From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update

Date Fri, 7 Dec 2001 12:45:30 EST

Date: Dec. 7, 2001
Contact: Walt Wiltschek
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103

 1) President George W. Bush is coming to New Windsor.
 2) New church in Brazil celebrates some milestones.
 3) Church of the Brethren delegates prepare to head for Iraq.
 4) Brethren take part in Decade to Overcome Violence training.
 5) Full business agenda is shaping up for Annual Conference 2002.
 6) Virginia church hosts event on "international faith."
 7) Brethren bits: Goshen, workcamps, webcasts, BVS, and more.

 1) Some high-profile guests will be visiting the Brethren Service
Center in New Windsor, Md., this weekend. At the invitation of the
American Red Cross, which has a chapter office on the center's
campus, President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush are
scheduled to attend a news conference at the center's distribution
center Saturday morning.

The event, which will be closed to the public, is expected to last
about an hour, according to an article in Friday's Baltimore Sun.
The Red Cross requested that the event be held in New Windsor since
a truck convoy of relief supplies will be leaving the distribution
center for Washington's Dulles International Airport en route to

The more than 10,000 Red Cross "gift boxes" were assembled at the
center using funds donated by American children through a special
appeal. Several hundred children will be present at the event to
visit with the president and first lady. 

Brethren Service Center staff have been busy the past few days
coordinating with White House staff and the US Secret Service to
prepare for the event. It is the first time a US president has
visited New Windsor, according to the Baltimore Sun. 

 2) The new church planting effort/mission program in southeastern
Brazil enjoyed an exciting weekend recently, with the dedication of
a new church building and the first-ever joint "conference" of the
four groups now meeting, praising God for the blessings they have
experienced in these initial months.

Less than nine months after the General Board gave the green light
to the Global Mission Partnerships project at its March meetings,
the church is already flourishing. Fellowships are meeting in the
hub city of Campinas--about an hour northwest of Sao Paulo--and the
surrounding cities of Jundiai, Indaiatuba, and Limiera.

The Indaiatuba fellowship, which has about two dozen people
attending regularly, dedicated its new building along one of the
city's main streets on Nov. 30. Pastor Nelson Gervoni, part of a
six-person team recruited by coordinator Marcos Inhauser, called it
a very special day for the church. "In an attitude of gratefulness
to God we are gathered here," Gervoni said through a translator.
Walt Wiltschek, manager of news services for the General Board,
served as guest speaker for the service, which also included a time
of food and fellowship. 

Most of the approximately 75 people currently participating in one
of the four fellowships attended the conference the following
Sunday morning, Dec. 2, at the home of one of the church members.
The day featured a celebratory worship service, a Brazilian-style
barbecue, fellowship, and recreation. 

The worship time included festive music, a time of anointing,
special prayers for several members, instruction on footwashing,
communion, and a baptism--the first in the new church. "The church
has always felt an importance to be together," Inhauser said of the
event. New General Board office of Ministry director Mary Jo
Flory-Steury brought the morning message, saying, "We celebrate
this new beginning." 

 3) A Church of the Brethren delegation heads to Iraq next week,
taking with them a pile of Christmas and Ramadan cards and a spirit
of understanding between Christians and Muslims.

Six people are taking part in the delegation, organized by the
Church of the Brethren General Board's Brethren Witness office. Mel
Lehman, author of "Children of Iraq" and a longtime activist in
Iraqi issues, will lead the delegation. Others participating are
Brethren Witness director David Radcliff, General Board chair Don
Parker, and Brethren young adults Stephanie Schaudel, Nathan
Musselman, and Chris Fitz.

The group plans to depart Monday and return Dec. 22. The tentative
schedule includes briefings by the Middle East Council of Churches
and other leaders, visits in and around Baghdad and Basra, and
dialog with clergy and church members in the cities. They will also
be delivering the 2,800-plus cards created by Brethren
congregations, groups, and individuals. More than 50 congregations
sent cards.

The trip had been in the works long before the Sept. 11 attacks in
the US but has taken on added significance since then, particularly
as American Muslims became targets for retaliation. The Church of
the Brethren has also been active in providing emergency disaster
assistance and hunger relief in Afghanistan and along the Pakistan

 4) The first Decade to Overcome Violence training event in the
Church of the Brethren took place Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Brethren
Service Center in New Windsor, Md., drawing 42 participants.

Titled "DOV23" for the denomination's 23 districts, the event
brought together representatives from each district who will help
raise awareness of and provide education about the Decade, as well
as youth who were invited to learn and share their knowledge and
experiences. The weekend included worship, sharing of ideas, and
discernment of short- and long-term plans.

The 2001-2010 period has been broken down into a series of biennial
focus areas. The current focus, "Our Brethren Peacemaking
Heritage," was celebrated and studied by the DOV23 participants via
discussion and exploration of a study/action guide called "DOVPak."
All congregations committing to the Decade will receive a DOVPak,
which also contains materials for worship, background information
on violence, a DOV history, and action ideas.

The Decade, a worldwide ecumenical effort, was accepted by the 2000
Annual Conference and officially launched this year. The General
Board's Brethren Witness office and On Earth Peace are partnering
to provide resources and information for the denomination. 

Congregations interested in becoming involved should call Decade to
Overcome Violence program assistant Laura Kreider in the Church of
the Brethren Washington Office, at 202-546-3202.

 5) New business items for the 2002 Annual Conference are quickly
piling up, with seven such items already on the list.

Among them are two separate queries on the denomination's name, one
from Northern Plains District and one from Pacific Southwest. Other
queries include one on the licensing and ordination of homosexuals
in the Church of the Brethren, coming from Northern Ohio District;
one on a "Call to Prayer," from Mid-Atlantic; and one on the duties
and relationship of moderators in the denomination's organizational

The other two items are guidelines for continuing education and for
Sabbath rest, both coming via the Pastoral Benefits and
Compensation Advisory Committee. Standing Committee will consider
each piece of new business and present a recommendation to

The lengthy list does not include old business items--such as one
looking at relations with The Brethren Church--which will return to
the 2002 Conference, or the many regular reports and elections. 

Annual Conference will be held June 29-July 3 in Louisville, Ky.
The text of each new business item to date can be found online at 

 6) The Green Hill Church of the Brethren in Salem, Va., found a
unique way to address the aftermath of Sept. 11 last month, hosting
a "Festival of International Faith." More than 90 people from area
Church of the Brethren congregations and others attended the Nov.
4 event. 

Highlighting the program was a panel discussion moderated by pastor
Doug Jones. Those serving on the panel were Kathy Cohen, rabbi at
a Temple Emanuel in Roanoke; Greg Davidson Laszakovits of the
Church of the Brethren Washington Office; David Metzler, retired
Bridgewater (Va.) College religion professor and a member of the
National Council of Churches committee on Christian-Muslim dialog;
and Darla Schumm, professor of religious studies at Hollins
University in Salem. 

Issues addressed by the panel included how faith deals with the
problem of suffering and evil, how faith values human life, how
faith responds to violence, how faith recognizes and respects other
faith traditions, the context of current terrorism and contrasting
world views, and how faith faces the globalization of opportunity.

In addition, displays and foods representing about a dozen
countries were prepared by several congregations. Jim and Dixie
Woods, congregational peace counselors at Green Hill, helped to
coordinate the event, which also received support from the Virlina
District Peace Affairs Committee.

 7) Brethren bits: Other brief news notes from around the
denomination and elsewhere.
 *A shooting spree in Goshen, Ind., Thursday afternoon took place
just about a mile from the Goshen City Church of the Brethren. A
man who had been fired at the NuWood Decorative Millwork plant
earlier in the day returned with a gun later in the day, killing
one co-worker and injuring six others before killing himself,
according to CNN. Church staff said no one from the Goshen City
congregation was involved, although Goshen mayor Al Kauffman--a
member of the church--played a key role in the response. Church
members were praying for the victims' families and all those who
were hurting in the city of about 29,000.

 *Registration for the 2002 Youth/Young Adult Ministries summer
workcamps opened Dec. 1. The online registration form is available
at the workcamps website, Preview
videos are also available for loan. For more information on
registration or the video, call Luke Croushorn in the Youth/Young
Adult office at 800-323-8039, ext. 283.

*The board of directors of Brethren Encyclopedia Inc. at its fall
meeting named Dale V. Ulrich of Bridgewater, Va., the managing
editor of Volume 4 of The Brethren Encyclopedia. Ulrich, provost
and professor of physics emeritus at Bridgewater (Va.) College,
will coordinator the work of article authors, co-editors Donald
Durnbaugh and Carl Bowman, indexer Kate Mertes, and the printers.
Volume 4 will contain new articles and update information about the
Brethren from 1980-2000, provide corrections and additions to
volumes 1-3, and supply a detailed index for all four volumes.


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, with other editions as needed.
Newsline stories may be reprinted provided that Newsline is cited
as the source.

To receive Newsline by e-mail or fax, call 800 323-8039, ext. 263,
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