Newsline for February 9, 2019

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford


1) Joe A. Detrick and David Sollenberger top Annual Conference ballot for 2019

2) Brethren are invited to spiritual preparation for visioning at Annual Conference

3) National commission considers changes to Selective Service

4) Boko Haram attack three villages in Adamawa State, Nigeria


5) Emily Tyler begins as director of Brethren Volunteer Service

6) Thriving in Ministry program begins, Dana Cassell hired as manager

7) Shannon McNeil to be on team of advocates for Mission Advancement


8) Children’s Disaster Services schedules training workshops for 2019

9) Haiti mission education trip is announced

10) Brethren bits: Remembrance, job opening, “Calling Stories,” intercultural director preaching for Living Stream, call to prayer for Nigeria abductions, Poor People’s Campaign discussion, Ventures course “Growing an Inclusive Multicultural Church,” Martin Luther King Day, more

Quote of the week:
“May God’s presence embrace you and give you peace. May your joy in the Lord never be taken by the thieves of this world, and may you have the peace and abundant life that Christ offers—today and always! Amen.” 

— This benediction was written by Zakaria Bulus for the denomination’s National Junior High Sunday, observed on Nov. 4. More resources can be found at

1) Joe A. Detrick and David Sollenberger top Annual Conference ballot for 2019

2019 annual conference logo

The ballot to be presented to the 2019 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren has been released. Topping the ballot are two nominees for moderator-elect: Joe A. Detrick and David Sollenberger. Other offices to be filled by election are positions on the Program and Arrangements Committee, the Mission and Ministry Board, and the boards of Bethany Seminary, Brethren Benefit Trust, and On Earth Peace. Elections will be held during the Conference on July 3-7 in Greensboro, N.C.

Joe A. Detrick of Seven Valleys, Pa., is an ordained minister and a retired district executive who recently served as interim director for the Office of Ministry. He was district executive minister in Southern Pennsylvania District for 13 years, 1998-2011, and interim district executive for Pacific Southwest District for a year, 2014-2015. He has served two pastorates, in Indiana and in Pennsylvania, totaling 16 years of pastoral ministry. From 1983-88 he was on the denominational staff as coordinator of orientation for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS).

David Sollenberger of Annville, Pa., is a videographer who has documented decades of conferences of the denomination, including Annual Conference and National Youth Conference, where he has been a speaker, and is known at National Older Adult Conference for the humorous NOAC News. He has produced numerous documentaries about Church of the Brethren ministries and history, has traveled to missions and sisters churches in Nigeria and South Sudan among others. He has served on the former General Board and on the Vision Interpretation and Implementation Committee for the Church of the Brethren Vision Statement 2012-2020. 

Following are nominees for other positions to be filled by election in 2019, listed by position:

Program and Arrangements Committee

Carol Hipps Elmore of Salem, Va.

Seth Hendricks of North Manchester, Ind.

Mission and Ministry Board

Area 4

Jess Hoffert of Inver Grove Heights, Minn.

J. Roger Schrock of McPherson, Kan.

Area 5

Lauren Seganos Cohen of Pasadena, Calif.

Don Morrison of Nampa, Idaho

Bethany Seminary board of trustees

Representing the Brethren colleges

Kurt DeGoede of Mount Joy, Pa.

Monica Rice of McPherson, Kan.

Brethren Benefit Trust board of directors

Skill set: investment skills

Audrey Myer of Elizabethtown, Pa.

Derrick Petry of Beavercreek, Ohio

On Earth Peace board

Catherine K. Carson of Fairfax, Va.

Carla L. Gillespie of Tipp City, Ohio

For more information about Annual Conference, go to .

2) Brethren are invited to spiritual preparation for visioning at Annual Conference

Compelling vision banner, 2019 Annual Conference
Compelling vision banner, 2019 Annual Conference

By Donita Keister

The Compelling Vision Process Team is inviting all Brethren to connect with a Facebook page dedicated to spiritual preparation for the visioning conversations that will happen during the 2019 Annual Conference in Greensboro, N.C. The page is titled, “COB Compelling Vision Spiritual Connection Page” and may be found at .

Each month begins with a devotional introducing the focus for the month written by Annual Conference moderator Donita Keister. Throughout the month there will be additional posts developing the focus by various members of the team.

The team will be making a prayer calendar available for the months of May and June to help individuals and congregations participate in helping with preparation for Annual Conference through several weeks of focused prayer. The prayer calendar will be available near the end of March as a download from the compelling vision page on the Church of the Brethren website at and from the Facebook page.

The team is hosting an online compelling vision conversation on Saturday, March 23, at 2 p.m. (Eastern time). This will be done on the ZOOM platform. The link will be posted on the Facebook page. It would be helpful to have a sense of how many will be joining us so we are asking those who are planning to log on for the conversation to register. Sign up for the event on the Facebook page or email .

Another opportunity to engage in preparation for the Annual Conference compelling vision conversations will be through district delegate briefings. While these briefings are usually focused on the various items of business to be processed at Conference, briefings this year will be focused on the visioning conversations and how delegates can prepare for them.

— Donita Keister is moderator of the 2019 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren. Find out more about Annual Conference at .

3) National commission considers changes to Selective Service

Office of Peacebuilding and Policy Logo

By Victoria Bateman

The Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy attended a press conference of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23. This commission is tasked with exploring national attitudes toward military and volunteer service, and potentially recommending changes to the Selective Service system.

Several faith-based organizations submitted public comments to the commission, and the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy continues to monitor how the commission engages with the issue of religious freedom and conscientious objection in their work.

The commission was created in response to the question of whether or not women should be required to register with Selective Service. In addition to expanding the number of Americans who are required to register in the event of a military draft, the commission is considering changes that are of concern to the Church of the Brethren and other peace churches, including increasing the number of high school students who take a version of the military entrance exam and making some type of military or civilian service mandatory for all Americans.

If you would like to share your perspective on the Selective Service with the commission, public comments may be submitted at .

A video of the panels is at . Conscientious objection is discussed starting at minute 58:50.

There are public meetings and hearings taking place regularly, and interested Brethren can find an updated listing at .

— Victoria Bateman is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker at the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C. For more about this ministry go to .

4) Boko Haram attack three villages in Adamawa State, Nigeria

A map of northeast Nigeria showing Adamawa State
A map of northeast Nigeria showing Adamawa State. Photo by Google Maps

A release from Zakariya Musa, Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria

Attackers believed to be Boko Haram insurgents attacked three villages–Shuwari, Kirchinga, and Shuwa–in Madagali Local Government area in Adamawa State, Nigeria, on Feb. 4. The villages are in the northernmost part of the state, north of Mubi.

Amos Udzai, district secretary for the Gulak District of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), who visited two of the affected communities, said one person was killed in Shuwari while another person lost his life in Kirchinga.

Four vehicles, including that of the attackers, were burnt in the villages. The attackers reportedly carted away 10 cars and motorcycles, burned several shops, and looted a dispensary. The villagers said military personnel arrived the scene after the attackers had fled with a police van. 

“I went there myself and saw the damages,” Rev. Udzai said. He added that even on Tuesday there was tension as residents were living in fear because, according to them, the military had not enough weapons to confront the attackers.

Pastor Iliya Filibus of Shuwari confirmed that  some people have returned home but many are still taking refuge in other surrounding communities.

A village head in Madagali who did not want his name in print said on Tuesday that the insurgents came to the community at about 6 p.m. on Monday. “But we mistook them for soldiers because they wore military camouflage and came in army vehicles,” he said.

A community head in Karchinga, Lawan Abubakar, said the terrorists destroyed about 40 shops in his village and killed 2 people in the market square. “On Monday, I saw three vehicles of the army and four anti-aircraft guns. We thought the occupants of the vehicles were personnel of the Nigerian Army on patrol. They passed through our village and our people, even our hunters, were relaxed because we mistook them for soldiers.

“It was later we learnt they went to Shuwa, destroyed shops for about two hours, and they came back to Karchinga, my village, where they destroyed about 40 shops. All our food items and shops were looted and burnt. They killed two persons here [in Karchinga], one at the market square and one on the street.

“The people thought they were soldiers of the Nigerian Army. The usual way the terrorists come, shoot sporadically into the air and then invade the community. But on Monday evening, they came in without suspicion and they started looting and burning houses.”

Another eyewitness said, “The Boko Haram terrorists are believed to be members of the Abubakar Shekau faction of the sect. They killed one person in Shuwa and two in Karchinga. They attacked us at about 6:30 p.m. and fired rocket-propelled grenades. They forced the policemen to flee, stealing vehicles, a police van, looted shops and houses.”

The Nigerian Army on Tuesday confirmed the attacks on the communities saying troops of the 143 Battalion engaged the insurgents, adding that troops were in pursuit of the fleeing insurgents.

Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesperson for the military’s Operation Lafiya Dole, confirmed that the terrorists killed three people but said that they only burned a shop, a health care center, and a market. “The troops recovered one hand grenade and six rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition. Sadly, before the troops arrived at the scene of the crime, the insurgents had killed three persons, looted and torched a shop, a health care center, and a local market.”

— Zakariya Musa is communications staff for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

5) Emily Tyler begins as director of Brethren Volunteer Service

Emily Tyler
Emily Tyler

Emily Tyler started a new position as director of Brethren Volunteer Service on Feb. 4. She continues to work out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., where she has been coordinator for BVS recruitment and the Workcamp Ministry for more than six years, since June 27, 2012. BVS is located within the denomination’s Global Mission and Service program.

Tyler has served in BVS as a volunteer during previous terms of service with the denomination. As a BVSer she was co-coordinator of National Youth Conference in 2006, and in the same year was coordinator for Young Adult Conference. She was a member of the National Young Adult Steering Committee in 2003-05.

As coordinator of the Workcamp Ministry, she has overseen BVS volunteer assistant coordinators each year as the ministry planned and held dozens of summer workcamps for junior highs, senior highs, young adults, multi-generational groups, and the We Are Able experience. Under her leadership, the Workcamp Ministry has offered young adult events in a wide variety of international locations including this summer’s workcamp in an area of China where the Church of the Brethren formerly carried out mission work.

Tyler also has had a teaching career. She taught music and choir at the elementary school level in Peoria, Ariz., prior to her work with BVS recruitment and the Workcamp Ministry. She also has been an elementary music teacher in Wichita, Kan., where she received the Kansas State Teacher of Promise Award in 2004. She is a graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College.

For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to .

6) Thriving in Ministry program begins, Dana Cassell hired as manager

Dana Cassell
Dana Cassell

The Office of Ministry has begun work on a new Thriving in Ministry program, a grant-funded initiative offering support for multivocational Church of the Brethren pastors. Dana Cassell, pastor of Peace Covenant Church of the Brethren in Durham, N.C., has been hired as manager. She started in this half-time position on Jan. 7 while continuing in her pastoral role.

Three-fourths of congregational pastors in the Church of the Brethren are multivocational, working in either part-time or less-than-fully-compensated roles. Recognizing that one challenge for these pastors is less time and availability to travel for education, conferences, and fellowship with other pastors, Thriving in Ministry aims to offer resources and support for multivocational pastors in their own context.

The first step in the new initiative is conducting a large-scale survey so that the resources and content of the program are focused specifically on needs as named by multivocational pastors themselves. CRANE, Atlanta, the same marketing firm that aided the Church of the Brethren in creating the tagline “Continuing the Work of Jesus: Peacefully, Simply, Together,” is conducting this survey over the next two months. Every multivocational minister in the denomination will be contacted through phone calls and emails.

For more about Thriving in Ministry go to or contact .

7) Shannon McNeil to be on team of advocates for Mission Advancement

Shannon McNeil has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as a fulltime Mission Advancement advocate, working out of the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She and Nancy Timbrook McCrickard will serve as a team of advocates working at relationship-building with donors.

McNeil begins in the new position on March 4. Most recently she has been manager of human resources and constituent affairs in the Office of the Governor in Chicago, Ill. She is a member of Neighborhood Church of the Brethren in Montgomery, Ill., a graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College with a bachelor’s degree in international studies, and a graduate of the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies.

In her work for Mission Advancement, as part of the team of advocates, McNeil will be building relationships with donors through various means of communication, traveling cross-country to make personal visits to donors, interpreting the work of the denomination, encouraging giving to support that work, and discussing planned giving strategies with donors. 

8) Children’s Disaster Services schedules training workshops for 2019

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

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has announced its 2019 training workshop calendar for the year. An online map of locations and dates is linked at . Go to for more information and to register for a workshop.

Here are the 2019 workshop dates and locations:

Feb. 22-23 a standard training will be held at United Presbyterian Church in Oakdale, Pa. Registration is open.

March 1-2 a standard training will be held at St. James Lutheran Church in Redding, Calif. Registration is open.

March 23-24 a standard training will be held at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. Registration is open.

April 10-11 a Child Life Specific (CLS) training will be held in Chicago, Ill. Registration is open.

April 12-13 a standard training will be held at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind. Registration is open.

May 2 a one-day intensive training will be held at NYDIS Offices in New York, N.Y. Registration is open.

Sept. 20-21 a standard training will be held at Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. Registration will open later this spring.

Sept. 20-21 a standard training will be held at Fourway Baptist Church in Fort Lupton, Colo. Registration will open later this spring.

Oct. 11-12 a standard training will be held at Fruit and Flower Child Care Center in Portland, Ore. Registration will open later this spring.

Oct. 18-19 a standard training will be held in Omaha, Neb. Registration will open later this spring.

In October a Child Life Specific (CLS) training will be held in Tampa, Fla. Registration will open later this spring.

Cost to attend a workshop is $45 for early registration, including all meals, curriculum, and one overnight stay; $55 for late registration when mailed less than three weeks before the start of the workshop; or $25 retraining fee for CDS volunteers.

For more information go to or contact Children’s Disaster Services at or 800-451-4407 option 5.

9) Haiti mission education trip is announced

A Haiti display at McPherson Church of the Brethren
A Haiti display at McPherson Church of the Brethren. Shown here are McPherson pastor Kathryn Whitacre (center) and Haiti water project committee members David Fruth (left) and Paul Ullom-Minnich. Photo courtesy of Dale Minnich

By Dale Minnich

The Church of the Brethren is offering a mission education trip to Haiti for persons interested in exploring and supporting the church’s Haiti development initiatives in partnership with Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). The trip from July 19-23 can accommodate up to 45 participants who will join 5 members of the Haitian staff for the experience. It will be based in two small hotels about 50 miles north of Port au Prince.

Inspiration for the trip comes from McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, which has mounted a promotion of water projects in Haiti, intending to raise $100,000 for this work by Easter of 2020. The McPherson Church and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service are co-sponsoring the event.

While in Haiti participants will take part in three field trips to visit programs of the Haiti Medical Project in action and to get the feel for life in service communities. Informational seminars, lively discussions, and cross-cultural worship round out the experience.
Twenty places are reserved for McPherson participants and 25 are available for people from the wider denomination. Participants (or a supporting congregation or organization) pay their own way, including the cost of the flight to Port au Prince and a fee likely in the range of $475 for on-site costs (hotels, meals, in-country transportation, translators, staff member expenses, etc.).

Since space is limited, interested persons are asked to contact Dale Minnich, volunteer staff for the Haiti Medical Project, for more information and, when ready, to make a deposit to hold a place for the trip. Minnich can be reached at or 620-480-9253.

10) Brethren bits

— Remembrance: John Conrad Heisel, former manager of both the Nappanee, Ind., and Modesto, Calif., Brethren Service Centers, passed away on Jan. 14 in Modesto. He was born in Empire, Calif., in 1931 to Dee L. and Susie Hackenberg Heisel and was raised in Empire Church of the Brethren. He graduated from Modesto High School in 1949. Following employment with the Southern Pacific Railroad he entered Brethren Volunteer Service in 1953, BVS Unit 18. and served one year as a “guinea pig” at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor and at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md. A second year of BVS was served in Falfurrias, Texas. After returning to California he married Doris Eller in 1958. He was named manager of the Brethren Service Center in Nappanee, Ind., in 1959. In 1971 the Nappanee site began to limit its operations due to decreasing requests for clothing overseas and he transferred back to manage the Modesto location. During this time he was released to work half-time with Church World Service/CROP. The Modesto Brethren Service Center ceased operations in 1974 and John went to work for Goodwill Industries. He returned to California in 1971 as manager of the Modesto Brethren Service Center, working half-time for Church World Service/CROP. After the closure of the center, he went to work for Goodwill Industries of San Joaquin Valley, where he was director of transportation, sales, and community relations. At retirement in 1996, he was working for Orchard Supply Hardware. He was preceded in death by his wife, Doris Eller Heisel, in April 2018. He is survived by daughters Gail Heisel (Butzlaff) of Upland, Calif., and Joy Heisel Schempp of Lansdale, Pa., grandchildren, and a great grandchild. A memorial service was held at Modesto Church of the Brethren on Feb. 1. Memorial gifts are received to Casa de Modesto and Modesto Church of the Brethren.

To celebrate Martin Luther King Day of Service, students from the University of La Verne in southern California volunteered their time and energy to 13 community organizations (above). “They are shown here working at the Peace and Carrots community garden at the Church of the Brethren, where thousands of pounds of produce are donated annually to the hungry,” wrote Don Kendrick, Mayor of La Verne, in a Facebook post about the event. “Great job to all involved!”

“Thank you. Thank you one and all! We did it again!” said a thank you note to the Church of the Brethren General Offices from Joe Wars, chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King Food Drive in Elgin, Ill. The warehouses at the General Offices served as collection and distribution point for the food drive this year, as it has done for eight years. Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren was one of the contributing congregations, and youth and adults from Highland Avenue volunteered at the food drive. This year, the drive “exceeded our goal of 30,000 pounds of food, personal care items, and household supplies,” Wars wrote. The 12,000 pounds of collected food was combined with the “buying power” of more than $6,000 donated by local churches, schools, and other supporters. Wars noted that each donated dollar bought about eight pounds of food. “Because of your hard work, faith, and compassion, there are many families in our community who will be able to eat a decent meal and not worry about having food for their children,” he wrote.

After Jerry Crouse and Morris Collins became friends on a Sankofa Journey in 2014, their two churches have begun to share worship together to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Collins pastors Jesus Saves Pentecostal Church, an African-American congregation. Crouse pastors Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren. On Jan. 27, the Sunday after Martin Luther King Day weekend, Jesus Saves Pentecostal Church traveled across the city to worship with the Warrensburg congregation, and the Church of the Brethren provided a meal. On Feb. 17, Warrensburg Church of the Brethren will join in worship at the Jesus Saves Pentecostal Church, and will be hosted for a meal there. Collins approached Crouse with the idea for the exchange, reported the “Daily Star-Journal” of Warrensburg. Find the article “Unity in Christ, Not Segregation by Color” at .

To commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., pastor Gary Benesh of Friendship Church of the Brethren in North Wilkesboro, N.C., staged a one-man protest of the government shutdown in front of the Wilkes Heritage Museum on Jan. 21. Benesh “was speaking out against injustice in American government,” reported the Wilkes Journal-Patriot. “The sign he made and displayed said it all in red dry-erase ink…. ‘Not paying workers for their work is immoral. Support non-paid government workers. Speak out. Donald and Nancy, let’s talk.’” His personal statement about the shutdown cited Leviticus 19:13, “You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning,” as well as Jeremiah 22:13 and James 5:3-4. See .

— Brethren Benefit Trust seeks an employee benefits specialist. This is a full-time, non-exempt position based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The primary function is to perform the daily operations of the Pension Plan and Church Workers’ Assistance Plan, as well as to provide plan information to staff and participants when requested. Duties include maintaining a working knowledge of all pension systems and products; reviewing and analyzing Church Workers’ Assistance Plan grant applications; maintaining/processing daily operational work for the Pension Plan; assisting with maintaining the Pension Plan Summary Plan Description and maintaining the Legal Plan Document Supplements. The ideal candidate will have knowledge of employee benefits including an understanding of 403(b) Pension Plans. This position requires a person who is very detail oriented, with the ability to prioritize workloads; proficiency with computer systems and applications; exceptional organizational and telephone skills; and impeccable follow-up abilities. The candidate must be able to interact effectively with customers to provide information in response to inquiries about products and services and to handle and resolve complaints. BBT seeks candidates with strong verbal and written communications skills, proficiency in Microsoft Office, a demonstrated track record of providing superior customer service, and a willingness and ability to expand knowledge and effectiveness applicable to the role and as assigned by the director of Retirement Operations. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Send a letter of interest, résumé, three professional references, and salary-range expectation to Donna March at 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, or . For more information about Brethren Benefit Trust visit .

— The Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry has launched a “Calling Stories” project. This collection of videos features pastors from across the country sharing short glimpses into their calls to ministry. The project is intended to be a resource for the whole church, especially those people and groups engaged in the work of calling people into set-apart ministry. Each two-minute video is available to view or download for use in personal discernment, Sunday school discussions, the work of District Ministry Commissions, and anywhere else Brethren work together to consider God’s call to set-apart leadership. Videos can be found at . For questions or to share your own call story, contact Dana Cassell in the Office of Ministry at .

— Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministry for the Church of the Brethren, will be guest preacher for the online worship service of Living Stream Church of the Brethren this Sunday, Feb. 10. “Kettering seeks to continue and expand the conversation and ministry work for those working in intercultural and cross-cultural settings,” said an invitation to join in the worship service. “Worship online with Living Stream on Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern time, 7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain, 5 p.m. Pacific time. Or you may access the recorded worship at any time that suits your schedule.”

— A call to remember and pray for two of the women who have been abducted in Nigeria is shared by Pat Krabacher, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker with the Nigeria Crisis Response. Feb. 19 is the one-year anniversary of the abduction of Leah Sharibu, a schoolgirl abducted from Dapchi, Yobe State. March 1 is the one-year anniversary of the abduction of Alice Loksha Ngadda, also known as Alice Adamu, a nurse and aid worker abducted from Rann, Borno State.

— On Earth Peace in January convened an online gathering of 12 people from various constituencies of On Earth Peace and the Church of the Brethren to share insights and discuss the “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.” Another online discussion is planned for Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. (Pacific time, or 7 p.m. Eastern time), On Earth Peace will convene the meet-up via webcam. “To learn more about this opportunity to organize around systemic racism and poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy, please join us,” said an announcement. “The meetup will be convened by Sara Haldeman-Scarr (pastor, San Diego First Church of the Brethren), Alyssa Parker (OEP racial justice organizing intern), and Matt Guynn. Participants will share about our own experiences with the PPC, any questions we have. We will specifically talk about how to engage our own congregations and denominations in the Poor People’s Campaign. Advance readings will be suggested to provide a baseline understanding of PPC before the call.” Contact for more information and to register.

— The March offering from the “Ventures in Christian Discipleship” program at McPherson (Kan.) College will focus on “Growing an Inclusive Multicultural Church.” “As the world becomes more diverse, church leaders and lay people will need an understanding of what is inclusivity/multiculturalism,” said an announcement. “Instruction includes a non-threatening approach to invite and help bring more people, especially people of color, into the churches or agencies of the Church of the Brethren. Learning new information can help change the trajectory of people, whereby they see with new lenses of compassion and inclusivity.” Participants also will learn tips about how church members can be more welcoming and inclusive.
The class will be held online Saturday, March 2, at 9 a.m. to 12 noon (central time) taught by Barbara Avent, an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren living in Littleton, Colo. She graduated from Iliff School of Theology earning a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in justice and peace. She is co-coordinator of high school trainings about peacemaking, reconciliation, and bullying prevention through Agape Satyagraha, a program of On Earth Peace. All classes are donation-based and continuing education credit is available for $10 per course. To learn more about Ventures and to register for courses, visit .

 “Make friends with change and come alive!” said an invitation to listen to the latest Dunker Punks podcast. “The start of the new calendar year always seems to bring about a sentiment of self-reflection and re-orienting on the direction our lives are taking. Join Laura Weimer as she shares some concepts she’s discovered through researching ways to deal with upcoming changes in her life.” Listen at or subscribe on iTunes .

— Week of Prayer for Christian Unity devotions are offered this year by four heads of communion in the United States and Canada: Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate, the Episcopal Church; Fred Hiltz, primate, Anglican Church of Canada; and Susan C. Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The series of devotions are for the ecumenical celebration on Jan. 18-25. Each year, churches from around the world mark a week to pray together for Christian unity. The theme for 2019 is based the 16th chapter of Deuteronomy, which states, “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue.” The ELCA is providing a download of the devotions at .

— Each year before Earth Day, Creation Justice Ministries offers materials to equip faith communities to protect, restore, and more rightly share God’s creation. The 2019 theme for this ecumenical resource is “Next Generation Rising” focusing on children and youth leading the way for creation justice. A Bible study, sermon starter, liturgical, and action materials may be downloaded from . To connect with others who are planning Earth Day activities, join the Earth Day Sunday 2019 Facebook event at .

— An event at the UN focused on ethical financing for development was co-sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC). The 5th Annual Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs was held at the UN headquarters in New York on the theme, “Financing for Sustainable Development: Toward an Economy of Life.” “Financing for sustainable development represents the expression of an ethic of solidarity and sharing, including with generations that come after us and who will inherit whatever good or evil we have wrought,” said Peter Prove, director of International Affairs at the WCC. A release from the WCC noted that the Financing for Development process is centered around supporting follow-up to the agreements and commitments related to the outcomes of major United Nations summits in the economic and social fields, including the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The 2019 symposium was co-organized by the WCC, ACT Alliance, General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, Islamic Relief USA, and the United Religions Initiative, in partnership with the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Sustainable Development and the NGO Committee on Financing for Development Conference of NGOs.

— A special World Council of Churches (WCC) campaign is tackling abuse and violence in “loving” relationships. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, falls on a Thursday this year, and is being connected to the Thursdays in Black campaign against rape and violence. “Recognizing that Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love, the WCC states that for too many people, ‘love’ comes with abuse and violence,” said a release. “The WCC is inviting reflections and participation on social media, including encouraging people to use a special profile picture, to be made available on Feb. 7, for Valentine’s Day itself.” The campaign kicked off on Jan. 31 by inviting reflections on a scripture passage often used to express love, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Reflections shared with the WCC will be incorporated into a video and feature story for Valentine’s Day. For more about Thursdays in Black go to .

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, Gary Benesh, Shamek Cardona, Dana Cassell, Jacob Crouse, Chris Douglas, Kendra Flory, Donita Keister, Pat Krabacher, Nancy Miner, Dale Minnich, Zakariya Musa, Traci Rabenstein, Jay Wittmeyer, 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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