Newsline for June 18, 2022

1) Brethren Disaster Ministries announces short-term rebuilding project site in Kentucky

2) Wanted: COVID test kits for Annual Conference

3) What would Jesus do…with $813 billion?

4) Mid-Atlantic District requests prayer for families, congregations affected by Smithsburg shooting

5) National Youth Conference consecration to take place at Annual Conference

6) Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church webinars are now available

7) Brethren bits: New leadership at the WCC, speakers for On Earth Peace Day of Celebration, ULV receives $2.3 million gift to launch nursing program, CWS highlights World Refugee Day June 20, Bible study commemorates shootings at Mother Emanuel, prayer and support needed following other recent shootings, and more

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

A pastoral prayer for Father’s Day and Juneteenth, from David Steele, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren:

“As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13). God who is parent to us all, we pray for your blessing on Father’s Day this Sunday. And may we all be blessed by Juneteenth, this Sunday’s celebration of the Black community and of freedom. For we, like the Apostle Paul, live in hope “that everything God made would have the same freedom and glory that belong to God’s children” (Romans 8:21, ERV).

— Juneteenth is an annual celebration marking the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that they were free–more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

1) Brethren Disaster Ministries announces short-term rebuilding project site in Kentucky

By Jenn Dorsch-Messler

Coming this October, Brethren Disaster Ministries will be offering a short-term rebuilding response to the 2021 Kentucky winter storms event. This three-week response will be in partnership with Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders. Volunteers will be hosted at their housing facility in Madisonville, Ky., and will work in the surrounding communities of Bremen and Dawson Springs. According to their policy, youth need to be age 16 or older.

For more information or to apply, contact Kim Gingerich at or 410-635-8730. RSVP requested by Aug. 21. Space is limited to 15 volunteers each week for the dates of Oct. 2-8 and Oct. 16-22.

More details and a flyer/poster can be found at

— Jenn Dorsch-Messler is director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. More information about Brethren Disaster Ministries is at

2) Wanted: COVID test kits for Annual Conference

By Rhonda Pittman Gingrich

The Annual Conference Office would like to have some COVID test kits available in Omaha, Neb., during the Church of the Brethren annual meeting on July 10-14. Just as we want to care for one another by wearing masks, we also do not want to overwhelm the local healthcare system in Omaha.

Many school districts had a supply of test kits that will expire before school resumes this fall. If you work for a school district that is giving away test kits and are able to get some to donate to Annual Conference, that would be greatly appreciated.

Please email the Annual Conference Office at as soon as possible to let us know how many kits you were able to secure. Kits can then be brought to Omaha or shipped to: Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Kits being shipped to Elgin need to arrive by June 30.

– Rhonda Pittman Gingrich is director of Annual Conference. Find out more about this year’s annual meeting at

The theme and logo for Annual Conference 2022

3) What would Jesus do…with $813 billion?

By Galen Fitzkee, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy

Barring political complications, by the end of the summer Congress will have discussed, marked up, and voted on a spending package to fund the government through the upcoming fiscal year. More specifically, this process will determine how much discretionary spending is appropriated to government agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of State, and more. By far, the largest portion of this budget will go to fund war and preparations for war, with the Biden administration already requesting $813 billion in discretionary spending for the Pentagon. This represents an increase of roughly $30 billion over the previous year and a continuation of the annual pattern of exorbitant military spending. The costs of war itself, of course, also extend beyond financial considerations, taking a physical toll on human life and our environment. Regardless, there is little pushback on this figure in Congress, and members of both parties may yet vote to increase the level of funding beyond the President’s initial proposition. As Christians who lived through the WWJD era of the 1990s and early 2000s, we would do well to ask ourselves: What would Jesus do with that $813 billion?

Fortunately for us, the writings of past generations of Brethren can get us partway there. In a 1918 Statement on War, the first Annual Conference statement in the online archive, Brethren spoke out strongly against preparations for war, writing that “war or any participation in war is wrong and entirely incompatible with the spirit, example, and teachings of Jesus Christ” (1918). They substantiated this claim with numerous verses from the New Testament which more fully bear it out.

To reference just one passage, Romans 12:17, 20-21 says this:

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. On the contrary: ‘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.”

War, decidedly not good, was off the table. Instead, Brethren strongly encouraged the rulers of our nation to “contribute liberally to the relief of human suffering, both in men and money” (1918). This was perhaps their best answer to the question “What would Jesus do, instead?”

In our present political context, we can be even more specific about the alternatives to war and military spending. In the minds of many Americans, the ongoing spread of COVID-19 remains the most prevalent threat to our safety and health at home and around the world. Globally, over 6 million people have lost their lives to the virus. Pandemics, as it turns out, do not respond well to threats of violent military action. Similarly, climate change cannot be mitigated by armed drones, nor can severe weather events be warded off by nuclear weapons. The US military, as one of the largest polluters in the world, also exacerbates climate change and undermines global stability in the process. Ironically, bills and funding to respond to these exact crises were blocked by Congress, the very same body now expected to dedicate $813 billion to weapons and war. Now is the time to call out this contradiction and to make significant financial investments to address pandemic disease, climate change, poverty, racism, gun violence, and other causes of human suffering.

With or without this historical and moral Brethren lens, it is clear that our military budget is disproportionately large. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in fiscal year 2021 the US spent more on defense than the next 9 countries combined. This extreme disparity suggests that the US can afford to make large cuts to the Pentagon and still remain a military powerhouse. Better yet, the US could commit to investing in strategies of diplomacy and peacebuilding, reducing the likelihood that violence would occur in the first place. As individuals and communities suffer from pandemic disease, natural disasters, poverty, violence, inflation, and more, Brethren should stay grounded in our history and be bold enough to look at our massive military budget and ask and answer the age-old question, “What would Jesus do instead?”

— Galen Fitzkee is a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker serving with the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C. Find out more about this ministry at

4) Mid-Atlantic District requests prayer for families, congregations affected by Smithsburg shooting

“Please lift in prayer families of Grossnickle Church of the Brethren who were directly affected by the shooting in Smithsburg, MD on Thursday, June 9,” said one of a series of prayer requests from the Mid-Atlantic District leadership. Three people were killed in a shooting at Columbia Machine on that afternoon, and at least one first responder, a Maryland state trooper, was among those wounded.

Two families in the Grossnickle Church lost family members in the shooting, including a son and a cousin of church members. In addition, a young man who was wounded in the shooting is a neighbor to many in the church community.

Nearby Welty Church of the Brethren is two miles from the local business where the shooting took place, and members there also have been affected. One of the congregation’s families is related to the state trooper who was wounded, and the congregation includes an EMS chaplain.

The shooting in Smithsburg followed on two critical incidents in Hagerstown, Md., said Diane Giffin of the Welty Church, interviewed by telephone. She shared that the first responders in the area “are just emotionally spent. We really need to keep then in our prayers.” She also expressed gratitude for the grief counseling and other mental health care resources available in the area. The Welty Church is considering holding a prayer vigil open to the community, where counselors and other helpful resources might be offered.

One of the district emails asked for prayers “for comfort, strength, hope and solutions.” District moderator Ellen Wile requested “prayers for the Smithsburg community, the Welty church and the strength and will for us to make a positive and Christlike difference in others’ lives.”


5) National Youth Conference consecration to take place at Annual Conference

By Erika Clary

A consecration for National Youth Conference (NYC) participants will be held during the July 11 evening worship service at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Omaha, Neb. During the consecration, Annual Conference leadership and participants will recognize and pray for NYC leadership and participants as they begin the journey to NYC.

Senior high youth and their adult advisors will be gathering in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 23-28.

Will you be at Annual Conference? Join us in person! Let us know you are coming by emailing and we will give you the details.

Attending NYC but not Annual Conference? Please join the consecration via Zoom! The Zoom call will begin at 6:45 p.m. (central time, 7:45 p.m. Eastern time), and the consecration will take place around 7:05 p.m. (central time, 8:05 p.m. Eastern time). Participants joining via Zoom will be projected onto the screen in Omaha to be recognized. Register for the Zoom call at

— Erika Clary is a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker serving as coordinator of National Youth Conference 2022. Find out more about NYC at


6) Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church webinars are now available

By Jen Jensen

Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church is making the May webinars on clergy burnout and “the great resignation” available to view, share, and download.

Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church is a program of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry that supports, resources, and advocates for part-time, multivocational, and not-paid-to-scale pastors.

In the first webinar, Melissa Florer-Bixler shares about an article she wrote for Sojourners called “Why Pastors Are Joining the Great Resignation,” speaking with truth, grace, and hope. She remains profoundly hopeful about the church even in the face of the clergy shortage and people dropping out of pews. Her confidence remains in the gospel of Jesus Christ as she proclaims that pastors continue to be called and loved. Florer-Bixler believes pastoral ministry is helping people pay attention in the world, and it is the small but faithful moments that will buoy congregational life as they bear witness.

The second webinar is a conversation with Peter Chin about his article written for Christianity Today titled “Why I’ve Reached my Breaking Point as a Pastor.” Chin speaks openly and honestly about current clergy burnout statistics, making clear he thought it was just him yet now realizing he is not alone. Believing the burnout is bigger and broader culturally, Chin makes the case that the Bible offers the best stories of overcoming difficulty. There is hope in God’s steadfast love, “chesed,” that is the unbreaking and safe foundation for all, no matter what happens. Chin reflects on interpersonal action, interconnectedness, and how we can journey together through difficult times in ministry. In the Q&A at the end of the webinar, Chin proclaims the most successful places of ministry are “small communities doing love well.”

The webinars are at

— Jen Jensen is program manager for Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church. For questions, contact her at

7) Brethren bits

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced the election of a new general secretary, and the hiring of three new staff leaders.

Jerry Pillay was elected as the eighth general secretary in the WCC’s history since the fellowship of churches was founded in 1948. The Church of the Brethren is one of the WCC’s founding member denominations. Pillay, who hails from South Africa, is currently dean of the faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria and a member of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. Pillay will replace outgoing acting general secretary Ioan Sauca, who began serving in that position in April 2020, when the previous general secretary, Olav Fykse Tveit, was appointed as presiding bishop of the Church of Norway. Pillay will take up his position on Jan. 1, 2023.

The three new staff leaders, who will begin their appointments in November and December, are:

Kuzipa Nalwamba, who will serve as program director for Unity and Mission. From Zambia, she is a professor of Ecumenical Social Ethics and is currently WCC program executive for Ecumenical Theological Education. She holds a doctorate in Systematic Theology from the University of Pretoria.

Kenneth Mtata, who has been appointed as program director for Public Witness and Diakonia. He is currently general secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and an ecumenical theologian with more than 20 years of experience in pastoral, academic research, and faith-based organizational leadership.

Peter Cruchley, who will direct the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. A mission theologian from the UK, he is a minister in the United Reformed Church in the UK and is currently mission secretary for Mission Development with the Council for World Mission.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has published its latest newsletter at The Summer 2022 issue of the Volunteer includes stories from current volunteers and interim director Dan McFadden, among others.

The BVS staff also are highlighting a change in the dates for summer and fall orientations. The locations will remain the same. Here are the new dates and application deadlines:
Summer 2022, Orientation Unit 331, Aug. 9-17 (applications due June 19)
Fall 2022, Orientation Unit 332, Oct. 11-19 (applications due August 30)

— On Earth Peace has announced featured speakers for its upcoming Day of Celebration, an online event planned for June 29. Said the announcement: “Chibuzo Petty will open our Day of Celebration with a time of worship at 11:30 am ET. Rev. Chibuzo Nimmo “Zoë” Petty (they/them) is a writer and organizational developer. Zoë works as the editor and manager of the Brethren Journal Association’s scholarly blog DEVOTION. They also contribute to the print journal Brethren Life and Thought, having previously served on its board from 2014 to 2017. … Dr. Sherrilynn Bevel will join Matt Guynn, OEP Director of Church & Community Group Organizing, for a Kingian Nonviolence Training at 4:00 pm ET. Dr. Sherrilynn Bevel has directed civic participation and democratization projects for over 30 years for NGOs in the U.S. and abroad. She has managed strategic, programmatic, and media-based projects, as well as offering training and technical support. She was a founding member of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition (MDERC) in 2002. More recently, she co-founded and is Associate Director of the Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training. From 2018 through 2020, Sherri was Director of Training and Special Projects for the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence (RI). … Abdallah Maraka, from Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Palestine, will present our keynote at 6:00 pm ET. Abdallah Maraka joined CPT’s Palestine Team in 2020. Since 2015, Abdallah has served as full time tour guide in Al-Kahlil (Hebron). He is a graduate of Hebron University with a degree in accounting & business administration. Abdallah will share about the work of the CPT Palestine Team in accompanying their community through the Israeli occupation and their anti-militarism efforts.” Find the complete schedule for the day and a link to join in by Zoom at

An invitation from Washington City (D.C.) Church of the Brethren

— The University of La Verne, Calif., has received a $2.3 million gift to launch its new nursing program, according to an article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. ULV “hopes to bridge gaps in the deepening shortage of workers and inequities in the healthcare system,” said the article. The gift was made in the name of alumna Frances Ware and her late husband, John A. “Andy” Ware. “The new nursing program will be named in appreciation of John Ware, while his name will also be affixed to a space in the future building that will house the nursing program,” said the article. “This month, the university announced the gift would be used to launch the College of Health and Community Well-Being, where degree programs will explore innovative practices and social determinants of health. It will also provide a pipeline of graduates in the in-demand health field across the Inland region.” The new program is to open this summer and initially offer a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing for registered nurses in a 15-month online program. The college is accepting applications for the fall. A four-year pre-nursing program is scheduled to launch next year. Go to

— A partnership between Womaen’s Caucus and Dunker Punks Podcast has made available audio interviews for nominees on the Annual Conference ballot this year, said a Dunker Punks announcement. Interviews may be heard on YouTube, iTunes, and more. The YouTube playlist for all 10 episodes is at or scan the accompanying QR code. The interviews are also available in Podcast format at iTunes, Stitcher, and “Every nominee was contacted and given the chance to be interviewed, with gratitude to their willingness to serve the church by being on the 2022 ballot!” said the announcement.

— The Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center has announced the return of “Worship in the Woods,” a series of Sunday-evening outdoor vespers services held each week at 7 p.m. from June 26 through Aug. 14. The announcement, shared by Shenandoah District, noted that each week, a speaker or storyteller and special music are planned. “The first event on June 26, dubbed “Worship by the Water,” will be held at Silver Lake in Dayton [Va.] and features Dr. Myron Augsburger as the speaker, with Paul Roth as the worship leader and Sam Funkhouser leading the singing of historic Brethren hymns. This summer’s remaining events will be held at the Heritage Center (1921 Heritage Center Way, Harrisonburg [Va.]). Sunrise’s Jan Orndorff is on the program for July 3.” You are encouraged to bring a lawn chair for seating. Offerings will support the ongoing mission of the Heritage Center. For more information go to

— Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT, formerly Christian Peacemaker Teams) has shared an announcement of the “Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington” on Saturday, June 18. The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA also is among the organizations supporting the event. Said the CPT announcement: “In face of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the denial of health care, a war economy and the false narrative of Christian nationalism, we are called to assemble and march in DC, alongside the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in this country who are on the frontlines of these crises…. Together, we must challenge the lies of scarcity and the notion that this is the best we can do.” Find out more at

— Church World Service (CWS) is honoring refugees on World Refugee Day, June 20. “It is important that we honor those forced from their homes to seek safety due to violence and persecution,” said an announcement. “This day recognizes their resilience, strength, and determination–and our moral and legal imperative to fully restore refugee and asylum protections in the United States. Now is the time to make your voices heard to tell your national, state, and local leaders to stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers and to hold the administration accountable to re-establish bold US leadership to invest in our capacity to welcome people fleeing violence and persecution. On World Refugee Day–and every day–we affirm the spirit of welcome that our communities show when we embrace our new neighbors as friends, colleagues, and peers.” The announcement highlighted a number of events taking place around the country and virtually, including a rebroadcast of a World Refugee Day concert from the Kennedy Center’s digital archives. Find out more at

— Friday, June 17, is the 7th anniversary of the racially motivated shootings at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. A commemorative Bible study livestreamed that day at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) kicks off a yearlong study on the theme “What Kind of Soil Are We?” The scripture text is Mark 4:1-20, which the Emanuel Nine–Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson–were studying on the night they were shot and murdered. “Christian leaders across the nation will use the commemorative event to study the parable and lead discussions critical to this time as race, history, and politics intersect,” said an announcement. Find out more at

— There is continued need in Buffalo, N.Y., following a racially motivated shooting at a grocery store, announced the National Council of Churches (NCC). “The Buffalo community continues in shock after losing ten of their neighbors to White supremacist violence last month. In addition to continued prayer, financial support to meet basic necessities and respond to the crisis is also critical.” The NCC newsletter this week gave a link to a page of information for those wanting to help:

— The NCC also requested prayer for an Episcopal Church in Alabama, where there was a shooting on Thursday night. The Episcopal Church denomination also requested prayer, reporting in a release that a gunman shot three people at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Ala., “at their Boomers Potluck dinner. One victim who was hospitalized has since died. We mourn the three lives lost.” The release shared that “in his pastoral response to his congregation, Rev. John Burruss, Rector of St. Stephen’s, wrote, ‘I know many of you have been asking what we can do. We can pray and we can gather. People have gathered as followers of Christ for 2000 years because of the belief that God’s outstretched arms can reach all of humanity through pain and the most unfathomable loss. We gather because we know that love is the most powerful force in this world, and tonight, and in the days, months, and years that come, will hold onto that truth to know that Christ’s love will always shine.”

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 Michael Brewer-Berres, Erika Clary, Jenn Dorsch-Messler, Jan Fischer Bachman, Galen Fitzkee, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Gene Hagenberger, Patty Hurwitz, Jen Jensen, Jo Ann Landon, Nuha E. Muntasser, Matt Rittle, David Steele, 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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