Newsline for June 5, 2020

“Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream” (Amos 5:24).

NEWS
1) Giving to denominational ministries falls behind last year’s totals
2) We cannot do the work without you
3) EDF makes first grants to congregations for COVID-19 humanitarian relief in US communities
4) EDF grants go to Ohio tornado response, COVID-19 relief in the US, Rwanda, Mexico
5) Denomination to sell longterm BVS house in Elgin, purchases new house near General Offices
6) Bethany Seminary president makes statement ‘Condemning Racism and Working for Change’
7) Withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty signals pattern in international relations and arms control

UPCOMING EVENTS
8) Denominational Worship Gathering will center on the theme ‘New World Coming!’
9) Children of all ages are welcome to a denominational children’s worship experience
10) Denominational Concert is planned for July 2 as an online event
11) Brethren Volunteer Service summer orientation is going virtual

12) Brethren bits: Reminder to fill out Annual Conference Refund/Donation Form, remembering Mark Keeney, retirement communities suffer COVID-19 cases, Camp Mardela seeks administrator, Material Resources returns to work, Brethren Disaster Ministries asks for cloth face masks and announces short-term project, ‘Love Your Neighbor’ devotional video, more


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Quote of the week:

“The racism that America tries to hide has been put on full display for all of us to witness its outrageous injustice. For me, this past Monday’s day of mourning and lament was not only about 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, but also mourning and lament for the racism I see in our country, in our denomination, in myself. And so I went to scripture, which always reminds me of the justice that God seeks. Listen carefully to these scriptures…. I invite you to ask yourself what is God saying to you in those words?”

— Chris Douglas, Annual Conference director, giving the devotions for this week’s Zoom meeting of the Church of the Brethren denominational staff. She read the following scripture texts: Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God”; Isaiah 58:6, “Is this not the fasting that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke?”; Amos 5:24, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream”; Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”

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Find our landing page of Church of the Brethren COVID-19 related resources and information at www.brethren.org/covid19 .

Find Church of the Brethren congregations offering online worship at www.brethren.org/news/2020/church-of-the-brethren-congregations-worship-online.html .

A listing to recognize Brethren who are active in health care is at www.brethren.org/news/2020/brethren-active-in-health-care.html . To add a person to this listing, send an email with first name, county, and state to cobnews@brethren.org .

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Corrections:

The verse from Matthew 3:8 in the General Secretary’s statement of June 4, “What does the Lord require?” should have been attributed to John the Baptist. The corrected statement is online at www.brethren.org/news/2020/what-does-the-lord-require-a.html .

The Workcamp Ministry is opening its virtual workcamp events to all who are interested, in addition to participants who registered for the 2020 workcamps. The events are planned every Monday from June 22 to Aug. 3 at 4-5 p.m. (Eastern time). To join these Zoom calls send a request to cobworkcamps@brethren.org to receive the link and an electronic version of the devotional book that will be followed in the sessions. Find out more at www.brethren.org/news/2020/workcamp-ministry-offers-virtual-events.html .

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1) Giving to denominational ministries falls behind last year’s totals

2) We cannot do the work without youBy Traci Rabenstein“Yes, God will give you much so that you can give away much, and when we take these gifts to those who need them they will break into thanksgiving and praise to God for your help” (2 Corinthians 9:11, TLB).On behalf of those who will be blessed because of your generosity, we “break into thanksgiving and praise to God for your help.” Your gifts are very important to the Church of the Brethren denominational ministries, missions, and projects, and it is your gifts that allow us to do great things in the United States and internationally.It is because of the faith of “people of passion” like you that these ministries continue to share the love of God and the peace of Christ. We extend our gratitude to you for your partnership, your generous support, and your prayers. Together, we extend Christ’s mission as we work at serving those near and far, living out the Great Commission of growing disciples, developing and calling leaders, and transforming communities.We cannot do the work we do without your gifts and offerings. To partner with us in this work you can give online or by mail. Here’s how:– To give a gift online in support of the denominational ministries of the Church of the Brethren, go to www.brethren.org/give .– To support the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries through gifts to the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) go to www.brethren.org/edf .– To support the Global Food Initiative find a “give” link at www.brethren.org/gfi .– Mail a check to: Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin IL 60120.– Contact staff for Mission Advancement at MA@brethren.org and ask how you may give to the denominational ministries through your an annual IRA distribution, or discuss planned giving options through your estate plan or will.May we, together, continue the work of Jesus!– Traci Rabenstein is director of Mission Advancement for the Church of the Brethren.

Giving to Church of the Brethren denominational ministries as of the end of April has fallen short of giving during the first four months of 2019. The shortfall is significant, with total combined giving by congregations and individuals falling behind last year by more than $320,000.

Congregational giving to the denomination for the first four months of 2020 totaled $816,761, falling short of last year’s giving by $220,031. Individual giving to the denominational ministries as of the end of April was $306,961, behind last year’s giving by $103,568.

Three major Church of the Brethren funds receive congregational giving and gifts from individual donors:

Core ministries

The core ministries fund supports many fundamental program areas including Global Mission and Service and several ministries that are lodged within it including international mission, Brethren Volunteer Service, and the Workcamp Ministry; Discipleship Ministries including the Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Older Adult Ministries, and Intercultural Ministries, among others; the Office of Ministry and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership; the General Secretary’s office and the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy and Mission Advancement; Brethren Historical Library and Archives and other departments that sustain and serve the program work including finance, IT, buildings and properties, “Messenger” magazine, communications, and more.

Giving to the core ministries is considered crucial in order to continue the denomination’s program. As of April, total combined giving from congregations and individuals to core ministries was $622,117, which is $113,123 behind last year. Congregational giving to core ministries totaled $520,096 for the first four months of 2020, some $144,961 short of the 2020 budget and $93,036 behind giving from this time in 2019. Individual giving to core ministries totaled $102,021 as of April, which was $3,633 ahead of budget but behind last year by $20,087.

Emergency Disaster Fund

The Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) finances Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services and provides grants for disaster relief in the US and around the world.

Giving to the EDF totaled $259,747 as of April, down $111,071 from the $370,818 received at this time in 2019.

Global Food Initiative

The Global Food Initiative (GFI) gives grants both in the US and internationally for hunger relief, agriculture, and community gardens through the “Going to the Garden” program.

GFI donations totaled $36,690, down $12,663 from the $49,353 received at this time last year.

Self-funding ministries

Brethren Press, the Annual Conference Office, and Material Resources (which warehouses and ships disaster relief materials out of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.) are “self-funding” ministries that rely on sales, service fees, and registrations to meet their budgets. They also have been negatively affected and lost income because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Brethren Press, curriculum sales are down, and gross sales are under budget by almost $40,000, leaving the Church of the Brethren publishing house with a net deficit of $24,652 as of April.

The Annual Conference Office, following the cancellation of the 2020 Conference, is in the process of refunding registration fees, though some congregations and individuals are choosing to donate their fees. In spite of those donations, there will be a significant deficit this year because of year-round expenses.

Material Resources was not operating for a while during the pandemic and has seen a significant decline in service fee income, resulting in a net deficit of $72,161 as of April.

3) EDF makes first grants to congregations for COVID-19 humanitarian relief in US communities

Brethren Disaster Ministries is directing the first round of grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to congregations carrying out pandemic-related humanitarian relief work in their communities. The new COVID-19 Pandemic Grants program began in late April and provides grants to Church of the Brethren congregations and districts in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The following grants were approved as of May 26, totaling $58,100:

Brook Park (Ohio) Community Church of the Brethren received $5,000 for its Audrey’s Outreach food pantry and food “give-aways” program serving central and western Cuyahoga County. It includes a twice-a-week food give-away, summer lunch program, monthly senior’s hot meal, and quarterly community meal. Previously it served 700 to 800 families a month but in April that number increased to 1,375 families, with 475 families as first-time clients. The church also has started delivering food to high-risk people at their homes. This grant will help serve these extra families and the additional children expected for the summer lunch program.

Centro Agape en Acción, a church in the Church of the Brethren’s Pacific Southwest District received $5,000. Members are either unemployed or employed but working few hours due to COVID-19. The grant will enable the church to assist some families with food, rent, and medical bills, and provide a dinner once per week to families who drive up to the church to receive it. Elderly people will have their meals delivered to them.

Eglise des Freres Haitiens Church of the Brethren, Miami, Fla., received $5,000. Many members of the church and community members have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. The number of people coming to the church’s twice-weekly food pantry has more than doubled. This grant will help provide food for the pantry as well as special assistance to some of the church members for food, rent, utilities, cleaning supplies, and other needs.

Eglise des Freres Haitiens Church of the Brethren, West Palm Beach, Fla., received $5,000. The church serves a community of mostly service workers who are unemployed due to COVID-19. The grant will help purchase food and household cleaning and hygiene materials to distribute to members and the community once per week.

Iglesia Cristiana Elohim, located in Nevada and part of Pacific Southwest District, received $5,000. The church serves the Hispanic community in Las Vegas, most of whom have lost their jobs as service workers. This grant will assist families with food, rent, and other expenses.

Iglesia de Cristo Sion Church of the Brethren in Pomona, Calif., received $5,000. Most of the congregation and members of the community are unemployed due to COVID-19. The grant will help provide food, rent, medicines, and hygiene supplies for distribution to church members and community members.

Nueva Vision la Hermosa in Modesto Metropolitan Statistical Area in Stanislaus County, Calif., is part of Pacific Southwest District. It received $5,000. Church and community members who are agricultural workers have been laid off due to COVID-19. The grant will help families pay for food, rent, and utilities.

Príncipe de Paz Church of the Brethren in Anaheim, Calif., received $5,000. The church is located Orange County, Calif., which has a high cost of living and high unemployment among church members and the local community due to COVID-19. The church has seen a rapid increase in the numbers of people coming to its food pantry. The grant will help expand capacity to provide for these additional people.

Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren received $4,000. The community in and around Ephrata has many people who are unemployed because of COVID-19 restrictions. The church has recently been partnering with a local group that participates in the Power Packs Program that previously served families with children who received free meals at school. The program is now open to anyone and distributes food once a week. The grant will help with the increased need, calculated at $500 a week. 

Sebring (Fla.) Church of the Brethren received $4,000. The church is located in Highlands County, one of the poorest counties in Florida that, due to COVID-19, has a lot of unemployment as well as many older adults who are having difficulty finding food resources. In April, the church started offering a hot meal once a week for anyone who needed it, and the numbers of people showing up have increased each week. The church also offers a food bank once per week. The grant will supplement the funds provided by the church for these programs.

Eglise des Freres Haitiens Church of the Brethren, Orlando, Fla., received $3,000. The pastor and church leaders have been assisting church and community members who are out of work due to COVID-19 with food and money. This grant will help the church provide monetary assistance to families to purchase their own supplies.

County Line Church of the Brethren, which is located in the rural, low-income Westmoreland County, Pa., received $2,500. Many members of the church and community are elderly and low-income. Others are not able to work or they operate small businesses that had to close down due to COVID-19 restrictions. The grant will help the church distribute food and household items to those in need and will support the church with office supplies to communicate with their members and to advertise their activities.

Tabernacle the Restoration located in Broward County in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., and a part of Atlantic Southeast District, received $2,500. The pastor and many members of the church are unemployed due to COVID-19. The church already had begun providing food distributions and this grant will enable the church to add another day of food distributions as well as provide some cleaning and hygiene supplies. The pastor is delivering food and supplies to members who do not drive.

TurnPointe Community Church of the Brethren that is part of South/Central Indiana District received $2,100. This small congregation has for many years offered a weekly food pantry and a daycare center that serves many low-income families. This grant will help restock the food pantry and help the daycare purchase supplies needed to comply with pandemic safety regulations.

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff shared selected responses to a question on the grant application asking about anticipated long-term effects of the grant on the church and its community, including examples of how even a small church can make a big impact. Here are a few of the responses:

“The long term impact we are expecting is to be known as a church who was able to use its resources to provide both spiritual and physical assistance to better our community during this pandemic period.”

“Families will stay healthy and it will be a testimony for the church in the community, showing God’s love in action.”

“Families that are in need will have food provided to them. Relationships are being built between these families and our church. These individuals are coming onto our church property, seeing smiling/caring faces, receiving food to feed their children, and having a positive connection to our church. Our prayer is that we are able to continually share God’s love for these families as they continue to have some of their basic needs met.”

“The purpose as a Church is to keep families in their safe and healthy homes until they can return to their jobs, with trust in God, showing that they are not alone! It is a way of teaching that the church is not only to receive, but also what we can help in times of crisis.”

“This program will show people that churches are compassionate and hopefully bring some of them back to church. This program will let people know that asking for help is not something to be ashamed of or to be afraid to ask for assistance.”

More information about the grant program, including applications, can be found at https://covid19.brethren.org/grants or by contacting bdm@brethren.org . To give to this program go to www.brethren.org/edf .

4) EDF grants go to Ohio tornado response, COVID-19 relief in the US, Rwanda, Mexico

Photo by Sam Dewey
Miami Valley, Ohio tornado tree and house damage.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to finance its tornado rebuilding work in the area around Dayton, Ohio, and to aid COVID-19 responses by Church World Service (CWS), Bittersweet Ministries in Mexico, and the Rwandan Brethren.

Another EDF grant also funds a second round of the COVID-19 Pandemic Grants program offering grants to Church of the Brethren congregations and districts in the United States and Puerto Rico who are carrying out pandemic-related humanitarian work in their communities.

To give financial support to the EDF and Brethren Disaster Ministries go to www.brethren.org/edf .

Ohio

An allocation of $65,000 will finance the Brethren Disaster Ministries tornado rebuilding work in Dayton, Ohio, in 2020. The rebuilding project responds to the 19 tornados that hit the area on Memorial Day weekend last year, on May 27-28, affecting 10 counties. More than 7,000 homes were damaged and more than 1,500 destroyed, with most damage occurring in the Miami Valley areas of Harrison Township, Trotwood, Northridge, Old North Dayton, Brookville, Beavercreek, and Celina.

The Church of the Brethren’s Southern Ohio/Kentucky District responded quickly by beginning clean-up and debris removal. District volunteers completed rebuilding work on several homes with materials funded by the district. Several church members and Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers also have been involved in organizing and planning for the long-term recovery, meeting with community leaders and serving on sub-committees.

The Miami Valley Long-Term Recovery Operations Group will identify and assess cases and fund the materials for the new rebuilding project, which will be modified for the COVID-19 realities. Project supplies will be transported to Ohio from the recently closed rebuilding site in Tampa, Fla. Grant funds will be used for volunteer travel and expenses, tools, equipment, and leadership.

Only volunteers living within driving distance will be accepted at the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding site starting July 13, to serve a week at a time. Groups will be limited to 8-10 people and extensive COVID-19 protocols will be followed. The tentative plan is for out-of-state volunteers to begin serving in August. All dates are subject to change.

COVID-19 Pandemic Grants

An additional allocation of $75,000 continues funding for the COVID-19 Pandemic Grants program designed to help US Church of the Brethren congregations and districts provide humanitarian relief for vulnerable people in their congregations and communities.

An initial $60,000 grant for this program has provided grants to 14 congregations (see the Newsline report at www.brethren.org/news/2020/edf-makes-first-covid-19-us-grants.html ). Most of the grants support basic human needs of food and shelter for out-of-work and marginalized people.

Funds from this allocation will be distributed to congregations and districts through a grant application and approval process. Recognizing that predicting incoming requests is difficult, the $75,000 is intended to support the program through July 2020.

Church World Service

A grant of $20,000 supports the CWS Coronavirus Response. CWS is a long-term partner of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren. CWS has made a $2.75 million appeal to address this extensive global need through June 2021.

“Coronavirus and the measures governments are taking to protect their citizens are taking a toll on communities around the globe,” said the CWS appeal. “The pandemic is exacerbating existing crises and food shortages. Schools are closed, and students are disconnected from learning. Migrants and refugees worldwide are in precarious situations, often unable to socially distance or maintain needed hygiene standards. Jobs are drying up as economies struggle to adapt. Regretfully, we have now documented clusters of refugee families in the United States with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and are trying to assess ways to directly assist them.”

CWS is working with its branch offices and many partners to address pandemic-related needs around the globe including rental assistance in the U.S, childcare assistance, expansion of hunger programs, humanitarian assistance, and the shipping of CWS emergency kits to families in need.

This grant will be targeted to support humanitarian assistance, hunger- and poverty-fighting programs, support of global refugees, and CWS kit programs, which best match the intent of the Emergency Disaster Fund.

Mexico

A grant of $10,000 has been given to Bittersweet Ministries in Mexico to support a feeding program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mexico has been experiencing a rapid spread of the virus, averaging 3,000 new confirmed cases and hundreds of deaths each day, and has been on a nationwide lockdown since the end of March, causing significant economic hardships especially for poor and marginalized people.

Bittersweet Ministries has been providing ministry and support to marginalized families in the Tijuana area for years, with a particular focus on people living next to the landfill. Community members live in unhealthy and cramped conditions, with some living off what they can collect from the landfill.

Food distribution at the Gisenyi congregation of Rwanda Church of the Brethren

The ministry is expanding its work with three Tijuana churches and two ministry points to provide COVID relief to some of these at-risk families. In addition, the community of Aguita Zarca, in a remote area three hours from Durango, also is desperate for food assistance and has connections to Bittersweet and a Church of the Brethren congregation in the United States. Grant funds will provide emergency food rations at six locations: three churches, two ministry points, and the village of Aquita Zarca.

Rwanda

An additional allocation of $8,000 responds to the COVID-19 pandemic in Rwanda, which is one of the countries with few support systems or aid programs to assist families in crisis and where the most vulnerable live day-to-day.

Etienne Nsanzimana, leader of the Rwandan Church of the Brethren, reports most people living in the community of Gisenyi used to have work related to cross-border businesses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are still closed. This grant will provide food and soap to 295 families particularly vulnerable to food insecurity, from the communities of Gisenyi, Mudende, Gasiza, and Humure. One previous EDF grant of $8,000 has been given for this appeal.

For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund and to give online go to www.brethren.org/edf .

5) Denomination to sell longterm BVS house in Elgin, purchases new house near General Offices

Photo by Zoe Vorndran
The former BVS volunteer house on Highland Ave. in Elgin, Ill.

Provided to Newsline by the BVS staff

Since 1948, the Victorian-style house at 923 West Highland Ave. in Elgin, Ill. has been called home by countless Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) workers and Church of the Brethren staff. It originally was purchased by the denomination to supply emergency rental quarters for staff, on a temporary basis, and then over the decades became the residence of BVS volunteers and interns who were serving at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin.

In recent years, it became clear that the financial burden of maintaining a house of that age and condition while complying with city codes was too much to support. This February a new house was purchased in the neighborhood close to the General Offices, and plans were made to move BVS volunteers to the new house by May. However, because of COVID-19, plans had to be adjusted and the official move took place June 3. The plan is to clean out and put the Highland Avenue house on the market by late summer.

While the Highland Avenue house has sentimental value for many of the volunteers who lived there, the new house is sure to provide similar value for volunteers and interns for years to come.

For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to www.brethren.org/bvs .

6) Bethany Seminary president makes statement ‘Condemning Racism and Working for Change’

A release from Bethany Theological Seminary

President Jeff Carter sent the following letter to Bethany Theological Seminary’s students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and friends:

Dear Bethany Community,

There is a particular privilege in silence.

The issues are too complicated to fully understand, so we stay silent.

We worry what others might think of us if we were to be honest in our fears, cares, attitudes, and opinions, so we stay silent.

It is a challenge to find just the right words at a time when the nation is deeply divided and emotions run high, so we stay silent.

And to be honest, many of us who are white can afford to be silent. There is a particular privilege in silence.

With the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, three names in a long list of black people senselessly killed, sitting in silence feels like a betrayal of the truth. It is a sneaking suspicion that the taking of a black life is more than a life taken, it is a denial that not all are created in God’s image and thus some are allowed to be lost in silence.

And we pray, “God of our weary years, God of our silent tears …”

Words are inadequate, imperfect, and open for misinterpretation, but to stay silent is to allow whatever fear, personal or corporate, to have the last word.

From the premeditated violence of the lynching tree as a method of intimidation and preservation of the status quo, to today’s disproportionate and often arbitrary police violence leveled upon African Americans, silence by the majority allows fear to reign and racism to continue unabated. As Will Smith says, “Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”

Bethany Theological Seminary denounces racism in all its forms, mourns the senseless loss of life, and is committed to the sacred work of racial justice and peace. Clearly, as an act of faith, where the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective (James 5:16), thoughts and prayers are needed. As a church born of the Anabaptist – Pietist movement, with thoughts and prayers come faithful witness and non-violent action.

The Seminary is working to deepen our understanding of systemic racism. We seek to educate a generation of leaders able to listen to the needs of the world around them, confront their own biases, embrace God’s prophetic call to let justice roll down like water (Amos 5:24), and confront the evils of systemic racism, in the name of Jesus Christ.

We are committed to the work of anti-racism. In recent years, Bethany teaching faculty audited the curricula and revised course readings and requirements with greater inclusion of authors who are persons of color. A new seminary class explicitly focused on African American biblical interpretation is scheduled for August, in partnership with Columbia Seminary in Atlanta, and team-led by faculty members of both schools. The Seminary community continues facilitated conversations and trainings on racism and implicit bias which have proven to be difficult, challenging, and personally transformative. Finally, student recruitment plans have expanded and hiring practices are continually being adjusted so as to identify and prioritize candidates who are persons of color so that Bethany might more fully represent the world around us. Our work is just beginning.

We acknowledge that privilege has the luxury of silence, and we cannot afford such luxury as African Americans suffer under the weight of systemic racism. With all honest humility, we fall short, but together, we will continue to work for justice so that all might know of God’s Shalom and Christ’s peace. We covet your prayers and we seek your partnership. Together, with God’s help, we will work for change.

“Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way, Thou who hast by Thy might, led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray.” Amen.

— Jeff Carter is president of Bethany Theological Seminary. Excerpts are from “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a hymn written by James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson in 1899. Find this statement on the Bethany Seminary website at https://bethanyseminary.edu/condemning-racism-and-working-for-change .

7) Withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty signals pattern in international relations and arms control

By Galen Fitzkee
 
In a 1980 Annual Conference statement titled “The Time Is so Urgent: Threats to Peace,” Brethren recognized a potential nuclear arms race as one of the most pressing political problems for peacebuilders to address. Amazingly, 40 years later we find ourselves on similarly shaky ground where the barrier between stability and hostility appears increasingly thin. By recently committing to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, the current US administration has compromised the systems set in place to avoid an arms race or military engagement–and the church should take notice.

Unfortunately, but importantly, we have a unique opportunity to advocate for peace and speak out against US government decisions that undermine peaceful relationships with our neighbors around the globe.     

The current administration has made a habit of withdrawing from international organizations, trade agreements, and treaties of all kinds throughout their term. As a brief refresher, these include but are not limited to: the Paris Climate Agreement, UN Human Rights Council, Iran Nuclear Deal, Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Most recently, in late May the administration set its crosshairs on the Open Skies Treaty by announcing its commitment to withdraw, effective in six months. This move further highlights the administration’s propensity to pull out of arms control treaties and to insist on isolationist foreign policy instead of cooperating with other global powers such as China and Russia. The uncompromising message of the US is clear and, while some praise this hardline approach, the resulting increase in tensions has troubling implications for the future of peace and cooperation around the world.

The Open Skies Treaty was signed into existence by President George H. W. Bush to increase accountability and transparency among the more than 30 signatory nations. Surveillance flyovers of foreign military operations permitted under the agreement are an important means of intelligence-gathering for many nations and reduce the chances of miscalculations leading to military conflict. Despite these noble goals, some US government officials have accused Russia of undermining the agreement by temporarily banning flyovers in areas where military operations could be present and allegedly using their flyovers to spy on important US infrastructure. Those that oppose this decision, including European allies, have pushed back, saying that the decision was hasty and ultimately weakens the national security of the US and that of countries that rely on its intelligence.

The repealing of the Open Skies Treaty is only one concern; the manner and context in which a decision like this is made also requires scrutiny. In the midst of a global pandemic that demands worldwide solidarity and cooperation, a move such as this should raise questions about timing. Perhaps Congress, European allies, or even perceived adversaries could have been consulted before simply abandoning an important tool for gathering information and a symbol of mutuality.

A more measured approach to renegotiating the treaty’s flaws could have had a profound impact on all parties involved and communicated a desire to work together rather than gain the upper hand or foment distrust. Director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, Nate Hosler, summed up the church’s perspective this way: “While no institutions or treaties are perfect, we have long affirmed efforts to reduce war and risks of escalation as well as build trust and cooperation between peoples and nations.” 

Ultimately, we should wonder if this pattern will continue to result in the dismantling of additional arms agreements, which could make the world less secure. The withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty raises questions about the related New START Treaty that limits nuclear proliferation in the US and Russia. New START is up for renewal in February 2021, and while formal negotiations have yet to begin, its continuation is not a foregone conclusion.

At the same time, the “Washington Post” has reported that the National Security Council has discussed conducting the first nuclear weapons test in nearly three decades. On top of those rumors, in reference to a question about a nuclear arms race, Marshall Billingslea, Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control, has stated, “We know how to win these races, and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion, and if we have to, we will, but we sure would like to avoid it.”

It is our sincere hope that a plan to “avoid it” will be set in place, but we have yet to see evidence of this and should be wary of the current trajectory of arms control agreements and international cooperation. Precedent has been shattered in the case of the Open Skies Treaty and other arms control treaties, so it is difficult to know how to respond and act.

In a 1980 statement for peace, the Church of the Brethren called for “bold and creative initiatives” to avoid an arms race or wasteful military spending, which are still relevant requests. Today’s administration has given us reason to believe the likelihood of these events may be higher than ever before, and we as a church should take this opportunity to speak up for peace.

As Hosler reminds us, “Jesus’ call to peacemaking includes interpersonal as well as geopolitical efforts to create a safer and more peaceful world for all people.” The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy seeks to stay informed about threats to peace, inform our church community, and promote action on a personal and governmental level. In this case, we can express our support for arms control reform including the renegotiation of the Open Skies Treaty.

Cooperation rather than competition must drive our international relations, and sensitive negotiations are best conducted calmly and carefully. In the end, peace is created by both the healthy relationships between nations and the voices of the people within those countries who deeply desire and sustain it.

— Galen Fitzkee is an intern in the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. Sources for this article include: www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1980-threats-to-peace.html and www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/trump-administration-discussed-conducting-first-us-nuclear-test-in-decades/2020/05/22/a805c904-9c5b-11ea-b60c-3be060a4f8e1_story.html .

UPCOMING EVENTS

8) Denominational Worship Gathering will center on the theme ‘New World Coming!’

By Paul Mundey

On July 1, a Denominational Worship Gathering for the Church of the Brethren, planned by the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee, will take place virtually starting at 8 p.m. (Eastern time). It will center around the theme, “New World Coming!”

The service will feature the preaching of Kayla Alphonse and Paul Mundey, with a wide array of music including selections by Jacob Crouse, Janelle Flory Schrock and Kendra Flory, the Keister Sisters, Shawn Kirchner, Nancy Faus Mullen, and Josh Tindall. Two hymns by Church of the Brethren hymnwriters will be sung by the denominational virtual choir: “Move in Our Midst” and “I See a New World Coming.”

General secretary David Steele will offer prayers for the church. A wide array of people from around the denomination will offer additional worship leadership.

A series of congregational stories will be featured, lifting up the missional fervor and outreach of the Church of the Brethren from around the world.

In a season of disruption and despair, the service will point to the God in Christ who makes a way where there seems to be no way (Isaiah 43:19); encouraging us to build new worlds in God’s name (Luke 4:18-19); seeing with eyes of faith the vision of the Lamb (2 Corinthians 5:7); and, as a weary earth sings, nevertheless a new song of new creation in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:1-8).

Find out more at www.brethren.org/virtual .

— Paul Mundey is the moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.

9) Children of all ages are welcome to a denominational children’s worship experience

By Jan King

Children of all ages, welcome to worship! Mark your family calendar for a 25-minute children’s worship experience on Wednesday, July 1, at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern time). You will meet Louise Boid, a colorfully opinionated bird from Brooklyn, N.Y., as she moves to central Pennsylvania to get away from those noisy New York City ducks and pigeons! Louise Boid is brought to us by the Puppet and Story Works founded by Dotti and Steve Seitz of Manheim, Pa.

You will also experience a storyteller, Linda Himes from La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, sharing the message of God’s love for each of God’s children, yourself included! 

There will be songs led by Carol Hipps Elmore, minister of Nurture and Music at Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., interspersed throughout the service to keep you singing and moving. Finally, Louise Boid will sing her latest rendition of “Rockin’ Robin”! 

We hope you will join us for a delightful children’s worship time, immediately preceeding the denominational worship service. Both of these worship times are planned and sponsored by the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee.   

Find out more at www.brethren.org/virtual .

— Jan King is a member of the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee.

10) Denominational Concert is planned for July 2 as an online event

Photo by Glenn Riegel
Ken Medema’s hands at the keyboard, playing a concert for the 2011 Annual Conference. A long-time friend of the Church of the Brethren, Medema has agreed to write and record a song specifically for the denomination’s virtual concert.

By David Sollenberger

An hour-long music celebration featuring Church of the Brethren musicians from across the denomination will be presented online on July 2, the evening after the Denominational Worship Gathering and Children’s Worship Service. The concert will start at 8 p.m. (Eastern time).

The Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee is securing musical offerings from a wide variety of Brethren musicians, providing a variety of musical styles and instruments.

Contributors to the concert will include Brethren singer/songwriters Joseph Helfrich, Michael Stern, Shawn Kirchner, Seth Hendricks, Terry and Andy Murray, Jacob Crouse, and the Bittersweet Gospel Band. In addition, selections are scheduled from the Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren, the women’s choir from a congregation of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in the city of Mubi, and several memorable excerpts recorded at recent Annual Conferences.

In addition, a long-time friend of the Church of the Brethren, Ken Medema, has agreed to write and record a song specifically for the event.

The concert will be hosted by the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee members Emily Shonk Edwards and Carol Elmore.

We hope you will join us for this cross-section of inspirational music from around the church, as part of two days of denominational online events.

Find out more at www.brethren.org/virtual .

— David Sollenberger is moderator-elect of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.

11) Brethren Volunteer Service summer orientation is going virtual

Provided to Newsline by the BVS staff

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) staff have made the decision to transition the summer orientation unit 325 from an in-person to a virtual event. Amid COVID-19 restrictions, BVS is committed to the health of incoming volunteers and leadership while still providing much-needed volunteer support to BVS project sites.

Instead of the traditional three weeks, the summer orientation will be two weeks long and will be done while volunteers are already at their project sites–building in a two-week quarantine time so that volunteers are ready to begin serving as soon as orientation is completed.

BVS staff are working hard to include as many aspects of the traditional orientation as possible. The volunteers will gather virtually to grow in faith; learn about Brethren history, service, and social justice issues; build community; work together to accomplish common tasks; and have fun. Because of this new format, BVS staff will be working ahead of orientation with volunteers to discern their project placements, in place of the typical process during the three-week orientation.

The summer orientation will take place July 26-Aug. 7. The application deadline for this unit is Friday, June 5. If anyone is interested in joining this unit and has not submitted an application by the deadline, please email BVS@brethren.org as soon as possible. There is still time to join!

For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to www.brethren.org/bvs .

12) Brethren bits

At least three Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities have suffered COVID-19 cases or outbreaks recently:Peter Becker Community in Harleysville, Pa., has dealt with an outbreak that started April 21, when a first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in a staff member in skilled nursing. In regular online posts, the community reported that as of June 4 there have been no new cases since May 22. The outbreak affected 50 or more residents and employees who tested positive, and included the deaths of several residents in skilled nursing. The last death of a resident due to COVID-19 was reported on May 26.
     Expressing sympathy to the families of those who died in the outbreak, the community posted on its website: “We have been so blessed by the tremendous outpouring of support we have received from residents, family members and community members during such a challenging time…. Your support is making a huge difference for our team members. And, thank you also for those who include Peter Becker Community and its staff in your prayers. It is deeply appreciated.”
     The community reported putting stringent protocols in place including placing affected staff in quarantine at home, notifying public health officials, and following procedures recommended by the CDC. It established an isolation wing for COVID-19 positive residents, and twice tested all residents in skilled nursing.Cross Keys Village in New Oxford, Pa., on May 18 started administering COVID-19 tests to all residents and staff in its Health Care Center, following a statewide directive from the Department of Health. “Although Cross Keys Village had reached that date without a positive diagnosis among residents or staff, we welcomed the ability to perform this testing on a large scale,” said a statement on the community’s website. On May 21, the community reported that a few residents and staff had tested positive. As of May 22 the number of positive results included three residents and six staff, none of whom were showing symptoms. On June 2, the community’s website reported results for the “Week-2″ tests for residents and team members in the Health Care Center, in which two staff and no residents had positive test results, with none of the people testing positive showing symptoms. “The few residents that had tested positive in May have tested negative upon re-testing twice,” said the update. “Starting on June 8, Cross Keys Village will continue testing in the Health Care Center on an as-needed basis.”Fahrney Keedy Senior Living Community in Boonsboro, Md., in an online post reported that it re-tested 89 skilled nursing residents for COVID-19 on May 26 and 27, with no positive results, after an employee had tested positive for the virus. The employee later tested negative.  “We remain very cautious and proactive,” said the online statement that listed extensive measures that have been taken. “We appreciate the kindness and support we have received from our families, residents, staff, and community. We continue to ask for your thoughts and prayers!” 

— A reminder from the Annual Conference office: Please fill out Annual Conference Refund/Donation Form. Each registered delegate and non-delegate has now received three emails from the Annual Conference Office asking them to fill out the refund/donation form. The vast majority of those who registered for Annual Conference have submitted the forms to indicate if they want a refund or wish to make a donation to Annual Conference. However, there are still people who have not yet submitted a form. The deadline for responses is Wednesday, July 1 (the day that Annual Conference would have begun). Find the form at www.cognitoforms.com/ChurchOfTheBrethren1/AnnualConference2020RefundForm
.

— Remembrance: Mark Ray Keeney, 93, a former mission worker with the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, passed away on Easter Sunday, April 12, at Porter Hospice in Centennial, Colo. He was born May 10, 1926, on a farm in Bethel, Pa., to William Miles Keeney and Anna Maria Ebling Keeney. After World War II he volunteered as a “seagoing cowboy” with Heifer Project (now Heifer International). It was on that journey that he met his Swedish wife of 29 years, Anita Soderstrom. They studied at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, during which time he pastored a church in Morgantown, W.Va., for two years, and returned to graduate from Elizabethtown. They earned degrees at Bethany Seminary in Chicago. In 1957, they were ordained and commissioned by the Church of the Brethren to serve in Nigeria, where they moved with their two young children and worked from 1957 to 1967. Mark Keeney worked closely with Nigerian villagers and leaders in church ministry, agriculture, community development, education, and construction of churches and schools. Anita Keeney worked in education and with groups of women and girls. Their third daughter was born in Nigeria, and a Nigerian girl joined the family for a few years. After leaving Nigeria at the onset of the Biafran War, they lived in Sweden for a year and then returned to the US where he completed post-graduate studies at Bethany Seminary. The family moved to Indiana and then to Boulder, Colo., where he earned another master’s degree in education and taught 6th grade for 23 academic years. During summers and after retirement he painted houses, led short-term mission trips, and took continuing education classes. After his first marriage ended, he met and married Joan McKemie and gained two stepdaughters. Together they enjoyed extensive travel, participated in Habitat for Humanity among other volunteer projects, and remained active members in the First Presbyterian Church. He also volunteered as a chaplain in the Boulder hospitals and several senior living facilities. He was preceded in death by his wife of 37 years, Joan McKemie Keeney, who passed away in 2016. He is survived by daughters Ruth Keeney (Vernon) Tryon of Fort Morgan, Colo.; Wanda Keeney (Rob) Bernal of Gainesville, Texas; Anna Keeney (David) Fish of Palmer Lake, Colo.; Sharon McKemie (Scott) Bauer of Homer, Alaska; and Pam McKemie of Atlanta, Ga.; grandchildren; great grandchildren; and Nigerian “daughter” Glenda. A celebration of life will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Boulder, Colo., and a memorial service and interment will be held in Bethel, Pa., with dates and times to be determined. Memorial gifts are received to Grace Commons Church (previously First Presbyterian Church) in Boulder; North Georgia Community Foundation in Gainesville, Ga.; Porter Hospice in Centennial, Colo.; Heifer International; and the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service.

— Camp Mardela is seeking a camp administrator. Camp Mardela is a Church of the Brethren-affiliated 125-acre retreat and summer camp facility bordering Martinak State Park on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The camp seeks a gifted and visionary individual with a passion for outdoor ministry to serve as the next camp administrator. This full-time position is open as of Jan. 1, 2021. The duties of the administrator include overseeing the overall development and operation of the camp, building and coordinating the retreat and conference programs, promoting the camp, supervising other part-time staff and volunteers, and networking with the camp’s various stakeholders. A full position description is available upon request. Qualifications for this position include strong skills in administration, organization, communication, marketing, program development, hospitality, and leadership, along with basic computer and finance skills. A bachelor’s degree and/or appropriate certification is required, along with at least two seasons of camp supervisory experience and knowledge and an understanding of ACA core competencies. Candidates must be at least 25 years of age. The administrator should be a Christian and a member of the Church of the Brethren or have an appreciation and understanding of Brethren beliefs and values. Health benefits and on-site housing and utilities (in a separate home near the camp office) are included, along with annual funds for professional growth. To apply, send a letter of interest and resumé to Camp Mardela board chair Walt Wiltschek c/o Easton Church of the Brethren, 412 S. Harrison St., Easton, MD 21601, or via email to mardelasearch@gmail.com by Aug. 15.

— The staff of the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program have returned to work at the warehouse facility at the Brethren Service Center In New Windsor, Md. The Material Resources staff inventories, packs, and ships disaster relief materials and other goods on behalf of ecumenical partners and humanitarian organizations. The state of Maryland classifies warehouse operations providing material aid for relief an essential operation. The warehouse was closed in March to protect staff’s health until there was more information about the pandemic and safety protocols could be put into place. Donations of disaster relief kits are now being accepted at the facility. For more information contact lwolf@brethren.org .

— An ecumenical letter to Congress opposing unilateral annexation of the Occupied West Bank has been publicized by Churches for Middle East Peace’s (CMEP) and signed by 27 church and Christian organizational leaders from across the US including Nathan Hosler, director of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy for the Church of the Brethren. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to proceed with annexation of parts of Area C in the Occupied Palestinian territories as early as July 1,” said a release. In the letter, the Christian leaders call on “Congress to wield its power of the purse and not allow any United States funds provided to Israel to be used for the recognition, facilitation or support of annexation….” The release noted that annexation of occupied Palestinian land is in direct contravention to international law and would have a devastating impact on the prospect of reaching a just and lasting end to the conflict in Israel-Palestine. Find the full letter at https://cmep.salsalabs.org/ps-church-leaders-annexation .

— Brethren Disaster Ministries is asking for help with supplying cloth face masks. “Whenever serving is possible again, these will be used to provide to those volunteering on rebuilding project sites who do not have their own,” said an announcement. “Depending on the supply available, more could be provided to homeowners, other partners in the areas of our sites, or other places as identified. Two suggested options with instructions on how to make the masks can be provided.” If you, a group at your church, or your district can help with
making and supplying masks contact Terry Goodger at 410-635-8730 or tgoodger@brethren.org .

— Brethren Disaster Ministries has received an award of $5,000 from the National Organizations Active in Disaster through funding provided by UPS. This grant supports recovery from flooding in the Midwest in 2019. Plans are being made to offer a short-term response in Nebraska during the weeks of Aug. 16-29. Those interested in volunteering should contact Kim Gingerich, long-term project leader, at 717-586-1874 or bdmnorthcarolina@gmail.com. Brethren Disaster Ministries will be monitoring the COVID-19 situation prior to the scheduled dates, and changes or cancellations may be made based on travel restrictions or guidance in August, and in conversation with local partners. If this response takes place, there will be specific COVID-19 safety protocols in place and all volunteers will be expected to follow them. Onsite project expenses from Monday to Friday will be covered but travel expenses to and from the site are the volunteer’s responsibility. Brethren Disaster Ministries is not responsible for non-refundable travel expenses if cancellations occur due to COVID-19.

— “Love Your Neighbor” is the latest short devotional video from Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), with leadership from Jamie Nace. It focuses on our discipleship to Jesus Christ and what it looks like for us to follow Jesus’ commands to love our neighbors, seek justice, and more. Included is a song, a Bible story, discussion questions, and a prayer activity to help us remember to pray with love for neighbors and family near and far. This is designed for children to engage with their families, and adults will find it meaningful too. Find the video at www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLPwg6iPFotfiRWVNswSeGvrRcwWXvk5rQ&time_continue=37&v=4RNB16JCMlU&feature=emb_logo . Find many more CDS resources for children and families at https://covid19.brethren.org/children .

— The former associate director of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), Kathy Fry-Miller, has published a new children’s picture book about the coronavirus titled “Helpers Win: Yucky-rus Virus.” Fry-Miller is the author of the book that is illustrated entirely by children. The book also is a fundraiser, and donations are being received to CDS. Find out more at https://lnkd.in/ekKEaB7.

— The latest Messenger Radio “CoBcast” is online at www.brethren.org/messenger/articles/2020/today-we-have-a-sponge-cake.html . It features Office of Ministry director Nancy Sollenberger Heishman reading her Potluck piece for the June issue of Messenger, “Today, we have a sponge cake.”

— Also from Messenger Online, publisher Wendy McFadden’s latest column on “Healer of our every ill” is published at www.brethren.org/messenger/articles/from-the-publisher/healer-of-our-every-ill.html . She reflects on the racial terror of lynching in light of current events.

— The Gathering Chicago, a Church of the Brethren church plant in Chicago, Ill., is holding a 4th anniversary event focused on “Prayer Strategies for These Times.” Leadership includes LaDonna Nkosi, who pastors the church and also serves as director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren denomination. The virtual event is being held via Facebook, starting today, Friday, June 5, at 7:30 p.m. (Central time). “Tune in, share widely, or later watch the replay or host a watch party,” said an invitation. Go to www.facebook.com/events/698622550714030 .

— Prayer is requested for Capon Chapel Church of the Brethren in Keyser, W.Va., which has been hit with an outbreak of COVID-19. The “Hampshire Review” newspaper has reported that the church “is now considered an epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak–even though it followed all the guidelines for the one Sunday its doors were open for worship.” Nine people who attended a Mother’s Day service were diagnosed with the virus and a couple more church members have since contracted the disease. The article, dated June 3, is online at www.hampshirereview.com/news/article_42f885d2-a5b2-11ea-9ade-5b7bb19a0fd7.html .

— Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren made the news for being one of the area churches that returned to in-person worship through an outdoors service. The “Frederick News-Post” reported that “outside services are part of the church’s own Phase 1, which includes both online and outside service options. Under this phase, study groups meet online, at-risk people are encouraged to stay home, masks are required and the FCOB campus remains closed. Phase 2, expected to start in mid-to-late June will be similar but include indoor services.” The article quoted lead pastor Kevin King: “Certainly we’re trying to be cautious but also recognizing that there’s different spectrums…. There’s some who don’t want to come out and be with anyone. There’s others who can’t wait to be out amongst people and so our initial phase is to meet outside. We’re going to do that for at least two weeks. That helps us not only get the kinks out as we’re dealing with individuals and some of the different processes that we have to undergo but also helps us gauge numbers so that when we do go back inside, we’ll be able to have the appropriate number of services to accommodate the social distancing.” Find the article at www.fredericknewspost.com/news/lifestyle/religion/sharing-christ-local-church-hosts-in-person-service-outside-after-worship-restrictions-change/article_4a502961-894d-5384-851c-3c5f272469f7.html .

— Camp Alexander Mack will begin construction of an $85,000 challenge course on its property near Milford, Ind., made possible by a grant from the K21 Health Foundation, reports the “Times Union.” Executive director Gene Hollenberg made the announcement to supporters of the 95-year old camp, said the news piece. “This challenge course will increase our ability to reach out to the communities around us,” Hollenberg said. “Research shows that physical activity is crucial for social, emotional and physical health; however, when that activity is outdoors, the benefits are multiplied.” Find the article at https://timesuniononline.com/Content/Local-News/Local-News/Article/Camp-Mack-Begins-Construction-On-Challenge-Course/2/453/126929 .
 
—  McPherson (Kan.) College recently announced its plans for a condensed fall semester that will begin with on-campus classes on Aug. 17 and conclude before Thanksgiving break on Nov. 24. A release reported that while McPherson maintained its day-to-day operations remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is working toward a gradual reopening of the campus that is consistent with the state’s phased plan to lift restrictions. The college has worked with task forces from across campus and with community partners to develop a plan that focuses on a healthy and safe environment when students, faculty, staff, and visitors return to campus. Faculty is preparing for several different scenarios that allow classroom and on-campus instruction and will be ready to deliver courses in hybrid formats. All classrooms, labs, studios, shops, and other campus facilities will be accessible to students provided there are no mandates from local health officials. In the event of health restrictions, the college is prepared to implement social distancing measures. The fall semester will begin with fewer students living in the residence halls and limitations on common spaces as well as practicing personal hygiene behavior. Residence hall staff will be prepared to implement social distancing with single-point entry, bathroom assignments, and one-way stairwells. The college is finishing a health and safety plan to guide students and staff through the fall semester and beyond. Custodial crews began cleaning and sanitizing residential halls, classrooms, labs, athletic facilities, the dining hall, and administrative offices as soon as students were safely off campus using guidelines from the CDC, state, and local health offices. Increased sanitizing will continue as campus reopens. The college is working with its campus health clinic partner to assure that students, faculty, and staff will have access to virus testing when classes resume. There is still some uncertainty about what the fall sports season will look like. More details are on the college website at www.mcpherson.edu/covid .

— Hillcrest, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in La Verne, Calif., is receiving attention for its service to a vulnerable population during the COVID-19 pandemic. The community has not yet experienced a case of the virus, noted the article published on PR Newswire at www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hillcrest-serving-a-vulnerable-population-keeps-residents-smiling-behind-their-masks-during-the-covid-19-lockdown-301071022.html .

— Growing Hope Globally has announced that its Summer Celebration will be held online as a webinar-style gathering. Growing Hope Globally is a partner organization of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative. The online celebration will take place on Aug. 11 starting at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). “The event will include an update on Growing Hope Globally and will also feature video updates from some of our programs around the world and more. Please join us!” said an invitation. Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1079949524065641998 . Find out more at www.GrowingHopeGlobally.org .

— “Are you or a loved one in the military and having concerns about being mobilized to patrol the Black Lives Matter demonstrations?” asks the Center on Conscience and War. The CCW has produced a new online information page meant for members of the National Guard and other military who may disagree with orders to respond to peaceful demonstrations across the country. The CCW, celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, is a longterm partner of the Church of the Brethren–one of the founding members of its predecessor organizations during the World War II era. “You may have options available to you to protect not only you and your conscience, but also your and others’ lives,” said the document. “This is general guidance only. There is not a one-size fits all solution. Please reach out to us to speak directly to your situation and about specific options you (or your loved one) may have.” The CCW’s general guidance covers the areas of preparing a plan for the event of being mobilized, lawful vs. unlawful orders, making a conscientious objection claim, your right to join protests. Find the document at https://centeronconscience.org/are-you-or-a-loved-one-in-the-military-and-having-concerns-about-being-mobilized-to-patrol-the-black-lives-matter-demonstrations . For more information or questions call 202-483-2220, visit the CCW website at https://centeronconscience.org , or email ccw@centeronconscience.org .

— Eli Kellerman, a graduating senior and member of the youth group at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., who plans to study to become a nurse and midwife, has received the James E. Renz Pinecrest Memorial Scholarship from the Pinecrest Retirement Community Board.

— Thomas E. Lynch III, who has been a board member for Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren’s Learning Center, was honored as an “influential Marylander” by “The Daily Record” during a virtual event on June 1. The Influential Marylander award recognizes those who are leaving a mark on the community throughout the state. He is a lawyer and principal for 40 years with the law firm Miles & Stockbridge and has served on “countless” nonprofit boards and community organizations for more than three decades. He also is the longest serving member of the Maryland State Bar Ethics Committee and was voted “Best Attorney” by “Frederick News-Post” readers in 2019. Find the full article at ttps://dc.citybizlist.com/article/612956/thomas-e-lynch-iii-named-influential-marylander .


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Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Carter, Jenn Dorsch-Messler, Chris Douglas, Galen Fitzkee, Tina Goodwin, Nate Hosler, Jan King, Nancy Miner, Paul Mundey, LaDonna Nkosi, Traci Rabenstein, David Sollenberger, Emily Tyler, Walt Wiltschek, Roy Winter, Ed Woolf, 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 cobnews@brethren.org . Find the Newsline archive at www.brethren.org/news . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren email newsletters or make subscription changes at www.brethren.org/intouch . Newsline is the Church of the Brethren e-mail news service. All submissions are subject to editing. Inclusion in Newsline does not necessarily convey endorsement by the Church of the Brethren.

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