Newsline for June 10, 2022

“He shall judge between the nations
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation;
neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4, NRSVue).

1) Disaster grants focus on Ukraine needs, short-term Kentucky rebuilding project, among others

2) Global Food Initiative grants provide agriculture supports in Nigeria, Ecuador, Burundi, and the US

3) BFIA grants go to five churches

4) Brethren Volunteer Service makes changes to placement process, increases monthly stipend

5) Taking action on gun violence

6) Ecumenical faith letter on the US budget is sent to Congress

7) Zechariah Houser resigns as coordinator of short-term service

8) Book study to address complex emotional landscape of family systems in churches

9) University Baptist and Brethren Church recognized for 100 years of ministry

10) Harrisonburg First Church event to support Ukrainian children

11) Brethren bits: Remembering Donna Forbes Steiner, personnel note, ULV announces new mural showing “Our Citrus Roots,” Brethren Voices remembers Chuck Boyer, and more

When Washington City (D.C.) Church of the Brethren hosted a vigil for victims of gun violence, it included an opportunity to turn guns into gardening tools with a small forge provided by Swords to Plowshares. Shown here: Office of Peacebuilding and Policy director Nathan Hosler (above left) takes a turn at the forge. Photo courtesy of Galen Fitzkee

Registration announcements from the Annual Conference office:

Advance registration has closed for delegates and non-delegates attending Annual Conference in person this July. Onsite registration in Omaha, Neb., will be open on July 9, 3-7 p.m. inside Hall B of the CHI Convention Center, reopening at 8 a.m. on July 10.

VIRTUAL non-delegate registration remains open online until 5 p.m. (central time) on June 30. This registration option is only for non-delegates who are not planning to travel to Omaha for Annual Conference but would like to participate in more than just worship (which will continue to be livestreamed for all free of charge). Go to Virtual non-delegates will receive information about how to participate in Annual Conference in an email sent on July 1.

Help us update worship opportunities at Churches of the Brethren across the country at We also lift up for prayer support Brethren who are active in health care at Submit worship information and add health care workers (first name, county, and state) by sending an email to

1) Disaster grants focus on Ukraine needs, short-term Kentucky rebuilding project, among others

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to various needs in recent weeks. A main focus has been the needs of Ukrainian refugees, with major grants going to Church World Service (CWS) relief focused on Ukrainian refugees sheltering in Moldova, to aid displaced Ukrainians with disabilities through L’Arche International, and to Child Life Disaster Relief programming for an orphanage in Ukraine.

Also included among latest EDF grants are a new short-term Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in Kentucky, continued response by PAG to the hurricanes that hit Honduras in 2020, and families displaced by violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Find out more about Brethren Disaster Ministries at Give to the Emergency Disaster Fund in support of these grants at

Shirts worn by the team in the DRC assisting families displaced by violence. Photo courtesy of Dieudonne Faraja Chris Mkangya
Relief aid that was distributed to families affected by violence in the DRC. Photo courtesy of Dieudonne Faraja Chris Mkangya
The team distributing relief aid to families affected by violence in the DRC. Photo courtesy of Dieudonne Faraja Chris Mkangya

DRC: A grant of $5,000 has gone to Eglise des Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in the DRC) to provide food, water, and other basic needs to families displaced by violence. The aid will be distributed through Goma Church of the Brethren. Since May 25, heavy fighting between the rebel group M23 and the DRC army has displaced thousands of families near the towns of Kibumba and Goma. The area is still struggling to recover from the volcano eruption of 2021, which caused thousands of displaced families to seek shelter, food, and aid.

Kentucky: A grant of $8,000 funds a three-week rebuilding response in western Kentucky in an area hit by tornadoes in 2021. The grant makes it possible for Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers to work with the Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders from Oct. 2-22, doing rebuilding in the towns of Dawson Springs, Barnsley, and Bremen. Kentucky was one of eight states hit by a devastating outbreak of 61 confirmed tornadoes on Dec. 10-11, 2021.

Honduras: A grant of $50,000 continues funding for Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG) hurricane recovery programing following Hurricanes Eta and Iota, which hit Honduras in 2020. PAG is a longterm partner organization of Brethren Disaster Ministries, and already has built 142 homes at the cost of about $3,500 each. The goal is to build 63 additional new homes and make repairs and improvements to an additional 450 homes. In addition, repairs are being made to water systems that serve around 60,000 people living in less developed rural areas. PAG also is expanding livelihoods support including a small animal project to support families that have been relocated from areas that flood frequently. The goal is to provide a similar program with chickens, turkeys, goats, or pigs for as many of the families receiving homes as funds will allow. PAG has also found another donor willing to match any funds they receive in the spring of 2022, meaning they will receive matching funds for this grant.


As of end of May, more than $222,000 in donations to the EDF were earmarked or noted for the Ukraine response. Brethren Disaster Ministries has an ongoing focus to support vulnerable communities and people not receiving enough aid in the international response to Ukraine. The following grants help fulfill donor intent and become a large part of the Church of the Brethren response to this crisis:

A grant of $100,000 supports the CWS focus on Ukrainian refugees sheltering in Moldova. More than 400,000 Ukrainians have fled to Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe with the highest population of Ukrainian refugees relative to its small population. “While their generosity has been extraordinary, the burden of caring for refugees is increasingly evident,” said the grant announcement. The CWS response is focused on humanitarian assistance including food and shelter and supporting host communities; protection including child protection, gender-based violence prevention, and anti-trafficking measures; and durable solutions including access to language-appropriate information and resources, and assisting with safe movement, asylum, and protection in countries across Europe and in the US when appropriate.

A grant of $25,000 supports the L’Arche International response to Ukrainians with disabilities who are displaced in Poland, Lithuania, and inside Ukraine. L’Arche is an international organization working in 38 countries, serving people with intellectual disabilities. While not a typical emergency response organization, L’Arche is providing a variety of emergency response programing including providing for basic daily needs, capacity building, adaptive equipment and disability support, technology, staffing, and transportation.

A grant of $5,000 supports Child Life Disaster Relief (CLDR) programing for an orphanage in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, which had 27 children as of the time of the grant announcement. More than half were newly orphaned from the war. CLDR is a partner organization to Children’s Disaster Services, a ministry within Brethren Disaster Ministries. Ukrainian government officials requested specialized services to help the staff and children at the orphanage who have experienced trauma and stress from the war. The request came through Ohio State University. CLDR has worked on a plan to provide virtual training and coping sessions for the children, tailored to their developmental needs and physical limitations. Children’s programming will include age-specific 45- to 60-minute sessions with virtual groups, taking place over 6 weeks. This programing will be followed by additional training and support sessions for orphanage staff.

2) Global Food Initiative grants provide agriculture supports in Nigeria, Ecuador, Burundi, and the US

The Global Food Initiative (GFI), a Church of the Brethren fund, has made several grants in these first months of 2022. Funds are supporting agricultural efforts of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and La Fundación Brethren y Unida (FBU-the United and Brethren Foundation), a training workshop related to THARS (Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services) in Burundi and Eglise des Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC), and a number of church-related community gardens.

Find out more about the ministry of the GFI at Contribute financially to these grants by giving online at

An EYN sign for the Soybean Value Chain initiative. Courtesy of Global Food Initiative.

Nigeria: A grant of $15,000 supports the Soybean Value Chain Project of the agriculture staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The agriculture program is part of EYN’s Integrated Community Based Development Program (ICBDP). Activities of the Soybean Value Chain Project for 2022 include training opportunities for 15 volunteer extension agents, provision of farm inputs for demonstration plots (both soybean and maize), and advocacy for soybean production, processing, and marketing within EYN and beyond. The grant include a 10 percent administration fee for EYN’s general operating costs. The project continues to have the assistance of Dennis Thompson, retired from the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension, who has consulted and provided training visits in Nigeria and represents a connection for this project to a much larger pan-African program of the Feed the Future Initiative of US AID’s Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL).


A grant of $9,900 supports the work of La Fundación Brethren y Unida (FBU-the United and Brethren Foundation), an organization that arose from the work of the Church of the Brethren in Ecuador in the 1950s. Much of FBU’s income is typically generated by school and university groups who take short courses at the FBU center. Due to the pandemic and the current Omicron surge, this source of income has only returned sporadically. GFI manager Jeff Boshart, who sits on the FBU board of directors, has visited and observed great strides in strengthening both program and farm production. The FBU board continues to work on financial sustainability issues as it looks forward to post-pandemic opportunities through grants and donations from other sources. The grant will be used to improve the productive potential of the FBU farm through the continuation of current programming, the purchase of a mechanical milking machine, and training processes for the production of organic food and the implementation of plant production nurseries.

A grant of $4,500 supports two church-based community gardening efforts. One is in Llano Grande (a rural parish of the canton Quito-Ecuador) connected with a church that was founded by the Church of the Brethren and currently is associated with the United Methodist denomination. The other church in San Isidro de Cajas (a rural canton of the Province of Pichincha) is affiliated with the Church of God denomination and has received short-term work teams for Vacation Bible School from members of Ebenezer Church of the Brethren in Lampeter, Pa. This proposal is the direct result of conversations begun during the Global Mission delegation’s visit to Ecuador in February. Both gardens will focus on children and youth and are open to church and community members. Funds and program will be handled by the FBU.

Burundi: A grant of $4,956 supports a Dryland Vegetable Production Workshop in Gitega, to be held July 11-12 at the training center of GFI partner THARS (Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services). The 25 participants will come from Burundi and from Eglise des Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC). Instruction will be given by Joseph Edema, a Uganda-based trainer from Healing Hands International. Most of the people selected to attend the workshop have participated in GFI-sponsored projects with THARS and Eglise des Freres au Congo and have experience teaching others through farmer-to-farmer relationships. Upon completion of the workshop, participants will receive drip irrigation kits to take with them. Each will be tasked with setting up demonstration gardens upon returning home, in order to multiply the impact of the workshop.

Indiana and Alaska: A grant of $4,200 supports an ongoing garden project in Circle, Alaska, which is supported by Bill and Penny Gay, members of Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren in Decatur, Ind. The couple have been gardening in Circle for more than a decade, working together with the Gwich’in people. Four past GFI grants to the Pleasant Dale congregation to support the project total $7,300.

New Mexico: A grant of $2,943.47 to Lybrook Community Ministries supports construction of an unheated hoop house to be installed at a local Navajo Senior Center and Chapter House. Funds will support the purchase of materials for the hoop house, gardening tools, a mini greenhouse, and heirloom seeds, as well as mileage costs to cover large distances between the LCM, Senior Center, and Chapter House.

Colorado: A grant of $2,917 supports the community gardening effort of Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo. The church’s community has many apartment residents who do not have access to a place to garden and/or are food insecure, and people experiencing homelessness. The congregation is partnering with two community groups: Love INC (In The Name of Christ) Littleton, and Littleton Garden Gang. The church is providing the land for the gardens, financial resources, and meeting space; Love INC is recruiting and selecting potential gardeners; the Littleton Garden Gang is mentoring the gardeners and providing technical support.

Illinois: A grant of $2,500 supports the community gardening effort of Five Gates Church in Rockford, Ill. The church’s community is in a food desert with little to no fresh produce available in grocery stores, “due to high crime and violence,” said the grant announcement. The garden is an outreach of the congregation with support from volunteers with the Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation, a ministry started by former Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya. The congregation provides meals to the homeless and other community members in need through Thursday night suppers, Sunday afternoon lunches, and food distributions. Some of the produce from the garden will be included in these meals and outreach ministries.

Maryland: A grant of $1,350 supports the community gardening effort of Friendship Church of the Brethren in Linthicum, Md. “The congregation is trying to establish gathering activities in the neighborhood by providing time and space to spend time together, build community, and open the doors for the neighborhood to come and enjoy worshipping God in community,” said the grant announcement. “They hope the garden will be part of the movement. The goal is to refurbish and have a strong and productive garden with opportunities to involve children and further develop and strengthen the congregation’s new children’s programs.” A second goal of the project is installation of a garden at a recovery house in the community. The gardening work is spearheaded by the congregation’s Community Engagement Team “as they take seriously the challenge to be Jesus in the Neighborhood.”

3) BFIA grants go to five churches

The Brethren Faith in Action Fund (BFIA) has distributed grants to five congregations in recent months. The fund gives grants to Church of the Brethren congregations and camps using money generated by the sale of the upper campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Find out more at

Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., has received $5,000 for construction of a playground for use by the community. Although only two children have been attending regularly, scout groups meet at the church and community people often use the church parking lot for bike riding and basketball. An existing wooden playset has become a safety hazard. This project’s primary goal is to provide a safe play environment for community children. The equipment planned for the playground is suitable for ages 2-5 and 5-12. Funds will help purchase and install playground equipment and landscaping. The playground is expected to be completed by July.

The Jesus Lounge Ministry in Delray Beach, Fla., a multicultural church plant in Atlantic Southeast District, has received $4,905 for equipment and materials for a media ministry that includes streaming services, a website, and a social media presence to promote the church; and also for a local partnership with Living Hungry. More than 330 people connect by accessing the church’s digital space. The congregation worships by Zoom and pastor Founa Augustin Badet preaches for two radio programs every month. The partnership with Living Hungry includes volunteer work to help organize and distribute resources with an elementary school and a middle school and several dentists in the area. The outreach supports children, youth, and families with hygiene supplies, clothes, food, and other items.

Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren received $3,300 to provide food and health kits for outreach in the city’s downtown area, which “has a significant homeless and low-income population,” said the grant announcement. A ministry called City Gate is trying to help meet those needs. Each Saturday, a local church serves a free lunch to some 160 to 200 people. The Ephrata congregation has signed up to provide and serve the lunch on five dates in 2022 and has committed to substituting if another church or organization cannot provide the meal. In addition, children in the church will put together health kits and members of the congregation will put together feminine hygiene bags to have available when the church serves lunches.

Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore., has received $3,271.64 to purchase technology equipment to enhance its capacity to offer hybrid–both in-person and online–worship services. The church planned its return to in-person worship in March but also has had new visitors discovering it online. The congregation now spans state lines, time zones, and occasionally continents.

Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis, Ind., has received $2,500 to purchase audio visual equipment to enhance its capacity to offer hybrid–both in-person and online–worship services. During COVID shutdowns, church leaders learned that congregants wanted an online option for worship, even after the church re-opened for in-person services. So the congregation is investing in new AV capabilities including sound system, laptop-driven mixer, Zoom cameras and microphones, laser-powered projector, and motorized screen.

4) Brethren Volunteer Service makes changes to placement process, increases monthly stipend

By Dan McFadden

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is changing its orientation and placement process. Beginning with the upcoming summer and fall units, volunteers will engage in a process in which they will be pre-placed prior to the start of orientation. Orientation, in turn, will be shortened from three weeks to one week.

This summer’s orientation unit will take place at Camp Wilbur Stover in New Meadows, Idaho, on Aug. 9-17.

Placement process

Volunteers will meet with BVS staff to review placement options and engage in a discernment process before interviews and placements are made with project sites. BVS already has heard from project sites that knowing of possible placements in advance of orientation will be helpful. BVS has heard in the past that for volunteers, not knowing until orientation where one is going to serve has increasingly been an issue, and in some cases a deterrent from joining BVS.

Monthly stipend

Another change is that the monthly stipend will increase from $100 a month to $250 a month, increasing to $300 a month for a second-year volunteer. The stipend has been $100 a month for almost 20 years and is overdue for an increase. BVS has heard about financial burdens from volunteers and potential volunteers, including increasing school debt and other expenses that have made serving more difficult.

— Dan McFadden is interim director of Brethren Volunteer Service. Find out more about BVS and how to participate at

5) Taking action on gun violence

By Galen Fitzkee, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy

Action is defined as the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim. There are many good ways to take action, and while it is less important which action you take, it is of the utmost importance that we act and act together in ways that get us closer to our goal. During the month of May, the mass shootings at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, N.Y., and Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, spurred the Washington, D.C.-based faith community to take action to address the scourge of gun violence in a few different ways.

In early June, the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy had the opportunity to take a stand against gun violence in the US by quite literally turning guns into garden tools in the spirit of Isaiah 2:4. The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute organized an interfaith vigil to remember and honor the victims of gun violence by reading their names aloud. Throughout this time of prayer and lament, attendees used a small forge provided by Swords to Plowshares to melt pieces of guns and hammer them into garden tools such as picks and trowels. This physical action was a witness to the transformation necessary for our communities to thrive.

In following days, our staff attended another interfaith vigil for gun violence at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill. A rabbi, imam, pastor, reverend, and movement organizer all spoke prophetically from their own experiences and faith traditions, encouraging us to remain united and have hope that we can finally make a difference to end gun violence in the United States. We confessed that there have been times when we did not take action to address gun violence or the ideologies that prevent progress and we committed to doing so in the here and now. The witness of these faith leaders, some of whom had met with survivors of gun violence and victims’ families in the aftermath of mass shootings across the country, was quite powerful and lit a fire under those who attended. Following the vigil, the group walked directly to the front of the Capitol building and joined an ongoing rally to demand Congress pass legislation to make it more difficult for would-be mass shooters to acquire weapons too-often used to kill people at our schools, grocery stores, and houses of worship. This too was a type of action that furthered the goal of making our communities safer for everyone.

If you are inspired to take action to address gun violence, there are a few things you can do in your own community. For starters, posting on social media is one easy way to raise awareness about the issue. Organizing a protest, vigil, or rally in your own community is also a great way to involve other motivated individuals and start a larger movement for peace and justice. Finally, as Congress considers legislation on the issue, now is a great time to contact your member of Congress and tell them that you demand action, policy, and change to reduce gun violence in the US.

In 1978, Brethren studied the problem of gun violence in depth and ultimately advocated that Congress should develop legislation to restrict the availability and proliferation of guns and strengthen background checks (see If you would like Congress to pass critical legislation and reduce gun violence, use the legislator lookup tool at to contact your representatives.

— Galen Fitzkee is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker serving at the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C. Find out more about the work of the office at

Above and below: Washington City (D.C.) Church of the Brethren hosts a vigil for victims of gun violence, including an action turning guns into gardening tools with a small forge provided by Swords to Plowshares. Shown here: Office of Peacebuilding and Policy director Nathan Hosler (above left) takes a turn at the forge. Photos courtesy of Galen Fitzkee
Office of Peacebuilding and Policy staff joined a rally to demand Congress pass legislation to make it more difficult for would-be mass shooters to acquire weapons. Photo courtesy of Galen Fitzkee

6) Ecumenical faith letter on the US budget is sent to Congress

A release from the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA

On June 7, the NCC signed onto a faith letter to the US Congress regarding US budget priorities. Among our partners in this effort were the Alliance of Baptists; American Friends Service Committee; Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Pennsylvania Council of Churches; Presbyterian Church (USA); Presbyterian Peace Fellowship; United Methodist Church–General Board of Church and Society; and United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries.

Together we stated:

“As faith organizations with deep ties in communities across the United States and around the globe, we know that budgets are moral documents that reflect our national priorities. Our faiths call us to reject war, to love our neighbors, and to invest in human wellbeing. The most serious challenges to the security of Americans arise from non-military threats, such as pandemic disease, climate change, poverty, and racism. This fiscal year presents Congress with an opportunity to invest in areas that address these root causes of insecurity. We urge Congress to dramatically cut the level of spending allocated for weapons and war in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget far below President Biden’s request of $813 billion and to instead invest that money in programs that serve human needs.

“Our faith traditions denounce war and violence as solutions to global problems, decrying the harm they cause to both the victims and the perpetrators of violence. We assert that regardless of the reason for its onset, war is destructive by nature, resulting in physical demolition, emotional trauma, and ongoing cycles of retribution and violence. To build a true and just peace, we must remove ourselves from the cycle of perpetual warmaking, and end our practice of spending an overwhelming portion of the U.S. federal budget on weapons and war.

“These themes are also evident in our sacred scriptures. In Romans 12: 20-21, we read, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Likewise, Pope Francis has warned that it would be “madness” for Western countries to increase their military budgets in response to the Ukraine war, instead challenging nations to replace the “perverse and diabolical logic of weapons” with a new strategic approach to international relations that prioritizes peace.

“Congress should expand U.S. government funding to address the health, safety, and well-being of people and our planet–not subsidize weapons and war. Without financial investments in global vaccination efforts, COVID-19 will continue to spread, disrupting livelihoods and threatening lives around the world. Similarly, climate change presents an existential threat to our planet and contributes to severe weather events and forced displacement. Poverty and racism deny millions their inherent dignity and perpetuate marginalization and violence. These important challenges cannot be addressed with weapons or military might. The Pentagon receives enormous amounts of money every year, while human needs programs are routinely neglected and have not kept pace with inflation. With just $100 billion of the $813 billion requested for weapons and war, Congress could choose to provide nearly 35 million children from low-income backgrounds with healthcare, manufacture 2.5 billion coronavirus vaccines, or create nearly 580,000 clean energy jobs over the course of one year. These investments will build a more sustainable security for our communities and society as a whole.

“In FY23, our faith communities urge Congress to push back on the massive proposed budget increase for weapons and war, and instead call for investments in programs that benefit people in need.”


7) Zechariah Houser resigns as coordinator of short-term service

Zechariah Houser has resigned as the Church of the Brethren’s coordinator of short-term service, effective Aug. 12. He has worked for the denomination for close to a year, having started on Aug. 9, 2021. He will be entering a chaplaincy internship.

In his role coordinating short-term service, Houser has worked with FaithX (formerly Workcamp Ministry) and did work for BVS recruitment as part of the Brethren Volunteer Service staff, working out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.


8) Book study to address complex emotional landscape of family systems in churches

By Jen Jensen

“And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother’” (Mark 3:34-35).

Jesus radically reorients our perspective on family by reframing the Christian family as those who do the will of God. Yet as the church we continue to exhibit all the faults and foibles of human families. Learning how to navigate the dynamic landscape of family systems as they apply to the Christian community can help church leaders engage with more compassion and understanding.

Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church is hosting a 10-week discussion centered on the book How Your 21st Century Church Family Works by Peter Steinke. Based on Family Systems Theory pioneered by Murray Bowen and further developed and applied in the religious context by Edwin Friedman, Steinke discusses emotional systems, anxiety, generational transfer, and the forces that draw us together and keep us apart.

Learning to navigate the complex emotional landscape of our church families can contribute to a more vital and healthy pastoral ministry. The discussion will be facilitated by John Fillmore, a “circuit rider” with Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church. Continuing education credit will be available for participants and books are provided to participants. Registration is required and group size is limited so sign up soon!

Sessions will be at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) on Tuesdays beginning on June 14 through Aug. 23, not meeting the week of Annual Conference. Please contact with questions. Register at

— Jen Jensen is program manager for Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church, a program of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Ministry. Find out more at


9) University Baptist and Brethren Church recognized for 100 years of ministry

The Daily Collegian, a publication of students at Penn State, recognized the 100th anniversary of University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College, Pa., in an article titled “Hospitality part of ‘DNA.’” The theme for the centennial celebration is “A Welcoming Community Woven Together in Faith, Love, and Service.”

Reporter Danny Gotwals interviewed pastor Bonnie Kline Smeltzer and members of the church’s centennial committee. His article reviewed the history of the congregation, which was started by the American Baptist Churches USA in 1922. The joint affiliation with the Church of the Brethren dates back to 1968 when a Brethren group “decided to look for an existing church to join that had similar values and principles, which is when they joined University Baptist Church. The church changed its name to University Baptist and Brethren in 1978.

“Smeltzer said both denominations share an anti-hierarchical sentiment and a shared phrase, ‘the priesthood of all believers.’ ‘Everyone is a minister. We all have a calling from God,’ Smeltzer said.”

Read the article at

10) Harrisonburg First Church event to support Ukrainian children

From the Shenandoah District newsletter

A Fourth of July celebration and fundraiser at Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren will benefit the children of Ukraine. The event will take place on July 4, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., hosted by the congregation’s Praize Kidz for the community to celebrate the holiday. A colorful bounce [house], hot shot, and book and toy giveaway headline the day. The Praize Kidz will be selling lemonade and cookies and accepting donations for the children of Ukraine. The funds raised will be sent to Brethren Disaster Ministries through the district office for response in Ukraine.

11) Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Donna Forbes Steiner, 84, a former associate district executive in the Church of the Brethren, died on May 8 at her home at Brethren Village in Lititz, Pa. A remembrance from Illinois and Wisconsin District noted her service as a pastor in the district, where she was active in district ministries along with her husband, Paul, who survives her. She went on to serve pastorates in Maryland and Pennsylvania and then was associate district executive for Atlantic Northeast District from 1997 to 2002 and director of church relations for Elizabethtown (Pa.) College from 2008 to 2012. She was born in Pierson, Iowa, to the late Dewey W. and Veda Mae Vannorsdel Forbes. She held a bachelor of Music Education degree from Drake University and a master of Religious Education degree from Bethany Theological Seminary and was ordained to ministry in 1974. Prior to seminary, she spent two years in Nigeria as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker. In addition to pastoral ministry, she served on local, district, and denominational boards and committees as well as providing leadership for congregations, educational workshops and women’s retreats. She was a talented musician and played piano and organ. She is survived by her husband Paul; sons David Paul (Paula) of Vienna, Va., Jonathan L. (Ellen) of Raleigh, N.C., and Ethan Greg (Patricia) of Richfield, Ohio; and grandchildren. A service of remembrance will be held June 25 at 11 a.m. (Eastern time) at Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren, where she was a member. Memorial gifts are received to the scholarship fund established in her name at Bethany Theological Seminary. Find a full obituary at

President Joel S. Billi of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), was part of a delegation of Nigerian church leaders who took part in an ecumenical visit to Rome in late May. Salamatu Billi posted this photo of her husband shaking hands with the Pope on Facebook, celebrating “a great ecumenical experience.”

— Julie Watson, district administrative secretary for the Church of the Brethren’s Northern Ohio District, has resigned her position effective June 17. Health concerns have led her to this difficult decision, supported by her family and doctor. She has served the district for more than eight years “and has been such a blessing to so many,” said an announcement from district leadership. “We are so grateful for Julie’s ministry and pray for God’s blessings of healing and strength for her.”

— The University of La Verne, Calif., announced that a new mural, titled “Our Citrus Roots,” was completed on the side of Mainiero Hall on May 6. “The mural commemorates the citrus history in La Verne and features the letter ‘L’ that appears in the foothills above La Verne, blazed by students at what was then called La Verne College in 1919 or so,” said the release. “The mural was completed by southern California mural artist Art Mortimer and funded by the former president of the Citrus Roots Foundation, Richard Barker. Barker has also donated a sizable collection on citrus history in California to Wilson Library’s Archives and Special Collections.”

— “A Voice for Peace and a Plea for More Love and Acceptance” is the theme for the June episode of Brethren Voices, a community television show produced by Portland (Ore.) Church of the Brethren and producer Ed Groff. This month’s episode remembers the late Chuck Boyer, who served on the Church of the Brethren staff in the area of peace witness and was moderator of the Annual Conference, among other roles in denominational leadership. The episode is based on interviews with Boyer that were made in 2010, reported Groff, who placed Boyer in the long line of Brethren leaders who “have had the same devotion to living out their faith, peacefully, simply, and together.” Boyer passed away shortly after the interview, Groff noted. “His message of advocating peace and justice for all people is as prophetic today, as it was 12 years ago.” View Brethren Voices on YouTube at

— The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) has joined other ecumenical partner organizations–including Nigerian Christians–in prayer following the massacre at a Catholic church in Nigeria. Armed attackers killed some 50 or more people at St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo State in southwest Nigeria on Sunday, June 5. Many fear this represents an extension of such violence into the southwest of the country. Violence has for many years marked the northeast area of the country where Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) congregations have suffered numerous attacks. Said Tammy Wiens, NCC director of Christian Education and Faith Formation, “Hearing that our brothers and sisters in Christ are victims of kidnappings, vandalism, and murder is even more heart-wrenching when you have a personal relationship with those who report living under a constant threat of violence. Our hearts are heavy with grief upon receiving word of this attack, and the call for prayer out of Nigeria is yet another reminder of the suffering that many in this world endure. Our hearts unite in prayer and wrap around our neighbors near and far.”

— Drew G. I. Hart of Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, an assistant professor of theology at Messiah University who is well known across the denomination as a speaker on healing racism and for his books Trouble I’ve Seen and Who Will Be a Witness?, has begun a video blog on YouTube called “AnaBlacktivism with Drew Hart.” Current episodes are titled “Why Can’t We End Gun Violence?” and “3 Reasons People Are Walking Away from the Church.” Find the “AnaBlacktivism with Drew Hart” channel at

— A National Historic Landmark plaque will be dedicated at Tolson’s Chapel in Sharpsburg, Md., on June 11 at 1 p.m. (Eastern time). Church of the Brethren historian Jeff Bach has noted the building’s connection with Brethren history. Formerly enslaved Black people built the church in 1866, and one of the trustees–Hilary Watson–was enslaved by Brethren farmer John Otto until 1864. He and his wife, Christina, are buried in the cemetery. Nancy Campbell, who was formerly enslaved and a member of Manor Church of the Brethren, donated a pulpit Bible. The chapel was dedicated in 1867 as part of the Methodist denomination. The building began hosting a school for Black students in 1868, with help from the Freedmen’s Bureau. The chapel went on to serve the community for 132 years until it was closed in 1998. A local group called Friends of Tolson Chapel has worked since 2006 to restore the building and document its history. 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 Salamatu Billi, Jeff Boshart, Shamek Cardona, Jenn Dorsch-Messler, Galen Fitzkee, Andrea Garnett, Ed Groff, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Jen Jensen, Dan McFadden, Nancy Miner, Zakariya Musa, 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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