From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update
Thu, 20 Feb 2003 23:50:49 EST
Date: Feb. 21, 2003
Contact: Walt Wiltschek
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103
1) Anabaptist Evangelism Council focuses on worship.
2) Christian Churches Together moves forward in faith.
3) The 2003 Youth Peace Travel Team is announced.
4) Brethren, others continue to speak out against Iraq war.
5) Committee begins task of conversation about denomination's
6) General Board takes steps against dangers of 15-passenger vans.
7) Brethren bits: BVS statistics, peace events, and more.
8) General Board announces retirements, additional staff
9) Atlantic Northeast District unveils new staffing configuration.
1) Two leading theologians explored the dynamics of worship in
today's churches as 138 people gathered for this year's Anabaptist
Evangelism Council held Feb. 14-16 in Chicago.
Robert Webber, a longtime Wheaton (Ill.) College professor who now
teaches at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in nearby Lombard,
was the featured speaker for the weekend, while prolific writer and
lecturer Martin Marty gave an opening-night keynote address.
The event, sponsored by New Life Ministries and held in conjunction
with a Council of International Anabaptist Ministries (CIM)
meeting, had as its theme "New Worship Forms for a New Millennium."
Both men, and especially Webber, looked to the scriptural and
historical roots of the church as a primary source for those new
"Everything refers to something from Christ's life," Webber said.
"Worship is essentially the gospel in motion."
Webber said the first three centuries of the early church are an
important source for inspiration as young adults and others seek
worship that is more authentic, deep, and participatory. He
suggests combining that heritage with the more experiential aspects
of contemporary worship, "converging" the best of both traditions
into what he calls an "ancient-future" approach.
He also advocates recapturing a sense of mystery and awe in
churches' worship life through rituals and symbols, directing
energy toward the growing movement of smaller house churches and
neighborhood churches, and being counter-cultural -- shaping the
world instead of the other way around. The Anabaptist churches, he
says, are primed to meet those needs.
Webber demonstrated what he taught by leading worship on the final
morning of the event, combining scripture, songs, prayer, a passing
of the peace, a storytelling-style message with discussion, and
communion. More details on his presentations can be found in the
April issue of "Agenda."
Earlier, Marty voiced his wish to let God have a voice in planning
worship, allowing room for silence and keeping the focus on
praising and experiencing God.
"The wonder of worship is that it signs -- it points to God, to the
future, to God in Christ," Marty told the group. "We don't produce
God; we offer."
Marty described the distinction between authentic worship and
"entertainment" worship as not a line, but a zone requiring
discernment and sensitivity. In any case, though, the work of God
through Jesus Christ must remain central. "You should never get in
front of a congregation without imagining that between you and them
is the cross," Marty said.
2) The Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT) movement is
taking further steps forward, with the Church of the Brethren among
those helping to lead the way.
General secretary Judy Mills Reimer of the Church of the Brethren
General Board represented the denomination as a group of nearly 60
people met Jan. 27-29 at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena,
Calif. Reimer has been serving as a member of the steering
committee for CCT, which has as its purpose statement, "To enable
churches and organizations to grow closer together in Christ in
order to strengthen our Christian witness in the world."
"We know we can be a stronger witness if we walk together," said
Reimer, who led the opening worship for the event. "I really think
there's great possibility for what this can mean."
While ecumenical groups like the National Council of Churches have
focused on peace and justice and social advocacy, Reimer said this
movement has emphasized silence, discernment, unity, and worship.
The participants and observers at the January meeting came from 30
denominations and church organizations that spanned the theological
spectrum in what Reimer called "the broadest alliance of Christians
After an intentional process of discussion and discernment, the
group decided to move forward with "Phase One" of the fledgling
effort, which had just two previous, smaller meetings.
This first phase invites churches and Christian organizations to
formally join CCT. When at least 25 churches and organizations have
joined, adequately representing the five "families" of faith
perspectives--Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Protestant,
Historic Racial/Ethnic, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic--CCT will move
into a second phase of more formal organization. The Christian
organizations can make up no more than 20 percent of the
Eventual goals include holding an annual General Assembly that
would bring together the heads of member communions and other
representatives, forums on a variety of topics, and the use of
consensus decision-making. Any actions or statements emerging from
CCT forums would be endorsed only by members choosing to sign on to
that specific item. Common actions would arise only from the
General Assembly or Steering Committee by consensus. Funding will
also be sought to cover administrative costs.
Reimer said the Church of the Brethren's ecumenical officers will
approach the officers of Annual Conference to consult on the best
process for denominational delegates to consider formally joining
CCT, either at the 2003 or 2004 Conference. She expressed optimism
that the CCT process might also help to bridge differences in the
Church of the Brethren and "bring all the voices together."
3) The 13th annual Youth Peace Travel Team has been selected.
Composing the four-person team for 2003 are Laura Stone of Kokomo
(Ind.) Church of the Brethren; Mandy Wampler of the Annville (Pa.)
congregation; Erica Schatz of South Bay Community (Redondo Beach,
Calif.); and Laura Sweitzer of Cedar Lake (Auburn, Ind.).
The foursome will spend the summer doing peace education at Church
of the Brethren camps, primarily in the Midwest. It is the third
time that the team of youth and young adults has been an all-female
group. Last year's team was the first to be all male.
The Youth Peace Travel Team is a jointly-sponsored enterprise of On
Earth Peace, Outdoor Ministries Association, and the General
Board's Brethren Witness office, Washington Office, and Brethren
4) Brethren were among those flocking to worldwide protests
against a possible war in Iraq this past weekend, while church
initiatives against war efforts also proceeded on other fronts.
News organization estimates put the total number of protesters
around the globe at more than 10 million. Some of the largest
protests occurred in Rome, London, Barcelona, and Madrid--all in
countries whose governments have come out in support of a US-led
war. About half a million joined a rally in New York, according to
European Brethren Service coordinator Kristin Flory said that many
of the 21 current Brethren Volunteer Service workers in Europe
participated in protests there. Among them was Janelle Flory, who
spoke at a kickoff rally in Germany. A group of five joined in the
protest in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In the US, meanwhile,
Brethren took part in protests held in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and
In other Iraq-related developments:
*About 125 Church of the Brethren members were among a large group
of protesters Jan. 18 in Washington, D.C., supporting a peaceful
resolution to the Iraq crisis. The Brethren contingent included a
group of 45 that traveled by bus from Pennsylvania and others who
came from Ohio, Maryland, and Indiana. The Church of the Brethren
Washington Office organized a meeting point for all the Brethren
and led the groups to the rally on the Capitol lawn. "Events like
this are important because they send a clear message that so many
people actively oppose a march toward war," Brethren participant
Stephanie Bostwick said.
*The US National Council of Churches (NCC) has organized
delegations to meet with leaders in five key European countries and
express opposition to war. Delegations of church leaders from the
United States, Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere have thus far
have met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, and the Foreign Ministry of France. Additional
visits are planned to Rome next week and to Moscow in March.
*Tensions with Iraq topped the agenda for the World Council of
Churches executive committee as it met Feb. 18-21 in Geneva,
Switzerland. Committee members were expected to examine possible
scenarios and consider the possible role of the churches and the
ecumenical movement. The WCC also announced plans for the third
annual Lenten Fast from Violence March 5-April 20, urging
congregations and individuals to "identify and dispense with one or
more elements of violence in their lives." Details are at
5) The Annual Conference study committee seeking to foster
conversation on the denomination's name has begun its work.
The committee came out of the 2002 Annual Conference in Louisville,
which addressed two queries on Denominational Name as items of new
business. The delegate body adopted a recommendation from Standing
Committee that a "study committee of five be elected by Annual
Conference to respond to the queries on denominational name by
promoting a denomination-wide dialogue and report its progress
(back to Annual Conference)."
The committee held its first meeting in mid-January at Manassas
(Va.) Church of the Brethren. "In keeping with Annual Conference
direction, we desire to foster a spirit of dialogue, promoting
understanding rather than debate," the committee said in a report.
"Through a number of means, we hope to explore over the next year
the varying understandings of the denominational name."
In coming months, information will be available on the Annual
Conference website at www.brethren.org, and a forum will be held
Saturday evening at the 2003 Annual Conference in Boise, Idaho,
using a framework for discussion designed by the committee. The
committee is also preparing questionnaires and discussion questions
to be sent to pastors, congregations, and related church agencies.
Manassas pastor Jeff Carter is serving as chair of the committee.
Other members are Alberto Gonzalez, Shirley Spire, Shawn Kirchner,
and Ben Barlow.
6) General Board Centralized Resources staff have approved a
policy to discontinue the use of 15-passenger vans for agency
business due to continuing reports of the vans' poor safety records
and warnings issued by the National Highway Transportation Safety
The General Board currently has two such vans--one in Elgin, Ill.,
and one in New Windsor, Md.--used to carry passengers, plus a few
"tool vans" used to carry disaster relief supplies. General Board
controller Dennis Kingery says the two passenger vans will soon be
traded in and replaced, while the tool vans will be phased out when
their useful life ends. Two mini-buses owned by the General Board
are of a safer design and are not affected.
The NHTSA has found that 15-passenger vans, which are often used by
churches and other community groups, are prone to rollovers due to
their design and high center of gravity. The danger is especially
high when the vans are fully loaded. NHTSA issued warnings to this
effect in 2001 and 2002.
General Board staff have been instructed not to rent 15-passenger
vans for events. The use of 15-passenger vans owned by churches and
other groups at summer workcamps is still being evaluated.
Kingery suggests that congregations and other church organizations
consider replacing the 15-passenger vans they currently have, or at
least taking steps to minimize the risk. Guidelines can be found at
www.nhtsa.dot.gov/hot/15PassVans/index.htm, or call Centralized
Resources at 800-323-8039 for more information.
7) Brethren bits: Other brief news notes from around the
denomination and elsewhere.
*Brethren Volunteer Service finished 2002 with 77 volunteers newly
placed at projects -- its highest annual total since 1994 --
according to its winter newsletter. At the end of the year, a total
of 104 volunteers were on assignments, 36 of those overseas. They
ranged in age from 18 to 76, and 21 of them were serving in at
least their second term.
*Dean Kieffaber has succeeded Richard Hart as interim district
executive for Pacific Southwest District, assisted by a team of
individuals working with regions of the district. Pacific Southwest
is continuing its search for a permanent executive.
*Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) has announced the appointment of
Judy Pehrson as director of external relations, beginning in March.
BCA also says that its new study programs in Australia and New
Zealand will be ready to begin in mid-July; another new program in
Cuba been approved.
8) The Church of the Brethren General Board has announced
additional personnel cutbacks as it continues to wrestle with a
significant budget deficit, along with several retirements that
will take effect in 2003.
The agency's Brethren Witness office, currently based in Elgin,
Ill., will be merged with the Church of the Brethren Washington
Office in Washington, D.C. The coordinating roles for those offices
will also be combined into one position, to be assumed by
Washington Office coordinator Greg Davidson Laszakovits.
David Radcliff, current director of Brethren Witness, was offered
a reconfigured communications position "designed to engage and
challenge individuals and congregations through the telling of the
General Board story," according to the General Board Human
Radcliff--who has served with the board in a variety of roles
related to peace, justice, and mission since January 1989--declined
the position and will conclude his service with the General Board
Kristin Flory, coordinator of the Brethren Service office in
Geneva, Switzerland, will go from full-time to half-time July 1 as
Brethren Volunteer Service reduces the number of volunteers it
places in Europe.
In addition, three Elgin-based staff have announced retirements,
and these changes were figured into efforts to reduce the expected
gap between income and expense in 2003. Joan Pelletier, secretary
for Congregational Life Ministries, will retire April 1 after 19
years with the agency. Howard Royer, staff for Interpretation, will
retire Aug. 29 after 50 years of service. And Glenn Timmons,
director of Congregational Life Ministries, will retire Dec. 31.
Royer began in 1953 as a volunteer, later working with youth
resources, publicity, news services, salvation and justice
ministries, as editor of Messenger, and most recently for more than
two decades in Interpretation. He has also been active in
ecumenical circles, overseen numerous productions for Annual
Conference, and received several awards for his work.
Timmons began as Parish Ministries Commission executive and
associate general secretary in October 1992, taking on the
Congregational Life role following the General Board's mid-1990s
redesign. He had previously served in several pastorates from
Maryland to California.
General secretary Judy Mills Reimer said she foresees no additional
personnel actions during her tenure, which ends with retirement in
July. General Board staff have worked at closing the remaining
budget gap through program cuts and reductions.
A search process for several of the positions left vacant by
retirement is expected to begin in the coming months.
9) Atlantic Northeast District has announced a new staffing
configuration and personnel as it seeks to meet the ministries of
the district, the denomination's largest. Four people were called
to new part-time positions on Feb. 8 by the district board and will
relate to the various board commissions:
*Beverly Anspaugh, a member of Florin (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
and former chair of the Southern Ohio District nurture commission,
will serve as director of leadership development beginning April 1.
*Aaron Martin, an ordained minister and member of the Mount Wilson
congregation in Lebanon, Pa., will become director of church
development March 1. Martin is a retired accountant and has served
as project manager of endowment and capital campaigns related to
*Sarah Young, a member of the Ephrata (Pa.) congregation, will
serve as director of youth and young adult ministry. She will begin
in a limited capacity March 1 and increase her hours after ending
her current work in teaching June 1.
*Kay Weaver, a member of the Lampeter (Pa.) congregation and a
former district stewardship commission member, will be director of
stewardship beginning this spring. She has assisted with
fund-raising efforts for several district organizations.
A director of witness is still being sought to give leadership to
the district's witness and evangelism commission. Details are
available from the district office, at 717-367-4730.
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. David Radcliff, Wendy McFadden, Howard Royer, and
Karen Roberts contributed to this report.
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