From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren weekly news update

From Church of the Brethren News Services
Date 06 Apr 2000 21:24:43

Date:      April 7, 2000
Contact:  Walt Wiltschek
V:  847/742-5100   F:  847/742-6103
E-MAIL:   CoBNews@AOL.Com

"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul." Prov.

 1) A new General Board endeavor seeks to hear from the
denomination's pastors.
 2) A Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation including many Brethren
visits Vieques.
 3) Appointments, work on a strategic plan, and reports fill
Bethany Seminary board's spring meeting.
 4) Another move toward peace is under way in Sudan.
 5) Congressional testimony and a planned "mobilization day"
address debt relief.
 6) Keynote speaker Gilbert Romero highlights an inspirational
regional youth conference.
 7) An OEPA workshop looks at servant leadership, spirituality, and
church renewal.
 8) The debate over Sharia law causes further violence in Nigeria.
 9) Grace Mishler looks forward to re-establishing an Anabaptist
presence in Vietnam.
 10) Some J2K projects have already been funded, and more are
 11) A $10,000 Emergency Disaster Fund grant sends IMA medicine
boxes to Venezuela.
 12) Brethren bits: Youth Peace Travel Team, Young Adult
Conference, CROP Walk, more.

 13) The Palms Estates in Florida seeks an executive director.

 14) Middle Pa. District's new Youth Ministry Team focuses on


 1) The board members are coming! The board members are coming!
Paul Revere might not ride through the streets crying out the news,
but Church of the Brethren General Board members and staff hope to
call attention to pastors' needs via a new visitation initiative. 

Board representatives will head to every corner of the denomination
this year to visit with pastors -- listening to, learning from, and
sharing with these important local leaders. One or more meetings
will be set up in each district, beginning in May and continuing
through the rest of 2000, possibly extending into 2001.

The General Board's Congregational Life and Ministry offices are
coordinating the visits, which respond to Annual Conference
statements calling for care and support of pastors.

"Pastors are in a very key position in the life of the
denomination, because they are servants within the ministries of
congregations," said Allen Hansell, who oversees the Ministry
office. "Congregations provide ministries to their own members, to
the communities around them, to district ministries, and indeed to
the world through the ministries of the General Board and any
number of other ways. Pastors are in a very unique role, for they
have been called by God and the church to guide those ministries."

Conversations will include hearing what energizes pastors in those
ministries and what drains them, examining ways congregations are
calling out leadership, looking at cultural changes and their
effects on ministry, and sharing needs, hopes, and visions for the
future. One goal is to help the General Board and pastors work more
closely on future efforts.

 2) In mid-March, Cliff Kindy of the Manchester Church of the
Brethren (North Manchester, Ind.) led an eight-member Christian
Peacemaker Teams/Baptist Peace Fellowship delegation that visited
the small Puerto Rican island of Vieques, where the US Navy has
practiced military maneuvers -- including live bombing runs --
since 1941. The US Navy controls two-thirds of Vieques (population
9,000), and also maintains bases on the main island of Puerto Rico.

When a stray bomb exploded in April 1999, killing civilian David
Sanes, widespread opposition to US military presence on the island
erupted throughout Puerto Rico. Churches and many other groups came
together for a series of nonviolent protest encampments, and a
major protest march was held in late February. 

Hosted by Brethren pastor Juan Figueroa, the delegation met with
religious leaders, political and governmental officials, and
representatives of the US Southern Command. They spent several days
in the resistance encampment at the Camp Garcia gate and traveled
by open boat to the restricted impact zone in the middle of the
bombing range, where they listened to personal accounts of the
damage done by US Navy activities. People shared stories of young
women and girls being raped, environmental damage, and devastation
of the island itself, according to a CPT report.

Brethren delegation member David Jehnsen of Galena, Ohio (New
Covenant congregation), described the resistance encampments as a
source of hope for those who believe in nonviolence as God's way
for people to struggle and change the course of history. The team
noted an unusual and inspiring unity among Catholics and
Protestants across denominational lines.

Church leaders have sent out pastoral letters on civil
disobedience, which Methodist pastor Lucy Rosario has re-phrased as
"evangelical obedience." The churches are convinced that their
participation is key to the struggle to return Vieques to the
people, Jehnsen said.

Members of the delegation were Kindy, Jehnsen, Phil Borkholder,
Vicksburg, Mich.; Ambrosia Brown, North Manchester, Ind.
(Manchester Church of the Brethren); Eric Christiansen, Franklin
Grove, Ill. (Franklin Grove Church of the Brethren); Angela
Freeman, Kitchener, Ontario; Anne Herman, Binghamton, N.Y.; and
Kurt Richie, Constantine, Mich. (Florence Church of the Brethren).

 3) The Bethany Theological Seminary Board held its semi-annual
meeting March 24-26, 2000, in Richmond, Ind. Among major actions,
the board:

*Approved the appointment of Tim Van Meter as director of the
Seminary's Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults,
beginning Aug. 1.

*Received and discussed the first draft of the next five-year
Strategic Plan (2001-2006). The final draft will be approved at the
October board meeting.

*Named Earle and Jean Fike of Bridgewater, Va., as chairs for the
seminary's Centennial Celebration Committee. Bethany will celebrate
its centennial in 2004-05.

*Elected Guy Wampler, Jr., Lancaster, Pa., as chair; John Gingrich,
Claremont, Calif., as vice chair; and Anne Reid, Roanoke, Va., as
secretary. Carl Bowman, Verona, Va., will chair the Academic and
Student Affairs Committee; Mark Baeverstad, Fort Wayne, Ind., the
Business and Finance Committee; and Gene Fahs, North Manchester,
Ind., the Institutional Advancement Committee.

*Other items included an update on Bethany's capital campaign, a
report on Bethany's participation in the Interagency Forum, the
announcement of Kenneth Smith as the speaker for Bethany's
commencement on May 6, and recognition of board members who were
concluding service.

 4) Another major overture for peace is being made in southern
Sudan. The war-torn African nation is expected to host the Nilotic
People's Peace Conference in the next few months -- hopefully in
early May, according to staff at the New Sudan Council of Churches.

A proposal for the effort states that "the goal of this conference
is to reach agreements and sign an accord to stop the fighting, end
the destruction, and bring about peace and stability among the
Nilotic peoples of the eastern bank of the Nile in the southern

The project hopes to draw up to 1,200 participants from tribal
chiefs, church leaders, women, and others from various communities
of the East Bank of the Upper Nile region. Among that number will
be an expected 200-plus official delegates from six different
groups, including the rival Dinka and Nuer people. Observers from
other areas, as well as from the New Sudan Council of Churches and
other organizations, will also attend.

It is hoped that an East Bank Peace Council will be set up, similar
to a West Bank Peace Council that arose from earlier efforts.
Building trust between the various groups will be a key focus of
the conference.

 5) Representatives of 19 denominations, the National Council of
Churches, and other faith-related organizations testified before
Congress on March 30, urging funding for debt relief in
poverty-stricken nations and for programs to help with refugees,
conflict resolution, reconciliation, and other relief and
peacekeeping work.

The testimony came before the Appropriations Committee of the
Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives
via an informal coalition called "Faith Action for People-Centered
Development Policy," which includes the Church of the Brethren. It
calls for debt cancellation, increased foreign assistance
(especially to sub-Saharan Africa and HIV/AIDS response), increased
refugee admissions to the US, signing of the Ottawa Treaty banning
land mines, and other conflict resolution and peace efforts.

Major events focused on international debt relief will be taking
place in Washington on Sunday, called a "Jubilee 2000 National
Mobilization Day." Events include various speakers and the
formation of a human chain around the US Capitol. Monday will be a
follow-up day with visits to congressional representatives. Up to
30,000 people are expected to attend, according to Religion News

The Church of the Brethren Washington Office has been working with
this effort, and the Washington City Church of the Brethren will
hold a special service with guest speaker Sue Wagner Fields Sunday
morning. More information is available through the Washington
Office at 202 546-3202, through the web site, or

 6) Approximately 250 youth and advisors from four northeastern
districts gathered at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College last weekend for
Eastern Regional Youth Conference and found two days filled with
enthusiastic worshiop and a host of other activities.

Gilbert Romero, pastor of the Bella Vista Church of the Brethren in
Los Angeles, served as keynote speaker and addressed the conference
theme, "No Fear -- Know God!" Romero spoke of his turnaround from
a life filled with drugs and crime to a life filled with the love
of Jesus Christ.

"It takes a lot to stand up for Christ these days," Romero said.
"What sets you free is a true relationship with Christ. The
emptiness and void in my life was there forever until God came to
fill it."

Romero's Bittersweet Gospel Band also performed one evening, and a
band of youth musicians led by Keith Hollenberg, pastor of nurture
at the York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, provided inspiring
music during morning worship times. Workshops, recreation, Bible
study sessions, service projects, and other events filled the rest
of the weekend.

Youth and advisors in the Midwest will meet for their regional
youth conference April 14-16 at Manchester College, North
Manchester, Ind. Frank Ramirez, pastor of the Elkhart Valley (Ind.)
Church of the Brethren, and Chris Douglas, coordinator of
Youth/Young Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren General
Board, will serve as keynote speakers on the theme "Things Not Yet
Seen," based on Hebrews 11:1. More than 200 are expected to attend.

Another regional youth conference, Roundtable at Bridgewater (Va.)
College, meets this weekend.

 7) A workshop titled "Shepherds by the Living Springs, A Lenten
Day Apart" focused on church members' inner spiritual lives, as
leader David Young helped 14 participants look at spiritual
formation, servant leadership, and church renewal. The event,
sponsored by On Earth Peace Assembly, took place April 1 at the
Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

The day's theme was taken from Revelation 7:17, which speaks of the
Lamb leading the faithful to springs of living water, and from the
"Servant Songs" in Isaiah 42-53, which describe the servant leader.
Young, a pastor and author from the Atlantic Northeast District,
engaged the group in thoughtful discussion of the topics.

"This will be a real help for our church in some things we are
working on," said pastor Ervin Huston of the Westernport (Md.)
Church of the Brethren, one of seven members of that congregation
to attend.

OEPA said it wanted to do the event to emphasize the integral
relationship between one's spiritual life and one's witness and

 8) The violence continues in northern Nigeria, according to the
Associated Press, which reported fighting in the town of Damboa and
surrounding areas last week. News reports said that at least 20
people were reported dead. The incident began after Muslims
attacked a Christian church under construction in Damboa, which is
predominantly Muslim. Thousands of others fled their homes after
outbreaks continued, according to AP.

Outbreaks of violence have occurred in several spots since
February, as some states are seeking to implement Islamic Sharia
law. Christians fear discrimination under the system, particularly
the harsh penal code. 

The ministers council of the Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria, the
Church of the Brethren's large sister church in Nigeria, condemned
the violence at its meeting last month and asked the government to
intervene. It also seeks freedom for all faiths. "Both federal and
state governments should stay clear from supporting a particular
religion in the country, either Islam or Christianity," a report
from the council states.

Three members of the EYN in Kaduna were killed in riots there in
late February, and two EYN church buildings were burned. Many
others were injured or lost property.

 9) Mission worker Grace Mishler calls the new Vietnam venture
between Eastern Mennonite Missions and the Church of the Brethren
General Board "a great blessing." Mishler, who grew up in the Union
Center Church of the Brethren, Nappanee, Ind., will be establishing
a social work program at Ho Chi Minh University and hopes her work
will aid healing between the US and Vietnam through the church.

"I am humbled how God placed upon my heart this burning desire to
recommit our Anabaptist presence in Vietnam," Mishler wrote. "I now
know God, not me, was calling the Church of the Brethren to return
to Vietnam."

Mishler talked about the history and inspiration she received from
the stories of both Brethren and Mennonites who worked in the
Southeast Asian nation in the past, often working closely together,
and said she hoped to attend a Vietnam reunion for Brethren,
Mennonites, and Quakers who served in voluntary service in Vietnam
later this year.

 10) Congregations participating in the General Board's J2K project
don't have to wait until the end of the year to send in the
offerings collected. The J2K office is urging congregations to send
in their "We're Building a House offerings" on a periodic basis
throughout the year.

"We are anxious to move ahead with the ministries that will be
funded by these offerings," said project coordinator David Radcliff
of Brethren Witness, "and it will make it easier for us if we have
an idea of how much money we have to work with." 

The project goal is for 50,000 Brethren to each contribute 20 cents
a week for 50 weeks, thus raising $500,000 for a variety of
outreach projects, including new church development at home and
abroad, low-income housing in the US, a ministry to street children
in East Los Angeles, wood-conserving stoves in Guatemala, and more.

Initial grants have already been made: $10,000 for wood-conserving
stoves in Guatemala and $25,000 for housing and community renewal
on the eastern shore of Virginia. Along with the outreach emphasis,
the year-long "J2K: New Hope, New Day" project invites scripture
reading, daily prayer, tree-planting, and other efforts to
commemorate Jesus' 2,000th birthday. The culmination will be a
"Speaking of Jesus..." theological conference Dec. 29-Jan. 1 in

Congregations still wishing to join should contact Lauryn Estes in
the Brethren Witness office for information. Call 800 323-8039.

 11) The year's 10th allocation from the Emergency Disaster Fund
will send $10,000 to support an Interchurch Medical Assistance
medical shipment of 50 Venezuela medicine boxes. IMA, based at the
Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is a medical relief
organization with 12 member organizations, including the Church of
the Brethren.

The items provided through this program will provide essential
medicines and medical products for 50,000 people who continue to
suffer from last December's devastating floods in Venezuela. This
grant will cover handling, packing, and shipping of the boxes. 

 12) Brethren bits: Other brief news notes from around the
denomination and elsewhere
 *The Youth Peace Travel Team's 2000 itinerary of camps is as
follows: June 18-24, Camp Swatara, Pa.; June 25-July 1, Shepherd's
Spring, Md.; July 2-8, Brethren Woods, Va.; July 9-14, Camp Bethel,
Va.; July 15-19, Annual Conference, Kansas City, Mo.; July 20-22,
Shepherd's Spring, Md.; July 23-29, Camp Eder, Pa.; July 30-Aug. 5,
Brethren Heights, Mich.

 *Space remains for the "Finding Common Ground" national Young
Adult Conference, to be held May 27-29 at Camp Harmony in
Hooversville, Pa. Call 800 323-8039 for details or visit the
Youth/Young Adult site at 

 *Registration is also open for the Church of the Brethren Womaen's
Caucus 2nd Theology Conference, May 4-6 in Dayton, Ohio. Cost is
$90. Write

 *Fifteen junior high youth toted sleeping bags and pillows to the
Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren March 31-April 1 for an
overnight lock-in called "Peace-ing It Together -- With Our
Friends: Turning Lemons into Lemonade." The event was part of a
series sponsored by On Earth Peace Assembly and the Frederick

 *Ken Gibble, pastor of the Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the
Brethren, has an article titled "Money Is a Spiritual Issue" in the
April edition of "St. Anthony Messenger."

 *A new electronic bulletin board for CROP Walk participants is
available at for
the sharing of ideas, questions, concerns, and other information.

 *A women's group at Elkhart City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren
recently completed a year-long project, making nearly 150 knotted
comforters to donate to the Elkhart Child Development Center.

 *Robert Kettering, senior pastor of the Lititz (Pa.) Church of the
Brethren, has been named chairman of the board for Shalom
Foundation, Inc. of Harrisonburg, Va., succeeding Laban Peachey.
Shalom publishes religious newspapers called "Together" for
churches reaching out to their communities and "Living," a family

 *The Network of Biblical Storytellers 13th Annual Festival
Gathering, titled "Parables of the Reign of God: Stories for the
New Millennium," will be held Aug. 2-5 at the Simpsonwood
Conference and Retreat Center in Atlanta. Keynote speakers are
David Rhoads and Miriam Therese Winter. Call 800 355-NOBS.

 *The Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church
recently held the first of 29 planned regional meetings as the two
denominations work toward becoming one, the Mennonite Church USA.

 *Dr. Rodney Page will retire as executive director of Church World
Service and Witness effective May 15. An interim director will be
named soon.

 13) The Palms Estates Brethren retirement community in Lorida,
Fla., is seeking an executive director to succeed Harry and Agatha
Johnson, who recently resigned. 

A job description and related information is available upon request
via e-mail, at; by phone or fax at 863 655-1733;
or by writing Norman Harsh at PO Box 157, Lorida, FL 33857. The
Palms Estates is a member of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes and
part of the Atlantic Southeast District of the Church of the

 14) Think that youth aren't committed to the church? Some people
in Middle Pennsylvania District would probably disagree. Fourteen
youth there have agreed to come together once a month, attend other
special events, learn about God, and share their gifts as part of
a new effort called the Youth Ministry Team.

The project grew out of a "Youth-to-Youth" congregational
visitation program the district had tried several years ago. A
leadership team sat down last year to talk about restarting that
program and decided to take it a step further.

"We felt a leaning toward a sense of training and developing
leadership, but more importantly tapping and challenging the
spiritual side of youth," said Dave Steele, associate pastor of the
Martinsburg Memorial Church of the Brethren and a member of the
leadership team. "The more we talked, the more excited we became."

They didn't want this group to focus on programming; an existing
district youth cabinet still handles that part of the district's
youth ministry. Instead, Steele said members of this group would
focus on exploring and developing their spiritual gifts, then using
those gifts to provide ministry in local congregations.

Congregational leaders were asked to call out potential youth for
the pilot project, and more than 20 came to an initial exploration

Out of that group, 14 agreed to be part of the first team, which
began in the fall. The Youth Ministry Team has already led a
worship service at one congregation and attended a fall youth
ministry workshop on spirituality. It will be providing music at
the Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., this weekend.
Steele said that a mentoring component for the team, having one or
more adults paired with each youth in ministry, is also planned.

"I sense they're really enthusiastic about it, because it's
something different," Steele said of the youth on the team. "This
is a group that's been hungry for something spiritual, and we've
been intentional about meeting those needs with things like
worship, prayer, and singing. We wanted them to be committed to the
meetings and to one another, and they've been very good at


Newsline is produced by Walt Wiltschek, manager of news services
for the Church of the Brethren General Board, on the first, third
and fifth Friday of each month. 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 1-800-323-8039, ext.
263, or write CoBNews@AOL.Com. Newsline is available at and is archived with an index at

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home