Newsline for Oct. 31, 2020

“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

1) Mission and Ministry Board approves 2021 budget for denominational ministries
2) Bible translation for Kamwe people in Nigeria nears completion
3) Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons receives 50th ratification
4) Women partner with EYN Disaster Relief Ministry in Nigeria

5) Moderator’s Town Hall featuring Mark Devries is planned for Nov. 19
6) Discipleship Ministries leader is featured in next Ventures course
7) ‘Leadership Summit on Wellbeing’ is planned for April 2021

8) A reflection on Isaiah 24:4-6: Climate justice

9) Brethren bits: Personnel, Annual Conference moderator Zoom Q&A in districts focuses on the “state of the church,” start of open enrollment for Brethren Insurance Services, prayer concerns, Action Alert for Nigeria, new episodes of Messenger Radio, Atlantic Northeast District Conference, youth essay contest on “The Future of Interreligious Dialogue,” and more.

Quote of the week:

“All Saints really means ALL saints. While many canonized saints are celebrated with their own individual day (such as St. Patrick), saints that have not been canonized have no particular holiday. All Saints Day recognizes those who have attained heaven, but their sainthood is known only to God.”

From a CNN post on the history of Nov. 1 as All Saints Day, the day following All Hallows Eve or Halloween (

Find our landing page of Church of the Brethren COVID-19 related resources and information at .

Find Church of the Brethren congregations offering online worship at .

A listing to recognize Brethren who are active in health care is at . To add a person to this listing, send an email with first name, county, and state to .

1) Mission and Ministry Board approves 2021 budget for denominational ministries

A training session for the Mission and Ministry Board, led by Intercultural Ministries director LaDonna Nkosi and Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren pastor Michaela Alphonse, focused on the topic “Healing Racism and the Ministry of Jesus in This Time.”

The Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren held fall meetings via Zoom on Friday through Sunday, Oct. 16-18. Sessions on Saturday morning and afternoon and Sunday afternoon were open to the public via a published link.

The main item of business was the 2021 budget for the ministries of the denomination. The board also spent time on the new strategic plan that is taking shape through the work of several task teams, and experienced a training session on healing racism. Numerous reports were received, many of them as pre-recorded videos.

Board chair Patrick Starkey led the meetings from the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., where he was joined by general secretary David Steele and a few staff. The rest of the board, including chair-elect Carl Fike, joined via Zoom from across the country. Over the course of the weekend 37 people attended via the public link, including denominational staff who were not onsite.

“We meet because the gospel goes on, the pandemic cannot prevent resurrection, the grace of God is sufficient at all times, and the work of the church goes on at this time,” said Starkey as he opened the first public session.

Budget and finances

The board approved a total budget for all denominational ministries of $8,112,100 in income and $8,068,750 in expense, representing an anticipated net income of $43,350 for 2021. The decision included budgets for the Church of the Brethren’s Core Ministries as well as “self-funding” budgets for Brethren Disaster Ministries, Brethren Press, Conference Office, Global Food Initiative (GFI), and Material Resources.

The Core Ministries budget of $4,934,000 (income and expense) is close to the amount of the 2020 budget of $4,969,000 approved by the board last October, but some $300,000 more than the budget revision of $4,629,150 made by the board in July in response to the pandemic. The Core Ministries include the General Secretary’s office, Global Mission, Brethren Volunteer Service, Discipleship Ministries, the Ministry Office, the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, finance, communications, and other areas of work.

As reported by treasurer Ed Woolf, factors that went into the 2021 budget included estimated giving from congregations and individuals; draws from the Bequest Quasi-Endowment as well as other funds; ministry enablement contributions to Core Ministries from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF), GFI, and other restricted funds; Brethren Press gross sales contributions to Core Ministries; a transfer of $140,000 to Core Ministries from designated funds; and $74,000 in expense reductions representing a 2 percent reduction in most departmental budgets. The budget includes no cost-of-living increase in employee pay but does include continued employer contributions to health savings accounts and a smaller-than-expected increase in the cost of medical insurance premiums for employees.

In year-to-date financial results, as of September, Woolf noted that giving to Core Ministries is ahead of the revised budget and staff have done a good job of managing expenses. While donations have helped sustain Core Ministries, it is in restricted giving to funds like the EDF where a serious drop in giving is seen. The pandemic also has caused cancellation of events, loss of registration income, decreased sales, and reduced service fees, which contribute to major losses for the self-funding ministries, especially Brethren Press and Material Resources. The EDF also is losing thousands of dollars in donations that in a usual year would be received from district disaster auctions.

Woolf reported that investment balances are in a good position at this point in the year and net assets are up from this time last year. “The Church of the Brethren’s net asset position continues to be very healthy despite the volatility and uncertainty surrounding 2020.”

An update on Brethren Press was given by general secretary David Steele. The financial situation of the denomination’s publishing house was the subject of discussion at the board’s July meeting. Since then, sales figures have worsened. Steele reported some interventions for 2020 that will give time to work on a systematic plan for the publishing house. He also celebrated a large gift of $50,000 from an individual donor who designated $25,000 to Core Ministries and $25,000 to Brethren Press.

Healing racism training

A training session led by Intercultural Ministries director LaDonna Nkosi and Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren pastor Michaela Alphonse focused on the topic “Healing Racism and the Ministry of Jesus in This Time.” Luke 4:18-21, which Nkosi described as “the job description of Jesus,” was the scriptural theme.

The training included review of the denominational paper “Separate No More” that was adopted by Annual Conference in 2007, a video from the United Methodist Church, and time for reflection and conversation. In reviewing “Separate No More” Alphonse said, “Wherever this plan got lost we have to pick it up again.” If the paper’s recommendations had been taken seriously, the church would have been prepared for the events of 2020, she said. “We would have been powerful, Spirit-filled, colorful witnesses in this season.” See

In other business

— The board called David Steele to a second five-year contract as General Secretary of the Church of the Brethren.

— Board member Colin Scott was chosen as chair-elect to fill a term of two years starting at the conclusion of the 2021 Annual Conference. After serving two years as chair elect, he will serve two years as board chair.

— Work to shape the new strategic plan was reported by task teams of board members and staff. The plan is designed to align with the compelling vision that will come to the 2021 Annual Conference for approval. The board adopted recommendations for how to process ideas under the plan and how the plan will be communicated. Task teams will continue their work and more recommendations are expected to come to the March 2021 board meeting, with the possibility of specially called board meetings in the intervening time.

— As the board worked on a new strategic plan, it celebrated highlights and successes of the previous strategic plan over the past decade. Find the presentation at .

— The board approved its spring meeting 2025 to take place in a location other than the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. An “offsite” meeting occurs every five years for board and staff to interact with congregations in various areas of the country.

Find documents and video reports for this meeting of the Mission and Ministry Board at .

2) Bible translation for Kamwe people in Nigeria nears completion

Mark Zira Dlyavaghi (at left) shows a book in the Kamwe language to Jay Wittmeyer (at right). This photo was taken in late 2018 when Dlyavaghi, who is a main translator and coordinator for the project to translate the Bible into Kamwe, hosted a group of visitors including Wittmeyer, at the time executive director of the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

A Bible translation for the Kamwe people of northeast Nigeria is nearing completion and is awaiting funding to print. The Kamwe ethnic group lives in the Michika area of Adamawa State, Nigeria, as well as portions of northwestern Cameroon.

“The Bible in our language is a pride for us all and a heritage we will leave behind for all generations of Kamwe born and unborn,” says Mark Zira Dlyavaghi. “When it is published, let all see it as theirs and use it to have the taste of God’s word in their own tongue.”

The translation is a decades-long project of the Kamwe Bible Translation Committee with connections to Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), Wycliffe Bible Translators (or SIL International) and its affiliate the Seed Company, and the Church of the Brethren in the US.

Dlyavaghi is a main translator and coordinator of the project. Executive officers are Peter Audu, chair; Daniel S. Kwaga, secretary; and Hanatu John, treasurer; who serve on the committee with Stephen Sani, James Mbwenye, Hale Wandanje, Stephen H. Zira, and Goji Chibua, all from EYN. Committee members from other denominations are Bitrus Akawu from Deeper Life Bible Church, Abanyi A. Mwala who is worshipping with International Praise Church, and the legal advisor.

Translators include Luka Ngari, B. B. Jolly, Irmiya V. Kwaga, Samuel T. Kwache, Dauda Daniel, Elijah Skwame, and Luka T. Vandi, among others. The reviewers, manuscript checkers, and typist James D. Yaro are from EYN, and a few others are from other denominations.

Consultant to the committee is Roger Mohrlang, professor emeritus of biblical studies at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash.

The Kamwe people and language

“Our people live in Nigeria and in Cameroon and the population is about 750,000 for both countries,” says Dlyavaghi.

Kamwe translates as “people of the mountains,” says Mohrlang, who lived in Michika from 1968-1974 while working with Wycliffe Bible Translators. “Ka” means “people” and “mwe” means “mountains.” The Kamwe are known as those who live on the Mandara Mountains. The group also has been known as Higgi, however that is considered a pejorative term.

Like most Nigerian languages, Kamwe is spoken only in a particular area of the country and is connected strongly with a specific ethnic identity. It is just one of hundreds of languages in Nigeria, a number that may exceed 500. A count is difficult because most of Nigeria’s languages have several dialects.

Christianity began to be accepted among the Kamwe in 1945, according to the translation committee. Mohrlang says it was a few Kamwe people who had leprosy, who became Christians while receiving treatment at the leprosarium of the Church of the Brethren Mission, who returned home and shared the gospel. “It was the Church of the Brethren Mission that came and settled in the area to support their work,” says Dlyavaghi.

Now the majority of Kamwe are Christian. In addition to EYN churches, all sorts of other congregations have grown up in the area. Even as Christianity has grown and strengthened in Michika, it is located something less than 50 miles from Boko Haram strongholds and has suffered violent attacks in recent years.

It took 50 years

The difficult work of translating the Bible into Kamwe has been carried out by many people over some 50 years. Although Mohrlang started the work in 1968, when part of his job was to help put the language into writing, the Kamwe translators and the translation committee are the ones who have kept the project alive.

“It’s been a privilege to serve the people of God among the Kamwe,” Mohrlang says. “It was their initiative, their desire to get the whole of the Bible in their mother tongue.” Mohrlang applauds Dlyavaghi for his leadership and commitment to a lengthy project. “He and the other translators and reviewers been very faithful all these years.”

By 1976, the translators completed the first edition of the Kamwe New Testament. “The work on the New Testament was finished when we were children and in primary school,” says Dlyavaghi. “I joined in the revision of it in 1993 when we started the editing, after I completed my first degree from seminary, until 1997 when it was published. Work on the Old Testament was started after my second degree in 2007.”

Mohrlang remembers receiving word in 1988 that the Kamwe New Testament was sold out. At that point, as people realized the need to get it into computerized form, volunteers in England spent 1,000 hours keyboarding the New Testament into digital form. That in turn led to five years of work on a second edition of the New Testament. The work included the exchange of some 6,000 questions between the translation committee and Mohrlang. For the Old Testament translation, the group dealt with more than 70,000 questions.

The goal has been to produce a translation that is accurate, clear, stylistically natural, and acceptable to the community. At present, the Kamwe Bible is in its final stage of “endless consistency checks,” Mohrlang says. He expects it to be ready to print in a few months.

“As to our feelings,” says Dlyavaghi, speaking on behalf of the committee, “we are really happy that our goal of having the whole Bible in our tongue is on the way to its achievement, while the Kamwe entirely are full of expectations of having that printed.”

Raising funds

Funds are being raised to print 30,000 copies. Mohrlang notes that “Kamwe Christians must raise the daunting amount of over $146,000–their half of the cost. The Seed Company is raising the other half.” The Global Mission office of the Church of the Brethren has contributed $10,000 out of designated funds for the printing costs.

Throughout the project, Kamwe Christians have been contributing to the expenses of translation. “Most of those within Kamwe area have been giving financial support as well as moral support, including the EYN president,” says Dlyavaghi. EYN president Joel S. Billi was pastor of the most prominent EYN church in Michika before being named president of the denomination.

As a denomination, EYN is giving moral support to the project says Zakariya Musa, head of media for EYN. “Different tribes are engaged in translating the Bible into their dialects,” he says, and EYN “welcomes support from any individuals and organizations.”

SIL International is receiving donations toward the printing. Tax-deductible gifts are received online at (choose “Donate: online,” then select “Specific Project” and add the comment: “For Scripture publication #4633, Kamwe Bible”). Donations by check may be payable to SIL International and mailed to SIL International, GPS, Attn: Dave Kelly, 7500 W Camp Wisdom Rd, HNT 144, Dallas, TX 75236. Along with checks, on a separate paper write “Preference for Scripture Publication #4633, Kamwe Bible.”

Mohrlang is keeping track of giving to the project and asks donors let him know of the amount of their gift. Contact him at

3) Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons receives 50th ratification

By Nathan Hosler

On Oct. 24, the United Nations received its 50th ratification for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). As a result, the treaty will “enter into force” in 90 days, on Jan. 22, 2021, and become international law. While this will not immediately eliminate the threat of nuclear war, it is a significant step in the right direction.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), said, “The 50 countries that ratify this treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal,”

The Church of the Brethren has consistently opposed war as well as the participation and preparation for war. We recognize and seek to follow Jesus’ way of peacemaking and reconciliation through spiritual, interpersonal, local, and international efforts. As such, we affirm such efforts and treaties as part of global efforts to reduce the harm caused by war.

In the 1982 Annual Conference Statement, “A Call to Halt the Nuclear Arms Race” ( we wrote:

“Against these preparations for nuclear and conventional warfare, the Church of the Brethren again raises its voice. Since its inception the church has understood the biblical message as contrary to the destructive, life denying, realities of war. The position of the Church of the Brethren is that all war is sin and contrary to the will of God and we confirm that position. We seek to work with other Christians and all persons who desire to abolish war as a means of resolving difference. The church has consistently spoken and continues to speak against the production and use of nuclear weapons. We have called upon our government to ‘dismantle its nuclear arsenal, pledge not to use nuclear weapons, refuse to sell nuclear fuels and technology to any state not agreeing to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, work tirelessly for a comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, take unilateral disarmament initiatives as a way of breaking the current stalemate, and strengthen global institutions that facilitate nonviolent means of conflict resolution and the process of disarmament.’”

For more on this development:

An update from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), “What Does the Nuclear Weapons Ban Mean for the US?” is at

An article from Just Security, “A Turning Point in the Struggle Against the Bomb: The Nuclear Ban Treaty Ready to Go into Effect,” is at

Nathan Hosler is director of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C.

4) Women partner with EYN Disaster Relief Ministry in Nigeria

New wrappers–cloths commonly worn by Nigerian women–are donated by the women’s fellowship group in the Michika area to the work of the EYN Disaster Relief Ministry. Photo by Zakariya Musa

By Zakariya Musa

The Women’s Fellowship (ZME) of the District Church Council, Vi, in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Nigeria, has supported the Disaster Relief Ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The women’s group provided relief items gathered by individuals as a result of advocacy messages carried among women by Salamatu Joel S. Billi, wife of EYN president Joel Billi.

The women collected and brought five and a half bags of 100 kilogram bags of maize and guinea corn, six new wrappers, cups, used shoes, and toiletries.

Salamatu Billi has visited a number of sites where EYN members and others are living as refugees or internally displaced people (IDPs):

— a refugee camp in Minawao where about 52,000 people are hosted, the majority EYN members displaced from the neighboring country of Cameroon;

Yuguda Mdurvwa, who heads up the EYN Disaster Relief Ministry, poses with food and other donations from the women’s fellowship in the Michika area. Photo by Zakariya Musa

— the 4,000 displaced children at the International Christian Centre Uhogua, in Benin in Edo State in southern Nigeria; and

— the Christian Association of Nigeria Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, where she mingled with thousands of displaced people hosted in the state capital of Borno State.

EYN has suffered great devastation by Boko Haram in the northeast of Nigeria, and has received support from its partners to mitigate the suffering of affected communities. The Disaster Relief Ministry has responded by providing shelter, food security, medical care, clean water, sanitation and hygiene, agriculture aid, psychosocial/livelihood support, and trauma consciousness and resilience training in some of the affected communities.

– Zakariya Musa is head of EYN Media.


5) Moderator’s Town Hall featuring Mark Devries is planned for Nov. 19

Mark DeVries

Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey has announced plans for the next Moderator’s Town Hall on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). The featured resource person will be Mark DeVries, founder and president of Ministry Architects, a nationally acclaimed church resourcing organization. “Innovative Ideas for a Hard Season” will be the focus.

Multiple factors press in on churches and their members during this difficult time. As a result, it is easy to become immobilized by the gravity of weighty issues and emotions. This event will share practical ideas for flourishing in a hard season, and for being adaptable and innovative despite the challenges. The event is applicable to clergy, laity, and congregations.

DeVries is a graduate of Baylor University and Princeton Theological Seminary. From 1986-2014, he was associate pastor for youth and their families at First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn. In addition to Ministry Architects, he has founded or co-founded Ministry Incubators, the Center for Youth Ministry, and Justice Industries. Since he began as a part-time consultant, he has worked with more than 1,000 congregations. He is the author of several books including Family-Based Youth Ministry, Sustainable Youth Ministry, and The Indispensable Youth Pastor (with Jeff Dunn-Rankin).

Register at The event is limited to the first 500 registrants. Questions can be emailed to

6) Discipleship Ministries leader is featured in next Ventures course

Stan Dueck, co-coordinator of the Discipleship Ministries of the Church of the Brethren, will lead the November course from the Ventures in Christian Discipleship program hosted by McPherson (Kan.) College. The topic will be “Leading at the Speed of Change.” The class will be held online on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 9 a.m.-12 noon (Central time).

“We are in a time of tremendous and persistent change,” said an announcement. “We are facing changes not only in our congregations but also in our families, workplaces, schools, and communities. The time and environment are changing at a rate that requires us to continually learn, unlearn, and relearn our purpose of ministry and reinvent the congregation to meet the needs that face us.”

How to lead through change is a skill that can be learned. The session will explore the following: change and congregations, what’s going on that creates resistance, nimble leadership and resilient congregations, and beginning the journey.

Continuing education credit is available for a fee, and donations are received to the Ventures program. Register at

7) ‘Leadership Summit on Wellbeing’ is planned for April 2021

A virtual “Leadership Summit on Wellbeing” for clergy and other church leaders is being planned by Church of the Brethren staff for Monday through Thursday, April 19-22, 2021. The online summit will open Monday evening with a keynote presentation by clinical psychologist and professor Dr. Jessica Young Brown of Virginia Union University’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.

Pre-recorded sessions by presenters on five aspects of wellbeing will be available for viewing in preparation for participating in question-and-answer sessions with the presenters during the week. Speakers will address themes including family/relational, physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial wellbeing.

Continuing education units will be available through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership upon registration. More information will be available closer to the time of the event.

Stan Dueck, co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, provided this report to Newsline on behalf of the group of denominational staff who are planning the summit. For more information, contact him at or 847-429-4343 for more information.


8) A reflection on Isaiah 24:4-6: Climate justice

By Tim Heishman

The following reflection was first published by the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Ohio and Kentucky District as an invitation to the district’s Climate Justice Workshops being held online each Thursday, 7-8:30 p.m. (Eastern time), through Nov. 12.

The next workshop on Nov. 5 features Nathan Hosler, director of the denomination’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, and Greg Hitzhusen, assistant professor of Professional Practice in Religion, Ecology, and Sustainability at the Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources. More information and a link to attend are at

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

“The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled, and few people are left” (Isaiah 24:4-6).

Isaiah levels a devastating judgement and condemnation of the people of his day for their destruction of the environment in Chapter 24:4-6. Even though this was written thousands of years ago it rings eerily familiar. Why have we not heeded Isaiah’s words? Why have we not learned from him?

Today, we know that the level of destruction to our environment and climate now is vastly greater than it was in Isaiah’s time. It seems humans have always struggled to uphold their side of the covenant with God. The sin is the same, but now we have fossil fuels at our disposal and significantly more power to destroy God’s Earth.

As the scripture says, humans have broken laws, statutes, and covenants, which has led to the destruction of the environment and led to suffering for the inhabitants of the earth. While we will all suffer from the effects of climate change, if we haven’t already, the poor, persons of color, and the most vulnerable are already suffering and will suffer the most from the effects of climate change. They, unfortunately, have the least ability to adapt, because of the way our society is structured unjustly. For followers of Jesus, this should be especially disturbing to us because the Greatest Commandment is to love God and our neighbors. We also know that Jesus spent most of his time with the most vulnerable, “the least of these” (see Matthew 25).

This section of Isaiah is part of Isaiah’s judgement and condemnation of God’s people for their destruction of the environment. This particular passage of scripture doesn’t offer hope. As I read and studied it, I found myself yearning for some immediate hope. This text doesn’t offer hope. However, we know from the larger story of God’s relationship with humanity that there is always an opportunity to repent, to turn around, and to enter into a more life-giving relationship with God. Learning is one way to repent, which means, literally, to “turn around.” Are you willing to learn?

Come, as difficult as it may be, to hear Isaiah’s words of judgement. Come, as hard as it may be to hear the facts about what the human race has done in the modern day to this precious earth. Come, and be ready to turn around. Come, come out of love for your more vulnerable neighbors. Come, out of love for your children and grandchildren. Come, as an act of love for all of humanity. Come to understand and learn to love more deeply.

As I continue to think about hope in this situation of climate despair, I of course find hope from the knowledge that God will never leave us. But I also find hope from people like you who are willing to show up, to learn, and to act for climate justice. When we come together we can do far more than we can do alone. Communal repentance will lead to change and maybe something new and beautiful can begin with us, together.

Tim Heishman is co-pastor of Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Kettering, Ohio.

9) Brethren bits

Daniel Radcliff has been hired by Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) as client manager for the Brethren Foundation, as of Oct. 26. He graduated in 2016 from Judson University in Elgin, Ill., with a bachelor of arts degree in Business Management and Leadership. He brings over a dozen years of experience in the world of finance, most recently working as a financial advisor for Edward Jones. Previously, he worked for almost a decade at JP Morgan Chase. He and his family are active members at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin.

Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey is hosting Zoom sessions in districts, focusing on the “state of the church.” Both laity and clergy are urged to participate. “These online sessions utilize a Q&A format, with an emphasis on listening to the hearts of our constituency,” said an announcement. “Any and all questions are invited.” Joining Mundey will be the other Annual Conference officers: David Sollenberger as moderator-elect and Jim Beckwith as Conference secretary. Normally, the Annual Conference moderator visits districts in the course of her/his tenure, engaging in face-to-face conversation related to the life of the church. Given the continuing pandemic, these Zoom sessions provide an alternative platform for conversation with the moderator. At this time, one or more sessions are scheduled for the following districts: Mid-Atlantic, Illinois and Wisconsin, Northern Indiana, Northern Ohio, Southern Ohio and Kentucky, Southern Pennsylvania, and Virlina. All districts are invited to participate.

Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has announced the start of open enrollment for Brethren Insurance Services. Nov. 1-30 is open enrollment time for people who work for a Church of the Brethren employer. That means employees of churches, districts, camps, retirement communities, and other church agencies that receive their insurance through Brethren Insurance Services. During open enrollment, you can sign up for new insurance products, add coverage for products you already use, increase limits, and make other changes, and do all this without medical underwriting. To see the array of insurance products Brethren Insurance Services makes available to people who are employed by the many different organizations of the church go to

Here are prayer concerns that have been shared by denominational staff, districts, and ecumenical partners this week:

“The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b).

Please be in prayer for Sugar Run Church of the Brethren in Middle Pennsylvania District. Pastor Jim Hullihen and his wife, Ivy, are battling COVID-19 and 25 others in the congregation have tested positive with various symptoms.

Please be in prayer for those who were in the path of Hurricane / Tropical Storm Zeta, including Church of the Brethren congregations and members in Alabama and Louisiana. Word has been received of some serious damage to buildings of at least two Brethren families in the Citronelle and Fruitdale areas of Alabama.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has shared a prayer request following a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck in the Aegean Sea off the coasts of Turkey and Greece. Interim general secretary Ioan Sauca called for prayer, and expressed solidarity with churches and responders who continue to help hundreds of injured and traumatized people. At least 14 people have died across Turkey and Greece, and hundreds more have been injured. The city of Izmir in Turkey has been particularly badly hit, as has the Greek island of Samos. Some Turkish coastal towns have been flooded as well. “As a global community, we offer our prayers and stand in solidarity with those who are coping with the aftermath of this disaster in Turkey and Greece,” said Sauca. “We pray for the responders who are helping on the scene, we pray for medical workers, we pray for families who are mourning–may God comfort you in this time of trauma.”

Please pray for Nigeria and the members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). There has been considerable unrest in Nigeria for some weeks related to the movement using the hashtag #EndSARS, which is seeking to abolish a federal police unit called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). On Oct. 20, police shot civilians at an #EndSARS protest near Lagos. “Amnesty International said it has recorded 82 cases of SARS abuses over the past three years, including beatings, hangings, mock executions, sexual assault, and waterboarding,” reports the Washington Post ( ). This sparked more protests and looting around the country, and 24-hour curfews have been in place in some 20 states across Nigeria including Adamawa State, where the headquarters of EYN is located, and Plateau State, where Bethany Seminary student Sharon Flaten resides. Reports from Yuguda Mdurvwa, director of EYN Disaster Relief Ministry, said warehouses across the country that contained COVID-19 relief supplies that had not been distributed to the people were broken into, items taken, and buildings destroyed. While the rural areas in the northeast have not experienced this looting and destruction, they remain targets of Boko Haram attacks and many people are afraid to sleep in the villages at night.

In related news, an Action Alert for Nigeria from the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy calls on Brethren to contact their representatives in Congress “to condemn the Buhari administration’s violent crackdown on peaceful #EndSARS protests.” The alert supports calls from Nigerians and others for disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad or SARS, one branch of the Nigerian Police Force. Although SARS has existed for years and initially helped lower crime rates, it has over time garnered a reputation for blatant abuse of power, corruption, beatings, torture, extrajudicial killings, and multiple documented human rights violations. Nigerians in the diaspora (US, Europe, Canada, and other locations) and civil society organizations have joined the #EndSARS protests to help amplify the protestors demand on a global scale. “Our Nigerian sisters and brothers who are already suffering at the hands of Boko Haram and the pandemic, should not also suffer at the hands of those that are supposed to protect them,” said the alert. It lists the demands put forward by the Nigerian Youth, which include the immediate release of all arrested EndSARS protestors and the establishment of an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct within 10 days. Find the full Action Alert at

Episodes 9 and 10 of the Messenger Radio podcast series on “Speaking Truth to Power” are now available at In Episode 10, “Barbara Daté ministers to us,” said an announcement. “For such a time as this, amid uncertainty, violence, illness, grief, Barbara’s words heal.” Learn more about Barbara’s work and upcoming trainings and contact her at Episode 9 features SueZann Bosler’s story of personal trauma and how it led to her work against the death penalty. Her story “is hard to listen to, and healing to hear,” said the announcement. “Learn more through her organization Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing and a Messenger article and a 48 Hours episode. If you’re ready to write to someone on death row (or at least learn more about it) visit or contact Rachel Gross at” The music for Episode 9 is provided by Carolyn Strong, who plays “Joyful, Joyful” on piano. Speaking Truth to Power is a podcast series inspired by the 2020 Womaen’s Caucus Annual Conference Panel.

Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Kettering, Ohio, is one of the Church of the Brethren congregations that are offering an Election Day Communion service. The Prince of Peace service is to be held via Zoom, find out more at

Springfield (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren received a threatening phone call, and the caller has been arrested, reported WAND Channel 17. The caller, a 31-year-old man, is accused of calling the pastor with a threat to blow up a “Black Lives Matter” sign at the church. “While the investigation did not indicate that the conduct was motivated by the actual or perceived race of the victim as necessary to charge as a hate crime, intimidation and harassment motivated by the exercise of every citizen’s right to free speech cannot be tolerated in our community,” said Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright. See

Atlantic Northeast District has reported outcomes of its district conference. “District Conference 2020 marked a historical moment for ANE,” said the district newsletter. “Over 140 gathered online on October 2 for our worship service that was livestreamed from the District Office through Microsoft Teams. This platform enabled our brothers and sisters to get real-time closed captioning in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Korean.” Karen Hackett served as moderator, with Scott Moyer as moderator-elect. The business session on Oct. 3 also was held online and livestreamed with more than 150 people in attendance, including delegates and non-delegates. In a major item of business, a report was received from the district’s Way Forward Team and chair Sue Eikenberry led a prayer, blessing, and release of congregations that have withdrawn from the district and the Church of the Brethren: the former Midway Church of the Brethren and the former Cocalico Church of the Brethren. In other business, John Hostetter of Lampeter Church of the Brethren was named as the next moderator-elect, along with a slate of others named to various positions in district leadership. The business session “was filled with live and pre-recorded reports as well as special moments to reflect and worship,” said the newsletter. There was a question and answer session, and for delegates a first-ever option of real-time online voting. The conference raised $1,261 for bcmPEACE, a nonprofit organization that serves the South Allison Hill Community of Harrisburg, Pa., and was founded by Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren. During a time of ministry recognition, George Snavely of the Elizabethtown (Pa.) congregation was honored for his 50 years in ministry.

In more news from Atlantic Northeast, the district is sharing turkeys and blankets for distribution to people in need in urban communities. “In recent years, several of our ANE District urban churches have received donations of turkeys and blankets that they can distribute to those in need in their urban communities,” said the district’s e-newsletter. “These donations of turkeys and blankets are a valuable part of the ministry of these churches in their local communities. AND these donations are an important way that our other ANE congregations can share in and support the mission and ministry efforts of our urban churches.” The three congregations distributing the donations are Alpha and Omega Church of the Brethren in Lancaster, Pa.; Brooklyn (N.Y.) First Church of the Brethren; Germantown Church of the Brethren in Philadelphia, Pa.; and Light of the Gospel Church of the Brethren in Staten Island, N.Y.

The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College gave the Dale W. Brown Book Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies to Andrew Kloes for his book, The German Awakening: Protestant Renewal after the Enlightenment 1815-1848, according to the student newspaper the E-Townian. On Oct. 22 the center hosted a Zoom lecture by Kloes on 19th century German theology. Kloes is from Pittsburgh, Pa.; completed his doctoral work in Europe after attending Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts; is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh; and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. See

“Life can’t be separated into spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual, business, and social areas.” In this episode of the Dunker Punks Podcast, Josiah Ludwick explores the ideas of faith in action and community by showcasing one of Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren’s Ministries, bcmPEACE. Listen to his interviews with Alyssa Parker and Briel Slocum to hear how their programs and peacebuilding are sharing agape love in their community. Go to and check out the bcmPEACE website at

The National Council of Churches is publicizing the Walter Wink and June Keener Wink Fellowship Nomination. “The Walter Wink and June Keener Wink Fellowship is intended to inspire new generations to carry on the true spirit of their work,” said the announcement. “The one-year fellowship will provide s $25,000 award; opportunities to leverage local, regional, and national Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) networks to elevate their work and ideas; a platform to present their work to international audiences; and, opportunities to engage and learn from sister movements; and support through FOR to undertake new aspects of their work or deepen work already underway.” Send an email to with the following information by Nov. 15: The nominator’s name, title, complete contact information; the nominee’s name and complete contact information (an application will be sent to the nominee for them to complete); a brief justification (no more that 250 words) for why the nominee should be considered for the fellowship. Include the word NOMINATION along with the candidate’s name in the subject line.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced an essay competition for youth who want to reflect on the theme, “The Future of Interreligious Dialogue.” The contest marks the 50th anniversary of the WCC’s Office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation. Said a release: “The contest aims to encourage people under the age of 30 with interests in the field of interreligious relations and engagement to develop and share their ideas on different subjects such as: Christian theologies of interreligious engagement; some aspect of another religious tradition which is relevant to its relationship to Christianity; religious pluralism more widely; or the theory or practice of interreligious dialogue. Essays may also reflect on interreligious cooperation for the sake of the common good; or the World Council of Churches and interreligious relations.” The five best essays, chosen by a panel of judges from WCC program executives and faculty from the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, will be published in the 2021 issue of Current Dialogue, the WCC journal for interreligious encounter. The prizewinning authors will have the opportunity to present their work in a conference on “The Future of Interreligious Dialogue” (either physically or virtually) that is being planned for 2021. Entries should be 3,500-5,000 words in length (including notes), and be written in English, following the WCC style guide which is available upon request from Contributions must be the original work of the participants and should not have been published elsewhere. The deadline is Jan. 15, 2021. Rules for the competition and more information are at

Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jan Fischer Bachman, David Banaszak, Veronica Barnes, Jean Bednar, Jacob Crouse, Mark Zira Dlyavaghi, Stan Dueck, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Tim Heishman, Roxane Hill, Nathan Hosler, Rachel Kelley, Nancy Miner, Roger Mohrlang, Zakariya Musa, Roy Winter, Naomi Yilma, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to . Find the Newsline archive at . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren email newsletters or make subscription changes at . All submissions are subject to editing. Inclusion in Newsline does not necessarily convey endorsement by the Church of the Brethren.

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