From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update

Date Thu, 1 Apr 2004 17:53:05 EST

Date: April 2, 2004
Contact: Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103

1) Mission worker develops first-of-a-kind university course on
disabilities in Vietnam.
2) "Widening the Circle" gathering deepens spiritual roots for
living in a diverse world.
3) Christian Citizenship Seminar focuses on tension between Israel
and Palestine.
4) ABC Board reviews strategic plan, discusses realities of
providing quality ministry.
5) More than 500 attend 13th Dominican Conferencia.
6) Brethren bits: Church of the Brethren Credit Union, Brethren
Press, and more.

7) Glenn and Linda Timmons to coordinate Brethren Academy's
pastoral excellence initiative.

8) Song and Story Fest will examine conflict and conscience near
Antietam battlefield.
9) Church of the Brethren takes lead in planning Africa conference
for peace churches.

1) Mission worker develops first-of-a-kind university course on
disabilities in Vietnam.

When mission worker Grace Mishler, Goshen, Ind., a social worker by
training, developed a course in the social work department at
National Vietnam University in Ho Chi Minh City, she expected it to
be a quiet ministry of presence. But she began opening doors in a
far-reaching way for those with disabilities to take a greater role
in Vietnamese society. 

Mishler began teaching English to social work staff at the
university in 2000. Soon her knowledge about working with the
disabled and the fact that many persons in Vietnam are disabled
from the war, most often from land mines, sharpened her focus. She
was invited to develop a course, "Social Awareness of People with

In late February, General Board Global Mission Partnerships staff
Merv Keeney and Janis Pyle visited Mishler and saw the ripple
effects of a placement jointly sponsored by the General Board and
Eastern Mennonite Missions. Mishler's course "is the first time
[this has been] done in Vietnam," said the dean of social work at
the university, Tran Thi Kim Xuyen. "More than 500 third-year
students have had the opportunity to practice their social work
skills through working directly with people with disabilities.
Besides, the course enhances public awareness of people with
disabilities and their needs." Through the course, students gain
first-hand experience in what it is actually like to have one of
four impairments: hearing, sight, mobility, and intellectual

"Grace's ministry empowers those with physical challenges, which
has a healing impact on society," Keeney said. "Disabled herself,
Grace has been surprisingly successful both interpersonally, by
forming networks and encouraging local efforts, and professionally,
by developing a comprehensive social work curriculum. Perhaps, in
a small way, this project also promotes healing between our nations
and peoples."

2) "Widening the Circle" gathering deepens spiritual roots for
living in a diverse world.

"When we talk about diversity, we're not talking about some utopian
goal but a reality that is already among us. Many of us don't yet
navigate the crossing of boundaries very well! This difficult
journey is the heart of following Jesus." With these words, Bible
study leader Ched Myers captured the essence of "Widening the
Circle: Peacemaking in the Midst of Diversity," which took place
March 11-14 in La Verne, Calif.

Over 120 Brethren and friends from various faith traditions,
including students from eight universities and seminaries, attended
the third annual Organizing for Peace gathering. The event,
co-sponsored by the University of La Verne (ULV), the La Verne
Church of the Brethren, and On Earth Peace, a peace education
organization in the Church of the Brethren, was intended to deepen
the spiritual roots of faith-based peacemakers working in a world
diverse in race, class, and religion.

Speakers included Lourdes Arguelles, professor of education at
Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University; Daniel Loera, director of
Multicultural Affairs at ULV; and Muslim imam Ali Siddiqui. James
Lawson, an associate of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke about the
connection between peace and justice, asserting that peace churches
have failed to grapple with the deep spiritual evil of the $800
billion war industry and have failed to engage the politics of
Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Sunday morning worship featured
Claremont School of Theology professor Elizabeth Conde-Frazier on
the transforming power of Jesus to create shalom. 

Jubilee Troupe, an Anabaptist-based interactive arts ensemble, made
its debut at the conference. The troupe contributed sacred drama
and dance, often poignantly reflecting the feelings and dreams
expressed by conference participants. "This was a peaceful,
spiritual, and blessed event," said participant Amy Adkins, of the
Brethren Witness/Washington Office.

3) Christian Citizenship Seminar focuses on tension between Israel
and Palestine.

Tensions between Israel and Palestine formed the central focus as
nearly 100 youth and advisors met for this year's Christian
Citizenship Seminar March 20-25 in New York and Washington, D.C.

Participants came from California, the Midwest, and several East
Coast states for the event, sponsored by the General Board's
Youth/Young Adult Ministries office and the Brethren Witness/
Washington Office. The seminar examines a different theme of
current global or domestic significance each year. News of the
assassination of a Hamas leader in Israel came during the week this
year, adding a note of immediate relevance to the conversations.
Most speakers approached the issue from the Palestinian
perspective, recounting the difficulties and oppression this group
has suffered in a struggle over land that has significance to
several major religions.

Rick Polhamus, a Brethren member of Christian Peacemaker Teams
(CPT) who has spent several extended stays in the West Bank, shared
about CPT's work, his own experiences of being tear-gassed and
breaking up situations of conflict, and the need to find the people
behind the stories. "It's when we get back to being human that we
can transform things," he said. Catholic aid worker Joseph
Donnelly, a drama/music team from New York, and Brian Avery of
International Solidarity Movement also described their experiences
working among the Palestinian people, sometimes with strong
emotion. Much attention was given to the "separation barrier" being
built as a security measure and boundary through the disputed
territory; simulated security "checkpoints" even greeted
participants as they came to one session.

Other speakers included National Council of Churches general
secretary Bob Edgar, who talked about the political process in
general as well as the NCC's work on the Israel-Palestine issue
including his own recent trip to the region. He described the
situation as one of rage on one side and fear on the other. Jim
Wetekan, media director for Churches for Middle East Peace, framed
the discussion in terms of political advocacy; Washington-area
Rabbi Bruce Aft helped to express some of the Jewish/Israeli
perspective in the situation; and Imam J. Abdul-Malik gave an
outline of Islamic beliefs and practice.

"I found (the seminar) as a whole really valuable, because it
allows us to discuss world events and the Middle East," participant
Nick Kauffman of Goshen, Ind., said. "We never discuss things like
this at school. This gives us a chance to all get together and talk
about it." 

The week also featured worship in New York churches, a tour of the
United Nations, small-group discussions, a political comedy
performance by Dave Lippman, visits with congressional
representatives, and free time for exploring the two cities.

4) ABC Board reviews strategic plan, discusses realities of
providing quality ministry.

The organization's strategic plan and realities of providing
quality ministry were talking points at the Association of Brethren
Caregivers (ABC) Board meetings Mar. 19-21 in Elgin, Ill.

Kathy Reid, ABC's new executive director, led the board through a
ministry evaluation process that staff completed during a spring
retreat. The process evaluated ABC's programs and provided a forum
to suggest future directions for the agency. Following board
discussion and response to staff suggestions, Reid said the staff
will take the board's feedback and return with three to six
imperatives for ABC's programming at the fall board meeting.

Two study papers from the Fellowship of Brethren Homes exploring
the issue of uncompensated care were presented by ABC staff member
Ralph McFadden. For most Brethren-affiliated retirement centers,
the issue affects their ability to provide care to residents who no
longer have the financial resources--including private insurance,
Medicaid, and Medicare--to pay for their own care. A 2003 survey by
18 Brethren homes revealed that the combined financial loss of
uncompensated care amounted to $14,393,615. The board suggested
that the fellowship work with districts and congregations on the
Christian ethics surrounding the ministry provided by the homes,
and the need for better financial planning for older adult years.

This was the first board meeting for Reid and new board members
John Katonah, of Evanston, Ill.; David Fouts, Mayesville, W.Va.;
and Vernne Greiner, Mechanicsburg, Pa. Another first was the
attendance of Chris Bowman, Annual Conference moderator. "It is
significant that ABC Board members were able to discuss the state
of the denomination with the Annual Conference Moderator. The ABC
board believes that collaboration within the church and its
agencies will benefit us all," Reid said. Collaboration also
occurred during a report on the Ecclesiology Consultation by Wendy
McFadden, publisher for Brethren Press.

In other business, the board approved individuals and organizations
to receive awards at ABC's Annual Recognition Dinner at the 2004
Annual Conference; learned about ABC staff leading workshops on
deacon and older adult ministries this spring in Atlantic
Northeast, Michigan, Southern Ohio, and Western Plains Districts;
heard staff reports on activities for chaplains, disabilities,
Brethren-affiliated homes, and the creation of a series of
workshops about coping with fear; received a report from the
Finance Committee and created a Sustainability Committee to craft
and implement a funds development strategy. The committee will be
chaired by Wally Landes, board chair elect.

The board also received a report about Health Promotion Sunday
materials on "Healthy Faith Communities," available at The annual emphasis is May 16. This is the
first year that resources were made available solely on ABC's

5) More than 500 attend 13th Dominican Conferencia.

Record attendance was a highlight of the 13th Annual Conferencia of
Iglesia de Los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican
Republic) Feb. 19-22 in Santo Domingo. Twenty of the church's 24
congregations or preaching points sent delegates, and more than 500
people attended. The theme, "Renewed in the Same Spirit," came from
Romans 12:2.

Moderator Wilson Nova welcomed visitors from congregations in
Puerto Rico and guest preachers Ruben DeOleo and Guillermo
Encarnacion from Atlantic Northeast District. Encarnacion, director
of theological education in the DR, said, "Although it has been a
difficult year overall for Haitians, the church is one place where
Haitians and Dominicans can dwell together in unity." He pointed
out that the new moderator, Anastasia Buena, and Ernesto Mereciel,
moderator elect and pastor of the Mendoza congregation (the largest
in the conference), are both of Haitian descent. Nova, pastor of
the Bonao church plant, was elected as the new president of the

In business items, delegates approved a redesigned medical ministry
that envisions doctors traveling from a central location to hold
holistic faith-centered medical and health education clinics
organized by churches; approved guidelines for congregations
considering building projects; and approved a budget including an
increase to help churches with pastors' salaries.

6) Brethren bits: Church of the Brethren Credit Union, Brethren
Press, and more.

*The Board of Directors of the new Church of the Brethren Credit
Union expressed thanks this week to the people who for the past
several years have staffed the credit union's predecessor
organization, Brethren Employees' Credit Union (BECU). Dennis
Fisher, BECU president and CEO, concluded his service March 31, and
Stacie Wirtz and Jane Potoczny concluded their service today, April
2. As of April 1, the credit union offices were moved to a new
location within the Brethren Benefit Trust offices in Elgin, Ill.
The credit union will hold an open house at 10 a.m. April 5.
Contact the credit union at its new website,, where
membership applications and loan applications may be made online.

*The Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) seeks a full-time
administrative assistant to serve as assistant to the executive
director and other staff. The position also carries
responsibilities for administering ABC's loans and scholarship
program, maintaining all financial services, and acting as
registrar for all ABC-sponsored conferences. Applicants may contact
Mary Lou Garrison at (847) 742-5100 or e-mail

*Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has named Doug Pritchard and
Carol Rose as co-directors, to begin Sept. 1. Gene Stoltzfus has
served as director for the past 16 years. Rose, of Wichita, Kan.,
will become Operations Co-Director and Pritchard, of Toronto,
Canada, will be Program Co-Director. Rose recently completed six
years of pastoral leadership in the Mennonite Church of the Servant
in Wichita, and previously worked for 13 years with Mennonite
Central Committee in Honduras, Thailand, the Philippines, and
Lancaster, Pa. Pritchard, a member of Toronto United Mennonite
Church, is coordinator of CPT Canada, a position he has held since
the inception of the program in 1997. CPT is an ecumenical program
initiated by Brethren and Mennonite Congregations and Friends

*A planned tour of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.,
on the morning of Saturday March 20 expanded into an all-day
experience for the Maryland Boy's Choir when their bus broke down.
Volunteer hosts at the Conference Center made sure the visitors--50
boys and 16 chaperones--had a good experience, according to
Kathleen Campanella, BSC's manager of communications. To fill the
time, a generous chaperone provided each member of the group with
$20 to spend in SERRV's International Gift Shop. "The chaperone
really took `Shopping is Mission' seriously," Campanella reported.
"We also provided a place for the group to eat their bag lunches,
basketballs to burn off some energy, and a place to rehearse for
their next performance."

*The Susquehanna Valley Satellite of Bethany Theological Seminary
sponsored a Continuing Education event for pastors on March 13.
"Restoring the Soul of Ministry: Weaving Spiritual Practices in
Solitude and Community" was led by Kent Ira Groff, founding mentor
of Oasis Ministries. The retreat-seminar was conducted through
video teleconferencing between Juniata College and Elizabethtown
College. Thirty-six pastors participated.

*As a fund-raiser for Church of the Brethren disaster response, a
small group at University Park Church of the Brethren in
Hyattsville, Md., is selling prints of a photograph of Scharzenau,
Germany, and the Eder River. Church member Warren Kissinger took
the photograph during the denomination's 250th anniversary
celebration at the site of the founding of the Brethren movement.
Copies of the photograph hang in the University Park church, the
Mid-Atlantic District office, and the Young Center at Elizabethtown
(Pa.) College. Another will be auctioned at the Mid-Atlantic
District Relief Auction this spring. Cost for 11-by-14-inch
unframed prints is $20. Contact University Park Church of the
Brethren, 4413 Tuckerman St., Hyattsville, MD 20782.

*Cincinnati (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is holding a mosque tour
May 1. The one-and-a-half-hour tour, which can accommodate up to
150 people, will begin at 1 p.m. at the Islamic Center, 8092
Plantation Dr., West Chester, OH 45069. The tour will address
Islamic beliefs, the art and architecture of the mosque, and major
issues in the community. A $2 per person donation is suggested.
Women are asked to dress appropriately in pants or long skirts and
wear head coverings. For more information contact Wendy Smith at
513-947-0539 or e-mail

*The Level 1 Disaster Child Care (DCC) Training Workshop scheduled
for March 26-27 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Frederick, Md.,
has been rescheduled to Sept. 17-18 at Frederick Church of the
Brethren. Space is still available for additional participants in
the Level 1 DCC Training Workshop at the Tearcoat Church of the
Brethren in Augusta, W.Va., April 16-17. The trainings are for
volunteers interested in ministering with children following a
disaster. DCC is a ministry of the General Board. For more
information contact Helen Stonesifer, DCC coordinator, at
800-451-4407 or e-mail 

*The Middle Pennsylvania District Church of the Brethren Resource
Network Catalog is now available online. The network, which is
primarily for use within the district, provides materials and
information for ministry including print and video resources
located at the District Center for Congregational Ministry as well
as some helpful Web resources and a listing of individuals with
special ministry focus areas who are willing to assist others. Log
on to the website at either or For more information call the District
Center at 814-643-0601 or e-mail

*"Evangelism and the Progressive Church" is the theme for the
Western Regional Event sponsored by Voices for an Open Spirit
(VOS), 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on May 8 at Modesto (Calif.) Church of the
Brethren. Jim Burklo, pastor of the Sausalito Presbyterian Church
and author of "Open Christianity: Home by Another Way" will be the
presenter. Cost for the day is $25. For more information visit where VOS is described as "a network
of people who want to give voice to a progressive spirit in the
Church of the Brethren."

*"Brethren Alive 2004," a conference sponsored by the Brethren
Revival Fellowship July 23-25 at Elizabethtown College, will focus
on the theme, "The Christian Family--Under the Design of God."
Speakers are Garnet Myers, minister at Upton/Trinity Church of the
Brethren, Greencastle, Pa.; Kenneth Nell, minister at Pleasant Hill
Church of the Brethren, Spring Grove, Pa.; Mervin Keller, minister
at Lewiston (Maine) Church of the Brethren; and Craig Smith,
district executive minister of Atlantic Northeast District. The
purpose of the meeting is to gather evangelical Brethren "to
celebrate our life in Christ and encourage one another to spiritual
growth and faithfulness." Cost is $50. Contact Brethren Alive 2004,
155 Denver Rd., Denver, PA 17517.

7) Glenn and Linda Timmons to coordinate pastoral excellence

Linda and Glenn Timmons have been appointed coordinators for the
Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative of the Brethren Academy
for Ministerial Leadership, a ministry training partnership of the
General Board and Bethany Theological Seminary. As coordinators
they will provide leadership for the Vital Pastor Program and the
Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership program, made possible by
a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. They will begin in late April at
the academy offices in Richmond, Ind.

Glenn Timmons served the General Board as executive director of
Congregational Life Ministries and executive of Parish Ministries
from 1992 until his retirement in 2003. He also has pastored four
Church of the Brethren congregations. Linda Timmons has served the
Association of Brethren Caregivers as administrative assistant
since 1997, and previously served as coordinator of recruitment for
Brethren Volunteer Service, managed a SERRV gift shop, and has been
a lay minister of Christian Education at Highland Avenue Church of
the Brethren, Elgin, Ill.

To learn more about the Vital Pastor and Advanced Foundations
programs, visit
To learn more about the Lilly Endowment initiative, visit

8) Song and Story Fest will examine conflict and conscience near
Antietam battlefield.

This year's pre-Annual Conference "Song and Story Fest" family camp
will be held on the banks of the Potomac near the Antietam Civil
War battlefield. The theme will be "Gathered at the Cross-Roads of
Conflict and Conscience." On Earth Peace is a co-sponsor.

The June 27-July 2 event will be hosted by Shepherd's Spring, an
outdoor ministry center of Mid-Atlantic District. Participants will
spend most of a day at Antietam and gather in its old Dunker
meeting house to tell stories, sing, and pray. 

The family camp is for all ages and includes intergenerational
gatherings and worship; workshops for adults, children, and youth;
family time and recreation; story swaps; music making; campfires;
and a concert or folk dance. Among many others giving leadership is
Bethany Theological Seminary professor Dena Pence Frantz, who will
offer a Brethren Academy course on "Faith and Art" for which
students can receive credit. For more information e-mail Ken Kline
Smeltzer at or register online at

9) Church of the Brethren takes lead in planning Africa conference
for peace churches.

The Historic Peace Churches are planning a conference in Nairobi,
Kenya, Aug. 8-14 at the invitation of the World Council of
Churches' Decade to Overcome Violence. The conference, called "Watu
Kwa Amani" or "people of peace" in Swahili, will focus on the
question, "What does it mean to be a peace church in Africa?"
through the telling of stories of experiences of violence and the
response of the church.

The Church of the Brethren has been asked to take leadership for
the conference and Bethany Theological Seminary is hosting the
planning process. Don Miller, Bethany's emeritus professor of
Christian Education and Ethics, convenes the planning committee and
Scott Holland, associate professor of Peace Studies and
Cross-Cultural Studies, also is in the group along with
representatives of the Mennonites, the Friends, the National
Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.

Participation will be by invitation only and will include primarily
African members of the Historic Peace Churches. Miller said the
committee anticipates attendance by men and women representing
Ekklesiyar Yanuwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in
Nigeria); Friends from Rwanda, Kenya, and possibly South Africa;
and Mennonites from Ethiopia and the Congo. "It's really a
remarkable event," Miller said. The first Historic Peace Churches
conference was held in Bienenberg, Switzerland, in 2001 at the
initiative of the Mennonites. For more information visit

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, 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, Janis Pyle,
Jonathan Shively, Kim Stuckey, and Walt Wiltschek contributed to
this report.

Newsline is a free service sent only to those requesting a
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available at and is archived with an index at Also see Photo Journal at for photo coverage of events. 

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