Newsline for Dec. 18, 2021

1) Together let us be Jesus in the neighborhood

2) Brethren Disaster Ministries consults with districts following tornados and storms in central US, Children’s Disaster Services sends team to Missouri

3) Yearbook survey reveals worship habits during pandemic

4) District team emerges from felt need to confront the evil of racial injustice

5) A light on the hill at Pegi Church: Unexpected encounters in Nigeria

6) Sherry Chastain resigns from Children’s Disaster Services staff

7) Reading in the neighborhood

8) Northview Church begins holding Service Sundays

9) ‘Moderator Musings’ for December 2021: It has come to my attention

10) Brethren bits: Remembering Arden Ball, Messenger Radio episode on “Advent Waiting,” book study sponsored by Part-time Pastor, Full-time Church, letter calls for COVID-19 vaccine TRIPS Waiver, next year’s Youth Roundtable, release of Haiti hostages, more

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Quotes of the week:

“My prayer continues to be centered on the theme that has been chosen for next year’s Annual Conference: Embracing one another, as Christ embraces us. Part of the process of embracing each other is to lovingly communicate issues that we feel we need to discuss, but to do it directly. That’s the formula outlined in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 18, verses 15-17. If we feel like we have an issue between our brother or sister, Jesus instructs us to go to that person and share the concern. I consider that to be part of the act of embracing–showing that we care enough to relate to one another, to hear each other’s story, and to share ours.”

— David Sollenberger, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, in this month’s issue of “Moderator’s Musings.” Read more below, or go directly to

“Loving God, help us through the despair of this overwhelming suffering from the pandemic which continues even though you have provided the knowledge and capabilities to create life-giving vaccines. Bring comfort to those who mourn the loss of their loved ones. Strengthen all who work to heal the sick and lift their heavy burden of fatigue. Help each of us to bear this season of concentrated grief. Fill us with love for our neighbors so that we can encourage each other and end the pandemic. Amen.”

— A prayer shared by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, marking the 800,000 American deaths to COVID-19.

We want to keep updating our listing of Churches of the Brethren congregations and their worship opportunities at Please send new information to

Lifting up Brethren who are active in health care: Add a person to the list by sending first name, county, and state to

1) Together let us be Jesus in the neighborhood

By David A. Steele, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren

Together, we concluded a four-year process of discernment earlier this year as the Annual Conference delegates virtually affirmed the compelling vision. Our Jesus in the neighborhood vision statement is now our Church of the Brethren vision.

Together, we met in various settings across the country these last years to discuss and discern questions about scripture, our faith, and Church of the Brethren values. The intent was not only to create a new vision that would call us to a new life together, a vision where Jesus is central, but to change the focus and tone of our internal discourse, attending to God’s Spirit moving among us, intentionally seeking to identify that which unites us and to discern that which God is calling us to be and do as the body of Christ in these times.

Together, it is important to acknowledge that some continue to have concerns that the vision did not address what they thought needed to be addressed; however, may it be our deepest hope that by God’s grace, every congregation, every member can find something in the vision affirmed at Annual Conference in 2021 to inspire them as we seek to step boldly into the future.

Graphic designed by Donita Keister and Nicole Keister-Hornig

With the conclusion of the process, the Compelling Vision Team laments that:

— There was not more enthusiastic support for the vision.

— There was so much misunderstanding of and distrust around the process for affirming the vision.

— Follow-up communication has not faithfully and fully conveyed the range of support expressed by the four options.

However, the Compelling Vision Team is also grateful for and rejoices in:

— The prayerful support they felt throughout the process.

— The faithful and broad engagement of so many across the denomination throughout the process.

— God’s Spirit moving among us as we turned our attention to God’s presence, activity, and guidance in our life together.

Together, let us express our deep gratitude to the members of the Compelling Vision Team for their investment of time, talents, and their deep love for Christ and his church: Michaela Alphonse, Kevin Daggett, Brian Messler, Alan Stucky, Kay Weaver, John Jantzi, Colleen Michael, Donita Keister, Samuel Sarpiya, Paul Mundey, Chris Douglas, and Rhonda Pittman Gingrich.

Together, may we commit ourselves to attend to the tough issues and differences we may have with our sisters and brothers in Christ through graceful hospitality, prayer, and Matthew 18 engagement.

Together, may we as congregations, districts, and the denomination move forward and live into the vision with faithfulness, passion, and ingenuity–for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good.

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

Together, as we seek to live into the vision, denominational leadership wants to know how they can best support and resource congregations. We invite your continued input and engagement around implementation as we seek to unite around a common mission.

Together, as we step into 2022, let us with conviction and intentionality, be Jesus in our neighborhoods!

– For more information go to

2) Brethren Disaster Ministries consults with districts following tornados and storms in central US, Children’s Disaster Services sends team to Missouri

From the Brethren Disaster Ministries staff

A devastating outbreak of 59 confirmed tornados occurred overnight on Dec. 10 to 11 in the central US, followed by powerful storms on Dec. 15. District Disaster Response Coordinators (DDCs) from the affected Church of the Brethren districts–Illinois and Wisconsin, Missouri and Arkansas, Northern Plains, Southern Ohio and Kentucky, and Western Plains–report little to no damage in the communities with Church of the Brethren congregations.

Tornado damage near Defiance, Mo. Photo courtesy of NWS
Tornado damage near Mayfield, Ky. Photo courtesy of NWS Survey

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is the first response program for Brethren Disaster Ministries. Starting Friday, Dec. 17, a small team of CDS volunteers is at a MARC (Multi-Agency Resource Center) set up by Missouri Emergency Management in Defiance, Mo. CDS continues to work with the Red Cross and other partners to determine additional opportunities to support the children affected across the long path of the tornados, but at the time of this publication no additional CDS teams have been activated.

In related news, the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program is shipping two shipments of fleece blankets to Kentucky on behalf of Church World Service.

Extraordinary tornados and storms

Tornados on Dec. 10-11 swept through at least 9 states with Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri being the most impacted. More than 90 people may have been killed, with 16 still missing, making this the deadliest and largest outbreak of tornados in December on record.

Two extraordinary storms traveled over 100 miles each, producing tornados along the way. The resulting destruction leveled whole towns, such as Mayfield, Ky., which will receive lots of aid, but also caused such widespread damage, the full scope of which is not fully known. This means many unknown families and communities are not being reported on and need assistance.

This tornado outbreak was followed by powerful storms on Dec. 15, which brought wind gusts of more than 100 m.p.h. and 13 confirmed tornados in parts of the great plains and upper midwest. The wind and tornados caused damage to homes, businesses, and trees, and power outages to half a million homes.

Coordinating the church’s response

In a coordination meeting of Brethren Disaster Ministries staff and the DDCs, the group shared storm updates and discussed response planning, including for forgotten communities receiving little, if any, press coverage and limited aid. Grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF), volunteer coordination, and short-term volunteer responses are likely to be part of the longer response to these storms.

Brethren Disaster Ministries will focus on helping with the longterm recovery of underserved communities through grants, volunteer coordination, and partnerships. Many organizations go to disaster sites to help clean up after disasters; Brethren Disaster Ministries is among the few that stay for the long road to recovery that helps families rebuild their lives. Support the Brethren Disaster Ministries response with financial gifts at

Church World Service is sending relief kits and clean-up buckets to the impacted communities and are supporting unaccompanied children in Kentucky. Brethren Disaster Ministries will support this longterm partner. You can be part of this partnership by building and sending CWS kits to the Brethren Service Center. For information, go to

Please pray

Please pray for the people who were impacted by these December tornados and storms. May God’s healing presence give peace and hope. Pray that God will deliver comfort to those who mourn the loss of loved ones and strength to all providing care for affected communities.

3) Yearbook survey reveals worship habits during pandemic

By James Deaton, managing editor for Brethren Press

Earlier this year, the Church of the Brethren Yearbook Office conducted a survey asking congregational leaders to weigh in on their worship habits during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 300 Church of the Brethren congregations participated in the survey, representing more than a third of the close to 900 total number of congregations in the denomination.

The survey asked congregations about the various ways they worshiped, and to provide feedback on any online worship options they offered because of the pandemic. There were also questions related to the challenges congregations experienced in counting worship attendance.

Results confirm that a large percentage (69 percent) have worshiped in person, but have stopped and started in-person again at least once. Also, an overwhelming percentage of congregations have adapted to offer some form of online worship option. Of those congregations surveyed, 84 percent have worshiped online, whether it was livestreamed, pre-recorded for later viewing, or another hybrid method.

Examining online worship habits, the survey showed that almost 77 percent of responding congregations did not offer any online worship option prior to the beginning of the pandemic. When asked if they planned to continue offering online worship options in the future, a significant majority (72 percent) said they would do so on a regular basis.

There was not a predominant technology named when congregations were asked about platforms used for online worship. Zoom was used by 43 percent of responding congregations, Facebook by 47 percent, and YouTube by 45 percent.

How has the pandemic affected worship attendance? Most congregations saw a decrease in in-person attendance, but the availability of online worship has caused some to see an increase in overall attendance. In fact, 21 percent of those responding to the survey said that their online worship attendance has been somewhat more than their in-person attendance before COVID-19, and 8 percent said it was much more than their in-person attendance prior to the pandemic.

When asked about the makeup of those participating online, responding congregations revealed a diverse composition:
— 95 percent reported attendance by current members.
— 77 percent reported attendance by family/friends/colleagues of current members.
— 64 percent reported attendees living more than two hours from the church building.
— 57 percent reported attendance by family/friends/colleagues of the pastor.
— 56 percent reported attendance by former members.
— 48 percent reported attendance by people previously unconnected to the church
— 40 percent reported attendees from the local community.
— 26 percent reported attendance by people living outside the United States.
— 18 percent reported attendance by people interested in becoming members.

Counting worship attendance was a challenge for many congregations, given the need to provide some form of online worship option. Some congregations didn’t attempt to count online engagements for a variety of reasons. Those congregations that started using the streaming technologies frequently noted the inconsistencies among platforms in how viewing is tracked.

With Zoom, attendance is simpler to count, but it’s often difficult to tell how many people in a household are participating, with some family members floating in and out of view. Metrics for Facebook and YouTube are more complex. Those who used these two platforms often wondered what to do about “views” that last for a brief amount of time. Others weren’t sure how to handle views that occur after a worship service ends and it then continues to be viewed online.

In summary, many congregations responded to the pandemic by providing some form of online worship option, but tracking attendance was difficult for many reasons and some ended up just monitoring online engagements instead of attempting to quantify them.

The Yearbook Office continues to evaluate the survey’s responses, especially those related to counting worship attendance, as it prepares to send out its annual forms to congregations in January. Further instructions to congregations will be given at that time.

— The Church of the Brethren Yearbook staff are James Deaton, managing editor for Brethren Press, and Jim Miner, Yearbook specialist.

4) District team emerges from felt need to confront the evil of racial injustice

By Nick Beam, interim associate executive minister for South Ohio and Kentucky District, with Jon Keller, Todd Reish, and Mike Yingst of the district’s Racial Justice Team

We in the Southern Ohio and Kentucky District have always strived to be intentional about addressing the concerns in our society. For instance, during a Missional Renewal Team meeting shortly after George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020, the conversation centered on that tragedy and the epidemic of violence against people of color, along with the systemic racial injustice in our country triggering this violence.

Personal stories were shared of workplace experiences and family members and friends who have been the victims of racial injustice. Out of this conversation came a felt need to begin to be more intentional about confronting this evil in our society. Out of this felt need a group of people formed a Racial Justice Team to address these issues.

The purpose statement of this team is: The Southern Ohio/Kentucky District Race Relations Team seeks to raise awareness among members of the district about issues of racial justice and call us to action through education, relationship building, and advocacy to bring about healing and wholeness in our community.

This group has been active since its formation in living out this purpose statement by sending out a monthly newsletter, holding monthly meetings, and by hearing stories from those in our district who have been directly affected by racial injustice. Some other activities of the group have been leading a Racial Justice for Lent Series during Lent 2021 and holding a racial justice workshop during our district conference in October 2021.

A big accomplishment for the group was the formation of a query that was approved by our district conference in October 2021 to pass on to next summer’s Annual Conference in Omaha, Neb. This query seeks to not only call the denomination to speak out against the injustices, but also to find ways to stand with the victims of racial injustice with the hope of ending such evil.

The team is currently planning another Lenten Bible Study for Lent 2022. Our district is blessed to have this team of passionate individuals who are diligently working at educating and calling our district to action to help end this pervasive evil in our society.

5) A light on the hill at Pegi Church: Unexpected encounters in Nigeria

By Pat Krabacher

I recently visited northeast Nigeria after a three-year absence. This was my fifth trip to Nigeria and my travel was centered around my role as an international adviser to a UNESCO World Heritage Site encampment at Sukur near Madagali on Aug 1-10, 2021 ( However, what I came to discern as the “theme” of this trip was unexpected encounters–people, places, and things.

Here is the story of two of those unexpected encounters:

I arrived in Abuja on July 21 and was warmly received by Malame and Ngamariju Titus Mangzha of the Utako #1 Church of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Malame Mangzha runs the African International Documentary Film Festival (AFIDFF,, a nonprofit that is the implementing partner for the United Nations encampment at Sukur. I arrived early to assist in the final planning for the event, and we had much to do as the “elephant in the room” was security as Nigeria still struggles to provide basic security for those living in or visiting the country.

My second day in Nigeria, Mangzha asked me to fly to meet her in Yola, to join in a meeting with the governor of Adamawa State. Upon arriving at the hotel in Yola, there in the lobby I saw Markus Gamache, former EYN staff liaison: the first unexpected encounter! He was visiting Yola to work on peacemaking with local leaders. It was wonderful to greet a brother in Christ and catch up. He had been the EYN liaison for a workcamp in January 2016 in which my husband, John, and I had participated and helped build EYN’s Pegi Church for an encampment of internally displaced people (IDPs) from Chibok.

Before and after: above, the Pegi Church under construction; below, the Pegi Church in August 2021. Photos by Pat Krabacher

Later, after the Sukur event, back in Abuja Markus agreed to drive me for a return visit to the Pegi Church, joining them in worship there on Sunday, Aug. 15: a second unexpected encounter!

Gamache and a pastor friend picked me up for the drive to the church, confessing that he hoped he could find it as this area–once a remote area south of Abuja–had been developing rapidly. Our workcamp had taken place nearly 5 years prior. During the workcamp, we had finished the walls, the pitch, the bell tower, and a property wall for the church building. When it was done, we had the privilege of attending the dedication service in the new, but unfinished Pegi Church building on Jan 29, 2017. One of the highlights of that worship service was the blowing of the shofar, the women’s choirs, and the presentation of the banner commemorating the three workcamp teams and the EYN volunteers who had all volunteered at Pegi.

Fortunately, mountains don’t move and a landmark on top of a mountain was our “guiding star” as Gamache found the church again–although the road that our workcamp van had taken no longer existed.

Markus Gamache (at left) and Pat Krabacher (at right) with the pastor of the Pegi Church. Krabacher presented a copy of a book about the Chibok people written by the late Gerald Neher, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Chibok.

Because of the travel delay, we arrived just after the worship service started–so you can imagine the surprise of the Pegi pastor when we entered the building. There were hurried introductions and greetings to the congregation. I was smiling and waving to people I recognized. The pastor announced that the Pegi Church would be recognized by EYN in October 2021 as a full congregation–exciting news!

My first impression was that the Pegi Church was largely as we had left it, with a dirt floor and open windows, crude benches, and the plastic banner that commemorated the workcamps still on the wall. But as I looked more closely, I noticed improvements to the building, window frames, doors and door frames, soffits and facia. After the worship and singing, the women’s choir stayed to practice and I was able to greet many of the women I had met in 2016–we are one in the Lord!

Hoping that the growing and vibrant Pegi congregation can get some funds to continue to improve their building, I realize that they already have the joy of the Lord and they love to worship our God. Well done workcampers, volunteers, and Pegi EYN–a beacon of light on the hill!

– Pat Krabacher is a former Brethren Volunteer Service worker whose project related to Nigeria (2015-2019), volunteering for the Global Mission program of the Church of the Brethren.


6) Sherry Chastain resigns from Children’s Disaster Services staff

Sherry Chastain has resigned as the program assistant for Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), which is a ministry within Brethren Disaster Ministries. She will conclude her work at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., effective Dec. 31.

Chastain has worked for CDS for more than four years, beginning her service on May 23, 2017. Her previous work at the Brethren Service Center was for IMA World Health as a senior Human Resources associate and executive assistant.

With a reduction in volunteer trainings and a slower pace due to effects of the pandemic, CDS is reducing the program assistant position to part‐time as of the first of the year. This reduction in hours affected Chastain’s decision and ability to continue on with CDS.


7) Reading in the neighborhood

By Jennie Waering

Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. (Virlina District), formed a Race Education Team in 2019. Through racial justice studies led by the team, Central’s congregation learned about disparities in educational achievements, particularly the ability to read well, in low-income schools with large Black and Hispanic populations.

Through generous support, Central gave 640 students in 2 inner-city neighborhood elementary schools (Lincoln Terrace and Hurt Park) 4 books each as a holiday present–that’s 2,560 books.

From Dec. 8 to 14, Central’s congregation and friends read books to the 43 classes in the 2 schools and presented the students in Pre-K to 5th grade their books, along with decorated gift bags.

The congregation was involved both in decorating the gift bags and in reading to the students. During the reading sessions, Central’s readers emphasized the importance of reading and told the students that if they could read well, they could do anything and have any career they wanted.

Many students were delighted that the books were theirs to keep forever. Those who read to the students loved the ability to interact with the students and the students loved the readers!

— Jennie Waering is a member of the Race Education Team at Central Church of the Brethren.

8) Northview Church begins holding Service Sundays

“Here are some pictures from our first Service Sunday. We are planning to find another date this spring,” reported Joy Kain to Newsline. She is chairing the Outreach Committee at Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis, Ind., which is hoping to hold a Service Sunday quarterly.

Service Sundays are being planned as fun opportunities for fellowship and service after church members gave input into planning for the congregation’s future and mentioned service as an important part of the church’s identity.

Their first Service Sunday on Nov. 21 was “a positive experiment,” she wrote. “We tried to have several different options for folks to accommodate COVID concerns, ages of participants, and varieties of causes.”

In place of a traditional worship service the congregation met at the church building or at Wheeler Mission to serve the wider Indianapolis community together. Among the several options:

— helping Wheeler Mission prepare a Thanksgiving meal for the homeless population in central Indiana,

— or at the church building making snack packs for distribution to the homeless community by Homeless Initiative Program and assembling treat bags for people receiving specialized inpatient psychiatric services at Logansport State Hospital,

— or for those attending via Zoom making cards or writing letters for different organizations.


9) ‘Moderator Musings’ for December 2021: It has come to my attention

By David Sollenberger, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference

It has come to my attention that some people feel I need to explain some of my facetious comments which arise at times in my writing. For those who are unfamiliar with that term, here’s an official “googled” definition, which I’m sure we all agree is the “be all” and “end all” source of information:

fa·ce·tious (/fəˈsēSHəs/, adjective)
treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor; flippant

Okay, I’ll accept the word flippant, but fiercely (in a gentle, Brethren kind of way) object to the notion that it’s inappropriate. Acts 10:15 comes to mind, “The voice spoke to him a second time: ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’” Okay, maybe that’s too loose an interpretation. But in the midst of very serious issues in the church, I believe there’s time for humor, even as I apologize in advance to those who believe that treating serious issues with humor IS, in fact, inappropriate.

The theme and logo for Annual Conference in 2022, “Embracing One Another as Christ Embraces Us” (Romans 15:7).

Here are a few “joys and concerns” that I’ve experienced in my role as moderator since my last column:

– I was impressed by a news report in the Associated Press on Oct. 31 sharing how the Anabaptist-related groups who support Christian Aid Ministries are actively praying not only for the release of their kidnapped workers in Haiti, but also for their kidnappers–the so called 400 Mawozo gang. That was really not news to us who take seriously Jesus’ call to pray for our enemies and those “who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28, NIV). But what impressed me was the reasoning behind those prayers, coming from a secular writer who put into words the Church of the Brethren distinctive better than I could have expressed it myself. “Anabaptists draw on the biblical Sermon on the Mount, which contains some of Jesus’ most radical and countercultural sayings–to love enemies, live simply, bless persecutors, turn the other cheek, endure sufferings joyfully.” Such a succinct explanation, from a secular publication, for why we believe in Another Way of Living.

— I was amazed at the efforts of Ilexene Alphonse, pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla., who facilitated the delivery of three trucks of relief supplies to earthquake-stricken parts of Haiti. Under incredibly difficult circumstances, he helped navigate the dangerous, difficult, and costly journey for the trucks to Saut Mathurine, the area in southwest Haiti where the Haitian Brethren are beginning to rebuild after the earthquake. Ilexene’s description of the difficult journey, achieved through the grace of God and the determination of Haitian Brethren, was described in a special Oct. 29 Newline article.

– Continued appreciation for the varied ways in which Church of the Brethren congregations are being “Jesus in the neighborhood” as called for by the newly adopted compelling vision. During Halloween, many congregations participated in a candy distribution system called Trunk or Treat, satisfying the yearly compulsion of visitors for both candy and healthy treats, while allowing for social distancing. At the Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship in Osceolo, Ind., children were invited to the church for games and prizes.

— I discovered the wide variety of ministries that we Brethren are engaged in a few years ago, even before there was a compelling vision, when I agreed to visit every church in South Central Indiana District and record a 10-15 second description of one of their ministries. Frankly, I expected 30 food pantries and maybe 20 women’s fellowships making quilts for a nearby homeless shelter. I was so wrong. What I found was incredible variety in the ways in which congregations in this one district were reaching out to the needs of their communities. You don’t need to watch the whole video, but if you have a few minutes, check out what 43 congregations were up to as of a few years ago in one Indiana district. To my knowledge, no one in any of those congregations thought that just because another congregation looked at mission differently, they were not “being Brethren.” Romans 12:6 says: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith” (NIV). I continue to believe that Brethren need to embrace one another, even amidst our different approaches to serving Jesus, all the while acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord.

— I am concerned that so few of our Church of the Brethren members are aware of the inspirational growth of our denomination across the globe. We are truly working at becoming a global church, as people in almost a dozen countries are embracing the Church of the Brethren approach to faith and finding new life in Jesus Christ. Plans are shaping up to share these developments in the coming year and at Annual Conference in Omaha, Neb., on July 10-14, 2022. (I have been telling the district conferences that have invited me to bring greetings that Omaha is very easy to find. If you’re coming from the East, you travel to Missouri and turn right. If coming from the west, go to Kansas and turn left. Or you can always Google it.)

Here’s one example: In Rwanda, the Gisenyi congregation is constructing a building to house the two services held each Sunday. Chris Elliott, a volunteer for the Church of the Brethren Global Mission, reports: “The Gisenyi church has been holding two services on Sunday morning and is in need of a larger worship space. Among their other needs are offices for the emerging denomination, as well as classroom space for Sunday school and a proposed preschool.” The Global Mission office is receiving donations for the construction project. These may be made online at or by mail to Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Donors should write Gisenyi on the check or in the comments box online.

My prayer continues to be centered on the theme that has been chosen for next year’s Annual Conference: Embracing one another, as Christ embraces us. Part of the process of embracing each other is to lovingly communicate issues that we feel we need to discuss, but to do it directly. That’s the formula outlined in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 18, verses 15-17. If we feel like we have an issue between our brother or sister, Jesus instructs us to go to that person and share the concern. I consider that to be part of the act of embracing–showing that we care enough to relate to one another, to hear each other’s story, and to share ours.

Finally, the Annual Conference officers, Program and Arrangements Committee, and Leadership Team all met in Elgin last month and addressed plans for the 2022 Annual Conference. Needless to say, there are an enormous number of details to be worked out, complicated by the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation and its impact on how we gather. Please continue to pray for the plans to gather and embrace one another, both figuratively and literally, in order to “unite, strengthen and equip the Church of the Brethren to follow Jesus” (from the Annual Conference mission statement).

I welcome your feedback, observations, and your own musings, joys, or concerns. You can email me at And remember:

The musings of moderator Dave are his opinions and observations only, and do not necessarily reflect the views of other denominational Leadership Team members, or anyone else connected with the Annual Conference, or for that matter, the National Archives, the Meat and Poultry Hotline of the US Dept. of Agriculture, the Federal Reserve Board, or any other organized or unorganized organizations. They are also void where prohibited, except where not prohibited.

— Find this issue of Moderator’s Musings online, with a link to download it in pdf format, at

10) Brethren bits

– Remembrance: Arden K. Ball, 87, of Goshen, Ind., who served for almost two decades as director of Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind., died on Dec. 8. He was born Dec. 22, 1933, to Paul and Sarah Ball. On Sept. 2, 1951, he married Charmaine Sunderman; she died on Jan. 2, 2018. He graduated from Manchester College (now university) in North Manchester, Ind., in 1963 and was later honored as Alumni of the Year. As a pastor in the Church of the Brethren, he served in three congregations. He completed his career as director of Camp Mack from 1975-1994. He is survived by children David K. (Cara) Ball of Edwardsburg, Mich., Marie E. Freeman of Breeding, Ky., and Rebecca (Paris) Ball-Miller of Goshen; and grandchildren. He donated his body to Indiana University for medical purposes. A Celebration of Life service is planned at Camp Mack next summer. Memorial gifts are received to Camp Alexander Mack and the Arden and Charmaine Ball Scholarship Fund at Manchester University. Find a full obituary at

A new Messenger Radio episode on “Advent Waiting” may be heard at In this special Advent episode, Anna Lisa Gross reads an excerpt from this year’s Advent devotional from Brethren Press, written by Angela Finet, and discusses it with Nancy Faus. Lucas Finet plays piano. Image by Aaron Burden, Unsplash

— Congregations are encouraged to complete their self-allocation report. It is an important budget planning tool for the Church of the Brethren. The deadline is Dec. 31. Find electronic and printable versions at E-mail questions to or call 847-429-4378.

— The Part-time Pastor; Full-time Church program is offering a book study on Flourishing in Ministry: How to Cultivate Clergy Wellbeing by Matt Bloom. The online event is planned once a week from Jan. 4 to March 3, 2022, on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Continuing education units are available. Find out more at

— The Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy is one of the 115 organizations that signed a letter supporting a TRIPS waiver which would increase international access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. During a virtual press conference on Monday, Dec. 13, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA also joined the global faith community to release the letter, alongside the World Council of Churches. The letter signed by the 115 organizations representing five world faith traditions calls on World Trade Organization member countries to act before year’s end to waive the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights rules. The faith community spotlighted the moral necessity of increasing access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Find the WCC release about the letter at

– Next year’s Youth Roundtable at Bridgewater (Va.) College is planned for Feb. 25-27, 2022. The annual regional youth conference is for grades 9-12 and their adult advisors. Chris Michael, aformer Interdistrict Youth Cabinet member, high school art teacher, Tik-Tok comedian, and artist, is the featured speaker. More information will be available in January.

The Global Women’s Project Steering Committee reported this week one of their “unexpected joys…that we have had donations from all of you during this year that total over $30,000! And, for your generosity we are so humbled and grateful.” Find out more about this Church of the Brethren-related project at

— Christian leaders in Jerusalem, in Israel and Palestine, have released a statement on the current threat to the Christian presence in the Holy Land. “Since 2012 there have been countless incidents of physical and verbal assaults against priests and other clergy, attacks on Christian churches, with holy sites regularly vandalized and desecrated, and ongoing intimidation of local Christians who simply seek to worship freely and go about their daily lives,” the statement said, in part. “These tactics are being used by such radical groups in a systematic attempt to drive the Christian community out of Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land.” Find the full statement at Expressing solidarity with the Patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem, the World Council of Churches (WCC) also issued a statement about the violence against Christians there. Find it at

– Christian Aid Ministries has announced that their remaining 12 hostages have been freed in Haiti. In total, 17 volunteers with the ministry had been kidnapped by a gang and held for weeks. Find a statement from the ministry, which has connections with old order Brethren and Mennonite groups and has been a partner in disaster relief with Brethren Disaster Ministries, at

Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has installed a new sculpture on campus, the Juniata Peace Arch. “A graceful sculpture designed to amalgamate the strength and flexibility of stainless steel, the reflective and prismatic qualities of dichroic glass, and the natural light and environs surrounding Kepple Hall was commissioned by Thomas R. Kepple, Juniata College president emeritus, and his wife, Pat, to honor John Dale and his wife, the late Irene (Miller) Dale,” said a release. “The Juniata Peace Arch, created and installed by artist Nicole Beck following a nationwide call for artist submissions in 2019, was named both for Mrs. Dale, as the meaning of the name Irene is ‘peace,’ and as a nod to the Peace Chapel designed by architect Maya Lin in 1988.” Working with Kathryn Blake, director of the Juniata College Museum of Art, a committee of faculty, staff, and students reviewed the 52 submissions received. An official dedication of the Juniata Peace Arch is planned for April 2022. Photo by Haldan Kirsch, courtesy of Juniata College

Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Inclusion in Newsline does not necessarily convey endorsement by the Church of the Brethren. All submissions are subject to editing. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contributors to this issue include Nick Beam, Shamek Cardona, Lisa Crouch, James Deaton, Matt DeBall, Sharon Franzén, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Joy Kain, Pat Krabacher, Jim Miner, Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, David Sollenberger, David A. Steele, Jennie Waering, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Please send news tips and submissions to . Find the Newsline archive at . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren email newsletters and make subscription changes at . Unsubscribe by using the link at the top of any Newsline email.

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