Newsline for Dec. 21, 2020

“And [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger” (Luke 2:7a).

1) Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding program sites are ‘paused,’ to restart in 2021

2) Intercultural Ministries announces new Racial Justice mini-grant program

3) Global Brethren Communion holds second Zoom meeting

4) EYN reports on fighting in Askira area, assistance to Chibok orphans and student refugees in Cameroon

5) Western Plains District Leadership Team adopts non-discrimination policy

6) National Council of Churches issues ‘Statement on the Racist Threats to US Churches’

7) Meghan Horne Mauldin is appointed to Mission and Ministry Board following Carol Yeazell resignation

8) Coordinator is named for National Youth Conference 2022

9) Church of the Brethren youth cabinet is named for 2021-2022

10) Christian Citizenship Seminar 2021 will study economic justice

11) Moderator’s Town Hall on ‘Faith, Science, and COVID-19–Part Three’ is slated for Jan. 21

12) Webinar will explore God’s work of healing self and relationships

13) Themes and writers are announced for upcoming compelling vision Bible studies

14) Online worship in various languages / Adoración en línea en varios idiomas / Adorasyon sou entènèt nan divès lang / العبادة عبر الإنترنت بلغات مختلفة

15) Brethren bits: Remembering John Gingrich and Georgianna Schmidtke, prayers for the Quinter church and Gove County, Kan., personnel, letter to President-elect Biden on Israel and Palestine, Brethren Press matching gift challenge, Bethany recruits international students from the Brethren-related colleges, Virlina District’s Race Education Team, and more

Quote of the week:

“Coming from humble beginnings shaped Jesus’ attitude toward others. Wherever he went he always seemed to notice those around him who were struggling, who were vulnerable, or who lacked resources–lepers, beggars, the blind or lame, many others. Unlike some who tried to justify their indifference by suggesting the poor and suffering must deserve their condition, Jesus reached out in compassion to help and to heal. Jesus was determined to show that God’s love was for all, not just for those who were fortunate enough to have had the resources and opportunities to secure a good life. In essence, you could say Jesus never forgot that he was laid in a manger. Neither should we.”

— James Benedict from the devotion for Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, in “Give Light,” the Advent devotional for 2020 from Brethren Press.

Landing page of Church of the Brethren COVID 19 related resources and information:

Church of the Brethren congregations offering online worship in English and other languages: *Spanish/bilingual; **Haitian Kreyol/bilingual; Arabic/bilingual
(* español/bilingüe, ** kreyol haitiano/bilingüe, ***عربي / ثنائي اللغة) of the brethren congregations worship online.html

Lifting up Brethren who are active in health care: active in health care.html

Send information about additional churches to be added to the listing of online worship offerings to Add a person to the list of Brethren active in health care by sending first name, county, and state to

A note to readers: This is the last regularly scheduled issue of Newsline for 2020. Please look for the next Newsline to appear in early 2021.

1) Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding program sites are ‘paused,’ to restart in 2021

A Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding site

By Jenn Dorsch-Messler

Both of the current Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project sites will be closed after this week for a holiday break.

The coastal North Carolina Hurricane Florence recovery site in Bayboro, N.C., has had groups of volunteers and leadership working on homes as scheduled during the month of December.

The tornado recovery site in Dayton, Ohio, in December cancelled volunteers due to the rising number of cases and COVID-19 alert levels in Montgomery County, as well as the locations from which volunteer groups were scheduled to travel. Local leadership completed the final planned home this week and moved Brethren Disaster Ministry vehicles and trailers to be stored while the Ohio site is “paused” from January to April 2021.

In 2021, the Brethren Disaster Ministry program will be down to one rebuilding site at a time throughout the year. The North Carolina site is scheduled to reopen Jan. 10 and close at the end of March. The Ohio site will reopen after Easter to continue for the rest of 2021.

However, this plan will be influenced by the COVID-19 climate at the sites and by the locations where volunteers travel from. Brethren Disaster Ministries will monitor the COVID-19 situation through the year to determine if any changes to the plan are required.

With the departure of Terry Goodger from the Brethren Disaster Ministries office, questions about scheduling and projects can be sent to Jenn Dorsch-Messler at or 410-635-8737.

Jenn Dorsch-Messler is the director of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

2) Intercultural Ministries announces new Racial Justice mini-grant program

By LaDonna Sanders Nkosi

We are grateful to announce that the Church of the Brethren is a grant recipient of the Healing Illinois grant of $30,000 towards racial justice initiatives. The Gathering Chicago in the Illinois and Wisconsin District also is among the recipients. Healing Illinois grants are administered by the Chicago Community Trust.

The Church of the Brethren Discipleship Ministries is contributing funds so that congregations and communities across the denomination can participate in an upcoming mini-grant program for Racial Justice and Healing Racism.

Applications will be available Jan. 15, due between Feb. 1 and Feb. 25. Stay tuned for information sessions and updates as well as webinars and events in January through March of 2021, which is our grant period. Congregations and communities from across the Church of the Brethren are welcome to participate.

We give God thanks for all of the churches, members, and friends who have been on the journey to racial justice this year. Thank you! All are in our thoughts and prayers as always and in this holiday season.

For more information contact racialjustice@brethren,org or

— LaDonna Sanders Nkosi is director of the Church of the Brethren Intercultural Ministries.

3) Global Brethren Communion holds second Zoom meeting

A screenshot of the December 2020 meeting of the Global Brethren Communion.

By Norm and Carol Spicher Waggy

Twenty-two representatives of 10 of the 11 Church of the Brethren denominations around the world met by Zoom on Dec. 15 in the second virtual meeting of the Global Brethren Communion.

Igreja da Irmandade of Brazil was represented by Alexandre Gonςalves and Marcos and Suely Inhauser. Ariel Rosario and translator Jacson Sylben represented Iglesia de los Hermanos of the Dominican Republic. The Church of the Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo was represented by Lewis Pongo Umbe. Eglise des Freres leaders from Haiti included Romy Telfort, Joseph Bosco, Vildor Archange and Lovely Erius as translator. Country Area Team member Ernest Thakor represented the First District Church of the Brethren in India in place of Darryl Sankey. Representatives Etienne Nsanzimana from Rwanda, Santo Terrerro Feliz from Spain, and Bwambale Sedrack from Uganda were present as well, and also the representatives from Venezuela, Robert and Luz Anzoategui and Jorge Padilla.

The US church was represented by general secretary David Steele, Jeff Boshart of the Global Food Initiative, Roxane Hill as interim manager of the Global Mission Office, and Norm and Carol Spicher Waggy as interim directors of Global Mission.

Nigeria was the only country not represented, as the leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) were delayed in travel from the wedding celebration of EYN president Joel Billi’s daughter.

Following introductions, time was given for sharing from each church group. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be of major concern. Violence and political upheaval also continue in a number of these countries. A shared concern is how these factors have prevented evangelism and meeting together as church communities.

The group appointed a committee to begin the work of proposing a constitution and by-laws to define the structure and purpose of the Global Brethren Communion. Committee members are Marcos Inhauser (chair), Alexandre Gonςalves, Jorge Martinez Padilla, Ariel Rosario, Norm and Carol Waggy or the executive director of Global Mission when appointed, and perhaps a person from EYN.

The next meeting was set for March 9, 2021.

— Norm and Carol Spicher Waggy are interim directors of Global Mission for the Church of the Brethren.

4) EYN reports on fighting in Askira area, assistance to Chibok orphans and student refugees in Cameroon

EYN director of Evangelism, Musa Daniel Mbaya, shown baptizing one of the 39 people who requested baptism in the Rijau area of Niger State in western Nigeria. The baptisms took place in September. Photo courtesy of EYN

From EYN releases by Zakariya Musa

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has reported on fighting between government forces and Boko Haram in the Askira Uba area of Borno State in northeast Nigeria, with many people forced to flee and at least one church member suffering gunshot wounds.

EYN president Joel S. Billi has shared encouragement with orphaned students in Chibok during a scholarship presentation by the EYN Disaster Relief Ministry. EYN also has extended educational assistance to refugees in Cameroon.

In more news, EYN’s Evangelism Department baptized 39 people in the Rijau area of Niger State, in western Nigeria.

Fighting in Askira Uba

At least one EYN member sustained bullet wounds as people fled their houses when Askira Uba was attacked last Saturday, Dec. 12. Church officials from the district said the attack started around 5:15 p.m. and lasted until 1 a.m.

The Nigerian army in a statement on Dec. 13 said that troops of the 28th Task Force Brigade of Sector 1 Operation LAFIYA DOLE inflicted heavy casualties on Boko Haram. “The terrorists were suspected to have come from Sambisa Forest, mounted on over 15 gun trucks and approached the town from different directions simultaneously,” the statement said, adding that Boko Haram suffered losses both in men, materials, and equipment.” The Air Task Force also responded. Among the equipment and munitions captured by the government forces were gun trucks, anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, AK 47 rifles, and rocket propelled grenade bombs. One government soldier died and two others were wounded. The report said some 20 Boko Haram fighters were killed.

The attack occurred a day after more than 300 schoolboys were abducted by Boko Haram from a school many hundreds of miles away in Katsina State, in northwest Nigeria [news of their release came on Dec. 17, see] and two weeks after 76 rice laborers were killed in Zabarmari, 20 kilometers from Maiduguri in the far northeast of Nigeria.

Encouragement to Chibok students

EYN president Joel S. Billi spoke with students orphaned as a result of Boko Haram violence in Chibok communities, encouraging them to read. He addressed the orphans during a scholarship presentation by the EYN Disaster Relief Ministry at the EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi on Nov. 30.

Billi said, “Reading is harder than farming, but you have to read because our aim by giving you a scholarship is to make you great in the community where girl-child education is overlooked.” He also said that the Chibok area is still a troubled community due to unceasing attacks. He added that because of the reports of attacks on the Christian-dominated communities, as he prepared to to resume the denomination’s yearly transfer of staff, he thought of transferring all pastors out of the Chibok area because of the hardship. However, then their church members would be left wondering and thinking EYN had abandoned them, which the church cannot afford to do.

Ten students from the church district DCC Kautikari benefitted from Naira 50,000 to help them continue with their education. Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Joshua Pindar thanked EYN for the assistance. He also pleaded for many orphans to benefit from assistance. Gloria John spoke on behalf of the guardians who take care of the orphans, thanking EYN and the Brethren who gave to help many children. She also prayed for more blessings on EYN and the donors. DCC secretary Emmanuel Mandara added that in Kwada village alone, where one of the churches in the district is located, 73 people were killed one day, leaving many orphans in the area.

Educational assistance to refugees in Cameroon

EYN has assisted 150 students in refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon, with school fees. The camp is one that houses many EYN members who fled Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria. Funding came from regular help for training sponsored by Mission 21 in Switzerland.

Deputy director of Education, Abba Yaya Chiroma, who presented the Naira 11,000 to the beneficiaries, said they assisted 150 out of 450 secondary school students who are in desperate need for assistance.

The EYN coordinator in the camp, Bitrus A. Mbatha, while appreciating the gesture thanked EYN and Mission 21 for the continued assistance, and prayed for more blessings.

Some of the beneficiaries who shared their gratitude:

Iliya Yahaya: “I appreciate God and sponsors of help for training, and pray that one day we will return to our land in our own village.”

Bala Yakubu: “God bless our leaders (EYN).”

Patience Godwin prayed for more assistance from other organizations.

EYN baptizes 39

EYN’s Evangelism Department baptized 39 people on Sept. 3-9 after paying condolence to one of the pioneer missionaries in the Rijau area of Niger State in western Nigeria. The director of Evangelism, Musa Daniel Mbaya, reported that people asked him to baptize new converts who accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior after sighting him in the area during a condolence visit to pastor Daniel K. Amos, who had lost his eldest son.

The ministry’s work was conducted in the communities of Tunga Ardo, Dokka, Aziyang, Morondo, and Madahai. Other activities carried out in the area included 14 children named, 39 dedicated, and the offering of Holy Communion to 98 people.

“Praise God for the battle he is winning for himself in the mission fields,” said Mbaya. He also called for support, in order to reduce the hardship of missionaries, by providing more motorbikes for the purpose of evangelism. He expressed appreciation to the EYN Potiskum congregation in Yobe State for donating a motorcycle for evangelism purposes.

— Zakariya Musa is head of media for EYN and works with the Disaster Relief Ministry team.

5) Western Plains District Leadership Team adopts non-discrimination policy

A report from Western Plains District of the Church of the Brethren

The Western Plains Leadership Team, as part of our employment/appointment duties, discussed and adopted a Nondiscrimination Statement.

As followers of Christ, it has been an unwritten ideal that we strive to be non-discriminatory in our actions and speech, but like so many other organizations, we felt the time had come for the district to make a formal declaration of these ideals.

The statement is as follows:

Leadership Team Resolution Affirming Non-Discrimination Policy
Western Plains District Church of the Brethren

In keeping with the Church of the Brethren’s inclusive Christian tradition and its emphasis on the dignity and worth of all people, the Western Plains District Leadership Team affirms and embraces the honoring of diversity as a Christian ideal and mandate. Employment, membership, or participation in any district church hiring, appointment, or district activity shall be open to all without regard to ethnicity, race, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, or creed.

Employment/appointment decisions shall be based on training, education, and experience related to the requirements of each position, including appropriate background checks. Western Plains District also encourages every congregation to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals who are differently abled.

At this same meeting, the district Leadership Team also adopted the guidelines sent out by the denominational Leadership Team on how to work with congregations who choose to leave the Church of the Brethren.

To be redirected to these documents on the Western Plains District website:

Compassionate listening

In more news from the Western Plains District newsletter, as reported by Gail Erisman Valeta and Gary Flory for the Shalom Team:

The Western Plains District Shalom Team is facilitating a “Compassionate Listening / Compassionate Speaking” Pilot Project to address some of the ways that we have dealt with theological differences.

If there is one thing that we can learn from this recent election, it is that we are divided as a nation. We will likely stay stuck in this division if we cannot communicate with one another.
Does that need to also be true for Western Plains District?

The church can model another way of living by sharing how our faith has impacted our understanding of being faithful. We may decide that our care for one another surpasses our differences.

This pilot project gathers people via Zoom from diverse theological perspectives and geographic locations. This facilitated group of six people are invited to share how each person’s life experience has impacted their theological understanding of lesbian / gay / bisexual / transgender / queer or questioning (LGBTQ) persons.

The goal is to hear new insights that may not have been shared or heard before. The purpose of the pilot project then comes down to answering the question: How can we travel together knowing that we understand differently how to be Jesus’ disciples?

6) National Council of Churches issues ‘Statement on the Racist Threats to US Churches’

A release from the NCC

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is deeply troubled by the increase in racist rhetoric, threats, and actions leveled against churches, especially Black churches, leading up to and now in the aftermath of the 2020 election results. Some prominent elected officials have stoked these upticks in hatred and division with racist innuendo and their refusal to accept election results pointing to mostly Black cities as areas where “illegal” votes were cast, none of which is true.

These false claims have led to threats against churches that are a part of the NCC family, including Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta; and Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Asbury United Methodist Church, Luther Place Memorial Church, and National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C. We unequivocally denounce and forcefully condemn these threats, harassment, and racist actions that led to people being stabbed during protests in the District last weekend.

After receiving hate mail and phone calls as well as an increase in malicious comments and harassment on their social media platforms, Ebenezer Baptist Church made an announcement that “individuals holding hate in their hearts for our church are coming into our digital spaces and leaving disparaging and often blatantly racist comments, many of which, unfortunately, are directed at our church’s Senior Pastor.” Since 2005, the Rev. Dr. Raphael Gamaliel Warnock has served as the senior pastor. He is currently a candidate for the US Senate and was a member of the NCC’s Justice and Advocacy Commission and was the chair of the Social Justice Commission for the Progressive National Baptist Convention.

NCC agrees with Ebenezer Baptist Church when they state, “The tactics are destined to divide, distract, and exhaust us…and hate will not prevail.”

No church should be receiving racist threats and no church should have to increase the presence of security personnel, but it is particularly painful knowing Ebenezer Baptist Church’s past. Until he was assassinated in 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was co-pastor of Ebenezer with his father, Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., and his funeral was held in the church. In 1974 Alberta Christine Williams King, Rev. King Jr.’s mother and the wife of Rev. King Sr., was shot as she played the organ during Sunday services at Ebenezer and died from the shooting at the age of 70. Although the shooting was not racially motivated, the trauma from the incident nevertheless impacted the church and surrounding community.

During weekend protests in the District by those supporting President Trump, including the Proud Boys, a recognized white supremacist hate group, churches were vandalized and Black Lives Matter signs destroyed and burned on the property of several churches. A “Black Lives Matter” sign in front of Asbury United Methodist Church, a predominantly Black congregation, was burned reminiscent of cross burnings of years past. However, the acts of terror did not stop there. Signs in support of Black lives in front of the historic Metropolitan AME Church, National City Christian Church, and Luther Place Memorial Church were also destroyed.

“This is unacceptable behavior and it must end,” stated Jim Winkler, NCC president and general counsel. “As the special Jan. 5 election for the US Senate races in Georgia approach and the false narratives about illegal votes and a stolen election continue, more demonstrations are planned by these groups and the threats, racial vitriol, and acts of violence continue. They must stop. Our faith demands that we speak out against these horrific acts and urge all people of faith and good will to do the same.”

NCC will participate in and stand with Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Dec. 17, as they bless and re-hang a new Black Lives Matter sign in front of the church and hold a prayer service.

NCC firmly believes that American society needs to be transformed and is committed to eradicating white supremacy as it has been laid bare in these converging crises of global pandemic, economic downturn, racial reckoning, and surge of white nationalism.

We call upon all the churches associated with the NCC to express solidarity with Ebenezer Baptist Church, Asbury United Methodist Church, Metropolitan AME Church, National City Christian Church, and Luther Place Memorial Church, and lift the congregations in prayer.

At the same time NCC asks every American to condemn these acts of aggression and racial vitriol and work to transform our society’s policies to bring justice to all.

We express our hope that anti-racism campaigns will rise above these expressions of hatred and that denials of the root causes of white nationalism will be forever cast aside and a new transformed society, where the pain felt by the oppressed and the oppressors is eradicated. Especially now, during the season of Advent, we know that light penetrates the darkness and love will prevail against the hate of racism.

(Find this statement online at


7) Meghan Horne Mauldin is appointed to Mission and Ministry Board following Carol Yeazell resignation

Meghan Horne Mauldin will fill the unexpired term of Carol Yeazell on the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board. Yeazell has resigned from the board for personal reasons.

Yeazell was elected by Annual Conference to a five‐year term on the board that began in 2018 and ends in 2023. In early November, Mauldin was appointed by the Nominating Committee of Standing Committee to fill that unexpired term.

Mauldin is a member of Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Tryon, N.C. She works as a 12th‐grade counselor at Polk County High School in Columbus, N.C. From 2008‐2009, she was a Brethren Volunteer Service worker serving as an assistant coordinator for the former Workcamp Ministry of the Church of the Brethren.

For more about the Mission and Ministry Board go to

8) Coordinator is named for National Youth Conference 2022

Erika Clary

By Becky Ullom Naugle

Erika Clary will be the coordinator of National Youth Conference (NYC) 2022. Clary, who recently completed degrees at Bridgewater (Va.) College, is originally from Brownsville Church of the Brethren in Knoxville, Md. She majored in mathematics and minored in American Studies.

“Ever since my first NYC in 2014, I’ve thought about how incredible it would be to coordinate NYC,” Clary reflected. “I was fortunate to serve on the 2018 National Youth Cabinet and saw a lot of the ‘behind the scenes’ work. I am excited to serve the denomination and to work with people I have looked up to within the denomination.

“NYC is a fantastic experience that allows youth to grow in faith and in community, and I can’t wait to watch that happen again in 2022. I know it will be a learning and life-changing experience for me as well, but I’m ready for the growth that this season will bring!”

Clary and the 2021-2022 National Youth Cabinet will meet online in early 2021 to begin planning the event.

— Becky Ullom Naugle is director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren.

9) Church of the Brethren youth cabinet is named for 2021-2022

The Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries has named the denomination’s National Youth Cabinet for the years 2021-2022. Members of the cabinet are:

Haley Daubert from Montezuma Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va., Shenandoah District,

Elise Gage from Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, Mid-Atlantic District,

Giovanni Romero from York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., Illinois and Wisconsin District,

Luke Schweitzer from Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren in New Paris, Ohio, Southern Ohio and Kentucky District,

Benjamin Tatum from Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., Virlina District, and

Isabella Torres from Iglesia Un Nuevo Renacer Fellowship in Mountville, Pa.; Atlantic Northeast District.

Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, will work with the cabinet, its two adult advisors, and NYC coordinator Erika Clary to plan National Youth Conference 2022.

For more about the denomination’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries go to


10) Christian Citizenship Seminar 2021 will study economic justice

By Naomi Yilma

“He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 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” (Luke 1:51-53).

Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) 2021, focused on economic justice, will take place online April 24-28, 2021. The event is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries and the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy.

The economic collapse sparked by the pandemic is triggering the most unequal recession in modern US history, delivering only a mild setback for those near the top of the economic ladder and a depression-like blow for those at the bottom.

Since March, America’s billionaires added over $1 trillion to their collective wealth, which is more than the $908 billion dollars currently being proposed in Congress for pandemic relief.

Now more than ever, we must listen to God’s urgent call for economic justice and reconciliation. The economic inequalities in the US are difficult to ignore. As Christians, we must be proactive and intentional in our advocacy to correct such injustices.

At CCS 2021, participants will gain a greater understanding of economic systems and of Brethren understandings of wealth and wealth-sharing before advocating for economically just policies. Participants will learn to make a connection between economic justice, simple living, and stewardship, and the economic policies that would support and enable the practice of such values.

This year’s CCS will be completely virtual, removing travel and lodging costs and bringing down the cost of attendance to $75. Participants will meet daily online at 7-9 p.m. (Eastern time) for educational sessions, worship, and small groups. Registration is open at

— Naomi Yilma is an assistant in the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, working through Brethren Volunteer Service.

11) Moderator’s Town Hall on ‘Faith, Science, and COVID-19–Part Three’ is slated for Jan. 21

Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen

Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey is offering the next Moderator’s Town Hall on “Faith, Science, and COVID-19–Part Three” on Jan. 21, 2021, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen, who has been the resource person for the previous two town halls on this topic, will again be featured.

The event will center on current trend lines related to the COVID-19 crisis along with relevant topics such as the rollout of vaccines. A special focus will be the role of churches in response to the crisis, as the faith community is called to grapple with the realities of both faith and science.

Jacobsen is a member of the Church of the Brethren and a professor in the Department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. She is a specialist in infectious disease epidemiology and global health.

Register at Interested persons are encouraged to sign up early, as the event is limited to the first 500 registrants. Email questions to

12) Webinar will explore God’s work of healing self and relationships

Amy Julia Becker

“Do We Want to Get Well? Healing What Divides Us,” is the title of a webinar planned for Jan. 21, 2021, at 2 p.m. (Eastern time), sponsored by the Discipleship Ministries of the Church of the Brethren in collaboration with the Anabaptist Disabilities Network.

Featured presenter is Amy Julia Becker, an award-winning writer, speaker, and podcaster on the subjects of faith, family, disability, and privilege. She has written four books including White Picket Fences: Turning Towards Love in a World Divided by Privilege. She is a graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary.

“This webinar will take place a day after the inauguration of the President of the United States,” said an announcement. “It also will be during the season of Epiphany, a celebration of God’s love and light brought into the world. There are deep divisions in our country between neighbors, church members, friends, and families. How might we be a part of God’s work of healing ourselves and our relationships?”

Ministers may earn .1 continuing education credit through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Registration is free but required in advance at


13) Themes and writers are announced for upcoming compelling vision Bible studies

By Rhonda Pittman Gingrich

The Compelling Vision Team is developing a 13-session Bible study series around the compelling vision being proposed for the Church of the Brethren. Designed for use by youth and adults, the series will be available at no cost on the compelling vision webpage in February 2021. Sample sessions will be posted in mid-January.

Recognizing the importance of discerning the mind of Christ through communal study of scripture, it is our hope that this Bible study series will serve a two-fold purpose: to help congregations engage more deeply with the “Jesus in the Neighborhood” vision and to help congregations and their delegates prepare for the conversations to take place at Annual Conference as we move toward affirmation of the compelling vision.

Each of the 13 sessions has as its focus a question that invites participants to explore a different word or phrase in the vision and has been written by a different person, creating a series that is rich in both breadth and depth. The project is edited by Joan Daggett. Plans also are underway to translate this resource into Spanish and Haitian Kreyol. We are grateful for the role each member of this diverse team has played in bringing this project to fruition.

Here are the themes for the 13 sessions along with the question prompts and writers:

  1. Theme: Vision. What is vision? Why is it important for the faith community to have vision? Written by Brandon Grady.
  2. Theme: “Together….” What binds us together in Christian community? Written by Audrey and Tim Hollenberg-Duffey.
  3. Theme: “As the Church of the Brethren….” How do scripture and tradition inform our current denominational identity? Written by Denise Kettering Lane.
  4. Theme: “We will passionately live and share….” What does it mean to be spiritually passionate? Written by Kayla and Ilexene Alphonse.
  5. Theme: “The radical transformation….” What does it mean to be radically transformed through Jesus Christ? Written by Thomas Dowdy.
  6. Theme: “And holistic peace….” What is the nature of the holistic peace of Jesus Christ and how are we called to embody it? Written by Gail Erisman Valeta.
  7. Theme: “Of Jesus Christ….” How do we understand Jesus as Redeemer? Written by Jennifer Quijano West.
  8. Theme: “Of Jesus Christ….” How do we understand Jesus as Teacher? Written by Val Kline.
  9. Theme: “Of Jesus Christ….” How do we understand Jesus as Lord? Written by Ryan Cooper.
  10. Theme: “Through relationship-based neighborhood engagement.” How does the example of Jesus Christ challenge us to build life-changing relationships with our neighbors? Written by Becky Zapata.
  11. Theme: “To move us forward, we will develop a culture….” How is God calling us to reshape the underlying culture of our life together? Written by Andy Hamilton.
  12. Theme: “A culture of calling and equipping disciples….” What does it mean to call and equip disciples for the strengthening of the body of Christ? Written by Bobbi Dykema.
  13. Theme: “Disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.” How does God call us to be innovative, adaptable, and fearless? Written by Eric Landram.

— Rhonda Pittman Gingrich is chair of the Compelling Vision Team.

14) Online worship in various languages / Adoración en línea en varios idiomas / Adorasyon sou entènèt nan divès lang / العبادة عبر الإنترنت بلغات مختلفة

A listing of Church of the Brethren congregations offering online worship now includes US congregations and Global Brethren Communion denominations offering online worship and resources in various languages. In the listing, a single asterisk * indicates Spanish / bilingual; two asterisks ** indicate Haitian Kreyol / bilingual; and three asterisks *** indicate Arabic / bilingual. The churches newly added to the listing are below. For the full listing go to of the brethren congregations worship online.html. Send information about additional churches for this listing to

Una lista de las congregaciones de la Iglesia de los Hermanos que ofrecen adoración en línea ahora incluye congregaciones de EE. UU. y denominaciones de la Comunión Mundial de los Hermanos que ofrecen adoración en línea y recursos en varios idiomas. En la lista, un solo asterisco * indica español / bilingüe; dos asteriscos ** indican kreyol haitiano / bilingüe; y tres asteriscos *** indican árabe / bilingüe. Las iglesias recién agregadas a la lista se encuentran a continuación. Para obtener la lista completa, visite of the brethren congregations worship online.html. Envíe información sobre iglesias adicionales para este listado a

Yon lis kongregasyon Legliz Frè yo ki ofri adorasyon sou entènèt kounye a gen ladan kongregasyon ameriken yo ak konfesyon mondyal Frè Kominyon yo ki ofri adorasyon sou entènèt ak resous nan divès lang. Nan lis la, yon sèl asterisk * endike Panyòl / bileng; de asterisk ** endike kreyòl ayisyen / bileng; ak twa asterisk *** endike arab / bileng. Legliz yo fèk ajoute nan lis la anba a. Pou lis la plen ale nan of the brethren congregations worship online.html. Voye enfòmasyon sou legliz adisyonèl pou lis sa a nan

تتضمن قائمة تجمعات كنيسة الأخوة التي تقدم العبادة عبر الإنترنت الآن التجمعات الأمريكية وطوائف تواصل الأخوة العالمية التي تقدم العبادة والموارد عبر الإنترنت بلغات مختلفة. في القائمة ، تشير علامة النجمة الواحدة * إلى الإسبانية / ثنائية اللغة ؛ علامتا نجمتين ** تشيران إلى لغة الكريول الهايتية / ثنائي اللغة ؛ وثلاث علامات نجمية *** تشير إلى اللغة العربية / ثنائية اللغة. الكنائس المضافة حديثًا إلى القائمة مذكورة أدناه. للحصول على القائمة الكاملة انتقل إلى of the brethren congregations worship online.html أرسل معلومات حول الكنائس الإضافية لهذه القائمة إلى

Español / bilingüe

*Alpha y Omega Iglesia de los Hermanos, Lancaster, Pa.; pastor Joel Peña; adoración en línea a través de Facebook Live;

*Centro Ágape en Acción, Los Banos, Calif.; pastores Rigo y Margie Berumen; adoración en línea a través de Facebook Live;Ágape‐En‐Acción‐1746775972068368

*Ebenezer Iglesia de los Hermanos, Lebanon, Pa.; pastores Leonor Ochoa y Eric Ramirez; adoración en línea a través de Facebook Live; @ebenezercob

*Iglesia Cristiana Elohim, Las Vegas, Nev.; pastor Luz Roman; adoración en línea a través de Zoom; contactar a Orlando Roman,

*Iglesia Cristo Sion, Pomona, Calif.; pastores David y Rita Flores; adoración por conferencia telefónica; contactar a David Flores, 909‐643‐4724.

*Iglesia de los Hermanos Comunidad Haitiana Rd.; bilingüe español y kreyol; servicios de adoración publicados en Facebook;

*Iglesia de los Hermanos en Republica Dominicana; mensajes publicados en Facebook, algunos son de predicadores externos a la Iglesia de los Hermanos;

*Iglesia de los Hermanos Una Luz en las Naciones, Gijon, Spain; mensajes y música publicados en Facebook además de enlaces a un sitio web con emisiones de radio y televisión;

*Iglesia de los Hermanos Venezuela; saludos y mensajes publicados en Facebook;

*Iglesia Principe de Paz, Santa Ana, Calif.; pastores Richard y Becky Zapata; adoración en línea a través de Facebook Live;

*Iglesia Un Nuevo Renacer Church of the Brethren, Mountville, Pa.; pastor Carolina Izquierdo; videos de adoración en Facebook;

*West Charleston (Ohio) Iglesia de los Hermanos; pastors Irvin Heishman y Caleb Kragt; bilingüe inglés y español; adoración en línea a través de Zoom los domingos a las 10:15 a.m. (hora del este); mas información en

Kreyol / bileng

**Eglise des Freres Haitiens, Miami, Fla.; pastè Ilexene Alphonse; sèvis adorasyon ak videyo sou Facebook;

**Iglesia de los Hermanos Comunidad Haitiana Rd.; bileng panyòl ak kreyòl; sèvis adorasyon ak videyo sou Facebook;

عربي / ثنائي اللغة (Arabic/bilingual)

***نور الكنيسة الإنجيلية للأخوة ، كريسكيل ، نيوجيرسي ؛ القس ماجد حنا؛ العبادة عبر الإنترنت عبر Zoom ، الروابط المتوفرة على Facebook ؛ (Light of the Gospel Church of the Brethren, Cresskill, N.J.; pastor Majed Hanna; online worship via Zoom, links provided on Facebook;

***زمالة نور الإنجيل ، جزيرة ستاتن ، نيويورك ؛ القس ميلاد سمعان ؛ العبادة عبر الإنترنت عبر Facebook ؛ (Light of the Gospel Fellowship, Staten Island, N.Y.; pastor Milad Samaan; online worship via Facebook;

15) Brethren bits

Germantown Church of the Brethren in Philadelphia, Pa., hosted a Christmas Live virtual concert on Dec. 19. The event is available on the church’s Facebook page.

Remembrance: John H. Gingrich, 80, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor emeritus of religion and philosophy at the University of La Verne (ULV) in southern California, died peacefully in his sleep Dec. 7. He lived in Claremont, Calif. He was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and began his 38-year career at ULV in 1968 as campus minister. Student newspaper the Campus Times, reported he continued to teach philosophy and religion classes until his retirement in 2006. “Dr. Gingrich helped the university in its transition from a small sectarian college to a doctoral granting university,” the article said, quoting provost Jonathan Reed, “He was also instrumental in forming the university’s current core values and mission of inclusivity, ethical reflection, and service.” In a profile published in Messenger in 1976, Gingrich commented on his work with students on faith and doubt, saying, “In terms of Christianity, I hope what I can do is to help people see they can be thinking persons and still have a faith position. It is possible to raise the hard questions and still believe that Christianity is a viable worldview and a way of seeing reality and approaching life.” Gingrich’s community and professional involvements included service as first chairperson of the Cobb Institute: A Community for Process and Practice based in Claremont. A remembrance posted by the institute noted that Gingrich studied under John Cobb and completed his doctorate at Claremont Graduate University in 1973. He held a master of divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s from Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind. Among his service to the denomination, he was a Bethany Seminary trustee starting in 1979, returning to the position for at least one more term starting in 1992, when he chaired the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. He and his wife, Jacki, also spent time in Germany as directors of Brethren Colleges Abroad. Gingrich was a professional choral singer with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Roger Wagner Chorale, singing with the latter group when it performed for the inauguration celebration of President Nixon in 1973. In an interview, he said he appreciated the “exhilarating” musical experience but “my sympathies were much more with the demonstrators at the inauguration” who were against the Vietnam War. He was originally from New Holland, Pa. He is survived by his wife, Jacki; sons John and Joel; and grandsons. La Verne Church of the Brethren will hold a memorial service, time and date to be announced.

Remembrance: Georgianna J. “GG” Schmidtke, 90, a former employee of the Church of the Brethren, died on Nov. 15 at Highland Oaks Apostolic Christian Resthaven in Elgin, Ill. She worked for the denomination beginning in 1989. When she left employment in 2003 hers was one of nine positions cut by the former General Board amid financial constraints. At the time she was serving as District Ministry office secretary at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin. She was a resident of the Dundee (Ill.) area for more than 50 years and a longtime member of First United Methodist Church of Elgin. Find a full obituary at!/Obituary.

Prayers are requested for members of Quinter (Kan.) Church of the Brethren and family and neighbors who have lost loved ones resident in Gove County, which was the focus of a Dec. 12 USA Today article titled “Deadliest Place in America.” The report told the story of how the county came to have the highest per-capita number of COVID-19 related deaths in the United States, along with tragic personal stories of those who have died. Find the article at

The Church of the Brethren’s Pacific Northwest District has hired Daniel Klayton as the new administrative assistant in the district office.

Samuel S. Funkhouser

Samuel S. Funkhouser has been hired as executive director of the Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., beginning Jan. 1, 2021. He grew up in Wakeman’s Grove Church of the Brethren near Edinburg, Va., where his great-great grandfather had served as the congregation’s first ordained minister and where he himself was called to the ministry. He holds degrees from James Madison University and Princeton Theological Seminary. While at Princeton, he completed a significant research project on the history and theology of early English-language Brethren hymnals, soon to be published in book form by the Brethren Encyclopedia. After graduating from Princeton, he and his family moved to Franklin County, Va., where they joined the Old German Baptist Brethren Church, New Conference. His previous jobs have included director of risk management for Family Preservation Services, a community-based mental health provider with locations throughout Virginia.

The Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy is one of a coalition of 17 Christian groups and denominations that have asked President-elect Biden to roll back the current administration’s policies on Israel and Palestine. Specifically, the letter asked the incoming administration to ensure all parties are respected and included in negotiations for a just and lasting peace based on international law, restate a US position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and take action to ensure political consequences if any further Israeli settlement construction and growth takes place, resume funding to the Palestinian Authority as well as the UN Relief and Works Agency and other UN and humanitarian organizations working in the West Bank and Gaza, reiterate the US position that territory controlled by Israel as a result of the 1967 war–including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights–are occupied territories subject to international law and not recognized as parts of Israel, make clear that criticism of Israel such as support for boycotts or divestment is protected and legitimate speech, and ensure accountability, noting that “Israel remains the largest recipient of US foreign aid, receiving approximately $3.8 billion in military aid each year. This funding helps the government of Israel maintain the occupation of the Palestinian territories, making the US complicit in Israel’s detention of Palestinian children in military prisons, violent repression of peaceful protestors, and demolitions of Palestinian homes and communities.”

Brethren Press has announced a $25,000 matching gift challenge. “A donor who seeks to inspire others to give has offered to match all gifts to Brethren Press through the end of the year, up to $25,000. If you give now, your donation will be doubled!” said the invitation from publisher Wendy McFadden. Those who are interested in participating in the challenge may give online at or by mailing a check to Brethren Press, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 (write “gift” in the memo line). Added McFadden: “We are deeply grateful for the donations and messages of support that we have already received from across the denomination. Thank you so much! Your gifts to Brethren Press are an investment in the future of the Church of the Brethren. You are helping publish the good news.”

Bethany Theological Seminary is recruiting international students who have graduated from or have been attending Church of the Brethren-related colleges and universities–Bridgewater College, Elizabethtown College, Manchester University, McPherson College, Juniata College, or the University of La Verne. “These individuals can now apply for the Residency Scholarship, a program that makes it possible for students to earn a Bethany degree as residential students without taking on additional student or commercial debt,” said a release. “The Residency Scholarship is part of Bethany’s Pillars and Pathways program, a robust effort to reduce student debt and make seminary accessible and affordable for all qualified students. The program includes scholarships, housing support, work and service opportunities, and coursework related to personal finance.” Participants are expected to commit to simple living and to earn up to $7,500 per year through work-study and other employment. International students must meet certain academic and financial requirements. Contact Read the full release at

Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm of the faculty at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., has been appointed senior editor of Homiletic, a journal of the Academy of Homiletics. Her responsibilities include overseeing the semi-annual publication, receiving and moderating the jurying of scholarly articles, chairing the editorial board, and overseeing the work of staff and the journal’s finances in coordination with a managing editor. Learn more about the journal at

Dupont Church of the Brethren gained media attention for its Fresh Encounters Woods Christmas light experience. According to Continental (Ohio) eNews: “This weekend the lights will be on Saturday 6:30-8:30, and Sunday 6:30-8:30. Bring your family out and get a picture in front of the big Christmas tree, and grab a cup of free hot chocolate or coffee and walk the trail, and the chapel decked out with Christmas lights. We look forward to seeing your family. Have a merry CHRISTmas.”

The “Heart and Flowers” quilt auctioned by quilters at Little Swatara Church of the Brethren.

Quilters at Little Swatara Church of the Brethren in Bethel, Pa., have raised $1,500 for disaster relief. “When the late J. Hershey and Anna Mary Myer started the process of down-sizing, they were very generous in giving the quilters at Little Swatara several appliqued quilt tops and a wall hanging,” reported the Atlantic Northeast District newsletter. “One of the quilt tops, Hearts and Flowers, was quilted and ready to be donated to the annual Disaster Relief Auction in September. When the auction for 2020 was cancelled, due to the coronavirus, the quilters decided to hold a silent auction.” After publicizing the quilt and receiving bidding via the church newsletter and social media, among other means, the final bid of $1500 came from an anonymous donor. “The quilters were overjoyed that their labor of love would be able to help so many persons suffering from disasters.”

This angel drawn by Sylvia Hobbs set the theme for the Christmas Tea virtual event sponsored by the women at Onekama Church of the Brethren.

Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren pastor Frances Townsend has shared an update on the congregation’s annual Christmas Tea, sponsored by the women’s group, which was featured in the December Messenger. “We were going to try doing the tea online this year. It worked!” she wrote. The group invited friends and supporters through a special Facebook group, where participants posted cookie recipes and music, as an alternative to in-person decorations and refreshments. The play that is the annual entertainment for the tea was performed on Zoom by members of the women’s group, with art done by two girls in the church. A picture of an angel by Sylvia Hobbs set the theme for the celebration. “I am so glad we took the opportunity to make something happen even during this pandemic season,” Townsend wrote. “We had people join us from much farther away than could ever have come in person.”

Virlina District has formed a Race Education Team within its Commission on Witness “with the objective of understanding how racism affects our congregations and communities,” said the district newsletter. “Jesus’ command for us to love one another serves as our guide star as we explore how racial inequities have influenced our history and contemporary society.” The team includes Eric Anspaugh (Roanoke-Central congregation), Dava Hensley (Roanoke-First), Anne Mitchell (Lighthouse), Ellen Phillips (Roanoke-Oak Grove) and Jennie Waering (Roanoke-Central). The team is developing a video presentation on racial issues titled “Necessary Conversations” and featuring as special guests Barbara Pendergrass Richmond of Bethel AME Church and Ron Robinson of Roanoke-Oak Grove Church of the Brethren.

At Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., the chapter of the Society of Physics Students has won an Outstanding Chapter Award from the SPS National Office for the 22nd consecutive year. Said the president’s e-newsletter: “This is a recognition of the chapter’s excellence as a top-tier student-led physical sciences organization, a designation given to fewer than 10 percent of all chapters at colleges and universities in the United States and internationally and the longest uninterrupted run of recognition in the country.”

Episode 109 of the Dunker Punks Podast–the last episode of this season–takes a trip “down under” with Tyler and Chelsea Goss as they reflect on their time with Jarrod McKenna and the First Home Project in Australia. Listen to stories about living in an intentional community geared toward helping refugees and asylum seekers, protesting for social justice, and discussing theology and Anabaptism with people from varying faiths and social backgrounds. Added the announcement: “Wishing you a lovely Christmas and a hopeful New Year from the Dunker Punks Podcast team!” Listen to Episode 109, “Love Makes a Way,” at and subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is raising awareness of the threat to Chi’chil Bildagoteel, a sacred site of the San Carlos Apache people commonly called Oak Flat, located within Tonto National Forest in Arizona. “The US Forest Service is set to make a decision in the next few days regarding the Oak Flat land exchange that would hand over the sacred lands of the San Carlos Apache to Resolution Copper, owned by Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining companies in the world,” said an alert. Rio Tinto is an Anglo-Australian multinational corporation. In May this year, Rio Tinto blew up caves in Australia that held ancient artifacts tracing the Aboriginal people’s long history, in the process of mining iron ore. The prehistoric rock shelters in the Juukan Gorge were sacred to two Australian Aboriginal groups. An international outcry and a shareholder revolt resulted in the announcement in September that chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques would step down. Monday, Dec. 21, has been announced as an International Day of Prayer and Action to #SaveOakFlat including an online rally. Find out more at Read a reflection on the sacred nature of Oak Flat by former CPT director Carol Rose at

Libby and Jim Kinsey have been featured by the Ionia Sentinel in Standard-Ionia, Mich., for their project to raise funds to bring diverse stories to the Lakewood Public Schools. Libby Kinsey is retired from teaching in the district. The article by Evan Sasiela outlined the couple’s project called “Stories from America’s Landscape,” which has the goal of raising money to buy books about different cultures and diverse backgrounds for the kindergarten through eighth grade students in the district. Libby Kinsey also has a connection with Scholastic Books, which has helped provide funding. “If our community becomes a kinder, gentler place, then that’s our goal,” said Libby Kinsey. As of Dec. 15, a GoFundMe page has raised $25,260 since the project started in July, and donations have arrived from across the United States. The Kinseys anticipate distributing the books next April. Read the article at

Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Jacob Crouse, Jenn Dorsch-Messler, Stan Dueck, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Rachel Kelley, Bill Kostlevy, Russ Matteson, Wendy McFadden, Nancy Miner, Don Mitchell, Zakariya Musa, Becky Ullom Naugle, Paul Roth, Frances Townsend, Norm and Carol Spicher Waggy, Naomi Yilma, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to . Find the Newsline archive at . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren email newsletters or make subscription changes at . All submissions are subject to editing. Inclusion in Newsline does not necessarily convey endorsement by the Church of the Brethren.

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