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Newsline - Church of the Brethren weekly news update


From Church of the Brethren News Services
Date 30 Oct 1998 11:51:45

Date:      Oct. 30, 1998
Contact:  Nevin Dulabaum
V:  847/742-5100   F:  847/742-6103
E-MAIL:   CoBNews@AOL.Com

Newsline                                          Oct. 30, 1998
1) A teleconference on responding to individuals and families
     coping with mental health, intended for pastors, caregivers,
     seminary students, and health professionals, is             
     scheduled for Nov. 10 and can be seen at one of more than 60
     sites nationwide.
2) Ministry of Reconciliation is holding two workshops this fall
     for people interested in reconciling congregational
     conflict.
3) The request for a grant of $65,000 from the Church of the
     Brethren General Board's Emergency Disaster Fund in response
     to Hurricane Georges has been approved.
4) Emergency Response/Service Ministries is seeking volunteer
     help with projects in southeastern Ohio, Jefferson County,
     Ala., and Caimito, Puerto Rico.
5) Seventeen new students are studying this year at Bethany
     Theological Seminary.
6) Donald Myers has resigned as part-time Area 1 Congregational
     Life Team staff.
7) Nada Sellers has resigned as part-time Area 5 Congregational
     Life Team staff.
8) Dr. Leland Lengel of McPherson, Kan., is remembered.
9) SERRV International will hold an overstock sale Nov. 18-Dec. 1
     in New Windsor, Md.
10) Six Manchester College students participate a protest called
     "Imagine a Day Without the Pentagon."
11) Briery Branch Church of the Brethren, Dayton, Va., has called
     a local volunteer to serve    as parish nurse.

Feature
12) Virlina District recently held a series of ethics seminars.
     One of the leaders of these workshops, Charles Hite,
     recently filed a report.
13) Humble yourself before the Lord and you might find yourself
     leading former president Jimmy Carter's church in prayer.

1) Pastors, caregivers, seminary students, and health
professionals will be able to explore ways the church can respond
to individuals and families coping with mental illness by
participating in a teleconference, Nov. 10, at 1 p.m. (Eastern
Standard time) in many locations nationwide. 

Sponsored by the United Methodist Teleconference Connection, the
3 1/2-hour training event on "Mental Illness  Paint a Different
Picture," will feature a panel of mental health professionals,
public policy advocates, educators, and pastors. Panelists will
discuss what mental illness is and some of its causes; ways to
manage mental illness by empowering body, mind, and spirit;
stereotypes and stigmas; faith communities and their response to
mental illness; parity and public policy; identifying ways to
change public attitudes; and creating a more welcoming community.
The panel will also take calls and questions. Prerecorded video
segments will also be shown and resource kits will be provided to
participants. 

"Although mental illness affects one of every four families, it
is often a silent presence in many of our churches," said Ralph
McFadden, chair of VOICE, a ministry group of the Association of
Brethren Caregivers (ABC) that advocates on mental health,
substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS issues. "This teleconference will
give our denomination the opportunity to receive new resources,
hear what others are doing -- locally and nationally  and ask
questions of a panel of experts in the field of mental health
care."

For a list of the telecast sites nearest you, visit the United
Methodist Teleconference Connection Web site at
www.umcom.org/umtc/paint/sites.htm or call ABC prior to Nov. 10
at (800) 323-8039. People planning on attending should inform
their viewing site host in advance of the broadcast so that
enough materials can be available for all participants.

2) There are two workshop opportunities this fall for people
interested in reconciling congregational conflict, including
members of district Discipleship and Reconciliation committees.

"Understanding Congregational Conflict," scheduled for Nov. 20-21
in or near Middle Pennsylvania District, will be an introductory
overview of congregational conflict intervention, with a focus on
the information-gathering and assessment stages. Participants
will work with a hypothetical case study of congregational
conflict to practice what they are learning in the workshop.

This event will be led by Bob Gross, director of Ministry of
Reconciliation, a ministry of On Earth Peace Assembly and
coordinating agency of the workshops. Kay Gaier, member of
South/Central Indiana District's Discipleship and Reconciliation
Committee, will also serve as leadership. Registration fee is $25
for Discipleship and Reconciliation Committee members, $40 for
nonmembers. 

"Congregational Conflict: Skills for Intervention," scheduled for
Dec. 4-6 at Camp Mack, Milford, Ind., will offer in-depth
understanding and practice of the skills required for working
with conflicted congregations, along with a focus on how work
with congregational conflict is rooted in and empowered by faith.
Peer review of past experiences in congregational conflict,
whether as participant, bystander, or intervener, will also be
included.

Gross will lead this workshop. Registration fee will be $60, $25
for Discipleship and Reconciliation Committee members. Room and
board will be $54.

For more information, contact Gross at bgross@igc.org or by
calling OEPA at 410 635-8704.

3) The Church of the Brethren General Board's Emergency
Response/Service Ministries is looking for volunteers to assist
with projects in southeastern Ohio; Jefferson County, Ala.; and
Caimito, Puerto Rico. Volunteers for the Puerto Rico project need
to be at least 15 years old with an up-to-date tetanus vaccine.
Call 800 451-4407 (press 5) for other qualifications or for
information on any of the projects.

4) A $65,000 grant from the Church of the Brethren General
Board's Emergency Disaster Fund was allocated Oct. 15 in response
to damage caused by Hurricane Georges -- $10,000 will be used to
assist shipping medicines to Haiti; $15,000 will be used to
assist shipping medicines to the Dominican Republic; $5,000 will
be sent to Church World Service in response to CWS' $50,000
appeal; and $35,000 will be used to open operations in Puerto
Rico and Dominican Republic.

5) Seventeen new students are studying this year at Bethany
Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or at its eastern
facility, the Susquehanna Valley Satellite in Elizabethtown, Pa.

While Bethany has 90 total students, 62 are currently enrolled in
fall classes at one of its two locations. Of the 62, 41 are in
the Master of Divinity program and six in the Master of Arts in
Theology program. Four students are pursuing a Certificate of
Achievement in Theological Studies while 11 are not in a degree
program or have special-student status.

Other statistics from this year's student body --
     * 44 percent are graduates of Church of the Brethren
          colleges. 
     * 39 percent are women.
     * this fall's full-time equivalency is 45.1, up from 43.8
          one year ago.

Additionally, 80 students are enrolled in the Brethren Academy
for Ministerial Leadership's two nondegree ministry education
programs -- TRIM (Training In Ministry) and EFSM (Education for
Shared Ministry). Sixty-three students from 18 districts are
enrolled in TRIM; 17 ministers-in-training from 14 congregations
in eight districts are in the EFSM program. The Academy is a
joint program of Bethany and the Church of the Brethren General
Board.

6) Don Myers has resigned as part-time staff for the Church of
the Brethren General Board's Area 1 Congregational Life Team,
effective Jan. 31. Myers joined the General Board staff in
February. 

7) Nada Sellers has resigned as part-time staff for the Church of
the Brethren General Board's Area 5 Congregational Life Team,
effective Nov. 6. Sellers, who joined the General Board staff in
January, is returning to hospice chaplaincy.

8) Dr. Leland Lengel, 64, a professor at McPherson (Kan.) College
for 36 years, suffered a fatal heart attack Wednesday while on
his regular morning walk. 

Following his graduation from McPherson in 1956, Lengel performed
alternative service with Brethren Volunteer Service. In 1958 he
enrolled at the Duke Divinity School. Preferring history to
pastoral studies, he transferred to the history department and
earned a master's degree in 1962. He was hired by McPherson in
1963 as an instructor of history and politics. He went on to earn
his doctorate of philosophy degree in 1968.

During his McPherson tenure Lengel served the college in a
multitude of leadership capacities. His work was published in a
number of academic journals, he presented research at major
history conferences, and he was recognized by several scholarly
societies. 

Lengel was a member of First Church of the Brethren in McPherson.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and their two children.

9) SERRV International, the Church of the Brethren General
Board's New Windsor, Md.-based self-help handcrafts ministry,
will hold its overstock sale Nov. 18-Dec. 1 in the Blue Ridge
building at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor. Hundreds
of items will be marked down at least 60 percent, including
baskets, clothing, jewelry, purses, nativity scenes, and crosses.
For more information, contact SERRV at 410 635-8711.

10) Hundreds of protesters spent Oct. 19 outside the Pentagon in
Arlington, Va., imagining what could be done if money used to
fund the U.S. military for one day (a reported $1.7 billion) were
to be redirected for other purposes. Among the protesters were
six students from Manchester College, North Manchester, Ind.

Heidi Beck, a student employee of the college's Peace Studies
program and trip coordinator for the group, said there were
different sessions held during the day focusing on how the funds
could be used on welfare, education, health care, and housing. At
least two dozen people were arrested throughout the day as they
tried to block entrances or went inside the Pentagon and
protested.

What surprised Beck the most, however, was being alongside some
people who shared her views toward the Pentagon but not her
definition and value of nonviolence, people who were shouting in
angry tones at the security guards, full of the same negative
energy that the Pentagon represents, Beck said.

"It just reinforced my understanding of nonviolence," she added.
"It is a whole other way of being."

While in D.C. Beck and fellow demonstrator Ambrosia Brown also
participated in another public witness, staying up all night in
front of the White House to join a vigil that has been ongoing
since 1981 in its quest for world peace. Beck said the experience
was meaningful as she and Brown were able to witness with their
bodies and voices to experience a bit of homelessness and to be
in solidarity with the vigil. Beck also used the time to meditate
on peace and justice concerns, seeking to discern where her voice
can best be used to bring about world peace.

(Pictures of this protest can be seen at www.brethren.org/pic_pent.htm)

11) The Briery Branch Church of the Brethren, Dayton, Va., has
called a parish nurse to serve its congregation and community in
both spiritual and physical care. Tammy Kiser was called to this
new volunteer position on Oct. 1.

Kiser will assist with the nurturing needs of the congregation,
visiting hospital patients, shut-ins, and people who are
struggling physically. She will also seek to educate the
congregation and community on preventative health issues through
the church's newsletter, bulletin, or specific activities, such
as taking blood pressure after church. She will also convene
meetings designed around specific health topics.

12) A series of workshops pertaining to congregational ethics was
held recently in Virlina District. One of the leaders of the
workshops, Charles Hite, recently filed this report --

"We are not the ethics police," Julie Hostetter told a gathering
of church leaders in Eden, N.C. "We're here to present a resource
that can enhance congregational life."

That message was central to the presentation that Hostetter,
coordinator of Area 3 Congregational Life Team, myself and three
other colleagues made in September to six Virlina District
workshops that dealt with the 1996 "Ethics for Congregations"
paper.
     
It's difficult not to seem like the police when you come bearing
a booklet that contains a 29-point ethics inventory, 20 "ethical
guidelines" and other imperative language that could easily
conjure up images of a Big Brother mentality.

Our ad hoc committee sought to assure workshop participants that
the "Ethics for Congregations" paper was not a legalistic
doctrine that sought to dictate specific do's and don'ts for
churches. Rather, we saw the paper as an attempt by the
collective church to capture the essence of denominational
statements and teachings on the important ethical principles and
values of the Church of the Brethren.

Role playing helped us get our message across.

The five of us began each workshop as if we were a local church
committee that had been given the task of explaining the paper to
the congregation. Each of us had been assigned a section of the
paper to report back to the committee.

Presenting the paper this way helped avoid focusing only on the
guidelines and inventory. It allowed us -- in our fictional roles
as local church leaders -- to express concerns about the paper or
to suggest ways our congregation might be "in step" or "out of
step" with various principles, values and guidelines.

It was hard to find any disagreement with any of the broad and
more widely known principles -- the New Testament is our rule of
faith and practice; the Brethren word is good as our bond; all
members are ministers; and Brethren shall be known by their
fruits. But when it comes to applying these principles through
more particular guidelines, things get a bit stickier.

Greg Broyles, a hospital pharmacist who is also a licensed Church
of the Brethren minister, always got a lot of smiles and knowing
nods from workshop participants at the same point in the
presentation. When discussing the section of the paper dealing
with the local congregation's relation to its community, Broyles
said it probably wasn't right for him to photocopy Sunday school
curriculum or church hymns. "I just never thought about how that
really is taking away someone's livelihood. It's stealing."

I seemed to strike a responsive cord when, in discussing how the
congregation relates to its members, I said churches need to move
away from elections as their method of selecting leaders.
"Election ballots mean there are winners and losers, " I added.
"Our church shouldn't endorse a process that creates losers."

Emma Jean Woodard, representing Virlina District ministers on our
team, voiced a pet peeve when it was her turn to review the
section about congregations relating to their members. When
church members go out of their way to bring new people into
leadership, she said, "Don't undermine them by pointing out,
'We've never done it that way!'"

David Shumate, Virlina District executive, in reviewing the
section on a congregation's relation to its pastor and staff, had
some very practical advice. Make sure you have a contract with
the pastor and be specific about the terms of employment. That
way there won't be surprises.

After our role play, workshop participants gathered in small
groups to discuss the paper and to review the guidelines and
ethics inventory. In reporting back to the larger group, there
were a few issues that seemed to always arise:

     * Providing a support group to the pastor and pastoral
          family. Many participants acknowledge they didn't do
          this or that they didn't provide it with the right 
          group. The board executive committee is not the type of
          group that can do this job, Shumate said.
     * Operating with strong consensus and harmony in making
          decisions. Congregations shouldn't operate on a
          "majority rules" basis, participants agreed. If a
          decision is split along a close vote, then it should
          not be implemented. Better to engage in further
          discussion and try to build a stronger base of support.
     * Avoiding anonymous calls and letters or communications
          outside established forums. "You'd be surprised how
          many anonymous calls I get," said one pastor. "But I'm
          not going to act on anonymous information." Another
          form of this, said another pastor, is the old
          "Everybody's saying...."

Despite the disagreements that many of the guidelines provoked,
Hostetter reminded workshop participants that Brethren have a
strong tradition of not withdrawing when conflicts arise. "We
remain engaged. We remain in dialog," she said.

About 120 people representing 35 congregations participated in
the workshops.

13) After a series of misadventures with car trouble in
conjunction with the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in
Orlando, which was held June 30 - July 5, Randy Cosner, pastor of
Briery Branch Church of the Brethren, Dayton, Va., his wife,
Christy, and sons Aaron (14), Joel (9) and Matthew (2), ended up
taking an impromptu detour and ended up in a Sunday school class
taught by Plains, Ga.'s most famous citizen. Cosner's story -- 

We had originally planned to see a friend in Atlanta, but when I
called ahead I learned that he was going to be away. As we were
driving north on I-75, I noticed that Plains was only about 50
miles off the interstate. Having read "The Carpenter's
Apprentice," a book by Dan Arial, pastor of Marantha Baptist
Church in Plains, I learned that former president Jimmy Carter
frequently teaches Sunday school at the small community church.
So, literally at the exit, we decided to drive out and take a
look and to see for ourselves if Carter would be teaching his
class the next day.

We visited a welcome center in Plains and learned that Carter,
indeed, would be present the next morning. So we stayed the
night. We'd never get any closer to Carter than that, and to
leave then -- well we knew we would regret it.

The Maranatha Baptist Church is a very small church, seating only
about 150. It seems like the church centers around Carter being
there, though it is a regular church with about 100 members. On
that Sunday only about 25 members were there, though there was
about 150 in attendance. That's how it is on the three out of
four Sundays that Carter teaches there. 

I joined his class and he really did a wonderful job teaching. He
shared several stories from his quite colorful past. I guess you
could say he's had some unique experiences! While Carter was
teaching, Matthew, our infant son, became very restless. I guess
he didn't appreciate who Jimmy Carter is! Christy didn't really
want to get up and take him out so she asked me to do it. 

I really didn't want to, either; how often do you get to hear a
former president talk?

Well, I had to do it. So as I sat moping in the nursery about
what I was missing, I struck up a conversation with the attendant
in the nursery. I told her I was a pastor and we got acquainted.
At the end of Sunday school, Joel came to the nursery and I felt
the two of them would be ok there. So I left to attend the
worship service. 

After the worship service had begun, the pastor asked us to turn
to a responsive reading in the hymnal. 

As we were turning he asked, "Is there a pastor Cosner in the
congregation?"

I was surprised and thought I was wanted in the nursery because
of Matthew. 

"Would you lead us in the pastoral prayer?" he asked.

I was amazed. How did he get my name? I knew the Secret Service
was good, but this was a little too good!

After the reading I got to stand and give a prayer. There were
other pastors there. How did I get the privilege to lead the
prayer?

Well the lady I had "shared" with in the nursery turned out to be
the pastor's wife! 

The moral of the story would be "humble yourself before the Lord
and He will exalt you in due time" -- if I hadn't gone to the
nursery, I would not have been asked to pray.

And, yes, after the service we were able to get our picture taken
with the Carters. (That picture is posted in the "Picture This"
denominational photo album at www.brethren.org/pic_jc.htm.)

Newsline is produced by Nevin Dulabaum, manager of the Church of
the Brethren General Board's News Services. Newsline stories may
be reprinted provided that Newsline is cited as the source and
the publication date is included.

To receive Newsline by e-mail or fax, call 800 323-8039, ext.
263, or write CoBNews@AOL.Com. Newsline is available at
www.brethren.org and is archived with an index at
http://www.wfn.org.



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