From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update

Date Thu, 6 Jun 2002 20:50:13 EDT

Date: June 7, 2002
Contact: Walt Wiltschek
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103

 1) Global Food Crisis Fund makes another large grant.
 2) New Jersey service celebrates reconciliation.
 3) Michigan board revisits controversial ordination decision.
 4) Puerto Rico Brethren hold annual assembly.
 5) Camp Colorado youth aid response to wildfires.
 6) BCA staff, students in India return safely home; future plans
 7) Mid-Atlantic Disaster Response Auction raises record amount.
 8) Brethren bits: Brethren Service Center, workcamps, and more.

 9) Ministry of Reconciliation will offer mediation workshop.

10) Pennsylvania congregation rewards student's peacemaking


 1) The General Board's Global Food Crisis Fund has made its second
large allocation in less than a month, and the Emergency Disaster
Fund is sending additional aid to flood-ravaged southwestern

The Global Food Crisis Fund's review committee recently approved a
grant of $40,000 for a Church World Service appeal supporting the
work of UNICEF in Iraq, whose economy and infrastructure have been
devastated by more than a decade of United Nations sanctions.

The funds will be used to train volunteers so that they can monitor
the health of malnourished children, teach mothers how to care for
newborns, study infant-feeding practices, and provide basic
community clinic services.

This is the seventh grant from the fund in 2002. Another recent
allocation earmarked nearly $90,000 to a variety of projects in

The Emergency Disaster Fund grant will send $20,000 to aid a Church
of the Brethren Emergency Response/Service Ministries flash flood
recovery project in Buchanan County, Va. The funds will help an
emergency team with cleanup, home repair, and possible recon-
struction of footbridges washed away in severe spring flooding.

 2) The Amwell (N.J.) Church of the Brethren, one of the oldest in
the denomination, on June 2 held a Day of Reconciliaton in
conjunction with the Brethren Church of Amwell, celebrating
cooperation between the two congregations.

Located near Philadelphia, the two churches are the only Brethren
congregations in the Garden State. They separated in the late 1800s
as part of the Church of the Brethren/Ashland Brethren split but
have worked together in recent years.

George Gallup Jr. of the Gallup Poll served as keynote speaker for
the day, and Church of the Brethren General Board general secretary
Judy Mills Reimer and Atlantic Northeast District executive Craig
Smith were among others participating in a reconciliation service.

The event came as Annual Conference prepares to consider a
Resolution on the Brethren Church, responding to an olive branch
extended by Brethren Church executive Dr. Emanuel "Buzz" Sandberg.
It calls for an attitude of repentance and reconciliation in the
brokenness that exists between the two denominations. The
resolution was accepted as a study paper last summer and is
scheduled to be considered for formal approval this year.

 3) Amid controversy over its late April decision to ordain
Skyridge Church of the Brethren member Matt Smucker, who is openly
gay, the Michigan District board met again on June 1 to revisit the
issue. An ordination service for Smucker had been scheduled for
June 9 at Skyridge, located in Kalamazoo.

Led by chair Michelle Grimm, the board began in closed session
before reconvening with more than two dozen visitors present. The
guests were given opportunity to share their viewpoints, and
several board members paraphrased what was heard to be certain it
was understood.

Further discussion followed after lunch, including consideration of
a resolution from one congregation--since joined by several
others--expressing displeasure over the board action. The board
invited the congregation to rewrite the concerns as a formal query
and resubmit it.

By late afternoon, the board returned to the original decision and
narrowly voted to suspend the ordination process for Smucker until
after guidance can be received from Annual Conference and the
Michigan District conference, which will be held Aug. 16-18. After
that time, the current board will meet to revisit the ordination

 4) The 16th annual island-wide assembly of Brethren in Puerto Rico
was held at the Vega Baja Church of the Brethren May 31 to June 1.
Under the leadership of Tim Wallace of Wallace Consultants, events
began with a special gathering of church representatives to discuss
involvement in the newly formed Building Better Lives Together Inc.
consortium within Atlantic Southeast District.

Building Better Lives Together, established by the district in
March, aims to "build a broad-based, multi-issue organization that
is capable of addressing social and economic concerns and making
necessary changes to improve the quality of life for people in
Florida and Puerto Rico." It is planned as an evangelism and
mission tool that can also address practical, financial issues. The
Puerto Rico churches and related programs expressed interest in
joining and will now go to individual congregation boards to get

Friday evening worship was led by the youth group of Vega Baja, and
Wilfredo Estrada, executive director of the Puerto Rico Biblical
Society, served as guest preacher. Several Brethren from the United
States and the Dominican Republic and ecumenical guests were also

Fausto Carrasco presided as moderator for the business sessions. A
full quorum was seated, and they voted to approve a budget of
$27,690 for the coming year. The new moderator is Lydia Otero, an
attorney and member of Vega Baja. Moderator-elect is Nilsa Rivera,
Castaner congregation. Continuing in their roles are treasurer
Ildefonso Baerga, Yahuechas, and secretary Elsa Groff, Castaner.
Also appointed was a committee to look at by-laws.

Just prior to dismissal, a closing ceremony was held to install the
newly formed board, which will be led by Nelson Sanchez of Vega

 5) The efforts of the US Forest Service helped to protect Camp
Colorado from wildfires burning in the region, and now summer
campers are giving some of their time to say thanks.

The 40 senior high youth and 10 adult staff in the camp this week
traveled to areas scorched by the Schoonover-area fire to assist
with reseeding work. The Forest Service says that quickly
establishing ground cover in the burned areas is a priority to
prevent erosion.

"Our campers are thankful that our camp was not threatened by this
forest fire," a release sent from Camp Colorado to the Forest
Service stated, "and they want to assist . . . the National Forest
Service in their recovery efforts."

The fire, which was caused by lightning, had consumed nearly 4,000
acres through May 29, according to the Forest Service. It has been
completely contained, but not before 12 cabins and outbuildings and
a bridge were lost. The fire burned within a few miles of Camp
Colorado--located near Sedalia--at one point, and large plumes of
smoke were visible. Several other wildfires continue to burn
elsewhere in the state.

Each camp during the summer performs a local service project. This
year's senior high group includes youth from Kansas, Colorado,
Texas, and Wyoming. Jerry Bowen and Andy Ullom are serving as

 6) Recent threats of violence in India, prompting a call for
Americans to evacuate the nation, came after students and staff at
the Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) study center in Cochin were
safely home.

BCA president Karen Jenkins reports that the center completed a
successful academic year in late May, after which students and BCA
Cochin director Roy Robinson returned to the United States. Jenkins
says that BCA "does not anticipate sending students to India during
the upcoming academic year" as it works with Cochin University of
Science and Technology to build a new program for science students.

A group of science faculty is scheduled to attend a BCA
International Seminar in Cochin in January 2003, and BCA plans to
host two faculty members from India during the upcoming academic
year. The BCA science program in Cochin will officially be launched
in fall 2003, with a member of the Juniata College (Huntingdon,
Pa.) physics department serving as the faculty-in-residence.

 7) The Mid-Atlantic District held its 22nd annual Disaster
Response Auction on May 4 in Westminster, Md., and had another
record year for fund-raising.

The event generated $70,000 to be donated to the Church of the
Brethren General Board's Emergency Disaster Fund, topping the 2001
record of $68,400. Strong proceeds from a quilt auction helped to
push the total upward; one quilt went for $4,000 and another for
$8,100, both exceeding the previous high for any quilt bids.

Total income from quilt sales was $37,385. The auction booklet with
advertisers and sponsors produced $12,945; the general auction,
$7,596; dinner sales, $2,000; and plant sales, $2,106.

A committee of about 20 members from the district carries out the
planning and organization for the auction; Roy Johnson and John
Laudermilch chaired the group this year. In all, hundreds of
volunteers are part of the annual effort.

 8) Brethren bits: Other brief news notes from around the
denomination and elsewhere.
 *At the annual meeting of the League of Women Voters of Carroll
County (Md.) on May 21, Brethren Service Center director Stan
Noffsinger accepted an award for outstanding international
community service on behalf of the organizations at the center. The
Shirley Chance Phillips Award was given "for the unique role the
programs of the Center have filled in providing an effective way
for citizens of the United States to respond with compassion to
global human need, over a period of more than half a century; and
for the continuing persistent efforts of the Center to fulfill the
longing of all people of goodwill for a more just and peaceable

 *The Church of the Brethren summer workcamp season begins June 16,
with a senior high workcamp to the Dominican Republic co-sponsored
by Brethren Revival Fellowship. Seven workcamps are being offered
by the General Board's Youth/Young Adult Ministry office this year
(about a third of the normal offerings, due to National Youth
Conference being held in July), with more than 150 people

 *The New Covenant Church of the Brethren, Powell, Ohio, on June 15
will host a 17-person delegation of church and community leaders
from Cuba. Member David Jehnsen is facilitating five days of
advanced nonviolence training for the group in Ohio and is holding
the June 15 event to invite the community for a nonviolence seminar
and to discuss US-Cuba relationships. Jehnsen also hopes to have a
small team be part of worship at the church on the 16th.

 9) On Earth Peace's Ministry of Reconciliation program will
sponsor a 35- to 40-hour basic mediation workshop July 15-19 in
North Manchester, Ind.

The workshop will be an intensive and participatory introduction to
the mediation process. It includes material on conflict theory,
communication, emotion and conflict, and coping with the 
unexpected. The focus will be on community mediation, which
includes family, neighbor, landlord-tenant, business, and other
types of disputes.

Co-trainers will be Bob Gross of the Ministry of Reconciliation and
Angie Briner of Education for Conflict Resolution. Gross, who is
co-director of On Earth Peace, says, "Many people have found value
in the course, even if they don't plan to do mediation themselves,
because it's a week-long immersion in a new way of thinking about

Cost for those registering through the Ministry of Reconciliation
is $175, including tuition and materials. For more information or
to register, contact Matt Guynn, On Earth Peace, 609 W. Main St.,
Richmond, IN 47374, or call 765-962-6234, or e-mail

 10) Last June in Collegeville, Pa., Skippack Church of the
Brethren pastor Larry O'Neill wanted to involve the community in an
activity that would highlight the Brethren peace stance.

O'Neill visited a church in Lancaster, Pa. that displayed a jug for
four years to help raise money to send their youth to the National
Youth Conference (NYC). When O'Neill arrived home, he started the
"Pennies for Peace" campaign based on the Lancaster church's NYC
coin collection.

Four months prior to the attacks of Sept. 11, the Skippack
congregation started collecting coins. The entire community
contributed by dropping pennies into a large plastic bear,
"Skippy--A Bear-er of Peace," which held a bumper sticker
proclaiming "Teach Peace."

Raising just over $550, Skippack created a scholarship for nearby
Perkiomen Valley High School. The Peace Award would be given to
someone who displayed the ability to "wage peace, through random
acts of kindness."

On May 16, the first annual Peace Award was presented along with
the academic and athletic awards at Perkiomen Valley's Senior
Recognition Night. School officials and teachers selected Lisa
Brunner for the award, saying they had witnessed Brunner's acts of
peacemaking throughout her high school career.
Although Brunner does not have any connections to Skippack Church
of the Brethren, she volunteered to play piano during one of the
Sunday morning services. In July, Brunner will play "Let There Be
Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Me" during Skippack's "Time
for Peace" session in the morning worship.
O'Neill has received many comments on the Peace Award and the
"Pennies for Peace" campaign. He feels that the campaign has been
well-received and would love to see other churches start the
program for their local high schools.

Continuing "Pennies for Peace," Skippack is already 20 percent
ahead of last year's donations at this time. With hopes to raise
$1,000, the church would like to create two Peace Awards for two
area high schools, Perkiomen Valley and a private Mennonite high
school. Skippack would give $500 to each recipient. "I feel real
confident that we are going to reach that goal," O'Neill said.


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. Danielle Hart, Carol Yeazell, and Kathleen
Campanella contributed to this report.

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