Newsline for March 5, 2022

1) Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board holds Spring meeting

2) Updates from the church in Chernigov, Ukraine, request continued prayer

3) Children’s Disaster Services staff offer helps for talking with children about Ukraine

4) Atlantic Southeast District announces new team of directors

5) Upcoming Ventures courses explore a church’s journey ‘From Tragedy to Community’ and faith in media culture

6) Spring resources from Brethren Press include special edition of A Guide for Biblical Studies, Covenant Bible Study focused on Paul, Easter special on Bible storybooks


7) Glendora Church in southern California celebrates 120 years

8) Shane Claiborne to keynote ‘Seeking First the Kingdom’ event for Lancaster Church

9) Little Lites at Middlebury Church receives grant from state of Indiana

10) Brethren bits: Updates on recent kidnappings and violence in Nigeria, Ash Wednesday, job openings, One Great Hour of Sharing, March Messenger features composer Perry Huffaker, BVS love stories, church events for peace in Ukraine, and much more

Quotes of the week:

“Life is like that sometimes. The darkness seems to last forever. We scan the horizon for any gleams of light, the promise of a figurative new day and rays of hope. As our country has wrestled already this decade with issues of racial justice, health crises, economic disparity, polarized divisions, and other global concerns, we might find such glimpses hard to find…. That is the nature of Lent, a season on the church calendar given to wilderness wandering and discernment, prayer and preparation…. Embrace the journey, but keep an eye on the horizon. The light is coming.”

Walt Wiltschek, excerpted from We Wait for Light: 2022 Lenten Devotional published by Brethren Press (

“Please, raise up your voice and speak on behalf of the suffering brothers and sisters.”

– World Council of Churches acting general secretary Ioan Sauca in a March 2 letter to Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. He wrote, in part: “The tragic situation of the war in Ukraine has brought tremendous suffering and loss of lives. Many of our brothers and sisters had to leave their homes–including the elderly, women, and children–to save their lives. The whole world is looking with concern and expects to see a sign of hope for a peaceful solution. I receive letters every day from different parts of the world, from church leaders and the faithful of our WCC constituency asking to approach Your Holiness to mediate so that the war can be stopped and the great suffering ended. In these times of hopelessness, many look at you as the one who could bring a sign of hope for a peaceful solution.” For more see

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) Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board holds Spring meeting

The Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board will meet March 11-13 at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., in person and via Zoom. Business will be led by chair Carl Fike, assisted by chair-elect Colin Scott and general secretary David Steele.

Open sessions take place Saturday, March 12, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Central time) with a break for lunch; and Sunday, March 13, from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon (Central). Open sessions will be broadcast via Zoom webinar. Preregistration is required, go to

On the agenda

The board will receive numerous reports including financial updates on year-end outcomes for 2021 and year-to-date numbers for 2022, planning for this year’s Annual Conference and National Youth Conference, and staff reporting from the Organizational Resources area and Mission Advancement.

Updates on the Strategic Plan will include the Foreground Vision Initiative 6, “Each in Our Own Language (Plan for Recognizing Injustice),” and Foreground Vision Initiative 7, “By This All People Will Know (Understanding Discipleship).” The Stewardship of Properties Committee also will bring an update.

Staff will give an overview of the process for allocating grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and Global Food Initiative (GFI) for the board’s information. The board will receive a recommendation on the Brethren Faith in Action (BFIA) fund.

This meeting’s board member education segment will be a training on “Active Listening” led by the Lombard (Ill.) Mennonite Peace Center on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, the morning worship service will be led by Christina Singh.

For a complete agenda of the board’s Spring meeting, go to

2) Updates from the church in Chernigov, Ukraine, request continued prayer

Quinter (Kan.) Church of the Brethren pastor Keith Funk this week has shared a series of updates on the situation in Chernigov, Ukraine, received from pastor Alexander Zazhytko of the Chernigov Brethren. (Funk notes that the spelling Chernihiv for the city’s name is being used in reporting in the United States). The two pastors are in daily communication.

A first Newsline report on the situation of the Chernigov Brethren was published Feb. 24 at .

On Friday, March 4, the report from Zazhytko was that as of very early that morning, Russian jets were bombing Chernigov. As of that time, he and his family were safe and sheltering in place in their home. Funk wrote to Newsline yesterday: “These are civilian targets. Alex reports, ‘They cannot kill our soldiers; they are killing our civilians.’ …May we pray for safety and deliverance. May we pray for an end to this carnage.”

On Thursday, March 3, Funk relayed news of “the worst day” so far in the city since the Russian invasion began: “[Pastor] Alex and I have been talking. This is the worst day, he reports. Residential areas are now being targeted by Russian missiles, apartment buildings are being hit outside the center of town. His house is currently being rocked by the explosions. The situation is growing increasingly tense, if that is possible. I am assuring Alex that his brothers and sisters are praying here in the U.S. This is giving them encouragement and assurance.”

A recent photo of pastor Alexander Zazhytko and his wife, Tonia, in their church house. Courtesy of Keith Funk

On Wednesday, March 2, Zazhytko reported that he and his son were able to go to the supermarket because the previous night had been peaceful after several days of constant missile bombardment. However, lines were long to get into the store, and as they waited a missile landed nearby, hitting the hospital. “The people scattered. The mayor of Chernigov has messaged his people to get ready for the street fighting to begin.”

Earlier this week, Funk forwarded repeated requests for prayer: “Alex asks for prayer. Alex is in contact with his congregation. At this point all are holding out. Food is becoming a problem for some if not many in the city. Some still have running water, others do not. The same with heat and electricity…. Alex is so encouraged by our prayers but nerves are ‘frazzled.’”

3) Children’s Disaster Services staff offer helps for talking with children about Ukraine

Lisa Crouch, associate director of Children’s Disaster Services, a program within Brethren Disaster Ministries, has offered some helps and hints for talking with children about the situation in Ukraine:

Children may see or hear things on the news or at school that bring awareness to the situation in Ukraine. They may experience some anxiety, fears, and concerns. Other children may not. I think the following situational tips are important and can be applied in many types of disasters when children are involved:

— Let the child lead the conversation–if they don’t bring it up, that is okay. Don’t force conversation.

— If they do bring it up, listen to them closely, ask a few questions to gain an understanding of what they know.

— Use that basis of understanding to validate their feelings.

— Really listen, attempt to soothe or calm fears, but never dismiss their feelings as invalid.

— When explaining, try to use simple terms that are age-appropriate for your child. Avoid words like “bombing” and “invasion.” Every child is different, and older children may be okay with those terms. But younger children may just need to know that sometimes countries fight, and there are a lot of adults trying to make it better.

— Usually a child’s primary concern is “are we safe?” Try to reinforce to them a feeling of safety and that the conflict is happening far away from here.

— Avoid watching the news with your child present–this will only increase fears and misunderstanding.

— Reach out to support systems if you or your child are having a particularly difficult time. Sometimes leaning on a friend is the best support, but also know that it is okay to ask for professional help as well.

Since 1980, Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has been meeting the needs of children by setting up childcare centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers across the nation. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, CDS volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by tornados, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural and human-caused disasters. Find out more at


4) Atlantic Southeast District announces new team of directors

The Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Southeast District has announced that the interim district executive position previously held solely by Victoria (Vicki) Ehret has been changed to a District Team consisting of six directors:

Vicki Ehret is director of Administration and representative to the Council of District Executives.

Founa Augustin-Badet is director of Haitian Ministries.

Fausto Carrasco is director of Hispanic Ministries.

Ray Hileman is director of English Ministries.

Aida Lymaris Sanchez is director of Program.

Eva Shoemaker is director of Finance.

This arrangement will be in place for one year, with this team working together to carry out the mission of the district. At the close of the year, the District Board will determine whether to continue with this arrangement or to resume the search for a district executive minister.

Contact information for the district office is or 727-709-0603.


5) Upcoming Ventures courses explore a church’s journey ‘From Tragedy to Community’ and faith in media culture

By Kendra Flory

Ventures in Christian Discipleship at McPherson (Kan.) College is offering courses in March and May. The March offering will be “From Tragedy to Community” online March 31, starting at 9 p.m. (Eastern time), presented by Andrew Sampson, pastor at Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. The May offering will be “Spirituality on the Screen” online May 2, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time), presented by Walt Wiltschek, district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Illinois and Wisconsin District and a member of the editorial team for Messenger magazine.

‘From Tragedy to Community’

Churches are a part of their communities and connections can be created through unfortunate or tragic circumstances. For the Modesto congregation, this happened when a young man was shot and killed by police on church property shortly after Christmas in 2020. Since that dreadful day, new friends and links were made as the congregation has connected with his family and friends by attending vigils and protests together, walking the labyrinth, and even cleaning graffiti together near the location where he was shot.

Not everything has gone smoothly and there have been missteps and mistakes made along the way. In this course, we will talk together about how church congregations and church leaders/pastors can work through situations that are difficult, to be prepared for in ways that build trust and community for everyone involved.

Andrew Sampson lives in Modesto with his wife, Allison, their two sons, and a menagerie of animals. When not pastoring or being used as furniture by one of their English Mastiffs, he enjoys exploring the outdoors, attempting to catch fish, and cooking.

‘Spirituality on the Screen’

Even while culture seems to be drifting away from organized religion, according to many recent surveys, faith pops up all over the place in television and film and elsewhere in media culture. How are God and other parts of faith being portrayed? And are these intersections a good thing? Join us to dig in deeper and discuss together.

Walt Wiltschek started last year as part-time district executive minister for Illinois and Wisconsin and currently lives in Lombard, Ill. He also does part-time chaplaincy work for Illinois Wesleyan University. He previously served as pastor of Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren, campus pastor at Manchester University in Indiana, and editor of Messenger magazine, for which he still does some writing and editing. He enjoys traveling, camp ministry, puns and wordplay, and cheering for various sports teams.

Continuing education credit is available for $10 per course. During the registration process, you will have the opportunity to pay for CEUs and give an optional donation to the Ventures program. Go to

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


6) Spring resources from Brethren Press include special edition of A Guide for Biblical Studies, Covenant Bible Study focused on Paul, Easter special on Bible storybooks

The new special edition of A Guide for Biblical Studies in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Committee on the Uniform Series is just one of the Spring specials from Brethren Press. The Church of the Brethren publishing house is offering special discount prices on children’s Bible storybooks, through March, and free downloadable children’s resources to accompany the illustrated storybook Maria’s Kit of Comfort. Also now available is the most recent Covenant Bible Study titled The Circle of Paul.

Special edition of A Guide for Biblical Studies

The new special edition of A Guide for Biblical Studies is intended for small group studies this March, April, and May, but may be used at any time. It celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Committee on the Uniform Series and the International Sunday School Lessons that have formed the biblical basis of Brethren Press’s quarterly adult curriculum for more than 130 years.

Brethren Press has gathered 13 previously published Guide lessons, each by a different writer, that focus on the theme of life in Christ. This collection “mirrors the best of who we are and what we believe as the Church of the Brethren, and illustrates what’s possible when we collaborate well with other members of the body of Christ,” said an announcement. Purchase from Brethren Press at

The Circle of Paul

This Covenant Bible Studies paperback designed for small group study is written by Mary Jessup. Said a description: “We often picture the apostle Paul as a solitary figure who traveled, preached, and wrote letters alone. Reading the epistles and the book of Acts, however, we discover Paul had quite a circle of associates. In this study, we examine Paul’s relationships with Jews and Gentiles, women and men, congregations and their leaders, and those in authority. We meet travel companions, like Barnabas and Silas, and others who are less familiar. As we explore the stories of Paul, we will realize how varied and complex relationships are for all of us. We’ll understand why Paul put Jesus Christ at the center of every relationship, and why we’re called to do the same.”. Purchase from Brethren Press at

Easter special on Bible storybooks

Two Bible storybooks from the Shine curriculum are offered at a special discount. “Shine Bible story books are a great way to nurture faith!” said an announcement from Brethren Press. “Take advantage of special Easter pricing this March and encourage God’s light to shine in your children.”

The Shine On hardback family story Bible with more than 150 stories and full-color illustrations may be purchased for $15 (regular price $24.99) at

All Together, a paperback story Bible for elementary age children, with cartoon-style illustrations, may be purchased for $5 (regular price $10.99) at

This sale ends March 31.

Also free for use with children are downloadable activity pages to accompany Maria’s Kit of Comfort, a hardback illustrated children’s book about the ministry of Children’s Disaster Services. The resources include ideas for children’s ministry for ministers and Sunday school teachers, and activity pages. Go to


7) Glendora Church in southern California celebrates 120 years

By Bob Morris

We are excited to celebrate 120 years as Glendora Church of the Brethren. This congregation was established in 1902.

During our worship service on Sunday, March 13, at 10 a.m. (Pacific time), we plan to acknowledge God’s work here at 151 S. Glendora Ave., Glendora, CA 91741. The music will be led by Ariel and May Gabucan-Gordon. Our oldest member, Neil Schubert, will bring history highlights and our youngest member, Joelene, will read our children’s story. God willing; Kung kalooban ng Diyos; Si Dios quiere.

Following worship, we will have catered Mediterranean and Mexican food items in the Fellowship Hall (approximately 11:45 a.m.) including beef and chicken kabobs with hummus and rice, etc., and tacos, refried beans, etc. If you would like to bring something to share, salads and desserts are nice!

Please reply by Tuesday, March 8, if you plan to join us for the meal so that we can order enough food! Contact or 626-335-1122.

— Bob Morris is pastor of Glendora (Calif.) Church of the Brethren.

8) Shane Claiborne to keynote ‘Seeking First the Kingdom’ event for Lancaster Church

By Donald R. Fitzkee

Prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author Shane Claiborne is the keynote speaker for the March 26-27 “Seeking First the Kingdom” spiritual renewal event at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The event focuses on the theme “Living Simply in a Complex World.”

Claiborne will deliver two keynote presentations during the Saturday portion of the event, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. His keynote themes are “What if Jesus Meant the Stuff He Said?” and “Maladjusted People.”

On Sunday morning, Claiborne will speak on “Economics of Rebirth” at 9 a.m. in an adult class in the Family Life Center and then will preach on “Another Way of Doing Life” during the 10:15 worship services (traditional and contemporary services are held concurrently).

Claiborne worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia, and leads Red Letter Christians, a movement of people who are committed to living “as if Jesus meant the things he said.” Among his books are Jesus for President, The Irresistible Revolution, and his newest book, Beating Guns.

Shane Claiborne

Other Saturday presenters and workshop topics are:

— Two sessions on “Simple Fairness and Simple Future” led by David Radcliff, director of the New Community Project

— Two Bible studies on “Who’s a Worrywart?” and “The Slippery Slope of Burnout” led by Pamela Reist, pastor at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren

— “What the Plain Community Can Teach Us About Simple Living” led by Steven M. Nolt, senior scholar at the Young Center at Elizabethtown College

— “Simple Living Can Impact Climate Change” led by Barry D. Stoner, a clinical social worker

— Two Spanish language Bible studies, “La Singular Sencillez de Jesucristo en un Mundo Multi-Religioso y Materialista” (The Unique Simplicity of Jesus Christ in a Multi-religious and Materialistic World) and “La Singularidad de Jesucristo en un Mundo Multi-religioso y Materialista” (The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ in a Multi-religious and Materialistic World), led by Joel Peña, pastor at Alpha and Omega Church of the Brethren in Lancaster

A simple lunch is included. Participation is free, but an offering will be taken. Pre-registration no later than March 21 is requested for planning purposes, but same-day registrations will be accepted. The Atlantic Northeast District Ministry Commission is offering continuing education credit for Church of the Brethren ministers. For more information, including the event brochure and online registration, visit

— Don Fitzkee is on the pastoral team at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

9) Little Lites at Middlebury Church receives grant from state of Indiana

By Debbie Eisenbise and Lorie Copeland

As we begin this new year, it is with great joy that Middlebury (Ind.) Church of the Brethren’s Little Lites Daycare Ministry celebrates receiving a “Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization” grant from Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. The grant was made possible by funding that the state of Indiana received from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. Little Lites received $134,300–the amount of three months’ estimated expenses.

During 2022, Little Lites will use the funds for personnel costs, facility maintenance and improvements, and safety protocols related to the COVID-19 public health crisis. In particular, this grant will help Little Lites with staff retention and off-set increased costs of gloves and face masks, etc. Some other anticipated projects include replacing worn carpet with vinyl flooring to make cleaning easier, the installation of a washer and a dryer so that crib sheets and blankets can be laundered on the premises, and setting up a need-based scholarship fund.

The Middlebury Church opened Little Lites in June 2017 to serve the community, particularly neighbors with childcare needs due to employment in the local RV industry. Blessed with a large physical plant, and lovely grounds including two playgrounds and a nature trail, the congregation felt that these were gifts from God to be shared with the community.

Photo courtesy of Middlebury Church of the Brethren

Currently, 95 children from 82 families are served, and there is a waiting list, so the need is critical for our community. Daycare and after-school and out-of-school care are provided for newborns through children up to age 12 from 4:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The church employs 14 to 17 staff to run the daycare. The congregation strives to keep wages and benefits competitive while providing affordable, quality childcare.

Photo courtesy of Middlebury Church of the Brethren

Along with holding families and staff in prayer, congregation members (mostly before the current pandemic) volunteer and also support Little Lites with donations. The Christmas trees in our sanctuary this past December were covered with paper mittens made by daycare children. Each mitten listed a need for Little Lites and/or the local food pantry. Dolls, trucks, books, tissues, Lysol, and snacks were collected for the daycare.

The mission statement of Little Lites Daycare Ministry is “to do everything with excellence. We pledge to walk with families to help raise, teach and love the future generation. We believe in the value and uniqueness of each child we serve. Our childcare program is designed to promote the social, physical, emotional, and cognitive development of each child.” Our vision is “to be the hands and feet of Christ in caring for the children who have been entrusted to our care.”

Those interested in supporting Little Lites or getting on the waiting list for care, please call 574-312-5369.

– This article was submitted to Newsline by Middlebury board chair and treasurer Lorie Copeland, who is the business manager for Little Lites, and interim pastor Debbie Eisenbise.

10) Brethren bits

— Staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) have sent updates on recent kidnappings and violence affecting EYN members and churches:

“Dear Brethren,” wrote Zakariya Musa, EYN head of Media, “thank God for the release of Reverend Zira Kwada’s wife and daughter who were kidnapped from Katsina. Your prayers really work. However, four lives were lost and a pastor’s house burnt at Kautikari, Friday [Feb. 25] in a continued attack on the area of Chibok LGA [Local Government Area], Borno State.”

Kautikari and the Chibok area have suffered several violent attacks already this year. EYN disaster relief staff Yuguda Mdurvwa reported to Brethren Disaster Ministries about the situation there: “Throughout the months of January and February Chibok area has been under attack by ISWAP and Boko Haram. Kautikari three times, 30 houses burnt, 3 churches, many people were killed. [In] Mbalala, 12 people were abducted, 1 church burnt down, houses and properties were destroyed. Kidnappers have intensified their activities in Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto [States] and many communities in the Northeast.”

Pastor Katie Shaw Thompson blessed members of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., with the sign of ashes during an Ash Wednesday “come and go” service in the church parking lot. Photo by Joel Brumbaugh-Cayford

Mdurvwa also reported on the effects of increased costs and inflation in Nigeria, increasing the difficulties for travel, in particular air travel at a time when traveling by road is still dangerous. “With all these challenges humanitarian service must go on, let’s pray for the Peace of the World.”

— The Church of the Brethren’s Southeastern District seeks a district executive to fill a half-time position available beginning Aug. 1. The district encompasses 15 congregations across five states: Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Alabama. Most congregations are rural, consisting of older members with some young families, and are served by pastors on a part-time basis. The district is characterized by a strong sense of family, shared conservative Brethren values, and a common sense of purpose. Following the loss of a significant number of congregations, the district seeks a leader who can promote healing and unity based on a common love of God and the core values of the Church of the Brethren including scripture as the inherent word of God. The office location is flexible. Responsibilities include directing, coordinating, managing, and leading the district ministries as authorized by the District Conference and implemented by the District Board; working with the congregations in calling and credentialing ministers and in the placement/call and evaluation of pastoral staff, providing support and counsel for ministers and other church leaders, and sharing and interpreting program resources for congregations; providing an important link between the congregations and the district and denomination by working collaboratively with the Council of District Executives, the Annual Conference and its agencies, and their staff. Qualifications include ordination, with ordination through an accredited program preferred; personal skills in organization, administration, and communication; commitment to the Church of the Brethren locally and denominationally, and willingness to work ecumenically; demonstrated leadership skills; pastoral experience preferred. Apply for this position by sending a letter of interest and resume to Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, via email at Applicants are requested to contact three people to provide letters of reference. Upon receipt of the resume, the individual will be sent a Candidate Profile that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

— Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) seeks a mobilization manager. CMEP is a partner organization of the Church of the Brethren. The mobilization manager is a fulltime position with responsibility to implement the annual mobilization strategy that equips CMEP’s network of supporters from across the country to advance the organization’s advocacy priorities (holistic peacebuilding, humanitarian and economic assistance, and human rights) related to the Middle East. Strong preference for candidates who can work from the CMEP office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. For more information go to

A tweet from Bethany Seminary

— The annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering is scheduled for Sunday, March 20, on the theme “Love Remains” from the scripture from 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (NIV). Said the webpage for the event: “One Great Hour of Sharing reaches those near and far, sometimes changing the life of someone in distress in your own community, while at other times impacting the lives of those we may never meet but who are in need of our compassion. God provides the resources so that we can give back. It’s not the size of the gift that matters; it’s that we give of what we have. We’re simply giving back to God what is already God’s–and that means everyone has a gift to bring!” One Great Hour of Sharing donations to the Church of the Brethren denomination help fund ministries like Brethren Volunteer Service, Discipleship Ministries, Global Mission, and many others. Go to

— Church of the Brethren Global Mission co-executive Eric Miller is requesting churches and districts to contact to let him know about international church partners, projects, and missionaries they are supporting. He is wanting to connect on behalf of the denomination and the Church of the Brethren Global Communion.

The March issue of Messenger features a Lenten reflection on composer Perry Huffaker, written by Karen Garrett. Messenger is the Church of the Brethren magazine. “Perry Huffaker composed the music for ‘Move in Our Midst,’ a hymn text by Ken Morse that was introduced in 1951 in The Brethren Hymnal,” Garrett writes. “The hymn soon became well loved and is consistently sung at Annual Conference. I am passionate to tell Huffaker’s story because he was much more than the melody and harmony of ‘Move in Our Midst.’ I am convinced the Spirit has moved through his work….” Get a taste of her article, including a Huffaker hymn that will be new to most, at At this link find the Huffaker hymn “’Neath the Shadow of the Cross of Jesus” set with music–for churches that wish to use it in worship during this season of Lent–and hear it sung by Ellen and Phil Smith. (Poems and hymns used with permission of the Huffaker family. With gratitude to the Brethren Heritage Center for making available its Perry Huffaker collection.)
A tweet from the Center on Conscience and War, a longterm partner organization of the Church of the Brethren’s

– “Do you have a BVS love story?” asks Brethren Volunteer Service. “Did you meet your best friend or fall in love while serving in BVS? We want to hear your story!” Over the years, there have been many stories of BVSers meeting people who became significant parts of their lives. As a celebration of love of all kinds, the BVS staff invite anyone who has a such a story–and are willing for the staff to share their story on social media over the next couple of months–to please email

— Skippack Church of the Brethren in Philadephia, Pa., Mount Morris (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, and Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren are among congregations hosting and/or joining in community events for peace in Ukraine this weekend.

The Skippack Church has announced weekly community prayer services for Ukraine on Fridays at 6 p.m. (Eastern time), with an opportunity to join in via their Facebook page at

The Mount Morris Church shared in its weekly newsletter an invitation to a community candlelight vigil this Saturday evening on the lawn at the old Ogle County courthouse in Oregon, Ill.

In Hagerstown, the Herald-Mail reports that Church of the Brethren minister Ed Poling is one of the speakers at an interfaith vigil Sunday afternoon in the downtown Public Square. Among the other speakers are Volodymyr Grinchenko, chaplain at Hospice of Washington County, who has family in Ukraine; Mark Perman, rabbi and cantor at Congregation B’nai Abraham; Father Dennis Buck of St. Catherine’s Eastern Orthodox Church; Imam Momin Shahzad of the Islamic Society of Western Maryland; and Rhonda Keener of Hebron Mennonite Church, who is to share personal stories of working with Ukrainian women. The vigil will be livestreamed at

– Antelope Park Church of the Brethren in Lincoln, Neb., is one of 29 faith communities in the area that are joining in “Faith to Forest,” an initiative including worship, education, stewardship, and advocacy. Said an article about the initiative: “What drives us to care for and about each other, our communities and our environment? For some it’s an internal moral compass. Those of us who belong to any of the world’s major faith traditions are called by sacred texts, example and tradition to love our neighbors and to care for God’s creation…. We’re focused on the special place of trees in creation, the gifts they give humanity, and our responsibilities to care for trees, particularly in a changing climate. Answering this call to care is based on love for people and places both now and in the future…. A healthy environment, including trees, is proven to benefit physical and mental health and fosters environmental justice. Healthy ecosystems provide food and other products and the jobs that come with them.” The initiative is linked to this year’s 150th anniversary of Arbor Day. Find out more at

— “New Community Project: Bringing Change to a World Seeking Change” is the title of the latest episode of the Brethren Voices community access television show. Said an announcement from producer Ed Groff: “New Community Project began nearly 20 years ago and today its website is stretched from Myanmar to Arctic Village, Alaska, home of the Native Gwich’in, through such places as New Mexico and the lands of the Native Diné, to the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Siona people. NCP works with local groups in the Dominican Republic to foster sustainable development in mountain communities. In South Sudan, the South Sudan Council of Churches and the Girlchild Education and Development Association are key program partners…. In Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, NCP has partners who support girl’s education, tailoring and microloan programs for women, as well as reforestation. A fundamental aspect of NCP is its Learning Tours to these areas…. The Tropical Conservation Center in Nigeria partners with NCP to restore mangrove forests in the Niger Delta. This involvement also promotes the use of wood‐conserving stoves and the development of alternative income sources to stem deforestation.” Brethren Voices host Brent Carlson interviews New Community Project director David Radcliff. Find Brethren Voices on YouTube at

The National Council of Churches (NCC) is joining in an interfaith event on the Black maternal health crisis. “Faith United to End the Black Maternal Health Crisis” will be live online at 3 p.m. (Eastern time) on March 9. The NCC joins NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and numerous co-sponsors including Church World Service in addressing this important issue. Find out more at

— Applications are open for the World Council of Churches (WCC) Eco-School on Water, Food, and Climate Justice, to be held April 24-May 1 at Stony Point Center in New York. This year the event is in-person and open to young people under age 30 from the North America region. “Participants will explore the ways in which the North America region has the ability and resilience to tackle climate change,” said an announcement. “They will also discuss how the political will to do so fluctuates under various administrations. Can North America lead the world in its endeavour to address climate change and its impacts on water, food, health and indigenous people? The Eco-School will help answer that crucial question.” Partners in organizing the event are the WCC Ecumenical Water Network in collaboration with various other WCC programs including the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, Economic and Ecological Justice, Youth Engagement in the ecumenical movement, Health and Healing and Ecumenical Indigenous Peoples Network (Mission from the Margins), along with additional partners Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The deadline for applications is April 3. Go to

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) is joining calls for “equal treatment of black and brown people stranded at Ukrainian border,” said a release. The WCC has signed a letter of petition from the Pan African Women’s Association that also is supported by various parliamentarians, civil societies, and activists from across the globe. “In such crises, one would expect the affected population to receive equal and unbiased humanitarian aid irrespective of colour, race, or place of origin,” the letter said, in part. “Unfortunately, according to reports reaching us, this is not the case.” The petition highlights “the plight of black and brown people in Ukraine who are being systematically excluded from humanitarian evacuation operations,” said the release, quoting an experience shared on social media by an African student who watched fellow Africans and children being violently removed from a train crossing the border, while space was provided for domestic animals. “On the other hand, white Ukrainians have been allowed to go through the border without restrictions,” the release said. Find the release 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 Lorie Copeland, Lisa Crouch, James Deaton, Debbie Eisenbise, Donald R. Fitzkee, Kendra Flory, Keith Funk, Ed Groff, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Jeff Lennard, Yuguda Mdurvwa, Eric Miller, Nancy Miner, Bob Morris, Zakariya Musa, David Steele, Walt Wiltschek, 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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