From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update

Date Thu, 15 Apr 2004 19:05:18 EDT

Date: April 16, 2004
Contact: Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103

Newsline       April 16, 2004

"O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them
all." Psalm 104:24 

1) Brethren peacemakers return from Iraq.
2) Annual Conference Council prepares for 2004 Annual Conference.
3) Bethany Board of Trustees hears update on financial campaign,
plans for centennial.
4) Brethren grants support food needs in Sudan, aid to Iran.
5) ABC resources are now available through Brethren Press.
6) Regional conferences energize Brethren youth.
7) Determined action keeps Japanese volunteer in US.


1) Brethren peacemakers return from Iraq.

Peggy Gish and Cliff Kindy, Church of the Brethren members of
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), were in Baghdad the day the bombs
began to fall a year ago, and on March 20, the one-year 
anniversary of the beginning of the war. Both returned to the US in
late March. 

On April 13 the current CPT team left Iraq on the advice of Iraqi
colleagues. "The extremely aggressive actions of the US and
Coalition forces throughout Iraq and especially in Fallujah have
created widespread suspicion and fear," a CPT release said. "This
suspicion puts all internationals at risk." CPT is a ministry
initiated by Mennonites, Brethren, and Friends, and has had a team
in Iraq almost continuously since Oct. 2002.

Gish, of New Covenant Fellowship in Athens, Ohio, spent 11 months
of the last year and a half in Iraq, and Kindy, who attends Eel
River Community Church of the Brethren, Silver Lake, Ind., spent
ten months there. In separate interviews conducted after their
return, Kindy and Gish reflected on their work and the situation in
Iraq "then and now."

"We were there before the war with the hope that we could stop a
war," Kindy said of CPT's initial decision to place a team in Iraq.
The CPT presence, along with massive anti-war demonstrations around
the world, helped delay the war, he contends.

"We resist getting caught in the mindset of the occupation system,"
Gish said, emphasizing that CPT's spiritual resistance to the war
continues. "We refuse to accept the mindset that anyone resisting
the US occupation is a terrorist. We resist seeing either Iraqi or
US soldiers as our enemies, or believing that violence is the only
way to combat terrorism." In Iraq, Kindy espoused nonviolence to
people on all sides of the conflict including an American colonel
who befriended the CPT team and an Iraqi-Canadian physician with
plans to finance a militia. Such conversations illustrate CPT's
mission Kindy said.

Assessing the current situation, he said that the war has been
"lost in every way, except maybe for corporations who have more
business." "There are little visible signs of hope, but we hold on
to hope," Gish said. "Iraq may go through a lot more hell, but good
things are happening there too. God is raising up leadership right
now, people who have vision for rebuilding a more peaceable society
there." Gish gives credit to the many Iraqis who do not resort to
violence even though they are angry with the occupation.

Both fear the longterm effects of the war. "We're going to bring
the war home in ways we can't even think about in our nightmares,"
Kindy said. His concerns include loss of US credibility, effects of
the war on troops, and the effects of weapons made with depleted
uranium, which may include a high incidence of cancer in those
exposed and deformations of babies born in Iraq and to US veterans.
Gish's concerns focus on the continuing violence. She said that US
actions are rapidly increasing the ranks of the opposition, who in
her opinion are not terrorists or Al Qaeda "but mostly Iraqis
wanting their own autonomy and feeling desperate."

When soldiers return from Iraq, few family or friends know how to
deal with their war experiences, Kindy fears. There is a ministry
for the church in hearing the stories of the soldiers, both for
their healing and to change what is happening in Iraq, he said.
"It's going to take the soldiers and us working together."

Gish and Kindy bring questions from Iraq, for themselves and the
church. "Is it possible to walk, live, and work in a system of
horrendous overt and structural violence without being overcome by
it? How can we do it in Iraq, the US, or any other nation?" Gish
asked. Kindy wondered how peacemaking in Iraq may help Brethren
understand discipleship. "It's the kind of vision that could
attract serious followers of Jesus," he said.

Gish is writing a book about her experiences, "Iraq: A Journey of
Hope and Peace," to be published by Herald Press in early fall.
Kindy is on a speaking tour to churches. For more information call
CPT at 773-277-0253 or log on to

2) Annual Conference Council prepares for 2004 Annual Conference.

The Annual Conference Council met March 16-17 in Elgin, Ill.,
discussing a conversation hour to take place at the 2004 Annual
Conference and business items for the conference.

Lerry Fogle, executive director of Annual Conference, and Chris
Bowman, conference moderator, reported on preparations for the 2004
conference. The group discussed the structure and framework for a
conversation hour with the council, scheduled for 9-10 p.m. July 4.
The event is part of the council's response to an assignment from
the 2003 conference. "The council calls this `an initial
conversation to facilitate discussion around the broad questions in
the (Michigan) query to clarify confusion, specifically those of a
theological and structural nature,'" according to a report by Fred
Swartz, conference secretary. The query asked for clarification of
a 2002 conference action on licensing and ordination of ministers.

A revised mandate for the next Review and Evaluation Committee will
be presented to Standing Committee this year, calling for review
and evaluation of total denominational structure and program.
Previous mandates for Review and Evaluation Committees, which were
initiated in 1968 and scheduled to occur in regular ten-year
cycles, were to review only the General Board. The next cycle
begins in 2005.

The council also adopted a policy for filling unexpired terms in
conference-elected positions, first calling people who were
nominated but not elected. The full text of the policy will be sent
to Church of the Brethren agency executives for approval before it
is sent to Standing Committee this year. The group also looked at
next steps in assembling and publishing an updated manual of
organization and polity. Swartz reported that the council
anticipates that a finished manual will not be published until
after the next Review and Evaluation Committee report in 2007.
Setting next steps in an ongoing strategic planning process for
Annual Conference, the council also plans to introduce a statement
of purpose, a vision statement, and a list of core values to
Standing Committee this year.

In other business, the council will pursue the possibility of
having a consultation on ministry with the Council of District
Executives and the General Board's Office of Ministry to evaluate
policies and procedures used in the calling and credentialing of
ministers; received a report from the Inter-Agency Forum and noted
with appreciation a concerted tone of cooperation and coordination
among Church of the Brethren agencies and executives; responded to
letters appealing conference actions or policies of the Program and
Arrangements Committee; and heard a report from Bowman on his
recent trip to India.

It was the final regular meeting for two of the council's original
members: Sandy Bosserman, the elected district executive on the
council, and Harriet Finney, the 2003 conference moderator.
Finney's position spanned her three years as moderator-elect,
moderator, and immediate past moderator. Bosserman, district
executive for Missouri/Arkansas, is resigning with a year remaining
on her term, citing increased family and district responsibilities.
Annual Conference delegates will name her successor. The council
expressed appreciation to Bosserman and Finney for their
contributions over the past three years.

3) Bethany Board of Trustees hears update on financial campaign,
plans for centennial.

The Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees gathered for its
semi-annual meeting March 26-28. Highlights included a report on
Bethany's financial campaign, plans for the seminary's centennial
in 2004/2005, plans for a pastoral excellence program, and news of
a faculty member's invitation to speak at the National Press Club
in Washington, D.C.

Gifts and pledges for the financial campaign are more than $12.3
million to date, according to a release from the seminary. The
congregational phase of the campaign was launched at the 2003
Annual Conference. Congregational visits will take place in 11
districts this year, with nearly 125 volunteers providing
leadership for the visits. Special presentations will be made at
the 2004 district conferences of the remaining districts.

In other reports, committees of the board heard about events for
the centennial, with activities to begin at the 2004 Annual
Conference and more information available soon on Bethany's
website; and plans for the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence grant
received by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership from
Lilly Endowment, Inc. Linda and Glenn Timmons will coordinate the
program, which will provide pastors with two tracks for continuing
education: Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership and the Vital
Pastor program.

The board's Academic Affairs Committee received news that Scott
Holland, associate professor of Peace Studies and Cross-Cultural
Studies, has been invited to address the National Press Club this
summer. He will speak on the "Watu Kwa Amani: People of Peace"
conference Aug. 8-14 in Nairobi, Kenya, one of a series of Historic
Peace Church conferences that are part of the World Council of
Churches' Decade to Overcome Violence. Bethany's Baker Trust Fund
is a major sponsor of the conference. Other agenda included an
advisory committee for "Connections," the seminary's distributed
education program, and a self-study process by the school's
teaching and administrative faculty as part of an accreditation
review in 2006.

In other action, the board approved a budget of $2,067,280 for
2004/2005, a three percent increase from the previous year, and
chose officers for 2004/2005. Anne Reid, of Roanoke, Va., will
serve as chair; Raymond M. Donadio, Jr., Greenville, Ohio, as
vice-chair; Ed Poling, Hagerstown, Md., as secretary; Carol
Scheppard, Mount Crawford, Va., as chair for Academic Affairs; Ron
Wyrick, Harrisonburg, Va., as chair for Institutional Advancement;
and Jim Dodson, Lexington, Ky., as chair for Student and Business

The board celebrated the appointment of Nadine Pence Frantz as full
professor of theological studies, honored Theresa C. Eshbach's
service as executive director of Institutional Advancement, and
expressed appreciation to members concluding their terms of
service: John Gingrich, Claremont, Calif.; Robert Knechel, Bethany,
W.Va.; Phil Norris, Lititz, Pa.; and Jonathan Wieand, Goshen, Ind.
For more information contact the Office of Institutional
Advancement, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Rd. W.,
Richmond, IN 47374; 800-287-8822;

4) Brethren grants support food needs in Sudan, aid to Iran.

Three grants from the General Board's Global Food Crisis Fund
(GFCF) totaling $32,900 will be directed at food needs in Sudan. A
grant of $20,000 from the board's Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF)
will support earthquake recovery in the city of Bam, Iran.

The grants for Sudan will be given through the New Sudan Council of
Churches (NSCC), which is based in the south of the country. Sudan
has suffered from a decades-long civil war between the mostly
Muslim and Arab north and the mostly Christian and African south.

Nyal, an area of Sudan that has suffered the most from the civil
war, according to Ross Kane of the NSCC, will benefit from the GFCF
allocation of $12,400 to fully fund a women's gardening and
tailoring project to generate income and improve diets.

A GFCF grant of $8,500 for a women's bakery in Rumbek County in the
lake region of Bahr El Ghazel, home to a cluster of international
relief and rehabilitation programs and a population of 300,000 that
includes an influx of internally displaced people, will fully
support the construction of the bakery and a store where bread will
be sold. Women launched the project to deal with their lack of
employment, and the income generated will enable the women to meet
the needs of their families and send their children to school.

To alleviate the burden on women grinding grain and to generate
income for churches suffering from abject poverty caused by the
war, grinding mills are being built in five towns in Yei County,
southern Sudan. The project will cost $32,000, toward which GFCF is
giving $12,000. The grant was sought by the NSCC on behalf of the
Sudan Pentecostal Church, and will help construct mills and buy a
truck and fuel for use in training and supervising workers. The
income from the mills will be used for evangelism.

Responding to a Church World Service appeal, the EDF grant will
fund psycho-social assistance to the needy--especially children--in
Bam, as well as prefabricated housing and earthquake-resistant
housing for families outside the city. A devastating earthquake
Dec. 26, 2003, killed an estimated 42,000 people, injured another
30,000, left 1,800 children orphaned, and destroyed more than
two-thirds of the buildings. An initial EDF grant provided $35,000
for food, medical supplies, and blankets. "The wake of this
disaster has left many emotional scars and much humanitarian need,"
said Roy Winter, director of the board's Emergency Response
program. "The reconstruction of homes and lives will take years."

5) ABC resources are now available through Brethren Press.

The Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) and Brethren Press
have arranged for most of ABC's caring ministry resources to be
available through Brethren Press, the General Board's publishing
house. ABC provides publications and educational and faith
opportunities that encourage the church to do caring ministries as
the work of Jesus Christ.

Through the new arrangement, deacon materials, anointing supplies,
end-of-life study guides, Lafiya materials, and other resources can
be ordered from the Brethren Press Bookstore at or by calling customer service at
800-441-3712. The arrangement will allow ABC's print resources to
be more widely available. Customers will be able to make credit
card transactions and use church identification numbers when

"It just makes sense for us to partner with Brethren Press for
these types of services. With this working arrangement, we can
focus more time and energy on serving the caring ministries," said
Kathy Reid, executive director for ABC. ABC will continue to
develop caring ministries resources. Also, ABC's quarterly
publication "Caregiving" will be available solely through the ABC

6) Regional conferences energize Brethren youth.

Three regional conferences were held for Church of the Brethren
youth in late March and early April: Eastern Regional Youth
Conference (ERYC) at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College March 26-28;
Roundtable at Bridgewater (Va.) College March 26-28; and Regional
Youth Conference at McPherson (Kan.) College April 2-4. Another is
planned for this weekend, April 17-18, at Manchester College in
Indiana. The Western Regional Youth Conference, held every fourth
year, will take place Aug. 4-8 at the University of San Francisco,

About 250 senior high youth and advisors gathered for an upbeat
ERYC. Organizers emphasized a multimedia approach in exploring the
theme "Uncluttered: Letting Go...Letting God." Music from the
Brethren band "Wake-Up Call" injected additional energy. Jake
Larson of the Los Angeles-based duo "Craig & Jake Live" provided
keynote leadership for several sessions, working solo after Craig
Gross was unable to attend due to illness. Larson challenged the
youth, expressing a hope "that you leave here more excited about

Jeff Carter, pastor at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, spoke
at the Bridgewater Roundtable on the theme, "The Next Chapter...A
Future with Hope." Joseph Helfrich provided a concert on Friday
evening and led singing throughout the weekend.

Nearly 50 youth and advisors attended the McPherson event, spanning
an area from Colorado to Missouri and from the Canadian border to
Mexico. Matt Guynn of On Earth Peace and Lee Krahenbuhl of
Manchester College provided keynote leadership, focusing on the
theme "Simply." Guynn used meditative "centering prayers" as a
focus point, while challenging youth to look at priorities, the US
culture of consumerism, and the need to turn toward God. "`Simply'
is about understanding where our priorities are and letting things
fall away and reorganize themselves," he said. "It's about a
lifetime of turning. It's not just a single, one-time decision."
Krahenbuhl led singing through the weekend, culminating with the
group providing special music for McPherson Church of the
Brethren's worship Sunday morning.

Messenger editor Walt Wiltschek led an all-group session on media
messages, and a series of breakout sessions explored topics
including thinking about ministry, youth workcamps, conscientious
objection, and various aspects of simple living. Billy Jonas of
Asheville, N.C., gave a unique Saturday-evening concert, using an
assortment of unusual percussion instruments and heavily involving
the audience in being "part of the band." The weekend was organized
by McPherson staff Tracy Stoddart, Kenny Manhamo, and LaMonte

For information on the Manchester conference contact Wendi
Hutchinson at 260-982-5232 or e-mail
For more information on the western conference see the Pacific
Southwest District Youth website or contact
Dena Gilbert at 909-392-4055 or e-mail

7) Determined action keeps Japanese volunteer in US.

On Super Bowl Sunday morning Dan McFadden, director of Brethren
Volunteer Service (BVS), got a call from immigration at Dallas/Fort
Worth International Airport. Shoko Murakami, the BVS volunteer
featured on the cover of the January/February issue of the Church
of the Brethren magazine "Messenger," was being refused re-entry
following a two-week visit home to Japan. She would be deported by
the next available flight.

Immigration claimed that Murakami's $70 monthly stipend was income
not allowed by her visa, although it was the type of visa that
other BVS volunteers use every year. McFadden called Brethren House
in Washington, D.C., where Murakami lived with ten other
volunteers, to let them know she would not be arriving. Amy Adkins,
Sarah Farahat, and others would not take no for an answer, and
began making phone calls. They called Phil Jones, Brethren
Witness/Washington Office director, who called Stan Noffsinger,
Church of the Brethren general secretary, who called Bob Edgar,
general secretary of the National Council of Churches. 

Jones called David Price, congressman from North Carolina; Edgar
contacted Rush Holt, congressman from New Jersey; and phone calls
were made to the immigration office. Farahat also found numbers for
the Japanese embassy and the Department of Homeland Security in
Texas. Farahat got through to Murakami, and learned she was being
held in a small cell without pencils or paper, and was not allowed
to make calls.

That night, Murakami's case was re-examined and she was given a
temporary two-week stay, during which Annual Conference
moderator-elect Jim Hardenbrook and his congressman from Idaho,
Butch Otter, got involved as well. By 2 a.m., an exhausted Murakami
arrived at Reagan Airport to be greeted by Jones and BVS friends.

As Murakami went to her next meeting with immigration, McFadden
hoped she would be allowed to stay five months to finish her BVS
term. At the meeting Murakami learned that the immigration officer
had visited the BVS website, and was impressed. While he didn't
mention the phone calls, he acknowledged that immigration had acted
in error. Instead of giving her the five months, he gave her a full

Expressing thanks to all who intervened on Murakami's behalf,
McFadden said, "I was humbled by the strength of our volunteers and
by the quick action of church leaders and political
representatives. I was humbled by their support of Shoko, of BVS,
of the work of the church."

It took Murakami about a month to settle back in to the US, she
said. "Now I see this experience as positive," she said. "It could
have happened to anybody. I was a fortunate one even if I were
deported. I had a place to return to in my home country. Some
people don't."

Murakami learned about BVS through the World Friendship Center
(WFC) in Hiroshima, to which BVS has provided volunteer hosts for
decades. She first traveled to the US in 1997 with hibakusha,
survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. "I joined BVS to be part of
my predecessors' dream of peace," said Murakami, who is working at
the Center for Economic Justice. "I am so grateful that I can
complete my volunteer service. I realize that it is the time we
need to keep building the bridges of international understanding
and friendship, so we don't repeat the mistake again that we
learned from history."

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. Walt Wiltschek, Mary Dulabaum, Jeri S.
Kornegay, Marcia Shelter, and Fred Swartz contributed to this

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