From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update

Date Fri, 22 Aug 2003 10:38:12 EDT

Date: Aug. 22, 2003
Contact: Walt Wiltschek
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103

 1) Caring Ministries Assembly examines "Healing Out of Silence."
 2) Council answers "Clarification of Confusion" query.
 3) Ministers' Association seminar urges a fresh approach.
 4) Emergency Disaster Fund sends aid to flood-stricken Asia.
 5) Church of the Brethren delegation travels to Sudan.
 6) Disaster Child Care volunteers join in unique opportunities.
 7) Brethren bits: BBT board, Outdoor Ministries, and more.

 8) General Board seeks news director/associate editor of

 9) Mark DeVries will address Youth Ministry Workshop.
10) Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center will dedicate campus.

 1) More than 250 Brethren gathered at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of
the Brethren Aug. 14-16 to focus on "Healing Out of Silence," the
theme of this year's Caring Ministries Assembly.

The biennial event is sponsored by the Association of Brethren
Caregivers (ABC). Staff and volunteers from ABC, the Church of the
Brethren General Board, and On Earth Peace planned the event for
pastors, deacons, chaplains, and lay caregivers, focusing on
spiritual growth and practical help with caregiving issues.

Each of the three assembly worship services used a different
congregational activity to symbolize God's healing spirit and
grace. On Thursday, attendees were invited to make a silent
confession and then wash their hands with towelettes as a symbol of

In her opening message, Marjorie Thompson, who works as director of
Pathways Center for Christian Spirituality, asked Brethren to
disengage from a world obsessed with a "24/7" pace and embrace a
life that honors sabbath time. "When we take time to pray, we
witness to the reality and power of the unseen. When we rest, we
witness to the sovereign grace and care of God," Thompson said.

Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute, gave Friday
night's message. Beside a worship center replete with loaves of
bread, Edwards talked about humans' universal hunger for God and
how, through spiritual practice and faith traditions, that hunger
is satisfied. "We are going to be restless until we realize finally
the one place of rest is in God, not just as a concept but as a
living reality," Edwards said. Music and liturgical movement helped
center attendees on being attentive to God's spirit. Participants
were invited to receive a piece of bread as a symbol of Christ's
love and grace.

At Saturday night's closing worship, Deforia Lane told stories from
her life and work as associate director of the Ireland Cancer
Center and director of Music Therapy at University Hospitals of
Cleveland. She described how music can minister to people facing
life's most challenging situations. Participants experienced music
and periods of silence during the worship, which closed with an
anointing service. People went forward in pairs to tables with
candles and bowls of oil and anointed each other's hands with oil
and a special blessing.

Carol Scheppard, associate professor of philosophy and religion at
Bridgewater College, led morning Bible study. Her energetic studies
of the prophets Amos and Jeremiah explored how people of faith
approach life's problems. In looking at Amos 1-5, Scheppard
examined how people approach problems; how society can distract
them from God; and how people of faith take risks when they remain
hopeful. With Jeremiah as a model, Scheppard took participants on
a journey to recognize hope lies beyond ourselves and with God.

Each afternoon, workshops were held on a variety of caregiving
topics. Marlene Kropf, executive director of the Office of
Congregational Life for Mennonite Church USA, led four workshops in
addition to coordinating the worship experiences. Other leadership
for the 39 workshops came from Brethren agencies and professionals
or lay people involved in caregiving ministry. Between workshop
sessions, an intentional time of silence was observed to give
participants time for reflection or rest. Opportunities to
experience a labyrinth walk, tai chi, contemplative movement, a
potter's wheel in motion, or silence in watercolor were also

Twenty chaplains participated in a Chaplains' Track, which featured
two luncheons and highlighted workshops of special significance for
chaplains. At the luncheons, presentations were made by Wendy
Miller, a professor and spiritual director at Eastern Mennonite
Seminary, and Ralph McFadden, ABC staff representative for the
Brethren Chaplains Network and a former hospice chaplain.

Following the assembly, 14 people participated in a seminar offered
by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Led by Nancy
Faus and Tom Mullen, the seminar explored "Pastoral Care in Times
of Crisis."

 2) Following up on an action of this year's Annual Conference in
Boise, Idaho, the Annual Conference Council on Aug. 15 delivered an
answer to the "Query for Clarification of Confusion" sent by
Michigan District.

Delegates in Boise adopted Standing Committee's recommendation for
the query, which dealt with the 2002 Conference action on the
licensing and ordination of homosexuals. The recommendation stated
that the "concerns and questions contained in the query be received
and that the Annual Conference Council be asked to answer these

Council chair Earl Ziegler and 2004 Annual Conference moderator
Chris Bowman delivered the answer in person to Michigan District
conference, meeting at Wesleyan Conference Center in Hastings. The
Council's letter was read to delegates and others attending,
followed by a question-and-answer period.

The letter addressed the final paragraph of the query, which sought
clarification on how the 2002 Conference action "fit into previous
polity and procedures" and asked "how we shall proceed with future
licensings and ordinations." Michigan District made history, and
created controversy, in June 2002 by ordaining an openly gay man.

The response of the Council, whose responsibilities include
interpreting Annual Conference actions, said that the 2002 action
"does not contradict polity in the credentialing of persons to
ministry in the Church of the Brethren." That action, it said,
"means that no one known to be engaging in homosexual practices
will be licensed or ordained in the Church of the Brethren."
It notes the role of Annual Conference as "the final authority of
the Church of the Brethren in all matters of procedure, program,
polity, and discipline," according to denominational polity.

Other questions and concerns raised in the query are "of either a
theological or structural nature," the letter said, and require
"further discussion within the district and the entire
denomination." The Council said it would "encourage and lead" such

 3) Jeffrey Patton of Easum Bandy Associates served as keynote
speaker for this year's Ministers' Association of the Church of the
Brethren seminar, held July 9-10 in Boise, Idaho. The Ministers'
Association annually sponsors the post-Annual Conference seminar,
at which ministers can receive training from a noted speaker on
ministry-related issues. 

Easum Bandy, according to its website, is an organization whose
goals are to help "leaders organize priorities, identify goals,
innovate new strategies, and motivate congregations to address the
spiritually yearning, institutionally alienated seekers of today." 

Patton -- a late replacement after original speaker David Loughery,
also of Easum Bandy, had to withdraw -- challenged the
denomination's ministers to look at ministry in a new way and
shared the insights gained from his own years of pastoral ministry.
He shared that today's culture is vastly different than previous
cultures, and that effective ministers are those who will find new
ways to share the love and the good news of Christ.

Noting that people are familiar with "inside-the-box" thinking
(traditional styles of ministry) and with "outside-the-box"
thinking (different approaches to traditional styles of ministry),
Patton said that effective ministers today must learn to think
"beyond the box" -- taking approaches to ministry that are
radically different in this post-modern culture.

The church has been called by Christ to grow, to spread, and to
increase, he said. To do this, the church must minister in fresh
ways that have never been used or thought of before.

 4) A pair of new grants from the General Board's Emergency
Disaster Fund will send $15,000 in relief aid for flood-ravaged
regions of Asia.

One $7,500 allocation will send assistance to northeastern India,
where monsoon-induced flooding displaced more than 4.5 million
people. The funds will be used for distribution of emergency
supplies, clothing, and construction of flood shelters in the most
vulnerable areas.

The second $7,500 grant will go to southern China. Devastating
floods have displaced millions of people there, with many staying
in makeshift shelters and suffering from disease and exposure.
Future food shortages are also predicted due to crop destruction.
The funds will be used for distribution of food, medicine,
construction of homes and schools, and agricultural infrastructure.

Both grants are in response to appeals by Church World Service.
Fifteen grants have been made from the fund this year.

 5) A Church of the Brethren Faith & Advocacy delegation is
traveling to southern Sudan Aug. 22 to Sept. 6. Leading the group
are Phil and Louise Baldwin Rieman, pastors of Northview Church of
the Brethren in Indianapolis and former Sudan mission staff with
the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC).

The trip is being sponsored by the General Board's Global Mission
Partnerships office. Other group members include Amy Beery of
Indianapolis; On Earth Peace co-director Barb Sayler, of
Westminster, Md.; Kelly Burk of Richmond, Ind.; Otto Schaudel of
Leola, Pa.; and Phillip Jones, director of the General Board's
newly-combined Brethren Witness/Washington (D.C.) Office.

The visit is being coordinated in Sudan by Brethren staff Merlyn
Kettering, consultant, and Haruun Ruun, executive secretary of
NSCC, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Congregational presentations by
these participants can be arranged directly with them or by calling
Janis Pyle in the Mission Connections office at 800-323-8039.

 6) Volunteers in the Church of the Brethren General Board's
Disaster Child Care program had two unique experiences to serve in
recent weeks.

On Aug. 9, five DCC volunteers from Church of the Brethren
congregations in Indiana -- Homer and Rosetta Fry, Phyllis Davis,
Jean Ann Replogle, and Fredette Cash -- participated in a
community-wide Flood Recovery Fair, held at a Lowe's store in
Kokomo. Disaster Child Care recruited the group at the invitation
of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide care
to children of families who attended the fair.

The event, sponsored by FEMA, Indiana Voluntary Organizations
Active in Disaster (INVOAD), and Lowe's, offered a variety of
educational opportunities. Building specialists qualified to
address flood recovery issues led clinics on repair and mitigation

Then, during this past week, DCC was invited to partner with
Lutheran Disaster Response and North Border Interfaith Coalition to
provide care to young children in a camp setting. DCC volunteers
Julie Sword of Illinois an Phyllis Davis of Indiana served as camp
counselors for Camp Noah, located at Messiah Lutheran Church in
Roseau, Minn.

Camp Noah is a Christian-based program that helps continue the
emotional/spiritual healing and closure process for children
(grades K-6) affected by disaster. It combines recovery support for
children with recreation to form "a unique, spiritually uplifting,
and healing experience." A typical week of Camp Noah takes place in
the disaster-affected community, provided that the space is safe,
and -- if affected -- has recovered enough to provide a refreshing
and welcoming environment.

According to DCC coordinator Helen Stonesifer, the camp invites
children, within a day-camp setting, to process their disaster
experience by comparing it with Noah's disaster experience as
related in the Old Testament. Each day's theme includes a portion
of Noah's story. As they progress through Noah's story, the
children progress through their own story and the phases of
disaster recovery.

"Guided by trained and caring staff, children and their families
gain support by discovering that their peers share similar feelings
and fears," Stonesifer writes, "and through Christ, there is
strength and hope for the future."

 7) Brethren bits: Other brief news notes from around the
denomination and elsewhere.
 *The Brethren Benefit Trust board at its summer meeting, on July
8 in Boise, Idaho, elected Dick Pogue of Susan, Va., as board chair
for the coming year. Fred Bernhard of Arcanum, Ohio, was called as
vice chair. The BBT board next meets Nov. 21-22 in McPherson, Kan.

 *Outdoor Ministries Association (OMA) will hold its national
conference Nov. 14-16 at Camp Blue Diamond near Petersburg, Pa.
Yohann Anderson, founder of "Songs and Creations," will be the
guest speaker on the theme of "People-Friendly Group Dynamics."
Church leaders, educators, youth, camp leaders, and others
interested are invited to attend. Cost is $80 for full Friday to
Sunday registration, $45 for Saturday only, when Anderson will be
presenting. OMA's annual directors' and managers' retreat will
follow Nov. 16-21, also at Camp Blue Diamond. Their schedule will
include workshops, singing, and a trip to Juniata College.

 *A Church of the Brethren General Board Emergency Response
disaster relief project will continue in Columbus, Miss., through
September. Volunteers are rebuilding homes in a tornado recovery
effort. Emergency Response staff are investigating possible new
projects in Missouri or Illinois. Disaster response representatives
in Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia, are also staying in touch with
local organizations to determine needs for help in flood recovery.

 *The Church of the Brethren Washington Office hosted Grace
Mishler, a General Board Global Mission Partnerships mission worker
in Vietnam, Aug. 15-19. Accompanied by Brethren Volunteer Service
legislative associates Bryan Hissong and Emily Lipp, she explained
her work to congressional staff and leaders at the Library of
Congress, the National Organization on Disability, and the National
Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research. Mishler serves
as a teacher/social worker at National Vietnam University in Ho Chi
Minh City. Among her accomplishments is the creation of a course on
Social Awareness of People with Disabilities. Her placement is
jointly sponsored by the Church of the Brethren General Board and
Eastern Mennonite Missions.

 8) The Church of the Brethren General Board is seeking a
full-time director of News Services/associate editor of Messenger.
The position will be based at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Responsibilities include coordinating the receiving and
distribution of news, production of Newsline, coordinating the
press room at Annual Conference, supervising circulation and
promotion of Messenger, and preparing the Messenger news section. 

Applicants should have skill in news writing and editing, computer
technology, and other communication issues. A bachelor's degree in
a related field is required, and an active member of the Church of
the Brethren is preferred.

Interested candidates should complete a General Board application
form, submit a resume' and letter of application, and request three
references to send letters of recommendation to: Office of Human
Resources, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave.,
Elgin, IL 60120-1694. Call 800-323-8039, ext. 258; or e-mail: 

A fuller description can be found at Application
deadline is Sept. 12.

 9) Mark DeVries, a widely read author and a pastor for youth and
family ministries, will be the keynote speaker for this year's
Youth Ministry Workshop, sponsored by the General Board's
Youth/Young Adult Ministries office.

DeVries, who also served as a keynoter for the workshop in 1997,
will speak on "Family Based Youth Ministry"--the title of one of
the five books he has written. He has been on the staff of First
Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn., for 17 years.

The event will be held Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the
Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Cost is $15 and should
be mailed with registration form by Oct. 15 to Chris Douglas, 1451
Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Registration forms can be found in
the September "Source" packet or at

 10) The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center board of
directors will hold a dedication service for the center's 10-acre
campus on Sept. 7 in Harrisonburg, Va.

Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren pastor Robert Alley, who
serves as the board's president, will be the dedicatory speaker.
The event will also include a hymn sing of Brethren and Mennonite
favorites, and a tour of the hilltop site.

Plans for the "CrossRoads" project on the site include a reception
center, an 1829 Mennonite log house, a summer kitchen, a vintage
Shenandoah Valley barn, the existing 1854 Burkholder-Myers House,
a one-room school house, and a meetinghouse. The interpretive
center will aim to "bring to life the history of the Brethren and
Mennonites" through storytelling and examination of contemporary

It will be the first Brethren interpretive center in the United
States and the first religious center in the Shenandoah Valley,
according to the center's board. Plans include educational
activities for school groups, church and community groups, and
tourists, along with periodic special programs and presentations. 

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. Mary Dulabaum, Keith Hollenberg, Helen Stonesifer,
Janis Pyle, Martha Roudebush, and Elsie Holderread 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
available at and is archived with an index at Also see Photo Journal at for photo coverage of events.

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