Newsline for Feb. 19, 2022

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

1) Annual Conference ballot for 2022 is announced

2) Recipients of the Church of the Brethren Nursing Scholarship share their passion for nursing

3) EYN leadership solicits prayers as pastor’s wife held by kidnappers

4) Dan McFadden to serve as interim director of Brethren Volunteer Service

5) Potsdam Church uses BFIA grant to enhance its ‘Kid’s Club’ ministry

6) Brethren bits: Remembering Elaine Sollenberger, reporting from Rwanda, Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2022, Black Immigrant Advocacy, celebrating 500 registrations for NYC ‘and room for more!’

Quote of the week:

“Perhaps it is our mission to make clear that hate destroys and that love can bring wholeness to mankind.”

— Anna Arnold Hedgeman, an activist, educator, and writer with ties to the National Council of Churches (NCC) during her 60-year career, quoted in a blogpost from Ignite, an organization working to ignite political power in young women. In 1963 she joined the staff of the NCC’s Commission on Religion and Race as coordinator of special events and through this position recruited more than 40,000 people to join the March on Washington, said an NCC newsletter this week. She was the only woman on the planning committee for the 1963 March on Washington. For more go to

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

Lifting up Brethren who are active in health care: Add a person to the list by sending first name, county, and state to

1) Annual Conference ballot for 2022 is announced

The Annual Conference office has announced the ballot to be presented at this summer’s Conference on July 10-14 in Omaha, Neb. Topping the ballot are two candidates for Annual Conference moderator-elect–Marla Bieber Abe and Madalyn Metzger–and two candidates for Annual Conference secretary–Connie R. Burkholder and David K. Shumate. Candidates for numerous additional offices also have been announced.

Annual Conference moderator-elect:

Marla Bieber Abe of Lynchburg (Va.) Church of the Brethren in Virlina District, is a retired pastor. She has pastored congregations in five districts including Southern Plains, Northern Indiana, Northern Ohio, Southern Pennsylvania, and Virlina. Her leadership on the denominational level has included service on the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee and as a trustee for Bethany Theological Seminary. At numerous Annual Conferences she has been one of the messengers who assist the leadership, and has led Bible studies and insight sessions. At the district level, she has been a district moderator and moderator-elect and has served on district boards and Program and Arrangements Committees for district conferences. She has been a teacher and board member for the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center that relates to five districts in Pennsylvania and the northeast. Additional leadership positions in the wider church have included service on the New Church Development Committee and the Camp Eder Board and as vice-chair for Brethren World Missions. She has taught seminars on Brethren beliefs in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Spain, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda, and maintains contact with the Churches of the Brethren in the Great Lakes region of Africa and in Nigeria.

Madalyn Metzger of Goshen City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren in Northern Indiana District, is vice president of marketing for Everence Financial. At the denominational level in the Church of the Brethren, she has served on the Intercultural Ministries advisory committee, has chaired the board of On Earth Peace, and has been an insight session presenter and delegate at Annual Conference. On the district level, she has been a presenter at district conferences and has done pulpit supply. In her congregation, she has been social media minister and media spokesperson and served terms as chair of the board, chair of the outreach committee, co-leader of the constitution and bylaws committee, and on the goals development committee. Additional leadership positions have included service as a trustee for Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., work as adjunct faculty for Eastern Mennonite University and for a Collaborative MBA Program, and participation on the worship planning committee and as a worship leader for the Mennonite Church USA convention. She has provided executive leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy development, implementation, training, and dialogues for a number of church-related institutions.

Annual Conference secretary:

Connie R. Burkholder of Monitor Community Church of the Brethren in McPherson, Kan., in Western Plains District, is a “semi-retired” pastor and former district executive. She has served at the denominational level as secretary for the Council of District Executives, as Church of the Brethren representative to the National Council of Churches, as a writer for Brethren Press publications including the Covenant Bible Study series as well as Guide for Biblical Studies and Living Word bulletin covers, on the planning committee for the 2020 Clergy Women’s Retreat, and as pianist for Annual Conference. She has been part of district boards and commissions, has presented for continuing education events, has been a workshop and retreat leader, has led worship for district conferences, has been part of Ministerial Alliance groups, and did worship planning for The Gathering in Western Plains District. Her intercultural work has included work with Central American refugees in the Sanctuary Movement in years past, and more recently has played piano for worship experiences in Spanish for a diverse Hispanic community.

David K. Shumate of Daleville (Va.) Church of the Brethren in Virlina District, is district executive minister in Virlina. His leadership in the Church of the Brethren has included a term as moderator of Annual Conference and service on numerous committees on the denominational level including the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee, Annual Conference study committees including the Review and Evaluation Committee, the Ministry Advisory Council, the New Church Development advisory committee, and the Council of District Executives where he served terms as chair and treasurer. On the district and regional level, he has been president and treasurer of the Virginia Council of Churches, a district board vice chair and secretary, and served on a commission on ministry. He has served as a pastor in the Church of the Brethren. His intercultural work has included work with Igreja da Irmandade-Brasil (the Church of the Brethren in Brazil) and he has assisted in planting three Hispanic congregations in Virlina District.

Additional nominations

Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee:

Jacob Crouse of the Washington City Church, Mid-Atlantic District

Rachel Bucher Swank of the Mt. Wilson Church, Atlantic Northeast District

Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee:

Angela Finet of the Mountville Church, Atlantic Northeast District

Diane Mason of the Fairview Church, Northern Plains District

Mission and Ministry Board – Area 1:

Joel Gibbel of York First Church, Southern Pennsylvania District

Regina Holmes of Midland Church, Mid-Atlantic District

Mission and Ministry Board – Area 2:

Linda Fry of the Mansfield Church, Northern Ohio District

Rosanna Eller McFadden of the Creekside Church, Northern Indiana District

Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees – representing the Brethren colleges:

Katharine Gray Brown of the Manchester Church, South/Central Indiana District

Jonathan Paul Frye of the Monitor Church, Western Plains District

Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees – representing clergy:

Susan Stern Boyer of the La Verne Church, Pacific Southwest District

Laura Stone of the Manchester Church, South/Central Indiana District

Brethren Benefit Trust Board:

Kevin R. Boyer of the Plymouth Church, Northern Indiana District

Carl Eubank of the Happy Corner Church, Southern Ohio and Kentucky District

On Earth Peace Board:

Matt Boyer of the La Verne Church, Pacific Southwest District

Doug Richard of the Buffalo Valley Church, Southern Pennsylvania District

— Complete biographical information is available at

2) Recipients of the Church of the Brethren Nursing Scholarship share their passion for nursing

By Randi Rowan

The Church of the Brethren provides scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates. These scholarships are awarded to a limited number of applicants each year, made possible by the Health, Education, and Research Endowment. Grants are available to members of the Church of the Brethren enrolled in LPN, RN, or nursing graduate programs.

Two of our nursing scholarship recipients share their passion for nursing:

After working as a physical therapy assistant, Emma Frederick was impacted by the nurses caring for her brother during a lengthy surgery and months of recovery. Inspired to return to school, she then pursued a career in nursing. As she explains, “Nursing is not only a career choice, but I see it as an excellent way for me to be the hands and feet of Jesus, serve others, and make an impact on my community. This scholarship is just one example of why I love being a part of the Church of the Brethren…and something much bigger than myself.”

Kenzie Goering’s ultimate goal is to be a nurse practitioner. She explains, “There is one thing I am certain of: nursing is the right path for me. After working as a CNA, doing a semester-long internship with a local hospital, and taking over two-and-a-half years’ worth of classes towards a BSN degree, I can confidently say that being a nurse is absolutely what I want to do with my life. I love the science involved in nursing just as much as I love the art of caring for patients. Serving others while making their life better–no matter what stage of life they’re in–is important to me. I still struggle with all the uncertainties of life. Despite this mild anxiety about my future and all the things that aren’t in my control, the thought of caring for people as a nurse in a few, short years redirects my focus and reassures me that I am exactly where I need to be. Receiving this scholarship will lighten my load immensely and make my dream seem a little less out of reach.”

Information on the scholarships, including the application form and instructions, is available at

Applications and supporting documentation are due by April 1 of each year.

Randi Rowan is program assistant for the Church of the Brethren’s Discipleship Ministries.

3) EYN leadership solicits prayers as pastor’s wife held by kidnappers

By Zakariya Musa, head of EYN Media

The leadership of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) solicits more prayers for peace as it praises God for the miraculous return of two EYN members who were kidnapped from Mararaba-Mubi, two kilometers away from EYN Headquarters, last week.

“We solicit for your prayers. The wife of the pastor of EYN LCC [local church] Wachirakabi has been kidnapped last night. Let’s commit her to God in prayers for His miraculous intervention in the situation,” Anthony A. Ndamsai shared via WhatsApp. Cecilia John Anthony was reportedly kidnapped from a village in Askira/ Uba Local Government Area of Borno State.

From December 2021 to the second week of February 2022, more than 30 EYN members were kidnapped from various communities of Borno and Adamawa States, scores were killed, many have been injured, while more have been rendered homeless.

Recently the Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum, has disclosed that the terrorist group,Boko Haram is still in control of some villages and local government areas in the state. “ISWAP are more equipped, sophisticated, intelligent, and dangerous as they grow from strength to strength.”

Governor Zulum said the losses so far included over 5,000 destroyed classrooms, 900,000 homes burnt beyond repair, 713 damaged energy distribution sources, as well as 1,600 destroyed public water sources, among others, reports The Guardian.

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


4) Dan McFadden to serve as interim director of Brethren Volunteer Service

Dan McFadden has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as interim director of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) on a part-time basis, beginning Feb. 21. His appointment follows the resignation of Emily Tyler as BVS director, effective Feb. 18 (see

McFadden served as the director of BVS for more than 20 years, from Dec. 1, 1995, to Nov. 2, 2018. He will continue his part‐time work as a therapist with Phoenix Family Center in Elgin, Ill., while serving in this interim role working from the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin.

For more about Brethren Volunteer Service, go to


5) Potsdam Church uses BFIA grant to enhance its ‘Kid’s Club’ ministry

By Carl Hill

At Potsdam Church of the Brethren, in rural southern Ohio, we started a program seven years ago to reach out to the kids in our small neighborhood. For some reason that only God knows, the kids come. Most of the young people we are able to attract come from non-churched families. Maybe they were coming for something to do, or maybe our church is a place where they receive love; we can’t say. But they come. Naturally, we don’t have the same kids every year, although some have been coming since the very beginning.

When the Brethren Faith in Action (BFIA) grant became available to us, we applied. The idea for this year was to raise the quality of care that we could offer. The congregation understood that this grant was a matching one and that they would have to chip in with half of the increased expenses we were planning. Our plan was to make a fuss over these kids this year and give them the best we could offer.

We meet every Wednesday night and our numbers have been steady all year. Each week we start the night off with a meal made especially for kids. The ladies of the congregation have chipped in and are preparing “kid-friendly” dinners. We have food like corndogs, walking tacos, chicken nuggets, and macaroni and cheese. To keep things a little nutritious we sneak in some vegetables and tasty dips and the kids like that too. The meals have been a big hit.

Carl Hill in leadership at one of the Kid’s Club evenings at Potsdam Church of the Brethren.

Our objective with these children is to expose them to the Bible and let them hear the gospel message. In the last three or four years about 10 of the kids have been baptized at the Potsdam church! Finding curriculum for non-churched kids is not easy. Many children’s ministry ideas are a little too advanced for our kids. We do have them memorizing some scripture and even that is fun for them. One of our volunteers is teaching them the sign language that goes along with the scripture. It’s fun and all the kids have been responding. This year, with the extra funds, we bought all the kids shirts that say “Potsdam Kid’s Club” on the front.

This Winter and Spring we are teaching them about Jesus from the book of Mark. We bought a puppet that is supposed to be Mark and he talks to the kids each week about what’s in the lesson. They love it and are always trying to guess who’s behind the wall making the puppet speak!

We have found short videos that reinforce each lesson. After a half hour of singing, memorizing, and hearing about the lesson from our Mark puppet, the kids are divided up into age-appropriate groups where there are hands-on activities and group learning.

But one of the most satisfying things this year is the fact that we are finally connecting with the parents. Many attended our Christmas Eve service as their kids served as angels and shepherds in our Christmas play. God is working through our Kids’ Club program and there is more hope at Potsdam than has been here in recent years. We are so grateful for the grant from the denomination as we are trying to bring Jesus to the neighborhood. Thank you Church of the Brethren.

– Carl Hill is pastor of Potsdam (Ohio) Church of the Brethren.

6) Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Elaine Sollenberger, 91, the first woman elected as moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and who also served as chair of the denomination’s General Board, died on Feb. 14. Her parents were Clair and Ruth (Bowser) Mock. She graduated from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., in 1951. She later taught English and Latin at Everett (Pa.) Area High School. On Sept. 25, 1954, she married Ray Sollenberger (deceased) and together they established and farmed the farm known as Ralaine Jerseys. Sollenberger served as moderator of the 1989 Annual Conference and was called to the position again in 1998 to fill an unexpired term. During her term as moderator she had the opportunity to travel to India to visit churches there. She also was the first woman to serve as moderator of Middle Pennsylvania District. She served on the General Board (predecessor body to the current Mission and Ministry Board) from 1981 to 1986, chairing the board from 1984 to 1986. She served two terms on the Everett School Board and as chair of the board for four years. She filled an unexpired term as a Bedford County Commissioner. She wrote a weekly column for the Everett Press and later The Shopper’s Guide. Those columns were under the pen name O Justa Housewife and later One Woman’s Thoughts. More recently she contributed to Mature Living. At Ralaine Jerseys, she took an active role in the farm work alongside her husband, and the couple were recognized with the Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Jersey Cattle Association (PJCA). She was instrumental in establishing the Pennsylvania Jersey Newsletter and served as its first editor. She represented the PJCA on the board of the Pennsylvania All American Dairy Show. She was instrumental in organizing trips to Louisville All American Jersey Show for Pennsylvania youth. She is survived by children Beth, married to Tim Morphew and living in Goshen, Ind.; Lori, married to Rex Knepp and living in Everett, Pa.; and Leon, married to Sharon (Atwood) and living in West Chazy, NY; and grandchildren. Memorial gifts are received to the following or to the donor’s choice: the Everett Church of the Brethren Memorial Fund or the Church of the Brethren denomination. A time to remember and celebrate her life will be planned for a later date at Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. A full obituary is posted at

More than 500 youth and advisors from 17 Church of the Brethren districts have joined the National Youth Conference (NYC) 2022 community “and there is room for more! Register as soon as possible (and definitely before April 1!) in order to avoid a $50 late fee,” reports NYC coordinator Erika Clary. She is shown here (at right) celebrating 500 registrants with Youth and Young Adult Ministry director Becky Ullom Naugle. Participants will gather in Colorado this July to explore the theme “Foundational,” based on Colossians 2:5-7. Please visit the NYC website to find more information at Contact Clary with questions at or 847-429-4376.

In more NYC news, there are brand-new resources for Bible studies to prepare for NYC at

— Regular reports from Chris Elliott and his daughter Grace, who are working for the Church of the Brethren Global Mission in Rwanda, are now being posted online at The two are serving in Rwanda from January to May this year. Chris Elliott is helping with farming and also visiting other churches and projects in Rwanda and nearby countries, with Grace teaching in the church’s nursery school.

— Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) 2022 will be held virtually on April 25-27 on the theme “Fierce Urgency: Advancing Civil and Human Rights.” The event will call participants “into solidarity to restore, protect, and expand voting rights in the United States and to realize human rights around the world,” said an announcement. “As people of faith, we know each person to be created in God’s image, imbued with dignity and having a voice that demands to be heard, heeded, and treated justly. We arise in unity, holding up a mirror to leaders of nations, putting injustice on display and tearing down the veil of oppression that obscures the beautiful, God-born light shining from within us all.” Leadership includes Otis Moss III from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, who will be preaching, and Liz Theoharis from the Poor People’s Campaign, who will be one of the plenary speakers. Early bird tickets are $50 until April 1. Find out more at

— Church World Service (CWS) held a Black Immigrant Advocacy Day of Action on Feb. 17 to mark #BlackHistoryMonth and to celebrate “the leadership of Black immigrants in the work to expose and eradicate racism in the US immigration system,” said an announcement. “At this moment, thousands of immigrants, including people from Ethiopia, Cameroon, Haiti, Mauritania, and South Sudan face harm upon being deported to their home countries due to violent crime and political instability. The administration is placing lives at risk and abdicating from our moral and legal obligations to provide protection. The Biden administration must use Temporary Protected Status (TPS) broadly to protect Black immigrants and must fully restore access to asylum. The targeting and prioritization of Black immigrants for expulsion and deportation is immoral and wrong. It is vital that the Biden administration follows through on its promise to defend Black immigrants, designate TPS for African and Caribbean countries, restore access to asylum, and dismantle the anti-Black sentiments within the immigration system.” A virtual vigil to pray for justice and peace in Black immigrant lives is planned for Thursday, Feb. 24, at 12 noon (Eastern time). A Black History Month Toolkit is available at

— The National Council of Churches (NCC) is encouraging churches and faith communities to share information about the Child Tax Credit during this tax season in order to help end child poverty. “The monthly Child Tax Credits payments to families stopped in January and millions of families are still owed all of their 2021 Child Tax Credit,” said an announcement. “Because not everyone knows they are eligible, or that they must file a tax return in order to receive it, we ask NCC member congregations and faith partners to spread the word and make sure all low- and no-income families get the information, find tax prep help, and receive their full 2021 Child Tax Credit payment. Join the national effort to share the link to through your organization’s newsletter, social media accounts, or website from now through April 18.” Find a toolkit in both English and Spanish at

— A new Anabaptist Collaboration on Climate Change has been started by a group of primarily Mennonite organizations. A release reported that “leadership from 18 Anabaptist organizations in the United States and Canada convened at the Anabaptist Collaboration on Climate Change (ACCC) on Jan. 26 and 27 to address what many consider a moral emergency. Those gathered drafted a statement that was later signed by the majority of the participating organizations: ‘As organizations founded on Christian faith in the Anabaptist tradition, we recognize the significant threat to global communities, economic justice, and the next generations from climate change. We are committed to explore our work and mission in support of sustainable and just climate solutions.’ The 24-hour meeting at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Welcoming Place in Akron, Pennsylvania, was the largest gathering of Anabaptist leaders on climate change in North America to date. It was organized by the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions.” Doug Graber Neufeld is director of the center and professor of biology at Eastern Mennonite University. The center plans to organize more gatherings on climate change in the future and include a broader range of participants. A link to the consensus statement and signatories is at

– The cemetery at Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., and the work of Charity Derrow to study a set of four gravestones and what they reveal about the African-American population in the area following the Civil War, are in the Daily News-Record. “Hallowed History: Post-Civil War African Americans in Broadway to Be Highlighted at Plains District Memorial Museum” was written by Kellen Stepler and published on Feb. 12. The article tells the story of Derrow’s research, starting as a student at James Madison University in 2010, studying the Allen and Madden families of Rockingham County. Her research will be presented at the Plains District Memorial Museum in Timberville on Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. as the museum recognizes Black history month. The article quoted Derrow: “Last-generation slaves transitioning to first-generation citizens set priorities by first seeking basic needs and then building a community in Broadway, Virginia; yet, just like the almost barren African American burial ground in the Linville Creek Church of the Brethren Cemetery, their descendants moved on, and their traces have practically vanished…. Far more unmarked African American burials exist in this cemetery than the four existing stones.” Derrow also accessed Bridgewater College’s special collections library, among other sources. Read the article 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 Shamek Cardona, Erika Clary, Elissa Diaz, Jan Fischer Bachman, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Carl Hill, Eric Miller, Nancy Miner, Zakariya Musa, Sierra Ross Richer, Randi Rowan, Beth Sollenberger, 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.

Find more Church of the Brethren news:

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]