Newsline for May 4, 2019

Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford


1) Emergency Disaster Fund grants totaling $70,000 support Africa cyclone relief
2) Global Food Initiative announces numerous grants
3) On Earth Peace adopts new values, vision, and mission


4) Hoovers close out their work with Global Mission and Service


5) Pre-NOAC event offers ‘Labor Day Sabbath rest’
6) Gathering will dedicate memorial stones for conscientious objectors

7) Brethren bits: Remembering Sue Snyder and Ruby Shenk, compelling vision prayer calendar, jobs at the WCC, Bethany commencement, Brethren Disaster Ministries store, mission prayers, anti-drone warfare conference, barrier-free grant program, choir celebrations, and much more

Quote of the week:
“I invite all to be in prayer for Annual Conference and especially for the compelling vision process…. I believe there is great power in many participating in prayer together around the same purpose, and I hope you will join with this effort…. I encourage us to suspend all expectations except this one: that the Holy Spirit will move among and through us in miraculous ways as we come together to proclaim Christ through our worship, our study, our fellowship, and our intentional conversation about the future of the Church of the Brethren.”

— Donita Keister, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. A prayer calendar is available to guide Brethren through a scripture and prayer focus for each day in preparation for this year’s annual meeting. Calendar entries begin Sunday, May 5, and continue through the week of Annual Conference. Download the calendar from .

National Youth Sunday 2019 is scheduled for this Sunday, May 5. This year’s theme is “Led by Jesus, Not by Temptations” (1 Corinthians 10:13). For worship resources, visit

1) Emergency Disaster Fund grants totaling $70,000 support Africa cyclone relief

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed two grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to support relief efforts in southern Africa following Cyclone Idai. The two grants are given to longterm partner organizations of the Church of the Brethren. A grant of $40,000 has been given to ACT Alliance, and a grant of $30,000 has been given jointly to IMA World Health and Lutheran World Relief.

A third recent grant of $45,000 represents an additional allocation for the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project site in the Carolinas, aiding homeowners recovering from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

Cyclone Idai

After making an initial landfall as a tropical depression, Idai strengthened to a major cyclone and made a second landfall on Mozambique on March 15. The storm caused high wind damage in Mozambique and extensive flooding throughout Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, resulting in catastrophic damage, more than 1,000 deaths, thousands missing, and over 3 million affected, reported the grant request.

The size and scope of the disaster combined with difficulty accessing rural Mozambique has many aid agencies overwhelmed and the affected people underserved. The situation is made worse with a larger outbreak of cholera as health organizations race immunizations and treatments to the most affected areas. 

The allocation of $30,000 to longtime partners IMA World Health and Lutheran World Relief supports relief programing in the Chipinge and Chimanimani regions of Zimbabwe. The effort provides temporary shelter, distribution of relief kits, and water filters. In Mozambique, the two organizations are sending school kits to support safe spaces for children living in temporary camps.

A large-scale response and recovery program has been launched by ACT Alliance, which has long standing forums, or country-level organizing bodies, in each of the affected countries. A combination of local and international organizations will implement a comprehensive response supporting basic human needs of water, food, shelter, and sanitation for the most vulnerable people. Grant funds will be used where the needs are greatest and other funding sources are not available. Additional grant requests for this appeal will be considered in the future.

Hurricanes Matthew and Florence response

Disaster relief volunteers work on house damaged by hurricane Matthew
Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers from Bethany Church of the Brethren in Northern Indiana District, and volunteers from Pacific Southwest District enjoy spending time with a homeowner (center, in black) and her daughter, and their dog, while working on her Hurricane Matthew-damaged house in the Carolinas. Photo by Ed Hendrickson, courtesy of BDM

Brethren Disaster Ministries continues its work responding to the needs of homeowners recovering from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence in the Carolinas. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused serious wind, storm, and flood damage along the east coast of the US. In April 2018, Brethren Disaster Ministries established a project site in Lumberton, N.C., to support Hurricane Matthew recovery in both North and South Carolina. In September 2018, the site had to close for two weeks when the category 4 Hurricane Florence hit both states, causing more damage and flooding and re-affecting many who had just recovered from Hurricane Matthew.

Recent months have seen higher than anticipated spending of the EDF funds allocated for this project for multiple reasons, said the grant request. One reason is a larger need for support in the community, and Brethren Disaster Ministries being asked to contribute a monthly amount for a location for volunteer housing. Leadership support expenses also were higher in January and February, partly due to travel expenses for leaders in training to participate in internships that are needed for leadership development and discernment of their call.

The grant will enable Brethren Disaster Ministries to continue Hurricanes Matthew and Florence recovery efforts in North and South Carolina through the summer as a double site, and then as a single site with fewer weekly volunteers through at least April 2020.

Prior EDF grants for this appeal total $90,000.

For more information about Brethren Disaster Ministries to go . For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund, and to give online, go to .

2) Global Food Initiative announces numerous grants

A “garden love feast” of Community of Joy Church of the Brethren was held in 2017 at the community garden that is related to the congregation. The garden is receiving a grant from the Global Food Initiative. Photo courtesy of Martin Hutchison

In recent months, numerous grants have been made by the Global Food Initiative (GFI) of the Church of the Brethren. Grants have been given for agriculture-related and hunger relief projects in Haiti, Mexico, and Spain, and in the United States to projects related to Church of the Brethren congregations in Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Illinois.


An allocation of $5,000 covers a transition time between the end of the first year of an ongoing Growing Hope Globally project (fiscal year ending March 31, 2019) and the arrival of funds from Growing Hope Globally to support the second year. The GFI grant will allow staff in Haiti to continue to receive salaries and cover program costs until funds from Growing Hope Globally become available.


A grant of $5,000 supports Bittersweet Ministries’ new community center in Pan Americano community in Leandro Valle, Tijuana, Mexico. The center is a non-profit run by the community. It provides a meal each day, school sponsorships, and moral and spiritual support for families. Approximately 75 children and 30 adults are involved with the center. Families who wish to participate are required to become a part of the co-op that runs the program. They work together to prepare and serve food, clean and maintain the facility, and care for the children. The center is in the process of being rebuilt after a fire destroyed it a year ago. The grant will support the purchase of kitchen appliances and supplies, cups, dishes, silverware, tables, and chairs.


An allocation of $3,600 funds the community garden project of the Lanzarote congregation of Iglesia Evangelica de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in Spain) in the Canary Islands. The project was begun in 2015 with support from GFI and has benefitted many people in the community. Another partner for the distribution of non-perishable food to families in need is the Red Cross. The project this year requires more investment because a new piece of rental land has been acquired, as the original was no longer available. The new space will require preparation of the soil in order to grow different crops. Funds will be used for the purchase of irrigation hoses, water, land rental, seeds, and a mini-green house. Previous grants to this project total more than $11,000.


A grant of $3,500 has been given for the community garden project of Community of Joy Church of the Brethren in Salisbury, Md. This project is a new venture with Choices Academy, a local alternative school for at-risk students. Funds will be used to purchase materials to build a movable high tunnel (unheated greenhouse) and to purchase top soil.

New Mexico

A grant of $3,000 has gone to Lybrook Community Ministries in collaboration with Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle School on a garden project. The communities located around the school are almost exclusively in poverty, with many households lacking running water or electricity to keep fresh produce. They are isolated from access to fresh food, located 30 to 60 miles from a relatively populated town with a grocery store, with a severe lack of reliable transportation to obtain healthy and nutritious foods. The garden will give students the opportunity to have hands-on experience with growing plants and produce, while getting out in the community and providing fresh food for families. Funds will be used to purchase top soil, fencing materials, plants, seeds, hoses, and cement blocks for raised beds.

North Carolina/Mexico

An allocation of $2,200 supports the purchase of water tanks, fruit trees, and seeds for a project of Iglesia Jesucristo El Camino/His Way Church of the Brethren in Hendersonville, N.C. The congregation is working in the rural community of Aquita Zarca near Durango, Mexico, with staff of the community school where one water tank already has been installed to collect rain water from the school’s roof. A member of the congregation is from the Aquita Zarca community. The grant will support the purchase, delivery, and installation of two 5,000-liter water tanks, and the purchase of tree seedlings and seeds.


A grant of $1,000 has been given for the community garden project of Polo (Ill.) Church of the Brethren. The project was begun in 2016 with support from the GFI. The garden did not do well in its original downtown location, so the Polo congregation moved it to the church property. The garden has done well in the new location, and the congregation plans to expand by building two more raised beds and adding a supply shed and seating. Funds will purchase lumber for raised beds, top soil, a garden shed, and tools.

Find out more about the Global Food Initiative and give online at .

3) On Earth Peace adopts new values, vision, and mission

The On Earth Peace board and staff at their spring 2019 meeting
The On Earth Peace board and staff at their spring 2019 meeting. Photo courtesy of On Earth Peace

From an On Earth Peace release

On Earth Peace held its spring board meeting April 4-6 at the Maria Kaupas Center in Chicago, Ill. The board and staff concluded the meeting feeling invigorated by positive accomplishments and energized by a new sense of direction and momentum. As a spiritual focus for board conversations about values, vision, and mission, each session of business was opened with devotional reflections on what has been called Jesus’ mission statement:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

Lucas Al-Zoughbi, former intern and newest board member, led one of the devotions and read the scripture in his home language of Arabic: 
«رُوحُالرَّبِّعَلَيَّ،لِأنَّهُمَسَحَنِيلِكَيأُعلِنَالبِشارَةَلِلفُقَراءِ. أرسَلَنِيلِأُنادِيَلِلأسرَىبِالحُرِّيَّةِ،وَبِالبَصَرِلِلعِميانِ
وَلِأُحَرِّرَالمَسحُوقِيْنَمِنَالأسْرِ، وَأُعلِنَأنَّوَقتَالرَّبِّلِلقُبُولِقَدْجاءَ.

A graduate of Manchester University, he brings international community organizing experience to the board as well as his passion to connect with people working for justice and peace. 

During its meeting, the board approved, a new set of core values as well as new vision and mission statements. For more effective governance, a major board reorganization plan was affirmed. Meaningful conversations were held with Carol Wise, executive director of the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBTQ Interests, and with Chris Douglas, representing the Compelling Vision Process Team. 

Staff assisted the board with quality preparatory information and exercises for the values, vision, and mission conversations. The new values approved are:

— Jesus-Centered Spirituality. We follow Jesus into the work of justice and peace. We share in spiritual practices and develop faith resources to help undergird our programs.

— Positive Peace. We learn, teach and practice dynamic forms of peacemaking which see conflict as an important tool to meet needs, address injustice, correct imbalances of power, and seek healing and reconciliation.

— Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression. We commit to name and undo barriers to participation in our programs based on identity, and to work for full inclusion and equity for all who wish to join in our work. We commit to the long-term transformation of On Earth Peace, the church, and society.

— Intergenerational Leadership. We nurture peacemakers and leaders, and honor the wisdom, skill, and experience of all generations.

— Beloved Community. We commit to raising the levels of relationships until justice and peace prevail, and all people attain their full human potential.

The new vision statement affirmed for On Earth Peace is:

A world in Beloved Community, liberated from oppression, violence, and war.

Flowing from this, the new mission statement for the organization was approved:

We develop and walk with leaders and communities who work for justice and peace.

The new organizational design approved calls for a board of 8 to 10 members that will function with a structure of 3 committees: Executive Committee, Resource Management Committee, and Board Governance and Development Committee. Draft committee descriptions were presented, which will be finalized no later than at the fall meeting.

The nine-member Anti-Racism Transformation Team (ARTT) will continue to function as is. However, its integration into the overall structure of the organization is now more clearly defined. ARTT has its own 20-year vision statement defining its purposeful work toward the day when: 

On Earth Peace board, staff, practitioners, and programs are unapologetically multiracial/multicultural, driven by an anti-racist, anti-oppression lens toward the transformation of society. 

Carol Wise was invited to talk with the board about the Supporting Communities Network (SCN) which has been experiencing steady growth since its inception in 1994. Her presentation included survey results which demonstrated the loyalty of Brethren congregations in the network to denominational values and programs. At the same time, these congregations report not feeling reciprocal support from denominational leadership. On Earth Peace will continue conversation with SCN about the responsibilities and accountability involved in SCN membership.

Chris Douglas led the board and staff in conversation around three questions, which had been given to the board in advance by the Church of the Brethren Compelling Vision Process Team. These were:

— What does a church that is making a difference in people’s lives and in the world look like?

— What do we need to do to become that kind of church?

— What can On Earth Peace do to help us become that kind of church? Or what role can On Earth Peace play in helping us become that kind of church?

Among other affirmations, board members noted that On Earth Peace is taking a leadership role in meeting the vision of the “Separate No More” paper of Annual Conference as it models progress in over-coming racism and oppression and in becoming a multicultural and multiracial organization. On Earth Peace also is engaging young adults in the life and ministries of the church at a time when many congregations are losing their interest. 

The Compelling Vision Process Team also brought an unexpected fourth question to denominational agencies including On Earth Peace: “How has On Earth Peace (Bethany, Brethren Benefit Trust, the Mission and Ministry Board) contributed to the culture of mistrust and suspicion? How can On Earth Peace actively demonstrate that it serves all people in the denomination creating deeper sense of unity and trust through the bonds of peace?” Board and staff engaged in honest conversation identifying areas for improvement while also expressing the important relationships of trust On Earth Peace has gained with marginalized groups in the denomination, for whom it is their primary connection with the denominational structures. 

There was a clear sense that this board meeting marked a positive turning point following several difficult years of internal and external conversations. A new spirit of hope and excitement prevailed in the meeting as words were found to express an emerging sense of clarity of purpose. The groundwork for an exciting new chapter in the work of On Earth Peace has been laid and the board looks forward to the next steps for developing strategies and activities for implementing its mission. 

4) Hoovers close out their work with Global Mission and Service

Jason and Nicole Hoover have concluded their work with the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service program in the Dominican Republic in order to begin working with Solid Rock International.

The Hoovers closed out almost three years of work as church liaison officers on April 30, serving with Iglesia de los Hermanos, the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic. They began their service in the DR on Aug. 1, 2016.

The couple, along with children Ethan and Miriam, are remaining in the DR but are shifting their ministry focus. On May 1, they officially started work with Solid Rock International, where Nicole will serve as medical coordinator and Jason as operations support coordinator.

5) Pre-NOAC event offers ‘Labor Day Sabbath rest’

Pre-NOAC event for ministers and spouses

The Office of Ministry is holding a continuing education event on the opening day of National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) titled “Labor Day Sabbath Rest.” The event on Monday, Sept. 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Atkins House at Lake Junaluska, N.C., is open to ministers and spouses and all laity. The 50-plus age requirement for NOAC does not apply. Ministers may earn 0.6 continuing education credits.

The event focuses on preaching and spiritual formation led by Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

“In what ways might preaching be a source of spiritual formation and renewal–not only for congregations but also for preachers?” said an announcement. “How might different ways of sermon preparation awaken a sense of God’s presence and movement among us, particularly during challenging and divisive times? This continuing education event will help participants to cultivate a deeper connection to God’s divine mystery in our lives, sermons, and communities of faith as we explore scripture texts and practices that encourage us to reach through the polarities of our time with hope in the Spirit’s transformative work among us.”

Participants may attend for the day, arrive a day early, or continue their stay in Lake Junaluska and attend the full week of NOAC.

For the one-day event, the all-inclusive cost of $80 per person or $145 per couple includes overnight lodging at Atkins House on Sept 1, breakfast, lunch, and the continuing education certificate.

Cost is $30 per person for those only requiring lunch and the continuing education certificate.

As a bonus, those attending the one-day event will be able to book a room in the Atkins House for the week of NOAC at a cost of $30 per person per night or $50 per couple per night.

Find a brochure with more information and a mail-in registration form at . For questions and more information contact Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of the Office of Ministry, at 800-323-8039 ext. 381 or .

6) Gathering will dedicate memorial stones for conscientious objectors

By Paul Cesare

An ecumenical gathering on Wednesday, May 15, will hold a ceremony related to the 2019 International Conscientious Objection Day, and all are invited. A special focus of this gathering will be to dedicate engraved stones remembering those who, in the spirit of two cherished Bible passages (Isaiah 2:4 and Luke 19:42), were conscientious objectors during World War I.

The memorial stones will be placed on the premises of the nation’s only World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Mo. The stones will be placed at the entrance, near those stones dedicated by the Hutterites in 2017 at the Remembering Muted Voices Symposium ( ).

Please join us to remember in our present age the values we still hold dear as Christians, interwoven with the gospel message of nonviolence and reconciliation. Although entrance to the ceremony is free and open to the public, we would prefer that you RSVP at .

Following is information about the event. A program is forthcoming with additional details. For questions, please contact Paul Cesare at .

An Ecumenical Prayer for Peace and Recognition of All Who Served During World War I 
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
6-7 p.m. 
The World War I Museum and Memorial
Paul Sunderland Bridge
2 Memorial Drive
Kansas City, MO 64108

For directions go to .

— Paul Cesare is peace coordinator at First Central Church of the Brethren in Kansas City, Mo.

7) Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Ruby K. Shenk, mother of Annual Conference moderator Donita Keister and a former coordinator for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) training units, passed away on April 29. She and her husband, John R. Shenk, were active with the BVS program for about 15 years, coordinating the training for the joint BRF/BVS units over that time. She was a member of Mt. Olivet Church of the Brethren near Newport, Pa., for most of her life. A service of celebration of life will be held at New Buffalo Alliance Church in Duncannon, Pa., on Sunday, May 5, at 3 p.m., with family visitation from 2-3 p.m. An additional time for visitation will be held at Chiques Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., from 9-11 a.m. on Friday, May 3, followed by a private interment in Chiques Cemetery. “Please hold Donita and her family in your prayers for peace and comfort during this time of loss,” said a request from the General Secretary’s Office of the Church of the Brethren.

— A celebration of life for Sue Cushen Snyder will be held June 1 at 3 p.m. at Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren. A light meal will be served following the service. Memorial gifts are received to the church. Snyder passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 16, 2018, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., following a brief illness. She had served the Church of the Brethren as coordinator of the General Secretary’s Office from June 1988 to January 1999, serving as assistant to general secretary Don Miller for the majority of that time. Following Miller’s retirement, she worked with interim general secretary Karen Peterson Miller and interim executive director Joe Mason and briefly with general secretary Judy Mills Reimer. Later, she joined Brethren Volunteer Service, serving for seven years at the Westside Food Bank in Surprise, Ariz., then returning to the Church of the Brethren General Offices as a volunteer assistant in the BVS office.

The Compelling Vision Process Team at work during spring meetings at the Church of the Brethren General Offices.
The Compelling Vision Process Team at work during spring meetings at the Church of the Brethren General Offices.

The Compelling Vision Process Team has issued a prayer calendar for participants at Annual Conference to use to prepare spiritually for this year’s annual meeting.

     “From the beginning, the Compelling Vision Working Group articulated a guiding statement grounding the compelling vision process in Christ. When it began its work, the Compelling Vision Process Team affirmed this guiding statement and further articulated a desire that the process be a deeply spiritual one because we are not developing our own vision, but discerning God’s vision for us in these times,” writes Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, chair of the process team. “Beginning in November, the team began posting reflections on its Facebook page to invite the Holy Spirit to prepare our spirits for discernment.

     “In this same vein, moderator Donita Keister and the team have prepared a prayer calendar to begin on Sunday, May 5, and guide us through Annual Conference. The calendar includes scripture passages and prayer prompts for each day; some days also include a suggestion for a spiritual practice to encourage deeper engagement. Please join us on this journey as we prepare our hearts and minds to be receptive to the promptings of God’s Spirit as we continue to discern God’s vision for us as the body of Christ in these times.”

     Download the prayer calendar from

— The World Council of Churches seeks to fill two program executive positions: a program executive for Mission and Evangelism/Mission from the Margins to facilitate and support an inspiring and effective involvement of indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups in the life and work of the WCC, its member churches, and ecumenical partners; and a program executive for Church Relations to monitor and coordinate the collaboration and cooperation of member churches, among them and with other churches on all programmatic areas of the WCC, and to follow up on all membership matters. The WCC is an equal opportunity employer. Selection is made without distinction as to race and gender and takes into account confessional and geographical representation of its member churches. Find the full job announcements at and .

— Bethany Theological Seminary will hold commencement for the class of 2019 on Saturday, May 11, in Richmond, Ind. Master of divinity and master of arts degrees and graduate certificates will be granted to 18 students. The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. in Nicarry Chapel. Those interested in attending may contact the President’s Office at or 765-983-1803. The commencement address will be given by Bishop Staccato Powell, presiding prelate of the Western Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and adjunct professor in the doctor of ministry program at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, N.C. He also is a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. A worship service open to the public will be led by graduating seniors on Friday, May 10, at 5 p.m. in Nicarry Chapel.

— Brethren Disaster Ministries will be running an online store for a limited time, from May 10 to May 30. This store will offer different items than those found at the disaster project sites, including polo shirts, short- and long-sleeved wicking shirts, zip-up hooded sweatshirts, cooling towels, lunch box, and safari hat–all displaying the Brethren Disaster Ministries logo. The items may be purchased online during this month’s sale, and will be shipped directly to your home. Visit from May 10-30 to find the link to the store and make your purchase.

— The next Spiritual Directors Retreat in the Church of the Brethren is planned for June 10-12 at Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center near Sharpsburg, Md. The theme is “The Deepening Spiritual Journey.” Leading the event will be Tilden Edwards, an Episcopal priest and founder and senior fellow at Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, with his wife, Mary Edwards, a Quaker and a clinical social worker specializing in the role of mediation. For more information contact .

The group of ministers celebrating graduation in the Dominican Republic
The group of ministers celebrating graduation in the Dominican Republic

— Global Mission and Service is sharing prayers of praise for the graduation of 35 students from the theological training program of Iglesia de los Hermanos, the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic. The ceremony was held in January in the capital city of Santo Domingo with 2 Timothy 3:16 as theme scripture. The graduates attended classes regularly, weekly or biweekly depending on location, for about two-and-a-half years. “Pray that the graduates may continue their spiritual growth as they serve the church,” said the prayer request.

— Prayer has been requested for Nigeria where violence has continued during this Easter season. Markus Gamache, staff liaison for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), shared the request after Boys Brigade members were killed in the town of Gombe in northeast Nigeria. “During the funeral of the boys on Saturday there was another crisis which led to curfew for safety,” Gamache reported in an email to the Global Mission and Service staff. He also reported that there had been a gun battle between security forces and Boko Haram insurgents in the areas of Madagali and Wagga, and that insurgents attempted to attack an EYN church in Wagga Lawan but only succeeded in taking some musical instruments. In Madagali town they were able to steal some food stuff and animals. In the meantime, the Gurku interfaith camp for displaced people has welcomed more families returning to Nigeria from the Minawawoo refugee camp in Cameroon, and also some more people displaced from the Madagali area. “We want to thank you for all your prayers and support,” Gamache wrote.

EYN's disaster ministry brings aid to a Christian center near Benin
EYN’s disaster ministry brings aid to a Christian center near Benin. Photo by Zakariya Musa, courtesy of EYN

— In more news from EYN, the Nigeria Blog has posted two new stories recently reporting on an effort to provide “one-on-one lay counseling” to assist survivors of Boko Haram violence, and a visit to a center housing orphans and vulnerable children by Salamatu Billi, wife of EYN president Joel S. Billi, and members of the EYN Disaster Relief Ministry Team. The International Christian Center in Edo State, in southern Nigeria, is located just outside Benin City and in recent years has been taking in many people affected by the insurgency in the northeast. “Since so many of the children at the International Christian Center are from the Northeast, leaders from EYN have made several visits to the Center,” reported the blog by EYN communications staff Zakariya Musa and Nigeria Crisis Response coordinator Roxane Hill. “One of the main reasons for the visit was to provide food assistance to the NGO. This was a large undertaking and included: 500 Yam tubers, 140 Gari bags, 53 bags of rice, a pallet of Plantains, 25 Jerri cans of palm oil and 42 bags of sugar.” Find the report on “Entrepreneurship and One-On-One Lay Counseling” at . Find the report “Disaster Relief Ministry visits IDP’s near Benin City” at .

— The Spring 2019 issue of “The Bridge” young adult ministries newsletter is online at . This issue includes articles about Young Adult Conference and the keynote speakers for the event, about young adults in ministry, and poetry, among other features.

— The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy is recruiting organizers for an anti-drone warfare conference in late September. The Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare is sponsoring a national training conference to equip people of faith interested in organizing on the issue of drone warfare within the faith community. It will be held at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J. Those attending should be willing to organize their communities on drone warfare until at least Feb. 1, 2021. The conference will begin with dinner on Friday, Sept. 27, and end with lunch on Sunday, Sept. 29. Cost including room, board, and registration fee is $50, and some financial help will be provided to cover travel costs. To learn more about the Church of the Brethren’s view on drone warfare go to . To express interest in attending the conference contact .

— The Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADN) announces a new barrier-free grant program that offers financial assistance to congregations for projects that facilitate barrier-free community life. This is one of several ways that the network is a partner with congregations to create mutual awareness, caring support, and accessibility education. Grants range from $100 to $500. For more information contact 574-343-1362, 877-214-9838, or . Download a grant application at by clicking on “Get Involved,” then “Barrier-Free Grant.”

— This season marks the 15th year of the Polo (Ill.) Growing Project supported by partner churches in Polo, Dixon, Tinley Park, and Elgin. Over the years, earnings of $466,000 have been invested in agricultural programs in several countries, most recently Honduras and Nicaragua. The Polo venture is one of 165 growing projects across the US under the aegis of Growing Hope Globally, formerly Foods Resource Bank. The ecumenical agency will commemorate its 20th anniversary with a Summer Celebration July 25-27 at Conrad, Iowa, where a cluster of churches including Ivester Church of the Brethren formed one of the earliest growing projects.

— Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren is hosting “Praise the Lord: A Celebration of Music and Faith,” a choir workshop on May 18-19. The event starts at 4 p.m. on the 18th led by Jonathan Shively and Ellen Wile with help from the congregation’s choir. Shively will be rehearsing three choral compositions “using various techniques in achieving choral blend, dynamics, singing with style, and a unifying spirit,” said an announcement. The Sunday morning service on May 19 will feature choral singing from the workshop and is part of a series of events celebrating “150 Years of the Brethren on the Eastern Shore.” Contact .

— Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Kettering, Ohio, is hosting a Cost of Poverty Event (COPE) on May 11 from 9-11:30 a.m. “One in five children in America live at or below the poverty line,” said an announcement. “These numbers should disturb us, yet statistics can have a numbing affect. The COPE experience offers you an opportunity to walk in the shoes of families in or community who face poverty every day. Think Tank developed COPE with individuals who have lived experience in poverty. Their stories offer an opportunity to move beyond assumptions or stereotypes to a more holistic understanding of the causes and affects of poverty.” The two-hour hands-on training will offer an experience of a month in the life of families struggling to get by and will develop understanding of the complexities of poverty, paving the way for the community to be better allies and advocates for under-resourced families. For a flier, go to .

— Lucile Vaughn will be recognized at Shenandoah District’s Living Peace Award banquet or Peace Feast on May 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Brethren Woods near Keezletown, Va., in the Pine Grove building. New Community Project director David Radcliff will be the guest speaker. Cindy and Doug Phillips will provide special music. Cost is $17 for adults and $10 for students.

— “Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace” is the first-ever Virlina District Choir Festival to be held on Sept. 13-14 at Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. Guest director will be S. Reed Carter, IV, minister of music at Salem Presbyterian Church and director of the Salem Choral Society. Robert “Bob” Iseminger, instrumentalist at Central Church, will be accompanist. “We will learn and rehearse four or five anthems on Friday evening and Saturday,” said an announcement. “The festival will conclude with a service of worship filled with music and the Word at 4 p.m. on Saturday. It will be open to the public. We hope to have 100 percent participation from the Church of the Brethren choirs (and all others who love to sing) in the area! You’ll be able to take your anthems home to share with your congregation!” For questions or more information contact Carol Elmore at or 540-774-3217.

— Two Oak Grove congregations in Virlina District have been holding unique worship services.
     Oak Grove South Church near Rocky Mount, Va., held a Cow Bell event on April 27 including a meal followed by the Bluegrass Gospel Band with the Cow Bell Service at the close of the evening. “Each of the speakers will have 10 minutes to preach,” said an announcement. “At that point, a cow bell will ring and the next speaker’s time will begin. It will continue until all five speakers have spoken.”
     At Oak Grove Church in Roanoke, Va., the Peace and Justice group is sponsoring a prayer service for an end for gun violence on Sunday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m. “We will pray that hearts will change, the God’s vision for peace on earth will be realized and that gun violence will come to an end,” said an announcement.

— The 39th annual Disaster Relief Auction in Mid-Atlantic District is this weekend at the Carroll County (Md.) Agriculture Center. The event starts at 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 4. The auction benefits Brethren Disaster Ministries and the work to alleviate the effects of disasters around the world. Find an article interviewing committee chair Jeff McKee about the event at . “For the last 38 years, we’ve raised almost $1.9 million,” McKee told the “Carroll County Times.” “The last number of years it’s been on the order of $60-some odd thousand per year.”

— The chair of Mid-Atlantic and Southern Pennsylvania Districts’ joint Meat Canning Project, Richard Shaffer, has reported that this year the project processed 46,480 pounds of chicken. The canned meat is used to aid the hungry, with district churches helping to support their own food pantries, local food banks, and community with this free chicken. “On behalf of the Meat Canning Committee please pass our sincere thanks on to the folks who had any part in making this possible,” Shaffer wrote in an email shared by the districts. “It does not happen without a lot of volunteers and financial support.”

— Middle Pennsylvania District is holding its Disaster Response Turkey and Waffle Fundraiser Dinner on June 8 from 4-7 p.m. at Roaring Spring (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. Eat in or take out. Donations for tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for ages 5-12, free for ages 4 and under. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

— McPherson (Kan.) College is holding its 20th Annual CARS Club Motoring Festival this Saturday, May 4, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on campus.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced several awards to student leaders in the areas of faith, religious life, and service:
     Christa F. Craighead received the Merlin and Dorothy Faw Garber Award for Christian Service, named in memory of the Garbers who were Bridgewater alumni and deeply involved in the life of the Church of the Brethren as pastors. Craighead is a history and political science major with a minor in communication studies, a member of the college Spiritual Life Board and Interfaith Board, coordinator of the Church Travel Teams that provide leadership for worship services in congregations, and has volunteered at Camp Bethel in the Church of the Brethren’s Virlina District.
     John R. Hill has received the Melissa D. Jett Community Service Award for outstanding leadership in community service. The award is named in memory of Jett, who would have graduated with the class of 1999 but died Jan. 15, 1997, as the result of a traffic accident on campus. Hill is a business administration major with a minor in political science, a member of the Student Senate and co-chair of its Special Volunteerism Committee, founder and president of the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, a member of the Eco-Action Club, has participated with Loads of Love by doing laundry for the homeless, and founded the Biggest Turkey annual Thanksgiving food drive.
     Joshua A. Layton received the Esther Mae Wilson Petcher Memorial Scholarship named in memory of Petcher, a member of the Bridgewater class of 1944 and a former missionary to Nigeria. The grant is given each year to a rising senior in good academic standing who demonstrates leadership in campus activities with emphasis on religious life. Layton is a music major, a member of the Flory Honors program, a member of National Association for Music Education, and performs with numerous music groups on campus. 
     Laura A. Michaelis, Jared A. Russell, and Sterling M. Senger were recognized by the department of philosophy and religion for academic excellence. Michaelis, who received the Philosophy Award, is a senior philosophy and religion major with a minor in psychology, a member of the Philomathes Society scholastic honor society, a member of Psi Chi international psychology honor society, and a member of BC Allies LGBTQ advocacy group. Russell, who was presented the Ruth and Steve Watson Philosophy Scholarship Award, is a junior philosophy and religion and political science double major, a member of the Flory Honors Program, and serves on the college Interfaith Board. Senger, who received the Religion Award for most extensive record of excellent academic work in biblical religion and theology courses, is a senior biology major with a minor in philosophy and religion.

— “Brethren Voices” producer Ed Groff has announced that future episodes of this community access television show are postponed indefinitely because of unexpected health concerns among those involved with the show and their families. “Brethren Voices” has been a project of Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren and is offered for congregations around the country to share on public access cable stations in their areas. The show also is posted on YouTube. In a phone call to Newsline staff, Groff asked for prayers for those affected by health concerns. He is the show’s longtime producer working along with Brent Carlson, the host of the show. Groff reports that “Brethren Voices” has had “a great run as a terrific way to share stories about Brethren” and to highlight ministries of church members and congregations across the denomination. More than 100 episodes of the show are available on YouTube, go to .

— “There are many images of Christianity in fantastic stories that we love to immerse ourselves in for fun!” said an announcement of the latest Dunker Punks Podcast. “This week we welcome a new contributor, Christa Craighead, as she explores some of these connections and how God is also present in the mundane.” Listen to this episode at . Give feedback through filling out a survey at .

Christian Churches Together (CCT) has announced its annual meeting for 2019, to take place Oct. 2-4 in Montgomery, Ala. The theme is “A Historic Moment of Lament and Transformation” focused on the quad-centennial of the forced migration of enslaved African people to Jamestown, Va.

— “Church and related organizations’ response to food crises globally may need to be strengthened”following findings projecting that millions will be without food due to climate change, conflict, and insecurity, reported Fredrick Nzwili on behalf of the World Council of Churches (WCC). Nzwili is an independent journalist based in Kenya. The findings come from the Global Report on Food Crises 2019. “An estimated 113 million people across the world experienced hunger to levels requiring urgent food and livelihood assistance due the same factors last year. The majority of the people who suffered shortages last year were in Africa and in conflict countries, including Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Syrian Arab Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, and northern Nigeria…. The effects of climate change were felt most in Africa, with Ethiopia accounting for 8.1 million people out of those affected,” said Nzwili in his article. “Churches are mounting response in some of these countries,” he added. The Global Network Against Food Crises is a group of international humanitarian organizations and development partners. Their report was released April 2, following a UN Environment Assembly “during which churches discussed their role in helping mitigate against climate change and related environmental degradation, key causes of food shortages. At a side event in Nairobi, church leaders called for action beyond resolutions.” Go to .

— The World Council of Churches’ intergenerational climate justice project is a finalist for the Keeling Curve Prize for initiatives that offer solutions to reduce global warming. A WCC release said the project stems from Churches’ Commitments to Children, a partnership between the WCC and UNICEF. “Many WCC member churches worldwide expressed their readiness to support adolescents engaging around initiatives for climate justice through church-run schools, Sunday schools, and summer camps. The intergenerational climate justice project aims to provide these churches worldwide with tools and know-how to enable effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through youth engagement initiatives, with a focus on influencing policies and legislation, and promoting good practices,” the release said. “By January 2020, the WCC aims to have 50 percent of its constituency with activities in place that build the capacity of young people to act as climate activists and measure the footprint of their community and key institutions.” Winners of the prize will be announced June 28. See .

— On May 1, faith communities delivered a public statement to the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. “They called attention to the pressing need to work productively for a world free from the most destructive weapons ever created,” said a release from the World Council of Churches. “Our respective faith traditions and our lived experience as people of faith compel us to speak together, regardless of our differences, to denounce this threat to our shared humanity,” the statement reads, in part. “We recognize the fearfulness that has driven nations to take up arms against threats to their security but we collectively choose to face that fear not with additional posturing or intimidation but with continued action for a world based on trust, compassion and equality…. Our faith-based traditions have given us both the imperative to continue this humanitarian disarmament work, even, perhaps especially, when there are so many voices of despair and pessimism. We share and value the basic human right to live in a world free from the fear of total destruction, in an environment free from contamination.” The faith leaders also expressed joy over the growing support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Find “WCC Statement towards a Nuclear-Free World” at .

— Anna Osborne of Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., has been named valedictorian for the graduating class of 2019 at Manchester Jr.-Sr. High School. The “Times Union” reported that “Osborne has maintained Highest Honor Roll and Academic Excellence status from 2011-19″ and that “she has been a member of the National Honor Society for two years. Her academic awards include IHSVCA Academic All-State Volleyball Team, Regional Indiana Academic All Star, Indiana Rising Star, and was first place at State Science Olympiad Competition in Green Generation as a freshmen.” She is the senior class vice president and is active in the Manchester church youth group. See .

— Gene Palsgrove and Mary Baucher of Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren were honored at the 25th annual MLK Commemoration at Modesto Junior College in late March. “They helped found the Modesto Peace/Life Center, among many efforts,” reported the “Modesto Bee.” “Palsgrove and Baucher married eight years ago…. Palsgrove was a World War II conscientious objector, a Church of the Brethren minister, and a teacher and principal in Modesto City Schools for 30 years. He helped start the Community Rehabilitation Project in south Modesto, the MLK Commemoration Committee, the Interfaith Ministries food bank, and Modesto’s Sister City program with Khmelnitsky, Ukraine. Baucher worked with Friends Outside, which connects with prison inmates, and helped start a child care program at Sierra Conservation Center near Jamestown. She was a facilitator for the Bereaved Parent Support Group at Via, which merged with Community Hospice…was involved with Habitat for Humanity, the West-Care Adult Daycare Center, the SERRV International Gift Shop, and the Cooperative Disaster Child Care Program through the Church of the Brethren.” Find the full article at .

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