From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update

Date Fri, 8 Aug 2003 12:23:47 EDT

Date: Aug. 8, 2003
Contact: Walt Wiltschek
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103

 1) Brethren World Assembly celebrates global ministry of Brethren.
 2) Emergency Disaster Fund sends aid to war-torn Liberia.
 3) Bethany consultation focuses on "vital practices" of church. 
 4) Brethren bits: NYAC website, Caring Ministries, Wilbur Hoover,
and more.

 5) Richard Hanley resigns as Southern Plains District executive.
 6) Joan Lowry is called as interim district administrative
secretary for Southern Plains.
 7) Camp Blue Diamond seeks full-time program director.

 8) Bridgewater members strengthen German bonds in New Windsor.

SCHEDULE NOTE: The next issue of Newsline will be sent on Aug. 22,
completing the special summer schedule. Newsline will resume its
regular first, third, and fifth Friday schedule beginning Sept. 5.

 1) A celebration of the Brethren family's historical roots and
present-day worldwide ministry marked this year's Brethren World
Assembly, held July 23-26 in Winona Lake, Ind.

About 100 people registered for the event -- sponsored by Brethren
Encyclopedia Inc. and held on the Grace College campus -- and
others came in for evening worship services. It was the third time
such an assembly has been held, and the first since 1998.

All six major denominations tracing their roots to Alexander Mack's
1708 movement were represented, and planning team member Bill
Eberly said that at least 18 recognizable branches of Brethren
exist in the United States. Brethren worldwide, he said, include at
least 600,000 members in 3,400 local congregations in 23 nations.
"We're a real force in the world!" said Eberly, a member of
Manchester Church of the Brethren, North Manchester, Ind.

Speakers from the various denominations helped to shed light on
this "Brethren Presence Around the World." Formal presentations
covered the historical roots of mission work, a survey of the
denominations and congregations existing outside the US today, the
origins of Brethren Service, and other service and outreach

"On any given Sunday, more Brethren are worshiping outside the US
than within our borders," Ashland Theological Seminary academic
dean Dale Stoffer noted. He also pointed out the increasing
opportunities for cross-cultural ministries within the US.

Church of the Brethren Nigeria missionary Tom Crago shared
statistics from the Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (Church of the
Brethren in Nigeria), which now has an average weekly worship
attendance of 133,651 and 1,002 places of worship in 16 Nigerian
states. The Maiduguri No. 1 congregation is the largest, possibly
in the world, with 2,819 members. A lack of trained pastors is the
greatest challenge, Crago said.

Worship services also carried an international flavor, with Church
of the Brethren Brazil director Marcos Inhauser and Eduardo
Rodriguez, head of the Brethren Church's South American Theological
Seminary, among the speakers. Inhauser made an impassioned appeal
for unity among Brethren and among all Christians.

"There is a special joy in us when we discover the oneness of being
in Jesus Christ," Inhauser said. "We cannot have the luxury of
being divided. We must be one. . . . If we cannot stay united to
take the bread and cup, to wash feet, to share the common meal, are
we true disciples? I fear we are not."

Inhauser also later spoke of the need for the church to be a "bird
with two wings" -- sharing the witness of the gospel of Christ on
one hand, and acting in service to meet the physical needs of the
world on the other. Without both wings, he said, the bird cannot

Additional Church of the Brethren presenters included retired
college teacher and missionary A. Ferne Baldwin, General Board
Global Mission Partnerships executive director Merv Keeney,
Brethren Volunteer Service director Dan McFadden, Brethren
Historical Library and Archives director Ken Shaffer, and Bethany
Theological Seminary Nigerian student Mbode Ndirmbita.

Harriet Finney and Chris Bowman, the 2003 and 2004 Annual
Conference moderators, respectively, served as session conveners,
and Northern Indiana District executive minister Herman Kauffman
was the Wednesday evening worship leader.

A Saturday morning "field trip" concluded the gathering, going
first to the 1882 Annual Conference site at nearby Bethany Church
of the Brethren and then to the historical murals at Camp Alexander

The next Brethren World Assembly is planned for the 300th
anniversary year in 2008, tentatively scheduled to be held in
Schwarzenau, Germany.

 2) An allocation of $10,000 from the General Board's Emergency
Disaster Fund will support a Church World Service (CWS) appeal for
humanitarian aid to Liberia. The grant will help to cover the cost
of an air shipment containing canned meat, blankets, health kits,
and Interchurch Medical Assistance clinic boxes. It is the 13th
grant from the fund in 2003.

CWS already has sent more than $150,000 in cash and materials to
Liberia this year. It is seeking additional funds to meet needs as
the crisis grows. CWS this week called on President Bush to
facilitate deployment of peacekeeping forces to help stem the
violence and to take an active role in "creating a climate that
will be conducive to bringing a permanent solution" to the
conflict. Additional details are at

The World Council of Churches made a similar appeal, asking member
churches to call on their governments to support an adequately
financed peacekeeping force in Liberia. Acting general secretary
William Temu also asked WCC members "to join churches throughout
Africa in ecumenical prayer for peace in Liberia, and to respond
generously to Liberia's urgent humanitarian and relief needs."

 3) "What are vital Brethren practices? How can these practices
bring vitality to ministry with youth and young adults?"  

Those questions were addressed by teachers and church leaders who
gathered for a consultation at Bethany Theological Seminary July
22-24. The group focused mainly on baptism, but also discussed love
feast, anointing, prayer, Bible study, congregational singing,
peacemaking, volunteer service, and simple living.  

The consultation was sponsored by the seminary's Institute for
Ministry with Youth and Young Adults. Russell Haitch, director of
the Institute and assistant professor of Christian education, says
he hopes to involve congregations in this conversation about
Brethren practices.

"We want to learn from people in churches what these practices mean
to them," Haitch says, "especially what they could or should be for
youth and young adults."

Haitch added that the Institute plans to investigate how these
church practices have "hidden power to critique and transform

Other partipants in the consultation included Susan Boyer, pastor
of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; Chris Douglas,
director of Youth/Young Adult Ministries for the General Board;
Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, director of Resource Center for Churches
in Minneapolis; Stephen Reid, academic dean of Bethany; Jonathan
Shively, coordinator of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial
Leadership; Becky Ullom, coordinator for National Young Adult
Conference for the General Board; and Dave Witkovsky, campus
minister of Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pa.

 4) Brethren bits: Other brief news notes from around the
denomination and elsewhere.
 *The website for National Young Adult Conference 2004 has made its
online debut. Visit for information about
accommodations, programming, speakers, cost, travel arrangements,
and more. To request additional NYAC promotional material, contact
Becky Ullom in the General Board's Youth/Young Adult office at
800-323-8039, ext. 286, or

 *Brethren from across the country will gather in Bridgewater, Va.,
next week for the biennial Caring Ministries Assembly. This year's
event is being held by the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren Aug.
14-16 with the theme "Healing Out of Silence." Keynote speakers and
leaders include Marjorie Thompson, Carol Scheppard, Tilden Edwards,
and Deforia Lane. . . . District conferences are being held this
weekend in Northern Ohio and Oregon-Washington. Michigan District
meets next weekend.

 *The church is mourning the death of Wilbur Hoover, who passed
away July 17 in McPherson, Kan. He was 85. Hoover served as
district executive for Western Plains District from 1971 to 1982
and later as interim district executive for Northern Plains and the
two districts then covering Missouri and Arkansas. He also pastored
several congregations, was a General Board member in the 1970s, and
served on Annual Conference Standing Committee. A memorial service
was held July 27.

 *The Association of Brethren Caregivers has created a new
volunteer position of staff assistant. Duties could include office
work, program or publications development, conference planning, or
creating and leading workshops for districts and congregations.
Responsibilities for the position will be shaped by the
individual's skills and expertise. Time of service for the position
will also vary, as this position will be coordinated through the
Brethren Volunteer Service. For more information, call ABC at

 *A July 31 Roanoke (Va.) Times article featured Matt Rucker and
his role as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker at nearby Camp
Bethel. Rucker, a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren,
Elgin, Ill., began his service at Bethel on June 18. "It seemed
like God was calling me to do this," Rucker said in the article.
"I'm learning what I really need."

 *Church World Service's "All Our Children" campaign recently sent
another $115,000 to three new projects in Iraq. Church of the
Brethren General Board special funds have been among those
supporting the efforts.

 5) Richard Hanley resigned as district executive for Southern
Plains District effective July 31. He had served in the position
since 1999. He had previously also served adjacent Western Plains
District as district executive in a joint arrangement until last

Hanley has taken a position as director of Faith in Action, a
program of Inter-Faith Ministries based in Wichita, Kan. He and his
family plan to continue living in McPherson, Kan.

 6) Joan Lowry has been called to serve as district administrative
secretary for Southern Plains District effective Aug. 1. This is a
one-year interim position while the district board considers a new
board structure and future staffing needs.

Lowry and her husband, Jim, have served the district as co-pastors
of two congregations and as managers for Camp Spring Lake. She has
served on the district board and as moderator of the district.

Through Sept. 15, Lowry can be reached at Camp Spring Lake, at
580-666-2251 or After Sept. 15, she can be
reached at her home in Norman, Okla., at 405-307-0243.	

 7) Camp Blue Diamond, the summer camp and retreat center for
Middle Pennsylvania  District, is seeking a full-time program
director. Responsibilities include summer and year-round
programming, group hosting, camp promotion, and off-season

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or equivalent,
considerable summer camp leadership experience, and excellent
writing, communication, and organizational skills. 

Compensation includes salary, housing, medical insurance, pension,
and other benefits. For an application, write or contact Camp Blue
Diamond at: PO Box 240, Petersburg, PA 16669, or 814-667-2355, or Applications will be accepted until Oct. 15. The
position begins Jan. 2, 2004. 

 8) The Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren has been
participating in an exchange with a sister church in Germany for 25
years. Every three years since 1978, members of Emmaus Lutheran
Church in Cuxhaven, Germany, have sent youth from their church to
Virginia or have hosted youth from the Bridgewater congregation.  

This year, as part of the exchange, 19 German youth and advisors
and seven members of Bridgewater spent three days at the Brethren
Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for a volunteer/learning

The group started their first full day with a tour of the center,
then worked in the SERRV pricing area and the Service Ministries
distribution center for the remainder of the day. Special
activities and presentations for the group were made by Barb
Sayler, co-director of On Earth Peace and Vickie Johnson,
communications manager of Interchurch Medical Assistance.

Jared Clem, a member of the exchange planning committee from the
Bridgewater Church of the Brethren, worked with On Earth Peace and
Brethren Service Center staff to arrange the July 21-23 experience.
Dana Cassell (Roanoke (Va.) First Church of the Brethren), a
Ministry Summer Service intern assigned to the Bridgewater
congregation, coordinated the trip to New Windsor. 

Newsline is produced by Walt Wiltschek, director 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. Kathleen Campanella and Marcia Shetler contributed
to this report.

Newsline is a free service sent only to those requesting a
subscription. To receive it by e-mail, or to unsubscribe, write or call 800-323-8039, ext. 263. Newsline is
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