From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update

Date Fri, 20 Dec 2002 10:33:19 EST

Date: Dec. 20, 2002
Contact: Walt Wiltschek
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103

 1) General Board funds send more than $90,000 in aid.
 2) Camp directors connect and learn at annual retreat.
 3) Ministry of Reconciliation workshop explores conflict
 4) Brethren in the news: Denomination's members, programs make
 5) Participants "preach and pray" for peace at OEPA event.
 6) A final report from the fall district conference season.
 7) Brethren bits: General secretary search, sports, and more. 

 8) McPherson College names Ronald D. Hovis its next president.

 9) Fellowship of Brethren Homes plans Forum 2003 in Lancaster, Pa.

10) General Board offers 2003 online prayer calendar.


 1) New grants from the General Board's Global Food Crisis Fund and
Emergency Disaster Fund will send more than $90,000 to support
projects in the US and the Middle East.

Accounting for more than half that total is a $50,000 allocation
from the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF). The large grant will
support the work of the Middle East Council of Churches in the
ongoing aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The funds will be used for
community development programs including health and food security,
leadership training, and income generation for impoverished people.
The funds will be distributed to multi-denominational projects
throughout the region.

Another GFCF grant will allocate $7,500 for the work of Brethren
Community Ministries in Harrisburg, Pa.--an organization operating
a thrift shop that provides low-income people with jobs and a place
to shop for affordable clothing. The building also serves as
"next-step" housing for low-income people.

The fund will also send $10,000 to La Casa of Goshen, Ind.,
supporting the agency in its work with low-income people. The grant
will assist with finding affordable housing, domestic violence
counseling, immigration/language services, a food pantry, financial
management, home-ownership education, and low-interest loans.

The first of the new Emergency Disaster Fund grants will deliver
$15,000 toward a Church World Service appeal for ongoing
humanitarian assistance in Iraq. The aid is being provided through
Mennonite Central Committee, Islamic Relief Agency, and the Iraqi
Red Crescent. The money will help to provide tents, blankets,
hygiene kits, medicine, and the shipment of approved kits.

Also allocated from the fund is $10,000 to support a Mennonite
Central Committee appeal for school rehabilitation in Iraq. This
grant will help pay for work in electrical, water, sewer,
structural, and playground repairs, along with new blackboards and
library resources.

Two dozen allocations have now been made from the Emergency
Disaster Fund in 2002, and 14 from the Global Food Crisis Fund.

 2) Directors and managers from some of the denomination's camps
and outdoor ministry centers gathered at Camp Koinonia in Cle Elum,
Wash., Nov. 17-20 for their annual retreat and meeting.

The time together included both formal sessions, on topics such as
budget building and board structure--led by former Camp Mack
executive director Becky Ball Miller--and informal recreation and
fellowship, including a day trip to the restored Bavarian village
of Leavenworth. Brethren folksinger Joseph Helfrich provided a
concert and also led music for worship.

"Too often we tend to see only what is happening within our own
camps and districts," outgoing Outdoor Ministries Association (OMA)
chair Jerriann Heiser Wenger of Camp Blue Diamond reported, "so it
is good to share ideas, joys, and concerns with others who have no
doubt dealt with some of the same issues."

OMA will host a national conference Nov. 14-16, 2003, at Camp Blue
Diamond in Petersburg, Pa.. It will feature guest speaker Yahonn
Anderson, founder of Songs & Creations Inc. and an associate pastor
specializing in youth, worship, and participation. 

The conference will be followed by the regular directors/managers
retreat Nov. 16-20. Camp Ithiel director Mike Neff will chair the
group in the coming year.

 3) Twenty people from four districts attended the annual Ministry
of Reconciliation (MoR) workshop for mediators and others with
experience or interest in conflict resolution, held Nov. 14-16 at
Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind. The group included pastors,
congregational leaders, and members of Discipleship and
Reconciliation committees.

Leaders were Jan and John Long, interim pastors of Beacon Heights
Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Bob Gross,
co-director of On Earth Peace. The weekend's primary focus was on
learning to use an understanding of personal differences in
communication and work styles to assist groups with team-building
and conflict transformation. Other sessions included an
introduction to the dynamics of congregational conflict, and a peer
review session for more experienced practitioners.

This was the fifth in a series of MoR workshops on group conflict
resolution held at Camp Mack. Next year's workshop has been
scheduled for Nov. 20-22, 2003. 

 4) Church of the Brethren members and individuals make it into the
news more often than one might expect, given the relatively small
size of the denomination. Recently, a spate of articles in a
variety of publications have highlighted Brethren at work and play.
Some of those mentions include the following:

*An article in the Dec. 6 issue of the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune
spotlights Bremen (Ind.) Church of the Brethren member Emily
Laudeman, who sang the theme song for this summer's National Youth
Conference. Laudeman, 13, was celebrating the release of her debut
CD, "Drop a Spark." Emily's father, Mark, wrote the music and
lyrics for the CD and does backup guitar and vocals. "I want people
to be able to enjoy my music, but also get the message of what I am
sending out and understand what it is about," Emily said in the
article. She credits a visit to her church by Brethren Witness
director David Radcliff with spurring her to do something to help
people in need. A portion of proceeds from the CD will benefit the
General Board's Global Food Crisis Fund.

*Brethren-founded SERRV International and its activities at the
Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., are featured in the
December issue of "Southern Living" magazine. The article notes the
Church of the Brethren's role in SERRV's creation and development
and shows photos of the SERRV gift shop in New Windsor.

*This past Monday's USA Today mentioned the auto restoration
program at "tiny" McPherson (Kan.) College and the students
involved in it in a roundup of unique programs.

*Also in USA Today, on Nov. 20 the paper did a followup article on
the miners who were trapped and eventually rescued from a flooded
mine near Somerset, Pa. The article focuses specifically on Maple
Spring Church of the Brethren member John Unger, who was among the
group of nine that was trapped. It also includes a large picture of
Unger and his wife, Sue. The Ungers will be the keynote speakers at
the Messenger Dinner at the 2003 Annual Conference in Boise, Idaho.

*The Roanoke (Va.) Times on Nov. 24 had a feature on Project WARM,
which supplies free firewood to the needy during cold weather.
Among those interviewed and photographed was project director Marc
Wilson, a member of the city's Oak Grove Church of the Brethren.
The article also notes that 10 area Church of the Brethren
congregations provide the volunteer labor for the project.

*An article in The (Baltimore) Sun earlier this month highlighted
the refugee ministry of the Westminster (Md.) Church of the
Brethren, which is hosting and helping to resettle a family from
Sudan. It included several photos of the family, as well as
Westminster member Marilyn Ebaugh, who is helping with the family's
transition. The Westminster congregation and the New Windsor
Refugee Resettlement program co-sponsored the family.

 *Among articles earlier this fall were one in The Herald-Mail
(Hagerstown, Md.), marking the 50th anniversary of Charles Green's
pastorate at the Allensville Church of the Brethren in Hedgesville,
W.Va.; one in a Twin Cities community newspaper featuring the Open
Circle congregation in Burnsville, Minn., and its work to establish
the South Suburban Center for Progressive Christianity; and a photo
of and quotes from Northview Church of the Brethren (Indianapolis)
pastors Phil and Louie Rieman in a New York Times article on war
resisters and efforts to establish a national Peace Tax Fund.

 5) More than 60 people gathered at Camp Swatara in Bethel, Pa.,
Oct. 24-27 for the "Preachin' & Prayin' for Peace: A Revival of the
Spirit" event sponsored by On Earth Peace.

The long weekend centered on themes of lamenting, reflecting,
seeking, exploring, proclaiming, and living during the various
sessions. Activities included worship, Bible study, meditation,
spiritual direction, silence, recreation, music, and creative
expression. Participants also joined with others from the area for
a peace walk at the Pennsylvania state capitol in nearby

"We may be afraid, but if God calls us, God gives us the strength
to overcome our fears," Art Gish said in one of the keynote
messages delivered during the event. "I don't know what God is
calling you to. But I know the times are urgent. And I mean
Also delivering messages were Linetta Alley, Dale Brown, Galen
Hackman, Nancy Heishman, Belita Mitchell, Jean Moyer, Nathan
Musselman, David Radcliff, Paul Roth, and Prue Yelinek. 

"One of the most important things we gained from the retreat was
the message that to be truly effective peacemakers, we must
strengthen our own personal walk with Jesus," a group from Indiana
reflected in the On Earth Peace fall newsletter. "Our personal
commitment to all the teachings and ways of Jesus, as hard or
inconvenient as they may be at times, is paramount, if we are to
rise up above the ways of the world."

 6) A report from another of this fall's 23 district conferences:
This wraps up Newsline's coverage of the 2002 district conference
season. Reports were received from 22 of the 23 districts.
 *Illinois/Wisconsin: Held Nov. 1-3 at Canton (Ill.) Church of the
Brethren with the theme "In Christ, All Things Cohere." District
moderator Willard "Duly" Dulabaum and Annual Conference moderator
Harriet Finney gave worship messages, and folk singer Joseph
Helfrich provided an evening concert and other music leadership
through the weekend. Sixty-seven of Helfrich's CDs were sold,
benefiting the Global Food Crisis Fund. Delegates approved formally
renaming Boulder Hill Church of the Brethren in Montgomery, Ill.,
as Neighborhood Church of the Brethren. They also voted to form a
committee that will study the role and function of the district
board, which could lead to a board reorganization, and passed a
district budget while noting tight financial constraints. Other
highlights included a Powerpoint presentation showing the
district's congregations and the planting of a tree to symbolize
district unity and a commitment to plant new churches.
Congregations brought small bags of soil to surround the new tree.
Vicky Matheny of the Peoria (Ill.) congregation was installed as
moderator for the coming year; Ed Garrison was called as

 7) Brethren bits: Other brief news notes from around the
denomination and elsewhere.
 *The General Board's general secretary search committee has
announced that "several" candidates have been selected to interview
for the position, following the Dec. 15 application deadline. The
committee hopes to present a final candidate at the board's March

 *Despite another stellar season, the Bridgewater (Va.) College
football team came up short in its quest for a return trip to the
Division III championship game. The Eagles lost to Trinity (Texas)
38-32 in the South Region final Dec. 7 after removing 8 inches of
snow from the Bridgewater field. Bridgewater finishes its season
11-1. . . . The Juniata women's volleyball team also came up short
of a national title this month after reaching the national Division
III Final Four in Whitewater, Wis. Juniata lost to host
Wisconsin-Whitewater, three games to two, in the semifinals,
dropping the decisive fifth game 15-13. It was the 18th national
semifinal for Juniata. Trinity (Texas) then beat Juniata in the
consolation match, 30-20, 30-23, 30-26.

 *Joel West, the oldest son of Heifer Project founder Dan West,
died Oct. 31 in Harrisonburg, Va. He was 68. Joel West, a
Manchester College graduate, pastored a Church of the Brethren
congregation in Indiana and taught psychology at Elizabethtown
(Pa.) College early in his career before teaching elsewhere.

 *The Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, Palmyra, Pa., received two
accolades recently. The home was ranked among the "best places to
work in Pennsylvania" by the state, and volunteer Jean Brandt was
honored as volunteer of the month by the Retired and Senior
Volunteer Program of Lancaster and Lebanon Counties.

 *Virlina District executive David Shumate will serve as
chair/president of the Virginia Council of Churches for 2003-2004.
The council's 58th annual assembly was held at the Bridgewater
(Va.) Church of the Brethren last month, with many Brethren
attending. West Richmond (Va.) congregation member Myron Miller was
among those presenting, on Cuban refugee resettlement, and the
Bridgewater congregation's Sanctus choir sang. 

 8) McPherson (Kan.) College has announced Ronald D. Hovis as its
next president. Hovis, currently an associate professor and chair
of the department of business at McPherson, will begin his tenure
as president on March 1. He will be the 13th person to hold that
position at the school.

Hovis' selection came after a nationwide search in which the search
committee considered about 40 candidates. The college's board of
trustees gave Hovis unanimous approval.

A 1977 McPherson graduate, Hovis served as a board of trustees
member from 1991 through 2000, and joined the faculty in 2000.
Previously he spent 23 years in human resources at Southwestern
Bell (SBC) Communications. He and his wife, Robin, have two sons,
Andrew and Tyler.

 9) The Fellowship of Brethren Homes will hold its Forum 2003 June
5-7 at Brethren Village of Lancaster, Pa., one of the
denomination's largest retirement communities.

Larry Minnix, president and CEO of American Association of Homes
and Services for the Aging, will be the keynote speaker. The event
will also include educational opportunities, idea-sharing,
recognition of achievements, tours of other Brethren homes in the
area, and developing a plan for the future of the Fellowship of
Brethren Homes. 

On the planning committee for the Forum are Brethren Village
president Gary Clouser; Paulette Buch-Miller, administrator of
Pleasant Hill Village in Girard, Ill.; Scott Puckett, president of
Brethren Retirement Village in Greenville, Ohio; and Ralph
McFadden, Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) staff for the
Fellowship of Brethren Homes.

The CEOs of Fellowship of Brethren Homes member communities will
also meet Feb. 27-28 in Elgin, Ill., to discuss the fellowship's
Shared Services program coordinated through ABC. The consultation
will address the fee/commitment structure, staff time needed, ways
to encourage more participation, and exploring areas of mutual

 10) The Church of the Brethren General Board's Brethren
Press/Communications area will offer an online prayer calendar for
2003. It is the fourth straight year a calendar has been made
available on; other General Board offices prepared
the calendar in previous years.

The 2003 calendar will focus on denominational and district
ministries and will be offered in quarterly segments. The winter
quarter is now online at Links are also
available from key pages of the site. 

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. Mary Dulabaum, Barb Sayler, Ron Lutz, Jon Kobel, and
Julie Hostetter contributed to this report.

Newsline is a free service sent only to those requesting a
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write or call 800-323-8039, ext. 263. Newsline is
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