Newsline for Sept. 19, 2020

“Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10).

Nancy Faus-Mullen leads singing at an Annual Conference workshop in 2016. Photo by Glenn Riegel

1) Brethren share from areas affected by wildfires and hurricanes
2) Workcamp Ministry shares interest survey for planning 2021 workcamps
3) Bethany Seminary announces new and reaffirmed trustees
4) EYN Disaster Relief Ministry reports on recent work in Nigeria
5) Churches join hands for solidarity, human rights, and dignity

6) Annual Conference moderator offers ‘Sabbath rest’ sermon for use by congregations
7) New Brethren Press resources include Shine’s All of Us Bible storybook and the 2020 Advent devotional

8) Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership updates course listing
9) Antietam Dunker Church 50th annual service streams this Sunday afternoon

10) Brethren bits: Remembering Dallas Oswalt, BBT emergency grant for church workers, Material Resources shipments, Soybean Innovation Lab in Nigeria, quilt making in Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin District book study on race, Juniata College rankings, McPherson College record enrollment, Hispanic Heritage Month, Lois Clark and Nancy Faus-Mullen are celebrated

Quote of the week:

“God’s peace and peace among nations come not simply from the absence of war but as we live and work and walk together in love and compassion. As we yearn for peace, pray for peace, and work for peace, may we do so Singing for Peace!”

Words of inspiration for the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21, from Nancy Faus-Mullen of Richmond, Ind. She is Brightbill Professor Emerita of Ministry Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary and this summer was named a Fellow of the Hymn Society of North America–the society’s highest honor. See the Brethren bits in this Newsline for more about her accomplishments.

The Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy and Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren are hosting an International Day of Peace event via Zoom on Monday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time). It will be a time for gathering and reflection with speakers Jennie Waering, Eric Anspaugh, and Tori Bateman, along with an art reflection from Jessie Houff. “All who are interested are welcome,” said an invitation. RSVP at .

The World Council of Churches this year is focusing the “World Week of Peace” from Sept. 13-21 on peace in Palestine and Israel, with the theme “Creative Solidarity in Common Fragility.” A booklet of resources may be downloaded at .

1) Brethren share from areas affected by wildfires and hurricanes

A NASA image from Sept. 6, 2020, shows the intense heatwave that broke temperature records in several locations in southern California. “The dry, hot conditions helped fuel new and existing fires, which have consumed tens of thousands of acres of land. According to recently published research, these extremes fit a long-term trend toward longer and more intense heatwaves in Southern California,” NASA reported. “Much of the Southwest roasted in a dramatic heatwave. The map was derived from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) model and represents temperatures at 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) above the ground. The darkest red areas are where the model shows temperatures surpassing 113°F (45°C).
On September 6, 2020, around 1:30 p.m., Los Angeles County recorded its highest temperature ever at 121°F (49°C) at Woodland Hills.” Image courtesy of NASA

Church of the Brethren leaders have been sharing information from areas affected by disasters, including wildfires in the western US and hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

“We feel like the whole northwest is on fire!” said Debbie Roberts, who is on the interim district executive team for Pacific Northwest District. She reported last Friday expressing concern for the Portland area of Oregon, where there were evacuations taking place in some suburbs at the time.

Following up from Portland Peace Church of the Brethren, pastor Sarah Kinsel wrote: “We grieve with friends (and strangers) who have lost homes.” At the time, on Sept. 11, a couple of church families had evacuated and others were in “get ready” zones, poised to leave if necessary. “Other folks are hosting family or friends who have been displaced,” Kinsel said. “Most of the congregation are in their homes and doing all right, worried and stir crazy but safe. Individuals have been gathering donations for relief, and we just opened our church parking lot and yard to house RVs or tents as a short-term emergency place for fire evacuees to land (in partnership with an ecumenical organization here in Portland).”

Pacific Southwest District executive Russ Matteson reported late last week that although the rest of the district was not being directly affected at the time, the El Dorado Fire was approaching the area around Camp La Verne in the mountains of southern California.

Following up, camp board chair Jeff Brehmeyer reported by email that “the Barton Flats area, which includes Camp La Verne and 15-20 other organization camps, has been evacuated because of the El Dorado Fire. While we are not in immediate danger, there is only one road in and out of camp–so the evacuation is primarily a safety measure at this time.” At the time, the fire was “creeping closer to Angelus Oaks–a community about 7 miles away from camp. We are certainly keeping those residents in our thoughts and prayers.”

Brehmeyer asked for prayer for the firefighters, the police and sheriffs securing the safety of residents and visitors, residents of the evacuation area, Camp La Verne, and the other organizations’ camps.

On the Gulf Coast, Hurricanes Laura and Sally have hit in places where there are Church of the Brethren congregations. Matt Prejean, volunteer district executive for Southern Plains District who is from Roanoke (La.) Church of the Brethren, spoke with Jenn Dorsch Messler of Brethren Disaster Ministries by telephone last week.

“The good thing is they are not needing our help right now,” Dorsch Messler said. There were no reports of congregation members sustaining major damage to their homes. There was minor damage to the roof of the Roanoke church building and parsonage, and damage to a fence and a shed as well as many fallen trees on the church property. It is expected that the cost of repairs will be covered by insurance.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is concerned that Hurricane Laura “is not getting much media attention anymore because of the other news items and the predicted storm surge not happening, but the winds were incredible and there is a long recovery ahead,” Dorsch Messler said. She shared specific concern for the hospital where Prejean works, which had been evacuated and was still without power as of last week. Prejean said it could be at least a month before power is restored, and generators were being brought in so the hospital can reopen.

Prejean asked for prayer for all those affected and their community.

Similarly, the Church of the Brethren congregations in the area of Alabama affected by Hurricane Sally suffered no serious damage or losses. Wallace Cole from Southeastern District reported on the two Church of the Brethren congregations in Alabama, Citronelle and Fruitdale. “I talked to folks there,” he wrote by email to Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of the Office of Ministry. “They had wind and rain and thankfully no damage other than tree limbs down. They were on the west end of the storm.”

For more information about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries go to . To give financially to the disaster relief work of the church, donate to the Emergency Disaster Fund at .

2) Workcamp Ministry shares interest survey for planning 2021 workcamps

By Hannah Shultz

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Workcamp Ministry has developed alternative workcamp options for summer 2021 workcamps. The top priority is the health and safety of workcamp participants and the communities they serve. The ministry hopes to offer workcamp options that reflect this priority while also providing a meaningful workcamp experience.

At this stage, staff are gathering information from individuals and congregations to gauge their interest in and comfort with various options. The options presented at this time are not final and are subject to change. In making decisions, the workcamp team will be monitoring COVID-19 cases around the country and following guidelines and recommendations from the CDC and local and regional health departments.

The Workcamp Ministry welcomes feedback from individuals and congregations who are interested in participating in 2021 workcamps. Those who have not completed the informational survey yet are encouraged to do so at .

The four options being considered for 2021 workcamps are:

Tier 1: Participants will serve in their local communities during the day, either individually or with other members of their congregation. In the evening, participants will gather virtually for devotions and activities. Participants will be expected to bring their own lunch while serving. The Workcamp Ministry will work with individuals and congregations to coordinate service opportunities within their local context. The workcamp team also will provide leadership during the virtual evening meetings.

Tier 2: Participants will serve in their local area with other members of their congregation during the day. In the evening, they will gather together physically, in a socially distanced manner, for dinner, devotions, and activities. Participants will return home to sleep each night and be expected to bring their own lunch while serving. The Workcamp Ministry will work with the congregation to plan local service and will provide leadership and participate in-person during the week.

Tier 3: Participants will serve locally with other congregations in their region during the day. In the evening, they will gather together physically, in a socially distanced manner, for dinner, devotions, and activities. Participants will return home to sleep each night and be expected to bring their own lunch while serving. The Workcamp Ministry will work with each congregation interested in participating to plan local service and will provide leadership and participate in-person during the week.

Tier 4: Participants will take part in a “normal” workcamp. Workcamp participants from around the country will travel to a workcamp location, stay together in local housing accommodations (church or camp), and serve together for the week. The workcamp team will plan and lead all service work, meals, devotions, and recreational activities. This tier is presented as an option pending the distribution of a safe vaccine in Spring 2021.

Tier 1-3 workcamps will start on a Sunday evening and run through Friday evening. Tier 4 workcamps will begin Sunday evening and run through Saturday morning.

All of the 2021 workcamps will be intergenerational and open to individuals who have completed 6th grade and older. As usual, adult advisors are required to attend with groups of youth and are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the workcamp. Advisors will register at the same time as their youth and pay the same registration fee. The Workcamp Ministry asks that congregations send at least one adult advisor for every two to four youth participants, keeping gender in mind (i.e. if youth are all male, there should be at least one male advisor). All adults who attend a workcamp will be required to go through a background check administered by the denominational office.

Hannah Shultz is coordinator of short-term service for Brethren Volunteer Service and the Church of the Brethren.

3) Bethany Seminary announces new and reaffirmed trustees

From a Bethany release

Bethany Theological Seminary is welcoming Richard Rose, department chair and program director for the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies at the University of La Verne, Calif., as its newest trustee.

Bethany Theological Seminary is welcoming Richard Rose, department chair and program director for the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies at the University of La Verne, Calif., as a member of its Board of Trustees. He will serve a five-year term as an at-large member. Current trustee John Flora has agreed to serve a second five-year term as an at-large member. In addition, Chris Bowman has agreed to extend his service by another year, pending election at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference next year.

Under normal circumstances, these board members would have been elected or affirmed by the Annual Conference this past July. That gathering was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so the plan now is for their trustee status to be affirmed or elected retroactively during next year’s conference.

Rose’s current research examines global issues related to interfaith dialogue and religious pluralism. He is the author of An Interreligious Approach to a Social Ethic for Christian Audiences (2017) and Seven Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer (2016), both published by Christian World Imprints, New Delhi, India.

“We are extremely fortunate that all of these individuals have agreed to serve on our Board of Trustees,” said Bethany president Jeff Carter. “These trustees will bring diverse perspectives and considerable wisdom to our discussions. We are grateful for their willingness to serve Bethany at this time.”

The Board of Trustees will hold its first meeting of this academic year on Sept. 25-27 via Zoom.

4) EYN Disaster Relief Ministry reports on recent work in Nigeria

Summarized from reporting by Zakariya Musa

The EYN Disaster Relief Ministry Team at the Brethren IDP Camp at Luvu. Photo by Zakariya Musa

Reports from the Disaster Relief Ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), dated July and August, have outlined the latest disaster relief work by the Nigerian Brethren. The work is centered in places that have suffered recent attacks, violence, and destruction by Boko Haram, as well as in IDP camps for displaced people.

Food and cooking and cleaning supplies were provided to 76 households in EYN’s Debiro congregation in the Kwajaffa church district in Hawul Local Government Area of Borno State, after Boko Haram attacks.

Debiro village has suffered Boko Haram attacks since 2014, with the most recent on May 6. Buildings that were burned in the attack included three churches (an EYN church, an ECWA church, and Deeper Life Bible Church) along with 69 houses with properties, two primary and secondary schools, and a health dispensary. One person named Audu Bata was burnt in his house. The nearby village of Jubhuhwi also was attacked and an EYN church there was burned along with three houses and one public school. Those in the area “presently live in fear of attack and experience kidnapping for ransom almost every week,” the report said.

“Pastors working in the area while speaking to us during the intervention appreciate the EYN leadership and the donors for their concern and assistance,” the report said. One of the beneficiaries expressed gratitude for the relief items received, without discriminating between Christians and Muslims. “We thank you for the unexpected assistance, we wish you safe journey and be protected as you help people,” he said.

Food and other supplies distributed at the Brethren IDP Camp at Luvu. Photo by Zakariya Musa

The ministry delivered food relief to several IDP camps including the Brethren IDP camp for displaced people at Luvu in the Karu area of Nasarawa State, the Celestial Church IDP Camp in the northeastern city of Maiduguri in Borno State, the Cherubim and Seraphim IDP Camp in Maiduguri, and the Shagari Low Cost IDP Camp in Maiduguri. At the latter, 86 people were offered health consultations and help with medications. “Statistic revealed that malaria and epigastria disorder were common in the camp. Awareness on the COVID-19 pandemic was also given,” said the report. The distributions in the camps included rice or maize, Maggi cubes, cooking oil, salt, detergent and soap, and some places “dignity kits” and in other places bags of fertilizer.

In three areas the EYN Peace Program made one-on-one counseling available to people–both men and women–who “have been traumatized and devastated as a result of the brutal activities of Boko Haram.” Such counseling was offered in Chibok in Borno State, and in Gulak and Madagali in Adamawa State. “Some have never had the opportunity to share their experiences so that they could be helped,” said the report. “For the participants to have someone whom they trust to listen to what they experienced is a way forward that contributes to reduction of their trauma. And when they were asked at the end of the session, how are you feeling sharing your stories? They will say they feel relieved and being helped over their critical situation.”

Medical care at the Shagari IPD Camp. Photo by Zakariya Musa

Challenges facing both the disaster ministry and those it serves include bad roads, inability for humanitarian organizations to reach many devastated communities, increased insecurity including child rape and kidnappings, farmers prevented from going to their farms leading to serious food insecurity in an area that produces large quantities of food for the nation, many communities made more vulnerable by hunger, and inflation, with the cost of a bag of maize having almost doubled. In addition, there has been little governmental help, “no viable effort to recover the ruined communities in the entire northeast, especially in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States” and “no or little mitigation plan in place to address the disaster ahead.” The church itself has a limited response capacity, the report noted.

Next activities for the disaster ministry include offering psychosocial support to women; educational assistance to orphans; food security at the CAN Center, an ecumenically supported IDP camp in Maiduguri; and water sanitation and hygiene work in three church districts.

Zakariya Musa is a project officer for the Disaster Relief Ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and communications staff for EYN.

5) Churches join hands for solidarity, human rights, and dignity

A release from the World Council of Churches

Europe is again faced with a rise in migrants and refugees seeking a better life with some similar signs to the crisis that peaked five years ago during a mass movement triggered by the Syrian War and extreme hardships in other countries.

Migrants and refugees drew on all the resources of societies and their churches then and seem set to do so again as the war continues and the COVID-19 crisis and economic hardship forces people from many nations away from their homes.

Organizations representing a wide gamut of European churches are deeply concerned with the plight of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

Many on the move come from war-torn countries like Syria and Libya or fled places such as Eritrea and Ethiopia.

A fire recently destroyed the Moria camp on Greece’s Lesbos island, leaving 13,000 migrants with no home.

Dr. Torsten Moritz, Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe general secretary, on Sept. 10 said Europe must end–once and for all–the “hotspot” approach to sheltering migrants.

“Thirteen-thousand people who were already living in very unacceptable conditions are now completely without any home,” said Moritz.

Massive underfunding

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, warned on Sept. 19 that millions of displaced needing protection and their host communities are feeling the pinch of massive underfunding, as the COVID-19 pandemic increases humanitarian needs. Europe may have the headlines, but the crisis around migrants and refugees is global with African, American, and Asian countries facing the problems, highlighted the UNHCR.

A surge in arrivals mid-year stretched asylum processing facilities on Italy’s Lampedusa island–closer to North Africa than the mainland–beyond capacity, The New Humanitarian reported on Aug. 31.

Marta Bernardini, with the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy on Lampedusa, told the newspaper search and rescue vessels at sea have diminished, and other parts of Italy are resisting taking in asylum seekers and migrants. Hence “all the pressure stands on Lampedusa’s shoulders at the moment.”

Humanitarian corridors

In Italy and France, the Community of Sant’Egidio and other organizations formed the Humanitarian Corridors project. The first Humanitarian Corridors agreement from Lebanon to Italy was signed on Dec. 15, 2015, supported by Italy’s foreign ministry and other agencies. The Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, and the Tavola Valdese (Waldensians Church) use a “widespread reception” model to help many hundreds on the move.

Church of Scotland’s David Bradwell is the coordinator of Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees and has spoken of the work in Scotland’s biggest city. “Glasgow has the largest population of people seeking asylum in the United Kingdom, and in the past five years has also received several hundred refugees through the UK’s resettlement programs,” says Bradwell. Churches in Glasgow have led asylum support and welcome for nearly 20 years, with St. Rollox being one of the main Church of Scotland parishes involved.

The Church of Sweden’s “World of Neighbors” initiative strengthens faith-based actors working with migrants and refugees in Europe. World of Neighbors has one example, Basira, a young woman living with her family in Denmark. “I came to Denmark from Afghanistan as an unaccompanied minor together with my older brother and sister in 2015. After 11 months we got asylum, and my remaining family joined us in 2017,” she said.

Joint initiative aims to increase awareness of plight of migrants

A joint ecumenical initiative from the World Council of Churches and its sister organizations is being planned to increase awareness of the urgent situation of migrants and refugees, and galvanize action to provide housing, food, and safe passages for people to live with dignity.

The European Union Commission will present the new Migration Pact on Sept. 23, and an ecumenical statement will be presented at the same time in response to the urgent situation.

For a release from the WCC on the Moria fire go to .

For more about the WCC’s work on migration and social justice go to .


6) Annual Conference moderator offers ‘Sabbath rest’ sermon for use by congregations

By Nancy Sollenberger Heishman

A Sabbath rest-themed sermon prepared by Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey has been posted on the Church of the Brethren website. At the invitation of the Office of Ministry, this sermon is designed to provide a resource to congregations to enable them to support their pastor taking time away from the responsibilities of preaching.

The sermon focuses on words from Jeremiah 31:25: “I will satisfy the weary, and all who are faint I will replenish.” This scripture assures us that God accompanies us in upheaval, offering sanctuary amid stormy anxiety, doubt, and fear.

Congregations and their ministers are encouraged to partner together to find rest and refreshment in the midst of these days, and encourage preachers to take a Sunday off from preaching sometime this fall.

Find the video at . The video is available with closed captioning in English and subtitles in Spanish. Written transcripts are available in English and Spanish at the same link.

Nancy Sollenberger Heishman is director of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Ministry.

7) New Brethren Press resources include Shine’s All of Us Bible storybook and the 2020 Advent devotional

New from Brethren Press are the Shine curriculum’s All of Us: God’s Story for You and Me, a Bible storybook for children, and the 2020 Advent devotional Give Light, written by James Benedict. Brethren Press resources may be ordered from or call 800-441-3712.

All of Us

The new Bible storybook from Shine, a curriculum jointly published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is available to purchase from for $10.99. It also is available to Sunday school teachers and students through the regular curriculum order process used by many congregations.

Although it serves as the source of the Bible story for the primary, older elementary, and multi-age classes in Shine, it also is suitable for purchase by families for use at home.

Each Bible story is told in two ways: an illustrated cartoon-style version, and a written story for reading together with children. One new volume of All of Us is being produced each year. This year’s includes selected stories from Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Isaiah, Luke, Matthew, Mark, and Acts.

Advent devotional

Give Light is this year’s Advent devotional for the Church of the Brethren. This pocket-sized paperback includes a reading, scripture, and prayer for each day of the season. It is suitable for individual purchase and for congregations to provide to their members.

The Advent devotional is now available at an early order special price of $3.50, or $6.95 for large print, through Sept. 28. After that date, prices go up to $4 or $7.95 for large print.

Yearly subscriptions for both the Advent and Lenten devotionals from Brethren Press are now on an early order special for $7, or $13.90 for large print, through Sept. 28. After that date prices go up to $8 or $15.90 for large print for the yearly subscription.

Go to .


8) Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership updates course listing

The following English-language courses are offered by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a joint program of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Ministry and Bethany Theological Seminary. Courses may be taken for personal enrichment, for continuing education (two continuing education units per course are available to Church of the Brethren credentialed ministers), or for TRIM/EFSM credit for students of Training in Ministry and Education for Shared Ministry.

Register and pay for courses online at or call 765-983-1824 (unless courses are offered through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center). Please do not purchase texts or make travel plans until the registration deadline has passed and a course confirmation is received.

“Church of the Brethren Polity and Practice” offered by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center in a hybrid format, via Zoom and in person, at Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Oct. 23-24 and Nov. 13-14, 2020, with instructor Randy Yoder. Registration deadline is Sept. 30, 2020. Register by contacting . (Please note: for the TRIM level course, Yoder will teach at Annville Church of the Brethren, not the Atlantic Northeast District Office as previously announced, on Fridays from 4 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be Zoom capability for students who would like to connect electronically. Contact to register, indicating in-person or via Zoom.)

“Introduction to Theopoetics,” a Zoom intensive on Nov. 20-22, 2020, with instructor Scott Holland. Registration deadline is Oct. 16, 2020.

“Elements of Preaching,” a Zoom intensive on Jan. 11-15, 2021, with instructor Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm. Registration deadline is Dec. 7, 2020.

“Church of the Brethren Polity,” online March 10-May 4, 2021, with instructor Torin Eikler. Registration deadline is Feb. 3, 2021.

“Defining Set-Apart Ministry Within the Multivocational Reality,” online April 7-June 1, 2021, with instructor Sandra Jenkins. Registration deadline is March 3, 2021.

“Doing Church Differently: Ministry in Times of Crisis,” online May 5-June 29, 2021, with instructor Debbie Eisenbise. Registration deadline is March 31, 2021.

“The Reward of Risk: Church Planting and Revitalization Emerging in Today’s Current Dynamics,” a Directed Independent Study in conjunction with the Church Planting Conference planned for the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on May 12-14, 2021, with instructor Stan Dueck. Registration deadline is April 7, 2021.

“Interpreting 1 Corinthians for the Twenty-First-Century Church,” a Directed Independent Study in conjunction with the Ministers’ Association Pre-Annual Conference event planned for Greensboro, N.C., on June 29-30, 2021, with instructor Dan Ulrich. Registration deadline is May 28, 2021.

9) Antietam Dunker Church 50th annual service streams this Sunday afternoon

The Dunker Church at the Antietam Civil War battlefield is called a “Beacon of Peace” in the description posted by the National Park Service. Photo by Joel Brumbaugh-Cayford

The 50th annual Dunker Church Service at the old Brethren meetinghouse on the Antietam battlefield will be virtual this year, and available to view online. Brethren Press and Messenger magazine publisher Wendy McFadden is the featured speaker and will share a message on “The Wounds of War and a Place for Peace.”

The Dunker meetinghouse is on the Antietam National Battlefield, a Civil War site in Sharpsburg, Md. The annual service is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Mid-Atlantic District and commemorates the peace witness of the Brethren during the Civil War. It is organized by a group of ministers in the district, in cooperation with the National Park Service.

“The Civil War ended generations ago, but the wounds are still with us,” said an announcement. “Our country has not healed from the sin of slavery and the resulting violence. We see that over and over, and it’s especially clear right now as the nation convulses in the pain and rage of racism. What can we learn from the Dunker meetinghouse that became the unwitting center of a theater of war? How can we be a witness for peace in the battles of today? How can we lace up our boots and guide our feet into the way of peace?”

The pre-recorded event will stream on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 3 p.m. (Eastern time) on the district’s Facebook page at and also on the Church of the Brethren YouTube channel at where the recording will continue to be available.

10) Brethren bits

Remembrance: Dallas Oswalt, 92, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, passed away on Aug. 14. He was living in Charlotte, N.C. His early church work included volunteering at age 17 as a seagoing cowboy for the Brethren Service Committee, sailing to Italy with the fourth transatlantic livestock delivery. He married Jean Eidemiller in 1950 and they lived and worked together in the US, where they launched their careers, followed by 11 years in Nigeria and 18 years in India. Their daughter Karen Sue was born in Nigeria in 1954 and their son Kris Sydney was born in Indiana, USA, in 1957. The Oswalts served in Nigeria with the Church of the Brethren mission from 1953 to 1956 and 1960 to 1969. Positions he held there included teacher and vice principal at Waka Teacher Training College; principal of the Secondary Boarding School in Waka; assistant field secretary for the mission; coordinator of the Christian Rural Fellowship of West Africa; acting superintendent of schools for one year; and chair of the Mission Rural Development Committee for farmer assistance and guidance. After leaving Nigeria, he returned to Purdue University to conduct post-graduate research, earning a doctorate in agronomy. He and his wife set out again overseas, and he served as a researcher and educator at an international crop research institute in India. He committed his professional career to implementing the scientific findings of his doctoral research on the nutritional value of sorghum, the most important grain for feeding billions of people surviving on subsistence farming in the semi-arid tropics. The family has developed a website tribute to his life at .

Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has updated its Church Workers Assistance Plan (CWAP) program to assist employees of Church of the Brethren congregations, districts, or camps who experience adverse financial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. The update now extends effective dates from Aug. 1, 2020, through Nov. 30, 2020. The fund is available to active employees of a church, district, or camp, who have been employed for at least five years. Applicants with less than five years of tenure will require review as an exception. Applicants are asked to complete a streamlined application form and provide a narrative description of the nature and amount of their need. Each application requires the affirmation of the appropriate district executive. BBT staff will review each application for need and determine if it falls within the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant underwriting guidelines. If an applicant does not qualify under the streamlined emergency guidelines, they may be referred to BBT’s standard CWAP application process. Those who have already received financial assistance through BBT’s COVID-19 Emergency Grant and need additional assistance may reapply for the second round of funding. Direct inquiries to Debbie Butcher at 847-622-3391 or .

Shipments of relief goods are continuing to be made from the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Recent shipments include 12,000 quilts sent to Chile and Zambia in a shipment that also included school, baby and fabric kits. Each filled one 40-foot container. On behalf of Church World Service and International Orthodox Christian Charities, the program shipped 13,000 school kits to Romania. In response to Hurricane Laura, Church World Service sent three shipments totaling 2,000 cleanup buckets and other kits to Texas and Louisiana.

The Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) continue to be the only partners in Nigeria for the Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL), according to an update from Jeff Boshart of the Church of the Brethren Global Food Initiative (GFI). The SIL’s recent “Activities and Impact Report” is the source of the information. The SIL is based at the University of Illinois and funded by a grant from USAID. Boshart said he looks forward to a “likely change in 2021 as we hope to hold an SIL multicrop thresher workshop in the second half of the year at the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, Nigeria. Lord willing, that will include other NGOs who are working in northeast Nigeria.” SIL has been awarded a new USAID grant for a “next step” or “scale up” initiative called i2i, Innovation to Impact, Boshart said. “SIL will be the lead of this effort that will create a platform for assisting entrepreneurs across Africa who wish to take an idea and turn it into a business with continental or even global reach.”

Midland (Mich.) Church of the Brethren and the Midland Quiltmakers have been busy during the pandemic, according to a recent letter to the editor from Judy Harris, published by Our Midland online. Among recipients of the quilts that have been made in recent months are several mission workers affiliated with various Christian organizations and denominations, which received between 12 and 150 quilts each. Up next for the group is a donation of 100 baby quilts to Samaritan’s Purse “as a thank you from the grateful people of Midland for sending teams of workers to help anyone whose house was flooded and needed help cleaning up.” The letter said the quiltmakers were 450 quilts short of a goal to make 30,000. See the full letter at .

Illinois and Wisconsin District is planning a book study Zoom series on the topic, “Conversations on Race–Engaging and Transforming the Beloved Community” with facilitators Dennis Webb, pastor of the Naperville congregation, and Christy Waltersdorff, pastor of the York Center congregation. The book to be studied is White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Race by Robin DiAngelo. The series takes place on six Thursday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. (Central time) on Nov. 12, Dec. 3 and 17, Jan. 7 and 21, and Feb. 4. Said a description: “A white woman named Christy Waltersdorff. A black man named Dennis Webb. Dennis was born and grew up in a country where almost everyone was black and familiar. Christy grew up in a country where white people were the dominant culture, and familiar to her. God would have it that the Church of the Brethren has brought us together. We met first as pastoral colleagues and chose to become friends. We have chosen to make our racial and cultural differences become a blessing, instead of an anemic, made-up, foundationless racial separation. We bring this as a part of our offering to you as the facilitators of this conversation. We confess that we don’t know it all. We would like to learn from you and with you concerning this issue of race. Why? When the barrier of racial separation is overcome, its reality leads us closer to God’s vision of the beloved community. We see each other ‘face to face’–as God intended.” To sign up for the book study contact the district office at .

Juniata College, a Church of the Brethren-related school in Huntingdon, Pa., has gained good rankings in this year’s listings of colleges and universities across the US. “We are celebrating being ranked 84th in the US News & World Report’s best liberal arts colleges in the nation, 73rd of 218 in the Washington Monthly’s annual poll of liberal arts colleges, and, once again, being named among the Princeton Review’s best colleges in the US,” said an announcement from Juniata president James A. Troha. “I want to thank our Board of Trustees, our outstanding faculty, and all of our dedicated staff and administration for their continued commitment in making Juniata one of our nation’s best colleges.”

McPherson (Kan.) College is reporting record enrollment for the fifth year in a row bolstered by a new student cohort of 300 and an increase in overall retention, said a release from the school. This semester, total headcount for the college is 864, including 790 fulltime degree-seeking students, 25 graduate students, as well as part-time students. “McPherson College continues to make great progress despite the challenges of this year,” president Michael Schneider said. “Our Student Debt Project and Bulldog Adventures programs encourage students to return to McPherson College, and new academic programs like Health Sciences are attracting new students.” The Student Debt Project combines financial literacy, mentoring, and matching funds supporting students on a path to zero student debt. Bulldog Adventures provides opportunities for students to get out and explore Kansas through activities like hiking, float trips, a fishing derby, and lawn games. The college introduced a new academic program this fall that offers majors in health science and healthcare management with student field experience with community partners to gain real-world training in a variety of health care professions.

Marking the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, Bread for the World is sharing Finding Hope, Ending Hunger on Both Sides of the Border: A Bilingual Latino Devotional. Bread for the World is a partner organization with which the Church of the Brethren has engaged in work for food security. “This devotional celebrates the hope, faith, and resilience of Latino communities, while also lamenting the evil of inequitable policies that, to this day, continue to oppress our people leading to hunger and poverty in the United States and south of the U.S.-Mexico border–even further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said an announcement. “This bilingual Latino devotional invites you to reflect biblically on the interconnectedness of hunger, malnutrition, and climate change, issues that negatively impact Latino communities in the United States and drive migration abroad. Rooted in Christ, we can actively work against poverty by advocating for public policies that foster racial equity, shared prosperity, and opportunity for all.” Download the devotional at .

Lois Clark, a Church of the Brethren member, has received attention from the South Bend Tribune as a unique role model as a longtime activist. An article by Tribune correspondent Kathy Borlik published Sept. 6 reported that Clark “recently celebrated her 98th birthday [on Aug. 18] by receiving dozens of cards from area friends who wrote original poems in her honor.” She is described as having “a sparkle in her eyes when she talks about getting involved in causes such as the United Religious Community, League of Women Voters, Head Start, and the Parent Teacher Association. She never moved anything to the back burner. She has devoted her life to reducing violence, hostility, and prejudice. Sounds like someone we need now.” In the article, Clark attributed her activism to her Church of the Brethren pastor father and to her grandfathers who founded Church of the Brethren congregations. “You asked what keeps me going. My beliefs and my need to promote peace, justice and democracy,” she said. “Life has been very good to me.” Find the full article at .

A portion of the Hymn Society’s article about Nancy Faus-Mullen, written by Eileen M. Johnson.

Nancy Faus-Mullen of Richmond, Ind., who is Brightbill Professor Emerita of Ministry Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary, has been named a Fellow of the Hymn Society of North America. She received this highest honor from the society at the 2020 Hymn Society Conference this summer. Jeffrey Clouser, director of Music Ministries at Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, provided Newsline with a copy of the Hymn Society article about Faus-Mullen, written by Eileen M. Johnson. The article noted that the award was conferred for her work as a hymnal editor, an educator, a researcher in the area of Brethren hymnody, and for continuously promoting the voice of the congregation through song. Faus-Mullen was a key figure in the creation of Hymnal: A Worship Book as a joint publication of the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonite denominations, chairing the hymnal project from 1986 to 1992. She then chaired the committee that created the follow-up Hymnal Supplement. Her personal history includes some firsts, according to the article: When she started at Bethany Seminary in 1976 as campus pastor she was the first woman to serve on the faculty in several decades, and she also was the first ordained woman to serve on the faculty. After 1977 she became Instructor in Church Music and in the 1980s revitalized the seminary’s music program, directing the seminary choir for chapel services and tours. Previous to her service at Bethany, she taught at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. She joined the Hymn Society when she was a seminary student in the 1950s, and ended up as a life member and served as president from 2000 to 2002. She was an early advocate for inclusive language, the article said, and also embodied Brethren values of peace and justice in her work. The article quoted from her foreword to her hymn collection Singing for Peace: “God’s peace and peace among nations come not simply from the absence of war but as we live and work and walk together in love and compassion. As we yearn for peace, pray for peace, and work for peace, may we do so Singing for Peace!”

Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Contributors to this issue include Jan Fischer Bachman, Loyce Swartz Borgmann, Jeff Boshart, Jeff Clouser, Andrea Garnett, Jonathan Graham, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Jeff Lennard, Janet Ober Lambert, Wendy McFadden, Jenn Dorsch Messler, Nancy Miner, Zakariya Musa, Loretta Wolf, 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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