Newsline for Sept. 14, 2019

Participants arriving at National Older Adult Conference are welcomed with a big hug. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

NOAC 2019

1) Online resources provide full coverage of National Older Adult Conference
2) NOAC by the numbers
3) Fundraising walk around Lake Junaluska benefits Twa education in Africa


4) Brethren Disaster Ministries issues update on Hurricane Dorian response
5) Emergency Disaster Fund grants go to hurricane relief in the Bahamas
6) Committee formed to challenge districts to help call people to the ministry
7) Youth Peace Travel Team changes are underway
8) Bethany Seminary commemorates 25 years in Richmond
9) Peace church seminaries form cross-registration partnership
10) Lauren Seganos Cohen appointed to Mission and Ministry Board following Don Morrison resignation

11) Brethren bits: 2022 Annual Conference, Church of the Brethren seeks applicants for CFO, personnel, action alert on Migrant Protection Protocol, Xenos Project, Nigeria Crisis Response update, Season of Creation is celebrated by churches around the world Sept. 1-Oct. 4, more

Quote of the week:

“If every bucket list item provides us with as many side benefits as going to this conference to hear Joan Chittister did, then we’ll be experiencing heaven on earth with each new adventure–a perfect prelude to the next life!”

— Marian Korth on her Whispering Winds blog, commenting on attending her first National Older Adult Conference as a Lutheran guest among the Brethren. The title of the blogpost, “Getting Serious about a Bucket List,” refers to the reason for her attendance at NOAC to hear Sr. Joan Chittister speak in person.

1) Online resources provide full coverage of National Older Adult Conference

A view of worship at NOAC 2019. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

The NOAC news index page at provides links to full online coverage of the 2019 National Older Adult Conference that took place in Lake Junaluska, N.C., on Sept. 2-6. This coverage includes “Today at NOAC” pages and additional stories; webcasts of the major events including each worship service and the keynote presentations by Sr. Joan Chittister, Drew Hart, Ken Medema, and Ted Swartz; the “Senior Moments” news sheet; photo albums (find all of the daily albums at
 ); and more.

Those providing this coverage included Church of the Brethren website staff Jan Fischer Bachman and Russ Otto; video and webcast crew Chris Brown, Enten Eller, Larry Glick, and David Sollenberger; writer Frank Ramirez; “Senior Moments” editor Walt Wiltschek; and photographer and News Services director Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

2) NOAC by the numbers

Volunteers wheel boxes of children’s books for Junaluska Elementary. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

686 total registration includes participants, staff, and volunteers.

$26,702.19 was the total of offerings that were taken up during the five worship services, to benefit the work of the Church of the Brethren denomination:
$2,452 on Monday evening,
$4,113.25 on Tuesday evening,
$6,351.55 on Wednesday evening,
$8,736.39 on Thursday evening, and
$5,049 on Friday morning.

$5,960 was raised by the 120-some walkers and runners who participated in the early morning fundraising walk around Lake Junaluska to benefit Twa education in the Great Lakes region of central Africa. The walk was sponsored and organized by Brethren Benefit Trust. The Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service office will distribute the funds.

One of the hygiene kits put together as a NOAC service project. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

1,000 hygiene kits were assembled for Church World Service (CWS) to be distributed via the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Some 70 people put the kits together as one of the NOAC service projects. The Southern Ohio and Kentucky District disaster team organized the project.

1,719 children’s books were donated by NOACers to Junaluska Elementary School, and a busload of participants went to the school to read to children as one of the afternoon service projects. Libby Kinsey was a main leader for the effort. Some 30 or more people read to the school’s 465 children. “The great thing about your group is just the kindness that you had,” said principal Alex Moscarelli when the books were presented to him and his staff on Thursday afternoon.

8 members of the planning team for NOAC 2019: coordinator Christy Waltersdorff, Glenn Bollinger, Karen Dillon, Rex Miller, Pat Roberts, Paula Ulrich, and Josh Brockway and Stan Dueck as staff of the Church of the Brethren’s Discipleship Ministries.

(All dollar amounts are pre-audit.)

3) Fundraising walk around Lake Junaluska benefits Twa education in Africa

NOACers walk around Lake Junaluska to raise funds for Twa education. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

By Frank Ramirez and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

“Advertising signs that con you

Into thinking you’re the one

That can do what’s never been done

That can win what’s never been won

Meantime life outside goes on

All around you”

— Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright, Ma, I’m Only Bleeding”

For the first time during the week at NOAC the fog usually hovering over Lake Junaluska cleared quickly, before the sun rose over the mountains. Around 120 Brethren gathered to walk around the lake early that Thursday morning–together with those who were seen on the path beside them, and together with those who were unseen among the Twa people in the Great Lakes region of Africa. It was an opportunity to go to “outside” places where life is going on in earnest.

The walk sponsored and organized by Brethren Benefit Trust raised $5,960 to support Brethren work in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to offer Twa, or Batwa, young people an education and a lease on a new way of living.

True, the two-and-a-half mile walk did put a few steps on an activity tracker, or worked off some calories from the excellent meals and ice cream socials served up at NOAC. But if Brethren are known for their love of ice cream and good conversation, we also find it natural to use exercise as an opportunity to support a ministry of service in the name of Jesus.

The Twa people, sometimes referred to as Pygmies and often misunderstood and mis-characterized, traditionally have been hunter-gatherers living in the forests of central Africa. In recent years they have seen their habitats and traditional livelihoods destroyed by deforestation and development, have suffered from wars and violence, and have been persecuted. They often are excluded from social services and educational opportunities afforded others in the countries where they live.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Rwanda, Burundi, and the DRC

Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service is working cooperatively with emerging Brethren churches and Brethren-related nonprofits in Rwanda, Burundi, and the DRC to provide aid and educational opportunities to the Twa.

In Rwanda, the work is led by church leader Etienne Nsanzimana. Church of the Brethren mission workers Christine and Josiah Ludwick, who with their two children recently returned to the US from a term of service among the Rwandan Brethren, also made the Batwa a special priority. The program is seeking to graduate three people from university–the first Batwa in the country to attain university degrees. The three students receive $1,200 per year, for a total budget of $3,600.

In Burundi, donations from the walk will help provide education and meals for Batwa students in a program hosted by THARS () with leadership from David Nyonzima. that costs a little more than $5,600 per year. That current budget provides 50 children with 180 meals over the course of the year, plus administrative costs. The program is carried out by THARS () with leadership from David Nyonzima.

In the DRC, the Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development led by Ron Lubungo, who also is a leader for the Congolese Brethren, is supporting the attendance of Batwa children at primary school. The project involves helping 28 Batwa students pay for school fees, school uniforms and shoes, and school supplies like notebooks, pens, and briefcases. The students are among the Batwa most affected by poverty in Ngovi, in the province of South Kivu. Total budget for the project for a year is a little over $3,000.

“Our program is still small and we could grow it if we had more funds,” says Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer. The NOAC walk has contributed half of the $12,000 he is seeking per year to keep the program going.

4) Brethren Disaster Ministries issues update on Hurricane Dorian response

Hurricane Dorian (courtesy of NOAA)

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), a program of Brethren Disaster Ministries, stood ready to assist where needed once Hurricane Dorian made its impact on the US. The American Red Cross requested CDS deploy two teams to provide childcare in evacuation centers in North Carolina prior to the hurricane’s arrival. Two additional teams were on stand-by for South Carolina but were not deployed. The North Carolina teams were needed for only a few days. As a domestic program, it is not likely that CDS will be asked to respond in the Bahamas.

Brethren Disaster Ministries monitored Dorian’s progress as it moved across the southern Atlantic Ocean. As news emerged of the massive destruction in the Bahamas, loss of life, and displacement of survivors there, Brethren Disaster Ministries began identifying possible partner organizations with a presence in the Bahamas or who are planning emergency response or long-term recovery efforts. These include fellow members of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) and Church World Service (CWS).

Staff also are seeking ways that Brethren Disaster Ministries and its volunteers can support immediate clean-up and future rebuilding efforts in areas impacted by Dorian in the US, in coordination with church leaders, CWS, and others.

The Church of the Brethren Material Resources warehouse at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., stands ready to ship CWS disaster relief kits and other materials to the areas affected by Hurricane Dorian.

How you can help

— Give to the Emergency Disaster Fund to support the Church of the Brethren disaster relief work. Go to and choose the Hurricane Response option or mail a donation to the Emergency Disaster Fund: Hurricane Response,  Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

— Volunteer with Brethren Disaster Ministries at a rebuilding project site. Go to for more information about how to volunteer or contact or 410-635-8730. The ministry’s Facebook page at offers updates on its work.

— Volunteer with Children’s Disaster Services. Find out about upcoming volunteer training workshops at . The CDS Facebook page offers updates at . Contact CDS by email at .

— Build disaster relief kits for distribution by CWS, a long-term partner of Brethren Disaster Ministries. CWS is calling for hygiene kits, school kits, and clean-up buckets to help with Hurricane Dorian response. More than 1,050 of these kits as well as blankets have been mobilized for Hurricane Dorian relief, and requests are still coming in. For information on making kits go to . To deliver kits to the Brethren Service Center for processing and distribution contact .

— Plan a fundraiser.

— Pray for all those affected by the hurricane and those who are serving the survivors.

5) Emergency Disaster Fund grants go to hurricane relief in the Bahamas

A box of Church World Service (CWS) relief goods bears the words “From: New Windsor, Md., USA”

Three organizations carrying out relief efforts in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian have received grants directed by Brethren Disaster Ministries from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund. The grants, each for $10,000, are going to the Church World Service (CWS) Development and Humanitarian Assistance Program, Feed the Children, and Mercy Chefs.

The Brethren Disaster Ministries response plan focuses on supporting partners providing immediate response and then working toward a larger focus on long-term recovery in the coming months. Children’s Disaster Services is on alert to provide care for children at relocation centers in the US or in the Bahamas if requested by partners. 

The grant to CWS supports development of long-term recovery programming in the Bahamas. CWS is part of the ACT Alliance and is sending staff to be part of the rapid assessment team and to start developing a long-term recovery strategy. The grant will support the assessment and early response programming that develops. CWS represents the Church of the Brethren and other US denominations in the ACT Alliance. 

The grants to Mercy Chefs and Feed the Children are for emergency feeding programs providing emergency food and water to affected families. Mercy Chefs is a faith-based, non-profit disaster relief organization serving professionally prepared meals for victims, volunteers, and first responders in national emergencies and natural disasters. Feed the Children has pre-disaster established partners working in the Bahamas, in Abaco specifically, and through these partners is coordinating a large-scale relief program providing thousands of meals a day, shipping food and supplies from the US. This will be the first time that Brethren Disaster Ministries has partnered with Feed the Children and Mercy Chefs.

For more about Brethren Disaster Ministries go to . To financially support these grants and the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services give to the Emergency Disaster Fund at . 

6) Committee formed to challenge districts to help call people to the ministry

By Nancy Sollenberger Heishman

A “Calling the Called” committee has been formed to carry out the work of challenging every Church of the Brethren district to hold an event for persons to discern a call of God to the set-apart ministry.

The original “Calling the Called” event was developed by Atlantic Northeast District. Virlina District holds the events periodically, with the last being sponsored jointly with Shenandoah District. Such gatherings enable congregations to support and accompany individuals in discerning the call of God upon their lives and learn more about what that call to ministry entails. 

The “Calling the Called” committee is tasked with challenging and supporting every district in holding an event over the coming year. Committee members include Harvey Leddy of Roanoke, Va.; Nathan Hollenberg, Broadway, Va.; Cheryl Marszalek, Uniontown, Pa.; Kris Shunk, administrative assistant for Middle Pennsylvania District; Beth Sollenberger, district executive minister of South/Central Indiana District; and Nancy S. Heishman, director of the Office of Ministry.

Funds donated through the Sunday morning offering of the 2019 Annual Conference will support this effort. A video describing the program can be viewed at .

— Nancy Sollenberger Heishman is director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry.

7) Youth Peace Travel Team changes are underway

Youth Peace Travel Team with a group at Camp Pine Lake, summer of 2016

The following statement is an announcement about the Youth Peace Travel Team from the cooperating sponsors including the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, On Earth Peace, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Outdoor Ministries Association:

“See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them”

Isaiah 42:9

The Brethren movement began in a context rife with conflict. Since those first sisters and brothers entered the Eder River for baptism, the peace witness of Jesus in the New Testament has been an important pillar of our faith.

One of the ways the denomination has expressed its commitment to peace education for youth and young adults over the last 30 years has been through the Youth Peace Travel Team. The members of the Youth Peace Travel Team travel to camps across the denomination, teaching about peace, justice, and reconciliation. The goal of the team’s work was to talk with other young people about the Christian message and the Brethren tradition of peacemaking. For the past 28 years, this has been happening in Bible study sessions, campfires, over meals in the dining hall, on the recreation field, and many other camp and denominational youth program settings.

The first Youth Peace Travel Team was initiated out of a creative vision of several Church of the Brethren programs in the summer of 1991. Between 1991 and 2016, a team of three or four young adults has been fielded every summer. Yet for the last three years, the number of program applicants has dwindled. For two of those years, one young adult took on the work of peace education as the Youth Peace Advocate. The other year, there was neither a team nor an individual to fill the position.

Because this way of doing peace education seems to be becoming less effective, the sponsors have decided to end this program and seek more effective ways to encourage peace education. The sponsors include the Church of the Brethren’s Youth/Young Adult Ministry office and Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, On Earth Peace, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Outdoor Ministries Association.

The sponsors are committed to the Church of the Brethren’s call to build peace and form disciples of Jesus as peacemakers. Young adults who are interested in peace work should apply to be an intern through Ministry Summer Service (MSS) or On Earth Peace. MSS will continue to partner with camps to provide interns prepared to do peace education, and the program will make an increased effort to provide interns with peace making formation as a part of orientation. On Earth Peace offers a variety of paid internships for young adults throughout the year.

While it causes sadness to end the Youth Peace Travel Team program, we entrust ourselves, our young people, and our peace witness to God, who is surely doing a new thing–even if we cannot perceive it yet!

8) Bethany Seminary commemorates 25 years in Richmond

Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. – May 2012. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

By Jenny Williams

During the 2019-20 academic year, Bethany Theological Seminary is celebrating its 25th anniversary as part of the Richmond, Ind., community. To mark the occasion, the seminary is hosting an open house for the public from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27. Bethany is located at 615 National Road West.

A ribbon cutting by the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce will be conducted at 4:00 p.m. in recognition of recent renovations to the Bethany Center. President Jeff Carter of Bethany, Mayor Dave Snow, and President Anne Houtman of Earlham College will offer remarks. The Seminary’s public spaces have been redesigned with expanded kitchen, seating, and storage space and new furniture. Technological improvements have been made to Nicarry Chapel and classrooms, two of which are equipped to connect participants both on- and off-site via synchronous video. The open house will also feature informational displays and educational materials.

“Bethany’s move to Richmond has enabled the Seminary to maintain long-held commitments to academic rigor and service to the church and world in new ways,” says Carter. “In seeking a sustainable way forward, Bethany has made Richmond home as we have welcomed students from near and far, continued to develop innovative teaching and high-impact learning, and created partnerships both sacred and secular. Thanks to the vision of our forerunners and the gifts of our faculty, administration, staff, and students, Bethany is flourishing.”

Over the years, many Bethany students have carried out field placements in Richmond-area churches and organizations. Students in the new Pillars and Pathways Residency Scholarship are volunteering in local nonprofits. Bethany has been a sponsor of various Richmond events, including the Richmond Symphony Orchestra’s Kids of Note program. The Seminary currently collaborates with the RSO to present The Recital Series, performances by RSO members and guests in Bethany’s Nicarry Chapel. Bethany also makes meeting space available to outside groups.

Bethany relocated to Richmond from Oak Brook, Illinois, in 1994 as it sought long-term viability. A large campus with deferred maintenance had become too costly, and Bethany was exploring partnership with another seminary. This became a reality with Earlham School of Religion, and the new Bethany Center was built next to ESR on the Earlham College campus. Bethany and ESR are both of the Historic Peace Church tradition, Church of the Brethren and Society of Friends (Quakers), respectively. Founded in 1905, Bethany was first located in Chicago for nearly sixty years.

Today, the two seminaries have open cross registration, allowing all students to enroll in almost any course at either school, and the faculties meet together regularly. This fall, the schools launched the new Master of Arts: Theopoetics and Writing, developed cooperatively and offered independently by each school. The seminary communities have also long benefited from shared community life and events.

“Our experience of thriving partnership stands out as a shining example of what seminaries can accomplish when they work together,” says Matt Hisrich, dean of ESR. “In 2019, the twenty-fifth anniversary of Bethany’s move to Earlham’s campus, we rededicate ourselves to our shared calling—helping prepare students for creative ministries that truly impact the world.”

— Jenny Williams is director of communications for Bethany Theological Seminary.

9) Peace church seminaries form cross-registration partnership

A release from Bethany Theological Seminary

Bethany Theological Seminary, Earlham School of Religion (ESR), and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) have entered into an open cross-registration agreement. This is the first collaborative effort of its kind among seminaries of the three Historic Peace Church traditions: Church of the Brethren, Quaker (Society of Friends), and Mennonite.

The new agreement allows eligible students at the Indiana-based seminaries to enroll in most courses offered by the seminaries without tuition adjustments being made. Online courses and synchronous video technology are part of the curriculum at each school, making an increasing number of courses widely accessible. The cross-registration opportunity begins with the fall 2019 semester.

According to Steve Schweitzer, academic dean at Bethany, the agreement builds on a twenty-five-year partnership between Bethany and ESR that has maximized the strengths and resources of the two schools. “Students at both schools benefit in broader opportunities for coursework and other educational experiences. Offering courses online and using synchronous video builds community among students and faculty and gives us the ability to provide quality education regardless of location, across the country and around the world. This exciting new relationship with AMBS will expand opportunities for students to take a wider variety of courses and engage in diverse theological conversations with individuals from all three institutions.”

Development of the agreement arose from conversations among the deans of the three schools regarding potential collaborative opportunities. Beverly Lapp, vice president and academic dean at AMBS, located in Elkhart, said, “We hope this initiative will increase interest in theological education rooted in the Historic Peace Church tradition. It’s exciting that we have three theological schools in the state of Indiana with shared yet distinctive denominational identities that are ready to work together.”

“This partnership among seminaries of the Historic Peace Churches could not be timelier,” stated Matt Hisrich, dean of ESR. “The world needs voices that present alternatives to the dominant narrative of violence as an appropriate means to achieve ends. Our three traditions each offer compelling options rooted in hundreds of years of faith and development, and this new partnership provides a powerful testimony to our shared theological commitment. I am excited for the opportunities our collaboration presents for all our students.”

10) Lauren Seganos Cohen appointed to Mission and Ministry Board following Don Morrison resignation

Lauren Seganos Cohen will fill the unexpired term of Don Morrison on the Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren. She pastors Pomona (Calif.) Fellowship Church of the Brethren in Pacific Southwest District.

Don Morrison has resigned from the board due to family responsibilities. The appointment to fill his unexpired term was made by the Nominating Committee of the Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference because he was an elected member of the board whose name appeared on the Conference ballot.

11) Brethren bits

— The Church of the Brethren seeks an executive director of Organizational Resources and chief financial officer (CFO). This full-time salaried position is located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and reports to the General Secretary. The position supervises the operations of the finance office, information technology department, buildings and grounds, and the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, and serves as corporate treasurer, overseeing all aspects of the organization’s finance and asset management and organizational resources. Required skills and knowledge include a commitment to operating out of the Church of the Brethren vision, mission, and core values and dedication to denominational and ecumenical objectives; an understanding and appreciation of Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; and integrity, excellent financial management skills, and confidentiality. A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, business administration, or a related field, and a master’s degree in business administration or a CPA is required, as well as ten years or more of significant proven financial and administrative experience in the areas of finance, accounting, management, planning, and supervision. Active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred. Applications are being received and reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to ; Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60142; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

The Program and Arrangements Committee announced at Annual Conference in Greensboro this summer that the location and dates for the 2022 Annual Conference will be Omaha, Neb., on July 10-14, 2022. This conference will begin on Sunday and end Thursday morning, a change from the usual cycle. “It made a very significant difference in the cost of hotel rooms as well as of the convention center to change our usual pattern, so the hotel cost will only be $106 per night,” said an announcement from Chris Douglas, director of the Annual Conference office. “We are striving to keep costs for Annual Conference as low as possible, and this was one of the compromises we felt we needed to make. Omaha has a lovely, newer convention center that we think Brethren will love. A beautiful Hilton hotel is directly across the street and connected by a skywalk as well. Omaha is an up-and-coming city with so many things to do! Brethren will be surprised at all that Omaha has to offer.”

Tony Price. Photo courtesy of Bethany Seminary

— Tony Price of New Madison, Ohio, began Sept. 5 as office manager for “Brethren Life & Thought,” in an announcement from the Brethren Journal Association. His work for the journal is based at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. Published jointly with the seminary, “Brethren Life & Thought” is a scholarly journal that reflects the faith, heritage, and practices of the Church of the Brethren and related movements. Price will have primary responsibility for corresponding with subscribers, tracking the printing schedule, and overseeing office logistics. He is pastor of Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren in New Paris, Ohio. For more about the journal go to or contact 765-983-1800 or .

Nyampa Kwabe. Photo courtesy of Bethany Seminary

— Nyampa Kwabe of Plateau State, Nigeria, is serving as international scholar in residence at Bethany Theological Seminary during the fall 2019 semester. An Old Testament scholar, he is currently acting head of the Department of Biblical Studies at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN). Prior to arriving on the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind., Kwabe cotaught Bethany’s August intensive course, “Gospel of Peace,” from Nigeria as Dan Ulrich, Weiand Professor of New Testament Studies, taught from Bethany via synchronous video. It was the first course for the new cohort of Nigerian students in the seminary’s partnership with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Hermeneutics was an area of concentration in Kwabe’s MATh from the International Christian College in Glasgow, Scotland, and PhD from the University of Leeds, England. He also holds an MATh and a BD degree from TCNN. He is originally from Michika, Adamawa State, in northeastern Nigeria, and is a member of and ordained in EYN. He has taught at EYN’s Kulp Theological Seminary.

— The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy has issued an action alert calling for Congress to rescind the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), which the alert said “forces asylum-seeking families and children to return to dangerous areas in Mexico while their cases await adjudication. Thousands of asylum-seekers are thus stuck in Mexico, with recent accounts indicating that these areas are ill equipped to handle the growing number of forced returns…. This poses significant problems for due process and access to legal counsel for these asylum seekers, subjecting them to longer waits in neighborhoods that expose them to kidnapping, sexual assault, and attacks.” The alert cited the Church of the Brethren’s 1982 Annual Conference statement on Undocumented Persons and Refugees: “The primary truth of faith as we consider immigrants and refugees today is that Christ has made another appearance among us, as Himself an immigrant and refugee in the person of political dissidents, the economically deprived, and foreigners on the run. We are to join them as pilgrims in search of that city yet to come, with foundations of love and justice whose architect and builder is God.” Find the action alert at .

The Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee meeting at the Church of the Brethren General Offices on Sept. 13-14: (from left) Ray Flagg of Lebanon, Pa.; Terry Grove of Winter Springs, Fla.; Deb Oskin of Columbus, Ohio; Daniel Rudy of Roanoke, Va.; Beth Cage of St. Charles, Minn.; and Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of the Office of Ministry (staff).

— The Intercultural Ministries’ Xenos Project is providing resources at for congregations to access ideas and projects to use in learning about and better understanding the immigrant situation. Begin by taking a survey . For more information email .

— An update on the Nigeria Crisis Response is available on the Church of the Brethren blog at . The post includes information about 100 children receiving trauma healing training in July. “Five workshops were held for children ages 10 to 17,” says the report. “Each workshop was held in a different town and included 10 girls and 10 boys. Most of the attendees were orphans; some lost their parents from natural deaths and others as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.” The report continues with interviews with a few of the children, as well as additional news about a distribution of emergency relief goods to the town of Kindlindila, which was attacked by Boko Haram on Aug. 18. “Although no persons were killed, the insurgents burned eight houses and ten businesses,” the report says.
— The South Central Indiana District conference will be Sept. 21 at Living Faith Church of the Brethren in Flora, Ind. The District-Wide Projects committee is asking each church to collect supplies for five Church World Service (CWS) hygiene kits including $2 per kit for shipping. On Sept. 20 pre-conference events include a Brethren Leadership Institute Orientation at 10 a.m., a workshop on “Dealing with Conflict” led by Angie Briner at 1 p.m., a workshop on “Dealing with Mental Illness” led by Dr. Tim McFadden at 3:30 p.m., and a workshop on “Music in the Church” led by Jonathan Shively at 7 p.m. Those who attend both afternoon workshops and the after-dinner presentation may earn .5 continuing education credits for a $10 fee.

— Chippewa Church of the Brethren in Creston, Ohio, is holding a 200th anniversary Celebration and Reunion Sunday on Oct. 13. Worship will be at 10:30 a.m. with Bill Eley preaching, with a potluck lunch following in the fellowship hall at 12 noon. Following the luncheon, historical presentations and talks by members and friends will be featured. Said an announcement by Annette Shafer in the Northern Ohio District newsletter: “German Baptist Brethren, as the Brethren were previously called, began to move into Milton and Canaan Townships early in the 1800s with the first recorded arrival being the Peter and Sarah Blocher Hoff family who moved into Milton Township from Westmoreland County, Pa., in 1819. Early history of the Chippewa congregation has been mostly obscured by lack of recording and loss of records. Preachers were shared across a large territory, and in the early days worship and love feasts were held in houses and barns of the members. Later centers of worship arose at Beech Grove (Canaan Township), Paradise (Smithville), Orrville, Mohican (West Salem), and Black River (Medina County). The first meetinghouse at Beech Grove (now Chippewa) was built in 1868. The earliest surviving official minutes of the Chippewa congregation date to May 29, 1877, when the congregation had grown large enough to officially divide into three congregations: Chippewa (Beech Grove), Wooster (Paradise), and Orrville. Later the Orrville location was discontinued and in 1890 a house of worship was built at East Chippewa.”

— Altoona (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren hosted the visitation and funeral for longtime Pennsylvania State Rep. Rick Geist, who died Aug. 29 of a heart attack while traveling in Russia. Pastor Bill Pepper officiated at the funeral today. Geist was elected in 1978 to serve the 79th District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where he served 17 terms. He was a lifelong member of Altoona First Church of the Brethren, which is one of the organizations receiving memorial gifts in his honor along with the Railroaders Memorial Museum and the Mishler Theatre in Altoona. “Rick was unceasing in his efforts to make the Commonwealth, his district, and the community which he loved, a better place,” said his obituary. “His faith sustained him through 74 years. Though Rick deservedly received countless honors, awards, and accolades during his lifetime, ultimately his was a life of service, and that always meant humbly doing good for others, and striving to make a positive difference in this world.” See . Find a report on the visition from WJAC-TV at .

— Randolph Street Community Garden, which is connected with Champaign (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, is hosting an Interfaith Vigil of Remembrance this Sunday afternoon, Sept. 15, beginning at 3 p.m. The event to remember those killed by gun violence in the Champaign-Urbana area is led by local clergy, including Church of the Brethren leader Dawn Blackman, in coordination with the Champaign-Urbana chapter of Moms Demand Action, a group that advocates for stricter gun laws. The community garden also hosts an annual remembrance for Kiwane Carrington, who was shot and killed at the age of 15, gathering around a cherry tree planted in his honor. This Sunday afternoon, organizers are asking churches with bells to ring them 35 times for each person killed by gun violence in Champaign-Urbana in the last five years. Blackman told WILL Radio, an NPR station, “When a person dies, you don’t just lose them. You lose all of their contributions. It leaves a hole in the community when someone is lost like that. And until we repair that hole, we’re just not whole.” Find the WILL Radio article at .

— Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va., hosted a Cardboard City event on Sept. 6-7 to help youth learn about the issues surrounding homelessness first-hand. Family Promise of Shenandoah County sponsors the traveling event, which may be hosted by various organizations. “We try to recreate that feeling of homelessness with the Cardboard City event,” said a representative in an article in the “Northern Virginia Daily.” Participants sleep in the boxes for a night, take a class called “A Homeless Journey” about homelessness and how to prevent it, and pack “blessing bags” to be given to the community’s homeless. Participants bring cardboard boxes to build the houses they will sleep in. The event is for youth ages 12-18 and their adult advisors. Funds are raised for Family Promise with awards given for the most money raised individually, by a team, and for the best-looking cardboard house. Find the article at .

— Middle Pennsylvania District’s 39th annual Heritage Fair is at Camp Blue Diamond on Saturday, Sept. 21. Events begin with breakfast starting at 6:30 a.m., followed by a 5K Run/Walk starting at 7 a.m., Food and Craft Booths starting at 8:30 a.m., and then a variety of demonstrations, displays, activities, auctions, and entertainment for children, youth, and adults of all ages throughout the rest of the day. “New this year is an Escape Room Challenge! There will also be demonstrations on milking a cow, card tricks, bow drill, decoy making, and making homemade ice cream,” said a district announcement. About 30 churches are sponsoring booths. Events continue on Sunday, Sept. 22, with a free continental breakfast starting at 9:15 a.m. followed by music with Joseph Helfrich and worship with Jeff Glenny, pastor of Spring Mount Church of the Brethren. Parking and admission are free. Shuttles are available from the parking lots. Camp Blue Diamond is located seven miles northwest of Petersburg, Pa. For additional details visit .

— The Camp Mack Festival will be held on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This fundraiser for the camp features food booths, demonstrations, children’s activities, tournaments, a live auction, and a flea market. Camp Alexander Mack is located near Milford, Ind.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College is hosting Elizabeth Wuerz and Lindy Wagner, associates of the Sustained Dialogue Institute, for a two-day “Constructive Conflict Resolution” lecture and workshop Sept. 26-27. Wuerz will give an endowed lecture, “Throwing Shade: Navigating Conflict Effectively,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, in Cole Hall. The lecture will focus on how to navigate everyday conflicts effectively. The endowed lecture is sponsored by the Mark Leatherman Fund for Connecting and Creating Community Building, the Harry W. and Ina Mason Shank Peace Studies Endowment, and the Office of Student Life, and is free and open to the public. On Friday, Sept. 27, Wuerz and Wagner will present a workshop for student leaders covering problem-solving, communication, and strategies for de-escalating conflict. “The Sustained Dialogue Institute is an organization that specializes in developing leaders who are able to transform differences into strong relationships essential to effective decision-making, democratic governance, and peace,” said a college release.

— September’s “Brethren Voices” features Jonathan Hunter on the topic, “Realities of Homelessness.” Hunter is a leader in collaborative design of innovative solutions to address the needs of vulnerable citizens, including developing and funding supportive housing for people who are chronically homeless and have disabilities related to mental illness, substance use, HIV/AIDS, and other chronic health conditions. “In Los Angeles, this work resulted in the creation of more than 3,000 new units of supportive housing,” the release said. “His clients include government agencies, for-profit and nonprofit developers and foundations. As part of the workshop, Hunter shows how over the years wages have not kept up with the cost of housing…. Los Angeles City and County in 2018 spent millions of dollars to move more than 20,000 people off the streets into permanent housing. However, in January 2019, the Point In Time count showed that the number of homeless people had increased by 12 percent in the county and 16 percent in the city.” Hunter provided a workshop at the 2019 North Woods Song and Story Fest, where Brent Carlson interviewed him for this episode. For a copy contact producer Ed Groff at .

— The Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) holds a general meeting on Sept. 14 at Trinity Church of the Brethren near Blountville, Tenn. The theme for the event is “Revival in the Church.” Worship begins on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. with a message from Craig Alan Myers and a report on the 2019 Annual Conference by Eric Brubaker. The host church will provide lunch. The afternoon worship begins at 1:30 p.m. with a message from Roy McVey. “Everyone welcome,” said the brochure for the event.

— A Church of the Brethren and Mennonite youth event is hosted at the Brethren/Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., on Sunday, Sept. 29, from 4 to 8 p.m. Youth will do a service project, eat together, worship in the woods, and play a large group game. Email for more information.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has announced creation of a Turtle Island Solidarity Network (TISN). “In March 2019, the full time Indigenous People’s Solidarity Team closed as a result of necessary budget cuts in CPT. However, CPT remains committed to continuing the work of Indigenous solidarity across Turtle Island (the Indigenous name for North America),” the announcement said. “In addition, we have been inspired by CPT reservists who are committed to decolonization. We would like to explore ways we can support reservists in this work and provide a platform for advocacy, opportunities for networking, and shared learnings on Indigenous solidarity and decolonization.” The Turtle Island Solidarity Network will take part in actions, be available for accompaniment, provide opportunities for education and advocacy, and work in coalition striving “to erase the colonial border between Canada and the US.” This will be a two-year pilot project. Find out more at .

— A Season of Creation is being celebrated by churches around the world from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4 this year, in an effort connecting the Eastern and the Western traditions of Christianity with sponsorship from the World Council of Churches (WCC). Sept. 1 was proclaimed as a day of prayer for the environment by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989–the Orthodox church year starts that day with a commemoration of how God created the world. On Oct. 4 Roman Catholics and other churches from the Western traditions commemorate Francis of Assisi, known to many as the author of the Canticle of the Creatures. In 2016, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew released special messages for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, starting the month-long Season of Creation celebrations. Participating ecumenical organizations include the WCC, Global Catholic Climate Movement, ACT Alliance, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, and the Anglican Communion Environmental Network. The suggested for this year is “The Web of Life: Biodiversity as God’s Blessing.” A “Celebration Guide” for the Season of Creation is at . Find more information and resources at .

— During this week which includes the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21, the WCC is offering resources under the theme “Humanity and Equality in God’s Creation” with a focus on Israel and Palestine. Churches and people of faith “are encouraged to bear a common witness by participating in worship services, educational events, and acts of support in favour of peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians,” said an announcement. Find more information and worship resources in a “Concept note for 2019 World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel” at .

— Nicholas Zimmerman, a 2017 graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College, received a Facebook “shout out” from his alma mater when he was featured on the Rachael Ray Show “for his dedication to teaching essential life skills to the next generation.” He was a Family and Consumer Sciences major at Bridgewater and works in the Shenandoah County Public Schools in Virginia teaching family and consumer sciences. An article about the show noted that this is “the new umbrella term for home economics.” The article quoted Zimmerman as saying, “I teach my students essential life skills in the areas of child development, human development, apparels, textiles, housing interiors, and nutrition and wellness. People need to understand that home economics never left. We evolved to meet the needs of our students and this current generation as we transitioned into family and consumer sciences.” Read the article at .

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