Newsline for Feb. 28, 2020

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).


1) Garkida attacked by Boko Haram, town was birthplace of EYN in Nigeria
2) Brethren Faith in Action Fund allocates grants
3) In Haiti the work goes on in spite of increased security obstacles
4) Nursing scholarships aid church members interested in health care careers


5) Interim team will staff Global Mission office
6) Church formalizes status of workers in China


7) Christian music artist Fernando Ortega to perform at Annual Conference

8) Brethren bits: Prayer requests for Nigeria and South Sudan, BVS statement on Jean Vanier, Camp Ithiel seeks program director, US Campaign to Ban Landmines statement, Lenten resource focused on the DACA experience, and more

Quote of the week:

“During Lent, as we turn from worldly distractions, may we also turn to activities which are fruitful and life-giving, ‘redeeming the time, because the days are evil’ (Ephesians 5:16, KJV). God, show us how to use each day, so that we may live in wisdom and grace.”

— Paula Bowser from the Ash Wednesday entry in “Holy Manna,” the 2020 Lenten devotional from Brethren Press.

Reminder! Registration and housing for Annual Conference 2020 opens online at this coming Monday, March 2, at 12 noon (central time). This summer’s Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren takes place July 1-5 in Grand Rapids, Mich. First register for the Conference, and then receive an immediate email confirmation with the link to book a hotel room. To see the three hotel choices go to .

Brethren Disaster Ministries is offering resources and recommendations to help congregations and church members better understand the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak and ways to respond. Included are prevention measures that may be taken in church communities and links to trusted websites to visit frequently for updates and suggestions. Go to .

1) Garkida attacked by Boko Haram, town was birthplace of EYN in Nigeria

The interior of the EYN Garkida No. 1 church, destroyed in the attack on the town of Garkida the night of Feb. 21-22, 2020. Photo courtesy of EYN

The town of Garkida in northeast Nigeria was attacked by Boko Haram the night of Feb. 21-22. Garkida is considered the birthplace of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) as the place where the Church of the Brethren was started in Nigeria in 1923.

Many buildings were burned in the attack that seemed to target churches, schools, health centers, police station, and barracks, but also destroyed shops and homes. EYN disaster relief director Yuguda Mdurvwa reported that three soldiers were killed and three civilians sustained injuries, including two with gunshot wounds. The soldiers worshiped at the EYN church. In addition, a member of the staff of EYN Mason’s Technical School in Garkida is still missing.

EYN Media head, Zakariya Musa, reported that the EYN Rural Health Training School was burned, but its more than 100 students were on holiday at the time. The EYN women’s fellowship of Garkida district was having its annual conference at the EYN Garkida No. 1 church that was attacked and burned. None of the women were killed, reported Markus Gamache, EYN staff liaison.

“We grieve the attack on Garkida,” said David Steele, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren in the US. “We pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. We pray for this violence to end.”

Brethren Disaster Ministries is preparing a large grant to continue assistance to the Nigerian Brethren through the Nigeria Crisis Fund. Donations toward this relief effort may be sent to the Nigeria Crisis Fund at .

EYN disaster relief staff and the pastors of EYN Garkida No. 1 and EYN Garkida No. 2 congregations, in the destroyed interior of Garkida No. 1 church. Photo courtesy of EYN

Report from EYN Media:

EYN president Joel S. Billi made an assessment visit to Garkida on Feb. 24, reported Zakariya Musa, head of EYN Media. He described the destruction in Garkida as “enormous.” Billi lamented the destruction of three churches (EYN Garkida No. 1, a Living Faith church, and an Anglican church); the EYN Rural Health Training Center including an administrative block, a student’s hostel, and classrooms; the police station and barracks; several shops; and homes of prominent people in Garkida.

“Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, who was at the scene on Sunday, Feb. 23, to commiserate with the people, described the level of damage as huge and appealed to the Federal Government and Development Partners to come to the aid of the area,” Musa reported.

“Information from sources in the village says the insurgents came in about 9 truckloads of their men, and more than 50 motorcycles carrying at the least 2 persons, infiltrating the town through Biji-biji village around 5:30 and started shooting sporadically.”

The EYN Rural Health Training School that was burnt was established in 1974 by Brethren missionaries, and is one of the EYN institutions based in Garkida. Other property that belonged to the center was burned including several vehicles and ambulances and a bus belonging to ZME, the EYN women’s fellowship. Students’ personal property was destroyed and pharmaceutical drugs may have been stolen.

“The EYN director of the Integrated Community Development Programme (ICBDP), Mr. Marcus Vandi, who has the Rural Health Programme, also condemned the destruction of the Rural Health Central Store and burning of excess drugs by the terrorists,” Musa said.

A classroom at the EYN Rural Health Program that was destroyed in the attack on Garkida. Photo courtesy of EYN

Report from the EYN staff liaison:

A report from EYN staff liaison Markus Gamache said the attack was “devastating…. The saddest part is that some people from the very town of Garkida who were recruited by the insurgents were the ones selectively showing the insurgents which properties to set ablaze.

“This attack was mainly targeted on Christian and government property, and this seems to be the major destruction they did in Garkida since they attacked the town in 2014,” said Gamache. “Some of the eyewitnesses said the effort by the military was not much seen…. The insurgents stayed for some hours without any help from anywhere.”

“More prayers, more support are needed to enable us to accommodate the present pressing needs at the interfaith community,” said Gamache. “The biggest part is that more widows and orphans who are helpless are on the increase. If the government did not see what is coming, then we are in bigger trouble than the past five years since the attacks started. There is a divide across the faiths, across the government, across the regions.”

Gamache pointed out that Garkida, the town where EYN was first started in 1923 with worship under a tamarind tree, is a historic place for church work not only for EYN but for both Muslims and Christians because it brought a great deal of community development. When Church of the Brethren missionaries arrived, health, education, agriculture, and water were the primary aim, not religion. People who benefitted from such facilities were not forced to be Christian.

“Across the region we have had mixed families of Christians and Muslims living together for a long time, but in recent years there has a been a big divide based on wrong teaching from some religious clerics,” said Gamache. Because of such teachings, political interests, and brain washing, “we lost our traditional and cultural values and family ties.”

Several of the shops that were burned during the Garkida attack. Photo courtesy of EYN

Other recent attacks:

The reporting from Musa and Mdurvwa also included news of recent attacks on other Local Church Councils (LCCs) or congregations of EYN, and other church districts (DCCs).

Earlier this month churches were burned in the district of Leho Askira including EYN Leho No. 1, EYN Leho No. 2, EYN Leho Bakin Rijiya.

Also attacked recently was EYN LCC Tabang in the Askira/Uba area. A nine-year-old child was abducted, Musa reported. In a Jan. 13 attack on Tabang, 17 houses were burned or looted in same community, and at least one person sustained a bullet wound and was hospitalized, Mdurvwa reported.

In Chibok district, three attacks have been carried out since last November, according to Mdurvwa’s report. The most recent on Feb. 18 burned two churches–EYN Korongilim and EYN Nchiha–and killed two church members. Also, six people were abducted from their villages. The attacks on Korongolum and Nchiha destroyed more than 50 houses.

In a Dec. 29, 2019, attack on Mandaragraua village in the Biu area, 18 women and children were abducted, Mdurvwa reported.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is preparing a large grant to continue assistance to the Nigerian Brethren through the Nigeria Crisis Fund. Donations toward this relief effort may be sent to the Nigeria Crisis Fund at .

2) Brethren Faith in Action Fund allocates grants

The Brethren Faith in Action Fund provides grants to outreach ministry projects of Church of the Brethren congregations that serve their communities, strengthen the congregation, and expand the reign of God. It was created with funds generated by the sale of the upper campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Ministries that receive grants will honor and continue the legacy of service that the center has epitomized, while also addressing the dynamics of the present age.

Recent grants:

Alpha and Omega Church of the Brethren in Lancaster, Pa., received $5,000 to support the congregation’s five outreach projects: a Food Bank program, Spanish Vacation Bible program, Fall Festival outreach, 40 Days of Prayer outreach and fellowship ministry, and Video and Internet Ministry. These ministries strive to meet the various spiritual and physical needs of the congregation and local community through outreach and contact with the community, sharing the love of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. A previous grant of $5,000 was made to this project in October 2018.

Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., received $5,000 to fund a project supporting asylum-seeking families in the US. The Witness Commission has pursued involvement with Latin American families in the caravans that are seeking help in the United States, with assistance from SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), which is helping with sponsorship. Currently the church is assisting a family from Guatemala that arrived several months ago and is now ready for more independence. Grant money will go toward job training, housing, the children’s school needs, and other expenses during the family’s transition to independence.

Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren received $5,000 to help replace the HVAC system in part of the church facility used to host homeless families that come to the church through its outreach ministry. The grant will cover $5,000 of the $54,142 replacement cost. The congregation has joined with other area churches to support Family Promise of Harrisburg Capital Region. The program works to secure stable housing and employment for families experiencing homelessness. Family Promise relies on churches to provide clientele with an evening meal, shelter for the night, a place to sleep, and breakfast in the morning, for one week at a time, staffed by volunteers from the host congregation.

Spring Creek Church of the Brethren in Hershey, Pa., received $5,000 to replace a heating system for its Parsonage Ministry. The church has raised $4,750 of the $9,750 replacement cost of a new energy efficient natural gas heating system. For 11 years, the congregation has used its former parsonage as a place for people to stay when family members are receiving care at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, at no cost. The ministry serves people who must travel more than 50 miles to be with loved ones during a medical crisis but who cannot afford to stay in a hotel. Since its beginning, the ministry has helped more than 1,200 guests save more than $1,800,000 in lodging costs.

Pleasant Valley (Va.) Church of the Brethren received $1,250 to host a marriage retreat focused on strengthening the marriage of couples in the congregation and surrounding communities. The retreat is for married people, from newlyweds to long-lasting couples, and offers participants relational bonding experiences in addition to receiving tools and resources to aid their communication and life together. Outside leadership has been secured for the event on March 20-21 at Highland Retreat Center in Bergton, Va.

Buffalo Valley (Pa.) Church of the Brethren received $1,000 to purchase materials for home renovation projects in the community. MifflinServe is the congregation’s ministry of repairing homes for community members identified with help from the police force, mayor’s office, social media, and word of mouth in the Mifflinburg community. The church recruits volunteers to do the repairs, and has contractors among its membership who provide guidance and support. In 2019, nine different families were served by 31 volunteers.

For more information about this fund go to .

3) In Haiti the work goes on in spite of increased security obstacles

Dale Minnich (left) and John Krabacher (wearing the red hat) pose with family members in front of their new latrine. Building latrines for communities in need is a new emphasis of the Haiti Medical Project. Photo by Pat Krabacher

Dale Minnich provided the following report to Newsline after returning from a recent trip to Haiti with the Haiti Medical Project. It highlights both concerns stemming from security obstacles in Haiti in recent months, and successes with new aspects of the project’s work:

Concern for security. Two colleagues and I are back from a very good trip to Haiti on Jan. 28-31. We found the staff hanging in there well in spite of dealing with closed roads and the prospect of violence for most of April and then from September through November as part of a series of protests against the Haitian president. The protests tend to spur violent and criminal actions and need to be treated with care. Aggravations for us have included a rock through the windshield of one of our pickups and one of our motor cycles stolen at gun point at a filling station about a half mile from our headquarters and guest house. God’s service is not always easy. Of course we need to be extremely careful with needed in-country travel. We are thankful we sustained no staff injuries. Community Development Team director Jean Bily Telfort reported a strong priority to keep staff members safe in spite of a determination by staff to be out in the field.

Mobile clinics. Dr. Versonel Solon, Jean Altenor, and Wesmer Semera–leaders of our Mobile Clinics program–reported that by scheduling more clinics during the months when roads were not closed, including a strong December push, they completed the full complement planned of 40 clinics last year serving nearly 7,000 patients.

New focus on latrines. The most important decision reached during the January meetings was to begin immediately to gear up for a significant push in the area of latrine construction. We visited the farming community of Morne Boulage where staff have built three pilot latrines in recent months. Residents were enthusiastic about the latrines and had been well taught about the health dangers of the established practice of “going in the bush” near their homes. There are seven or eight of our service communities where no more than five percent of the population use any sanitary system to deal with this need. Among our efforts to reduce high infant mortality, latrines is a needed third focus along with pure water and education through mothers’ clubs. We decided to increase the budget from 13 latrines this year to at least 50 in 2020, and at least 100 the next year. Staff will be working on the details of the new latrine emphases. In the meantime we will be looking for some additional individual and congregational gifts to make this increase possible. Vildor Archange, coordinator of Community Health and Water Projects, reported a strong desire for latrines in the communities where their lack is most pronounced.

Pure water projects. The Haiti Medial Project focus on programs to introduce pure water in most of our service communities is meeting with very strong support. Through January, 19 of the scheduled first 24 community projects were already sponsored by Brethren congregations, individuals, or organizations, with construction continuing through 2020. Giving for water projects totaled $203,654 in 2019. The team will be adding 5 or 6 more communities soon to the list of projects for 2021, hoping to complete a total of 30 projects in the 4 years 2018 to 2021. Water project construction has been slowed by the closed roads. Leaders look to catch up during 2020 with 10 projects scheduled during that time.

Finally a denominational headquarters. A highlight of the January meetings was the dedication of the denominational headquarters building, under construction since May. General secretary of L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti, Romy Telfort, deserves many accolades for his vision, his building design, and his tireless work to move the project along. In addition to specialized areas for kitchen and medical storage the building features large spaces on the top floor as offices and meeting space for the Church of the Brethren in Haiti and for the Haiti Medical Project. These spaces provided excellent new meeting venues for the January meetings. It is hard to believe that this beautiful new resource was built and equipped for only $36,000, a tribute to volunteer labor and careful planning.

Attending these events with me were Pat and John Krabacher from New Carlisle, Ohio. Pat is a volunteer for Haiti and Nigeria with an assignment to help us find new sources of funding.

— Dale Minnich is volunteer staff for the Haiti Medical Project. Find out more at .

4) Nursing scholarships aid church members interested in health care careers

The Church of the Brethren provides scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates, and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates. These scholarships are awarded to a limited number of applicants each year, made possible by the Health Education and Research Endowment. The nursing scholarships are available to members of the Church of the Brethren enrolled in LPN, RN, or nursing graduate programs.

Here are stories from recipients of the scholarships, reported by Randi Rowan of the Church of the Brethren’s Discipleship Ministries:

Rebecca Bender comes from a family of nurses, but since she was young has had a strong desire to be an NICU nurse–she even reports writing a paper to that effect way back in the second grade. She was emphatic, “with God’s help I will strive to be the best nurse I can be.” 

Working in a long-term care facility fueled Krista Panone’s desire to be a nurse. She loves serving others and feels she can make an impact on many individuals, thereby making the community better through healthcare. She’s been down many different avenues, but the Lord has shown her that nursing is right where she belongs.

Find information on the scholarships, including an application form and instructions, at . Applications and supporting documentation are due each year by April 1.

5) Interim team will staff Global Mission office

Norman and Carol Spicher Waggy will begin March 2 as part-time interim directors of Global Mission for the Church of the Brethren. Also working in the Global Mission office on an interim basis is Roxane Hill, who was appointed interim office manager on Feb. 12.

Hill is filling a part-time position working from the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and out of her home in Ohio. For the past five years she has been coordinator of the Nigeria Crisis Response, beginning Dec. 1, 2014, through the end of 2019. For a portion of that time she shared the staff position with her husband, Carl Hill. Before that, the Hills were program volunteers and mission workers in Nigeria.

The Waggys will work remotely from their home in Goshen, Ind., where they are members of Rock Run Church of the Brethren, and from the General Offices. They lived in Nigeria from 1983 to 1988, serving as Church of the Brethren mission workers. In 2007 they spent four months in the Dominican Republic for the church. Last year they spent two weeks in Puerto Rico with Brethren Disaster Ministries. They are trained as Children’s Disaster Services volunteers.

Carol Spicher Waggy has been a member of the denomination’s Mission Advisory Committee since its inception 12 years ago. In other service to the church she has been an interim pastor, an interim district executive, a Standing Committee delegate, and currently is serving on the board of Timbercrest, a church-related retirement community in Indiana. She is a retired ordained minister, a graduate of Goshen College, with a master of social work degree from Indiana University and a master of divinity from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. She has trained as a Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) practitioner.

Norman Waggy served on the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren from 1989 to 1994. He is a graduate of Manchester University. He earned his doctor of medicine degree at Indiana University and worked as a family physician for 34 years, retiring in 2015. He also holds a tropical medicine degree from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. He currently is serving on the board of Camp Alexander Mack in Indiana.

6) Church formalizes status of workers in China

The family of Ruoxia Li and Eric Miller. Photo courtesy of Eric Miller

Ruoxia Li and Eric Miller have signed a service agreement with the Church of the Brethren regarding their continuing work in China. The married couple have been serving in Pingding, China, since August 2012, when they were invited to work with You’ai Hospital. The hospital takes its name from the original hospital founded by Church of the Brethren missionaries in Pingding in 1911, which in turn shared its name with the Church of the Brethren in China, You’ai Hui.

Li was appointed in 2019 as a mission worker connected with Global Mission and Service, but without stipend. Under the new arrangement, Li and Miller continue to report to local leadership in China but also will report to the Global Mission office and will receive a monthly stipend.

Currently, work has been curtailed by strict quarantine-like measures that have been implemented due to the spread of COVID-19. Shanxi is far from Wuhan, the center of the outbreak, and as of early last week only a few cases had been confirmed in Pingding County.

Miller says they are grateful for the continued prayers and support of the church. “This work is greater than us, and I hope that it will be to the glory of God and the benefit of our Chinese neighbors,” he said. “We also pray that it will grow beyond our abilities and continue to outlast our time of service here.” 

Miller grew up in York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren while Li grew up in Shouyang, the location of another nearby past Brethren mission post in Shanxi Province. They previously were members of Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren in Blacksburg, Va., and currently worship with Living Stream Church of the Brethren online.
Li, who received a master’s degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Iowa, has established a hospice program at You’ai Hospital. Miller has focused on improving management and developing international partnerships for the hospital. During their time in China, Li and Miller have sought to continue the friendship established by the first American Brethren missionaries and continue the work of the first Brethren in China through service and ministry under the leadership of the local hospital and church.

7) Christian music artist Fernando Ortega to perform at Annual Conference

Fernando Ortega, a multi-Dove award winner and singer-songwriter, will be featured at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference to be held July 1-5 in Grand Rapids, Mich. Ortega will perform a full concert on Wednesday evening, July 1, immediately after the opening worship service.

Ortega’s works include hymns, liturgical songs, and inspirational and praise and worship favorites. He has three Gospel Music Association Dove Awards and a Billboard Latin Music Award to his credit. His Christian radio hits include “This Good Day,” “Jesus, King of Angels,” and “Sleepless Night.” Also popular are his arrangements of beloved hymns including “Give Me Jesus” and “Be Thou My Vision,” among others.

Admission to the concert is included with each attendee’s Conference registration. For more information or to register, go to .

8) Brethren bits

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) director Emily Tyler has expressed shock and heartbreak over recent news about Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche network of more than 154 communities in 38 countries where people with intellectual disabilities and those without intellectual disabilities live together in community. In a statement from L’Arche International, an inquiry that began in 2019 “received credible and consistent testimonies from six adult women without disabilities, covering the period from 1970 to 2005. The women each report that Jean Vanier initiated sexual relations with them, usually in the context of spiritual accompaniment.” BVS has had a long relationship with L’Arche communities, most recently in Ireland and Northern Ireland, sending volunteers to accompany L’Arche core members. Said Tyler, “As far as we are aware no BVS volunteers were directly affected by Vanier in this way. We are impressed by and respect the thorough investigation that L’Arche International initiated and support their recognition of ‘the courage and suffering of these women, and of those who may remain silent.’ This news in no way negates the meaningful and passionate work that BVSers and other L’Arche volunteers and staff do to create safe spaces for all its members, with and without disabilities. We look forward to continued partnerships with L’Arche communities around the world.”

— Prayer requests for the humanitarian relief effort in Maiduguri, Nigeria, and for the locust invasion of South Sudan have been shared by Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service:
     Yuguda Mdurvwa, who serves as disaster relief staff for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), has sent a call for prayer about relief supplies being stopped going into the city of Maiduguri, and being burned by Boko Haram. “As the insecurity situation is worsening in Nigeria, I humbly call for a prayer for God to take control of the situation,” Mdurvwa wrote. “As of the last two weeks, 30 people and 17 trucks full of grain were burnt down…just some kilometers to Maiduguri, when travelers were prevented to enter Maiduguri at the check point. On Tuesday this week, Korogilum and Tsaha in Chibok LGA [Local Government Area] were attacked, four boys, three girls, one woman, and a child were taken away, while schools and houses were burnt down. The Boko Haram are advancing and gaining ground in the Northeast and Northwest of the country. All roads leading to Maiduguri are dangerous, it takes courage and the grace of God for you to travel by road. In all these happenings we still have hope in God and are strong to continue with the humanitarian work taking security consciousness very seriously.”
     Roger Schrock, who has spent many years in South Sudan working for the Church of the Brethren, has shared about the locust threat moving into the country. “The place which was identified where the locusts have entered–Magwi–is just 40 to 50 miles southwest of Torit [where the Church of the Brethren work is centered]. The prediction is that they will be moving westward but who knows for sure. But no matter which direction they move, it will have a negative effect on the food security of South Sudan. One of the scary things is that Magwi is one of the sources of a breadbasket for Juba–so this could pose a huge threat to the food supply of the capital.”

— Camp Ithiel seeks a program director to oversee the planning and implementation of a vigorous summer camp ministry as part of the overall mission and ministry of Camp Ithiel. The camp is located near Gotha, Fla. This is a year-round, half-time salaried position based on an average of 20 hours per week, with many hours during the summer season and fewer hours in the fall, winter, and spring. A major focus is the summer camp program that begins with staff training and then runs for approximately six weeks in June through July as a co-ed residential program for children and youth in grades 1-12. A variety of programs are offered including a weekend camp for younger children, traditional week-long camps, a travel camp, and day camp (one week at camp, one week off site). The program director oversees the planning and implementation of all of these program opportunities, including recruiting and hiring additional staff and volunteer support, coordinating publicity and promotion, and ensuring that all supplies, equipment, transportation, food service, aquatics, and other needs are provided. Benefits include a salary based on experience and within the context of the nonprofit environment, onsite housing (optional), and professional growth funds. Qualifications include being a committed Christian with a willingness to accept the values of the Church of the Brethren; a spirit of cooperation and commitment to a team relationship with other camp staff; a personable style and skills in relating to staff, guests, and campers; strong computer and technology skills including word processing, database management skills, email, web-based research, and smart-phone usage; training and/or experience in camp leadership, small group camping, and outdoor living skills; training and/or experience in supervision; genuine interest in people of all ages and desire to help them form faith and grow in discipleship; detail-orientation with strong organizational skills to coordinate and manage programs, people, processes, and paperwork; excellent verbal and written communication skills; training and/or experience in staff training and supervision; a safety-conscious attitude and ability to abide by and enforce camp rules and policies. Candidates must be at least 21 years of age. Contact Mike Neff, director, for more information about how to apply and to request a complete outline of responsibilities at 407-592-4995 or . The deadline to apply is April 10.

— A joint statement on the US Department of Defense new landmine policy has been signed by the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy as one of the member organizations of the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines. “We, the undersigned organizations, strongly condemn the Trump Administration’s decision to lift existing United States prohibitions against the use of landmines,” the statement said, in part. “We urge the White House and Department of Defense to reconsider and take steps to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. We urge Congress to take immediate measures to block the deployment of landmines and prohibit the development, production, or other acquisition of new antipersonnel landmines. Landmines are inherently indiscriminate weapons that maim and kill long after conflicts end. Over the past twenty years, the world has rejected antipersonnel landmines through the Mine Ban Treaty–to which 164 countries are states parties, including every other member of NATO. While still not a signatory, the U.S. has functionally adhered to several provisions of the Mine Ban Treaty–except those that would prohibit the U.S. from ordering the use of landmines on the Korean peninsula. This new landmine policy starkly sets the U.S. apart from its allies and has drawn international condemnation, including from the European Union. The United States has not used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, excluding the use of a single munition in 2002; it has not exported them since 1992 and has not produced them since 1997. In the last five years, only the government forces of Syria, Myanmar, and North Korea, as well as non-state actors in conflict areas, have used landmines. Of the more than 50 countries that once produced landmines, 41 have ceased production. Under this new landmine policy, the U.S. will rejoin a small handful of mine-producing countries. This is not company the U.S. should keep.”

— A Lenten resource focused on the DACA experience is recommended by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. The resource is provided through the Interfaith Immigration network and is available for free download from the group’s website. “During this season of Lent as we walk with Jesus along his path towards the cross, we invite you into a deeper partnership with Jesus against injustices in our society,” said an announcement. “We invite you to also learn about the #HomeIsHere campaign led by DACA leaders, and to connect, support, and stand together with the more than 700,000 DACAmented neighbors who are awaiting the Supreme Court decision regarding DACA before the end of June. Each devotion will share the words of DACA recipients about how their lives, communities, and congregations will be impacted if DACA protections are removed. Reflections will guide us through scriptures and themes to strengthen our readiness to face an uncertain future with courage, together!” Find the resource online at .

— On Earth Peace is inviting participation in a month-long program focused on discrimination and injustice in K-12 public education, as part of its racial justice organizing. Among leaders is Chyna Dawson, a tutor/mentor with the Black Child Development Institute in Greensboro, N.C., according to a release. “My work has not only shown me the tremendous effect that an achievement gap has on a student and their family, but the community as well. A good education is important, and our futures depend on the quality of our youth’s education today,” Dawson wrote. The program is intended to give participants a chance to learn about their own school districts, alongside other people from around the country. Participants will receive weekly structured engagement questions under the themes “Identity, Problem, Solutions, and Action.” Questions are intended to raise individual awareness of the educational experience provided by a school district to children and teens. “We will work to combat the nationwide education gap by first identifying possible issues within our own communities, then collaborating with each other to discuss possible reverse strategies,” said the announcement. The program runs March 1-April 1 with online Zoom meetings each Wednesday at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Go to .

— Shenandoah and Virlina Districts have scheduled a “Calling the Called” event for April 17-18 at Brethren Woods, a camp and outdoor ministry center near Keezletown, Va. The event is an opportunity to identify people “who are gifted for potential set-apart and lay ministry. Congregations and pastors are encouraged to call people to ministry as the Holy Spirit leads,” said an announcement. “This experience is intended to be a time of exploration, and it is designed to encourage and assist those individuals who may be experiencing the call of God on their lives for ministry.” For a brochure and a registration form go to .

— Volunteers rebuilding homes that were destroyed by tornadoes that hit Ohio some months ago are getting attention from the Dayton Daily News. Among the volunteers are Church of the Brethren members working with a Southern Ohio and Kentucky project and Brethren Disaster Ministries. “The Repair and Rebuild Task Force’s goal is to have 40 to 50 tornado-damaged properties identified and ready for volunteers to tackle in March and April,” the paper reported. “About 25 homes are already on the list. The task force includes members from local governments, nonprofits and faith-based disaster recovery groups.” Find the article at .

— A Simple Living Weekend is offered by the camping and retreat ministries of Southern Ohio and Kentucky District, planned for March 27-28 at Cricket Holler near Dayton, Ohio. Cost is $25 or $15 for Saturday only. “Everyone is invited to join in this unique time of remembering, sharing, and learning more about simplifying our lives in this busy, complicated world,” said an announcement. “There will be activities, classes, and discussions for all ages.” Sessions on Saturday will address a variety of topics including “Waste Free Living” led by Katie Heishman, “Screen Free Living” led by Tim Heishman, “Bread Baking” led by Karen Dillon, “Global Warming Issues” led by Mark Lancaster, “Making Reusable Lunch Bags” led by Susan Fitze and Susan Wible, “Solar Cooking and Dehydrating” led by Dan Royer-Miller, “Turning Junk Mail into Paper Treasurers” led by Alison Rusk. Other presenters and organizations will provide information on urban gardening, recycling, and simplifying our lives. For a brochure go to .
— A group of Bridgewater (Va.) College students and staff “will put on tool belts and pick up hammers as they spend spring break volunteering as construction workers with Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge Spring Break 2020,” said a release from the college. “Desiring an alternative way to spend their spring break–in lieu of the traditional beach scene–19 students opted for working with Habitat for Humanity in Mobile, Ala.” The group will be accompanied by college chaplain Robbie Miller, and will be traveling to Alabama from March 1-7. The Bridgewater College Campus Chapter of Habitat for Humanity was established in 1995 and is one of nearly 700 campus chapters worldwide. It is affiliated with Central Valley Habitat for Humanity in Bridgewater, and helps provide shelter to the residents of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Va. This is the 23nd year that Bridgewater students have used spring break to work on various Habitat projects.

— The March program of “Brethren Voices” is titled “The World Friendship Center: Hiroshima: 75 Years Later.” This television show is produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren and provided as a resource for community access cable television and small groups such as Sunday school classes and Bible studies. “It’s been nearly 75 years since that first use of an atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan, on August 7, 1945 (Japanese time),” said an announcement. “Hundreds of thousands of people died because of the initial blast and radiation-related illnesses directly after the bombing. Deaths due to radiation even extended to years later…. It was on August 7, 1965, 20 years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, that Barbara Reynolds founded the World Friendship Center, dedicated to providing a place where people from many nations could meet and share their experiences. It’s a place where people can come together and reflect on peace and a world without nuclear weapons.” This program is based on a visit to the World Friendship Center by Brent Carlson, host of “Brethren Voices,” and his conversation with the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) workers who are currently directing the activities of the center, Roger and Kathy Edmark from Lynwood, Wash. The music of Mike Stern, a Church of the Brethren member from Seattle, Wash., is featured. In October 2020, the World Friendship Center will host a concert by Stern (see ). Also featured is a performance of “One World” sung by Mike and Eriko Kirsch, in Japanese, to the sights of the Peace Park in Hiroshima. Go to .

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) is seeking young songwriters to enter a song-writing competition for its 11th Assembly. The Worship Planning Committee together with the WCC Youth Engagement program are presenting a creative opportunity to young people between the ages of 18 and 35 who attend a WCC member church–which includes the Church of the Brethren. “The Youth Song Writing Competition at the 11th Assembly in 2021 is an intentional effort of the WCC to engage young people in every aspect of what we do in the life and works of the whole fellowship,” said Joy Eva Bohol, WCC program executive for Youth Engagement. Contestants are expected to compose their songs around the assembly theme “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.” The top eight songs selected from each region will be included in assembly worship resources. Songs can be written in any language but must be accompanied with an English translation. Every submission will be reviewed by a dedicated committee. The top three entries may be invited to lead and perform their songs in a musical event during the assembly. Download the entry form at . Download the Guidelines and Mechanics form at . Download the competition flyer at . Submission deadline is June 30.

— In more news from the World Council of Churches, the WCC Central Committee is postponing its upcoming meetings, according to a release, “in light of concerns about and implications of the current international spread of COVID 19, the coronavirus.” The upcoming full WCC central committee meeting, currently slated for March 18-24, along with the executive committee meeting that was to precede it, are postponed to June and August. “The decision is a prudential one, taking into account all relevant information and assessing the total risks for the participants, the WCC as an organization, the integrity of a meeting of the governing bodies under these circumstances, and for the health of all involved,” said WCC moderator Dr Agnes Abuom.

— A McPherson (Kan.) College alumna, Pam Tucker, is featured in a groundbreaking story published by “USA Today” titled “1619: Searching for Answers: Pam’s family enslaved black people. Wanda believes her ancestor was one of them. They met, and are confronting a painful history.” Written by Rick Hampson as a special to “USA Today,” the story was published in mid-December. Tucker’s mother, Norma Tucker, was a long-time faculty member at McPherson. “USA Today” reports they were aware of their ancestors as slave-holders, but hadn’t known the whole history. The newspaper story unpacks the relationship between Wanda Tucker, descended from “the first identified African child born on the mainland of English America–the first African American,” and Pam Tucker’s family. The two women agreed to meet. “The white woman, 60, wants to help heal the wounds of the past; the black woman, 62, wants to learn more about the past. The white woman is contrite over past wrongs; the black woman, although she tries to suppress it, is angry over past wrongs. In a country that often seems bent on denying, altering or simply forgetting its racial past, these two women have decided to confront it–sincerely and, as it will turn out, painfully.” The story is at .

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