Newsline for Oct. 9, 2020

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

NEWS
1) Church of the Brethren calls for peace in Nagorno-Karabakh

2) Mission and Ministry Board’s fall meeting to consider finances and budget, include anti-racism training

3) On Earth Peace holds virtual fall board meeting Oct. 1-3

PERSONNEL
4) Brethren Volunteer Service summer and fall units are placed and begin work

5) Brethren bits: Remembering Leland Wilson, mission prayer and update, sign-ons by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, Mack Memorial Church to close, philosophy and religion among academic majors recommended for discontinuation at Bridgewater, the next Ventures course, prayer for World Food Day


Quote of the week:

“For its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas, and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”

— From the citation to the World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations, which today was honored with the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. “Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. I can’t believe it!” said David Beasley, WFP executive director and a former governor of South Carolina. “It’s because of the WFP family. They’re out there in the most difficult, complex places in the world. Whether it’s war, conflict, climate extremes–it doesn’t matter. They’re out there, and they deserve this award.” The WFP was created in 1961 at the request of Pres. Dwight Eisenhower to provide food aid through the UN. An NPR report said the WFP is active in 83 nations bringing food aid to more than 100 million people across the world. See www.npr.org/2020/10/09/922054491/nobel-peace-prize-awarded-to-world-food-programme .


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 .


1) Church of the Brethren calls for peace in Nagorno-Karabakh

The following statement was released today by the General Secretary of the Church of the Brethren and the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy:


“Whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

The Church of the Brethren is concerned with the escalation of warfare in Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed region between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As a peace church, we lament the violence of war and work to end conflict globally.

In Nagorno-Karabakh, we are concerned about the deaths and displacement of civilians, the presence of proxy conflicts involving Turkey and fighters from Syria, and the unfettered arms sales into the region.

The Church of the Brethren feels a particular connection with the Armenian people and grieves the hostilities that are taking place against them as well as the violence affecting all peoples in the region.

We reaffirm our longterm support for the Armenian people, which began more than 100 years ago in 1917 during the Armenian genocide when Brethren began responding to the needs of survivors and refugees. That aid effort has particular significance for us, marking the start of our denomination’s focus on Christian service and disaster relief that continues to this day.

We reaffirm our cordial relationship with the Armenian Orthodox Church, and the personal relationships that have been built between our church leaders and leadership of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern). We are grateful for the friendship of His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Ecumenical Director and Diocesan Legate, who has addressed our Annual Conference in recent years.

A statement made by the Church of the Brethren in 2015 expresses “our commitment to stand with targeted minority groups across the world and call not only for increased awareness of their persecution, but for renewed efforts by the church and the international community to build solidarity and protect minority religious groups who are under threat.” (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/2015-resolution-on-christian-minority-communities)

The Church of the Brethren joins the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) in calling on the United States to undertake diplomatic measures to halt the fighting, and prays with the NCC that the US Department of State will not be indifferent to this situation. (https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/ncc-calls-for-an-immediate-end-to-the-armenia-azerbaijan-conflict)

The Church of the Brethren joins the leadership of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in lamenting the tragic loss of life, expressing condolences to the grieving families, praying for the recovery of the injured, and expressing dismay at the aggressively partisan stance taken by the government of Turkey, which as a member of the Minsk Group should maintain a neutral role rather than that of an antagonist. We join the WCC in calling on all combatants to desist immediately from further military action and to return to the table of dialogue and negotiation. (www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/wcc-gravely-concerned-by-escalation-of-conflict-in-nagorno-karabakh-region)

“We who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another” (Romans 12:5).


Contact: David Steele, General Secretary, Church of the Brethren, dsteele@brethren.org ; Nathan Hosler, Director, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, nhosler@brethren.org


2) Mission and Ministry Board’s fall meeting to consider finances and budget, include anti-racism training

The Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board will meet Oct. 16-18 via Zoom for its regular fall meeting. Business will be led by chair Patrick Starkey, assisted by chair-elect Carl Fike and general secretary David Steele.

A full agenda will guide the board’s work, including an update on 2020 finances; consideration and approval of a budget for 2021; updates from the General Secretary; an anti-racism training session; an affirmation of the work of Church of the Brethren staff; and a celebration of the strategic plan that has guided Church of the Brethren ministries over the past 10 years. A new strategic plan, adopted by the board in July, will guide the board and staff into the future.

In addition to the meeting of the full board, the weekend will include the usual board committee meetings.

Open session meetings of the full board will be broadcast via Zoom Webinar. Pre-registration is required to view the meeting. A registration link, the meeting schedule, and meeting documents will be posted at www.brethren.org/mmb/meeting-info .

— Nancy Miner contributed this information to Newsline.


3) On Earth Peace holds virtual fall board meeting Oct. 1-3

The fall meeting of the board of On Earth Peace.

A release from On Earth Peace

Melisa Leiter-Grandison and Irvin Heishman

Beverly Eikenberry, an On Earth Peace board member, said, “I just want to express appreciation for…space that feels to me like Beloved Community. I had tears in my eyes,” following the powerful experience of closing worship led by board member Lucas Al-Zoughbi.

Board members lingered online after the conclusion of two and half days of On Earth Peace (OEP) fall board meetings, reluctant to depart from one another. The level of trust and community that is developing among board members, On Earth Peace’s anti-racism, anti-oppression team, and staff is allowing for deep, vulnerable, safe sharing, and a growing capacity to explore hard and uncomfortable questions together. The result is an increasingly sacred experience of authentic community.

The fall board meeting experience provided a taste of what On Earth Peace envisions: a world in Beloved Community liberated from oppression, violence, and war.

On Earth Peace is gaining clarity about its mission: to develop and walk with leaders and communities who work for justice and peace. A new initiative toward this end will support church youth groups. OEP is welcoming applications for a $500 Community Engagement Grant which includes training and support for youth who want to work for justice and peace. OEP’s internship program has grown to capacity, given that it is well suited for online engagement and work. Nineteen OEP interns work from locations across the country and internationally and are gaining experience while serving in meaningful ways. One intern shared that this has been the most meaningful internship she has ever had. A number of interns joined the board meetings for a “meet and greet” and participated in a number of board discussions. Their enthusiasm and creativity contributed significantly to the discussions.

Board co-chair Melisa Leiter-Grandison led an important conversation focused on how the board and staff understand the five values that undergird the work of On Earth Peace, especially when those values appear to be in conflict with values of constituents in the larger church or partner organizations. The values are: Jesus-centered spirituality, positive peace, anti-racism/anti-oppression, intergenerational leadership, and beloved community. An experience of conflict this past year was used as a case study to help prompt deep exploration of how these values are understood and embodied.

A second conversation led by staff focused on one of OEP’s four strategic priorities which is “through our agency responsibilities and opportunities, embolden the Church of the Brethren to become a living peace and justice denomination.” Staff led the board in a mock debate in which board members, staff, and interns were randomly assigned to defend opposing strategic positions. The exercise utilized a principle of Kingian Nonviolence teaching which seeks a synthesis of truths from both sides which then reveal potential new possibilities which cannot be seen when people are entrenched in opposing “polarized camps.” The conversation following the exercise yielded insights which will be part of ongoing conversation.

In other business, the board made several decisions related to leadership calling and practice. Racial caucusing was utilized to explore how racism limits imagination and distorts expectations when it comes to calling and exercising leadership. A number of important insights were gained which will be incorporated into ongoing planning.

Melisa Leiter-Grandison and Irvin Heishman were then affirmed for another two-year term as co-chairs of the board. A policy regarding communication with co-chairs was established to interrupt the pattern of contacting one (usually the white, male co-chair) and excluding the other (usually the female, bipoc co-chair). A second policy approved extends the practice of having power and process observers at board meetings to all leadership and committee meetings.

On Earth Peace board and staff are committed to participating in a two and a half day anti-racism/anti-oppression training once every five years. A committee was appointed to plan for this training delayed by the pandemic.

Budget reports were presented showing stable income and reduced expenses for the current fiscal year. This is positive news in these uncertain times. The board approved a budget of $462,541 for 2021 and affirmed entering into conversation over the coming year about ways of structuring a more sustainable budget, one which relies less heavily on endowment income.

The executive committee reported that it had completed a review process with the OEP executive director, Bill Scheurer.

David Shetler reported as liaison for the Council of District Executives and led the group in worship.

Meetings each day began with worship which involved sharing of personal life stories and passion for justice and peace. A quote from Bayard Rustin was shared which spoke to the hunger and thirst for righteousness that Jesus spoke of: “Let us be enraged about injustice but let us not be destroyed by it.” Worship music at times brought laughter and at times tears as the board worked together to support leaders and communities who work for justice and peace.

Find the On Earth Peace board meeting report online at www.onearthpeace.org/on_earth_peace_board_meets_fall_2020?recruiter_id=9309 .


PERSONNEL

4) Brethren Volunteer Service summer and fall units are placed and begin work

The volunteers participating in Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) summer and fall orientation units have been placed at their project sites and have begun work. The volunteers received orientation online, in a virtual process that for some occurred as they were in quarantine at their project sites in a COVID-19 protocol that BVS has put in place this year.

In addition, Brethren Revival Fellowship and BVS have deployed a BVS-BRF unit in Maine.

BVS Unit 325: (bottom row, from left) Pauline Liu (staff), Alexa Henry, Naomi Yilma; (second row) Chad Whitzel, Rose Harvey, Alton Hipps, Kylie Mountain; (third row) Daniel Wright, Eric Joloka, Evan Ulrich, Kara Miller (staff); (top row) Emily Tyler (staff), Hannah Shultz (staff), Michael Brewer Berres, Amelia Gunn.

Summer unit

BVS summer unit 325 held orientation online from July 26 to Aug. 7. Volunteers, their hometowns or home congregations, and their project placements:

Michael Brewer Berres of Luxemburg, Wis., is serving at Quaker Cottage in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Amelia Gunn of Cordova, Md., and Easton Church of the Brethren also is serving at Quaker
Cottage.

Rose Harvey of Roanoke, Va., and Oak Grove Church of the Brethren is serving at SnowCap Food Pantry in Portland, Ore.

Alexa Henry of the Bronx, N.Y., is serving at the Bernardo Kohler Center in Austin, Texas.

Alton Hipps of Dayton, Va., and Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren is serving with the Workcamp Ministry of the Church of the Brethren, working out of the General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Eric Joloka of Philadelphia, Pa., is serving at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren.

Kylie Mountain of Ambler, Pa., and Ambler Church of the Brethren is serving at Lancaster (Pa.) Habitat for Humanity.

Evan Ulrich of Homer, N.Y., is serving with Brethren Disaster Ministries in Ohio.

Chad Whitzel of Easton, Md., and Easton Church of the Brethren is serving with the Workcamp Ministry of the Church of the Brethren.

Daniel Wright of Pryor, Okla., is serving at Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

Naomi Yilma of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is serving at the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C.

BVS Unit 327: (bottom row, from left) Kinny Paw, Saudah Nassanga; (top row) Claire Orner, Rusty Orner, Deb Wilson.

Fall unit

BVS fall unit 327 held orientation online from Sept. 27 to Oct. 9. Volunteers, their hometowns or home congregations, and their project placements:

Saudah Nassanga of Kampala, Uganda, will serve at L’Arche Belfast, Northern Ireland, pending a visa.

Claire and Rusty Orner of Brookville, Pa., will serve at the Asian Rural Institute in Japan, with plans to travel there in early 2021.

Kinny Paw of Lititz, Pa., is serving at SnowCap Food Pantry.

Deb Wilson of Louisville, Ky., is serving at Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md.

BVS-BRF Unit 326: (from left) Bryce Ocker, Aubrey Copenhaver

BVS-BRF unit

BVS-BRF unit 326 is serving at the Root Cellar in Lewiston, Maine. Members of the unit are:

Aubrey Copenhaver of the White Oak Church in Manheim, Pa., who also is serving as a homeschool helper.

Bryce Ocker of Upton Brethren Church in Greencastle, Pa.

Houseparents Glenn and Elaine Horning of Lewiston (Maine) Church of the Brethren.

— Pauline Liu, BVS orientation coordinator, and Emily Tyler, BVS director, provided the information for this report. For more about BVS and how to volunteer go to www.brethren.org/bvs .


5) Brethren bits

Remembrance: Leland Wilson, 90, a former member of the Church of the Brethren denominational staff, died on Sept. 1 at Hillcrest Homes in La Verne, Calif. He was born May 12, 1930, in Tonkawa, Okla. He earned a bachelor’s degree from McPherson (Kan.) College, a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Kansas, and also studied at George Washington University, Garrett Theological Seminary, and Oxford University. In 1966 he was named as one of the Outstanding Young Men of America. Prior to his work for the church, he did social work for a county welfare agency and the Kansas Boys Industrial School. He was an ordained minister and pastored congregations in Kansas, California, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. He served as the Church of the Brethren’s director of interpretation from 1961 to 1969, working out of the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., with responsibilities for interpreting the mission of the church, benevolent giving, stewardship education, news services, and production of audio-visuals. He was the denomination’s Washington (D.C.) representative from 1983 to 1989. His career in church leadership included terms as president of both the Pomona Valley (Calif.) Council of Churches and the Southern California Council of Churches, president of the Brethren Journal Association, chair of the American Committee of the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan, service on the national board of CROP, and service on committees of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service. While working for the denomination, he helped host representatives of the Orthodox Church visiting from the former Soviet Union, and Buddhist and Christian peace delegations from Japan. He was a participant in the British-American Preachers Exchange in 1977. He was an official observer at the 1978 Special Session of the United Nations on Disarmament. As a fellow Oklahoman, he had a notable interest in Will Rogers and the books he authored included at least two books on Rogers called Living with Wonder and The Will Rogers Touch, among others. His collection of about 1,800 Will Rogers books and memorabilia has been donated to the Will Rogers State Park in California. Survivors include his wife, Pat, children Gary Wilson, Robert Bruce Wilson, Anne Wilson, Mike Waters, and Mark Waters, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Memorial gifts are received to La Verne Church of the Brethren, which is hosting an online memorial service on Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. (Pacific time) at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqr8mEcCAJk .

Global Mission staff have requested prayer for a leading family among the Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Pastor Ron Lubungo and his wife, Mwangaza, are grieving the death of their infant son Jules. “We grieve with you and your family,” said an email message to pastor Lubungo from Global Mission interim directors Norm and Carol Waggy. “We pray that you may sense God’s presence and surrounding love in a very real way, even in the midst of this tragic loss.”

In an update from the Spanish Brethren, who have been suffering an outbreak of COVID-19, an email reported that a total of 40 church members tested positive. “The church still remains closed and the members quarantined, unable to go to work. The good news is that many of us have overcome the disease (16). Of 4 seriously admitted to the hospital, the mother of Pastor Santos Terrero, Mama Hilaria died, two were discharged and only one sister remains in the hospital who we hope will be able to leave it this week. The rest are at home with no symptoms in recovery process…. We are in victory, our faith strengthened and trusting God more. Thank you for your support and prayers.”

Brethren Disaster Ministries is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and the 40th anniversary of Children’s Disaster Ministries (CDS) with a series of Friday Facebook posts. The posts, under the theme “Rise Up!” recall special events and eras in the history of Brethren disaster relief. Go to www.facebook.com/bdm.cob

The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy has signed on to two letters. One letter called for the Select Committee on Coronavirus Response to investigate the Pentagon’s misuse of $1 billion in CARES Act funding. The other, from the AdNA COVID working group, called for the release of special drawing rights from the IMF, “which is vital in helping countries in their recovery from the COVID-19 economic downturn,” said the office’s newsletter.

Mack Memorial Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Ohio, has voted to close due to declining membership. The congregation held its last worship service on July 12, according to the newsletter of Southern Ohio and Kentucky District.

Philosophy and religion is one of six academic majors recommended for discontinuation by Bridgewater (Va.) College leadership in a Strategic Resource Allocation plan, according to a report in the student publication BC Voice. The recommendations were released to students on Oct. 6. Along with philosophy and religion, the other five majors recommended for discontinuation are applied chemistry, French, mathematics, nutritional science, and physics. The five minors that have been recommended for phase-out are applied chemistry, French, German, physical chemistry, and physics. “In addition, 32 tracks, concentrations, and emphases, such as the administration management concentration and the environmental chemistry emphasis, will also be discontinued,” said the report, which added information about the planned restructuring of various aspects of the college. Discontinuations recommended in the athletics department include men’s golf and the dance team. “The Eagle Club, founded in 1994 to support athletics and provide funding for special projects, will be replaced by a new model. The equestrian program will also be downsized. The Bridgewater College Equestrian Center will be sold,” the report said. Next steps include a vote by the board of trusteess in November. The report said the recommendations were developed by faculty task forces and finalized by college President Bushman, the vice presidents, and the director of athletics. Find the BC Voice report at https://bcvoice.org/3281/news/features/strategic-resource-allocation-recommendations-released .

The next Ventures course hosted at McPherson (Kan.) College is “Understanding Transitions: Gender in our Christian Context” on Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon (Central time). “This course will be a safe space to explore with other Christians your questions, concerns, and issues about the transgender experience and explore together what it means to be a good Christian neighbor to the transgender community,” said the Ventures website. The presenter will be Eleanor A. (Draper) Hubbard, a graduate of McPherson (1962) who has earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Her areas of expertise are gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, social class, and race. She and her family are members of Cairn Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Lafayette, Colo. There is no charge for these online courses. However, a suggested donation is invited. Continuing education units may be requested for individual registrations at $10 per course. For more information go to www.mcpherson.edu/ventures .

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is inviting all people of good will to attend an online prayer service on Oct. 16 at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern time) for World Food Day, said a release. The day is part of the Churches Week of Action on Food, from Oct. 11-17. The theme is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain Together.” “Hunger is a stark reality for 26.4 percent of the world’s population,” said the release, which noted that “hunger is growing at an alarming rate.” The live stream will be available at www.oikoumene.org/live . Download the prayer material from www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/diakonia/eaa/prayer-for-the-churches-week-of-action-on-food-2020 .


Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Marie Benner-Rhoades, Nathan Hosler, Pauline Liu, Nancy Miner, Howard Royer, David Steele, Emily Tyler, 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 . All submissions are subject to editing. Inclusion in Newsline does not necessarily convey endorsement by the Church of the Brethren.


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