Newsline for June 18, 2021

1) Annual Conference log-ins are distributed to registered participants, trainings and tech support available

2) Online reception will recognize and welcome new church fellowships and projects

3) Online event for clergywomen on July 22 takes place of usual breakfast at Annual Conference

4) ‘Always With Us’ book study considers what Jesus really said about the poor

5) Trent Turner concludes work with the Church of the Brethren Material Resources

6) ‘We celebrate and give thanks to God’: NCC shares Juneteenth responsive reading

7) Brethren bits: Prayer for 600,000 deaths to COVID-19, daily coverage of Annual Conference begins June 30 at, memorial service for Lois Neher, opening on the Young Adult Steering Committee, letter on ending solitary confinement, updated submission information for Messenger, new endowed scholarship honors W. Clemens Rosenberger, Womaen’s Caucus is “Refreshed at 50,” and more

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Quote of the week:

“It was June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers finally made it to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect two years earlier and set free enslaved people in the US. It’s hard to imagine what that day must have meant to those finding out the news of emancipation for the first time. There must have been tears and shouts of joy, laughter and singing, shock and disbelief, praising God and dancing everywhere. Freedom, Freedom, O, Freedom!

“The celebration of this day, referred to as Juneteenth, began a year later in Galveston, Texas in mostly church-led community events and has been commemorated ever since in Black communities across the country.”

— From the newsletter of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC).

Congress this week established Juneteenth (June 19) as a federal holiday. The Washington Post wrote that the action elevates “the day marking the end of slavery in Texas to a national commemoration of emancipation amid a larger reckoning about America’s turbulent history with racism. It is the first new federal holiday created by Congress since 1983, when lawmakers voted to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day after a 15-year fight to commemorate the assassinated civil rights leader. The vote was heralded by the bill’s supporters as a milestone in the effort to foster a greater recognition of the horrors of slavery in the United States and the long history of inequality that followed emancipation and continues to this day.” (

Daily coverage of the 2021 Annual Conference will be available from Wednesday, June 30, to Sunday, July 4, at Newsline also will be alerting readers to the coverage of the Conference and pre-Conference events including the Mission and Ministry Board meeting on the weekend of June 25-27, the Standing Committee of district delegates on June 27-30, and the Ministers’ Association annual meeting and continuing education event on June 29-30. For detailed information about the Conference go to

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

Church of the Brethren congregations offer a variety of worship opportunities 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 your congregation’s worship services to

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

1) Annual Conference log-ins are distributed to registered participants, trainings and tech support available

Delegates and nondelegates who have registered for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, which will be online June 30 through July 4, this week have received an email with a personalized log-in “button.” Once Conference events begin, registrants simply click on the button with the words “Go to Annual Conference” to access the event webpage.

The button, which may appear as a green box, is personalized to each registrant and is not to be shared with anyone. It replaces earlier instructions about having to use a log-in and password to access the Conference.

The emails with the log-in button will be sent out at least one more time prior to the start of Annual Conference. Registrants are asked to keep these emails handy to use for the duration of the Conference.

Worship services are free and available to anyone, with registration not required. Worship services take place at 8-9 p.m. (Eastern time) June 30-July 3, and 10-11 a.m. (Eastern time) on Sunday, July 4. Find the worship link and bulletins at

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

Using the log-in button and event webpage

Clicking on the button takes registrants to an event webpage where they can click through to participate in worship services, business sessions, “table” groups (small discussion groups), insight sessions, networking groups, concerts, children’s activities, and–for delegates only–voting.

Delegate views of the event webpage will include the voting function, but nondelegates will not be able to see that function.

The event webpage is available now, but the links to the Conference events will only “go live” when those events start. For start times consult the Conference book or the schedule posted at

Training and tech support

Trainings for participating in the online Conference started this week and continue next week. Find the list of trainings go to

Tech support will be available on June 30 to July 2, Wednesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Eastern time). The tech support phone line will be answered by denominational staff and the Program and Arrangements Committee. Call 800-323-8039 or email

Children’s activities

Conference director Chris Douglas invites parents and caregivers of young children to use the children’s activities at any time. The activities include three sessions consisting of three video segments in each, prepared by Abigail Hostetter Parker, and special downloadable coloring pages from the Church of the Brethren Mission Advancement department. The themes are: “God made our beautiful world!” “God made us each special!” and “God made special helpers, and I can be one, too!”

For detailed information about the 2021 Annual Conference go to

2) Online reception will recognize and welcome new church fellowships and projects

A virtual recognition of new church fellowships and projects in the Church of the Brethren is planned as a pre-Annual Conference event on Sunday, June 27, at 6-7 p.m. (Eastern time). The event is open to the denomination, and is in place of the recognition breakfast usually held at in-person Annual Conferences.

One fellowship and three projects will be recognized:

Centro Ágape en Acción (Los Banos) Fellowship in Pacific Southwest District, pastored by Rigo and Marge Beruman

Conexión Pasadena (Calif.) Project in Pacific Southwest District, pastored by Juan Pablo Plaza, Adriana Rios, and Fernanda Navarrete

Light of the Gospel Fellowship, New Jersey, a church project in Atlantic Northeast District, pastored by Milad Samaan, Gamal Badie Abdelmalak, and Joseph Gendy

Nueva Visión la Hermosa Iglesia de Los Hermanos, Waterford, Calif., a Project of Pacific Southwest District, pastored by Florecita Merlos

The link to attend the online reception is

3) Online event for clergywomen on July 22 takes place of usual breakfast at Annual Conference

By Nancy Sollenberger Heishman

The Office of Ministry is sponsoring a virtual version of the traditional in-person Clergywomen’s Annual Conference event in the form of a July 22 online “brunch” at 12 noon (Eastern time). Joelle Hathaway, assistant professor of theological studies at Bethany Theological Seminary, will speak on the theme “Poetry and the Spiritual Imagination.”

The event will offer an opportunity for clergywomen (and friends) to gather virtually for fellowship and to also earn 0.1 continuing education units at the same time. Register in advance at–orzwsHtV5Dupz5XKLTGdaFKt43ZmI. Se ofrecerá interpretación en español.

Hathaway received both her master’s degree and doctorate from Duke Divinity School and is currently developing new courses for Bethany in theology and the arts and ecotheology. Her research is interdisciplinary; of particular interest is what insights the arts and artistic practice can offer to practices of theological, liturgical, and ecological formation. Her current book project puts the Sabbath poetry of Wendell Berry in conversation with the Christian doctrine of creation. She will present an insight session about this research during the 2021 Annual Conference on July 3 at 12:30-1:30 p.m. (Eastern time).

For more information and a link to the Clergywomen’s Brunch go to the Office of Ministry page at

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

4) ‘Always With Us’ book study considers what Jesus really said about the poor

By Anna Lisa Gross

One sentence from the Gospels is used to justify poverty–but is that what Jesus meant in the story of the woman anointing him? About 20 Brethren and non-Brethren spent 10 weeks studying scripture and the book Always With Us? What Jesus Really Said about the Poor by Liz Theoharis, exploring Jesus’ context, and what position Jesus held in his own society. (Spoiler: he was poor.)

This group of ministers and laypeople learned about the Jubilee Code laid out in Deuteronomy, and considered what it would look like to follow Jubilee Economics today.

A quote from Martin Luther King Jr. guided this study:

Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis, via Wikimedia Commons

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar…. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

What opportunities do we have to transform the “Jericho road” in our own communities?

Many participants report the study gave them a clear sense of the need for transformational structural change, rather than solely participating in charity efforts. The book study included set-aside weeks for Action Groups, assigned regionally, for participants from Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kenya. Most participants learned about the book study through the Poor People’s Campaign and/or On Earth Peace. The study was led by Heidi Gross of First Church of the Brethren, Chicago, Ill.; Bev Eikenberry of Manchester Church of the Brethren, North Manchester, Ind.; and Anna Lisa Gross of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, Fort Wayne, Ind.

These participants appreciated that Zoom technology made the study possible, and enjoyed exploring polls, breakout rooms, and “chat waterfalls.” The group often meditated on the image of Jesus sleeping on a park bench (a statue that has appeared in more than 20 cities throughout the world). The group hopes, prays, and intends to be part of bringing about what Jesus preached–an end to poverty. Then, those sleeping on park benches will do so by choice, not by necessity!

— Anna Lisa Gross is a pastor at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind.


5) Trent Turner concludes work with the Church of the Brethren Material Resources

Due to reduced donations in Material Resources, Trent Turner’s work with the program has been concluded as of today, June 18. Turner has served as warehouse assistant for Material Resources for about three-and-a-half years, since Jan. 23, 2017. He began his work at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., as a contract employee in April 2016. Material Resources is a Church of the Brethren program that processes, warehouses, and ships disaster relief and other material aid on behalf of a number of ecumenical partner organizations.


6) ‘We celebrate and give thanks to God’: NCC shares Juneteenth responsive reading

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) has shared the following Juneteenth responsive reading by Leslie Copeland-Tune, COO of the NCC. It was first used at an NCC chapel service held at the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C., on June 10, 2019:

Leader: Today, we gather to remember, to reflect, to celebrate FREEDOM!

Congregation: Freedom is not free. We thank You, O God, today for our freedom in you and remember those for whom freedom was so costly a price to pay.

Leader: We remember those who were enslaved. We recognize that slavery tried to erase the humanity of so many of your people–those who were enslaved and those who brutalized and dehumanized others, not realizing the cost for their own souls. Lord, have mercy!

Congregation: Forgive us, O God. Help us to always treat one another as we want to be treated and to, above all, recognize that we are all created in your image and likeness. We remember today. In your mercy, O God, hear our prayers.

Leader: We reflect on the gift of freedom today and the many ways that the struggle continues. We lament those who are still treated as less than your very own as we recommit to fight for freedom and dignity for all of your people.

Congregation: Help us, O God, to be courageous in fighting for justice and righteousness for all of your people until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream!

Leader: We celebrate today! For freedom has come and will come again. For those in cages at our borders, for those locked up in jail cells away from their families, for those who are caught up in human trafficking, for those living without clean water, for those trapped in the bondage of an opioid addiction–God as we celebrate freedom today, help us to continue the fight for freedom across the global village in every form and in every way.

Congregation: We celebrate FREEDOM today! We celebrate with renewed determination, knowing that our work is not done and our task has not been fully accomplished until all of God’s children are truly free from bondage.

ALL: We remember, we reflect, we celebrate this Juneteenth. Thank You, O God, for reminding us that freedom is possible, necessary and a promise from you.

— Permission is granted for the use of this responsive reading if proper credit is given to Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, COO, National Council of Churches.

7) Brethren bits

Daily coverage of the 2021 Annual Conference

“Onsite” coverage of this year’s virtual Conference will be available from Wednesday, June 30, to Sunday, July 4, at

Newsline also will be alerting readers to the coverage of the Conference and pre-Conference events including the Mission and Ministry Board meeting on the weekend of June 25-27, the Standing Committee of district delegates on June 27-30, and the Ministers’ Association annual meeting and continuing education event on June 29-30.

For detailed information about the Conference go to

A prayer for the 600,000 deaths to COVID-19 in the United States, from the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA:

“Lord, the toll of each loss is heavy on our hearts right now and weighs us down in sorrow. Bring comfort and peace to the family and friends of all who have died. Let the memory of those who have died be a blessing. Remind us that we are undefeated in death. As we console each other, give us the wisdom and willpower to end this pandemic. Amen.”

— A memorial service for Lois Neher, who passed away on March 28 at age 92, has been announced by her family. The service will take place on Saturday, July 3, at 10 a.m. at First Church of the Brethren in McPherson, Kan. Neher and her husband, Gerald Neher, served in Nigeria as Church of the Brethren mission workers. While serving as teachers in Chibok, they worked at the Church of the Brethren mission school that was the predecessor of the school from which the Chibok schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014. The Nehers helped expand the size of the school building, making it possible for the first girls to attend. They also made a thorough study of those among whom they lived, including numerous interviews, and documented their learnings in the book Life Among the Chibok of Nigeria, published in 2011. A follow-up book in 2014, Glimpses of Life in Northeast Nigeria 1954-1968, featured photographs of the people of northeast Nigeria. The family returned to the US in 1968.

There is a spot open on the Young Adult Steering Committee for the Church of the Brethren. An announcement of the opening, from Youth and Young Adult Ministries director Becky Ullom Naugle, asks young adults to consider, “Are you the person for that position?” Apply by June 30 at

— A letter on ending the practice of solitary confinement has been sent to US President Biden and Vice President Harris by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT). The campaign is celebrating June as Torture Awareness Month. The letter titled “Ending the Practice of Solitary Confinement: Recommendations for Federal Reform” was signed by the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, among more than 150 faith and secular organizations. It urges the administration to take action to end solitary confinement in all federal settings including the Bureau of Prisons, US Marshals Service, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

NRCAT also has joined with the Unlock the Box Campaign, Vera Institute of Justice, ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, and #HALTsolitary Campaign to form a Federal Anti-Solitary Task Force (FAST). The organization released a new “Blueprint to End Solitary Confinement for the Federal Government” that can guide both Congress and the administration on steps needed to end solitary in all federal prisons and detention centers. Find out more about the Blueprint at Find a June 7 NBC exclusive about the Blueprint at

— Updated submission information for Messenger, the Church of the Brethren magazine, has been posted at The information may help those who would like to submit articles for consideration by the magazine’s editorial team. Subscribe to the magazine by contacting your congregation’s Messenger representative or go to

Shown above: Glade Valley Church of the Brethren has installed a Little Free Library at Heritage Farm Park in Walkersville, Md., with help from an On Earth Peace grant. “The grant was for projects that would help educate the community about social justice issues,” wrote Lauren Anderson in the Mid-Atlantic District newsletter, who also took this photo. “It was challenging to find a project that would help people connect while social distancing to stay safe from COVID-19. The Little Free Library seemed to be the perfect project…. I am hoping the new library will promote building a strong community by providing books that focus on race, gender inequality, LGBTQ issues, people with disabilities, and other social justice issues to encourage tolerance and peace.” The church donated books and the youth at the church helped install and promote the library.
Shown above: Westminster Church of the Brethren’s Jan and Dave Flora assemble personal care bags, in this photo by Jeanne Dussault.
The church has used money from a grant of $3,500 provided by Brethren Disaster Ministries to purchase food and personal care items for Shepherd’s Staff, a local agency that serves homeless and low-income people. Wrote Dussault in the Mid-Atlantic District newsletter: “ A team of eight collected over 500 plastic bags. A different team of five purchased the needed items both locally and online. Three other crews of two or three people assembled bags of items at the church, and another group delivered boxes of the bags to Shepherd’s Staff to hand out to their patrons. Items to go out in the bags were set out along three walls of the church’s Fellowship Hall. Small groups in the church family made 65 food orders comprised of three bags each and 40 personal-care item bags. All those bags ended up in 14 large boxes of food bags and 6 boxes of personal care items.” Cindy Potee of Shepherd’s Staff expressed gratitude to have this help in filling the agency’s shelves.

Meyersdale (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has given two scholarships to graduates in the Meyersdale Area High School class of 2021, according to the Daily American newspaper. Gabriel Kretchman, who will attend Kent State University in the fall, received the $500 Kid’s Klub Memorial Scholarship in memory of Lee Gnagey and Austin Johnson. Brennan Campbell, will attend Waynesburg University in the fall, received the $1,000 Kid’s Klub Educational Scholarship in memory of Marie Lee.

Garden Terrace Senior Living, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Wenatchee, Wash., is celebrating its 50 anniversary. Executive director Ken Neher marked the occasion with a reflection published in the Wenatchee World newspaper, titled “Senior Moments: Up-looking Will Become Popular Again as We Get Past the Pandemic.” Neher, who previously served on the Church of the Brethren denominational staff for stewardship and donor development for some 20 years, wrote about his intentional shift from being a “down-looker” as he has sat at his desk through the pandemic, to being an “up-looker” “I look people in the eye more and connect better with them,” he wrote. “I notice the flowering trees and I am grateful not to have allergies. I know how many jet trails cross our valley every day. I don’t hurt when I look up. And, I feel better.” Read Neher’s reflection at

“We are proud to announce the creation of the Rev. Dr. W. Clemens Rosenberger ’54 Endowed Scholarship,” said an announcement from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. The endowed scholarship is to memorialize the life of W. Clemens “Clem” Rosenberger and the impact he made on the college. He “was a caring and compassionate man who selflessly gave to others, always working to lift up those around him, through his actions and kind words,” said the announcement. “The purpose of this scholarship is to provide financial assistance to students pursuing a degree at Juniata, with preference going to students who perform in the musical arts. Both Clem and his wife Margaret were directly involved in music and it was a passion in both of their lives. It is our intention that this scholarship be a lasting legacy of our dear friend and colleague to inspire future generations of Juniatians to lead a life of love and gratitude. Clem gave his greatest support to his alma mater as a 24-year member of the Board of Trustees (1979- 2003), Chair of the J. Omar Good Fund, and Co-Chair of the Capital Gifts Campaign for the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. At the 1982 Commencement, Juniata presented Clem with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Clem’s infectious personality and joy for life touched so many people here at the college and beyond.”

“Refreshed at 50!” is the title of a networking session during Annual Conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Womaen’s Caucus. Said an announcement: “In the historic first fully online Annual Conference, we look forward to seeing your faces up-close, unmasked, as we greet old friends, meet new friends, and learn about highlights from 50 years of Womaen’s Caucus! Just like any of us reaching 50 years, Womaen’s Caucus has grown up, acquired stretch marks, earned wrinkles, gotten tired at times, and gained wisdom. In the past year Womaen’s Caucus has chosen to refresh-at-50, and we are excited and energized! We’ve been updating our organizing documents and rejuvenating our vision. We invite you to engage this refreshed Caucus, as a thinker doer donor supporter and we’ll explain all of this in our networking session! Whether you’re brimming with memories of Caucus, or newly encountering Caucus, you are most welcome. (All genders welcome!)” The event takes place July 3 at 5:30 p.m. (Eastern time). Those who are registered for the Conference may attend via their Conference log in. Others may attend via Facebook at

In other news from Womaen’s Caucus, a panel presentation on “Speaking Truth to Power: Barriers to Leadership” will feature Tabitha Rudy, Rebekah Flores, Susan Boyer, and Kathryn LaPointe on July 15 at 8 p.m. (Eastern time), online at Find out more about the full summer and fall line-up of empowering events at

As a historic peace church and as New Testament-focused Christians, Brethren seriously and frequently consider the question, “What is the meaning of peace and peacemaking?” Dunker Punks podcast offers the last episode of its current season with Samuel Sarpiya, a former moderator of the Church of the Brethren, offering guidance to exploring the answers to this question and their practical application in life. His new book is titled The Highest of All Mountains: A Guide for Christians Seeking Peace and Becoming Peacemakers. Listen at or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

“We are so excited to be returning to an in-person format for our Mediation Skills Training Institute on Aug. 2-6, here in the western suburbs of Chicago!” said an announcement from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. The event will be hybrid, partly in-person and partly online providing the opportunity to attend via Zoom. It is designed for clergy and other church leaders who want to learn how to deal more effectively with interpersonal, congregational, or other forms of group conflict. For more information call 630-627-0507 or visit

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 Lauren Anderson, Shamek Cardona, Leslie Copeland-Tune, Jacob Crouse, Chris Douglas, Stan Dueck, Jeanne Dussault, Anna Lisa Gross, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Jeff Rosenberger, Randi Rowan, 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.

Find more Church of the Brethren news:

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]