Newsline for July 16, 2021

1) Office of Ministry makes available documents for 2022 pastor salary and benefits

2) Children’s Disaster Services has completed its work at Surfside building collapse

3) The time to act is now: Rights of conscientious objectors and the Selective Service System

4) Brethren Volunteer Service returns to in-person orientation units

5) Webinar introduces Shine Sunday school materials for the fall quarter

6) Easton Church hosts Zoom Q&A session with Drew Hart

7) Mohrsville offers annual vesper service at historic Pricetown Meetinghouse

8) Stone Church promotes ‘It’s a Small World’ book project

9) Zion Hill Church to hold community COVID-19 memorial service

10) Mount Vernon congregation hosts BBQ Benefit for Alzheimer’s research

11) Manassas Church begins campaign to collect CWS hygiene kits

12) Eaton Community Church hosts disaster sewing bee

13) Nokesville congregation celebrates a ‘joyful day’

14) Brethren bits: Remembering Kermon Thomasson and Esther Rupel, Brethren Disaster Ministries longterm volunteer opening, Annual Conference session recordings available through September, Clergywomen’s Brunch, Brethren Press on YouTube, and more

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1) Office of Ministry makes available documents for 2022 pastor salary and benefits

The Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry has sent out its annual e-packet of documents for the Cash Salary Guidelines and Table for pastors for the upcoming year, 2022. The packet has been provided to the 24 district offices across the denomination, and select documents also are available to download from the Office of Ministry webpage for forms at

Some documents included in the packet are:

— A 2022 cover letter from Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of the Office of Ministry.

— The 2022 Cash Salary Table and Guidelines, which are also available on the Office of Ministry webpage for forms.

— Documents pertaining to the Employment of Licensed Ministers and to Bethany Seminary student placements.

The annual start-up and renewal agreements for pastors and congregations are not included in the packet but are available online, as downloadable and fillable pdf forms on the Office of Ministry webpage for forms.

For more information or questions contact

2) Children’s Disaster Services has completed its work at Surfside building collapse

By Lisa Crouch

The Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) team serving at the Surfside building collapse in Florida returned home after a six-day deployment, due to low numbers of children in the facilities.

The CDS volunteers were ready to serve at the Family Assistance Center, but they found that the children and families involved had significant community and/or family support outside the disaster response area, resulting in very few children needing the CDS childcare center.

This is not unusual in such disasters and, as with any deployment, the team was committed to being flexible in helping children mitigate the effects of the trauma. The team was able to work with the Red Cross to identify needs of children who had evacuated their homes and were being sheltered in nearby hotels.

We appreciate the CDS volunteers who were able to respond to this community and heartbreaking tragedy. CDS will be ready to respond again when the call comes.

— Lisa Crouch is associate director Children’s Disaster Services, which is a program within Brethren Disaster Ministries. Find out more at

3) The time to act is now: Rights of conscientious objectors and the Selective Service System

By Maria Santelli, Center on Conscience and War (CCW)

If you are concerned about the rights of conscientious objectors and the Selective Service System (aka “the draft”), the time to act is now.

Questions on the future of Selective Service were raised back in 2015, after all military combat positions were opened to women, and the rationale for maintaining a male-only draft evaporated. In 2016, Congress and the President appointed the Commission on Military, National, and Public Service to study the issue for three years. Their conclusions, released in March 2020, included retaining Selective Service and extending it to women.

Though CCW and many other faith and peace communities, including the Church of the Brethren, advocated for more robust protections for conscientious objectors, the commission declined recommending any additional provisions, such as declaring conscientious objection beliefs at the time of registration for the draft.

At the same time that the commission was holding public meetings and official hearings, two legal challenges to the male-only draft were making their way through the courts. Recently, one of those cases came in front of the Supreme Court, the “National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System (SSS).” The court rejected the case, stating that it will defer to Congress, while they “actively weigh the issue.”

And they should. Up until now, Congress has tried to avoid full, fair, public debate, because it is contentious and messy. Neither the draft nor the idea of drafting women is widely accepted: Major General Joe Heck, chair of the commission, told the House Armed Services Committee in May 2021 that “a small majority…52 or 53 percent” of people favored drafting women.

We attended every event the commission held. Testimony given then, and that obtained through FOIA requests, revealed significant opposition to expanding or even maintaining the draft. But it seems that these voices were disregarded, or worse, ignored, in the commission’s report and subsequent testimony in front of Congress.

The commission also seems to have disregarded concerns about the effectiveness of Selective Service registration for its stated purpose. “Less than useless.” That is how Dr. Bernard Rostker, its past director, described the Selective Service System in his testimony before the commission in April 2019.

And, despite the fact that refusing or neglecting to register (which millions of men have done) is considered a “felony offense,” the Department of Justice has not prosecuted anyone since the 1980s. There are extra-judicial penalties, but the most severe of which–and the one that likely coerced the most young men to register over the last three and a half decades–the ability to receive federal student financial aid, will no longer be dependent on SSS registration, effective this academic school year! Non-registrants are still barred from federal jobs and job training, and some states still impose penalties on nonregistrants such as denying state employment, driver’s licenses, state IDs, and access to state colleges and universities and state student aid.

So if the Selective Service System is not effective for its stated purpose, and the federal government is unwilling to prosecute resisters, and the Congress and the Department of Education are beginning to realize that the extra-judicial punishments are unjust, why are we still keeping the Selective Service around? And why has the debate been so limited in its focus on extending this burden to women?

Maj. Gen. Heck and the commission gave us the answer: “[Selective Service registration] sends a message of resolve to our adversaries that the nation as a whole is ready to respond to any crisis. It also provides recruiting leads to military services.”

This porous boundary between the Department of Defense and Selective Service is one reason why many conscientious objectors refuse to register.

The Selective Service System was established in law (thanks to CCW’s founders!) to be a civilian agency, not an arm of the military. As people of conscience, we object to being coerced and denied due process for the purposes of providing leads to military recruiters and threatening our global neighbors.

It is time to abolish the Selective Service. Congress has that option available to them right now. Bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the House (HR 2509) and the Senate (S 1139) to repeal the Military Selective Service Act, overturn the federal penalties imposed on all nonregistrants over the last four decades, and protect the rights of conscientious objectors.

But there is also movement to slip an amendment into the National Defense Authorization Act, (NDAA), a “must-pass” Pentagon spending bill, to expand Selective Service (draft) registration to women. Such an amendment must be prevented or defeated.

CCW is calling on the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Military Personnel to hold full and fair hearings on the future of Selective Service, including hearing officially from a diversity of voices, such as the faith and peace community–not just members of the commission. The hearing on the NDAA will be July 28. The full debate by the House Armed Services Committee on the NDAA will be July 31. Members can introduce amendments at this time, and we are expecting amendments to repeal Selective Service, which we support, and to expand the draft, which we oppose.

Find the co-sponsors of H.R.2509, the Selective Service Repeal Act, at If your member is on that list, you may feel moved to reach out and thank them! If not, consider letting them know why it’s important for them to become co-sponsors. And if your member is on the House Armed Services Committee, you can share with them why now is the time to hold full and fair hearings on this issue.

— Maria Santelli is executive director of the Center on Conscience and War, a longterm partner organization of the Church of the Brethren. The CCW predecessor organizations were founded by the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren. Find out more at


4) Brethren Volunteer Service returns to in-person orientation units

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is starting in-person training again with the summer orientation for Unit 329, gathering at Inspiration Hills Camp in Burbank, Ohio. Six volunteers are expected to take part.

BVS staff have announced a change in the dates for the fall orientation unit, to Oct. 3-22, in-person at Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich.

The BVS staff reported that the decision to return to in-person orientation “was carefully considered and researched in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Brethren Disaster Ministries, Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), and Faith Outreach Expeditions (FaithX). We are excited to be able to gather safely and in intentional community for the orientation experience once more!”

Applications for the fall orientation unit are accepted through Aug. 20. Said the announcement: “Please consider sharing your gifts with BVS to serve a world in need.”

Find out more about Brethren Volunteer Service at

5) Webinar introduces Shine Sunday school materials for the fall quarter

The Shine curriculum from Brethren Press and MennoMedia is offering a webinar on July 27 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) for those interested in finding out more about what is planned for the fall quarter. Registration is now open at

“Are you teaching Sunday school this fall? Join the Shine staff as we walk through the materials for the upcoming quarter,” said the announcement. “We’ll give you an overview of each age level including the session plan and student materials. Learn more about All Together: God’s Story for You & Me, the Bible storybook for elementary, and Shine’s music album, Everybody Sing.”

The creators of Shine: Living in God’s Light “want children and youth to love Jesus, grow in faith, and change the world,” the announcement continued. “The world and our church are not as they were in 2019–and neither is Shine. Join us on Tuesday, July 27, as we share new products and ideas to help you re-envision faith formation for a new day.”

Those who register for the webinar will receive the Zoom link by email on Monday, July 26. Find out more about Shine at


6) Easton Church hosts Zoom Q&A session with Drew Hart

Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren is hosting an online Question and Answer Session with Drew Hart, to be held on Zoom on Monday, July 26, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). “Dr. Hart will be sharing about his book Trouble I’ve Seen–Changing the Way the Church Views Racism,” said an announcement from Ellen Whitacre Wile. “You are welcome to join us! Even if you have not read the book!” The announcement included a recommendation of the book from Shane Claiborne, who wrote: “In this raw, honest, truth-telling book, Drew Hart offers himself, his life, his story, his tears, his fire in the most vulnerable way in the hopes of interrupting the vulgar disposability of black lives in our society. This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in this country. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you and our blood-stained streets. Drew Hart’s Trouble I’ve Seen is a memoir in the tradition of the blues…it is theological blues…and it will move you to do something about the ugly residue of racism that still haunts us.” Register in advance at Those who register will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

7) Mohrsville offers annual vesper service at historic Pricetown Meetinghouse

Mohrsville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is holding its annual Pricetown Vesper Service on Sunday, July 18, at 7 p.m. “Visitors are welcome to worship in the oldest unaltered Church of the Brethren in America,” said an invitation. “Come and enjoy an evening in a peaceful setting just like it was long ago.” The meetinghouse was built in the year 1777 by Brother Martin Gaube, who was born in 1742 and died in 1812. The announcement noted that Gaube was ordained to eldership in the church by Christopher Sauer Jr. on Aug. 12, 1780, two years after Sauer was released from prison for operating a printing press and refusing to serve in the Revolutionary War. The announcement described the meetinghouse as having walls of rough stone about 2 feet thick, and dimensions of 30 by 25 feet in its main building and 16 by 16 feet in an addition used for preparation of love feast. Fred Steinruck will be leading the service with hymns and special music. For more information and directions call 610-926-5167 or contact pastor Scott Cooper at 717-925-9994.

8) Stone Church promotes ‘It’s a Small World’ book project

Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., “is on a mission to help heal racism one book at a time through their new ‘It’s A Small World Book Project,’” reports and WTAJ in Altoona. “The initiative started when church member Pamela Grugan took on the new title of grandma this year,” the report said. Grugan said, “Because one of my grandchildren is white and the other is biracial, my hope is to be able to take my two grandchildren to our local library and have them both find books with characters that look like they do.” The project includes hand-picking and purchasing books related to race from a Black-owned bookstore in Pittsburgh. So far, the church has presented two collections of 52 books in total to two different local libraries, the Huntingdon County Library and the Mount Union Community Library. In the works is a collection that could be made available to school teachers and that might travel from place to place for reading events, as well as one for the church itself. The church’s “wish list” of books is at This project is one of those receiving Healing Racism Mini-grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Intercultural Ministries. Read the full article at

9) Zion Hill Church to hold community COVID-19 memorial service

Zion Hill Church of the Brethren in Columbiana, Ohio, is planning a community memorial service to remember victims of COVID-19 on Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. “This will be an opportunity for those who lost a loved one during COVID restrictions to eulogize and remember their loved one,” said a notice in the Morning Journal News. “Many people weren’t given a chance to properly mourn with a service. This will give people an opportunity to talk about their loved one. There will be time set aside during the service when people can stand up and say something in memory of someone. One of the local pastors will give a short sermon and there will be refreshments offered following the service.” To participate, call the church at 330-482-4446 and leave a message. Find the notice online at

10) Mount Vernon congregation hosts BBQ Benefit for Alzheimer’s research

Mount Vernon Church of the Brethren in Wayneboro, Va., is hosting a July 24 BBQ Benefit for Alzheimer’s research, as a pick-up dinner available from 4-6 p.m. The event is part of the fundraising for the Greater Augusta Walk to End Alzheimer’s. In addition to the barbecue dish, the dinner will include baked beans, coleslaw, dessert, and choice of water or soft drinks. The cost of the meal is $10 and all proceeds benefit Nancy’s Forget Me Nots Team for Alzheimer’s research.

11) Manassas Church begins campaign to collect CWS hygiene kits

A campaign to collect hygiene kits for Church World Service (CWS) has been announced by Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, shared by pastor Mandy North and Mid-Atlantic District. The campaign begins in August. The CWS hygiene kits aid survivors of disasters and others in need, and are warehoused and shipped from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. “We’ve put together an Amazon wishlist for the items to make it easy to participate,” said the announcement. “Items purchased will be delivered to us and we will have a hygiene kit assembly party in October. Feel free to share the link with others and let’s see how many hygiene kits we can put together!” The wishlist is at

12) Eaton Community Church hosts disaster sewing bee

Eaton (Ohio) Community Church of the Brethren will host a sewing bee on July 24, where bags will be put together for Church World Services (CWS) school kits. “Come sew or prepare school kit items! There will be work for both sewers and non-sewers,” said an announcement from Southern Ohio and Kentucky District disaster coordinators Burton and Helen Wolf. The bee will start at 9 a.m. Bring a sack lunch and come for a time of service and fellowship. Sewers should bring their sewing machine and an extension cord. Non-sewers will be preparing school kit items for an assembly event planned for Aug. 19. For more information call Barb Brower at 937-336-2442.

13) Nokesville congregation celebrates a ‘joyful day’

On Sunday, July 4, Nokesville (Va.) Church of the Brethren “had our first worship in the sanctuary!” reported interim pastor Mary Cline Detrick, in an email to Newsline about the church’s first in-person event since the pandemic started. “We followed COVID guidelines with distancing and mask wearing and celebrated being together with a service celebrating with the Psalmist, ‘It is GOOD to give thanks’ as we reflected on the many things we have to be thankful for and the reasons we are thankful for them.” Detrick reported that the sanctuary was about two-thirds full and that the worship service was also live streamed for those who chose not to attend in person. “It was a joyful day,” she wrote.

14) Brethren bits

— Remembrance: R. Kermon Thomasson, 85, a former editor of the Church of the Brethren’s Messenger magazine and a former Nigeria mission worker, died on July 12 at his home in Martinsville, Va., as a result of a major stroke. Born Feb. 6, 1936, he was the son of the late Posie and Ruth (Draper) Thomasson, raised in Henry County, Va. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Bridgewater (Va.) College in 1958. Following graduation, he taught two years of high school in Manassas, Va., then entered Brethren Volunteer Service and was assigned to teach in Waka, Nigeria, beginning in 1960. He worked with the Church of the Brethren Mission in Nigeria for a total of 13 years. At Waka Teacher’s College he served as a teacher and vice principal 1963-1971. In 1971-1973 he was based in Garkida as a stewardship educator. Returning to the United States, in 1974 he started work as managing editor of Messenger. He became acting editor in 1977, and in 1979 was named editor. His 20-year tenure as editor ended in 1997. During his time on the denominational staff, he was involved in ecumenical publishing organizations including the Associated Church Press, where he served as treasurer. He received commendations from Inter-Church Features and many awards from the Religious Public Relations Council for his editorials and feature stories in Messenger. He authored a short paperback titled The Old, Old Story…Anew: The Church of the Brethren in Nigeria as the product of a sabbatical he spent in Nigeria in 1983. In addition to being a teacher and writer, Thomasson was an artist and cartoonist, and on occasion his cartoons and line drawings appeared on the pages of Messenger and other Brethren publications. Most recently, he illustrated a book of stories by Frank Ramirez, published by Brethren Press, called Brethren Brush with Greatness. He was passionate about genealogy, had an interest in history and the writings of Mark Twain, and an extensive book collection. He wrote historical vignettes for a regular series of articles in the Martinsville Bulletin. He is survived by his wife, Margaret (Wampler) Thomasson, son Galen and wife Holly (Williams) Thomasson, and grandchildren. A memorial service is planned for Monday, July 19, at 11 a.m. at Collins-McKee-Stone Funeral Home in Martinsville. The family will receive guests at 10 a.m. and at the conclusion of the service. Memorial gifts are received to Brethren Volunteer Service, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Messages of remembrance and condolence can be posted at

Brethren Disaster Ministries is seeking a long-term disaster project leader to serve on a volunteer basis, working at various domestic disaster recovery projects. This person will become part of the recovering community by helping to foster good relationships with short-term disaster response volunteers and the disaster survivors. The volunteer will work with other disaster project leaders as part of a leadership team. The office manager disaster project leader is responsible for supporting the volunteer housing site and office management. This includes working in Microsoft Office and Google Workspace, and being a primary source of project communications by phone, in person, and via email. Responsibilities also include tracking and reporting of finances and paperwork for volunteers and clients as well as completing other project responsibilities as needed, building relationships with local partners, coordinating scheduling, and supporting incoming volunteer groups and leaders. Must be at least 21 years old, willing to move around the country depending on assignment, and willing to represent the Church of the Brethren and to be a Christian witness. The length of service will be discussed but at least seven months is preferred. Other requirements include good interpersonal, communication, organizational, and problem-solving skills; flexibility; and a valid driver’s license. Housing, meals, and transportation are provided. A stipend is available, as needed. A detailed position description is available. Contact Brethren Disaster Ministries director Jenn Dorsch-Messler for more information or questions at or 410-635-8737. A detailed position description is available.

— Remembrance: Esther Fern Rupel, 97, leading authority on the history of Brethren dress and clothing, died June 28 at Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind. She was born March 31, 1924, one of five daughters, to A. Byron and E. Edith (Rohrer) Rupel on the family farm near Walkerton, Ind. She graduated from Manchester College (now Manchester University) in 1947, majoring in home economics and minoring in art and education. She received vocational home economics certification from Ball State Teacher’s College. In 1957, she received a master’s degree from Purdue University and joined the faculty of its College of Health and Human Sciences. She retired from Purdue after 31 years of teaching historical and cultural aspects of clothing and textiles. In 1971 she received a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, with a dissertation titled “The Origin, Significance, and Demise of the Prescribed Dress Worn by Members of the Church of the Brethren.” Rupel contributed entries to the Brethren Encyclopedia and enjoyed giving presentations on the subject of Brethren dress. Her contributions to the Church of the Brethren were numerous, on the local, district, and denominational levels, including among others 13 years on the Manchester College Board of Trustees; service on the district board and as district moderator; chairing the committee that planted Christ Our Shepherd Church of the Brethren in Greenwood, Ind.; service on the building committee for Manchester Church of the Brethren with recognition for a major role in the design of the church kitchen; service on the Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference and chairing the nominating committee; designing and creating church banners sold at Annual Conference to support the “Art for Hunger” cause. She is survived by her identical twin sister, Alice LaVern Rohrer, and numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews. A memorial service was held July 10 at Manchester Church of the Brethren. Memorial gifts are received to the Esther Rupel and Annabel Rupel Endowed Scholarship at Manchester University and to Heifer International. Find a full obituary at

— A note from the Annual Conference office this week, for those who registered to attend the full 2021 Conference: “We just found out the AC Online site will be available through the END OF SEPTEMBER!!! Don’t forget that you can go back to the AC Online site to watch any Business Session, recorded Insight Sessions or Networking Groups, Children’s Corner videos or concerts. Use the Access to Annual Conference email that you received as a registered Delegate or Non-Delegate to go back to the site! Enjoy!”

— Bethany Theological Seminary president Jeff Carter represented the Church of the Brethren at the World Council of Churches Central Committee meeting in June. He was one of 124 central committee members and presidents from around the world present in this first online meeting of the committee, said a WCC release. “The WCC central committee convened to advance preparations for the 11th WCC Assembly, taking place in 2022 in Karlsruhe, Germany, under the theme ‘Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity,’” said the release. “The central committee also addressed membership matters and strengthened the WCC fellowship through prayer and sharing. The agenda included the presentation of the assembly program for approval. The central committee received member church delegations to the assembly, nominated additional delegates and reviewed its report to the assembly…. The central committee received the application for membership of two churches and approved addendums extending the WCC strategic plan and financial strategy to include 2022.” Find the full overview of the WCC Central Committee meeting at

— Clergywoman are invited to the virtual version of the traditional in-person Clergywomen’s Annual Conference event in the form of a July 22 online “brunch” featuring Joelle Hathaway of the faculty at Bethany Theological Seminary speaking on the theme “Poetry and the Spiritual Imagination.” Hathaway is assistant professor of theological studies at Bethany. The event will take place at 12 noon (Eastern time). Credentialled ministers may earn 0.1 continuing education credit. Register in advance at–orzwsHtV5Dupz5XKLTGdaFKt43ZmI.

— Brethren Press has been posting on YouTube a series of “trailers” or short promotional videos for books and curriculum it publishes. The most recent trailers are for the Shine curriculum and for We Bear It in Tears: Stories from Nigeria. Previous trailers were posted for 25 Days to Jesus, Speak Peace, and The Seagoing Cowboy. All of the trailers may be viewed at

— Atlantic Northeast District has announced that its district conference this fall will be a hybrid event, both in-person and online. The theme is “Be Renewed in Christ” (Colossians 3). The dates are Oct. 1-2 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. “Each attendee can choose to either participate online or physically join us in Elizabethtown for the worship service and business session,” said the announcement. Registration is required.

— Brethren Voices is featuring a close-up look at Humpback Whales, touring with the Ultimate Whale Watch from Lahaina Harbor, Maui, “to get a close-up look of these peaceful giants,” said an announcement of the latest episode in this Brethren television series produced by Ed Groff and Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. “The very first Brethren Voices program in 2005 included a story of the Native Gwich’in of Arctic Village, Alaska, and the spiritual connection they have with the Porcupine Caribou herd,” explained Groff. “The caribou migrate 1,700 miles past the homes of the Native Gwich’in, to the coastal plains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The caribou have something in common with the Humpback whales. They both make long journeys and for the Humpbacks, it’s a migration of 6,000 miles…. For the Humpbacks, the shallow waters within the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai provide a safe place for the newborn calves, while consuming about 100 pounds of their mother’s milk, daily.” Hannah Pittore shares information about the Humpbacks and their 6,000-mile journey. “For the Humpbacks it is a comeback from a history of near extinction,” Groff added. “We are at a point where we need to give the Creation all the help it needs to prevent our own extinction.” Find this and other episodes of Brethren Voices at

— Church World Service (CWS) has issued an action alert calling on supporters to contact their congressional representatives on an urgent matter related to immigration. The alert highlights an anti-asylum policy known as Title 42, “a provision of the US health code that the government has misused to block asylum since March 2020,” said the alert. “The Biden administration has continued to rely on this policy which forcibly expels asylum-seekers from the southern border, returning them to danger, and has contributed to the separation of families and blocked people’s legal, human, and moral right to seek asylum. Right now is a critical time to demand the Administration end Title 42 expulsions which violate international human rights and US law. CWS has joined people of faith, public health experts, and advocates to strongly demand a categorical end to Title 42 expulsions as a critical step in restoring access to asylum. Every person seeking protection in the US should have a fair opportunity to pursue a life free from harm and oppression.” The effort includes CWS, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, and the Welcome With Dignity campaign. Ways to take action include contacting members of Congress; joining in or planning a prayer vigil during the #Faith4Asylum Days of Action on July 17-31 (a toolkit is at; and signing the Welcome With Dignity Pledge at

— The theme for next year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2022 has been announced by the World Council of Churches (WCC). The theme, “We saw the star in the East…” (Matthew 2:2) and related worship resources have been created by the Middle East Council of Churches based in Beirut, Lebanon, which is the convener for 2022. The annual event is co-sponsored by the WCC and the Vatican, and is observed around the time of Pentecost in the Southern Hemisphere and between Jan. 18-25 in the Northern Hemisphere. Reflections on the theme “explore how Christians are called to be a sign to the world of God bringing about unity,” said an announcement. “Drawn from different cultures, races, and languages, Christians share in a common search for Christ and a common desire to worship him.” Christians from different churches in Lebanon and neighboring countries worked together to prepare the resources despite persistent political and economic crises in the Middle East, and the August 2020 explosion in Beirut that caused hundreds of deaths and left hundreds of thousands injured or homeless, said Odair Pedroso Mateus, acting deputy general secretary of the WCC and director of its Faith and Order Commission. “They invite us to turn to the star in the East and worship together the Son of God incarnate,” said Mateus. “For this precious spiritual gift, we are thankful to God and to them.” The resources include an ecumenical opening prayer service, biblical reflections and prayers for eight days, and other elements of worship. They are available in English, French, German, and Spanish, with a Portuguese translation coming soon. Go to

— #Youthtakeover has been announced for Ecumenical International Youth Day on Aug. 12. The World Council of Churches (WCC) is asking young people from member churches and ecumenical partners to send in their ideas for “youth takeovers” of the WCC’s social media to showcase the intersectionality of the theme for the day on climate change. Guiding questions include “What is our role as Christians in protecting the environment?” The WCC is envisioning the day as a space for young people to discuss climate change. A toolkit will be launched and shared as a starting point for member churches and ecumenical partners to explore the theme. Send ideas, video greetings, photos, songs, and dances, by email to on or before July 31.

— Michelle Blough of Goshen City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren is one of the final contestants for the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Senior Queen. The pageant celebrates those who have “reached the age of elegance,” open to women who are at least 60 years of age by the opening day of the fair. The contestants will compete at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20, at Sauder Hall on the Goshen College Campus, according to a report in the Goshen News. Blough has been named Ms. Elkhart County Farm Bureau, Inc. She serves on the Farm Bureau Board and volunteers at Farm Bureau events, is a member and secretary for Four Seasons Extension Homemakers Club, recently concluded her term as district secretary-treasurer for the Michigan City District of the Indiana Extension Homemakers Association, and serves on the board and is the recording secretary of Ryan’s Place, a center for grieving children, teens, and families based in Goshen. Find the full article 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 Lisa Crouch, Mary Cline Detrick, Jan Fischer Bachman, Kim Gingerich, Ed Groff, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Jo Ann Landon, Pauline Liu, Pat Owen, Howard Royer, Maria Santelli, Fred Swartz, Ellen Whitacre Wile, Burton and Helen Wolf, 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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