Newsline for Sept. 3, 2021

1) Children’s Disaster Services responds to Hurricane Ida, Afghan evacuation

2) Office of Peacebuilding and Policy signs letter supporting Afghan refugees, urging humanitarian action by Biden administration

3) Action alert invites Brethren to urge Biden administration to resettle Afghan refugees, reduce military spending

4) EDF grants support earthquake relief in Haiti

5) Yearbook survey invites responses from all Church of the Brethren congregations

6) Quaker and feminist organizations denounce vote on drafting women

7) NOAC will ‘overflow with hope’ next week

8) Annual Conference office and Womaen’s Caucus co-sponsor webinar ‘From Nomination to Election’

9) Second part of mental health webinar by Janelle Bitikofer will be offered in October

10) National Youth Conference 2022 youth worker applications are live

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

11) Crest Manor Church collects Clean-Up Kits for Church World Service

12) Cedar Run Church celebrates 125 years of continuing the work of Jesus

13) Remembering Dale Brown, professor emeritus at Bethany Seminary and a leading theologian in the Church of the Brethren

14) Brethren bits: Answered prayer in South Sudan, personnel notes including the retirement of Doug Philips as director of Brethren Woods and the selection of Brian Bert as executive director of Camp Blue Diamond, jobs, Office of Ministry newsletter, and more

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1) Children’s Disaster Services responds to Hurricane Ida, Afghan evacuation

By Sharon Billings Franzén

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is deploying teams to respond to Hurricane Ida and to provide care for children of Afghan evacuees, after a busy few weeks monitoring several deployment possibilities as well as preparing for multiple trainings to continue to prepare volunteers to respond to the special needs of children in disaster and trauma-related situations.

Hurricane Ida response

Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29 as a Category 4 storm and was the second most intense hurricane on record to hit the state. Ironically, it arrived on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. By that evening, CDS was already planning a deployment with the Red Cross as they set up shelters to care for evacuated and displaced residents.

The first CDS team of six volunteer caregivers were ready to travel to a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, La., on Wednesday, Sept. 1, although some were delayed due to Ida’s effect on air travel as it continued to move northeast bringing additional rain, wind, and flooding. CDS volunteers are trained to be flexible and they all arrived by the next day, Sept. 2, ready to provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in their childcare center.

CDS is preparing to deploy additional teams as they are needed.

Hurricane Ida hits the Gulf Coast. Photo in the public domain, courtesy of NASA-NOAA.

Afghan evacuation response

As events in Afghanistan unfolded over the past few weeks, the Church of the Brethren has been carefully and prayerfully monitoring the situation, seeking ways to respond. Of particular interest are the anticipated needs of Afghan evacuees entering the United States through specific airports and then traveling on to one of seven military facilities for processing. One possible response was identified, to provide childcare for the families who have been through so much trauma and who will be facing such uncertainty as they begin new lives in the US.

CDS is grateful to have the opportunity to do that through a partnership with Save the Children. A team of seven CDS volunteers will be deployed on Saturday, Sept. 4, to New Mexico to care for Afghan children in a military facility. The initial team will serve for two weeks. Additional teams may be needed to continue work at that or another facility.

Save the Children also has requested CDS volunteers to join their effort to care for children of Afghan families arriving through Dulles International Airport in Virginia, as they await travel to one of the processing centers. CDS also has been contacted by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency about volunteer availability in case childcare is needed for Afghan evacuees arriving through another airport.

To financially support the work of CDS, go to For more information about CDS, how to volunteer, and upcoming volunteer trainings, go to

— Sharon Billings Franzén is Office Manager for Brethren Disaster Ministries

2) Office of Peacebuilding and Policy signs letter supporting Afghan refugees, urging humanitarian action by Biden administration

The Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy is one of 88 faith organizations and 219 faith leaders sending a letter to President Biden urging him to provide a robust humanitarian response to the crisis in Afghanistan and to expand opportunities for Afghans to seek refuge in the US.

The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy initiated a meeting within the faith offices based in Washington, D.C., to share information and jointly plan and work together with regard to Afghanistan. Along with Brethren Disaster Ministries, its staff are in conversation about incoming refugees with partners such as Church World Service.

The letter was sent out under the auspices of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. It called for “providing clear pathways to protection for all Afghans seeking refuge from violence. Such pathways include, but are not limited to: ensuring safe pathways out of Afghanistan and evacuating Afghan allies to US territories (e.g., Guam) for processing (until all 18,000 SIV applicants and their loved ones have been evacuated); expanding US refugee resettlement numbers and capacity; working with UNHCR and the international humanitarian community to support emergency aid infrastructure; halting any and all deportations of Afghan nationals in accordance with UNHCR recommendations; designating Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status, and increasing US asylum processing.”

Atlas Air supports the evacuation from Afghanistan. Photo by Edgar Grimaldo, public domain.

The full text of the letter follows:

August 30, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

As 219 faith leaders and 88 faith organizations and faith groups across traditions dedicated to upholding the human rights, humanitarian protection, and the rights of refugees, asylees, asylum seekers, stateless people, and all others who have been forcibly displaced, we write to express our support for a robust humanitarian response from the United States and our commitment to welcome Afghans in need of refuge and to implore your administration to expand opportunities for Afghans to seek refuge in the United States.

After months of warnings to evacuate and protect Afghan lives during U.S. withdrawal, faith leaders, veterans, advocates, and experts called for a timely, efficient, and secure Afghan evacuation. Tens of thousands of our Afghan allies are in imminent danger and face retaliation and death by the Taliban. On August 15th, Taliban forces took control of Kabul, seeding panic throughout the city and country. We are met with unending accounts of the desperation of Afghans seeking to flee: crowds overflowing the airfield, resulting in avoidable and tragic deaths; Afghans who worked alongside US forces scrambling to delete their digital history, and seeking resources for disguising their biometric data for fear of being discovered and targeted by the Taliban; women have already disappeared from the streets of Kabul, their safety and freedoms slipping away.

On August 16th, you addressed the public regarding the withdrawal, stating that you “won’t shrink from [your] share of the responsibility” for how the US engaged in Afghanistan and that “part of the answer is some of the Afghans did not want to leave earlier–still hopeful for their country.” Taking responsibility means ensuring that there continue to be robust protections for vulnerable populations in Afghanistan–including women, girls, LGBTQIA+ people, people with disabilities, and religious and minority groups–while providing clear pathways to protection for all Afghans seeking refuge from violence. Such pathways include, but are not limited to: ensuring safe pathways out of Afghanistan and evacuating Afghan allies to US territories (e.g., Guam) for processing (until all 18,000 SIV applicants and their loved ones have been evacuated); expanding US refugee resettlement numbers and capacity; working with UNHCR and the international humanitarian community to support emergency aid infrastructure; halting any and all deportations of Afghan nationals in accordance with UNHCR recommendations; designating Afghanistan for Temporary Protected Status, and increasing US asylum processing.

If “human rights must be at the center of our foreign policy, not the periphery”, as you stated in the same address to the American people and to the world, the United States must stand behind its promises. Leaving behind Afghans could be a death sentence for many. It is morally reprehensible and an abandonment of our faith values. We cannot let this happen.

We are called by our sacred texts to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner. Our places of worship have historically played key roles in assisting refugees for rapid and effective integration into U.S. communities. Our places of worship and faith communities stand ready to welcome all Afghans in need of refuge.

3) Action alert invites Brethren to urge Biden administration to resettle Afghan refugees, reduce military spending

From the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy

The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy has been closely following recent developments in Afghanistan and is currently engaging the issue in multiple ways, driven by Brethren statements and values. As early as 2011, The Church of the Brethren released a resolution on the war in Afghanistan which stated that the President and Congress should “begin an immediate withdrawal of all combat troops from Afghanistan, and instead to invest resources into the development of the Afghan people and infrastructure.” Ten years later, the first of those requests has finally been accomplished. However, while opposition to war has long been a position of the Church, we recognize that a formal “end” to the war is not sufficient on its own.

Alongside other faith partners and advocacy orgs, the OPP has both attended and convened meetings to discuss updates and strategy for action going forward, following the withdrawal of troops. The office has added our name to a sign-on letter calling on the Biden administration to continue evacuating Afghans who are in imminent danger, ensuring future safe pathways out of Afghanistan, and expanding US refugee resettlement efforts.

A 1982 Annual Conference statement makes it clear that the church approves of government efforts “to support and harbor refugees from war, oppression, famine, and natural disasters…and coordination of resettlement programs and cooperation with voluntary agencies to assure orderly, successful resettlement.” The OPP and its partners have also been discussing ways to challenge the assumption that military spending and intervention can ever bring about peace so that we can prevent future war and violence.

To make this happen, we need your help! We encourage you to contact your representatives and ask them to support continued evacuation efforts, expanded refugee protections and capacity, and an end to endless wars. You can find contact information for your representatives with the Legislator Lookup tool on the OPP website and then use the following script to call in:

“Hello, I’m a constituent of Representative/Senator [NAME] calling from [CITY/TOWN]. As a person of faith I urge you to call on the administration to urgently evacuate all vulnerable Americans and Afghans in Afghanistan–including women and girls, religious and minority groups, people with disabilities, journalists, humanitarian workers, activists, and others–for as long as it takes to get people to safety in the United States. Additionally, the United States government should further expand and expedite life-saving refugee protections, such as by increasing the US Refugee Admissions Program cap and ensuring broad access to humanitarian resources. As a member of a historic peace church, I also ask that steps be taken to reduce wasteful military spending and instead devote time and resources to other methods of peacebuilding, including diplomacy and the provision of humanitarian aid. Thank you for your time.”

A resource created by OPP partner Church World Service (CWS) gives further guidance on how you can help support advocacy and resettlement on behalf of our Afghan neighbors at

Please consider using this link and the resources within it to post to social media, reach out to your local refugee resettlement office, or contribute financially to the cause of Afghan refugee families. Thank you for making your collective voice heard on this issue!

4) EDF grants support earthquake relief in Haiti

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed $125,000 in grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to relief efforts following the earthquake that hit southern Haiti on Aug. 14.

A grant of $75,000 has been allocated for emergency relief programing by L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti), with support from Brethren Disaster Ministries. A grant of $50,000 supports the response by Church World Service (CWS), a longterm ecumenical partner of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

A small team from Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission office will visit Haiti next week to see some of the earthquake-affected area and meet with the leadership of L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti.

The earthquake’s epicenter was near Saint-Louis-du Sud, the same area where EDF grants funded relief, agricultural programs, and the rebuilding of homes after extensive damage from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The joint Brethren Disaster Ministries and Haitian Church of the Brethren response to the hurricane rebuilt many homes and led to a new church plant in Saut Mathurine. In this most recent disaster, 90 percent of the homes in the area were destroyed, as well as the temporary church building of the new church plant, and there were reports of many injuries, deaths, and people still missing.

Earthquake destruction in southwest Haiti. Photo by pastor Moliere Durose

An initial $5,000 grant from the EDF on Aug. 16 has been used to distribute food, household items, and tarps for temporary shelters. The National Committee of L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti traveled to Saut Mathurine on Aug. 19 to distribute emergency relief and offer support to church members, and have reported a continued “dire need” for food, drinking water, shelter, and trauma healing.

CWS has a program office in Haiti and has done decades of relief, recovery, and development work there. The focus of the CWS programing is in Pestel, a remote area north of the Church of the Brethren ministry area in Saut Mathurine. Both areas are underserved by larger international response groups. The EDF grant to CWS assists with emergency relief, home repairs and rebuilding, water systems, livelihoods, and trauma recovery programing.

To financially support this work, donate at To find out more about Brethren Disaster Ministries to go

The full report from the National Committee of L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti about its visit to the earthquake affected areas follows, first in Haitian Kréyol followed by an English translation:

Rapò sou vizit Grandou (Okay- depatman sid) aprè trableman de tè 14 dawou 2021 an.

Komite nasyonal te deplase nan dat kite 19 Dawou 2021 pou li te ale Grandou nan Okay depatman sid, pou rann frè yo nan grandou yon vizit de solidarite ki te frape nan tranbleman 14 dawou 2021 an.

Soti kanperen pou rive somatirinn, 90 % kay abitan yo kraze, anpil moun: mouri, blese,frappe, pedi byen yo elatriye. Nou konstate mounn yo genyen anpil nesesite Tankou: manje, dlo, kit sanitè, bezwen sikolojik, bezwen kote pou yo dòmi elatriye.

Nan vizit noute fè a nou te pote: diri, lwil, aran sò, pwa, bonbon, savon lave, savon twalèt, fab, chlorox, pat dantifris, prela, dlo, rad ak sachè poun te fè kit yo. Nou te remè yo ak lidè yo ki nan legliz la pou yo te ka fè distribisyon an. Lidè yo te distribye yo bay tout frè ak sè yo ak lòt moun nan katye a. Pou 30 daou pou rive 8 sptanb si Dye vle nap okay pou nou pote mange, dlo, kit sanitè ak sante epi pou nou ede yo fè abri provizwa. Nou déjà komanse fè maraton nan tout legliz frè yo an ayiti.

Komite Nasyonal remèsye tout frè ak sè nou yo nan entènasyonal la ki déjà kòmanse sipòte frè ak sè nou yo kite viktim nan katastwòf sa ki mete anpil dlo nan je yo. Mèsi pou sipò finansye nou ak èd priyè nou, nou trè rekonesan. Nou priye pou Bondye kontinye beni nou ak tout sòt de benediksyon.

Mèsi se te frè nou nan kris – Pastè Romy Telfort

Report of the National Committee’s visit in Gandou, Saut Mathurine Cayes, on August 19, 2021.

This visit was in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the South. We witnessed that 90% of houses destroyed by the massive earthquake and were told of many deaths, many injured, and many are still missing.

They are in dire need of food, water, sanitary supplies, psychological help, and more. We brought with us: rice, cooking oil, dry fish, beans, soap both for washing clothes and showering, detergent, bleach, toothpaste, tarps, water, and clothes. We left everything with the local leader to do the distribution.

The National Committee will be going back from August 30 to September with kits of food, sanitary supplies, water, and more. We will help the people with temporary shelters with materials that they already have. We are collecting donations from the churches in Haiti to help with that project.

The National Committee is thanking our international brothers and sisters for supporting our Haitian brothers and sisters in this crisis that left so many in tears. Thank you for your continuing prayers and support, we are grateful. We pray that God continue to bless you.

Thank you, your brother in Christ – Pastor Romy Telfort

5) Yearbook survey invites responses from all Church of the Brethren congregations

By James Deaton

COVID-19 affected the ways in which we worship. Many congregations responded by gathering online, and this shift will change how worship attendance is counted and then reported to the Yearbook Office.

All Church of the Brethren congregations–whether they offer online worship or not–are encouraged to complete this survey. Pastors and worship leaders are the primary audience for completing the survey.

Survey results will guide denominational staff as we improve Yearbook forms and the ways in which we collect worship attendance.

Survey link:

— James Deaton is managing editor of Brethren Press. Find out more about the Church of the Brethren Yearbook at Purchase a copy of the current Yearbook at

6) Quaker and feminist organizations denounce vote on drafting women

From the American Friends Service Committee

The House Armed Services Committee [on Sept. 1] voted to pass an amendment that would expand draft eligibility to women. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)–a Quaker organization initially established in 1917 to provide alternative service to those religiously opposed to the draft–condemned the vote.

[The Quakers or Religious Society of Friends is one of the three historic peace churches along with the Church of the Brethren, and have often joined together in collaborative peace work and in opposition to war.]

“Expanding the Selective Service System to women does not advance equality,” said Tori Bateman, policy advocacy coordinator for AFSC. “It simply perpetuates the injustice of the current system. We are disappointed that not a single member of HASC spoke out about the harmful extrajudicial sanctions placed on those who don’t register for the Selective Service or the many people who don’t register because of their religious beliefs. There is nothing feminist about forcing women, or anyone, to participate in preparations for war. Congress needs to get rid of the outdated and punitive Selective Service System for everyone, not enlarge it.”

AFSC is calling on representatives to address long-standing issues in the Selective Service System when the defense authorization bill reaches the House floor, including restricting the registration requirement to times of national emergency and eliminating the extrajudicial sanctions imposed upon nonregistrants.

AFSC was joined by several other organizations in opposing this vote. They issued the following statements:

“The vote in the House Armed Services Committee to require women to register for the Selective Service is wrong-headed. Far from advancing equity, this move expands the harms of the Selective Service to women without proper Congressional or public debate. Feminism is about addressing unjust systems, extending personal choice, and producing equal positive outcomes for individuals regardless of their gender. Requiring women to register for the draft does not benefit men or women, but rather hinders individual personal choice. All roles in the U.S. military are open to both men and women who choose to pursue them and we continue to oppose any effort to impose military service on men or women.” – Mac Hamilton, Advocacy Director, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)

“Drafting women is not feminist–no program that forces women into involuntary labor or harm’s way can be called feminist. Feminism is abolishing the US draft registration system for people of all genders. Expanding the injustice of involuntary conscription to women does not make it more fair–it simply imposes the injustice on more people.” – Rivera Sun, CODEPINK

“The only reform of Selective Service that Congress should be considering is the complete abolition of the system. As young people, we know how the government will attempt to co-opt feminism to feed the war machine, and we refuse to fall for it. Our vision of equity requires the end to militarism in all forms, and that starts with the end of selective service registration.” – Danaka Katovich, Peace Collective, CODEPINK

“Truth in Recruitment stands with peace activists, feminists, faith communities, draft-resisters, and draft-age youth in opposing draft expansion as voted on by the House Armed Services Committee. Mandating women to register for a military draft does not advance equality for women and extending coercive measures to women will not expand their opportunities, it will merely remove their option to choose. Extending mandatory draft registration to new groups is neither an expression of expanding liberty nor is it an ‘insurance policy’ to avert war. We firmly believe that instead of trying to expand draft registration to young women, Congress should end draft registration for all. As the National Defense Authorization Act comes to the House and Senate floors for a vote in the coming weeks, we implore Members of Congress to emphasize a commitment to voluntary service, the de facto status of U.S. military service since 1973, when the last draft ended.” – Kate Connell, Outgoing Director, Truth in Recruitment

— Layne Mullett is director of media relations for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. The AFSC promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, it nurtures the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. Find this release on the AFSC website at


7) NOAC will ‘overflow with hope’ next week

By Christy Waltersdorff

The NOAC 2021 Planning Team will be “Overflowing with Hope” that all Internet connections are working next week as the first-ever online NOAC hits the airwaves.

Our planning took a very different turn almost a year ago when we realized that an in-person conference at beautiful Lake Junaluska, N.C., was not possible due to the pandemic. We rallied our preachers, speakers, workshop presenters, worship team, and technology experts and began making plans for a virtual experience.

Many people have spent numerous hours recording, editing, and planning for the conference, which begins Monday evening. It is not too late to register at

We are including two favorite fundraisers:

The book drive for the Lake Junaluska Elementary School library is happening through Brethren Press. Go to and donate funds to purchase books for the children of the Lake Junaluska community.

The popular early morning walk around the lake fundraiser will support the Brethren Disaster Ministries Global COVID-19 Fund. Invite folks to sponsor you as you walk near your home at any time of the day or night. Donations may be made at

NOAC online will be meaningful, informative, and entertaining. We hope you will join us for this historic event!

– Christy Waltersdorff is coordinator of the Church of the Brethren’s National Older Adult Conference.

8) Annual Conference office and Womaen’s Caucus co-sponsor webinar ‘From Nomination to Election’

By Anna Lisa Gross

The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference office is co-sponsoring an online workshop with Womaen’s Caucus titled “From Nomination to Election,” on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time).

Have you been nominated for an open position on the Annual Conference ballot? Have you nominated someone? (Or you’re at least thinking about it?) When Womaen’s Caucus learned that half of the people nominated never fill out their Nominee Information Form (and therefore are never considered for the ballot) we grieved all those gifted and faithful individuals who may have interest, may feel called, but found too many barriers. In conversation with representatives of the Nominating Committee, we have discovered that they also would like to better understand what barriers nominees are experiencing. Let’s work and pray together for a healthier and more diverse church!

In this session, you’ll hear from others who have been nominated, get tips on filling out those forms, and generate new ideas for this process. You’ll also find solidarity with others who know putting our hats in the ring can make us feel vulnerable! And we’ll share advice on encouraging others to follow through on Nominee Information Forms, so that our heartfelt nominations of others get to see the light of day.

Credentialed ministers may earn 0.1 continuing education units. Email to register.

— Anna Lisa Gross is a pastor from Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., and an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren.

9) Second part of mental health webinar by Janelle Bitikofer will be offered in October

By Stan Dueck

Janelle Bitikofer’s June webinar, “Providing Mutual Support when People Are Experiencing Mental Illness,” was so engaging, and viewers had so many questions, that we will be offering a part two. In this continued conversation, we’ll discuss practical ways for congregations to engage in mutual care.

This webinar is co-sponsored by the Anabaptist Disabilities Network and Church of the Brethren Discipleship Ministries. It will take place online on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 2-3 p.m. (Eastern time). Credentialed ministers may earn 0.1 continuing education credit for attending.

Bitikofer is executive director of We Rise International; a lead mental health trainer for Churches Care, a mental health and addictions training program for congregations; and author of Streetlights: Empowering Christians to Respond to Mental Illnesses and Addictions, a mental health and addictions support manual for churches.

Register in advance for this webinar at–rqj8rGNUThij0Me3qDELcsDe2dPPI. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Janelle Bitikofer

The recording of part one of Bitikofer’s webinar is now available at

Purchase Streetlights from Brethren Press at

Learn more about the Churches Care Program at

— Stan Dueck is co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. For more information, contact him at or 847-429-4343.

10) National Youth Conference 2022 youth worker applications are live

By Erika Clary

Will you be 22 or older at the time of National Youth Conference (NYC) 2022? Do you love NYC? Applications to be a youth worker at NYC 2022 are now open! Youth workers are an integral part of NYC. They carry out programing, help facilitate the organization of NYC, and take care of the behind-the-scenes details.

Serving as a youth worker is a serious task; it is not a job for those who want to “experience” NYC. Committed, focused, and enthusiastic people are wanted to serve as youth workers next summer. Are you up for the task? National Youth Conference will occur from July 23-28, 2022, at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

Applications are due by Nov. 1. Find the application form at

Questions? Contact Erika Clary at or 847-429-4376.

— Erika Clary is the National Youth Conference coordinator, working in the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry through Brethren Volunteer Service.


11) Crest Manor Church collects Clean-Up Kits for Church World Service

Crest Manor Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind., recently filled 28 Clean-Up Kit buckets for Church World Service (CWS). This project was delayed from 2020 due to the pandemic. Some families chose to fill a bucket, while others brought assorted contributions and/or cash donations. When delivered to the CWS Depot, church members were advised that these Clean-up Buckets would go to neighboring states where people were recovering from floods and tornadoes.

Shirley Braner with a stack of completed buckets, at left. At right: delivery of buckets to Elkhart, Ind., to the CWS Depot there, were received by Al and Donna. Photos courtesy of Crest Manor Church of the Brethren.

12) Cedar Run Church celebrates 125 years of continuing the work of Jesus

On Sept. 18-19, Cedar Run Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., is celebrating 125 years of continuing the work of Jesus: simply, peacefully, together. As announced by Shenandoah District, the celebration includes an Open House on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 4:30 p.m., with special music by Seldom Serious at 6 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 19, a special worship service will explore “What God Has Done at Cedar Run” at 10:30 a.m., with a message from former pastor Bill Zirk and a guest sermon by Paul Roth. Special music will feature Trista Pence. A meal will follow.


13) Remembering Dale Brown, professor emeritus at Bethany Seminary and a leading theologian in the Church of the Brethren

Dale Weaver Brown, 95, professor emeritus at Bethany Theological Seminary and a leading theologian in the Church of the Brethren as well as a former moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, passed away peacefully on Aug. 30, in the presence of family.

Brown was born to Harlow and Cora (Weaver) Brown in Wichita, Kansas, as the fourth of five boys, all preceding him in death. His father was called a “progressive food grocer” by the local paper, as associated with extra services such as taking in trades of garden vegetables in lieu of cash. His parents were known for integrity, generosity, and attention to quality in both professional and personal life.

His grandfathers were both farmer Dunker preachers–farming during the week and preaching on Sundays. All greatly influenced him in life and faith, as did Sunday school teachers discussing racial injustice in the early 1940s. Wrote his daughter, Deanna Brown, “From an early age, Dale was shaped by those who had the moral strength and character to stand against violence of any kind and to open their hearts and homes to those who needed love.”

After a double promotion in elementary school, he completed his A.B. in 1946 at McPherson (Kan.) College in three intensive years, a year later marrying classmate Lois (Kauffman). They were a part of an international work camp in Italy in the summer of 1948, as part of a Brethren Service Unit–an experience that propelled their convictions and future work to alleviate poverty and wars. During 68 years of marriage, their home welcomed people from around the world, for long and short stays alike, including being a host family for post-World War II German high school exchange program.

Brown earned a degree from Bethany Seminary in Chicago in 1949, and a doctorate from Northwestern University in 1962. His education included study at Drake University and Garrett Theological Seminary.

Dale Brown (at right) in conversation with a Young Republican during Ollie North demonstrations in Orlando, Fla., during the 1989 Annual Conference. In his Messenger article about the event, he wrote that during the Conference, “an intrusion from the outside was placed under our windshield wipers, an invitation to have our pictures taken with Oliver North for $150. He was appearing at a meeting of Young Republicans in a hotel across the boulevard from the Conference center, at the same time Yvonne Dilling was to speak at the Friday evening worship service. Yvonne once had directed Witness for Peace, one of the most effective programs against the activity North so fervently supported [the Contra War]. What might be the best response?” He and other Brethren peace leaders planned a vigil of prayer, singing, and testimonies that was attended by about 150 Brethren. They were met by “a group of flag-waving, zealous North supporters,” Brown wrote. “Kneeling for prayer took on new meanings in this setting.” Photo by Paul Grout

He was ordained in 1946. He pastored Stover Memorial Church of the Brethren in Des Moines, Iowa, from 1949-1956. From 1958-1962 he worked at McPherson College as director of religious life and assistant professor of philosophy and religion. His teaching at Bethany Seminary started in 1956-1958, while he was pursuing a doctoral program at Northwestern. He returned to Bethany as a professor of history and theology for more than 30 years, 1962-1994. He taught courses on Bonhoeffer, Brethren in Historical and Theological Perspectives, and Peacemaking, among other topics. He was president of the American Theological Society (Midwest Section) in 1985-1986. Later, he was a fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, where an annual award is named in his honor.

He authored six books and wrote numerous articles for the Church of the Brethren’s Messenger magazine as well as Sojourners, The Christian Century, The Other Side, newspaper editorials, and more. His first book, Understanding Pietism, was published from his doctoral dissertation in 1978, and in 1996 was republished in an updated edition. Most recently, his book Biblical Pacifism was republished in a second edition by Brethren Press. Another Way of Believing, also published by Brethren Press, is available in both English and Spanish (go to

He was moderator of Annual Conference in 1972. He served on the former General Board of the denomination in 1960-1962, chaired the board of On Earth Peace 1997-2000, was twice on the Standing Committee of Annual Conference, served on the denomination’s Interchurch Relations Committee, and early in his career was moderator of the former Middle Iowa District. In just a couple of examples of his wide-ranging church interests, he also helped mentor the first fledgling Church of the Brethren in Brazil, and for some years helped maintain contact between the Church of the Brethren and sister churches in the wider Brethren movement.

His ecumenical activity included representing the church at the National Council of Churches, chairing the Fraternal Relations Committee, and being an observer to the Consultation on Church Union.

Brown was identified as “an important national figure in opposition to the Vietnam War” when a collection of his papers was dedicated at the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. Said the program for that event: “Dale’s 1970 book, The Christian Revolutionary, anticipates many of the themes later made famous by John Howard Yoder and the Sojourners community.”

His involvements as a peace activist were many and varied over decades. As Annual Conference moderator, he presented a statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee opposing the draft and Selective Service. He participated in the first Brethren-Russian Orthodox exchange in 1963 and in 1969 was named dean of the first summer peace seminar between the Church of the Brethren and the Russian Orthodox Church, held in Geneva, Switzerland. His entry in the Brethren Encyclopedia notes that he “counseled many conscientious objectors, participated in various peace demonstrations, and actively participated in several peace organizations (such as the Brethren Action Movement, which he helped to found, as well as New Call to Peacemaking)…. He also played an important role in the so called new Evangelicalism of the early 1970s and was a signer of the Chicago Declaration of Social Concern.”

Notes for a Messenger interview made after his retirement said, “He still likes to take part in peace demonstrations. He has been in a couple in Washington fairly recently, including one at the Pentagon…. He is active with Christian Peacemaker Teams and with On Earth Peace Assembly training of young people for Peace Travel Teams. These are just a sampling of the many activities Dale is still involved in.”

Longterm attendees at Annual Conference may remember his speeches at the microphone, advocating for peace and calling for reconciliation between differing parties in the church, and his eagerness to engage in one-on-one conversation with those who disagreed with him. Former neighbors in Oak Brook, Ill., may remember his participation in open housing marches in 1966, and how he and students at Bethany created a bail fund group in DuPage County. Ecumenical colleagues may remember his participation in demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic National Convention on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee.

A profile of Brown as moderator appeared in Messenger in 1972, identifying paradoxes of his life and witness: “Dale Brown, as others see him, is a man whose strict interpretation of the Bible bring him into sympathy with conservatives and into action with radicals. Starting from a strict biblical base, and trying to be true to it, he often discovers both his support and opposition in strange quarters.”

The magazine told a story from a recent conference: “He found himself in a vigorous, emotional debate with some conservatives following a committee meeting they had attended together. The argument, on resistance, continued an hour and a half. At the end Dale told them, ‘You know I wouldn’t be spending this long if I didn’t like you and take you seriously–I wouldn’t be caring this much.’ His adversaries answered, ‘We like you, because you don’t just treat us nice. You take us seriously enough to argue with us.’”

Brown is survived by his daughter Deanna (Brian Harley), son Dennis (Dorothy Brown), son Kevin (Kim Pece), granddaughters, and many others he claimed as beloved children and fictive kin.

Plans for a memorial service will be announced. Memorial gifts are received to On Earth Peace and Bethany Seminary.

14) Brethren bits

— Answered prayer: Utang James, a colleague of Church of the Brethren mission staff Athanasus Ungang in South Sudan, has been released from custody following weeks of prayer requests from the Global Mission office. The news of his release came earlier this week. Ungang himself was released in late July, after a detention lasting more than three weeks. Both men were among other church leaders and colleagues who had been held for questioning following the murder of a church leader in May, although neither was suspected in the case and the authorities did not press formal charges.


Doug Phillips has announced his retirement as director of Brethren Woods, a camp and outdoor ministry center in Shenandoah District, as of Dec. 31. His last day on the job will be Nov. 30. During his 39 years at the helm of Brethren Woods, the camp has accomplished phenomenal growth in programing and in facilities, said an announcement from the district. “The only thing that diminished during his time of service was borer-damaged ash trees. The challenge of having hundreds of dead and dying ash trees being removed immediately preceded the COVID restrictions that preempted the 2020 camping program. Doug and his staff rose to the challenge.” The Outdoor Ministries Association said in its report of his resignation, “Under Doug’s leadership of 39 years, Brethren Woods experienced phenomenal growth in facility, program, mission, and reach, making life-changing impacts on campers, paid and volunteer staff, individuals, families, churches, groups, and really the entire community and district. Brethren Woods truly became a place where people were discipled and grew in their relationship with Christ, where they were challenged and developed as leaders, where they were loved, supported, and cared for, and where they connected with God’s creation in powerful ways.”

“Declaring the Glory of God” is the theme for the upcoming Church of the Brethren Mission Offering. Suggested date for the annual offering benefiting the global mission work of the denomination is Sunday, Sept. 12. Find out more about the church’s global mission at Find worship resources for sharing with congregations at Available are a slideshow and a bulletin insert/bookmark that is printable from a full-color download.

Brian Bert has been selected as executive director of Camp Blue Diamond in Petersburg, Pa., reported the Outdoor Ministries Association, citing an article in the camp newsletter. Bert’s appointment follows on a 30-year term of ministry at Camp Blue Diamond by Dean and Jerri Heiser Wenger, who are retiring at the end of 2021 and relocating to Clovis, Calif., to be near family. Bert will begin his new role in January 2022. He has served as the camp’s program director since 2008. He has provided leadership and supervision of the camp’s summer staff and has been active in program development, strongly supporting the teachings and beliefs of the Church of the Brethren, with open communication with churches, campers, parents, volunteers, camp staff, and the camp board. In Middle Pennsylvania District, he has provided pulpit supply, served as district moderator, and served as moderator for several churches. “Please continue to pray for the ministry of Camp Blue Diamond during this time of transition,” said the announcement.

Michael Brewer-Berres began work as orientation assistant for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), working at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Her first day on the job was Aug. 23. She is serving as a BVS volunteer, and was part of BVS Unit 325. Her first BVS assignment was at Quaker Cottage in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She graduated from Alma (Mich.) College with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2018.

— Job openings:

Atlantic Southeast District seeks a half-time district executive minister. The district territory includes Florida and Georgia, although there are currently no churches in Georgia. In Florida there are 18 congregations: 9 English speaking, 7 Kreyòl speaking, and 2 Spanish speaking. These congregations span the geography of the state, minus the panhandle, with churches from north to south on both coasts and in the center of the state. The virtual district office is located wherever the district executive lives within the district. There is no administrative assistant. Camp Ithiel, located just outside of Orlando, is the camp affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, and one of the congregations is located on the campgrounds. This half-time position of approximately 100 hours per month requires travel both within and outside of the district. Responsibilities include directing, coordinating, managing, and leading the district ministries as authorized by the District Conference and implemented by the district board; working with the congregations in calling and credentialing ministers and in the placement, call, and evaluation of pastoral staff; providing support and counsel for ministers and other church leaders and sharing and interpreting program resources for congregations; providing an important link between the congregations, district, and denomination by working collaboratively with the Council of District Executives, the Annual Conference, the Conference agencies, and their staff. Qualifications and required experience include ordination within the Church of the Brethren with commensurate educational background, which includes at least one of the following: Master of Divinity, Doctor of Ministry, TRIM/EFSM certificate; clear commitment to Jesus Christ and New Testament values; lnowledge of and adherence to Church of the Brethren faith and heritage; respect for diverse biblical interpretation consistent with Church of the Brethren beliefs and practices; demonstrated leadership skills in organization, administration, and communication, including ability to supervise a district staff that includes four part-time staff positions; understanding and valuing the district’s unique diversity with the aim of including all congregations in developing and carrying out the mission to grow and revitalize congregations. Pastoral experience preferred. Apply by sending a letter of interest and resume to Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of ministry for the Church of the Brethren, via email to Applicants are requested to contact three people to provide letters of reference. Upon receipt of a resume, a candidate profile will be sent that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Translation of documents into Spanish or Haitian Kreyòl can be provided upon request. La traducción de documentos al español se puede proporcionar a pedido. Tradiksyon dokiman an kreyòl ap disponib si gen yon demand.

Camp Blue Diamond in Petersburg, Pa., seek a gifted individual with a passion for outdoor ministry to serve as program director. The camp is a 238-acre retreat facility, summer camp, and family campground nestled within the Rothrock State Forest, affiliated with the 55 congregations of the Middle Pennsylvania District of the Church of the Brethren. The mission of Camp Blue Diamond is to encourage discipleship of Jesus Christ and to facilitate growth and healing in each person’s relationship with God, others, themselves, and the created world. The main role of the program director is to oversee all aspects of programing, managing and supervising summer staff, organizing retreats, helping to coordinate rental groups, assisting with kitchen and housekeeping duties during Outdoor School, and participating in Camp Board meetings, church visits, and the American Camp Association. Outdoor ministry at Camp Blue Diamond requires flexibility and teamwork. In this spirit, the program director may be called upon to provide help in other areas of camp as needed, and is accountable to the executive director and the board of directors. Qualifications include strong interpersonal skills as well as leadership, organization, and communication, along with a basic knowledge of program development, computer skills, and marketing. A bachelor’s degree is required, along with camp leadership experience. The applicant should be a Christian and a member of the Church of the Brethren or have an appreciation and understanding of Brethren beliefs and values. This fulltime, salaried position includes health benefits, a generous PTO/holiday package, and onsite housing and utilities. Review of applicants will begin Oct. 1. It is expected that an appointment will be made in November with an anticipated start date in January 2022. For a full position description and information about how to apply, visit Or contact Jerri Heiser-Wenger, executive co-director, at or 814-667-2355.

The National Junior High Sunday theme and logo have been released by the Youth and Young Adult Ministries. This year, National Junior High Sunday is on Nov. 7. Materials and resources will be available soon at

The Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry has published a newsletter highlighting recent developments in the office and updates on programs such as Part TimePastor/Full-Time Church and the work of the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee, among other topics. Find the newsletter linked at

South Central Indiana District has announced that its Program and Arrangements Committee has made the difficult decision to gather for a virtual, or online-only district conference this year. “We have been looking forward to being together at district conference Sept. 11,” said the email from district executive minister Beth Sollenberger. “Because the Manchester congregation serves a vulnerable population and does not feel comfortable inviting outside groups into their building, because the COVID numbers are rising, and because P&A wants to do the responsible thing, we decided that conference will need to be solely via the Zoom platform this year. We will miss being together in person, but I am so grateful that we can still gather using the Zoom platform.”

The latest episode of Brethren Voices television highlights the 2021 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, the 234th recorded annual meeting of the denomination, which took place virtually earlier this summer. The episode includes segments of the worship services, shares some of the music and drama of the Conference, and offers reflections by first-time delegate John Jones of Pacific Northwest District. Find this and other episodes of Brethren Voices on the show’s YouTube channel at

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has sent a letter to President Biden appealing for the United States to reconsider sanctions against North Korea. The Sept. 1 letter from acting general secretary Ioan Sauca said, in part: “While we share many of the concerns upon which these sanctions are based, they have failed to resolve those concerns, despite being among the most rigorous, systemic, and longest-standing sanctions regimes ever imposed. Moreover, the direct and indirect effects of the current sanctions have had very serious negative impacts on humanitarian access and action in North Korea.” The letter noted that although the sanctions are not intended to harm ordinary people or to prevent humanitarian assistance, in practice they have presented major obstacles to such efforts. “In addition to food shortages, reported health crises and recent floods in North Korea represent a heavy toll of suffering for the people of the country,” read the letter. “Several of our organizations are ready and standing by to offer needed humanitarian aid and services as soon as circumstances permit.” The letter called for a new general license for humanitarian goods and services, and an approved banking channel for these purposes, among other relaxations of the sanctions. “A more flexible policy is needed to create new possibilities for constructive engagement,” the letter said. “We believe that people-to-people encounters are essential for building peace.” Read the full letter 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 Josh Brockway, Deanna Brown, Shamek Cardona, Erika Clary, Lisa Crouch, James Deaton, Chris Douglas, Stan Dueck, Galen Fitzkee, Sharon Billings Franzén, Ed Groff, Anna Lisa Gross, Nathan Hosler, David D. Meadows, Nancy Miner, Layne Mullett, Beth Sollenberger, Christy Waltersdorff, 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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