Newsline for Sept. 20, 2021

1) NOAC keynoter Karen González speaks on immigration and the church

2) Lisa Sharon Harper takes NOAC along on a journey wrestling with identity

3) McPherson hosts a NOAC ‘watch party’

4) NOAC by the numbers

5) Church of the Brethren delegation visits site of earthquake in Haiti

6) Kulp Theological Seminary in Nigeria welcomes 36 students into degree and diploma programs

7) COBYS Family Services 25th annual Bike & Hike sets new record


8) Nick Beam to serve in leadership for Southern Ohio and Kentucky District

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

9) On Earth Peace invites participation in this year’s International Day of Peace

10) ‘What’s in a Name?’ presented by Brethren Historical Library and Archives

11) Grace, play, and delight: The 2021 Ministry of Writing Colloquium of ESR and Bethany Seminary

12) Ventures course offers introduction to talking about race

13) Prue Yelinek featured speaker at annual Dunker Church Service

14) Bridgewater church hosts Brethren & Mennonite Heritage Center lectures

15) Community Church of the Brethren participates in virtual CROP Walk

16) Painesville Church school and daycare completes 40-plus years of service to community

17) Reflecting on a FaithX summer

18) Brethren bits: BVS cancels fall orientation and invites new volunteers to join in the winter, Selective Service and the draft may come up this week in the House, job opening, personnel notes, districts cancel or shift events online due to COVID, more

Quote of the week:

“We all have within us the capacity to sow the seeds of peace or the seeds of violence and destruction. In these days, when the world is hurting from disease, weather related disaster, and violence, we desperately need more seeds of peace to be planted, tended, and encouraged to grow!”

— Linda Fry writing the Northern Ohio District blog called “Pray for Peace.” She shared basic information about Sept. 21 as the International Day of Peace. “This day was established by the United Nations in 1981. In 2001 the UN unanimously voted to designate the day as a time for ‘non-violence and cease-fire.’ … This year’s theme, ‘Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world,’ is a call to ‘think creatively and collectively about how to help everyone recover better [from the COVID pandemic], how to build resilience, and how to transform our world into one that is more equal, more just, equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and healthier.” Read the full blogpost at

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

NOAC 2021

1) NOAC keynoter Karen González speaks on immigration and the church

By Frances Townsend

Participants in the 2021 virtual National Older Adult Conference heard a detailed but very accessible presentation on immigration, including how to see it from a biblical perspective, from keynote speaker Karen González. Having immigrated from Guatemala as a child, she has been a public school teacher, studied at Fuller Theological Seminary, and now works in immigrant advocacy. Her recent book is The God Who Sees: Immigrants, The Bible, and the Journey to Belong.

González led listeners through the biblical story of Ruth, pointing out that it is a story of economic migration, vulnerability of immigrants, and compassionate treatment as laid out in Old Testament law.

A screenshot of the presentation by Karen González to National Older Adult Conference 2021

Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi were living in poverty but the laws allowed them to glean in Boaz’s field to find food. The edges and corners of the field were not harvested by the owner but had to be left for the poorest in the community. Immigrants, widows, and orphans were given this right (see Deuteronomy 24:19-21). González described the society working in this way as the “blessed alliance,” where all, including immigrants, were working together for the thriving of the community, not some working just for their own profit. She said that when a society is healthy, “things work together and human beings become their best selves.”

In addition to Bible stories of compassion for immigrants, González gave information and data on immigration, asylum seekers, and refugees, and talked about the history of immigration law in the United States. For the most part, it was grim–for example, worldwide only 4 percent of refugees are ever resettled and the vast majority live out their lives in refugee camps. Most immigrants leave their home countries out of necessity, for work, to escape persecution and violence, or for family reunification. But they leave some parts of their identity behind, and the transition is difficult, even traumatic for many.

She continued with information showing that immigrants are a net asset in the countries where they settle, working at higher rates than the general population. And as immigration increases, crime decreases.

However, González reminded her listeners that even if immigration were not good for countries, the biggest reason for a Christian to support it is that God commands it.

The first step, she said, is for each person to do some reflection and self-examination. “If you are a Christian, are your immigration views primarily formed by your faith?” She also suggested reflecting on relationships with the immigrant community. “Are your relationships based on mutuality or are they acts of charity?”

The next step is to read the Bible in community with immigrants. Reading Bible studies prepared by writers in marginalized groups would also help.

The third step is to advocate for immigrants, to choose to speak up to relatives and friends, even to call representatives in Congress.

After the keynote session, González participated in a panel discussion and answered some questions submitted by NOAC participants. One concern was voiced by panelist Nathan Hosler, head of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. He spoke of how easily overwhelmed people get with the many dire situations facing the world now, and asked how to sustain engagement in a way that is spiritually vital without burning out. How do we keep the big picture in view, but choose our niche in which to work?

González replied by citing something she once heard a professor say: “When you are teaching the Bible, don’t try to eat the elephant, just chew on a small part.” Look for small steps, because each one matters. More importantly, she reminded, each thing will require internal work.

“Some of the most valuable work you can do is look inside and sit with it,” she said. “Where do your views come from? What does my faith say?” She said we overvalue external work and undervalue internal work. If what a person has energy to do is sit with the concern, do the Bible study and reflection, that is important work that will prepare the person to do more. This spiritual preparation is what gives strength to keep working on issues that can feel hopeless.

González also told about what keeps her hopeful, in a time when immigrants are suffering so many difficulties. She calls it “participatory hope,” waiting for immigration reform while engaging in whatever way we can. She feels the most hopeful when she sees local efforts, when people are connected helping their neighbors, when local churches are serving and loving their neighbors. She suggested that NOAC participants look for where God is at work in their communities, saying, “When I despair, that’s where I turn.”

— Frances Townsend pastors the Onekama and Marilla congregations of the Church of the Brethren in Michigan.

2) Lisa Sharon Harper takes NOAC along on a journey wrestling with identity

By Frank Ramirez

In 2003, Lisa Sharon Harper undertook a journey to wrestle with her identity. The journey took her along the Trail of Tears as well as into the heart of slavery in the American South.

“I came to the end of the that journey and was profoundly moved by one question. I imagined myself going up to my great-great-great-grandmother, the last enslaved woman in our family, and asking this question.”

She imagined going up to her great-great-great grandmother Leah Ballard, who had been born and raised in slavery, and who gave birth to at least 17 children. What would her ancestor say if she announced, “I have good news for you. Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for [your] life.”

NOAC speaker Lisa Sharon Harper (top left) with a panel of Brethren responders following her keynote presentation: Christy Waltersdorff (top right), LaDonna Sanders Nkosi (bottom left), and Eric Bishop (bottom right).

Of Leah Ballard’s 17 children, only 12 can be traced. The other five were born before the end of slavery and were likely sold away. She was probably a “breeder,” whose job was to make her master money by giving birth to more slaves. Harper asked herself, Would she have received the good news as good news? Would she shout for joy? After a pause she said, “I had to admit the answer was no.”

A speaker, activist, prolific writer, and founder of, currently living in Philadelphia, Harper plunged into years of wrestling with the concept of Shalom. “If the good news of the gospel is not considered good news by my three times great grandmother, maybe it is not good news at all.” This led to insights gained from the first 14 chapters of Genesis, which she shared with NOAC.

Harper concentrated on four Hebrew words that “set free” the good news:

The first, tov m’od, often is translated as “very good.” Harper noted “very” can also be translated “forceful, overflowing, abundant.” She said, “This changes everything. When God looks around at the end of the sixth day [of creation] and says, ‘This was very good,’ God was saying not that the things God made were good, but the relatedness between all the things God made and humanity and between men and women was forcefully good…. No whales needed to be saved on that day because there was love flowing between humanity and the rest of creation.”

In the sixth day of creation God made humankind “in our image,” and that word, tselem, is translated into the Greek as “icon.” Harper said that same word appeared when Jesus asked the Pharisees to produce a coin, after they attempted to trap him into making either unpopular or seditious statements, when Jesus asked whose image (or icon) is on the coin? The coin may belong to Caesar, but “whoever bears the tselem of God belongs to God. You bear the image of God, the tselem of God.” The ancient Babylonians believed that only their rulers bore the image of their gods, but Genesis made the astounding statement that we all bear that image. “They democratized power on the first page of the Bible.”

Which leads to the third word: radah, often translated “dominion.” Harper noted, “This word has been sorely misused. Many people say it means to dominate, even unto obliteration.” She instead suggested that God’s command invites us to “maintain the wellness of the boundary between all things…. God puts the humans in the middle of the garden and says till and keep it…. Serve and protect my creation.” This means everyone, including “the welfare mother, uber driver, farmworker who picked the tomatoes that graced your salad, are all called to exercise dominion/stewardship of the world.”

Harper differentiated between the two creation stories in Genesis, saying that starting in the second chapter “God is crafting us out of the mud, kissing us to life.” When God created the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and said of the latter, “Do not eat of it, lest you die,” God was giving us a choice to follow God’s way or choose to follow our own way. When the humans ate the fruit, they chose their own way. “Their own way gave them the only thing it could give them: brokenness.” This led to the broken relationships between men and women, humanity and creation, as brother rose against brother, and languages were confused. “A couple chapters later there’s the first mention of the word war,” she said, “in the context of colonization, one king trying to force his will on the other kings. It only took 13 chapters from tov m’od to war.”

But that is not the end of the story. According to Harper, “God’s redemption story is the rest of the Bible.” Citing the history of the concept of race, from Plato’s Republic with his assertion that people are made of different metals that determine their race and how they are meant to serve society, through Pope Nicholas I blessing European explorers and giving them permission to claim land in Africa and the Americas and to enslave the people–and beyond, to eugenics and pseudoscientific claims that there are superior and inferior races–Harper countered the history of the concept of race with the argument of Jesus in Luke 4, that he had come to set the prisoners free. She said he came “to free the oppressed images of God,” again citing the use of the word for “icon.” Moreover, the baptismal litany in Galatians 3:27-28 confronts human ideas of race: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” “Friends, that changes everything,” she told the NOAC congregation.

Imagining again that she was speaking to her ancestor Leah Ballard, she said: “The King of the Kingdom of God has come to confront the kingdom of men that have been hellbent on crushing the image of God on earth. The King has come, great-great-great-grandmum Leah, to set the image of God in you free, to fan the flames of your call to exercise dominion in this world.”

And she added, “Now, would that news cause Leah to jump and shout?” The answer was a decided yes.

She then imagined turning to her ancestor’s master and saying, “I have good news for you. It comes in the form of dmuwth”–the fourth word meaning “likeness.” Harper would tell the master: “You are not actually master, nor do you have to be. You can choose to come down off that scaffolding of human hierarchy. Come and join hands with us. We’re having a party down here. It’s good, it’s very good, to be just you.”

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

3) McPherson hosts a NOAC ‘watch party’

By Ann Stover, photos by Perry McCabe

For years, Dave Fruth from McPherson, Kan., has organized bus trips to National Older Adult Conference in Lake Junaluska, N.C., from Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa in past years. He and a small committee from the Cedars Retirement Village in McPherson were not deterred from attending virtually this year.

They set about building a cooperative effort with the Cedars, McPherson College, McPherson Church of the Brethren, and the organizing committee of NOAC to gather people in the ballrooms at the Wellness Center at Cedars to watch NOAC virtually on the big screens.

Sixty six people registered to attend at the Cedars and a few others came for a day or just for worship. The group was able to view the main sessions together, as well as all the workshops in the two ballrooms, the coffee shop, and the library. All were asked to be vaccinated and wear masks, and tried to social-distance. Folks came from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado, as well as locally. Larry and Donna Elliot drove the furthest, from Fort Collins, Colo. The oldest attendee was 93-year-old Ethmer Erisman from Warrensburg, Mo.

The Cedars kitchen prepared lunch and supper each day. Since Dave Fruth does not recognize the flavor of “virtual” ice cream, we had real ice cream every night sponsored by the Cedars, McPherson College, and Mutual Aid.

We were amazed at the sessions, workshops, NOAC News, the Bible studies, and worship; but the fellowship was invaluable. We long to return to Lake Junaluska, but this virtual event at Cedars was much needed and appreciated.

4) NOAC by the numbers

430 people registered for NOAC 2021, in the most recent number available. However, this number may not include all of those who gathered for NOAC “watch parties” at Brethren retirement centers and other places. “I don’t think we can get an ‘actual’ number of participants,” commented coordinator Christy Walterdorff.

$9,240 given in NOAC offerings, so far. This includes $4,395 for the NOAC offering, $2,825 for the walk for COVID support, and $2,020 for the book drive for the Junaluska Elementary School library. Because NOAC offerings this year are received online or by mail, participants continue to have the ability to give to these offerings and totals will take some time to finalize.

3 “best sellers” in the NOAC Bookstore offered by Brethren Press online: The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper, The God Who Sees by Karen Gonzalez, and the NOAC News mug

9 people in the NOAC Planning Team including coordinator Christy Waltersdorff, Glenn Bollinger, Karen Dillon, Jim Martinez, Rex Miller, Pat Roberts, Paula Ziegler Ulrich, and staff Josh Brockway and Stan Dueck.


5) Church of the Brethren delegation visits site of earthquake in Haiti

By Eric Miller

Ilexene Alphonse, pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, a Haitian Brethren congregation in Miami, Fla.; Jenn Dorsch-Messler, director of Brethren Disaster Ministries; and Eric Miller, co-executive director for Global Mission traveled to Saut Mathurine in southwest Haiti in the second week of September.

Miller will share about the trip and the Brethren response to the earthquake in a Facebook Live event on Thursday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Connect at

The southwest region of Haiti was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 14. The group surveyed the damage, observed an emergency food distribution and medical clinic arranged by L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti), and met with members and leaders of the Saut Mathurine congregation of L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti.

Eight people in the community lost their lives, including Haitian Brethren cousins Lovenika (age 7) and Dieuveux (age 50-plus). The temporary building housing the congregation was destroyed, as were other church buildings in the community. Nearly all of the homes were rendered uninhabitable, with the exception of about a dozen homes built by Brethren Disaster Ministries following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. At the time of the visit, families had built temporary structures of wood, tarpaulins, and corrugated metal sheets. The church also built a small structure to store chairs and serve as a meeting place.

The delegation also met with the National Committee of L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti to discuss planning for disaster relief, which will be carried out by the Saut Mathurine congregation along with the Haiti Medical Project. Alphonse, who is a former Church of the Brethren staff member in Haiti, will assist with communication and coordination between Brethren Disaster Ministries and L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti for the joint earthquake response.

People expressed gratitude for the visit. Said one Haitian Brethren leader and community activist: “Because of your visit here today, the community is starting to smile.”

— Eric Miller is co-executive director of Global Mission for the Church of the Brethren.

The delegation poses for a group picture with some of the National Committee leadership of L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti and some Saut Mathurine leadership. At center, holding up a book, is Durose Moliere, pastor of Saut Mathurine Church of the Brethren. Photo courtesy of Ilexene Alphonse
One of the dozen-some homes in the Saut Mathurine community that survived the earthquake, that were built by Brethren Disaster Ministries following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Photo by Jenn Dorsch-Messler
Members of the Saut Mathurine community check in for a medical clinic offered through the Haiti Medical Project. Shown here, a temperature and blood pressure check. Photo by Jenn Dorsch-Messler
Water filter kit buckets distributed by the Haitian Brethren to earthquake survivors in the Saut Mathurine community. Photo by Eric Miller

6) Kulp Theological Seminary in Nigeria welcomes 36 students into degree and diploma programs

By Zakariya Musa

Provost Dauda A. Gava of Kulp Theological Seminary (KTS), an institution of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and affiliated to the University of Jos, charged the class of newly admitted students to study hard after choosing where he called the right institution of study.

He made this statement at the 12th Matriculation of the Seminary held on Sept. 17 at the seminary chapel. “You have chosen the right place by coming here,” he said.

Thirty-six students were admitted into fulltime degree and diploma programs for the 2021-2022 academic session.

Gava further encouraged the students to study hard and abide by the school rules and regulations, and to be security conscious in the worsening security situation of the country. He also used this avenue to encourage people to visit the seminary website, where they can download an entrance form in order to ease traveling to obtain the form at the seminary.

The EYN director of education, who was represented by his deputy Abba Yaya Chiroma, also advised the matriculated students to manage their time well. “If you need to achieve, you must understand that the distance between matriculation and graduation is short.”

One of the seminary lecturers, Gulla Nghagyiya, in a goodwill message stated that “hard work pays…. Be light bearers as you focus on your studies,” he added.

— Zakariya Musa is head of media for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

New students take their oaths at the matriculation ceremony at Kulp Theological Seminary in Nigeria. Photo by Zakariya Musa
Kulp Theological Seminary faculty and staff after the matriculation ceremony. Photo by Zakariya Musa

7) COBYS Family Services 25th annual Bike & Hike sets new record

By Douglas May

COBYS Family Services held its 25th annual Bike & Hike on Sunday, Sept. 12. The popular event and the beautiful day brought out more than 325 walkers, bicyclists, and motorcyclists to raise critical funding to support the organization’s ministries of foster care, adoption, counseling and family life education.

More than $160,000 was raised this year, making it the highest grossing Bike & Hike to date, topping the previous high of $148,000 in 2018.

COBYS is affiliated with Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren. Motivated by Christian faith, it educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential. Located in Lancaster County, Pa., COBYS Family Services provides a range of foster care, adoption, permanency, family life education, and counseling services throughout the region.

“We are amazed at this fundraising effort by hundreds of COBYS supporters along with their friends and family in the local community and across the country,” said Anne Stokes, director of development. “While the dollar amount certainly is an achievement, what we are most pleased about is that those who donated recognize the importance of our services to the community and trust COBYS to provide quality care with compassion, dignity and hope.”

The top three fundraisers were Don Fitzkee and Lancaster Church of the Brethren with $11,050, Floy Fitzkee of Manheim with $9,070, and Londa Brandt of Manheim raising $8,525. Additional gratitude goes to Mari Cunningham and the Cunningham family of Lancaster for raising more than $20,000 for the adults, children, and families served by COBYS.

COBYS is grateful to all participants and those who sponsored them, our corporate partners, and individual donors. A special thanks is offered to Lititz Church of the Brethren for again graciously hosting the event and to other congregations for raising significant funds for COBYS, recognizing the value of our agency. Individual, congregational, and business philanthropy offer foundational support to our ministries, allowing us to continue providing our essential services as we have been doing for more than 40 years.

— Douglas May is communications and development manager for COBYS Family Services.


8) Nick Beam to serve in leadership for Southern Ohio and Kentucky District

The Southern Ohio and Kentucky District of the Church of the Brethren has called Nicholas (Nick) Beam as interim associate district executive minister beginning Oct. 1. Beam will serve alongside retiring district executive David Shetler until Jan. 1, 2022, when he will become interim district executive.

Shetler plans to retire at the end of this year, after having served in leadership of the district for more than 11 years.

Beam has been a pastor in the district, serving at the Pleasant Hill congregation for 23 years beginning as interim pastor in 1998. He was licensed by the West Milton congregation in 1991 and ordained by Pleasant Hill in 2000. He completed the Training in Ministry program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership in 1999 and received a Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies from Bethany Seminary in 2008.

His leadership in the district has included service as moderator of this year’s district conference. He has served on the district board, Leadership Team, and Ministry Commission, and spent six years as the district’s Standing Committee representative to Annual Conference.

The address for the district office remains the same.


9) On Earth Peace invites participation in this year’s International Day of Peace

By Matt Guynn

This is the 15th year that On Earth Peace has invited congregations and community groups to participate in the International Day of Peace (Sept. 21). This year we offer “Seeds of Peace,” a reflective meditation or prayer service for use in personal meditation or congregational worship. Feel free to change “us” for “me” depending on context.

Congregations are invited to incorporate this into services on Sunday, Sept. 19, or Sunday, Sept. 26. Please let us know how you use it by writing to

You can find the prayer service at

— Matt Guynn is the Church and Community Group director of organizing for On Earth Peace.

10) ‘What’s in a Name?’ presented by Brethren Historical Library and Archives

This month, the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) focuses a Facebook Live event on the early 1900s and the 1908 Annual Conference decision to officially change the denomination’s name to Church of the Brethren.

As the church approached its 200th anniversary, the then-named German Baptist Brethren went through a sort of identity crisis. The denomination’s name confused people, and the church sought to change it and to clarify who it was as a Christian denomination. This live event will examine the dialogue that surrounded the 1908 Annual Conference, how the denomination came to be known as the Church of the Brethren, and what that name change meant over the years.

The event is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 11 a.m. (Eastern time) at

Image copyright Church of the Brethren / Brethren Historical Library and Archives

11) Grace, play, and delight: The 2021 Ministry of Writing Colloquium of ESR and Bethany Seminary

A Bethany Seminary release

Save the date for Earlham School of Religion’s annual Writing Colloquium, to be held this year online on Oct. 23-24. This year’s theme is “Grace, Play, and Delight.” The Writing Colloquium is co-sponsored by Bethany Theological Seminary and it supports the writing and work of the joint Master of Arts in Theopoetics and Writing that is offered by both institutions. The event is free, but donations are encouraged.

The colloquium opens Friday, Oct. 22, with “An Evening with Carrie Newcomer,” livestreamed at 8 p.m. (Eastern time). Dubbed a “prairie mystic” by the Boston Globe, Newcomer has 19 albums and three books of poetry to her credit. This fall, she will release “Until Now” (Available Light). She is a Quaker and well known in the Earlham community. She has performed on campus multiple times and is mother of a 2005 Earlham College graduate.

Pádraig O’Tuma closes the colloquium at 6 p.m. (Eastern) on Saturday, Oct. 23. Host of the podcast Poetry Unbound with On Being Media, O’Tuma is a theologian, a conflict-resolution mediator, and the author of four books of poetry. A leader of Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization, O’Tuma has advocated for LGBTQ inclusion and the value of the arts in public life.

An annual event since 1992, the ESR Writing Colloquium has featured such well-known writers as Scott Cairns, Madeline L’Engle, Yi-Young Lee, Scott Russell Sanders, Julia Kasdorf, and William Zinsser. In addition to the featured presenters, the colloquium will include a variety of workshops, with all sessions online.

Find out more about the event schedule at Registration is required and is offered on a pay-what-you-can basis. Recommended donations are $20 for a single session and $50 for the full event. Register at

— Jonathan Graham is director of communications for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

12) Ventures course offers introduction to talking about race

By Kendra Flory

The October offering from the Ventures in Christian Discipleship program at McPherson (Kan.) College will be “Everything You Wanted to Know About Race, but Were Afraid to Ask: Part I” to be held online via Zoom on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Eastern time) and presented by Eleanor Hubbard.

In this safe space, in which any question can be asked, we will explore together what it means to be a white Christian in a multicultural US. Part I, on Oct. 16, will provide a basic understanding of the sociological concepts of race: identity, culture, inequality and privilege, social structure, intersectionality, and critical race theory. Part II, to be held on Nov. 13, will envision a more equitable society by utilizing these concepts to become better allies as white Christian communities. Through mini-lectures and lively discussions, together we will critique cultural representations of race and whiteness as they are reflected in our own congregations.

Part I is designed as an introduction to talking about race and will help participants answer the question, Am I a racist? This class will accommodate all levels of knowledge from the beginner to the advanced. Part II will continue the discussion by using Christian and church imagery to understand how to critically analyze race and will help answer the question, Is my church racist? This class will build on Part I and help participants use their sociological understandings of race with skill and compassion.

Each session will be online via Zoom from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Eastern time), and participants may attend one or both classes. Everyone is welcome, no matter their racial identity, age, or skill level, as we all have been influenced by cultural information and misinformation about race. Christians of color can provide a context and an understanding of whiteness that may be difficult for white Christians to see. Young Christians understand today’s music, art, television, movies, and gaming culture and how they influence our church life. “Newbies” to discussions of race can help us see racial attitudes and beliefs with new eyes.

Eleanor A. Hubbard is skilled at leading difficult discussions about race and will make sure that all are heard without perpetuating feelings of guilt and shame. All questions will be honored and taken seriously. Hubbard is a graduate of McPherson College and has her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Her areas of expertise include gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, social class, and race.

Continuing education credit is available for $10 per course. During the registration process, you will have the opportunity to pay for CEUs and give an optional donation to the Ventures program. To learn more about Ventures in Christian Discipleship and to register for courses, visit

— Kendra Flory is advancement assistant at McPherson (Kan.) College.


13) Prue Yelinek featured speaker at annual Dunker Church Service

The Annual Dunker Church Service at the Antietam Battlefield took place this past Sunday, Sept. 19. The featured speaker was Prue Yelinek, former pastor of Waynesboro Church of the Brethren. This was the 51st annual worship service at the old Brethren meetinghouse on the Antietam Civil War battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md.

The event is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Mid-Atlantic District and celebrates the peace witness of the Brethren. It is organized by a group of ministers in the district, in cooperation with the National Park Service.

The church, technically known as the restored Mumma Meeting House, is on the site of the original meetinghouse was overrun along with the surrounding Brethren farms by the battle on Sept. 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam remains the bloodiest single day in American history, with 23,000 people killed or wounded, according to NPR (

The late E. Russell Hicks of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren, is said to have described the goals of the annual service, “that the little white church on the Antietam Battlefield may be to our troubled world a symbol of tolerance, love, brotherhood, and service–a witness to the spirit of Him [the Christ] whom we seek to serve.”

14) Bridgewater church hosts Brethren & Mennonite Heritage Center lectures

On Sept. 26, Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren will host the Brethren & Mennonite Heritage Center’s fall lecture series. The event will include two presentations on hymnody. Sam Funkhouser will discuss early English-language Brethren hymn books, and Benjamin Bergey will explore the new Mennonite hymnal Voices Together. Light refreshments will be served and an offering will be taken for the Brethren & Mennonite Heritage Center.

15) Community Church of the Brethren participates in virtual CROP Walk

Community Church of the Brethren is one of the congregations in Hutchinson, Kan., participating in a virtual CROP Hunger Walk. “Reno County’s annual CROP Hunger Walk for Church World Service (CWS) will be virtual this year, but it will still support those with real needs locally and globally,” said an article on “Nationwide, there are more than 900 annual CROP Hunger Walks that raise more than $9 million–bringing on-site resources and help to persons and families in more than 35 countries.”

In this “virtual” event, people across the county will be able to walk in locations of their choice with their families or in small groups. The organizers’ goal for the 2021 event is to raise $6,000 for the Reno County Food Bank and the Christian Soup Ministry as well CWS programs around the world.

Find the news article at

16) Painesville Church school and daycare completes 40-plus years of service to community

Painesville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is closing its Coleridge School and Daycare after more than 40 years. “Officials noted low enrollment as a primary cause, though other factors contributed to the recent action,” said the News-Herald of Willoughby, Ohio.

“Gaylee Hughes, who served as director for 21 years, also cited the community’s overall familial cycle as a cause of the school’s closing…. ‘At the end of seven years, everyone around here has had their 2.5 kids. In that time, I have watched the cycle bottom, with elderly neighbors passing and young families moving in. It takes about two years for the cycle to grow and we were bottoming (out) when COVID-19 hit.’”

The school was started in 1979 by founding pastor Art Hess. Current pastor John Ballinger cited Ecclesiastes 3 in celebrating the ministry. “To everything there is a season….there is a time for every purpose under heaven….’ We’re grateful we’ve had such an influence in the community and our gifts and legacy will live on.”

Find the article at


17) Reflecting on a FaithX summer

By Alton Hipps

On March 10, 2020, I committed to a year of service through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), working for the workcamp ministry of the Church of the Brethren as an assistant coordinator. I could not have imagined all the things that would change in the next year and a half. When July rolled around, I headed to Elgin, Ill., to start my service, thankful that–despite the COVID-19 pandemic–at least one thing I planned would still be happening.

As our team developed a theme for the summer, we landed on “Step Out: Seeking New Paths,” based on Isiah 43:19. The verse and theme seemed apt for the new trials, questions, and stumblings in a world we thought we knew. We realized, as planning for the summer began in earnest, that we would need to plan for many potential situations to run a program in 2021. This pushed us to think beyond the typical, and we created tiered program options with various levels of travel and group-to-group interactions.

During our flurry of fall changes, we took the opportunity to introduce the workcamp ministry’s new name, Faith Outreach Expeditions or FaithX for short. As the year moved along, we created COVID-19 guidelines and opened all FaithX experiences to anyone who had completed sixth grade. We continued to adjust our summer plans and, in January, felt it was necessary to stop planning for our most ambitious tier, Tier 4. The remaining three tiers did not include housing, which meant that groups were much closer to their service sites. So we worked to plan different types of service for each FaithX experience at a variety of local locations.

The two BVSers who worked as assistant coordinators for FaithX this summer, Alton Hipps and Chad Whitzel, also tweeted from most of the FaithX locations. Shown here, one of the FaithX tweets from the summer of 2021.

Over the summer, FaithX participants were able to serve at their local homeless shelters, food pantries, and clothing distribution centers helping their neighbors directly and tangibly. Participants also worked in community gardens growing food for people in need, and at their local parks, nature centers, and summer camps helping steward our special spaces. While the excitement of travel was off the table this year, local service made clear the connection between each individual and their own community. Participants were able to see the needs they were often previously blind to in their own backyards.

The connections made between congregations and local service opportunities during these FaithX experiences allowed congregations to continue to serve throughout the year, something that every group expressed intent to do going forward. A local setting also connected participants with other congregations across town or across the county in a new and shared experience. Youth who went to the same or neighboring schools were able to connect on a unique and spiritual level, and adults were able to grow relationships with people who also cared deeply for their community and wanted to help.

Having to rethink almost every aspect of a well-established program came with a host of challenges that required us to look hard for the sprouts of new growth. But looking back, we were able to find a new path for FaithX with its own deep, rich rewards.

— Alton Hipps served along with Chad Whitzel as the two assistant coordinators for FaithX this summer.

18) Brethren bits

The future of Selective Service and the military draft may come before the House of Representatives in the US Congress this week, as part of debate on the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Church of the Brethren has partnered with the Center on Conscience and War and other historic peace churches to oppose extension of the military draft registration requirements to young women. Such an extension would burden young women with the current burden on young men, of unnecessary and unjust legal restrictions for those who object to military registration including no access to federal loans and federal jobs among others.

The Church of the Brethren supports ending the Selective Service System altogether through the Selective Service Repeal Act (H.R. 2509 and S. 1139), which has bipartisan support.

Find out more:

“Selective Service Repeal Act receives endorsement,” Church of the Brethren Newsline, April 23, 2021,

“The time to act is now: Rights of conscientious objectors and the Selective Service System,” Church of the Brethren Newsline, July 16, 2021, by Maria Santelli of the Center on Conscience and War,

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has had to make the very difficult decision to cancel the Fall orientation unit because there were not enough applicants. One factor is the inability for volunteers from German partner organization EIRENE to obtain visas to the US.

BVS staff are hopeful that a winter orientation may take place in January-February 2022. The staff encourage all applicants 18 years and up to apply.

BVS provides a number of benefits: housing and food, transportation to and from project sites, medical insurance, the option of loan deferment, valuable professional and technical experience, spiritual formation, and much more. Will you serve? Find out more at #AWeekAYearAYearALife

The Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry seeks a program manager for the Thriving in Ministry Program. This position is part-time, salaried-exempt, with remote location, including travel as needed to carry out program objectives. This is an immediate opening. The program manager will work with an advisory committee to implement the “Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church” program, a Lilly Endowment, Inc.-funded initiative that addresses the practical needs of multi-vocational ministers in the Church of the Brethren. This program will include recruiting and training qualified individuals to serve as “circuit riders” who assess ministers’ immediate concerns, as well as resource people providing expertise for concerns identified as most common for multi-vocational clergy. Peer groups are also formed to support pastors beyond their program participation. The program manager will manage requests for services, schedule service providers, and meet ongoing administrative needs including completion of required reports to the grant provider. Qualifications include successful completion of a ministry training program; knowledge of the Church of the Brethren structure, polity, practices, and culture; affinity with the values and mission of the Church of the Brethren; collaborative working style; strong oral and written communication skills; use of active listening and discernment skills; ability to relate with integrity and respect within and beyond the organization; excellent computer skills and familiarity with educational technology; experience with budgets and financial record-keeping; a resourceful nature. Fluency in Spanish and Kreyol is welcome. A position description and further details of the grant will be provided upon request. Applications will be reviewed when received and will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. Apply by sending a cover letter, resume, and two letters of recommendation to The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Rachelle Swe has started as an intern for the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, through December 2021. She is a senior at Eastern Mennonite University majoring in peacebuilding, development, and political science.

Bethany Seminary has welcomed new staff:

Paul Shaver (Bethany MDiv 2015) joined the Bethany and Earlham School of Religion communities in the position of coordinator of Seminary Computer Services on Sept. 1. He earned a bachelor of science degree in computer science from Bridgewater (Va.) College. He has more than 10 years of experience in the field of technology support, and more than five years in various ministerial contexts.

Joshua Sati began Sept. 15 in the new position of academic/operations manager for the Certificate in Biblical Peacemaking in Jos, Nigeria. His role will include arranging and organizing practicums for students and assisting with admissions work in Nigeria. He is ordained by ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All) and served for a decade as a pastor and in various denominational administrative roles. He holds a degree from JETS (the ECWA seminary), a master of arts degree in ethics and philosophy from the University of Jos, and is enrolled in a doctoral program in systematic and practical theology through the University of South Africa.

Middle Pennsylvania District’s Program and Arrangements Committee has canceled its district conference this year. “Out of an abundance of caution and care for everyone involved at this time when the COVID numbers are again skyrocketing, the Program and Arrangements Committee (affirmed by the Coordinating Team) made the difficult decision to cancel district conference for 2021,” said an announcement from district executive David Banaszak. “We believe that our planned conference theme for this year, ‘Bearing Fruit, Being Disciples’ is lived out in our tender care and love for each other’s spiritual and physical well‐being, even when difficult decisions have to be made. Our desire is not to compromise anyone’s health. Various business items such as affirmation of district slate and mission plan, approval of minutes and reports, as well as all Camp Blue Diamond business items will be handled via postal snail mail. Congregations will be receiving information regarding this process in the near future. The hope of district leadership is to gather all our churches together for a grand worship celebration in the spring of 2022.”

The West Marva District Executive Board has announced that it is necessary for all local events in the district in September and October to be canceled because of concerns regarding COVID. This affects the District Women’s Fellowship Fall Rally and the District Pastor/Spouse Banquet among others. “I hope that each and every one are praying daily that this pandemic can be removed from our world, and that we are praying for families affected by this disease and for everyone in the medical field that are tirelessly working as they struggle through this pandemic,” said the email from the district office. “Please stay safe!”

The multi-district “Calling the Called” event planned for Saturday, Sept. 25, is now virtual via Zoom, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon (Eastern time). “The planning team has made the decision to host this event via Zoom in hopes that more people will be able to participate,” said an announcement. Calling the Called is being organized jointly by the Atlantic Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southern Pennsylvania, Middle Pennsylvania, and Western Pennsylvania Districts of the Church of the Brethren. It has been planned to provide an intentional time away from the routine of life for participants to discern what it means to be called by God to the set-apart ministry. “Whether you are someone actively exploring the possibility of ministry or someone unsure of God’s calling this will be a helpful time of discernment and discovery,” said the announcement. “Come and hear personal call stories, come and wrestle with biblical call stories, come and learn about the process of entering the set-apart ministry in the Church of the Brethren. Discover what it means to be a people called by God.” Contact one of the district offices of the sponsoring districts for information about how to attend.

— Shenandoah District has announced the proceeds from its Disaster Auction this year. “The Disaster Auction Planning Committee announced earlier this month that the total revenues for the Disaster Auction for 2021 were $448,719.51 and the final net profit was $430,558.85,” said a district announcement. “This total includes the pledged matching funds from a generous donor who has seen the devastation disasters create in the lives of families and individuals through personal experience on rebuilding project trips. The previous record was $225,419.29 set in 2017. From the proceeds, the district was able to disburse $380,000 to Brethren Disaster Ministries and $60,000 to the local Brethren Disaster Ministries for disaster projects. Disaster Auction Coordinating Committee Chair Catherine Lantz expressed gratitude to God for creating the opportunity to hold the auction and to those who volunteered, donated items and financial resources, or came out to support the event.”

For the sixth year in a row, McPherson (Kan.) College has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report in the 2022 “Best Colleges” list for Regional Colleges in the Midwest. Additionally, McPherson was ranked on the “Best Value Schools” and “Top Performers on Social Mobility” lists, said a release from the college. “Only schools ranked in or near the top half of their categories are included on the Best Value Schools ranking list. When evaluating colleges for this list, U.S. News & World Report considers the most significant values to be among colleges that are above average academically and takes into account academic quality as well as cost. McPherson College was also recognized among colleges that are successful at advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of students awarded Pell grants.” Said president Michael Schneider, “It is an honor to be included on such a well-respected list. It’s further proof that McPherson College is being recognized for the work being done by our faculty and staff to ensure quality education, excellent student experience, and value.” Initiatives such as the college’s Kansas Commitment and Student Debt Project, which support students in graduating with little or no debt, and the college’s successful career placement rate, are just a few examples of why McPherson College is recognized on the “Best Colleges” list, according to Schneider. “We have some of the highest placement rates in the country with two-thirds of our graduates having jobs or graduate school placement before they even graduate.”

Bridgewater (Va.) College has shared information about a number of upcoming events. In keeping with guidance from the CDC, Bridgewater College requires that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, properly wear face masks when indoors in public areas of campus.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, Rebecca and Samuel Dali will speak at the college for the International Day of Peace Convocation, at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern time) in the Boitnott Room. The title of their presentation is “A Peaceful Response to the Crisis in Nigeria.” Samuel Dali was president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) from 2011-2016, a time that overlapped with the Chibok kidnappings by Boko Haram, noted a release from the college. Rebecca Dali is founder of the Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives, which seeks, among other efforts, to support victims of violence in Nigeria. Sponsored by the Kline-Bowman Institute for Creative Peacebuilding, the event is free and open to the public.

Madeleine Albright, the first female US Secretary of State who served in the position 1997-2001, will be on the college campus on Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern time) for a special event titled “In Conversation with Madeleine Albright.” The event to be held in Cole Hall is free and open to the public, according to a release. Doors open at 7 p.m. The moderated conversation will include Bridgewater president David Bushman. “Over the course of her extraordinary life in public service, Dr. Albright has occupied multiple positions of influence, most notably as US Ambassador to the United Nations and US Secretary of State during the Clinton Administration,” said Robert Andersen, director of the college’s Kline-Bowman Institute for Creative Peacebuilding. “Her profound political and diplomatic experiences have laid the groundwork for what I anticipate will be an enlightening conversation on the prospects for peace and democracy in the contemporary global community.”

The college’s Special Collections and the Margaret Grattan Weaver Institute for Regional Culture will exhibit “A Potter’s Progress: Emanuel Suter and the Business of Craft,” according to the Augusta Free Press. This showcase of historic regional pottery and copies of associated historic records is open Sept. 6 through Oct. 8 on the lower level of the John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons. The exhibit is curated by Scott H. Suter, professor of English and American Studies and director of the Margaret Grattan Weaver Institute for Regional Culture, with Stephanie S. Gardner, Special Collections librarian, Tiffany Goodman ’20 and Meghann Burgess ’23. Lenders to the exhibit include the Reuel B. Pritchett Museum Collection at Bridgewater College, Scott Suter, Stanley H. Suter, and the Virginia Mennonite Conference Archives. Gardner said, “It is especially exciting to feature Emanuel Suter’s beautiful earthenware communion bowl, made around 1868 for Bridgewater’s Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren, in the exhibition. Lottie Thomas donated the bowl to the Reuel B. Pritchett Museum in 1988.” The exhibit is free and open to the public. Find the news report at

“Welcome to a new season of the Dunker Punks Podcast!” said an announcement of the podcast’s next season. “When has a song moved you in a meaningful way? When has one brought up feelings of pain?” The most recent episode features pastors Matt Rittle and Mandy North sharing insights on music. Go to, subscribe to the podcast at, or go to the episode page:

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is offering a webinar to learn more about Armenia and the recent war, on Sept. 28 at 10 a.m. (Eastern time). The webinar is hosted with Olesya Vartanyan, who works with Crisis Group as senior snalyst in the South Caucasus. The discussion will be led by CMEP executive director Mae Elise Cannon and will focus on providing a historical introduction to Armenia and Azerbaijan at war–specifically an introduction to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of 2020. Registration is free but donations are accepted. Go to

The World Council of Churches has released information about a “Manifesto for Communication for Social Justice in a Digital Age,” the product of an international symposium. Participants collectively offered a view of the current global context, a look at issues and challenges, principles to promote socially just communication, and a call for a “transformative movement” founded on human rights, human dignity, and democratic principles. “Digital technologies are transforming our world and the multiple spaces in which we live and move,” the manifesto begins. “These technologies offer us new ways to communicate, to advocate for our human rights and dignity, and for our voices to be heard.” Growing digital technology monopolies also threaten a diversity of voices and perspectives, the manifesto notes. “Users have become the new commodity. Private data is increasingly requested, collected, and controlled by a small number of platforms to take advantage of people for economic and political purposes.” In their work over the three-day symposium, on Sept. 13-15, participants identified surveillance, marginalization, and militarization as significant threats. Find out 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 Ilexene Alphonse, Logan Bogert, Shamek Cardona, Jacob Crouse, Jenn Dorsch-Messler, Kendra Flory, Linda Fry, Tina Goodwin, Jonathan Graham, Matt Guynn, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Pauline Liu, Douglas May, Perry McCabe, Eric Miller, Zakariya Musa, Frank Ramirez, Allison Snyder, Ann Stover, Frances Townsend, Christy Waltersdorff, Nancy Watts, 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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