities on its campus in hopes of attracting more international volunteers and visitors. Boshart was able to observe a cooking class, meet with the principal of a local high school, and make several field visits. One morning was spent hiking near Lagunas de Mojanda – a crater lake in a protected biological reserve. Although deforestation is extreme in the area, the road leading to the lake was lined with over 500,000 native trees planted by students from local schools over the past 15 years with direction from FBU.

FBU maintains a tree nursery, a small dairy herd (12 cows), plots of blackberries, tree tomatoes (tomarillo), and vegetables. Larger fields produce wheat, alfalfa and corn. FBU is actively seeking those with farming or gardening experience to come spend some time working on the farm and in community programs. If interested, please contact Jeff Boshart at

Church members in Llano Grande, Ecuador
Church members in Llano Grande, Ecuador. Photo by Jeff Boshart

Boshart’s visit to Llano Grande was brief, however he was greeted warmly by elders in the community who remember the work done by U.S. mission workers years ago. They asked about many U.S. mission workers by name. These elders were all educated in the Brethren school and remain fiercely proud of the education and formation they received in both school and church many years ago. Even though the church that was started by Brethren workers in Llano Grande is now affiliated with the United Methodist denomination, Brethren values or service, peace-making and concern for the most vulnerable members of society have become embedded in the DNA of this community. In parting, the elders sent their greetings and hopes for more news and communication from old friends in the near future.

See a photo album of the trip at Support the work of Global Food Initiative at

5) National Youth Cabinet is named for 2019-2020

A Church of the Brethren National Youth Cabinet has been named for 2019-2020. The group will work with the Youth and Young Adult Ministry director Becky Ullom Naugle to select the theme and write worship resources for National Youth Sunday in 2019 and in 2020.

Members of the cabinet are:

Eric Finet from the Nokesville congregation in Mid-Atlantic District,

Grace VanAsselt from the McPherson congregation in Western Plains District,

Lucas Musselman from the Oak Grove congregation in Virlina District,

Madison Creps from the Mechaniscburg congregation in Southern Pennsylvania District,

Rachel Johnson from the Mechanic Grove congregation in Atlantic Northeast District,

Tristen Craighead from the Manassas congregation in Mid-Atlantic District, and
Adult advisors Leslie Lake from Illinois and Wisconsin District and Dennis Beckner from Northern Indiana District.

For more about the Youth and Young Adult Ministry go to .

6) Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Former long-term Brethren Press employee Paul E. Dailey, 97, passed away on Feb. 12 in South Bend, Ind. He worked as a graphic artist for Brethren Press from 1947 to 1970. He had worked as a graphic artist at Manchester College (now Manchester University) as well as at the General Offices of the Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. Former colleague Howard Royer described him as “an avid walker” who continued to walk to work each day from the west side of Elgin after the publishing house moved to its current location at the General Offices on Dundee Avenue on the east side of Elgin. He was born Feb. 13, 1921, in Peru, Ind., to Charles “Marvin” and Effie (Orpurt) Dailey. On Nov. 10, 1943, he married Miriam Landis, who preceded him in death on July 12, 2016. He studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was a dedicated volunteer at Hamilton Communities. He was preceded in death by his wife, Miriam, and grandson Christopher Troyer in 2002. He is survived by son Steve (Trish) Dailey of Fort Wayne, Ind.; daughters Cheryl (Henry) Stolle of Salem, Ill., Kathryn (Michael) Troyer-Clugston of South Bend, Ind., and Janice (Larry) Mitchell of La Porte, Ind.; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 12 noon (Eastern time) on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Kaniewski Funeral Home in New Carlisle, Ind. Burial will follow in Hamilton Cemetery. Visitation is prior to the memorial service from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the funeral home. The full obituary is posted at

— Steve Van Houten has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as interim coordinator of the Workcamp Ministry, working from the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., with a start date of March 6. He was coordinator of the Workcamp Ministry from July 2006 through January 2008, after serving as temporary coordinator for more than a year beginning January 2005. Previous to that, he began volunteering as a workcamp director in 1996. Most recently he was senior pastor of Pine Creek (Ind.) Church of the Brethren until his retirement in August 2018. He is a graduate of Manchester College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry/biology and a minor in psychology, and of Bethany Theological Seminary with a master of divinity degree.

— In the prayers for this week from Global Mission and Service Office, the nations of Haiti and Nigeria are lifted up:

— Haiti has suffered more than a week of civil unrest and violent protests throughout the country. “Hundreds of thousands of protestors have called for the resignation of Haiti’s president Jovenel Moise and have demonstrated against government corruption and economic turmoil,” said the prayer request. “Roadblocks have made travel extremely difficult, and schools and business have all been closed. People are lining up for much-needed fuel and water, and food prices have skyrocketed since stores have not been able to restock. Haitian hospitals, which face shortages of medicine and equipment even in peaceful times, are experiencing even greater difficulties. Romy Telfort, general secretary of Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti), has been receiving requests for assistance from pastors in the rural areas of Haiti. Staff with Eglise des Frere d’Haiti’s agricultural program, Haiti Medical Project, Midwives for Haiti, and Church World Service have all had to curtail their normal activities due to the unrest and violence.”

— Nigeria’s general elections that are now scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 23, after the elections including presidential and national legislative races were originally scheduled for Feb. 16. They “were postponed hours before polls were scheduled to open,” said the prayer request. “Anger and frustration are high among political parties, businesses, and individuals. Many Nigerians traveled long distances to reach their polling places and may not be able to return a second time. Many schools and businesses faced closures due to security concerns. Pray for peace before, during, and following these pivotal elections. Pray for ease of access to voting.”

— Roundtable, the Regional Youth Conference held at Bridgewater (Va.) College on March 1-3. This year’s event will feature keynote speaker Dennis Beckner, a Church of the Brethren pastor in Indiana. See for more information.

— A group of Bridgewater (Va.) College students and a faculty member will put on tool belts and pick up hammers as they spend spring break volunteering as construction workers with Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge Spring Break 2019. A release from the college said the group desired “an alternative way to spend their spring break–in lieu of the traditional beach scene–10 students opted for working with Habitat for Humanity in West Melbourne, Fla. The students, accompanied by Jason Ybarra, assistant professor of physics…will work in partnership with the Brevard County Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Jenna M. Walmer, a senior global studies major, from Mount Joy, Pa., is serving as the student leader for the group.” The Bridgewater Campus Chapter, established in 1995, is one of nearly 700 campus chapters worldwide. This is the 22nd year that Bridgewater College students have used spring break to work on various Habitat projects, including three trips to Miami and one each to Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Independence, Mo., and Austin, Texas.

— “Ever wondered what it’s like to be involved in ministry and leadership…while simultaneously bringing a mini-human into the world?” asks an announcement of the latest Dunker Punks podcast. “Elizabeth Ullery Swenson and her panel of new mothers tell all about the struggles and beauties of doing just that…. This episode goes out to all the Baby Brethren and Dunker Punk-ins out there!” Listen online at or on your favorite podcast app.

Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Victoria Bateman, Shamek Cardona, Jacob Crouse, Chris Douglas, Kendra Harbeck, Donita Keister, Nancy Miner, 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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