Newsline for Feb. 26, 2021

“How you have helped one who has no power! How you have assisted the arm that has no strength!” (Job 26:2).

1) Church of the Brethren staff plan expansion of agriculture and trauma recovery programing in South Sudan

2) Miller and Li hired as co-executives of Global Mission for the Church of the Brethren

3) Youth and young adult calendar lists upcoming events to be offered online
4) Ventures course to focus on ‘Reformations Past and Present’
5) Westminster church uses mini-grant to present webinar series on racial justice

6) A poetic blessing for the innovative prayer covering

7) Brethren bits: Annual Conference registration opens March 2, prayer requests from Nigeria and the DRC, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy signs letter urging cuts to “the bloated Pentagon budget,” district and college news, CWS webinar “Thinking Beyond Resettlement: Are Complementary Pathways for Refugees the Answer,” prayer service for 500,000 American deaths to COVID-19

The One Great Hour of Sharing annual offering for denominational ministries is scheduled for Sunday, March 21. Find out more at

Reminder: All are invited to worship together with the Church of the Brethren!

Tomorrow evening, Saturday, Feb. 27, is the denomination-wide worship service on the theme “Venturing Forth Boldly as a Faith Family,” sponsored by the Program and Arrangements Committee of Annual Conference.

The service is offered in both English and a Spanish translation. It starts at 8 p.m. Eastern time (7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain, 5 p.m. Pacific). Join the livestream in advance of that time to enjoy 12 minutes of gathering music.

A bulletin is posted online with the order of service and a full list of participants.

Find all these links at

Landing page of Church of the Brethren COVID-19 related resources and information:

Church of the Brethren congregations offering online worship in English and other languages:
*Spanish/bilingual; **Haitian Kreyol/bilingual; ***Arabic/bilingual
*español/bilingüe, ** kreyol haitiano/bilingüe, ***عربي / ثنائي اللغة

Lifting up Brethren who are active in health care:

Send information about churches to be added to the listing of online worship offerings to

Add a person to the list of Brethren active in health care by sending first name, county, and state to

1) Church of the Brethren staff plan expansion of agriculture and trauma recovery programing in South Sudan

A plan to expand Church of the Brethren agriculture and trauma recovery programing in South Sudan is receiving support from Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Global Food Initiative. A joint allocation directs $29,500 to the work in South Sudan, including $24,500 from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and $5,000 from the Global Food Initiative (GFI).

The plan has been developed by a collaboration of staff and volunteers including South Sudan mission staff Athanasus Ungang, the Global Mission office, and the volunteer Country Advisory Team.

A view of the Brethren Peace Center in Torit, South Sudan, the base for the work of Global Mission staff Athanasus Ungang.

The trauma recovery and resiliency work will be done through a partnership with Reconcile, an independent NGO with roots in the ministry of former Brethren mission workers who have served in the region.

The joint allocation is a major boost to the annual Global Mission funding for South Sudan, which supports administration of the Brethren Peace Center in the city of Torit, church planting, various agricultural projects, and other miscellaneous expenses.


Continuing needs in South Sudan relate to the civil war that preceded the country’s independence in 2011. The region has seen more time at war than peace in the last 60 years, with the most recent war beginning in 2013.

After many failed peace accords, the September 2018 agreement has held, resulting in many displaced families returning home from refugee camps. There was hope of rebuilding and new development to support millions of food-insecure people, but flooding in 2019 and locust infestations and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 weakened the ability of families to support and feed themselves.

As of January this year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that 8.3 million South Sudanese need assistance–more than two-thirds of the population–including 2.19 million refugees in neighboring countries and 1.62 million internally displaced people. Some 1.4 million are malnourished children.

There are three ways to give financial support to the work in South Sudan:
— through the Global Mission office at (under “Fund” click on “Global Mission”),
— through the Emergency Disaster Fund at, and
— through the Global Food Initiative at


2) Miller and Li hired as co-executives of Global Mission for the Church of the Brethren

Ruoxia Li and Eric Miller begin March 8 as co-executive directors of Global Mission for the Church of the Brethren. The married couple will guide the international mission program of the Church of the Brethren, direct and administer denominational mission efforts, and provide administrative and clerical support for Global Mission staff, volunteers, and committees.

Norman and Carol Spicher Waggy have been serving as interim directors of Global Mission since March 2, 2020. They will be assisting in the transition of leadership.

Miller and Li will work remotely from their home in China until they are able to relocate to the United States.

Ruoxia Li and Eric Miller, with their daughter. (Photo courtesy of Eric Miller)

Since January 2020, they have been Global Mission and Service workers for the Church of the Brethren at Yangquan You’ai Hospital in Pinding, Shanxi Province, China.

The hospital takes its name from the original hospital founded in 1911 by Church of the Brethren missionaries in Pingding, which in turn shared its name with the Church of the Brethren in China, You’ai Hui.

Li is founder and president of You’aiCare, a managed hospice and home‐based care service in partnership with the hospital. Miller has worked since 2012 as consulting director for International Partnerships at the hospital.

Miller holds a doctorate in anthropology from Pittsburg (Pa.) University, a certificate in Asian studies from John’s Hopkins‐Nanjing University Center in China, and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.

Li holds a master’s degree in theology, development, and evangelism from Wartburg Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in public relations from South Central University (Changsha, Hunan Province, China).

Miller grew up in York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren while Li grew up in Shouyang, the location of another past Brethren mission post in Shanxi Province. Previously they were members of Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren in Blacksburg, Va., and currently worship with Living Stream Church of the Brethren online.


3) Youth and young adult calendar lists upcoming events to be offered online

An updated calendar of online events for youth and young adults has been announced by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult ministry. Most of the following events were shared in a letter from director Becky Ullom Naugle to youth advisors and pastors ( Information also is being shared via Facebook at

“It goes without saying that virtual events are not the same as in-person events, and I lament with you the loss this represents,” she wrote. “Yet, as we model for others how to find and follow the movement of the Holy Spirit in challenging times, I hope these new online opportunities enrich our faith and the faith of those we walk beside.”

She noted that the National Junior High Conference and Ministry Summer Service will not be offered this year because of complications related to COVID. Ministry Summer Service will resume in 2022, and the next National Junior High Conference will take place in 2023.


Feb. 28 – Deadline for junior and senior high youth groups to express interest in participating in the Youth Fellowship Exchange, an opportunity to connect youth from different congregations for online fellowship. Youth advisors are invited to fill out an interest form at Find out more at

March 7 – The second in a series of Compelling Vision Bible Studies for young adults, junior high and senior high youth, and accompanying adults. These studies will be held in the evenings on select dates through June. Groups as well as individuals are encouraged to attend. “Together” is the theme for the event on March 7, at 8-9 p.m. (Eastern), led by Audrey and Tim Hollenberg-Duffey. Register at

March 14 – Bethany Theological Seminary professor Denise Kettering Lane will lead the third session in the Compelling Vision Bible Studies series, focusing on “as the Church of the Brethren,” on March 14 from 8-9 p.m. (Eastern). Register at‐rqDopHNTMU‐BdDaJ‐bJ6JL5YRGHGt.

March 24 – “Living Letters” art workshop for young adults led by Jessie Houff, Community Arts minister at Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren.

April 11 – “Living Letters” art workshop for junior high youth, led by Houff.

April 24-28 – Christian Citizenship Seminar for senior high youth and adult advisors. This year the theme is “Economic Justice” (Luke 1:51-53). Online sessions will be held in the evenings. Registration costs $75 per person. For more information and to register, go to

May 2 – National Youth Sunday, an annual event calling congregations to celebrate their senior high youth by inviting them into worship leadership. Theme and worship materials will be posted by March 15 at

May 11 – “Play, on Purpose,” a webinar for youth advisors, led by Dr. Lakisha Lockhart. Continuing education credit will be available.

May 28-31 – National Young Adult Conference for young adults age 18-35. This year’s theme is “Unfolding Grace” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Registration opens Feb. 26. Cost is $75 per person. For more information and to register go to

Aug. 1 – “Living Letters” art workshop for youth advisors, led by Houff.

Nov. 7 – National Junior High Sunday, an annual event celebrating junior high youth, encouraging congregations to welcome them into worship leadership. Worship resources will be posted later this summer at

2022 – National Youth Conference. Planning is beginning now for next year’s NYC, a conference held every four years for senior high youth and first-year college students (or those of equivalent age), and their adult advisors.

4) Ventures course to focus on ‘Reformations Past and Present’

By Kendra Flory

The March offering from the Ventures in Christian Discipleship program at McPherson (Kan.) College will be “Reformations Past and Present,” to be held online March 13 at 9 a.m. to 12 noon (Central time), presented by Bobbi Dykema.

As an opportunity for deepening engagement with this topic, there will be a talk-back session offered on the following Monday evening, March 15. Information for joining that call will be emailed to course registrants.

In church historian Phyllis Tickle’s book The Great Emergence, Tickle quotes Anglican bishop Mark Dyer as saying that “about every 500 years, the church feels compelled to hold a giant rummage sale.” Past such “rummage sales”–the shift into monastic Christian spirituality with the fall of the Roman Empire around the year 500, the Great Schism between the Eastern Orthodox churches and Western Christianity around the year 1000, and the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s–have all contributed mightily to our current understanding and practice of the Christian faith, which itself is undergoing upheaval in the present time.

What can we learn from these past reformations, and what can we observe already about the current time of change, that will help us to navigate? This course will examine the history of the three earlier times of reformation and lift up what scholars are observing about the present shifts, with an eye toward equipping church folks to listen faithfully to and live out the Spirit’s calling of the church of the future.

Dykema is serving pastorates at First Church of the Brethren in Springfield, Ill., and the online congregation Living Stream Church of the Brethren. She also serves on the steering committee of the Womaen’s Caucus. She completed her master’s degree at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and a doctorate in Art and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, with a dissertation on early Lutheran woodcuts. She has written a number of scholarly articles on the visual culture of the Protestant Reformation, including most recently one on “Protestant Visual Art” for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Religion and the Arts, as well as a recent Bible study on compassion in Messenger. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at Strayer University, Hamline University, Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry, and Pacific School of Religion.

Continuing education credit is available for $10 per course. During the registration process, there is an opportunity to pay for CEUs and give an optional donation to the Ventures program. Go to

— Kendra Flory is advancement assistant at McPherson (Kan.) College.

5) Westminster church uses mini-grant to present webinar series on racial justice

Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren’s Peace and Justice Committee is presenting a webinar series on racial justice in March. The series is funded by a grant obtained through the “mini-grant” program for Racial Justice and Healing Racism of the Church of the Brethren’s Intercultural Ministry.

The church “is excited to host a series of four webinars on racial justice,” said an announcement. “Our speakers include Ms. Judy Saunders-Jones and Dr. Richard M. Smith, the co-founders of the Racial Healing Clinic in Baltimore, Md., who will be presenting two racial justice topics on March 2 and March 9. Our speaker on March 23 is Rev. Dr. Marty Kuchma of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Westminster. Our series will conclude on March 30 with Dr. Raza Kahn, the President of the Islamic Society of Carroll County, Md.”

The Speaker Series on Racial Justice:

March 2 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) – “Healing the Racial Divide: What and Why” with Judy Saunders-Jones and Richard Smith

March 9 at 7 p.m. (Eastern) – “Healing the Racial Divide: How” with Saunders-Jones and Smith

Saunders-Jones is co-founder of the Jones and Smith Racial Healing Clinic in Baltimore and the Equity and Inclusion officer for Carroll County Public Schools. She has 27 years of experience in the Maryland public schools and a successful history of organizing programs on equity and cultural proficiency. In 2019, she received the Maryland Multicultural Coalition’s Jack Epstein Award for contributions in multicultural education.

Smith is co-founder of the Jones and Smith Racial Healing Clinic, associate professor of sociology and special advisor to the provost on Diversity Initiatives at McDaniel College, and a diversity consultant and trainer for Carroll County Public Schools. He was the 2020 recipient of the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award at McDaniel College.

March 23 at 7 p.m. (Eastern) – “Discovering Racism in the Teaching and Learning of History” with Marty Kuchma

Kuchma, senior pastor of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Westminster for nearly 16 years, also is senior adjunct professor at Lancaster (Pa.) Theological Seminary and adjunct faculty in the Social Work Department at McDaniel College. He has been a recipient of the Carroll County Human Relations Commission annual award. He has presented and consulted widely on race and racism and is finalizing a book intended to help white people meaningfully engage in the work of anti-racism.

March 30 at 7 p.m. (Eastern) – “Transformation of a Belonging: Healing the Wounds of Injustice and Racism” with Raza Khan

Khan is president of the Islamic Society of Carroll County and division chair of sciences and program director of STEM Scholars at Carroll Community College. He earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in chemistry from Howard University. He was selected as keynote speaker for the 2020 Carroll County Human Relations Commission for his service to bring understanding, an open forum of dialogue, and harmony between faith-based congregations.

Register at Once registered, you may sign in to any or all of the webinars. For additional information contact


6) A poetic blessing for the innovative prayer covering

By Irvin Heishman

Blessed be, O God,
the fearless innovation of Mattie Cunningham Dolby
head covered with Brethren prayer fashion
conformed to traditional Brethren style
first Black female Manchester College graduate
first Black Brethren woman preacher
Greek scholar
gentle courage against racism
“go worship with your own kind”
she served elsewhere, boldly prayer covered
the Ohio Springfield Church of the Brethren is dead.

Blessed be, O God
the fearless innovation of women today
heads covered in COVID fashion
a prayer covering of the lower jaw and the nose
conformed in love for their neighbors’ good
making granddaughters and nieces proud in
hitting the right combination of keys for online worship
knitting prayer shawls
prayer covering strings behind their ears, they serve
the church survives and thrives. Hallelujah.

Irvin Heishman was inspired by a photo of Martha (Mattie) Cunningham Dolby to write this poetic blessing.

She is one of those chosen by Brethren Press to be featured in its new Forerunners card game, where her cartoon-style likeness shows her wearing the Brethren prayer covering (

The Forerunners biography for Mattie Dolby, 1878-1956:

“Mattie Dolby was born into a Brethren family, and she and her brother Joe were the first Black students enrolled in Manchester College. Mattie studied Bible there, and then in 1903 was sent by the denomination, along with James and Susan May, to establish a church among Blacks in Palestine, Arkansas, where she started a Sunday school for children. Later, she worked among Black congregations in southern Ohio, where she and her husband, Newton, were installed as deacons in the Frankfort congregation in 1907. Four years later, the congregation called Mattie to become a minister. Because of racial prejudice, Mattie and her family left the Church of the Brethren to minister in other denominations until her death.”

In a detailed history of her life and ministry, posted on a North Manchester history site, she is described as “humiliated by the church which nurtured her, yet forgiving, wise, encouraging others, compassionate, a constant student. A forerunner without fanfare.” Find the piece written by Elizabeth L. Hendrix with research from A. Ferne Baldwin (as archivist of Manchester College) at

7) Brethren bits

Annual Conference registration opens March 2 at 1 p.m. (Eastern time) at The Church of the Brethren annual meeting is online-only this year. Worship services are free and open to the public, but registration and a fee are required to attend the business sessions, Bible studies, workshops, insight sessions, concerts, and more. The Annual Conference office has begun publishing a newsletter with details about the 2021 annual meeting, find the first issue at

Prayers are requested for pastor and evangelist Bulus Yakura of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) who was kidnapped from the village of Pemi, near Chibok in northeast Nigeria, by Boko Haram on Christmas Eve 2020. Media in Nigeria have been sharing a video threatening his execution by March 3 if ransom demands are not met. See a report originally from the Nigerian newspaper Morning Star News at Find the Newsline article about the Christmas Eve attacks on EYN churches and communities at

2020 Annual Conference Logo
The logo for Annual Conference 2021. Art by Timothy Botts

— The Global Mission office has shared a prayer request from Ron Lubungo, a leader of the Church of the Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “We request prayers for the Eastern corner of DRCongo where people are killed day by day,” he wrote in an email. “One of them is ambassador of Italy.” News media have reported that the Italian ambassador, his Italian bodyguard, and a Congolese driver were killed in an attack while driving in a convoy of the United Nation’s World Food Program. The nation’s leadership is blaming Hutu rebels in the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda, one of many armed groups active in the area.

— The Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy signed on to a Feb. 18 letter to members of Congress from 31 faith-based organizations across the country, urging cuts to “the bloated Pentagon budget” in order to carry out the administration’s “commitment to investing in green energy and sustainable infrastructure, in affordable healthcare, and in economic support for people struggling with the effects of the pandemic. These are essential investments,” the letter said, in part. “We are called by our faith traditions to prioritize caring for people, and to turn away from violence and corruption. The Hebrew Bible calls people ‘stewards’ of the land, urges them to feed the hungry and care for the poor, and prophesies nations forging their ‘swords into ploughshares.’ …Instead of spending money on weapons and war, we need to be investing in things that address the urgency of climate change and build resilient communities–including clean energy and sustainable infrastructure. Ensuring that low-income and marginalized communities have the infrastructure they need for clean air, water, broadband, and public transportation is key. Addressing climate change and sustainable infrastructure will put the country on a path to a more equitable future–and create good jobs at the same time. We also need reductions in the Pentagon budget in order to invest in public health–an especially essential investment in this time of pandemic.”

— Pacific Southwest District is offering an all-district love feast service online on Maundy Thursday, April 1, beginning at 6:30 p.m. (Pacific time). “The same service will be offered on the PSWD YouTube channel and in Zoom at the same time,” said the announcement. The service will be in both English and Spanish, with captions in the alternate language so that all may participate. Register for the Zoom service at The district YouTube Channel is at

— Also from Pacific Southwest District, a weekly Bible study will be held via Zoom for district members to study the proposed compelling vision for the Church of the Brethren. The sessions will take place each Wednesday evening beginning on March 3, led by district executive minister Russ Matteson using the 13 sessions prepared by the Compelling Vision Working Group.

— “Our big 20th Annual Sounds of the Mountains Story Festival will be online on Saturday, April 17!” said an announcement from Virlina District. “Donald Davis returns to our amazing ‘all-headliners’ festival including Dolores Hydock, Kevin Kling, Bil Lepp, Barbara McBride-Smith, and Donna Washington.” This free online storytelling event is held to encourage donations to Camp Bethel. For more information go to

— Juniata College is offering its faculty, staff, and students the opportunity to attend a Q&A with Ibram X. Kendi, author of the 2019 book How to Be an Antiracist. The event takes place online on March 3. The Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, in cooperation with the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Juniata, are sponsoring the event. Said a release: “Professor Kendi is a National Book Award recipient and New York Times No. 1 best-selling author of seven books. He is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and the Founding Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Kendi is a contributor writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News Racial Justice Contributor. He is also the 2020-2021 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for the Advanced Study at Harvard University. In 2020, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. His 2019 book How to Be an Antiracist was described by The New York Times as ‘the most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.’ The book’s central message is that the opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ The true opposite of racist is antiracist. Kendi writes, ‘Denial is the heartbeat of racism.’” The Q&A will be moderated by Territa Poole, assistant professor of psychology, and Daniel Welliver, interim director of the Baker Institute and professor of sociology.

— McPherson (Kan.) College celebrated a combined total of more than 270 years of service to the college when it recognized faculty, staff, and board of trustee members this week. Said a release: “Faculty and staff were treated to a drive-through dinner and awards presentation on campus. This year’s event replaced the reception and dinner traditionally held honoring those who have served the college from 5 to 30 years. Members of the campus administrative team presented the honorees with their award and take-out dinners prepared by the campus food service.”

McPherson (Kan.) College president Michael Schneider presents the College Service Award to Monica Rice, director of alumni and constituent relations, at a drive-through awards and dinner celebration.

— “Thinking Beyond Resettlement: Are Complementary Pathways for Refugees the Answer?” is the title of a webinar from Church World Service (CWS) and the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) on March 3 at 12 noon (Eastern time). “Third-country resettlement is an important part of the international commitment to refugee protection and support,” said the announcement. “Yet the vast majority of refugees in need of resettlement as a durable solution in 2021 are unlikely to be resettled. In 2020, amid a global pandemic, resettlement numbers reached a record low: only 22,770 (1.6 percent) of the 1.4 million refugees in need of resettlement were resettled…. Complementary pathways represent untapped opportunities for refugees to improve their lives through other migration channels.” Panel members include Katherine Rehberg, Deputy Vice President, Immigration and Refugee Program, Church World Service; Manuel Orozco, Senior Fellow and the Director of the Migration, Remittances and Development Program at the Inter-American Dialogue and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University; Sasha Chanoff, Founder and Executive Director, RefugePoint. Register at

— The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is providing an online prayer service to mark the death of 500,000 Americans to COVID-19, called “Words of Comfort, Prayers for the People.” An invitation said, “As we grieve the milestone of over 500,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States, we hope our prayer service helps to sustain and encourage you during this time of mourning and continued struggle due to the pandemic. We invite you to add your own prayer in the comments for the video or share your prayer on social media using #ATIME2MOURN.” View the service at

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 Jeff Boshart, Shamek Cardona, Kendra Flory, Tina Goodwin, Irvin Heishman, Gary Honeman, Ron Lubungo, Nancy Miner, Becky Ullom Naugle, Norm and Carol Spicher Waggy, 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, make subscription changes, or unsubscribe at .

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