“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).
1) Anabaptist groups send joint letter to National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service
2) Children’s Disaster Services sends team to Texas
3) Brethren Faith in Action Fund allocates grants to eight churches
4) EYN disaster ministry assists displaced people at three camps in Maiduguri
5) New students enroll at Bethany Seminary
6) McPherson College teams with McPherson Hospital to offer new model for rural health care
10) Brethren bits: Correction, remembering Leon Miller, personnel, job opening, general secretary signs letter on Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Workcamp Ministry and CCS announce themes for 2020, Clergy Women’s Retreat, solidarity with refugees, Faith Over Fear trainings, Generosity NEXT, stories from 13th Peace Day campaign, East Nimishillen turns 215, more
Quote of the week:
“Jesus prepared to leave his disciples. His parting words were words of love and of unity. Jesus has reminded us today that we are his people–one body–one fellowship with one mission.”— Oct. 6 is Worldwide Communion Sunday and many Church of the Brethren congregations will observe love feast on that day, or will celebrate communion during worship. This quote is from a love feast resource by Diane Mason, one of the many worship resources–searchable by occasion and topic–that are offered on the Church of the Brethren website. Go to www.brethren.org/resources/worship .
1) Anabaptist groups send joint letter to National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service
A group of 13 Anabaptist church bodies has sent a joint letter to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service following on an Anabaptist Church Consultation held in Akron, Pa., on June 4, 2019. The group includes the Church of the Brethren.
The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service was established by Congress in 2017 to review Selective Service registration in the event of a military draft, particularly whether women should be required to register, and to recommend ways to increase participation in military, national, and public service. The commission is receiving public comment through 2019 and is expected to present recommendations to Congress in spring 2020.
The letter articulates Christian responses to the commission’s interim recommendations, based on biblical foundations and Anabaptist understandings agreed upon during the consultation. Citing Matthew 5 and Jesus’ example, the letter makes a strong statement of conscientious objection to war and the military and expresses gratitude for religious freedom guaranteed in the United States, urging the freedom not to participate in the military. The letter also expresses prayer for national leaders.
The letter includes a section of nine specific responses to the commission’s interim recommendations. It requests that no law be enacted to require universal obligation for men or women to participate in the military and recommends that women not be required to register for Selective Service, explaining that “for some of us, this grows out of our conviction that no one–man or woman–should be required to register for military service. For others of us, this grows out of our traditional understanding of women’s roles.”
The letter requests the Selective Service System continue to be civilian-led and continue to maintain protections and alternative service programs for conscientious objectors.
Additional specific concerns include, among others, that the commission conflates service to the community with military service, the influence the military has on schools, and military recruiters’ disproportionate focus on low-income communities and communities of color.
Representing the Church of the Brethren at the consultation were Tori Bateman, in her capacity as a legislative assistant at the denomination’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C., and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services and associate editor of “Messenger” magazine. Mennonite Central Committee and its Washington Office staff hosted and led the consultation.
The full text of the letter follows:
September 13, 2019
To the members of the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service:
Greetings in the Name of Jesus.
It is with deep gratitude that we have the freedom and privilege to express our firmly held Christian beliefs to our government. As Anabaptist Christians, we have often experienced our relationship with the U.S. government as a blessing in that we have been granted freedom to follow Christ according to our consciences. We are grateful that you have invited conversation around the question of national service.
We are writing to share with you our strongly held Christian beliefs regarding the proposed recommendations of the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service.
Following the teaching in Matthew 5 and in accordance with Jesus’ example, we are called to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, pray for those who persecute us, refuse to violently resist the evildoer, and forgive as we have been forgiven. As conscientious objectors, we believe Jesus commands reverence for each human life since every person is made in the image of God. In following Jesus, we serve in ways that build up, nurture, and encourage rather than destroy. Our opposition to war is not cowardice but an expression of Christ’s forgiving love as shown on the cross. We see ourselves as ambassadors of peace.
As churches in the Anabaptist tradition we stand firmly with those Christians throughout history who by conscience were not able to participate in the military. One of the important reasons our spiritual ancestors migrated from Europe to America was for religious freedom, which included not participating in military service. They believed that the state should not coerce in matters of religious conviction. They understood Jesus’ teaching to mean that his followers would not join or support armed resistance but would overcome evil with good. To that end, serving others is a core value of who we are as Anabaptist Christians. We encourage church members of all ages and abilities to find ways to bless others both within and outside the church.
In particular, we would like to respond to some of the Commission’s interim recommendations:
— We are requesting that no law be enacted that would require universal obligation for men or women to serve in the military.
— As long as a government Selective Service System exists, we request that it continue to be civilian-led.
— We request that protections and alternative service programs be maintained for those who conscientiously object to military service.
— We respectfully request the inclusion of a provision to identify as a conscientious objector at the time of Selective Service registration.
— We ask that the government, at both federal and state levels, not penalize people who do not register for Selective Service as a matter of conscience.
— We recommend that women not be required to register for Selective Service. (For some of us, this grows out of our conviction that no one—man or woman—should be required to register for military service. For others of us, this grows out of our traditional understanding of women’s roles.)
— We strongly value service but are concerned by the Commission’s conflation of service to the community with military service.
— We do not support sharing information and cross-recruitment of volunteers in our Christian service programs with the military.
— We are concerned by the influence the military has on schools, including efforts to increase military recruitment within schools as well as to incorporate military elements into school curricula. We are also concerned by the disproportionate focus by military recruiters on low-income communities and communities of color.
We express thanks that in the United States our Christian convictions are respected. We are grateful for the Commission’s work and commit to praying regularly for our government officials.
Thank you for hearing our views.
The Brethren Church
Brethren in Christ U.S.
Church of the Brethren
Conservative Mennonite Conference (CMC)
LMC (Lancaster Mennonite Conference)
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Mennonite Church USA
Mennonite Mission Network
Old Order Amish Church
Old Order Mennonites
2) Children’s Disaster Services sends team to Texas
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) deployed a team to Beaumont, Texas, in response to the flooding from Tropical Depression Imelda. The team arrived Sunday, Sept. 22, and began serving children in Beaumont and Silsbee, Texas, the following day.
CDS is a program within Brethren Disaster Ministries. Since 1980, its trained and certified volunteers have been meeting the needs of children and families by setting up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers across the nation. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, CDS volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural and human-caused disasters.
The team now in Texas has made 42 child contacts as of the end of the day Wednesday, Sept. 25. The volunteers are expected to complete their assignment and return home on Sunday, Sept. 29.
“Split into two locations, this team is enjoying their time playing with the children in a Red Cross shelter and a United Methodist Church,” reported Lisa Crouch, CDS associate director.
Find out more about CDS and how to volunteer at www.brethren.org/cds . Provide financial support for this ministry through donations to the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund at www.brethren.org/edf .
3) Brethren Faith in Action Fund allocates grants to eight churches
The Brethren Faith in Action Fund has given eight grants to outreach ministry projects of Church of the Brethren congregations since the first of the year. These grants are given to projects that serve the community, strengthen the congregation, and expand the reign of God.
The fund was created with monies generated by the sale of the upper campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Ministries that receive the grants will honor and continue the legacy of service that the center epitomized, while addressing dynamics of the present age.
Grants given so far this year:
Altoona (Pa.) 28th Street Church of the Brethren received $5,000 to help purchase a walk-in freezer for its food outreach ministries. The congregation began a free lunch ministry more than 10 years ago, which expanded 5 years ago to include a food pantry now assisting more than 650 households in the community.
Bayamon (PR) Church of the Brethren (Iglesia de Los Hermanos de Bayamon) received $4,989.57 to increase its capacity to feed and serve homeless people and families and individuals in need in an outreach ministry called “House of Bread.” The ministry began in 2008 and over the years has impacted more than 10,000 people. The project expansion includes construction and completion of a 1,120-square-foot facility including a new dining hall contiguous to the main church building, as well as furnishing of a commercial-style kitchen.
Brook Park (Ohio) Community Church of the Brethren received $5,000 to expand its food bank, “a large project of supporting the people in the community with tremendous needs.” Twice a week the church provides food, dry goods, clothing, and other items to those in need. A senior’s luncheon is held every month, and a community dinner every other month. During the summer, the church hosts a monthly breakfast/lunch give away for students of Berea School District.
Central Church of the Brethren, Roanoke, Va., received $2,356.20 to purchase additional nutritional foods for weekend snack bags provided to students in “food insecure homes” through the local Congregations in Action program. The program is a partnership with several nearby congregations, initiated by Central church approximately 10 years ago. Congregations in Action currently serves students and families of Highland Park Elementary School. Each Friday about 90 students receive a “Pack a Snack” bag of food obtained from the local food bank.
Grace Way Church of the Brethren, Dundalk, Md., received $5,000 to support its Coffee House Ministry as “a witness to the city, which is burdened with drug addiction, poverty, and other related abuses…. to provide a casual, simple, and relaxed atmosphere for people who are unchurched to come in and enjoy the music.” Church members are being trained to appropriately interact with guests to build and develop friendships.
Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren has received $4,300 to expand, revitalize, and promote existing community outreach ministries in its South Allison Hill neighborhood including outreach resources of the congregation and bcmPEACE, social media platforms, youth program activities of Agape-Satyagraha, community development efforts of bcmPEACE, new curricular materials for recruiting and training volunteers, and activities for interfacing with other local nonprofit and faith-based ministries.
Oakton Church of the Brethren, Vienna, Va., received $5,000 to purchase educational and technology supplies and equipment for a new youth and adult outreach ministry targeting educational equity imbalance in Fairfax County by offering free tutoring and access to learning materials. Funds will purchase a projector and ceiling mount, netbooks, Wifi upgrade, security cabinet, printer supplies, school supplies, electrical accessories, and background checks of volunteers. The congregation is contributing $2,500.
Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren received $711 to fund the attendance of two senior high youth at the 2019 Youth Action Project Conference, and two members of the congregation at the 2019 White Privilege Conference. The events were held on March 20-23 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Total cost was $2,133.50 with the remainder paid by the congregation and Missouri Arkansas District.
For more information go to www.brethren.org/faith-in-action .
4) EYN disaster ministry assists displaced people at three camps in Maiduguri
By Zakariya Musa
The Disaster Relief Ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has assisted about 1,200 internally displaced people (IDPs) from three camps in Maiduguri during a two-day intervention on Sept. 18-19. Maiduguri is the largest city in the far northeast of Nigeria, and the location of EYN’s largest congregation at EYN Maiduguri #1.
Of the internally displaced people, about 95 percent were displaced from the Gwoza area abandoned to Boko Haram. They received food and non-food items that included rice, maize, soap, detergent, cooking oil, salt, Maggi cubes, dignity kits, and men’s inner wears.
Among other challenges recorded during the intervention were an increase in the number of vulnerable persons, some from the Minawao refugee camps in Cameroon and some from within Nigeria, and a rise in birth rates. Many from the host communities and other unidentified IDP camps demanded registration and profiling in the camps.
— Zakariya Musa serves on the communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria. For more about the joint Nigeria Crisis Response of EYN and the Church of the Brethren go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .
5) New students enroll at Bethany Seminary
By Jenny Williams
Bethany Theological Seminary’s fall semester has begun with the largest group of new students in a number of years. Sixteen are beginning studies at Bethany for the first time, and four alumni with graduate certificates from the seminary are returning for a degree. Program enrollment includes five in the MDiv program, three in the MA, seven in certificates, and five in the new Master of Arts: Theopoetics and Writing. Two occasional students have also enrolled. Thirteen are from the Church of the Brethren, with Lutheran, Quaker, Universalist-Unitarian, Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), and Evangelical Church Winning All (Nigeria) traditions also represented.
The new student group includes five Nigerians through Bethany’s educational partnership with EYN. They are part of the first Nigerian cohort to enter an academic program at Bethany, the Certificate in Biblical Peacemaking. Developed with the interests of EYN members in mind, this certificate can be completed entirely at a distance. Their first course was the August intensive Gospel of Peace, cotaught by Dan Ulrich, Wieand Professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany, and Nyampa Kwabe, an Old Testament scholar on the faculty at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. Kwabe joined the students in the city of Jos and connected to the Bethany campus by synchronous video.
Ulrich says that a valuable part of the students’ experience is the interaction of people with different perspectives and that having the collaboration of Kwabe as a Nigerian was personally important to him. Their different teaching styles were complementary, and Kwabe contributed a new emphasis on covenant that enhanced the course a great deal. “Students in North America are challenged to think about their concept of peace in light of the violence that
Nigerian students have witnessed and experienced,” Ulrich said. Eight Nigerians and seven enrolled at the Bethany campus, including two auditors, took the course.
Bethany’s Pillars and Pathways Residency Scholarship program is full to capacity this fall with twelve students. A cooperative effort between the student and the Seminary, the scholarship gives recipients the opportunity to complete their seminary studies without incurring additional educational or consumer debt. In addition to maintaining eligibility for the Academic Excellence Scholarship, the recipients commit to living in the Bethany Neighborhood, engaging in group reflection and campus activities, volunteering in the Richmond area, earning a set amount through employment and/or work study, and living within their means. As the program continues to grow, Bethany is pursuing options for additional housing near campus.
— Jenny Williams is director of communications at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.
6) McPherson College teams with McPherson Hospital to offer new model for rural health care
A release from McPherson College
An initiative introduced by McPherson (Kan.) College and McPherson Hospital with a focus on community health sets out to become a new model for community health care in rural areas. It features a new, enhanced health science degree at the college with a wide variety of hands-on educational opportunities. Working together toward healthier communities is the goal of the partnership that will provide opportunities for student learning and community outreach with the intent to create a new model for rural community health in Kansas.
There is more to a healthy community than just treating people who are sick, explained McPherson College President Michael Schneider. “We are looking at this from a holistic, patient-centered approach to health care in rural communities,” Schneider said. “In small communities, you need to be resourceful uncovering ways to build a healthy community. It includes everything from mentoring at-risk youth to making sure our elderly citizens are safe when they return home from a hospital stay. It also includes solving our challenges to provide good mental health support and treatment for all. This partnership will put our students out in the community working with support from McPherson Hospital to solve these challenges.”
The new degree and partnership were announced Aug. 29 at McPherson College where Rep. Roger Marshall, M.D., spoke about the importance of working together to support rural health. “Health care, like many industries in Kansas, struggles to find qualified employees,” said Marshall. “I served as an OBGYN for more than 25 years and understand the need to find and retain hardworking, qualified medical staff. Partnerships and educational opportunities like the one announced today are an important step in meeting the health care needs of all Kansans and creating educational opportunities for those who want to live and work in rural America.”
The joint initiative aligns the college and hospital to provide students access to its facility resources and people for internships, field experiences, observation, and clinicals. The cooperating effort offers students opportunities for real-world experiences in all aspects of health care delivery, and develops a workforce pipeline for the hospital and other health care agencies across the state as students graduate from the new program. One of the first efforts the new initiative will pursue is a survey of all the health related opportunities available for students in central Kansas.
“The delivery of health care and the needs of consumers have changed dramatically over the years and are likely to continue,” Terri Gehring McPherson Hospital president and CEO, said. “By combining our resources, talents and expertise we have the opportunity to accomplish so much more than we can individually to address these needs.”
Schneider added, “Our organizations face similar challenges. This partnership allows us to work together with common goals. The primary focus of the college is creating pathways to careers in community health for our students. By working with the hospital, we also have the ability to provide signature outreach programs for some of the most vulnerable populations of any community, such as at-risk youth and the elderly.”
Last year, the college conducted an environmental analysis that included community focus groups with more than 60 area health professionals and community leaders participating. The research uncovered opportunities for developing an enhanced health science degree focused on health careers as well as support for a college and hospital partnership.
“The concept of partnering makes a lot of sense,” John Worden, chief operating officer at the hospital, said. “It became clear as we discussed the possibilities that we can unite and work together in a way that improves the health care delivery model and provides educational opportunities for students.”
Over the next 10 years the US Department of Labor projects a 10-20 percent growth in careers related to community health. In Kansas, community health careers in telemedicine, telehealth, behavioral health, health care administration, and community health planning are in high demand. Locally, a Community Health Needs Assessment, conducted annually by the hospital, prioritized the need for more mental health resources and services.
Kansas is among states with the highest number of rural hospitals and greatest shortage of health care professionals of all types, according to the National Rural Health Association. Additionally, according to the Kansas Hospital Association, more than 25 percent of the state’s population lives in rural areas.
“In the focus groups, we observed amazing community support for both the college and hospital,” Gehring said. “Participants were excited about the potential partnership and asked how they could help. This reinforced why McPherson is such a great community. We work together with a shared vision of success.”
Curriculum for the new degree will be offered beginning in the fall of 2020. The degree is designed for students who want to study in the field of health care while participating in outstanding internship opportunities which allow them to give back to the community.
For more information about the community health degree program, contact McPherson College admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org .
7) Brethren Volunteer Service Units 322 and 323 complete orientation
The Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Units 322 and 323 have completed orientation and their members have begun work at their placement sites. The new volunteers’ names, congregations or hometowns, and placements follow.
BVS Unit 322:
Judy Carl of Pomona (Calif.) Church of the Brethren is serving with the Asian Rural Institute in Tochigi-ken, Japan.
Janine Dietle of Essen, Germany, is serving with Abode Services in Fremont, Calif.
Cara Hudson of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is serving with Gould Farm in Monterey, Mass.
Lea Kroener of Bochum, Germany, and Alex McBride of Union Center Church of the Brethren, are serving with SnowCap Food Pantry in Portland, Ore.
Susu Lassa of Jos, Nigeria, is serving with the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C.
Jamie McBride of Union Center Church of the Brethren is serving with The Palms of Sebring, Fla.
Maddy Minehart of Butler, Ind., is serving with Lebanon Lancaster (Pa.) Habitat for Humanity Restore.
Maria Murphy of Hollidaysburg Church of the Brethren is serving with Bernardo Kohler Center in Austin, Texas.
Jacey Myers of First Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, Pa., is serving with Camp Stevens in Julian, Calif.
Felix Naegler of Wiesbaden, Germany; Elli Roeckemann of Unna, Germany; and Luca Wolter of Neuwied, Germany, are serving with Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md.
BVS/BRF Unit 323 (a partnership with the Brethren Revival Fellowship):
Victoria Derosier of Lewiston (Maine) Church of the Brethren is serving with the Root Cellar and as a homeschool helper in Lewiston.
For more about BVS and how to volunteer, go to www.brethren.org/bvs .
8) Michelle Kilbourne hired as BBT director of human resources and administrative services
Michelle Kilbourne has been hired as director of Human Resources and Administrative Services for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). She will begin her duties on Oct. 1 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.
She brings a variety of professional experiences and extensive education to the position. Most recently she was Business Programs chair at Judson University in Elgin, and before that she served as an adjunct professor and previously as associate director for Cultivation Ministries, holding responsibility for various human resources activities such as recruitment, selection, training, evaluation, and compensation.
She holds a bachelor’s of science degree in finance and a master’s in business administration in human resources from Illinois State University, Normal, Ill.; and a doctorate in organizational leadership from Regent University, Virginia Beach, Va.
One of her first duties will be to travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., to help plan the 5K Fitness Challenge route for the 2020 Annual Conference.
She and her family live in Carpentersville, Ill., and are members of St. Catherine of Siena Church in West Dundee, Ill.
9) Sept. 28 is the deadline to order Advent devotional at ‘early bird’ price
Today, Sept. 28, is the last day to order this year’s Advent devotional from Brethren Press at the “early bird” discount price of $3.50 ($6.95 for large print). After that date prices go up to $4 ($7.95 large print). Early-bird prices also are available for a yearly subscription to both the Advent and Lenten devotionals, for $7 ($13.90 large print).
The devotional titled “Ready” is authored by Frank Ramirez, senior pastor of Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind., and a regular Brethren Press and “Messenger” contributor. The pocket-sized, paperback devotional includes a reading, scripture, and prayer for each day of the season. The devotional is suitable for individual use and for congregations to provide to their members.
Purchase the Advent devotional online at www.brethrenpress.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=8488 .
10) Brethren bits
— Correction: The Newsline announcement of Chippewa Church of the Brethren’s 200th anniversary celebration on Oct. 13 was provided by John Shafer, not Annette Shafer.
— Remembrance: Leon Miller, a former longterm Brethren Press employee, passed away on Sept. 12 after a long illness. He worked in “pre-press” for almost 30 years, from 1957 to 1986, when the printing presses were located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. For many years after retirement he and his wife, Carol, who passed away in July, led the weekly soup kettle ministry of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin. The soup kettle ministry every Saturday evening provides a hot, home-cooked meal to dozens of guests in need. Visitation and a memorial service will be held at the Highland Avenue church on Saturday, Oct. 12, with visitation beginning at 3 p.m. and the service at 3:30 p.m. Following the service, at 5:30 p.m., all are invited to join the soup kettle meal in honor of the Millers’ years of service.
— Todd Knight has resigned as administrative assistant for institutional advancement at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., effective Sept. 28. Having worked at Bethany since March 2017, he has provided administrative support for two executive directors, managed constituent and fundraising records, and handled logistics for donor communication and Bethany’s presence at district conferences. He will be taking up an opportunity in leadership at a nonprofit organization in the Richmond area.
— The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership seeks a quarter-time coordinator of Spanish-language ministry training programs. The academy is a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary. Responsibilities are to administer nongraduate, certificate-level ministry training programs in Spanish through regular communication with students, instructors, translators, program partners, and district personnel; discern developing leaders for the future of ministry training and recommend them for additional education; and work with the director of the academy to revise existing and develop additional Spanish-language programs as needed. Qualifications include fluency in Spanish and English, both in oral and written communication; experience in the Spanish-speaking church, either in the United States or abroad; completion of a ministry or theological training program in the Anabaptist tradition; practical experience in pastoral ministry; ability to travel to meet with students and supervisors as needed; ability to travel to the Bethany campus and to the Church of the Brethren General Offices as needed. A complete job description is available on the Bethany Seminary website at https://bethanyseminary.edu/about/employment . To apply, send a cover letter and resume to email@example.com .
— Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele is one of the American faith leaders who have signed a letter to President Trump urging the finding of a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The letter was coordinated by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). The letter said, in part: “As leaders of diverse church communions and religious organizations, we ardently support robust U.S. leadership in coordination and direct engagement with all the relevant parties to bring about an end to this conflict in a way that addresses the human rights concerns of Israelis and Palestinians–Jews, Christians and Muslims. We hold fast to the understanding that all people are equal in God’s eyes, deserving of human rights and dignity…. While acknowledging the pressing needs facing the Palestinian economy laid out in your administration’s ‘Peace to Prosperity: A New Vision for the Palestinian People,’ we maintain that these needs cannot be adequately addressed unless their root causes are properly diagnosed and addressed. Underdevelopment in the Palestinian territories is not the result of natural market forces; it is the direct product of over fifty years of Israeli military occupation and policies explicitly designed to stifle the Palestinian economy. Even the most thorough and well-planned economic development proposals will ultimately fail if the political conditions needed for peace are absent. A truly viable peace can only be achieved by lifting the Gaza blockade, by ending the Israeli occupation of territories captured in 1967, through the realization of Palestinian self-determination, the recognition of Jerusalem as a shared capital for Israelis and Palestinians, and the recognition and fulfillment of the rights of Palestinian refugees. Such a peace can only be reached in consultation with leaders representing both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.”
The Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry has announced the theme and scripture text for the 2020 workcamp season: “Voices for Peace” (Romans 15:1-6, “The Message” version). “We will explore how we can use our voices and gifts to promote peace both within our communities and within our world,” said the announcement. Workcamp registration will open Jan. 16, 2020, at 7 p.m. (central time) at www.brethren.org/workcamps .
Senior high youth and their adult advisors are invited to save the date for next year’s Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) on April 25-30, 2020. The theme is “Economic Justice” with the theme text from Luke 1:51-53), “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” More information will be made available on the CCS web page at www.brethren.org/yya/ccs .
— The Office of Ministry invites clergywomen to a Clergy Women’s Retreat on Jan. 6-9, 2020, in Scottsdale, Ariz. “We are looking forward to gathering as Church of the Brethren clergywomen for a time of spiritual growth and renewal,” said the announcement. “Please join us at the Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale.” The planning committee includes Connie Burkholder, Kathy Gingrich, Rebecca House, LaDonna Nkosi, Leonor Ochoa, Sara Haldeman-Scarr, and Nancy S. Heishman as director of the Office of Ministry. Clergywomen are invited to be involved in the months leading up to the retreat by volunteering to help with worship planning (contact Rebecca House at firstname.lastname@example.org or Leonor Ochoa at email@example.com ); or by joining the prayer team for the retreat (contact LaDonna Nkosi at firstname.lastname@example.org ). “Invite others to join since prayer team members don’t necessarily have to be clergywomen or planning to attend the retreat,” the announcement said. “The hope is that part of the prayer team will be interceding for the retreat from their locations even when the retreat is in session and as participants arrive and return home.” Also invited are donations to support the scholarship fund as well as plans to provide childcare for children under age 2 who accompany their mothers. Visit https://churchofthebrethren.givingfuel.com/give-ministry to contribute financial support. Go to www.cognitoforms.com/ChurchOfTheBrethren1/ClergyWomenRetreat2019 to register.
— Solidarity with refugees is the topic of this week’s action alert from the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. It highlights the need for advocacy around the Presidential Determination (PD) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, which determines the number of refugees allowed to be admitted to the United States. “The FY2019 PD was set at 30,000 refugees, the all-time-lowest number in the history of resettlement,” the alert said. “Meanwhile, there are nearly 26 million refugees worldwide with 1.4 million needing resettlement. Despite the continued global need, some in the administration are reportedly calling to ‘zero out’ the program for FY 2020. The Senate and House have both introduced the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement Act, GRACE Act, S. 1088, H.R. 2146, which would set 95,000 as the minimum PD. As Christians, we affirm the inherent dignity of every person and the ability of refugees to seek security and safety for themselves and family members.” The alert cited the 1982 Annual Conference “Statement on Undocumented Persons and Refugees” urging church members to call upon the government specifically to “make provisions for admissions beyond the annual ceiling and to review the numerical limits periodically, taking into account economic, social, political, ecological, agricultural and demographic national and global conditions.” The alert includes points for talking with representatives and senators as well as sample scripts. Find the action alert at https://mailchi.mp/brethren/solidarity-with-refugees .
— In related news, the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy has shared a statement from Church World Service (CWS) president and CEO John L. McCullough. The statement responds to reports that the US administration plans to set the Fiscal Year 2020 refugee admissions goal at 18,000, a record low, and an executive order issued this week that permits state and local officials to block refugee resettlement in their communities.
“With one final blow, the Trump administration has snuffed out Lady Liberty’s torch and ended our nation’s legacy of compassion and welcome. The darkness of this day will extend for years, if not decades, to come.
“This is nothing short of a refugee ban. Cutting America’s life-saving refugee program to such extreme lows is a terrible mistake that will put the lives of thousands of refugee families–the most desperate cases in the world–at dire risk. It will destroy the lives of former refugees in the United States who have been desperately waiting for their children, their parents, their most precious loved ones to arrive. It will destabilize key allies and destroy what is left of our nation’s moral example. It will annihilate the vital infrastructure and support services that the United States has taken decades to build.
“Cutting the refugee program to what is effectively zero while circumventing Congress and allowing states and local governments to ban refugees is a death blow to the program that has saved the lives of millions.
“This tragic decision is an affront to people of faith and people of conscience across the nation who have dedicated their lives and opened their communities to refugee families. The refugee resettlement program was built by communities of faith who sought to respond with compassion to the world’s worst displacement crises.
“Congress must not continue to stand by as the Trump administration systematically blocks all vulnerable people from accessing protection in our country. We implore Congress to ensure there is a full consultation with the administration and to demand that the refugee admissions goal be set at 95,000 in line with our nation’s historic commitments and capacity to welcome.”
CWS’s work with refugees dates back to 1946. Learn more at www.greateras1.org.
— Faith Over Fear trainings are offered this fall by Shoulder to Shoulder, an ecumenical organization in which the Church of the Brethren is a partner. “These trainings share research, tools, effective strategies for the work of faith and community leaders who wish to counter anti-Muslim bias, discrimination, and violence in the United States,” said an announcement shared by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. Four trainings are offered: Nov. 2-3 in Omaha, Neb., co-sponsored locally by Tri-Faith Initiative; Nov. 10-11 in Louisville, Ky., co-sponsored locally by Peace Catalyst International, Muslim Americans for Compassion, and Interfaith Paths to Peace, and hosted at the First Christian Church of Louisville; Nov. 15-16 in Willmar, Minn., co-sponsored locally by the Willmar Interfaith Network and Minnesota Council of Churches; Dec. 2 in Charleston, W.Va., held at Temple Israel. Go to www.shouldertoshouldercampaign.org/trainings .
Above: The Compelling Vision Team met this week Monday through Wednesday, Sept. 23-25, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The group includes all the members of the former Compelling Vision Working Group and the former Compelling Vision Process Team: Kayla Alphonse of Miami, Fla.; Kevin Daggett, Bridgewater, Va.; Chris Douglas, Annual Conference director; Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Minneapolis, Minn.; John Jantzi, executive minister for Shenandoah District; Donita Keister, immediate past moderator of Annual Conference; Brian Messler, Lititz, Pa.; Colleen Michael, former executive minister of Pacific Northwest District; Paul Mundey, Annual Conference moderator; Samuel Sarpiya, moderator of the 2018 Annual Conference; David Steele, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren; Alan Stucky, Wichita, Kan.; and Kay Weaver, Strasburg, Pa. “Keep them in your prayers as they go about this important work for the denomination,” said a request from the Conference office.
Below: Members of the Ministers’ Association arrived at the Church of the Brethren General Offices Thursday, Sept. 26, for two days of meetings. The group includes Barbara Wise Lewczak, chair; Ken Frantz and Erin Huiras, vice-chairs; Jody Gunn, secretary; and Tim Sollenberger Morphew, treasurer. Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of Ministry, participated as staff.
— The Ecumenical Stewardship Center is holding a gathering titled Generosity NEXT featuring plenary speakers who are “thought leaders on cutting-edge topics related to faithful stewardship and generosity in the North American cultural landscape,” according to an announcement. The Church of the Brethren participates in the center. Generosity NEXT will meet on the topic, “Spirited Generosity: Offering Vitality in the 21st Century” on Nov. 20-21 at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta, Ga. Attendance via live streaming is available. The event will explore the history and theology of the offering, its spiritual significance, and how faith communities can continue to make congregational giving a vital practice in 21st-century culture. Speakers include L. Edward Phillips, associate professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology at Candler School of Theology; Robert Hay Jr., senior ministry relations officer, southeast, for the Presbyterian Foundation; Melvin Amerson, stewardship consultant for the Texas Methodist Foundation; and stewardship and fundraising consultant Lori Guenther Reesor. Find out more at https://stewardshipresources.org/generosity-next .
— On Earth Peace celebrated its 13th Peace Day campaign on Sept. 21. On a Facebook page the agency collected stories of what congregations would be doing to join in the celebration. Examples shared in the On Earth Peace email newsletter included: Williamson Road Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., organizing a Fall Peace Day Block Party for the surrounding community to gather together and enjoy fellowship, food, and ice cream, and fun activities for kids and families as well as a demonstration of the correct installation of a car seat; the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy hosting a prayer service for immigration at Washington City Church of the Brethren in Washington, D.C.; Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren hosting a viewing of the film “A Singing Revolution”; Crest Manor Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind., replacing peace poles in its community and dedicating new ones; and San Diego (Calif.) First Church of the Brethren and the San Diego Peace Resource Center offering peace activities and workshops as well as a concert.
— East Nimishillen (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is celebrating 215 years of ministry. Special speakers are planned each month in October culminating in a music celebration on Oct. 27. The celebration will include apple dumplings and ice cream. For a flier go to www.nohcob.org/blog/2019/09/03/east-nimishillen-church-of-the-brethren-celebrating-215-years .
— Lakeview Church of the Brethren is one of the organizations in Manistee County, Mich., receiving grants from the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, according to the “News Advocate.” The grants are given to food pantries and worksites in the county to improve their services. The District Health Department No. 10 coordinated the grants and helped the recipients develop an action plan to implement sustainable change, the newspaper reported. The church shared a grant of $6,000 with two other organizations and purchased educational materials and displays, bins for displaying seasonal produce, insulated thermal bags, and a new sign with healthy messaging. Find the news report at http://news.pioneergroup.com/manisteenews/2019/09/25/manistee-county-food-pantries-worksites-receive-summer-grants .
— “How many miles are represented by 3,000 pounds of shoes?” is a question being asked at Greenville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren since the congregation collected 3,000 pounds of shoes for WaterStep, according to the “Daily Advocate” newspaper. This is the fourth year the church has collected shoes for Waterstep, a non-profit based in Louisville, Ky., that provides safe water to communities in developing countries. The shoes “are purchased by an exporter that pays WaterStep a specific rate per pound of shoes, explained [pastor Ron Sherck]. Waterstep uses the funds to build an easy-to-assemble, small chlorine generator that purifies contaminated water, saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year.” Read more at www.dailyadvocate.com/top-stories/78675/shoes-for-waterstep .
— A Growing Project Harvest Festival is happening in Mid-Atlantic District this Sunday, Sept. 29, at 2:30 p.m. starting off with hayrides at the Growing Project Farm in Myersville, Md. “Please join in the fun as we gather to celebrate and thank God for another bountiful harvest,” said an announcement. A Service of Thanksgiving is at 3 p.m. and the event also includes a Cake Auction, sampling of foods from Burkina Faso, a Scarecrow Workshop, and more. During 2019 the program is supporting villages in Burkina Faso, in West Africa, working with participants to raise and consume nutritious food in an area that often suffers from drought. Bring along clean, empty aluminum cans for a recycling project to benefit the Burkina Faso project. The “Field of Hope” Growing Project is a ten-church effort including Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren, Edgewood Church of the Brethren, Grossnickle Church of the Brethren, Hagerstown Church of the Brethren, Harmony Church of the Brethren, Myersville Church of the Brethren, Welty Church of the Brethren, Christ Reformed United Church of Christ, Middletown and Holy Family Catholic Community.
— Atlantic Northeast District holds its district conference on Oct. 4-5 in Leffler Chapel at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Brian Berkey is serving as moderator.
— The College of Law at the University of La Verne, Calif., is ranked among the top 10 law schools for student diversity by Enjuris, an online platform designed to help injured parties with legal resources, according to a release from ULV. The rankings looked at race and ethnicity demographics across the country for American Bar Association-accredited law schools. According to Enjuris, the number of minorities enrolled in law schools across the country increased by 6 percent in 2018. This included Hispanics, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Asians, African Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Caucasians. Find the ULV release at https://laverne.edu/news/2019/09/24/college-law-ranked-top-10-diversity .
— McPherson (Kan.) College is reporting record enrollment, according to a release. The college welcomed its largest incoming class on Aug. 20, continuing an upward enrollment trend established over the past five years. “With 316 new freshmen and transfer students, it is the largest class in school history,” said the release. “As classes get underway, full-time equivalent enrollment is up to 840…. According to Ruffalo Noel Levitz, an enrollment management firm that surveyed 63 private higher education institutions in the Midwest, average enrollment is down three percent.” Said college president Michael Schneider in the release, “We know families question whether they can afford to send their children to college. McPherson College is showing students how it is possible to graduate with no student loan debt and it is attracting their attention.” The McPherson College Student Debt Project aims at helping students graduate with no student loan debt focusing on financial literacy, mentoring, and financial disciplines, student commitments to work during college, and college matches for a portion of their earnings. The release said that 98 percent of McPherson graduates are in careers within six months of graduation, and two-thirds report having a job before they graduated.
— There is a new Dunker Punks podcast, featuring a story from Jos, Nigeria. “Life’s too short to not have unique, fulfilling experiences. That’s why Sharon Flaten took advantage of Bethany Theological Seminary’s online classes and off-campus learning centers to move to Jos to study,” said an announcement. Ben Bear interviews Flaten about her story and how it came about. Listen at bit.ly/DPP_Episode87 and subscribe at bit.ly/DPP_iTunes.
— A joint climate justice pledge has been signed by two US denominations–the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America–and the Church of Sweden. “The message urges action on the unprecedented negative effects of climate change,” reported the World Council of Churches (WCC). The pledge reads, in part: “As we observe the Season of Creation, we renew the call for our churches to work together for the sake of Earth and to build collaborations wherever possible, both with other communities of faith and with diverse agents in our civil society. Now is the time for science, politics, business, culture, and religion–everything that is an expression of human dignity–to address together this critical issue for our time.” The pledge also acknowledges that churches have been slow to recognize the urgency of the crisis. “We have turned away from our own roles in environmental degradation, clinging as we could to lifestyles of unsustainable waste and overuse even as others suffer from lack of necessities.” The pledge commits to advocate for national and international policies and regulations that enable transitions to carbon-neutral, resilient societies; education and advocacy efforts that attend to the most vulnerable and put their needs ahead of the more privileged; and raise awareness in congregations by promoting the use of education, worship, and action resources. See www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/american-and-swedish-church-leads-sign-joint-climate-justice-pledge .