Newsline for March 12, 2021

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

1) Overflowing with hope: An interview with NOAC coordinator Christy Waltersdorff
2) Nigerian Sunday school teachers learn the Healing Hearts curriculum for trauma healing

3) FaithX schedule is announced, registration opens March 15
4) Intercultural Ministries offers new events on healing racism, extends grant deadline

5) Brethren bits: Brethren books donated to Harsh-Neher Library at Yangquan You’ai Hospital, job opening, Moderator’s Town Hall, prayers of Thanksgiving in Haiti, Bethany Peace Essay Contest, and more news by, for, and about Brethren

First spring flowers. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

New from the Annual Conference office: Two short videos bringing greetings to the Church of the Brethren from the main resource people for this summer’s virtual Annual Conference, Tod Bolsinger and Michael Gorman. Find the videos at

The Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board meets this weekend via Zoom, and church members are welcome to observe. Open session meetings will be broadcast in the style of a Zoom webinar. Registration is required and will be accepted at any time up to the start of the meeting at Also at that link are an agenda, background documents for the business items, and video reports from denominational staff. The agenda includes a Healing Racism Training led by LaDonna Nkosi and Drew Hart on Saturday at 1 p.m. (Eastern time).

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) Overflowing with hope: An interview with NOAC coordinator Christy Waltersdorff

This week, Newsline editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford interviewed National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) coordinator Christy Waltersdorff. The NOAC Planning Team has made the decision that the conference, held every two years, will be fully online in 2021 instead of in-person at its usual host site in Lake Junaluska, N.C. Dates are Sept. 6-10. Registration starts May 1 at

The theme is “Overflowing with Hope” inspired by Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Christian Standard Bible).

The NOAC Planning Team includes (from left) Paula Ziegler Ulrich, Karen Dillon, coordinator Christy Waltersdorff, Glenn Bollinger, Pat Roberts, Jim Martinez, and (not shown here) Rex Miller and staff Josh Brockway and Stan Dueck.

The planning team for NOAC 2021. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Why take NOAC online?

We made the decision last October, and at that time there was no vaccine yet. We felt like for the common good for everyone, we shouldn’t meet in person. We were concerned about things like if the bus lines would be running. There were so many uncertainties. We decided it would be better to have it online rather than not at all. The NOAC demographic is in the highest risk category, and even now who is to say who all will be vaccinated by September?

This is all brand new. We’re making it up as we go along! We’re asking people who know what they’re doing to help us figure it out.

What will be the highlight of this online conference?

People who have not been able to attend can attend–people who can’t travel, or who are unable to get off work, for example. I’m hoping that this will especially help people with health issues.

I am hoping that congregations and Brethren retirement communities will safely invite people in to watch it together at viewing parties. And I am hoping that people will register to help pay for the costs such as speakers and technology. People think that because it’s not onsite, it’s not going to cost us anything, but it is. Even if people are watching it as a group, we’re encouraging each of them to register.

Will you be offering help for people to participate if they have trouble using the Internet or have difficulties accessing the online sessions?

Yes, I am going to be asking district offices to get information out to congregations to help people. That’s why we thought viewing parties would be a good thing, to help people who don’t know how or who don’t have the tech. I really am counting on local congregations and the Brethren retirement communities to help people figure it out. The churches that have the capacity for going online have really stepped up their game, and hopefully that will work to our advantage.

What are you looking forward to at NOAC this year?

We are really putting together a good conference. It’s the same speakers we were going to have in person, and the preachers, everything from our onsite plans are going to carry over. It’s going to be a good, powerful, strong experience.

Our keynote presenters are Karen Gonzalez, Lisa Sharon Harper, and Ken Medema and Ted Swartz. Our preachers are Andrew Wright, Paula Bowser, Don Fitzkee, Christy Dowdy, and Eric Landram. Our Bible study leader is Joel Kline.

I know that people will miss being together, however it’s a year of a pandemic. To keep everyone safe is our priority. Loving our neighbor, and all that stuff!

What will the schedule be like?

We are maintaining the same week as usual and are picking up the major pieces of NOAC, just figuring out how to make them work online.

We’re starting with Monday evening worship. Worship will be held each evening, Monday through Thursday. The mornings, starting Tuesday, will be Bible study with Joel Kline and then the keynote speakers. There will be afternoon workshops. We have ideas for virtual ice cream socials with the colleges. There will be a virtual fundraiser “Walk Around the Lake” and an opportunity to buy books for the Lake Junaluska elementary school. Libby Kinsey is working with the school librarian on a list of books about diversity that the library doesn’t yet have, and Brethren Press will be featuring the list on their website.

Exact times are still to be determined. In planning the daily schedule, we have to be aware of the different time zones from west coast to east coast. I’m always aware of how unfair the time schedule is for the western folks. But because everything will be recorded, that will help people catch up if they missed something.

What does the future look like for NOAC?

The plan is to be back at Lake Junaluska in 2023. We’re hoping that offering this year’s online will encourage new people to come to the next NOAC. We’ve looked at other locations but it’s hard to find any other place that’s comparable. Lake Junaluska offers the setting and the facilities.

How can people follow along with the planning?

Follow along on our Facebook page and our web page. And give input! The Facebook page recently asked what kinds of workshops people want, for example. Registration opens May 1 and that link will be available on the webpage. We will have paper forms available too.

— Find NOAC on Facebook at The NOAC webpage is at

2) Nigerian Sunday school teachers learn the Healing Hearts curriculum for trauma healing

By Roxane Hill with reporting from Zakariya Musa

The peace program of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) held a Trauma Healing Workshop on Feb. 21-24. Forty-two Sunday school teachers from 15 districts attended.

The purpose of the workshop was to teach the participants about trauma, to encourage them to become advocates for traumatized parents and children in their communities, and to learn the Healing Hearts curriculum for Sunday school classes. The Healing Hearts curriculum was introduced to EYN in 2016 by Children’s Disaster Services, a program within Brethren Disaster Ministries. The hope is that these 42 teachers will in turn train others in their districts.

Highlights of activities conducted during the training workshop included:
— Understanding the general concept of trauma.
— Learning how trauma affects the human brain.
— Studying the effects of trauma on human behavior with special emphasis on how trauma affects children based on their age.
— Reviewing general principles and methods of working with children and adapting them for work with traumatized children.
— Introduction of the “DO NO HARM” principle in which participants learned how to handle complex situations in a friendly way to avoid creating more trauma.
— Presentation of the Healing Hearts curriculum including the use of selected Bible passages and storytelling that speak of peace, comfort, and love.
— A practice session conducted on the last day when participants engaged in teaching a small class under the guidance of the facilitators.

Success stories from participants

Bulus Ayuba from DCC Gwoza, an EYN church district, confirmed that this was one of the best Sunday school trainings he has ever attended. The knowledge he gained will be handed on to other Sunday school teachers in his church district to help traumatized children in his community. He stated that this training has changed his perspective on how to handle children as he did not even know that children could be traumatized. The knowledge, skills, and methods gained at the workshop will have a great impact on his life as a Sunday Sschool teacher.

Adamu Ijai from DCC Mildlu said that the lessons learned on the relationship between the human brain and human behavior helped him to understand how to help traumatized children. He will help children build up their capacities and guide them towards acquiring positive behavior for the betterment of the community.

Emmanuel Yohanna from Kautikari, who had never attended any training workshops, said the workshop has changed his attitude towards traumatized children and encouraged him to show them the love of Christ.

Rifkatu from DCC Yawa said the workshop helped her to identify children and adults who are traumatized in her community. She has promised to serve as an advocate of change on trauma healing and resilience in her community.

— Roxane Hill is interim office manager for Global Mission. Zakariya Musa is head of media for EYN. This information was adapted from the EYN Disaster Ministries monthly report.


3) FaithX schedule is announced, registration opens March 15

By Alton Hipps

Registration for FaithX (formerly the Workcamp Ministry) will open this Monday, March 15, at 10 a.m. (Central time). The registration form can be found at

We also are announcing the schedule for the 2021 summer season. The schedule is available at

Fourteen FaithX experiences are being offered this year, which have been separated into a tier system. There are nine Tier 3 experiences planned for regions around the country, three Tier 2 experiences planned for individual congregations, and two Tier 1 options planned–one contiguous week of Tier 1 and one set of five Wednesdays.

Visit for more information regarding 2021 FaithX tier options and costs. Contact the FaithX office at or 847-429-4386 for questions or for more information.

— Alton Hipps is an assistant coordinator for FaithX, serving through Brethren Volunteer Service.

4) Intercultural Ministries offers new events on healing racism, extends grant deadline

The Church of the Brethren Intercultural Ministries has announced the next two events in its ongoing series on healing racism, both online. The ministry also is extending the deadline for applying for a Healing Racism Mini-grant.

Healing Racism Mini-grant applications will now be received for a new grant period beginning April 1 through June 30. Congregations and communities officially affiliated with the Church of the Brethren in the United States are encouraged to review the grant details and to apply at

Two new online events

“Healing Racism Congregations and Communities #ConversationsTogether Meetup” will take place on March 25 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). The event welcomes all who are interested in participating in Healing Racism Congregations and Communities. “Save the date and plan to join us,” said an invitation from Intercultural Ministries director LaDonna Nkosi. “If your community or congregation is involved or would like to be involved in the path to healing racism, join with us.” Register in advance at

A “Healing Racial Trauma Virtual Retreat” will be held March 27 from 3-6 p.m. (Eastern time). Sheila Wise Rowe, author of the book Healing Racial Trauma: The Road to Resilience will lead the retreat. This particular retreat has been designed to provide safe and healing space for those directly affected by racial trauma who are of African, Latinx/Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Indigenous, or other cultural, racial/ethnic backgrounds, multicultural families, etc. “Author Sheila Wise Rowe will be with us for other opportunities of sharing and training for allies and on other topics in the future,” said Nkosi. To register, contact

5) Brethren bits

Creation Justice Ministries seeks applicants for the position of executive director. The Church of the Brethren relates to this organization, which is a former ministry of the National Council of Churches. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the executive director will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for Creation Justice Ministries’ programs and execution of its mission. The overarching responsibility will be to continue and enhance the program ministries and to encourage and enable member communions to address eco-justice issues through their own programs. The executive director is responsible for day-to-day operations, ensuring financial stability, focusing on mission-related programs and activities, overseeing and directing staff, and maintaining accurate and complete financial and organizational records. The executive director is the chief fundraiser, administrator, and ambassador for the organization. For more information see–we-are-hiring-an-executive-director.html.

From Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey:

The next Moderator’s Town Hall on the topic “Peacebuilding When We’re So Divided” is set for March 18 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) with William H. Willimon, professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke Divinity School. Register at Questions or issues related to registering can be emailed to

A recording of the Moderator’s Town Hall held in February on “The Global Church: Current Happenings, Future Possibilities” with interim Global Mission directors Norman and Carol Spicher Waggy is available at Study guides are being produced for each of the Moderator’s Town Hall for individual use or for group study. Find the study guide for the February webinar at Send feedback on the study guides to A continuing education credit of .1 unit is available to ministers who view or participate in a Moderator’s Town Hall. Find out how to obtain continuing education credit at

Eric Miller (at left) displays books he and his wife, Ruoxia Li, are donating to the Harsh-Neher Library at Yangquan You’ai Hospital in Pingding, China. Li and Miller are the new co-executive directors of Global Mission for the Church of the Brethren. The 18 books they are donating to the library include older books that “are about the Brethren mission in China that began in 1908 and centered in Pingding,” said Miller. “A few are about the global mission. The newer books are more general books on Brethren history and theology, such as Willoughby’s Count the Cost. One book, In Memoriam: Minneva J. Neher, Alva C. Harsh, Mary Hykes Harsh, remembers the three Brethren missionaries who disappeared and were murdered on Dec 2, 1937, in Ruoxia’s hometown, Shouyang, also in Shanxi Province. The library is named for them.” Miller reported that the Brethren Historical Library and Archives generously has offered to donate replacement copies to the family, once they return to the US.

Prayers of thanksgiving are requested for three Haiti Medical Project staff who walked away from a bad car accident last week. Romy Telfort, who has been a leader in Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti), reported that the three staff members had been traveling to a water project installation near Savanette when the brakes failed on their car. “All are fine and were able to miraculously walk away without a scratch,” said the email report.

Bethany Theological Seminary has announced its 2021 Peace Essay Contest, made possible by the Jennie Calhoun Baker Endowment and sponsored by Bethany’s Peace Studies program. This year’s topic is “Civil Resistance and Nonviolent Social Change in an Increasingly Virtual World.” Said an announcement: “More than five decades after civil resistance movements worldwide, communities local and global continue to be threatened by state-sanctioned violence. From movements in opposition to police brutality in Nigeria led by #ENDSARS and in the United States organized by #BlackLivesMatter, to the farmer protests in India and the pro-Navalny movement in Russia, people are joining in solidarity to rise up and demand a better world. How can we create and participate in nonviolent social change in an increasingly violent–and virtual–world?” Prizes of $2,000, $1,000, and $500 will be awarded for the top three essays. The contest is open to full- and part-time students in high school, college, seminary, and graduate school who are en-route to a degree. International, ecumenical, and interfaith students are encouraged to participate. Essay submissions must be received by May 15. Find the contest rules and submission guidelines at For more information, contact Susu Lassa at

A Nigerian news article has reported on impending legislation to establish a National Dermatology Hospital to treat leprosy, among other skin diseases, at the site of the former Church of the Brethren Mission leprosarium in Garkida, in northeast Nigeria. The article quoted extensively from a history of the original mission hospital by the bill’s co-sponsor the senator representing Adamawa Central, Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed. The senator “recalled that as far back as 1929, an International Hospital was established for Garkida Agricultural Leper Colony by the Church of the Brethren Mission (USA). According to her, ‘it was an ambitious effort located on 2,500 acres of land designed for the treatment of leprosy and other illnesses, isolation centre and training of lepers in craft and improved agricultural methods. It was a reputable hospital with 12,507 leprosy patients admitted between 1929 and 2002…. Dr Roy Pfaltzgraff, the Medical Superintendent (1954-1982), transformed the hospital into an internationally well-known centre for developmental work in surgical rehabilitation, physiotherapy, protective footwear, prostheses and training.” The hospital was eventually handed over to the Ministry of Health of the former Gongola State. The lawmaker is contending that the Dermatology Hospital, Garkida, now in Adamawa State, naturally fits all the requirements for a National Dermatology Hospital, the article said. Find the article at

Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has joined others in the Wissahickon Faith Community Association in pushing for equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a report from Jewish Exponent. The association is an interfaith group of churches, mosques, and synagogues that has met together for more than 30 years. Ambler pastor Enten Eller was quoted as saying a Feb. 24 Zoom meeting of the association “just sort of exploded” as they shared stories about the difficulties congregants faced in finding the COVID-19 vaccine. “It wasn’t just that the elderly, infirm or otherwise eligible congregants weren’t able to navigate the warren of web-based schedulers; there was the concurrent feeling that so many of their seemingly ineligible congregants had secured appointments instead,” the report said. “We’re seeing a lot of line-jumping,” said rabbi Gregory Marx of Congregation Beth Or, who compared the vaccine inequities to food deserts. “People of privilege, using their position, their power, their influence, to get the shots above people that are not of privilege.” Read the article at

Parkview Church of the Brethren in Lewistown, Pa., is donating its parsonage to benefit the homeless, according to an article in the Lewistown Sentinel. “For Parkview Church of the Brethren, the phrase ‘second chance’ has more than one meaning. It recently breathed new life into its parsonage by donating it rent free to Shelter Services Inc.,” said the report. The building is now a thrift store named “Second Chances,” that raises funds to help the homeless get back on their feet. Parkview pastor Teresa Fink also serves on the board of directors for the shelter. Read the article at

“Welcome to a new season of the Dunker Punks Podcast!” says an invitation to the first episode in the new season, which teams up with Michaela Mast and Harrison Horst from the Shifting Climates Podcast to talk about the human right and need to access nature. “Listen as they follow instances of environmental racism and address the need for climate justice activism in the church today.” Find the Shifting Climates Podcast at to learn more. Listen to the new season of the Dunker Punks Podcast at or on iTunes and Stitcher.

The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center is offering a new one-day refresher course for those who have participated the Mediation Skills Training Institute. Sessions are available on May 11 and June 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Central time). The fee is $99. The full five-day version of the course is available at various dates. Find out more at For questions and more information contact 630-627-0507 or

Juniata College’s Office for the Prevention of Interpersonal Violence is offering this virtual series of short conversations about women as subjects and women as makers for #WomensHistoryMonth. Events take place March 10, 17, and 24 at 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time) Register at

The Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment, and Human Rights has developed a statement for the 46th session of the Human Rights Council, declaring that 2021 is the year to act on climate change and human rights. A release from the World Council of Churches (WCC), which is part of the forum, shared sections of the statement. “The climate crisis constitutes one of humanity’s greatest challenges, contributing both directly and indirectly to human rights violations around the world,” the statement reads, in part. “A key role of the United Nations and the Human Rights Council in the 21st century must be to stand with the vulnerable segments of society.” The statement calls for the Human Rights Council to establish a new Special Procedures mandate on Human Rights and Climate Change. “In particular, a new Special Procedures mandate would ensure a long-term focus on climate change issues at the Human Rights Council and bring a human rights dimension into climate change policies,” the statement reads. “It would contribute to enhancing complementarity between the climate change legal framework and the international human rights regime…. A healthy environment is essential for human health, and for human societies to flourish.” The Geneva Interfaith Forum has been calling for the establishment of a mandate for a new Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change since 2010. Find the release at

Rick Polhamus of Pleasant Hill (Ohio) Church of the Brethren will give a presentation titled “Loving Choices–How to Provoke” about his 18 years of work with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). He will be featured March 18 from 6-7:15 p.m. (Eastern time) as the first presenter in Wilmington College’s Office of Campus Ministry Quaker Lecture Series for the spring semester. His story “is a testament to how one can effect change in war-torn regions of the world through nonviolent means,” said an article in the Wilmington News Journal. “So many situations and events in today’s world provoke us and others in ways that divide us and that challenges our faith. Hebrews 10:24 tells us we should ‘consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,’” said Polhamus. His work with CPT included extended stays in Israel/Palestine, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and Iraq; service on CPT’s steering committee; a term as its representative to the World Council of Churches; and coordination of CPT’s “Adopt-a-Detainee” program in Iraq, which dealt with abuses of Iraqi detainees, especially at Abu Ghraib prison. Find the full new article at View Polhamus’ presentation on the college’s Campus Ministry Facebook page at

Russell Haitch, professor of theology and human science at Bethany Theological Seminary, has published a new book titled Eyes of the Heart: Seeing God in an Age of Science (Fortress, 2021). “The book offers a model for unifying Christian convictions and mainstream science,” said a Bethany release. Haitch wrote the book to appeal to a broad audience, he said in the release, “particularly those who are trying to address the intellectual doubts of young people. We hear slogans these days, like ‘Trust the Science’ and ‘Believe the Bible.’ People, especially young people, feel pulled in two directions. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Science actually started in the church, and the church today needs good scientists. Science and faith complement each other.” Find the release at

Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary, is editor of the newly published Preaching the Fear of God in a Fear-Filled World: Proceedings from the Conference of Societas Homiletic, Durham 2018. The collection of conference presentations highlights rhetorical, biblical, political, and spiritual dimensions of fear. Learn more about the book 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, Jacob Crouse, Chris Douglas, Pamela B. Eiten, Jan Fischer Bachman, Roxane Hill, Alton Hipps, Eric Miller, Zakariya Musa, LaDonna Sanders Nkosi, Romy Telfort, Norm and Carol Spicher Waggy, Christy Waltersdorff, 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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