Newsline for Nov. 18, 2019

A thanksgiving worship center in the chapel at the Church of the Brethren General Offices. Photo by Nancy Miner

“Honor and majesty are before [the Lord]; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary” (Psalm 96:6).


1) Brethren Service Europe office to be closed at the end of 2019
2) Hearts for Nigeria: Roxane Hill concludes her position with Nigeria Crisis Response
3) Brethren Disaster Ministries announces changes in rebuilding project sites
4) On Earth Peace holds fall board meeting in Massachusetts
5) Elizabethtown College Peace Fellowship Lecture: Timely relevance and challenge of the Anabaptist tradition
6) Christian Association of Nigeria commemorates date of displacement


7) Kristin Flory retires after 33 years as Brethren Service Europe representative

8) Brethren bits: Remembering Dorothy Brandt Davis, an orchestra at Annual Conference, National Young Adult Conference 2020, winter quarter of “Guide for Biblical Studies,” alert on the “State and Local Resettlement Executive Order,” Messenger articles on thanksgiving, more

1) Brethren Service Europe office to be closed at the end of 2019

A slate paperweight from the Brethren Service Europe office bears the Brethren Service logo that is still used by Brethren Disaster Ministries today. Photo by Kristin Flory

The Brethren Service Europe office of the Church of the Brethren will be closed at the end of 2019. It is hosted at the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Center in Geneva, Switzerland, the city where it has been located since 1947. Currently the work of the office centers on placement and supervision of Brethren Volunteer Service workers in Europe.

For more than three decades the office has been staffed by Kristin Flory, the BVS staff person in Europe for almost 33 years. She has announced her retirement as of Dec. 31.

Factors in the decision to close the office include cutbacks in the denominational budget, less numbers of BVSers serving in Europe, mirroring a trend in the BVS program as a whole, and difficulty in acquiring visas for BVSers to work in several European countries.

“Some programs [of BVS Europe] phased out naturally, but we eventually had to part from some areas due to budget cutbacks,” Flory reported. “We shifted from fully funding the BVSers at their projects, to sharing the support, to now asking the projects to provide the volunteers’ upkeep.” She has worked part-time since 2003.

BVS project sites in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are expected to continue:

— Quaker Cottage in Belfast, N. Ireland, a cross-community family center where BVSers work with children.

— IncredABLE in Richhill, County Armagh, N. Ireland, which offers social, recreational, and educational activities for people with learning/intellectual disabilities and/or autism.

— Corrymeela Community in Ballycastle, N. Ireland, a peace and reconciliation organization and residential center.

— Mourne Grange in Kilkeel, N. Ireland, a community and farm for people with learning disabilities.

— Three L’Arche Communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together–Belfast, N. Ireland; County Kilkenny, Ireland; and Dublin, Ireland.

A long and storied history

The Europe office was established in February 1947 by the Brethren Service Commission (BSC), the group that was responsible for the church’s relief and rehabilitation work after World War II. According to “The Brethren Encyclopedia” the location in Geneva was related to the commission’s association with the World Council of Churches (WCC), which also established its headquarters there. In 1948, M.R. Zigler was called to direct the BSC work in Europe and to be the Brethren representative to the WCC.

In 1968-69 the BSC was terminated “by an organizational realignment at the Church of the Brethren headquarters,” according to the encyclopedia. Its work was merged with the mission work of the denomination, including the Brethren Volunteer Service program that had been started in 1948. The Europe office began to focus on placing and supervising BVSers and maintaining connections with project sites across the continent.

Over several decades, those who staffed the office continued the BSC tradition of engaging with places suffering from war and violence. For example, the first BVSer in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was placed in 1972 at the height of the “Troubles” between Catholics and Protestants. Similarly, during and after the wars in the Balkans, BVSers worked in Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The staff working in Geneva also served as Church of the Brethren representatives participating in historic peace church consultations in Europe, engaging with ecumenical leadership at the WCC, and at times with world leaders and staff at the United Nations in Geneva.

Although the BSC had established other centers for the church’s post-war efforts–such as Kassel, Germany, and Linz, Austria, among others–the Geneva office was the one that survived as the center of Church of the Brethren presence in Europe for some 72 years.

2) Hearts for Nigeria: Roxane Hill concludes her position with Nigeria Crisis Response

Roxane Hill (at right) at a distribution of goats in Nigeria. Photo by Carl Hill

Roxane Hill is concluding her position as coordinator of the Nigeria Crisis Response, as of the end of this year. Her husband, Carl Hill, pastor of Potsdam (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, also previously worked with her on the response.

The Nigeria Crisis Response is not ending but programming is being reduced, although funding for 2020 continues at a high level with a budget of $220.000. Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries expect the response to continue for two more years, through 2021, and then expect to continue providing grants for specific work in Nigeria.

For more details about the Nigeria Crisis Response go to .

A concluding report from Roxane and Carl Hill:

In November 2014, we sat around a table with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) leadership in Jos, Nigeria. As we looked at these men and women, we saw faces filled with desperation looking at us for answers. Just a few short weeks before, they were sitting in their offices conducting affairs of the church at their headquarters in northeast Nigeria. Now, they had been displaced by the insurgent group known as Boko Haram and did not know where to turn.

In late October 2014, Boko Haram had swept through the northeast bringing destruction and chaos, forcing our Nigerian brothers and sisters to run for their lives. The majority of EYN leadership had come as far as Jos, a city in central Nigeria, to find a safe haven. It was at that meeting in Jos that EYN leaders adopted the idea of assisting their people through a newly created Disaster Ministry, to be headed by the EYN President and an appointed pastor, Yuguda Mdurvwa.

We recalled the day we were contacted by Stan Noffsinger, then general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, and Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer and associate executive Roy Winter, to be the new directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response. When they contacted us, we were touring the country as spokespeople for Global Mission and Service and had just completed a stint at EYN’s Kulp Bible College, and we were excited to share our experience with the church at large.

Roxane and Carl Hill (at center) with the Disaster Team of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), and with EYN’s staff liaison Markus Gamache (at left).

The Nigeria Crisis Response has been carried out as a collaboration between EYN and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. EYN is a church established by Brethren missionaries almost 100 years ago, and for many decades has been independent from its “mother church” in the United States. During the heyday of Brethren missions, many from the US found their way to Nigeria and served there. Many conscientious objectors elected to serve in Nigeria as part of their obligation to this country–Nigeria was a place that qualified for “alternative service.”

Because of the large scale of the crisis, the Nigeria Crisis Response quickly became the largest single program of relief and aid in the Church of the Brethren’s 300-plus years. Because of the push from top leaders, a goal was set to raise $5 million. People across the denomination gladly gave of their resources because of the church’s familiarity with and love for Nigeria. Starting with seed money from the Emergency Disaster Fund, the church was soon on its way to raising the money needed to get the program off the ground.

Fast forward five years. We have just completed our last scheduled trip to Nigeria as representatives of the Church of the Brethren. This last visit was to observe and report on all that was done, how it has impacted the people most affected, and what challenges still remain for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

On our trip we met with EYN president Joel S. Billi, who recognized the Disaster Ministry as a valuable part of EYN and praised the staff for their tireless efforts in assisting those affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. We also met with EYN’s Disaster Team and spent time listening to their joys and concerns.

An IDP camp in Nigeria. Photo by Roxane and Carl Hill

A main focus of the trip was visiting camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs). We visited two camps around the area of Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja; a camp near the city of Yola; and three within the city of Maiduguri in the far northeast. The IDP camps near Abuja and Yola are surrounded by farmland and the displaced people are growing their own food. These camps amazed us with their progress and steps toward self-reliance. But in Maiduguri the camps are overcrowded, there is never enough food, and the living conditions are far below the quality of the other camps located in safer areas. Traveling safely to Maiduguri and assisting these camps remains a huge challenge for EYN and its Disaster Ministry.

While visiting the EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi we traveled to the town of Michika, where we observed the progress toward rebuilding one of EYN’s large churches. Global Mission and Service has given 40 grants of $5,000 each to EYN congregations to help them rebuild their church buildings following destruction by Boko Haram. We also were able to witness the blessing of two water sources provided by the Disaster Ministry. The bore holes are providing a consistent source of good water and help build unity among the recipients and their communities.

The need for alternative sources of income is very important for subsistence farming communities in northeast Nigeria. We visited a livelihood training center where widows and orphans are learning to be tailors. We observed a distribution of goats to some of the most vulnerable people, who included disabled and/or elderly people and a few of the orphans whose parents had been killed by Boko Haram. Each beneficiary was given a male and a female goat, and these animals will be a welcome source of livelihood and income for their future.

We left Nigeria and our many friends with mixed emotions. There was a sense of satisfaction that when our brothers and sisters in Nigeria were at their lowest point, the Church of the Brethren stepped in to provide what was most needed. However, we also left with sadness as we realized this was probably the end of our official role in Nigeria. We are just two of the many Brethren who went to Nigeria to help out during a time of crisis. As we boarded the plane to fly home, we knew we had left a piece of our heart in Nigeria.

Many challenges remain for EYN and the people of northeast Nigeria. More than 2 million people are still displaced, living in camps or host communities or in the neighboring country of Cameroon. Travel and communication are difficult, especially in areas still threatened by Boko Haram. There are still huge unmet needs, and they far outweigh the available resources.

Our plea is to hold up our brothers and sisters in prayer. The people of Nigeria have great faith, and their hope is in God.

3) Brethren Disaster Ministries announces changes in rebuilding project sites

Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers work to repair a roof in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Bill Gay

Brethren Disaster Ministries has announced several changes in its rebuilding project sites as 2019 closes out and the new year begins.

In related news, volunteers are urgently needed at two rebuilding locations in the Carolinas and Puerto Rico:

In the Carolinas, volunteers are needed for the week of Dec. 15-21 to complete the rebuilding schedule for 2019; contact by Nov. 20 to sign up.

In Puerto Rico, there is an urgent need for volunteers on Jan. 4-18, March 14-28, March 28-April 11, April 11-25, April 25-May 9, and May 9-23. Trips are for two weeks and include lodging, meals Monday through Friday, groceries for weekend meals, transportation to/from job sites, and the possibility of funds to help with travel costs (rules apply).For additional information contact Terry Goodger at 410-635-8730 or .

Project site changes

In the Carolinas, work in Nichols, S.C., is being supported by two grants from the One SC Fund housed at Central Carolina Community Foundation that were awarded to help with repairs on three homes. Going forward, the work will focus on recovery in Robeson County, N.C., where partner organization, the NC Conference of the UMC, still has much work to do in the state.

In Puerto Rico, the rebuilding project has been extended to May 2020, and Carrie Miller has agreed to stay on as long-term site leader until the project closes.

A rebuilding site was started in Jacksonville, Fla., in September to support 2017 Hurricane Irma Recovery. Volunteer housing is provided by partner organization TeamEffort, and Brethren Disaster Ministries is also helping to complete home repairs started by that camp’s students over the summer. Also partnering with this project site is the Florida Conference of the UMC for additional home repairs. The Jacksonville site is expected to close around Christmas, when the funded work will be completed.

A new project location for 2020 has been announced for Tampa, Fla., where Brethren Disaster Ministries will be partnering with the Florida Conference of the UMC, which will identify the homes for recovery work. The Tampa site is to open in January and to run through April 4, 2020, helping to complete Hurricane Irma recovery work.

For more information about Brethren Disaster Ministries to go .

4) On Earth Peace holds fall board meeting in Massachusetts

— A release from On Earth Peace

The On Earth Peace fall board meeting was held Oct. 3-5 at the Marian Center in Holyoke, Mass. The board welcomed Mary Scott-Boria as its newest member and co-chair of the Anti-Racism Transformation Team. The board also welcomed Myalisse, newborn daughter of co-chair Melisa Leiter-Grandison and her husband, Ben.

A group building exercise planned by the new Board Governance and Development Committee kicked off the meetings. Other aspects of the board’s new organizational structure were evident, demonstrating a smooth transition to the new design. An important part of the meetings continues to be intentional reflection on dynamics of power and process; the board pauses its work on a regular basis to assess these dynamics in order to ensure that the group is working well together, with power and privilege equally shared.

A keynote speaker the first evening gave witness to the powerful transformation possible through the organizing principals of Kingian Nonviolence. Victoria Christgau shared the journey that led to the establishment of the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence. Her organization has won the trust of both schools and police, opening doors for each to receive nonviolence training. In an interesting connection to this work, the center is one of a number of organizations using a curriculum co-authored by Bernard LaFayette, Jr., a freedom rider and associate of Martin Luther King Jr., and David Jehnsen, a member of the Church of the Brethren who also worked with King and was once jailed with him. On Earth Peace is the fiscal sponsor for the Kingian Nonviolence Coordinating Committee that holds the rights to the curriculum. After a time of sharing, the board laid hands on Christgau and prayed for God’s blessings on her work.

Times of worship were interspersed between work sessions. One focused on the 400 year commemoration of the forced migration of the first Africans to the Virginia colony in 1619. Four chimes were sounded to remember the damage done by racist exploitation and to renew commitment to the healing work ahead.

As a prelude to deeper conversations, the board and staff reviewed progress made on developing a new board structure with mission and vision statements and a list of values for guiding the work of the organization. Related to this was a conversation regarding the relationship of On Earth Peace with the Church of the Brethren.

Significant time was devoted to a staff proposal for strategic priorities to guide the organization’s work in coming years. The priorities approved by consensus at the meeting were:

— Develop individuals as leaders with spirituality and skills in Kingian Nonviolence, using groups such as cohorts and communities of practice.
— Walk with leaders and their communities as they take action for justice and peace using the Kingian Nonviolence approach, including accountability, consultation, and organizing in solidarity with current movements.
— Through the agency responsibilities and opportunities of On Earth Peace, embolden the Church of the Brethren to become a living peace and justice denomination.
— Institutionalize anti-racism/anti-oppression in On Earth Peace practices and structures, including staff and board composition, programs, budgets, policies, and accountability to anti-racism/anti-oppression partners including Crossroads and the Supportive Communities Network.

Staff and the Anti-Racism Transformation Team were tasked with follow-up assignments, such as specific goals and action plans related to these priorities.

Further reflection was devoted to next steps required for the organization to advance in its transformation as an anti-racist organization. One aspect of this will be intentionally diversifying the make up of the board itself. A decision was made to establish the board size at 12; the board is currently down to 9 members. This happened through intentional attrition pending a final decision on size as part of the new structure design. As part of this, the board recognized George Barnhart, who has completed his term of service. Three new board members of color are now being sought to increase the diversity and skill of the board.

Executive director Bill Scheurer reported on plans underway for a multi-year capital campaign. The Resource Management Committee reported on the board’s finances and recommended a 2020 budget with reduced spending to cap endowment draws. The budget was approved by consensus.

Time for caucusing was planned as a way of working to understand the influence of internalized racial superiority among white people and internalized racial oppression among people of color. The board divided by race for this conversation, with those who are white gathering separately from people of color and then reporting back to the full group on learnings and observations. The process has proven to be a valuable tool for deep and careful decision-making.

Appreciation was expressed for staff reports and for the positive spirit in which the board is functioning. Ongoing work will result in significant additional reports that will be ready for sharing in the near future.

— This release was provided to Newsline by On Earth Peace staff Marie Benner Rhoades.

5) Elizabethtown College Peace Fellowship Lecture: Timely relevance and challenge of the Anabaptist tradition

Drew Hart. Photo courtesy of Elizabethtown College

By Kevin Shorner-Johnson

Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren was filled with congregants representing diverse Brethren churches and Anabaptist traditions for the Elizabethtown College Peace Fellowship lecture. Drew Hart, assistant professor of theology at Messiah College, introduced “not a light topic” of how white supremacy and Christianity are entangled together. Using the metaphor of “putting on our blue jeans,” Hart encouraged listeners to find and follow the message of Jesus over attachments to power and cultural affiliations.

We live in a world of high-speed cell phones, tweets, discord, and vast geo-political challenges that seem insurmountable, where many of us feel we can’t keep up with crises and technological change. In this context, many might argue that Anabaptist presence and worship is an outdated tradition that no longer speaks to the speed of the present.

However, it is exactly that crisis and exactly that speed that make our Anabaptist traditions relevant. Embracing the richness of our heritage of faith, we can bring counter-cultural love, hope, witness, and being to the present moment. Our work at Elizabethtown College seeks to reimagine how a heritage of presence, vulnerable witness, nonviolence, humility, and relationship-centeredness gives insight to shared hope, reconciliation, and restoration.

Our new Master of Music Education emphasizing peacebuilding, affiliated with the Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking, is reimagining through podcasts how lived theology may “reclaim space for connection and care.” And our movement into programs related to engineering, occupational therapy, physician assistants, psychology, education, and many other majors has taught us about how an Anabaptist heritage may inform humane care and ethical work toward the greater good. These common threads of heritage are powerfully relevant to the present day.

In his speech, Hart spoke of “leaning in[to]” what it means to “be followers of Jesus.” While he did not identify as Anabaptist in his early formation, his encounters of radical hospitality, lessons in “taking Jesus seriously,” and a willingness to address social concerns planted the seeds of Anabaptist life in his formation. As he worked on his dissertation, he experienced those seeds taking root.

These roots encourage us “to put on our blue jeans,” entering the work of antiracism and restoration. Hart believes that from “vulnerable space, the Spirit renews our minds and transforms our lives to understand God’s power and wisdom. This has nothing to do with the dominant way of seeing things and everything to do with following Jesus” (“Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism,” Harrisonburg, Va.: Herald Press, 2016; p. 116). He speaks to a call to move in “counterintuitive solidarity with those on the margins.”

This is one of the counter-cultural messages of Dr. Drew Hart–one that reimagines and renews us as we live into restored, loving relationships of community. The life of our faith tradition is in the challenge that it presents to renew ourselves and live into relationships of just peace and care. And in this time, the depth of hope within our tradition has never been more relevant to contemporary contexts of pain, hurt, and disconnection.

— Kevin Shorner-Johnson’s report from this year’s Elizabethtown College Peace Fellowship Lecture was provided to Newsline by Kay L. Wolf, program manager for the college’s Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking.

6) Christian Association of Nigeria commemorates date of displacement

By Zakariya Musa
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) commemorated Oct. 29, the day Boko Haram overran Mubi and Hong communities of Adamawa State in 2014. The entire community had fled to different areas within and outside the country of Nigeria. All church denominations in the area that are under the CAN umbrella gathered at the Mararaba Local Church Council of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) for prayer, worship, speeches, and testimonies.

The CAN secretary for the Mararaba zone, Timothy Jatau, spoke at the occasion saying that all the Christians fled through thorns, bush, streams, and various difficult ways. God has sustained us, he said, in the various places where we found refuge, and the same God brought us back to Mararaba community.

Also speaking at the event, the chairman of CAN’s Mararaba zone, Ibrahim Biriya, said the day will not be forgotten and that it has become history for generations to come. He prayed not to experience such again.

Pastor of EYN LCC Mararaba, Jacob Yohanna, read from Deuteronomy 16:13-17 and 21:18. He admonished that God has done something in our lives and so the day is worth commemorating. He challenged Christians to be conscious of the way they live their lives to the glory of God.

As the area considered it God’s miracle that brought them back to their communities, many other areas are still facing attacks. Lives and properties are still being lost, houses are being burned, and people are fleeing their ancestral  communities. Recently, 3 people were killed, 38 houses were burned, and properties were lost at Kidlindla, attacked last month, October 2019. Another village, Bagajau, also was attacked, 2 people were killed, and 19 houses were burned by Boko Haram, as reported by church officials.

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

7) Kristin Flory retires after 33 years as Brethren Service Europe representative

Kristin Flory

Kristin Flory will retire at the end of 2019 as Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) staff at the Brethren Service Europe office in Geneva, Switzerland. The office is being closed. In the new year, the Europe program of BVS will shift to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Flory has served in the position for almost 33 years, since 1987. During three-plus decades of work for the Church of the Brethren, she has supervised more than 300 BVS volunteers in many different countries, maintained working relationships with each project site across Europe, organized and led annual retreats for the volunteers, and continued relations with European ecumenical organizations.

Under her leadership, BVSers have served at projects focused on peace and reconciliation–sometimes in war and conflict zones, worked with children and families, lived in communities with people with disabilities, worked with refugees and homeless people, and more.

Among her accomplishments, Flory maintained strong ties with organizations doing peace and reconciliation work in Northern Ireland during the “Troubles” between Protestants and Catholics,  and placed volunteers in the Balkans as the wars there ended. Flory engaged BVS with L’Arche Communities where volunteers lived and worked together in community with people with and without intellectual disabilities. For many years she maintained connections with eastern Europe and continued the Church of the Brethren’s post-war Polish agricultural exchange, placing volunteers to teach English and work with environmental groups in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. A BVSer was placed with a church in East Berlin a few years after the Berlin wall came down.  

In addition to her work with BVSers, Flory was the denomination’s Europe representative and served in that capacity at annual meetings of ecumenical and peace organizations and at European church events and conferences. 

8) Brethren bits

2020 Annual Conference Logo
“An orchestra at Annual Conference? Yes!” said an invitation from the Conference office. “Next year in Grand Rapids we are putting together an orchestra to play for the opening service and other additional times.” Musicians who play an orchestra instrument and are able to attend the 2020 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 1-5 are invited to sign up. The orchestra will rehearse and then play during some of the evening worship services, organized by Nonie Detrick. The conductor is still to be named. The music will include a new piece written by Greg Bachman especially for this orchestra at the 2020 Conference. Musicians are invited to fill out the Orchestra Survey at . Art by Timothy Botts

— Remembrance: Dorothy Brandt Davis, 89, passed away Sept. 30. She authored three iconic Brethren Press books for children, “The Tall Man,” “The Middle Man,” and “The Little Man,” about historical figures in the Church of the Brethren. She was born in Pomona, Calif., on Dec. 8, 1929, followed shortly thereafter by her twin brother Daryl. Her parents, Kathryn and Jesse Brandt, lived in La Verne, Calif. She earned a bachelor of arts, a master of arts, and a juris doctorate degree from the University of La Verne. As a youth she was active in the Church of the Brethren’s first Peace Caravan movement that gave birth to Brethren Volunteer Service. In 1950 she married J. Rodney Davis. In the mid 1950s she taught in the Chicago public school district until she was pregnant with her first child, and then taught elementary school in the Azusa (Calif.) School district in the 1960s until wearing a black armband in protest of the Vietnam War prompted her removal. She moved to San Antonio Continuation High School in the Claremont (Calif.) School District teaching sewing and English until she retired. After earning her law degree, she clerked for Judge Paul Egly on the court-mandated integration efforts of the Los Angeles Unified School District in the late 1970s. In her creative life, she worked in ceramics, textiles, and watercolors, directing larger class projects and executing her own works. In 1964, she designed and managed the building of her family’s primary residence, including an art shack. She is survived by four children, son Carl of Tuolumne, Calif., daughter Sara of La Cañada, Calif., sons Muir and Eric of La Verne, Calif.; 13 grandchildren; and 4 great grandchildren. A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8, at La Verne Church of the Brethren, Memorial gifts are received for On Earth Peace and La Verne Church of the Brethren.

— “Mark your calendars! National Young Adult Conference will be here before you know it!” says a Facebook post from the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministries. The conference known as NYAC is planned for May 22-25, 2020, on the theme “Love in Action” (Romans 12:9-18). Find out more at .

— The Workcamp Ministry has published and mailed its 2020 brochure with detailed information about workcamps planned for next summer. The large, poster-sized brochure lists the dates and locations for the 20 workcamps including events for junior and senior high youth, young adults, intergenerational and adult groups. There is one correction to the information in the brochure. “We apologize for any confusion!” said a follow up announcement made via Facebook. “The correct dates for the We Are Able workcamp in Bethel, Pa., are June 22-25.”

— The Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee is holding its November meetings this week at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The committee includes moderator Paul Mundey of Frederick, Md.; moderator-elect Dave Sollenberger of Annville, Pa.; secretary Jim Beckwith of Elizabethtown, Pa.; and elected members Jan Glass King of Martinsburg, Pa., Carol Hipps Elmore of Roanoke, Va., and Emily Shonk Edwards of Nellysford, Va.

 “Honoring God” is the topic of the winter quarter of “A Guide for Biblical Studies” written by Anna Lisa Gross, with the “Out of Context” feature by Frank Ramirez. The book offers weekly lessons and daily scripture texts for December through February, suitable for small study groups and adult Sunday school classes. In December, lessons focus on stories from the life of King David, under the title “David Honors God.” In January, lessons come from the Bible stories about King Solomon, titled “Dedicating the Temple of God.” In February, the study shifts to a gospel focus under the title “Jesus Teaches about True Worship.” Teachers and class members use the same study book, with the recommendation for each class member have their own book. Cost is $6.95 at .

— The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy has issued an action alert calling for Brethren to engage with their elected officials on the “State and Local Resettlement Executive Order.” The alert reports that “on Sept. 26, the White House issued an Executive Order (EO 13888) that may drastically reduce, if not entirely stop, the resettlement of refugees in your community. The EO is already creating chaos and confusion about where refugees can be resettled, will lead to family separation for refugee families, and will leave refugees, former refugees, and United States citizens without supportive services,” the alert said, in part. “To make matters worse, the administration proposed a refugee admissions goal of 18,000 refugees for the next year, a shamefully abysmal number for the world’s most powerful nation that stands in stark contrast to the historic average goal of 95,000 refugees. The Executive order is harmful because it fundamentally alters the structure of the US resettlement program by transferring decision regarding who can resettle and where they can settle from the federal government to state and locally elected officials. This is detrimental because it will lead to a patchwork of conflicting polices running contrary to the purpose of a national resettlement program, leaving thousands of refugees, former refugees, and US citizens without consistent and routine access to integration services.” Find the full alert with action suggestions at .

 In more news from Peacebuilding and Policy, staff had an opportunity to attend the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare Conference held at Princeton Theological Seminary on Sept. 27-29. The conference provided background information on the use of lethal drones and their roles in extrajudicial killings, as well as trainings to equip participants to approach and engage their congregations and communities to participate in policy advocacy and work with the media to raise awareness on the use of lethal drones by the Department of Defense and the CIA. Approximately 24 states and Washington, D.C., were represented, and participants were equipped with the necessary resources such as short films produced by the network and tips on how to draft and successfully submit op-eds to educate their communities and congregations on the subject matter. Additionally, participants were given tips on how to successfully plan and execute advocacy visits with their representatives in Congress. Office of Peacebuilding and Policy director Nathan Hosler co-chairs the Interfaith Working Group on Drone Warfare with Matt Hawthorne, policy director at the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which holds monthly meetings to share news and work strategically on bringing this issue to the forefront of the agenda for policy makers.

— “These seven Messenger articles will inspire and challenge you as we approach Thanksgiving,” said an email highlighting articles published on the Church of the Brethren magazine’s website:
     “9 Reasons to Give Thanks” by Wendy McFadden, 
     “Moving Toward Gratitude” by Angela Finet, 
     “True Colors” by Nathan Hollenberg,
     “Faith that Calls for Pumpkin-esk Patience” by Amanda J. Garcia, 
     “Practice Thanksgiving” a Bible study by Christina Bucher,
     “Grit, Grace, Gratitude” by Sandy Bosserman,  and
     “A Biblical Basis for Welcoming Refugees” by Dan Ulrich, .
     The email concluded: “We are grateful to each one of our subscribers. Thank you for supporting this ministry and being a part of the Messenger family!”

— Midland (Mich.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a presentation focused on human rights in the Holy Land on Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. A speaker from the Good Shepherd Collective and the Holy Land Trust, Cody O’Rourke, will speak about human rights focusing on South Hebron and a small village in Palestine/Israel. An announcement reported that O’Rourke will give a broad overview of the situation in Palestine/Israel and examine the process of settler colonialism in the community of Um al-Khair.

— West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City, Ohio, is hosting a “Women’s Interfaith Discussion: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism” for Southern Ohio and Kentucky District. The event takes place Nov. 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with lunch. RSVP to .

— Shenandoah District has honored a large number of ministers ordained for 50 or more years. The listing of 25 ministers includes (with years in parentheses): Samuel Flora (76), Emmert Bittinger (75), Fred Bowman (73), C. C. Kurtz (72), Emerson S. Fike (71), James S. Flora (68), Earle Fike (67), Clarence Moyers (67), Thomas Shoemaker (66), Charles Simmons (65), James Eberly (64), Wendell Eller (64), Cecil Haycock (64), Grant Simmons (64), Dee Flory (63), David B. Rittenhouse (63), Albert Sauls (63), Jimmy Ross (62), Auburn Boyers (58), Fred Swartz (58), Curtis Coffman (57), John W. Glick (54), J. D. Glick (53), Kenneth Graff (51), Gene Knicely (50).

— West Marva District also has recognized a minister attaining 50 or more years of service: James Dodds has reached the 50 year mark.

— Virlina District’s disaster response offering for Hurricane Dorian has received $12,385.56 from 20 congregations and 6 individuals, as of Oct. 30. “We will continue to receive offerings from our congregations to underwrite various efforts in response to this storm that has devastated various parts of the United States and the Bahamas,” said the district e-newsletter.

— The Village at Morrisons Cove, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Pennsylvania, has written a thank you letter to Middle Pennsylvania District for the purchase of a SARA-Flex Lift. The District Conference Offering Emphasis received donations to purchase the lift, with a total offering of $2,920. The district paid the balance of the cost of the lift, said an email from the district office.

— Camp Bethel is holding its Christmas TOGETHER Banquet on Dec. 5, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The event includes a dinner and Christmas program in a festively decorated Ark Dining Hall. Gifts of $50 per person (larger gifts accepted) provide year-end funding for the camp. Reserve for familyies or groups to attend by Nov. 28 at .

— The Dunker Punks Podcast has announced a new listening opportunity at . This critique of the new “space force” comes from the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, with an interview with director Nathan Hosler and BVSer Susu Lassa voicing the Church of the Brethren opposition to war of all kinds–including those in space.

— “Brethren Voices” is making a visit to the Great Northwest with the Colebrook Road Blue Grass Band, in an announcement of the next episode in this television show from Peace Church of the Brethren in Oregon. “As individuals, we may not know the influence that we might have in another person’s life,” said the announcement. “For Jesse Eisenbise, guitarist of  Colebrook  Road, and member of Elizabethtown [Pa.] Church of the Brethren, he remembers when his life took a different path. During a performance of the Colebrook Road blue grass band he indicated that the spring of 2019 marked the tenth year together as a band and a return to the state of Oregon where Jesse’s life made a turn down a different path.” During the summer of 2003 Eisenbise was a  Summer Service volunteer from Bridgewater (Va.) College at Camp Myrtlewood in Bridge, Ore. His path crossed with that of Doug Eller, member of Portland’s Peace Church of the Brethren, who also had an interest in music. “Jesse’s path in life was forever changed when they, together, played the song, ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken.’” The program features the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge and songs from their latest album, “On Time.” For a copy of the program, contact producer Ed Groff at .

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced two candidates who have been nominated for the position of WCC general secretary. The position will be vacant as of April 1, 2020. The present general secretary, Olav Fykse Tveit, has announced that he will not stand for re-election for a third period after having served two five-year terms. Fernando Enns is serving as moderator of the search committee, which has concluded interviews and is proposing two names to the WCC Central Committee for the upcoming election of the next general secretary. The two candidates are Elizabeth Joy, a director/trustee at Churches Together in England, and a member of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church; and Jerry Pillay, head of the Department of Church History and Polity at the University of Pretoria, and a member of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. The final decision will be taken by election at the Central Committee meeting on March 18-24 in Geneva, Switzerland.

— The Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at Christian Theological Seminary provide funds to congregations to support renewal leaves for their pastors. Congregations may apply for grants of up to $50,000 to underwrite a renewal program for their pastor and for the pastor’s family, with up to $15,000 of those funds available to the congregation to help cover costs for ministerial supply while the pastor is away. “There is no cost to the congregations or the pastors to apply; the grants represent the Endowment’s continued investment in renewing the health and vitality of American Christian congregations,” said an announcement. For information about the 2020 programs, application materials, and other content related to clergy renewal go to .

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