Newsline for March 13, 2019

blessed assurance with beatitude
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford


1) Mission and Ministry Board turns down proposal to increase delegate numbers
2) New parking lot tax may affect some congregations
3) Compelling vision conversations at Annual Conference
4) Germantown Church of the Brethren is celebrating 300 years
5) New students welcomed at Bethany Seminary
6) Brethren Academy students explore ‘Race and the Congregation’
7) Roundtable 2019 brings more than 150 together for 78th anniversary
8) University of La Verne community gathers in solidarity for candlelight vigil
9) Manchester Student Senate approves ‘Refugees Welcome’ resolution


10) New registration open date is announced for National Older Adult Conference
11) Webinar to develop ‘conflict competent leadership’
12) Ventures online course to focus on healthy and safe congregations

13) Brethren bits: Stan Noffsinger starts as CEO at Timbercrest, EYN requests prayer, Ware Lecture at Elizabethtown College features artists from Silkroad, BVS Unit from fall 1969 plans 50th anniversary get together, Earth Day Sunday toolkit, remembering Mac Wiseman, and more

Quote of the week:
“As Jesus introduces his disciples to the vision of the coming kingdom of heaven, he stands in the finest prophetic tradition. Discipleship will require the highest level of righteousness and justice. But Jesus takes this idea of righteousness even further. He focuses on the inner yearning for this kind of world. Those who hunger and thirst for a world where people live together justly and rightly are blessed.” 

Edward L. Poling writing in the 2019 Lenten devotional from Brethren Press, “New World Coming.” This is excerpted from the devotion for this past Sunday, March 10. Find out more about the devotional at .

1) Mission and Ministry Board turns down proposal to increase delegate numbers

The spring 2019 meeting of the mission and ministry board
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

The Mission and Ministry Board has turned down a proposal to change delegate representation at Annual Conference, which had potential to increase the number of delegates that some larger congregations could send to Annual Conference and the number of delegates that some larger districts could appoint to Standing Committee (see story below). The decision came during the board’s spring meeting March 8-11 held at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, Elgin, Ill.

Connie Burk Davis chaired the meeting, assisted by chair-elect Patrick Starkey and general secretary David Steele. A consensus model was used for decision-making, as has been board practice for some years. Board members raised cards in three colors to indicate their responses to agenda items: green for agreement, red for disagreement, and yellow to indicate concerns or questions. If red and yellow cards predominate, a proposal is considered to have failed.

As at every meeting, the board spent time in prayer and worship, participating in a Sunday morning service led by students from Bethany Seminary and a closing worship service led by Annual Conference moderator-elect Paul Mundey.

In other business:

— The board approved an executive committee recommendation for a realtor to begin exploring sale of approximately 12 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the General Offices. As more details emerge more will be reported in future issues of Newsline.

— The board approved a heating system update at the General Offices.

Board member Joel Pena shares statistics about migrants leaving Venezuela
Board member Joel Pena shares statistics about migrants leaving Venezuela at the Spring 2019 Mission and Ministry Board meeting. Pena is a leader in the effort to grow an emerging Church of the Brethren in Venezuela. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

— A request brought by the Living Together Working Group that the group be disbanded was approved. The decision included an understanding that the board will consider how to return at a later time to its mandate from the 2016 Annual Conference to respond to the query “Living Together as Christ Calls.” The working group reported an inability to get “traction” for building a framework for the task, and a desire to wait for the outcome of compelling vision conversations.

— Steven Longenecker was appointed to the Brethren Historical Committee.

Mission and Ministry Board chair Connie Burk Davis
Mission and Ministry Board chair Connie Burk Davis. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

— Annual Conference moderator Donita Keister led the board in considering feedback from Compelling Vision conversations held in January with the district executives, which focused on “a denominational culture of mistrust.”

— Stan Dueck, co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries, led training for strategic planning.

— Also on the agenda were several reports from ministry areas and a financial year-end review for 2018.

Find a photo album at .

Board turns down proposal for change in delegate representation at Annual Conference

The Mission and Ministry Board has turned down a proposal to change delegate representation at Annual Conference. The proposal brought by the Leadership Team of the denomination had potential to increase the number of delegates that some larger congregations could send to Annual Conference and the number of delegates that some larger districts could appoint to Standing Committee

The Leadership Team includes the Annual Conference officers, general secretary, and a representative of Council of District Executives.

Bethany student Raul Rivera Arroyo preaching for the Mission and Ministry Board's Sunday morning service.
Bethany student Raul Rivera Arroyo preaching for the Mission and Ministry Board’s Sunday morning service. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

The board dealt with the two parts of the recommendation separately, first discussing the proposed change for Standing Committee representation, and then the change in congregational delegate representation at Conference. Both parts of the recommendation failed to gain approval.

The recommendation would have changed denominational bylaws for district delegations to Standing Committee from a current ratio of 1 delegate for every 5,000 members of a district to 1 delegate for every 4,000 members of a district; and for delegate representation at Annual Conference from a current ratio of 1 delegate for every 200 members of a congregation to 1 delegate for every 100 members of a congregation.

The recommendation originated in the Leadership Team in early 2018 and was brought to Annual Conference that year. However, it was withdrawn from Conference consideration because proposals to amend the bylaws of the denomination must come through a query process or as a recommendation from the Mission and Ministry Board.

The board received the recommendation last fall but postponed a decision in order to seek more information about practical outcomes. At this meeting the board reviewed charts showing scenarios for Standing Committee and the delegate body based on total eligibility of congregations and on actual delegate attendance in 2018. The charts showed potential delegate numbers and percentage shares of representation grouped by district and by the five areas of the denomination: the northeastern area, the southeastern area with Puerto Rico, the midwest, the plains states, and the western area.

Board members and staff spend time in small group "table talk" during the Spring 2019 meeting.
Board members and staff spend time in small group “table talk” during the Spring 2019 meeting. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Moderator Keister spoke about the Leadership Team’s intent in bringing the recommendation to increase participation at Annual Conference and increase vitality of the Conference by encouraging more people to attend. It was noted that the proposal would be a way of increasing numbers at Annual Conference even as the average size of congregations is decreasing. If each congregation actually sent its allotted number of delegates, the overall effect of the proposal would have been to increase the delegate body by about 50 percent.

After viewing charts showing potential outcomes would increase the percentage share of representation by the larger districts and Area 1 at the expense of the other areas and the smaller districts, board discussion centered on concerns about detrimental effects for small congregations and Brethren living in the west. One board member asked why consideration was being given to a proposal that would mean most of the denomination would lose out in terms of its percentage of representation.

Other points of discussion included the ideal size for the Standing Committee, whether membership or worship attendance should be the criteria for delegate representation, and whether now is the right time to make this kind of change in the life of the church. The discussion identified cost as a key factor for many small congregations that currently do not send delegates to Annual Conference, and as a potential burden for districts that would have been required to add members to their Standing Committee delegations.

2) New parking lot tax may affect some congregations

parking lot

A change to the Internal Revenue Code imposes a new tax on parking facilities owned by nonprofits, and may affect some churches. This new business income tax provision is found in Section 512(a)(7) of the code.

Last November, Nevin Dulabaum as president of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) signed a letter to Congress expressing concern about this, among other changes to tax code. The letter was sent by an interfaith organization representing denominational benefit plans.

To help Church of the Brethren congregations find out whether this tax applies to them, BBT recommends an online resource from Batts Morrison Wales & Lee, a CPA firm dedicated to serving the nonprofit sector.

Go to for the Batts’ resource. Find a helpful Nonprofit Parking Tax Flowchart at .

The nonprofit parking tax is part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and is effective beginning Jan. 1, 2018. Section 512(a)(7) “says that tax-exempt employers (churches, charities, etc.) must treat as unrelated business taxable income the cost of providing parking to their employees, subject to IRS guidance,” says the Batts’ resource. “What that means in plain language is that Congress created a federal income tax on the cost of employee parking provided by churches, charities, and other nonprofits….

“Parking spaces that are reserved for employees are subject to tax,” the resource explains. “A parking space or group of parking spaces may be reserved by the use of signs, gates, attendants, markers, or other methods that indicate the use of certain spaces is limited to employees…. If an organization reduces or eliminates reserved employee parking spaces by March 31, 2019, the IRS will consider the reduction or elimination of those spaces to be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018. Reducing or eliminating reserved employee spaces may help an organization reduce or eliminate its tax liability, but that will not be true in every case.”

Churches may not be subject to the tax if they have no parking spaces reserved exclusively for employee use and if a majority of their parking is available to the general public, meaning anyone other than employees.

If the tax applies, it is treated as a tax on unrelated business income and a federal Form 990-T must be filed. A church must pay applicable tax if the sum of the following is more than $1,000: parking expenses subject to the tax and gross revenues from any other unrelated business activities.

For detailed information go to .

3) Compelling vision conversations at Annual Conference

By Rhonda Pittman Gingrich

As we gather in Greensboro, N.C., during Annual Conference to “Proclaim Christ, Reclaim Passion,” business sessions will feel different to Conference-goers. Worship, Bible study, and conversations designed to help us discern God’s call for us as the body of Christ will be the focus of the business agenda at the 2019 Annual Conference.

The discernment process, launched at Annual Conference 2018, continued throughout the year with conversations in districts and with various constituency groups. At Annual Conference this year, we will seek to deepen the conversation.

These conversations will not be a repeat of the district conversations. They will grow from and be shaped by what have heard throughout the last year as we continue to drill down and seek clarity about what God is calling us to do together as the embodiment of Christ’s presence in these times.

Both delegates and nondelegates will have the opportunity to sit with brothers and sisters around tables, engaging in worship, Bible study, and conversation together. Nondelegates wishing to join the conversation around a table are asked to register in advance as part of the registration process for Annual Conference. Not only will this allow us to make the necessary arrangements, but it is a commitment to build community with those around their table and engage fully in the process.

Please join us as we seek to discern God’s call for us and reclaim our passion to engage in ministry together.

— Rhonda Pittman Gingrich chairs the Compelling Vision Process Team.

4) Germantown Church of the Brethren is celebrating 300 years

A view of the historic building of the Germantown Church of the Brethren
A view of the historic building of the Germantown Church of the Brethren. Photo by Glenn Riegel

Germantown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is starting a five-year celebration of its 300th anniversary this year. The congregation located in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia is considered to be the “mother church” of the denomination as the first congregation that the Brethren established in the Americas.

The year 1719 is recorded in the Church of the Brethren Yearbook as the date of the start of the congregation, and is recorded in the Brethren Encyclopedia as the year Brethren first settled in Germantown. The official formation of the congregation wasn’t until 1723, when the first Brethren baptisms in the Americas were held on Christmas Day in the Wissahickon River.

Over five years, 2019-2023, the congregation will celebrate its 300 years of Brethren heritage, said Germantown pastor Richard Kyerematen. The celebration also is hoped to begin a call to the denomination to refocus Brethren energy on urban ministry. This celebration can be a meaningful touchstone to the launch of the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the Brethren, which took place at Germantown in 2007.

An informal kick-off for the celebration was held on Sunday, March 3, when Atlantic Northeast District executive minister Pete Kontra preached and Office of Ministry director Nancy Sollenberger Heishman was present to worship with the church.

More about Germantown anniversary events will be shared as the information becomes available.

5) New students welcomed at Bethany Seminary

By Jenny Williams

With the opening of the spring 2019 semester, nine students began their education at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., in pursuit of a degree or certificate. Five are enrolled in the master of divinity program, three are enrolled for graduate certificates, and one is enrolled in the master of arts program. In addition, two students who are completing a Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies have enrolled to continue in the master of divinity program, and one person has enrolled as an occasional student.

Seven students are from the Church of the Brethren, with Mennonite Church USA, Evangelical Church Winning All (Nigeria), Pentecostal Powercity International (Dubai), and nondenominational traditions also represented.

Currently, four of the new students are participating in the Pillars and Pathways Residency Scholarship. Launched in fall 2018, this scholarship is an opportunity for students to complete seminary without incurring additional educational or consumer debt. In addition to maintaining eligibility for the Academic Excellence Scholarship, recipients commit to living in the Bethany Neighborhood, engaging in group reflection and campus activities, volunteering in the Richmond area, earning a set amount through employment and/or work study, and living within their means.
Karen Duhai, director of student development, oversees the scholarship. “The Pillars and Pathways Residency Scholarship program is full this semester with 10 students participating. We are continuing to explore ways to make the program inclusive and accessible to students in a variety of life situations and, as a result, are pleased to have our first family living in the Bethany Neighborhood.”

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

6) Brethren Academy students explore ‘Race and the Congregation’

Eric Bishop teaches Brethren Academy course on "Race and the Congregation"
Eric Bishop teaches Brethren Academy course on “Race and the Congregation” Photo by Janet Ober Lambert

By Janet Ober Lambert

What does the affirmation “All War Is Sin”* mean when wars are waged on drugs, on crime, on poverty, when the designated enemy is not a soldier on foreign soil, but citizens of one’s own country? 

What does it mean to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) when your neighbor doesn’t experience the world in the way you do, when walking a mile in their shoes would feel to you like walking in a foreign land?

These are the sorts of questions students wrestled with during the Brethren Academy course “Race and the Congregation,” which was hosted by the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Feb. 21-24. The seminar-style course was led by Eric Bishop, vice president of student services for Chaffey Community College in southern California and an adjunct professor at the University of La Verne and San Diego State University. Bishop currently serves as a member of the Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees and has served on the Program and Arrangements Committee for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.

During this course, participants explored the foundations of the modern realities faced by many black Americans, first-hand accounts of black Christians reckoning with ministries in which they are minorities, statements about race adopted by Annual Conference, and the distance the church still needs to go to meet its own goals in this area. The course concluded with students creating their own action plans, outlining for themselves next steps in listening, learning, and becoming allies for people of color within the church and the wider community.

Readings for this course included “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness” by Austin Channing Brown and “Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond” by Marc Lamont Hill.

* “War: 1970 Church of the Brethren Statement,” originally adopted by the 1948 Annual Conference as the “Statement on Position and Practices of the Church of the Brethren in Relation to War,” revised by the 1957, 1968, and 1970 Annual Conferences. Find the full statement at .

— Janet Ober Lambert is director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. For more information about the academy go to .

7) Roundtable 2019 brings more than 150 together for 78th anniversary

The group at Roundtable 2019
The group at Roundtable 2019. Photo courtesy of Chad Whitzel

By Chad Whitzel

Over the weekend of March 1-3, more than 150 youth and advisors took part in the annual Roundtable regional youth conference held at Bridgewater (Va.) College. This marked the 78th anniversary of Roundtable, which invites senior high youth from the districts of the southeastern region (Atlantic Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Shenandoah, Virlina, West Marva, and Southeastern) as well as the Pennsylvania districts (Atlantic Northeast, Middle Pennsylvania, Southern Pennsylvania, and Western Pennsylvania).

Dennis Beckner, pastor of Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, served as the speaker on the theme, “Seeking Serenity.” The conference included worship services, workshops, small groups, a vespers service, and recreation time. A key feature of Roundtable is the offering chosen each year. This year, more than $1,000 was raised to benefit Brethren Disaster Ministries and the work to serve communities recovering from disaster. In an interesting note, this year four of the six new National Youth Cabinet members were in attendance, as well as Dennis Beckner as one of the adult advisors to the cabinet.

Roundtable is planned by the Interdistrict Youth Cabinet of Bridgewater College. The cabinet is made up of college students who serve two-year terms, and advisor Steve Spire, pastor of Sangerville (Va.) Church of the Brethren. Members of the cabinet for this year’s conference were Amelia Gunn of Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren, Kasey Carns of Locust Grove (Md.) Church of the Brethren, and Chad Whitzel of Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren, finishing their terms; Erika Clary of Brownsville (Md.) Church of the Brethren, Eli Quay of Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren, and Helena Ullom-Minnich of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, continuing their terms; and Abigail Allen of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, Katie Hardy of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren, and Brady Jones of New Hope (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren, starting their terms.

Details of next year’s Roundtable will be released at a later time. See for more information and updates throughout the year.

— Chad Whitzel is a member of the Interdistrict Youth Cabinet of Bridgewater College.

8) University of La Verne community gathers in solidarity for candlelight vigil

From a ULV release

The University of La Verne (Calif.) community gathered a week ago Monday night for a moving vigil led by the university chaplain Zandra Wagoner. Several students shared reading by poets and led the community in prayer. The University of La Verne Chorale united the crowd with songs and hymns.

More than 200 students, faculty, and staff attended the evening vigil in Sneaky Park, which was organized to bring the community together following racially-motivated hate crimes targeting University of La Verne students last week.

“This vigil is for our campus community to gather to lament the violence that has occurred, and to support one another in our grief, anger, and confusion,” Wagoner told the crowd.

“We are in the midst of a storm right now that’s in our community. There is fear and anxiety swirling around us…. We need our collective voice if we hope to transform our pain into wholeness,” she said.

Two students read a Litany of Lamentations that engaged the community in a unison response to promote peace and healing. At the beginning, the community responded: “It is too soon to move on” and later “Move us forward.”

Wagoner read messages from members of La Verne Church of the Brethren, which founded the university more than 125 years ago. “I pray for an end to racism and intolerance in all its forms,” read one message. “For understanding and a coming together to find solutions, we need to love our neighbors and everyone; everyone is our neighbor.”

Before lighting candles, Wagoner asked the community to notice the significance of their candles and their individual sparks, unique dreams, and contributions to the community. “Collectively, our lights are a beacon of hope, and a light for justice,” Wagoner said. “Thank you for bringing your light today. It is inspiring and hopeful.”

9) Manchester Student Senate approves ‘Refugees Welcome’ resolution

The Manchester University Student Senate has approved a resolution supporting and welcoming refugees. The resolution states, in part, that the student body of Manchester University welcomes refugees and declares its support for the resettlement of refugees “no matter their religion, race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, or country of origin, in northern Indiana and calls upon other Indiana communities to join them in supporting a stronger national effort to resettle the world’s most vulnerable refugees.” The entire statement can be found at .

“Student Senate recognizes and understands the need for issues like this to be a part of our regular discourse, and action from us is required. We hope that the passing of this resolution shows that students at Manchester believe in creating a safe and respecting environment for all people,” said Gabby Anglin, Student Senate president.

After several decades of inactivity, Manchester again has an active chapter of Amnesty International. The reconstituted chapter this year so far worked for passage of the resolution through the Student Senate, conducted a Write4Rights campaign, and promoted more human rights-related advocacy on campus.

On March 1, peace studies students Virginia Rendler, Caraline Feairheller, Amy Weeks, and Jesse Langdon presented a panel led by Peace Studies coordinator Zander Willoughby titled “Using the Human Rights Framework to Create Change on Campus” at Amnesty International’s annual general meeting in Chicago.

“Beginning the Amnesty International Chapter at Manchester University was a natural step for Manchester Peace Studies. It combines advocacy and education with actions that students can participate in and make a difference,” said Rendler, Amnesty International Manchester Chapter president.

“The Refugees Welcome Resolution serves to uphold the Manchester University Mission Statement, and it makes our institution unique in Indiana for yet another reason. The relationship between Amnesty, Student Senate, Peace Studies, and other on-campus groups are relationships we hope to develop and foster over the next semester,” she said.

10) New registration open date is announced for National Older Adult Conference

NOAC 2019 logo "Reaching into joy"

May 1 has been announced as opening date for registration for the 2019 National Older Adult Conference. This year’s NOAC takes place 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.”

Early registration for those who need handicapped accessibility and the most convenient housing in the Terrace Hotel will be open April 22-30.

Organizers request participants to register online if possible, at the NOAC website . Paper registration forms will be available on request. Those who are unable to register online may call the Discipleship Ministries Office at 800-323-8039 ext. 302 for a paper form.

Cost for registration is $195. Late registration received after July 15 will increase to $225.

All lodging reservations are on-site at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, and must be made through the center office. Call 800-222-4930 ext. 1.

For more information go to .

11) Webinar to develop ‘conflict competent leadership’

Christiana Rice

“Conflict Competent Leadership” is the title of a “New and Renew Webinar” offered through the Discipleship Ministries. The webinar is scheduled for March 19 at 1-2 p.m. (Eastern time). Participants in the live event may earn 0.1 continuing education credit.

“Reconciliation is central to our collective calling as Christ followers. Yet many of us are thrust into leadership and ministry without the necessary tools to walk through inevitable conflict, hurt, and betrayal,” said an announcement. “In this webinar we will explore how to develop competency in conflict transformation and map out some practical pathways for interpersonal and community peace building.”

Leading the event is Christiana Rice, co-author with Michael Frost of “To Alter Your World: Partnering with God to Rebirth Our Communities,” and an on-the ground practitioner and leader in the missional movement, serving with Thresholds as a coach and trainer for missional leaders. She is based in urban San Diego, Calif.

The webinar link is . More information is at .

12) Ventures online course to focus on healthy and safe congregations

Ventures in christian discipleship flyer

By Kendra Flory

The April offering from the “Ventures in Christian Discipleship” program at McPherson (Kan.) College will focus on “Healthy and Safe Congregations.” Almost all congregations aspire to welcome the stranger into our midst. Our tradition, sacred texts, doctrines, teachings, and cultural values can be a resource to visitors, members, and the community.  But sometimes those very things we love become a roadblock to others. This course will look specifically at how congregations can be a safe place for those who are vulnerable. 

Based on our Brethren values, what can we do to make sure that all, but especially survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault, feel safe and supported? This course will look at how we can create congregations where everyone’s physical, emotional, and mental safety are important values and embedded in our congregational structures. We will pay special attention to welcoming and supporting victims, survivors, and the vulnerable.

The class will be held online on Saturday, April 13, at 9 a.m. to 12 noon (central time), It is taught by Kathy Reid, executive director of the Family Abuse Center in Waco, Texas. Prior to her move to Waco, she was associate general secretary of the Church of the Brethren and executive director of the Association of Brethren Caregivers.

All Ventures classes are donation-based. Continuing education credit is available for $10 per course. To learn more about Ventures and to register for courses, visit .

— Kendra Flory is advancement assistant for McPherson College.

13) Brethren bits

— Stanley J. Noffsinger has begun as chief executive officer of Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind. He is a former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren (2003-2016) and most recently director of the Office of the General Secretariat for the World Council of Churches (2016-2018). Previously he served as manager and executive director of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. (1999-2003). He also has spent 10 years in various positions in health care administration in Kansas. He is a graduate of Manchester University and grew up in northern Indiana. A press release from the community noted that he accompanied his father and mother, who was a “North Manchester native,” to the groundbreaking for the construction of Timbercrest. Noffsinger began his tenure at Timbercrest at the beginning of March and will be living in the North Manchester area.

— Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) communications office has requested prayer for challenging situations as well as uplifting events this month. “Pray for EYN Founder’s day the 17th March to mark the day it started in 1923 at Garkida,” wrote communications staff Zakariya Musa this week, noting as well the EYN Men’s Fellowship is holding its annual meeting this week at EYN headquarters in Kwarhi.
     Prayer for the continuing challenge of insurgent violence also is requested, as church members and their neighbors are facing an increase in violent attacks from Boko Haram. EYN officials have reported that in some areas, people are living in fear and many are relocating or sleeping in caves. EYN has requested specific prayers for church members who lost loved ones in an attack on the town of Madagali on March 1, when a suicide bomber entered the house of a church member and killed the family, and a rocket attack killed seven people. The congregation of EYN Bwaguma and church members in the community of Gatamwarwa were attacked in February. The Bwaguma community’s food stores were looted, and a seven-year-old was abducted from an EYN family, among other losses.

— Global Food Initiative (GFI) manager Jeff Boshart and volunteer Chris Elliott have been traveling to meet with partners and visit agricultural projects in the African Great Lakes region. Their first stop was Burundi to meet with Church of the Brethren partner organization Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS) and its founder David Niyonzima. They then planned to visit projects and members of the Brethren Church of Rwanda, led by Etienne Nsanzimana, and also meet with leaders of Eglise de Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in Congo).

— Ellis and Rita Yoder of Monitor Church of the Brethren in McPherson, Kan., have been honored as the McPherson County 2018 Farm Family of the Year. “My first thought was I didn’t think we were worthy, but we’re very honored and grateful,” Ellis told the McPherson Sentinel, which reported that “Ellis represents the fourth generation of Yoders to farm in McPherson County. His great-grandfather bought land between McPherson and Inman around 120 years ago.” A note from Connie Burholder, one of the ministers at their church, added that the Yoders “have been extremely generous and involved in Growing Hope Globally (formerly Foods Resource Bank).” Find the McPherson Sentinel article at .

The 2019 Ware Lecture on Peacemaking at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College features artists from Silkroad. Founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, the group is named after the historical Silk Road that Ma “claims can serve as a model for productive cultural collaboration, for the exchange of ideas and tradition alongside commerce and innovation,” said a release. “In a radical experiment, he brought together musicians from the lands of the Silk Road to co-create a new artistic idiom, a musical language founded in difference, a metaphor for the benefits of a more connected world.” the event takes place April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Leffler Chapel and Performance Center at Elizabethtown College. Tickets are free but required. Reserve by calling 717-361-4757 or emailing . The Ware Lecture on Peacemaking is part of the Judy S. ’68 and Paul W. Ware Colloquium on Peacemaking and Global Citizenship and is sponsored by Judy S. ’68 and Paul W. Ware and Elizabethtown College’s Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking. For further information contact Kay Wolf, program manager, at or see .

The Appointed Quartet in concert at Forest Chapel Church of the Brethren
The Appointed Quartet in concert at Forest Chapel Church of the Brethren. Image courtesy of Forest Chapel Church of the Brethren

— The “Appointed Quartet” will be at Forest Chapel Church of the Brethren in Crimora, Va., on April 14 for the morning worship service. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. and the concert will be from 10:50 a.m. to 12 noon. “This group has opened for Gold City, The Kingsmen, Triumphant Quartet, Karen Peck and New River, The Hoppers, The Guardians, The Perry’s, Heirline, The Talleys, and Brian Free and Assurance,” said an announcement from the church. A covered dish meal will be offered after the concert and a free will offering will be taken for the group.

— Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, took a group of Church of the Brethren workcampers to one of the Civil Society events at the United Nations Department of Global Communications. The group that attended the “Chat Series” on March 5 included workcampers from the Brooklyn (N.Y.) First Church and from Church in Drive and Saganaw Valley State University congregations in Michigan. “Tuesday was their first chat for 2019 titled ‘New Year, New Name–Who We Are and What We Do,” Abdullah reported to Newsline. “The group was able to gain a better understanding of how the UN works, the role of civil society, and Church of the Brethren importance to the workings via interactions with GCCSO ( global communication civil society organization) staff and other members of civil society.” The Chat Series and briefing are carried live on Facebook and other UN media. 

— Brethren Voices has been produced for March, April, and May, already, said an announcement from producer Ed Groff. March program features the Lybrook Community Ministries in New Mexico; the April program is titled “The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival”; and the May program invites viewers to “Meet the Moderator” featuring Donita Keister, 2019 Annual Conference moderator. Brethren Voices now has 410 subscribers on , has had over 175,000 views during the past 7 years, and has been broadcast on over 50 stations around the country.

— In the latest episode of the Dunker Punks Podcast, listeners will learn about a project to support the outcast and forgotten in society. Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred interviews Rachel Gross about the Death Row Support Project, and what she and others like her are doing through small acts of kindness, sincerity, and love. Listen at or subscribe to Dunker Punks Podcast on your favorite podcasting app.

 “Searching for…participants in the fall of 1969 BVS Unit,” said an announcement from four of the unit members living in the area of North Manchester, Ind.: John Hartsough, Mary Shearer, Bob Gross, and Cliff Kindy. The group is planning a reunion of the unit for the “50-year point since our training in the fall of 1969.” The reunion will take place near North Manchester at Joyfield Farm, where the Gross and Kindy families live and have hosted large gatherings before. Attendees may tent, stay in the barn, stay in extra rooms in hosts’ homes, or reserve a room in a nearby motel or bed and breakfast. Unit members are invited to gather this late summer or early fall to re-acquaint and reminisce. Members of the fall 1969 BVS Unit who are interested in a get together, or who have contact information for other unit members, are asked to contact Cliff Kindy at 4874 E 1400 N, North Manchester, IN 46962; 260-982-2971; .

— A joint delegation of representatives from the historic African-American churches within the National Council of Churches (NCC) and from the South African Council of Churches has traveled to Palestine and Israel. The trip took place Feb. 21 to March 1. The NCC email newsletter included a report on the trip from NCC president and general secretary Jim Winkler, who accompanied the group, and a “Group Pilgrimage Statement on Israel and Palestine.” The statement reviewed the activities of the delegation, outlined prayers and commitments that they brought home with them, and stated support for the work of peace and justice in the area, among other content. Find the NCC newsletter at .

— Bread for the World, a Christian anti-hunger group that has been a partner organization for Church of the Brethren food security work, has released a devotional guide to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Va. “Lament and Hope: A Pan-African Devotional Guide” was dedicated at a prayer service in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 28, the last day of Black History Month. “The free guide addresses past and current issues of unequal access to land, housing, and education,” reported Religion News Services (RNS). “It begins with verses from the Bible’s Book of Lamentations that speak of homelessness and affliction and conclude with a proclamation of the steadfast love of the Lord.” Angelique Walker-Smith is the editor. The devotional is being released during the year in which many activities commemorating the arrival of the first African captives in Jamestown are planned, RNS reported, including some by the US Department of the Interior’s 400 Years of African-American History Commission. Find the devotional at .

— An Earth Day Sunday 2019 toolkit is available from Creation Justice Ministries, of which the Church of the Brethren is a partner communion. This year, the suggested date for Earth Day Sunday is April 20, as the Sunday closest to Earth Day on April 22. “Since 1970, communities have taken one day each year to be especially mindful of the Earth and its many gifts,” said an announcement. “Soon after, churches started celebrating God’s creation on the Sunday closest to Earth Day…. The Bible is full of beautiful language and theology for celebrating God’s Creation. Yet sometimes, in the rhythm of the liturgical year, it can be challenging to find a specific time to focus as a church community on the theme of Creation. Earth Day Sunday provides just such an opportunity.” Creation Justice Ministries is an ecumenical organization that continues the work of the former Eco-Justice Program of the National Council of Churches. Each year, Creation Justice Ministries focuses on a particular ecological theme chosen by its members. This year’s resource from Creation Justice Ministries is designed to equip church leaders with preaching, teaching, prayer, and action materials at . To connect with others who are planning Earth Day Sunday activities, join the Earth Day Sunday 2019 Facebook event.

— Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), of which the Church of the Brethren is a member communion, has issued a public statement titled “Weaponizing Anti-Semitism Harms Free Speech.” The statement is recommended by the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. “Over the past several weeks, the political discourse relating to Israel/Palestine has rapidly deteriorated,” the statement says, in part. “We have witnessed members of Congress attack their colleagues by name, making accusations of anti-Semitism, often talking over and distorting what was actually said. As an organization committed to advocating for U.S. policies that will help bring about justice, equality, and human rights for all in Israel-Palestine and throughout the Middle East, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has been dismayed by the tenor of these conversations. They reflect just how far we are as a nation from helping to foster a sustainable end to the conflict in Israel-Palestine…. CMEP calls on leadership not only to repudiate all forms of bigotry, but to be clear in differentiating between actual hate speech and critiques of policy….” Find the full statement at .

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) is mourning the loss of a staff member in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10. The plane crashed soon after taking off near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with 157 on board. It was on its way to Nairobi, Kenya, where the UN Environment Assembly began Monday. In a release expressing condolences on the passing of all on board the aircraft, the WCC reported that “environmental advocates and UN staff members were among those who died, including Rev. Norman Tendis, WCC consultant for Economy of Life. Tendis was instrumental in helping local churches invest their resources to make a better planet…and had worked very hard together with colleagues to develop a ‘Roadmap for Congregations, Communities and Churches for an Economy of Life and Ecological Justice,’ which he was to present Monday morning.”

— Mac Wiseman, who died Feb. 24 at age 93, is being remembered as a “country and bluegrass great” by USA Today, MSN, and other media outlets. He also is remembered for his connections with the Church of the Brethren in Crimora, Va., where he grew up. “Remembering Mac Wiseman” by Peter Cooper, museum editor at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn., reviewed Wiseman’s life and connections to Crimora including ways the church helped shape him and his music. “In later life, he spent every day sitting in a chair in front of a large photo of the Crimora Church of the Brethren, where he was confirmed at 13 and where his mother played the pipe organ,” Cooper wrote. Noting there were two Brethren congregations in town, he wrote that “at Mac’s Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren, they dunked you forward in the South River. At the other church they dunked you backwards. Faith was important to Mac.” Wiseman’s musical accomplishments were many, including working as a promoter and record executive, recording more than 65 albums, helping found the Country Music Association, and receiving a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship, among others. He was called “The Voice with a Heart,” and USA Today noted that “at the time of his death, Wiseman was the last surviving original member of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys.” Find one of the many remembrances of Wiseman 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, Connie Burkholder, Jacob Crouse, Nevin Dulabaum, Kendra Flory, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Ed Groff, Nathan Hosler, Cliff Kindy, Janet Ober Lambert, Donna March, Stan Noffsinger, David Shumate, Christy Waltersdorff, Chad Whitzel, Jenny Williams, 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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