Newsline for May 1, 2021

1) Children’s Disaster Services deploys team to work with children at border

2) Moderator’s Town Hall features Brethren historians

3) Imagine! God’s earth and people restored

4) National Youth Conference 2022 theme, dates, and cost are announced

5) NOAC service project will fund books for Junaluska Elementary School

6) Multivocational pastors are invited to summer book study

7) ‘Play, on Purpose’ webinar to take place May 11

8) Brethren bits: Prayer request for India, personnel notice, NOAC registration opens May 3, filming has begun for Annual Conference, concern for Haitian deportations, video from Ecuador, and much more

Quote of the week:

“Finally, after so many years of waiting for these atrocities to be acknowledged, 12 million Armenian people today will have peace in their souls and finally, the more than 1.5 million killed will be able to rest in peace in their tombs at the recognition of all that has been lost. We pray President Biden’s historic announcement will lead to the prevention of future genocides throughout the world.”

— Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), responding to President Joe Biden becoming the first US president to officially recognize as genocide the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. April 24 was the 106th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide, that took place from 1915 to 1923. Aykazian’s statement was shared by Christian Churches Together, an ecumenical organization of which the Church of the Brethren is a member. Aykazian is president of the Orthodox family of churches in CCT.

A note to readers: As many congregations return to in-person worship, we want to update our listing of Churches of the Brethren that will continue to offer online worship. If your church’s entry at needs to be updated, please send the new information to

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) Children’s Disaster Services deploys team to work with children at border

By Lisa Crouch

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has deployed a team to work with children along the US/Mexico border in Texas. This CDS team will be on location for two weeks, providing creative play opportunities for the children and much needed rest for their parents before the next leg of their journey. Since arriving in Texas, the team has been averaging 40 to 45 children per day in the CDS center.

Since the beginning of 2021, the growing humanitarian crisis along the southern US border has led to increased pressure on systems to help migrant families seeking asylum. The struggle with poverty and violence in Mexico and Central America has led people to flee for decades. However, the numbers of unaccompanied minors and families seeking refuge have skyrocketed, due partly to a pair of devastating hurricanes that hit Central America in November 2020 and changes in US border policy. The US government picked up nearly 19,000 children traveling alone across the Mexican border in March, the largest monthly number ever recorded.

A photo of the CDS center where Children’s Disaster Services volunteers are working with children along the US/Mexico border in Texas. Copyright Church of the Brethren

Over the past few weeks, CDS has been in conversation with many partners in various locations across the country that are handling the influx of children and families from the border. These conversations are helping to discover ways CDS can contribute to the care of these minors, especially ages 4 to 12.

CDS will continue to monitor the humanitarian situation and continue these vital conversations as we move forward. CDS expects to respond to additional locations in time, with this initial deployment being the first step in serving with this important humanitarian work.

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

2) Moderator’s Town Hall features Brethren historians

By Frank Ramirez

There was a lot to hear on the topics of biblical authority, accountability, the compelling vision, church division, and nationalism during the Moderator’s Town Hall hosted by Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey. The online event in two parts was titled “Today’s Headlines, Yesterday’s Wisdom. Historical Insights for the Contemporary Church.”

More than 260 people registered for the April 15 question and answer session, and more than 200 attended the five-hour presentation session on April 17 with Brethren historians Carl Bowman, Bill Kostlevy, Stephen Longenecker, Carol Sheppard, and Dale Stoffer. (A recording of the webinar and a study guide will be available soon at

Bill Kostlevy

Some of it was challenging, some was a bit depressing, and a lot was eye-opening, but perhaps the most astounding, uplifting statement came from Kostlevy, who has retired as director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

Kostlevy focused on several compelling vision statements from the past, from iconic Brethren figures Christopher Sauer Jr., Peter Nead, and Dan West. However, referring to Brethren congregations in Africa, Latin America, and Europe–founded by missionaries from the several Brethren groups–he noted, “Today there are more heirs of Schwarzenau alive in the world today than any time in Brethren history. There is explosive growth in other parts of the world.”

Carl Bowman

Bowman addressed the topic of nationalism, recalling his own formation heavily influenced by his pastor, who was also his father. Leaning on George Orwell’s “Notes on Nationalism,” he observed that while patriotism can be defined as devotion to a particular way of life and place, by its nature nationalism is defensive militarily and culturally, boasting about one’s own country while remaining blind to the strength and beauty of others.

Their loyalty and sense of obedience to Christ separated the founding Brethren from the outside world, he said. Adult baptism represented not only a rebellion against existing authority, it established a border between the way of Christ and the way of the world, a new nation both inwardly and outwardly.

Bowman quoted the Brethren Civil War-era martyr John Kline, who, hearing the peal of the cannons celebrating George Washington’s birthday, wrote, “My highest conception of patriotism is found in the man who loves the Lord his God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself.”

By contrast, Bowman discovered through surveys in recent decades that a strong nationalist identity is a relatively recent occurrence among Brethren. However, our traditions of service and equality of all human beings mitigate against the excesses of nationalism.

Stephen Longenecker

Focusing on church division, Longenecker drew on the concepts of economist Adam Smith and James Madison to suggest that the marketplace of ideas makes division among churches not only inevitable, but even desirable. Stating simply, “The best will survive,” he echoed Madison’s believe that “religion thrives under the First Amendment,” quoting the fourth President: “If new sects arise with absurd opinions or over-heated imaginations, the proper remedy lies in time, forbearance, and example.”

Divisions among Brethren have been many over the centuries, such as Conrad Beissel’s Ephrata Cloister, the varying differences in practice between the Far Western Brethren and the Eastern Brethren, and the three-way division among Brethren in the 1880s. The history of division continued as the Dunkard Brethren broke from the Church of the Brethren, the Grace Brethren experienced more than one split after splitting away from the Brethren Church, and more recently, the Old Orders have experienced splits over issues of technology

With regard to the recent separation of churches referring to themselves as the Covenant Brethren, Longenecker admitted he would prefer fewer divisions, and that division sometimes brings out the worst in people. However, he said, “I think the lesson is that division is normal.”

Carol Sheppard

Sheppard traced the history of accountability among the Brethren and identified factors that have led to its breakdown. “Accountability has been an integral part of the Brethren movement since the very beginning,” she stated. “With baptism we enter into covenant relation with one another as one body in Christ and with the aid of the Holy Spirit mutually agree to walk together in human love, promote spiritual humility and peace, and engage to live true and exemplary lives before the world,” she said.

However, maintaining common practices like the deacon visit became more difficult as the church expanded across the nation. Another factor that changed in the 20th century was the concept of “no force in religion,” which meant that obedience to Christ increasingly became an individual matter. In addition, the shift away from church membership being determined by geography meant that Brethren did not choose the community to which they promised accountability.

Sheppard concluded, “What remains of accountability in the 21st century is a one-sided affair. Brethren recognize those decisions they support, reject the others ‘where the church got it wrong.’”

Dale Stoffer

Stoffer gave the concluding presentation on biblical authority. He charted the course of how his denomination, the Brethren Church, has sought to keep scripture central, suggesting that for Brethren there is a third way between liberal and conservative authorities. “We have been given an unchanging creed in the Bible, but understood anew by each generation of believers. What God has revealed through the person of Jesus Christ can be understood only by obedience to Jesus Christ.”

The early Brethren, Stoffer said, “emphasized the simplicity and clarity of scripture…. Truth is given to us in Jesus Christ and is expressed in the community of faith that holds us accountable to that…. But as we read scriptures it is essential it the key to understand our proper place in the community of God.”

— Frank Ramirez pastors Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind.

3) Imagine! God’s earth and people restored

By Naomi Yilma

Along with over 1,000 other concerned faith and non-faith advocates, I had the opportunity of participating in the first-ever virtual Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference. This year’s EAD took place from Sunday, April 18, to Wednesday, April 21, on the theme, “Imagine! God’s Earth and People Restored,” and consisted of an opening session, two days of workshops, and one day devoted to congressional advocacy.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days “is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community, and its recognized partners and allies, grounded in biblical witness and our shared traditions of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.”

A coalition of sponsoring organizations come together to set up the annual educational advocacy conference. Since 2003, EAD has mobilized more than 1,000 faith advocates annually to advocate on a variety of social justice issues. This year, the theme was climate justice with the conference centered on and led by the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts due to historic racial and colonial inequities.

As a sponsoring organization, the Church of the Brethren, through the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, has been active in the planning process. In addition to planning, director Nathan Hosler also led a workshop titled “Racial Justice in Palestine and Israel: Targeting, Detention, and Activism.” The workshop examined how nonviolent action to resist the control of land and resources is part of the global struggle for racial justice.

The final day of EAD is a lobby day when participants get the chance to take what they have learned in the various workshops and use it to present an “ask” to their congressional representatives. In line with the theme of climate justice, this year’s EAD participants asked their representatives to act urgently and decisively on climate justice by addressing the intersection of climate change, economic justice, gender justice, and racial equity. I had the opportunity to support fellow faith advocates as they prepared for their meetings.

For those seeking to engage with their representatives on Brethren values and ideals, EAD provides an opportunity to strengthen their voice and to mobilize for advocacy on a wide variety of US domestic and international policy issues.

— Naomi Yilma is an associate at the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C., working through Brethren Volunteer Service.


4) National Youth Conference 2022 theme, dates, and cost are announced

By Erika Clary

National Youth Conference (NYC) 2022 will focus on Colossians 2:5-7 and the theme “Foundational.” The event will be held July 23-28, 2022. The registration fee, which includes food, lodging, and programing, will be $550. Youth who have completed ninth grade through one year of college at the time of NYC (or are age equivalent) and their adult advisors will gather at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. Online registration will open in early 2022 on

The National Youth Cabinet did not let coronavirus restrictions stop them from beginning their hard work of planning for NYC. They met virtually this winter and hope to meet in person for future meetings. Members are Benjamin Tatum, Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Virlina District; Elise Gage, Manassas Church of the Brethren, Mid-Atlantic District; Giovanni Romero, York Center Church of the Brethren, Illinois and Wisconsin District; Haley Daubert, Montezuma Church of the Brethren, Shenandoah District; Isabella Torres, Nuevo Renacer Church of the Brethren, Atlantic Northeast District; and Luke Schweitzer, Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren, Southern Ohio and Kentucky District. Adult advisors are Kayla Alphonse, Miami First Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Southeast District, and Jason Haldeman, Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District. The cabinet will be led by NYC 2022 coordinator Erika Clary of Brownsville Church of the Brethren in Mid-Atlantic District, accompanied by Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren.

The cabinet discussed theme ideas relevant to senior high youth. Ultimately, the theme that emerged was “Foundational,” based on scripture from Colossians 2:5-7, “For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

We talked about all of the ways that God is revealed as the foundation for our lives throughout the Bible. Some examples of this are the cornerstone, the way that God can be seen as an anchor for our lives, and how we remain rooted in God in all circumstances.

Isabella Torres noted, “Picking the theme was difficult at first because we had so many different ideas, but all of our ideas always intertwined with having a foundation in God. To me, it is a great theme, and it is also something I find to be very important as a youth today.”

Luke Schweitzer shared, “I am really excited about this theme and I cannot wait to see what the speakers and youth do with it next summer.”

Watch for NYC 2022 updates at and social media of the Youth and Young Adult Ministries.

— Erika Clary will serve as coordinator of National Youth Conference 2022, working in the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries through Brethren Volunteer Service.

5) NOAC service project will fund books for Junaluska Elementary School

By Libby Polzin Kinsey

Participants at National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) love to serve. Past NOAC efforts have helped build the libraries of Junaluska (N.C.) Elementary School classrooms, providing hundreds of books to children living in the host town for the conference.

This year, when NOAC will be held virtually, participants are invited to help Ira Hyde, Junaluska Elementary School librarian, create a more culturally diverse library for the low-income community where he serves children in grades K-5.

Libby Kinsey and Ira Hyde have created a list of rich, diverse books for the Junaluska Elementary School library. The books are of all genres, focusing on characters of color, stories that show how much we all have in common, as well as the interesting ways we are unique.

NOAC participants and churches are invited to donate funds toward the purchase of books on the list. Hope Church of the Brethren in Freeport, Mich., already has donated $500 to get the ball rolling.

Donations of any size will go far in furthering this effort, revealing the beauty to be found in God’s rich, diverse global community.

Make checks payable to the Church of the Brethren with the notation “NOAC Book Drive 2021” on the memo line. Mail checks to Church of the Brethren General Offices, Attn: NOAC Book Drive, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

Or donate online at

— Libby Polzin Kinsey is the book drive coordinator for NOAC 2021. Find out more about the conference at

Registration begins Monday, May 3, for National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), This year’s virtual event is online-only, scheduled for Sept. 6-10. The theme is “Overflowing with Hope,” from 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). More information including the theme statement, daily themes, preachers, service project, and more is available at

6) Multivocational pastors are invited to summer book study

By Dana Cassell

The Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church Program invites multivocational pastors of Church of the Brethren congregations to join a summer book study of Part-Time is Plenty: Thriving Without Full-Time Clergy by Jeffrey MacDonald.

John Fillmore, who serves as a leader in the program and is pastor of the Nampa congregation in Idaho, will lead the six-week study over Zoom, from June 8 through July 13.

Multivocational pastors comprise 77 percent of all Church of the Brethren pastors, and the designation includes part-time pastors, pastors who serve as part of a pastoral team, pastors serving through the plural non-salaried ministry, and anyone whose congregational role is less than a formal, full-time agreement.

Learn more about the Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program at Register to join the book study at The book may be purchased through Brethren Press at

— Dana Cassell is Thriving in Ministry program manager for the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry.

7) ‘Play, on Purpose’ webinar to take place May 11

By Erika Clary

“Play, on Purpose,” a virtual webinar featuring Lakisha Lockhart, associate professor of Practical Theology at Chicago Theological Seminary, will be presented by the Youth and Young Adult Ministries on May 11 at 8-9:30 p.m. (Eastern time). After registering for the webinar, participants will watch a 30-minute video before joining the live conversation on May 11. Ministers may earn 0.2 continuing education units through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

Lockhart is from Columbus, Ga. She is a “daughter, sister, wife, mother, and the coolest auntie around.” She holds a bachelor’s degree from Claflin University, a master of divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary, a master of arts from Vanderbilt University, and doctorate from Boston College.

As part of “Play, on Purpose,” participants will learn about the theological, spiritual, and neurological dimensions and benefits of play–in addition to engaging in various play practices.

Those looking for a new burst of energy and practical tools for ministry with youth and young adults will appreciate this workshop. Lockhart’s work is well-grounded in theology and pedagogy, providing a unique opportunity for growth.

Register at For more information, contact Youth and Young Adult Ministries director Becky Ullom Naugle at

— Erika Clary will be serving as coordinator of National Youth Conference 2022 in the Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Church of the Brethren, working through Brethren Volunteer Service.

8) Brethren bits

An urgent prayer request from the Global Mission staff: Prayers are requested for the church in India, which has lost members and beloved leaders of the church in recent days due to the recent COVID-19 surge.

Fabiola Fernandez has resigned as manager of Information Technology for the Church of the Brethren, effective May 21, to accept a new position with the city of Elgin, Ill. She has served in the denomination’s IT department for five years, since she was hired May 23, 2016, as systems specialist at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin. In May 2019, she was promoted to the position of manager of IT. She holds an associate’s degree from Elgin Community College and a bachelor of science degree in operations management and information systems from Northern Illinois University.

Registration begins Monday, May 3, for National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), at This year’s virtual event is online-only, scheduled for Sept. 6-10. The theme is “Overflowing with Hope,” from 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). More information including the theme statement, daily themes, preachers, service project, and more is available at

Tomorrow, Sunday, May 2, is National Youth Sunday in the Church of the Brethren. The Youth and Young Adult Ministries is reminding congregations that worship resources are still available at Comments and pictures of youth Sunday celebrations may be posted on Facebook at
Filming has begun for this summer’s virtual, all-online Annual Conference. David Sollenberger and his video crew have been recording portions of the Conference worship services at various locations in Virginia and Pennsylvania, in preparation for putting together the services that will be streamed during the Conference. Shown here: A view of a children’s time during worship, photo by Marjorie Landis. The worship services will be available free, with no registration required, every day during the Conference June30-July 4, via links that will be posted at

Advocates for Haiti and Haitians living in the United States have been expressing concern about deportation flights carrying people–including babies and children–back to Haiti during a time of crisis in the country. From Feb. 1 through early April, the Biden administration had sent 26 deportation flights to Haiti, expelling between 1,400 to more than 1,600 Haitians, mostly families including hundreds of infants and minors, according to Haiti Advocacy. The group expressed concern that the people being returned to Haiti, especially the children, were expelled into an increasingly dangerous situation. In recent months, Haiti has been experiencing renewed political unrest, a spate of kidnappings for ransom, people dressed as police or actual police causing human rights abuses, and general lawlessness, said Jeff Boshart, manager of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative (GFI), which works closely with the Brethren in Haiti on agricultural development. Another concern is the COVID-19 and cholera epidemics in Haiti.

Pleasant Hill (Ohio) Church of the Brethren will hold its 50th anniversary celebration on Aug. 29. Said the Southern Ohio and Kentucky newsletter: “August 29, 1971, was the actual date of the initial dedication of the new building so it will be 50 years to the day when we celebrate the 50th anniversary.”

The Global Food Initiative of the Church of the Brethren is sharing a video from La Fundacion Brethren y Unida, GFI’s partner in Ecuador. Last month, the FBU organized a “feria,” like a fair or a farmer’s market in the town of Picalqui. Local artisans, food vendors, and farmers were invited to come sell their wares with FBU providing the publicity and securing the space for the market. A number of women and youth trained by FBU were able to sell their products directly to customers. GFI grants over the past three years have supported trainings in organic agricultural techniques as well as value-added food items to the women and youth trained by FBU staff. Find the video at

Pacific Northwest District held a first all-online Spring event called “Danger and Opportunity: What Does It Look Like to Live Our Values?” to bring the district together for virtual discernment and discussion. Reported the district newsletter: “Nearly 60 individuals from 14 different congregations across our district came together on Zoom for the event.” The event opened with a panel discussion featuring four members of the district, guided by moderators, exploring “how we as individuals and groups seek to live out our values in times of crisis and uncertainty. The group brought a spirit of vulnerable, authentic, and open sharing to the conversation.” The event continued with opportunities to continue discussion in Zoom break-out rooms, and a Taizé-style spiritual practice presented as a video, during which participants took notes of words or ideas that resonated with them in the moment that were put together to create a word cloud. The event closed with more reflection and discussion among participants, with leadership from a “Reflector-in-Chief.” “Our district parted ways from the event nourished with deep dialogue and honest sharing,” the district newsletter said, “united in seeking ways to live out our values courageously and authentically.”

The Climate Justice Task Team in Southern Ohio and Kentucky District are offering a series of “Reskilling Workshops” in order to “recapture some of the helpful skills our parents and grandparents used to practice and help save the planet in the process,” said the district newsletter. The event takes place Saturday, May 22, 9-11:30 a.m. (Eastern time) at the “Big Tent” at West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City, Ohio. “Our goal is to have four sets of reskilling workshops running over this two-hour period,” said the announcement. “We will have two choices for each hour and have a brief opening and closing worship for the day together. There will be a children’s area for kid’s activities so feel free to bring your little ones.” The four workshops are “Managing our Landscapes as Good Stewards of the Planet” led by Ron Corbett, “Gardening for Fun and Good Food” led by Tom and Barbara Menke, “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot–The Zero Waste Movement” led by Katie Heishman, and “Renewable Energy as Christian Stewardship” led by Craig Foster. The event is free and open to the public. Masks are required. For questions contact

Wrote Juniata College president James A. Troha in a recent newsletter: “I’m proud to share that our Mock Trial team has wrapped up another hugely successful season, rising to national-level competition once again, and that our e-sports team is preparing to face off against Purdue University May 2 as they enter the first round of competition for a national title.” Juniata is a church-related school in Huntingdon, Pa. Station WTAJ in Altoona, Pa., posted an online report about the e-sports team and its success in reaching the national tournament at

The Death Row Support Project (DRSP), a Church of the Brethren project, is celebrating Virginia’s abolition of the death penalty. “This is especially significant, not only because Virginia is in the southern United States, where the death penalty has been more popular, but also because, for many years, Virginia had a higher rate of execution than any other state,” said the DRSP newsletter this week. “May other states soon follow Virginia’s example of abolition! Nevada is a step closer, having passed an abolition bill through committee. It now goes to the Senate for consideration…. Sadly, and maybe not coincidentally, at the same time progress is being made on abolition, state prosecutors are moving to have Nevada’s first non-voluntary execution in 25 years. (Of the 12 people killed by the state of Nevada since 1979, only one had exhausted his appeals; the others all volunteered to end their appeals prematurely.)” The announcement included ways church members can take part in bringing abolition to Nevada; learn more at Find out more about efforts to abolish the federal death penalty at

Also from Southern Ohio and Kentucky District, news of a district member’s support for a new UNESCO World Heritage Site above the village of Sukur in the Mandara Mountains in Adamawa State, northeast Nigeria. Pat Krabacher, who previously was involved in work in Nigeria while serving in Brethren Volunteer Service, has become involved in international support and fundraising for the Sukur site. She is working in collaboration with Malame Titus Mangzha, a Nigerian woman who is a member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Malame leads a Nigerian NGO called African International Documentary Festival Foundation ( In the works is a visit by an international group of supporters to the site this summer. “Sukur is the first UNESCO listed Cultural Landscape site in Africa,” Krabacher wrote in the district announcement. “It is a culture that goes back a millennium with unique stone pathways up the mountain to the stone architecture on the mountaintop.” “Sukur Shirts” are being sold as part of the fundraising via at

McPherson (Kan.) College has recognized notable alumni with the Citation of Merit Award in a video tribute released online on April 29 at Awardees are:

Wilbert Ethmer Erisman, 96, a retired pastor who has spent more than 75 years in service to the Church of the Brethren. He remains active at Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren. He was the first of his family to attend college and eventually helped three other siblings attend McPherson along with all three of his children and several grandchildren. He served 10 years on the McPherson Board of Trustees.

Dwight W. Hill, recognized for his instrumental role in founding the college Automotive Restoration program. Through his professional association with local entrepreneur Gaines H. “Smokey” Billue and former McPherson president Galen Snell, he laid the groundwork for what would become the only four-year bachelor’s degree in auto restoration.

Eleanor Draper Hubbard, who has been a presenter and on the planning committee of Ventures in Christian Discipleship at McPherson. She holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she taught for more than 30 years. Her publications include Trans-Kin: A Guide for Family and Friends of Transgender People, written in 2013, and a memoir in 2010 titled Finding My Way Home: A Remembrance Nest of Farm, Family and Faith, about her life on an Iowa farm while attending Ivester Church of the Brethren.

Dale and Christy Dowdy, who for more than 25 years co-pastored at Antelope Park Church of the Brethren in Lincoln, Neb., and Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa. Their service has included involvements visiting a death row inmate, working with Crop Walk, and volunteering for Community Peacemakers while in Lincoln, organizing peace and justice work for the State of Nebraska, involvement in the Huntingdon Soup Kitchen, Huntingdon Forum of Churches, and Habitat for Humanity in Huntingdon.

“We’re taking the leap and getting back together, in person at Camp Blue Diamond in beautiful central Pennsylvania! Won’t you join us!? We’ve got a great group of leaders coming and are looking to see you, too!” said an invitation to this year’s Song and Story Fest annual family camp–the event’s 25th. The intergenerational camp for all ages features Church of the Brethren storytellers and musicians. Date are July 4-10. The event is organized by director Ken Kline Smeltzer and co-sponsored by On Earth Peace. The theme is “PRESENTE! Onward We Go, Together!” Said the invitation: “PRESENTE! is an affirmation that people shout out in a gathering of persons committed to continuing a transformational movement. It signals that those present physically and those who have passed on are still spiritually alive, active, and present. Through these pandemic and political times of turmoil, we invite you to be present and to reflect on being people of faith in these challenging struggles.” Organizers are asking that all older teens and adults be vaccinated with at least one dose before attending the event. Best way to register is to request a brochure from Smeltzer at 814-571-0495 or and return it with a check to pay the registration fee by mail to Darlene Johnson at the On Earth Peace address listed. Find out more at

“What does it mean to live the peace of Jesus publicly?” asks Dunker Punks in an announcement of their next podcast. “We welcome back Naomi Yilma and introduce Angelo Olayvar from the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy as they discuss acting, organizing, and advocating for peace.” Listen to this episode by going to or by subscribing on iTunes at

For World Immunization Week this past week, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has been sharing resources to help churches promote vaccinations using this basic message: “Do to others, what you want them to do to you.” During intense global vaccinations to fight COVID-19, churches can play a vital role in guiding people to better health in informing them on vaccine hesitancy and advocating for equity in immunization, international church leaders told journalists at an online press conference with WCC leaders. Said the WCC Europe president Anders Wejryd: “I don’t want to be infected by COVID-19. And I absolutely don’t want to be the one that brings it on to someone else. I think that is the very basic thing. It is all about solidarity.”

The WCC has published a handbook to help churches across the world promote good health. Health-Promoting Churches Volume II: A Handbook to Accompany Churches in Establishing and Running Sustainable Health Promotion Ministries, edited by Dr. Mwai Makoka, WCC program executive for Health and Healing, maps out a vision for local congregations to act as agents for healing. The handbook includes guidelines, resources, and tools to equip and support local Christian congregations in starting sustainable health ministries, as well as a theological and public health basis. Work plans center on seven intervention areas: diet, physical exercise, tobacco, alcohol, mental health, tuberculosis, and COVID-19. A monitoring and evaluation framework and guidance on how to address other emerging health issues are provided. The handbook also guides local churches to opportunities for strengthening existing efforts in health ministry. Find out more at

The Festival of Homiletics, an annual festival on preaching and a respected source for continuing education for pastors, is online this year. Registration is free to view four to five prerecorded video sessions each day May 17-21. A “recording package” may be purchased to watch sessions at a later time and gain full access to bonus material including additional speaker presentations, live workshops, and more learning opportunities. The line-up of nationally known speakers includes Craig Barnes, president and professor of Pastoral Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary; Traci Blackmon, executive minister of Justice and Local Church Ministries for the United Church of Christ; Otis Moss III,pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ; Walter Brueggeman, professor emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary; Anthea Butler, associate professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; writers and speakers Diana Butler Bass and Brian McLaren; among many others. Find out more and register at

Libby Kinsey, a Church of the Brethren member, has been awarded the 2021 Educator Impact Award by the Lakewood Public Schools District in Michigan. “This award signifies that a Lakewood educator has gone above and beyond, and has made significant contributions that impact the student experience in a Lakewood school, across the district, or in the community,” said an announcement from the district. “ Libby retired as a Lakewood educator after a long career that began here in 1978. Mrs. Kinsey loves public schools, her journey covers the span of literature, child development, service to others, poetry, music, nature, and giving back to the community. Libby has left a lasting impact on Lakewood.”

Janet Eldred, a Church of the Brethren member and director of the Hollidaysburg (Pa.) Area Public Library, has been selected as the recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) 2021 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. The annual award of $10,000 and a citation of achievement will be presented June 27 at the ALA virtual Annual Conference. A release from the ALA said, in part: “During her tenure as library director, Eldred has overseen major projects like completing a new, state-of-the-art $2.8 million library build-out on time, under budget, and mortgage-free; she also accomplished smaller daily tasks like so many in the library field, working tirelessly with her team, sweeping, shoveling, lugging books, and sitting cheerfully at library booths through rainy festivals. But the challenge and adversity she now faces with remarkable dignity and grace is a medical one. In 2012, Eldred was diagnosed with early-stage dementia. Since then, she has not only experienced increasingly impaired cognitive function–but has also developed neurological complications, including occasional seizures and bouts of syncope (loss of consciousness). Through it all, she has remained supremely functional on the job, able to perform and excel within the library, exemplifying adaptiveness and resilience. The nomination and support letters that poured in from community members, board members, and library coworkers celebrate Eldred’s energy, zeal, kindness, tireless work ethic, relentless love for the community, and inspiring selfless directorship, despite her immense medical challenges.” Read the full release 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, Dana Cassell, Erika Clary, Lisa Crouch, Jacob Crouse, Jan Fischer Bachman, Tina Goodwin, Libby Polzin Kinsey, Daniel Klayton, Pat Krabacher, Wendy McFadden, Becky Ullom Naugle, Frank Ramirez, Naomi Yilma, 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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