Newsline for Nov. 5, 2021

1) Brethren Disaster Ministries completes tornado project in Dayton with help from grants

2) Brethren Volunteer Service schedules Winter Orientation

3) New books tells Rebecca Dali’s story

4) Cabool Church holds book discussion on racism

5) Sangerville congregation celebrates 50 years of its building

6) Pleasant Valley produces album of hymns and praise songs

7) White Rock raises money for family who lost loved one to COVID-19

8) Ankeny members create little library

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

9) Brethren bits: Personnel note, Atlanta urban ministry travel seminar, Shine survey, On Earth Peace cooking class fundraiser, district conferences, Powerhouse, and more

Quote of the week:

“The nation Wednesday reached another haunting milestone: 750,000 Americans killed by covid. In the first year and a half of the pandemic, a common way to try to fathom the loss was to compare the nation’s death toll to the living population of increasingly larger cities: Kenosha, Wis., at 100,000 deaths, Salt Lake City at 200,000, St. Louis at 300,000, Atlanta at 500,000. Now, according to Johns Hopkins University’s running tally of covid deaths, the losses have reached a level that can be compared to entire states: If the Americans who’ve died of covid made up a state, it would rank 47th in the country, more populous than Alaska, Vermont or Wyoming.”

From “750,000 Dead: In Too Many Families, Unity in Pain but Division in Mourning” by Marc Fisher, Lori Rozsa, and Kayla Ruble, published on Nov. 3 by the Washington Post at

As of this past Sunday, Nov. 1, more than 5 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide.

A note to readers: As many congregations return to in-person worship, we want to update our listing of Churches of the Brethren at

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1) Brethren Disaster Ministries completes tornado project in Dayton with help from grants

By Jenn Dorsch-Messler

Brethren Disaster Ministries has received an additional grant from the Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund of The Dayton Foundation. This $10,000 award will cover a portion of the final expenses of the Brethren Disaster Ministries tornado rebuilding site in Dayton that will be completely closed by Thanksgiving. Supported expenses include various volunteer housing and meal support; tools, equipment, construction materials and supplies; and vehicle-related expenses and fuel.

Previously, Brethren Disaster Ministries had received a $17,000 grant in at the end of 2020. Those funds covered the monthly cost to have volunteer housing available at the Memorial Presbyterian Church in Dayton for all of 2021 as well as other equipment, material, and vehicle-related expenses.

In May, Brethren Disaster Ministries also was awarded a $5,000 grant from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) as part of their UPS 2021 Spring Long Term Recovery Grants. This grant helped to cover a portion of the costs for staff and project leader travel, supplies, and equipment for the work sites, as well as specific technology and printing expenses.

There are no longer weekly volunteer groups traveling to Dayton with the housing site closure at the end of October. Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding has now returned to Coastal North Carolina. However, several local volunteers are finishing up work on a few homes in Dayton and are working to pack and move the Brethren Disaster Ministries project equipment.

Jenn Dorsch‐Messler is the director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. Give financially to the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries at


2) Brethren Volunteer Service schedules Winter Orientation

By Michael Brewer-Berres

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) will be hosting its Winter Orientation for Jan 18-Feb. 4, 2022. The volunteers in Unit 330 will gather at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Va. This Winter Orientation takes the place of the Fall Orientation that did not occur in October.

So far, six volunteers are expected to take part in the Winter Orientation. BVS is still accepting applications until Dec. 8, 2021. Apply at

Michael Brewer-Berres is orientation assistant for Brethren Volunteer Service, serving as a BVS volunteer.


3) New books tells Rebecca Dali’s story

By Frank Ramirez

What fuels Rebecca Dali’s passion when “responding with compassion to the most vulnerable persons in northeastern Nigeria”? According to Dali it is her personal story and history–one of “poverty, frustration, rape, a son abducted (by Boko Haram) 11 years ago”–that inspire her life’s work.

Dali, a member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), is founder and executive director of CCEPI (Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiative). CCEPI is an organization that serves the most vulnerable populations who have been traumatized by Boko Haram attacks. Her work has attracted worldwide attention and support. In recognition of her work, as part of the observance of World Humanitarian Day on Aug. 21, 2017, Dali was awarded the Sergio Vieira de Mello medal at the Palais des Nations, where the UN meets in Geneva, Switzerland. Her speech at the event was titled “We Have Walked in Each Other’s Shoes.”

Dali and her husband Samuel currently live in the United States. On Oct. 9, she spoke to 26 CCEPI-USA board members and guests in Manheim, Pa., attending the launch of a book about her childhood and life’s work. We Have Walked in Each Other’s Shoes: Rebecca Dali’s Story is written by Frank Ramirez with Rebecca Dali and is illustrated by the author’s daughter, Jessica Ramirez, who painted and photographed a series of nesting dolls in the Russian style, reflecting different stages of Dali’s life.

Ramirez conducted extensive interviews with Rebecca and Samuel Dali in 2018. Originally aimed for an unveiling in 2020, the book was delayed by the pandemic.

The book is targeted for middle-school students, but readers of all ages will benefit from this story. It begins with the award ceremony, then moves backward in time as the layers of her life unfold. The image of the nesting dolls, variously known as matryoshka, babushka, or stacking dolls, reflects the fact that the person we are now was formed by what happened to us in the past. We carry the weight of our many experiences with us all the time. We are layers of our past and present selves stacked inside each other.

Dali has reflected on the suffering she has both witnessed and endured, and how the great traumas of her own childhood caused her to care deeply about the people of her country, and indeed, all suffering people.

At the book launch, she reiterated the history of CCEPI and outlined plans for construction of a new school in Nigeria. Rehabilitation services include crisis aid, trauma rehabilitation, skills training, and are open to Christians and Muslims. Basic medical services are provided, and access is arranged for more complicated medical needs. Classes are offered teaching sewing, knitting, computer skills, along with agricultural and livestock education. Legal services are offered to survivors.

Pam Reist, executive pastor of Congregational Life at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, is chair of CCEPI-USA and conducted the meeting. The dinner that accompanied the event was provided by Sandra and Paul Brubaker at their home.

Both Frank and Jessica Ramirez donated their services so that the entirety of the profits from the book benefit Dali and her ministries. In addition, photographer Glenn Riegel donated the photograph of Dali that graces the back cover.

We Have Walked in Each Other’s Shoes can be purchased from Brethren Press for $15 at or by calling 800-441-3712.

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


4) Cabool Church holds book discussion on racism

By Sandy Bosserman

Nineteen people attended the “Who Will Be a Witness?” workshop on Saturday, Oct. 31, at Cabool (Mo.) Church of the Brethren. We appreciated the leadership of former pastoral couple Roger and Carolyn Schrock, now living in McPherson, Kan. Discussion grew from the book of the same title by Messiah College and Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren member, professor Drew Hart, with the added subtitle, “Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance.”

The Witness Commission of the church planned the event as a successor to an event held a couple years ago to further address the scourge of racism in light of Jesus’ teachings and ministry. Highlighting portions of the book and enabling small group discussion resulted in substantive and challenging dialogue, and we pray for courage as we openly attempt to address racism and prejudice of many kinds, toward many “groups” of people, in our communities and beyond, with more than reaffirming, “We’re doing just fine, in the name of Jesus.”

We have several copies of the book and are happy to loan them to anyone or any congregation interested in tackling this difficult topic.

Members of the Cabool congregation meet for the book discussion: (from left) Gordon Johnston, Myron Jackson, Brian Lenihan, Doris Lenihan, Picky Gum, and Mac Gum. Photo courtesy of Missouri and Arkansas District.

Sandy Bosserman is a former district executive. This report first appeared in the newsletter of Missouri and Arkansas District of the Church of the Brethren.

5) Sangerville congregation celebrates 50 years of its building

On Nov. 7, Sangerville Church of the Brethren in Shenandoah District will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its church building during the 10:30 a.m. morning worship service. The service will be followed by opening the cornerstone, a carry-in meal, and other celebrations.

6) Pleasant Valley produces album of hymns and praise songs

The music leadership of Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Weyers Cave, Va., has produced an album of hymns and praise songs titled “While I Run This Race,” reports Shenandoah District. The district is distributing the album with an invitation to make donations to the Haiti Medical Project, and an invitation to share it with friends and neighbors and invite them to donate. A limited number of copies will be available at the Shenandoah District Conference this Saturday.

7) White Rock raises money for family who lost loved one to COVID-19

White Rock Church of the Brethren’s Fall Festival on Oct. 23 raised some $2,200 to benefit a family who lost a loved one to COVID-19, said an article from “Preparation for the festival began in September, when church members gathered to make apple butter, and culminated into more than 75 quarts and pints of canned food including apple butter, blueberry jam and blackberry jelly,” the article said. The festival included a yard sale to benefit the family of Matt Moses, who died Oct. 6 at age 35, leaving behind his wife and two children. Michael Pugh pastors the church located in Floyd, Va. Find the article at

8) Ankeny members create little library

Church members Rhonda and Jim Bingman installed a Little Free Library in the front yard at Ankeny (Iowa) Church of the Brethren, reports Northern Plains District. “Memorial money was used to purchase the library box, post, and memorial plaque. The box is made from composite material so little maintenance should be necessary. Jim was the first borrower when he checked out one of his own books that Rhonda donated. A bench is planned to be added in the Spring. Hopefully the neighborhood and our own members will enjoy taking a book and leaving a book.”

Photo courtesy of Rhonda Bingman and Northern Plains District.

9) Brethren bits

Sidney Haren has signed on as program director at Camp Pine Lake in Northern Plains District. After serving as a counselor, two-time summer staff, and assistant director, Haren has served as a major part of the 2020 Virtual Camp and the effort to bring back face-to-face camp in 2021, said the announcement. An Ivester Church of the Brethren member, Haren is a graduate of Iowa State University and a current graduate student at the University of Northern Iowa.

The Shine curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia is inviting responses to a survey about its children’s story Bible. “As we look to the future, we want to create faith formation resources that meet the needs of families,” said the invitation. “We are particularly interested in the input of families as we contemplate the creation of a new story Bible. We would love it if you would fill out a brief survey (link below) and share the survey link with families in your church and community.” The survey will be open until Nov. 15. Go to

The Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at Christian Theological Seminary provide funds to congregations to support renewal leaves for their pastors. Congregations may apply for grants of to $50,000 to underwrite a renewal program for their pastor and for the pastor’s family, with up to $15,000 of those funds available to the congregation to help cover costs for ministerial supply while the pastor is away. There is no cost to the congregations or the pastors to apply; the grants represent the endowment’s continued investment in renewing the health and vitality of American Christian congregations. Applications are due by April 27, 2022, and recipients will be notified in late August 2022. A renewal leave funded by a grant in the clergy renewal program may begin no sooner than Jan. 1, 2023, and no later than Dec. 31, 2023. Find out more at

On Earth Peace is holding an online cooking class as a fundraiser. “Join members of the On Earth Peace board for a time of cooking and community,” said an invitation. “Be led by Marcelle Zoughbi in making Mujadara-Rice with lentils and onion and Palestinian salad. This is a great dish for vegetarians and everyone! Full of protein, filling, and good for the environment!” Visit for tickets.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has extended the deadline to register for a travel seminar to Atlanta, Ga., this January with a focus on urban ministry. The deadline is extended to Nov. 15. The course titled “A Place of Refuge: Urban Ministry” is taught by Josh Brockway, co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, on Jan. 3-13, 2022. The academy is partnering with Bethany Seminary to offer the course for TRIM/EFSM credit for academy students, continuing education credit for ministers, or personal enrichment. Find more information at

Missouri and Arkansas District has published a report on its “District Conference by the Numbers”: A total of 38 people attended the 2021 district conference online, by phone, and in person, with 40 people attending the business session including 20 delegates representing 8 of the 12 congregations in the district. The number of attendees went up to 67 for the Sunday morning worship service, with 14 devices connecting online. Offerings and donations received for the district totaled $1,860.

Northern Ohio District also reported statistics from its 2021 district conference: 116 people registered, with 93 attending the business session, and 100-plus joining in worship. Total offerings received came to $1,250 including $496 for Brethren Disaster Ministries. A Virtual Peace Auction raised $1,028. Among other business, the conference approved a 2022 budget of $200,412.39, an increase of $2,722 over the 2021 budget due primarily to increased audit costs. The district newsletter reported that “Dave Bassett from the Stewardship and Finance Commission expressed appreciation for the sustained giving by the churches with special thanks to those that have responded to the call to increase their self-allocations by 3 percent.”

Shenandoah District holds its district conference this Saturday. Moderator Daniel House requested prayer for the delegates in a district email this week: “Please join me in prayer for a gathering that is full of Christ’s Spirit and love. May we be able to mourn what needs to be mourned, celebrate every gift we have received, disagree honestly, and work together well. May our life together give evidence that we are Christ’s church!” District executive minister John Jantzi reported that 162 delegates were registered “under less-than-optimal conditions. That speaks volumes to the resiliency and persistence of Shenandoah District peoples and congregations.” The conference takes place in the display barn at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds. The conference was shortened to one day due to concerns about the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the surrounding counties. Business items include the slate of officers and the budget. The offering will be divided equally between district ministries and the Haiti Medical Project for building latrines to mitigate the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

Shenandoah District Conference logo

Middle Pennsylvania District’s Heritage Fair 2021 “is behind us now, but we were blessed with a great day!” said the district newsletter. “With the support of those who were able to come to Camp Blue Diamond and those congregations and individuals that supported Heritage Fair from a distance, we are grateful! To date we have raised over $27,000.”

This year’s Powerhouse Youth Conference is planned for Nov. 13-14. This regional youth conference is hosted at Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind., with sponsorship from Manchester University. The theme is “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” (Psalm 139). “We will enjoy a weekend of worship, games, music, recreation, and more for senior high youth in the Midwest and their advisors,” said an announcement. “We hope you can join us…. We want every youth to have the opportunity to attend, so if you need help with fundraising, chaperones, or a group to travel with, please let us know!” Contact Jenny Imhoff at 330-234-8991 or find more information at

Proyecto Aldea Global’s Deborah Program has received the 2021 National Prize for Human Rights in Honduras. PAG is a humanitarian nonprofit organization founded and led by Church of the Brethren member Chet Thomas. “Since 1983, Proyecto Aldea Global has been promoting sustainability in all of its development programs in central and western Honduras,” said an announcement of the award. “We especially focus on the formation of human infrastructure whereby the capacities of families, local governments, and civil society organizations are strengthened in order to build just, peaceful, and productive communities. Established in 1999, PAG’s Deborah Program carries out actions to prevent and reduce the incidence of domestic violence by offering free counseling services and legal guidance to victims and survivors in order to ensure that equal justice is applied and that their human rights are protected. Other services provided include couples therapy and arrangements for alimony support. This initiative led to the opening of local municipal offices for women. In 2016, we expanded our scope of work to include activities to promote and defend the human rights of individuals and groups in vulnerable situations, mainly women, children, adolescents, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and those with HIV. These groups face discrimination, exclusion, and inequalities due to social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors. By implementing a capacity-building approach, we equip the local governments, state institutions, and civil society organizations in legal and psychosocial topics to help them exercise their functions and respond to human rights violation cases. Additionally, frequent activities are carried out to raise awareness and to educate the local population on aspects related to human rights…. PAG’s Deborah staff includes 3 law professionals and a professional in pyschology.” Find out more at

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has issued a statement on the designation of six Palestinian organizations as “terrorist groups” by Israel. The statement said, in part: “CPT condemns Israel’s designation of six prominent Palestinian Human Rights Organizations as ‘Terrorist Groups’ with the intention to criminalize those exposing human rights violations stemming from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” The statement named the six organizations as “involved in direct support, community development, and exposing human rights abuses…. This move to criminalize organizational reporting and public denouncement of human rights abuses by labelling the organizations ‘terrorists’ is an affront to human rights work worldwide. The scope of this action and the precedent it sets without receiving diplomatic pushback causes deep concern throughout the global human rights community.” CPT called on world governments “to immediately remove the umbrella of impunity under which the Israeli occupation has flourished.” Find the full statement at

No Feeling Is Final, a new film starring Ted Swartz, is based on his book written with Valerie Serrels titled Portraits from the Human Faces Tour. Swartz is a Mennonite actor and dramatist and a popular performer at Church of the Brethren events including Annual Conference, National Youth Conference, and National Older Adult Conference. “No Feeling Is Final is a celebration of resilience and how telling our stories about mental health–both painful and hopeful–can connect and carry us through hard times together,” said a description of the film, which was made on location at The Goshen Theater in Goshen, Ind. It premieres there on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. The evening will include a live panel discussion with the creators of both the film and the book, which will be available for purchase and signing. Find out more at

At 101 years old, George Etzweiler of University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College, Pa.–a joint Church of the Brethren and American Baptist congregation–is the oldest runner to take part in the annual Tussey Mountainback 50-mile relay and ultramarathon. “But it’s certainly not his first rodeo,” commented an Oct. 28 Facebook post from Tussey Mountain. “Sunday will mark his 15th time leading his relay team, christened ‘The Old Men of the Mountains.’ But while Etzweiler has been running longer than some of the relay participants have been alive, the State College man is quick to point out that running wasn’t always his hobby of choice. It started when he was 49 years old, and he said he was overweight and couldn’t stay awake in the afternoon.’” Read more 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 Sandy Bosserman, Michael Brewer-Berres, Jenn Dorsch‐Messler, Jan Fischer Bachman, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Bonnie Kline Smeltzer, Nancy Miner, Frank Ramirez, Cindy Sanders, Walt Wiltschek, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Please send news tips and submissions to . Find the Newsline archive at . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren email newsletters and make subscription changes at . Unsubscribe by using the link at the top of any Newsline email.


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