From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update

Date Fri, 18 Jun 2004 17:25:19 EDT

Date: June 18, 2004
Contact: Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103

Newsline       June 18, 2004

"Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land...."
Genesis 13:17 

1) Don Vermilyea completes 10,000th mile of his Walk Across
2) Record number train for Ministry Summer Service.
3) Disaster grants fund storm relief, aid Sudan and Sierra Leone.
4) Puerto Rican churches hold 18th annual assembly.
5) Brethren bits: Personnel, `Pennies for Seeds,' and much more.

6) Mission staff complete terms of service in Nigeria.

7) ABC offers seminar on older adult ministry, disabilities

8) International visitors are refused visas for Annual Conference.

9) `Out of context' milestone prompts writer's reflection.

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1) Don Vermilyea completes 10,000th mile of his Walk Across

"We're calling it 10,000," said Don Vermilyea as he completed 9,999
3/4 miles of his Walk Across America. A Brethren Volunteer Service
(BVS) worker on a mission to connect Brethren gathering places by
walking to each Church of the Brethren congregation in the United
States, Vermilyea has been walking since Feb. 2, 2002. On June 15
his 10,000th mile took him through the door of a country church
just like many of those he has visited in the wide-open west--the
Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren, located on a gravel road
three miles from York, N.D.

Vermilyea's walk is sponsored by BVS and the General Board's
Brethren Witness/Washington Office. When he visits a congregation,
Vermilyea offers to preach, teach, or simply join in worship. Host
congregations provide housing and simple meals and congregation
members are invited to walk along for a few yards or a few miles.
Vermilyea takes donations to a walk fund that benefits the Global
Food Crisis Fund and the Emergency Disaster Fund.

The walk challenges Vermilyea with times of discouragement,
loneliness, and weakness, as well as times when God gives him new
strength. "When I look at it one day at a time, one step at a time,
it's easier to deal with," he said in a telephone interview.
"Sometimes I say to myself, why am I doing this?"

That kind of honesty is why the walk works, he said. Vermilyea
doesn't tailor his message--about the need for peace and justice in
this world--to the different kinds of congregations he visits or
the different types of people he meets on the way. His basic
message is clear. "God is truly great," he said. "We just need to
pay attention."

Vermilyea started walking in Tucson, Ariz.; headed west to
California; north to Oregon, Washington, and Idaho where he spent
the winter of 2002; crossed the Rocky Mountains in the summer of
2003; and visited congregations of the plains states, where he
continues to walk this summer. "I predicted the walk would take
five years and 5-10,000 miles," he said. "It's going to be a few
more," he added, as he looked forward to the next steps on a
journey that eventually will take him all the way to the east
coast. From Pleasant Valley he plans to visit Prairie Peace
Fellowship in Surrey, N.D., then will take two weeks to walk to the
Big Sky American Baptist/Brethren Church in Froid, Mont., and then
will walk 700 miles to Worthington (Minn.) Church of the Brethren.
Then he will head south again, hoping to be in south Texas in Jan.

Vermilyea is ready to retire his sixth pair of shoes, which will be
auctioned off at the Northern Plains District Conference on the
same day that his fifth pair--retired in McPherson, Kan.--will be
auctioned at the Western Plains District Conference. "The more they
get worn out, the more money they'll bring," he said.

"I ask for your prayers," he said to all who will read this
article. "This walk works by my relationship with the Lord and the
prayers of others." 

For more information call 800-323-8039 ext. 239 to hear Vermilyea's
telephone updates or log on to and click on the
keyword box to find "Walk Across America."

2) Record number train for Ministry Summer Service.

A record number of interns met in Richmond, Ind., June 5-11 for
this year's Ministry Summer Service (MSS) orientation. Some late
additions raised the total number of young adults participating to
17, the highest total in the program's nine years. The program
sponsored by the General Board's Youth/Young Adult Ministries
office gives young adults ages 18-24 an opportunity to explore
ministry options under the guidance of a mentor. Interns serve for
nine weeks in congregational or other church-related settings.

Ministry Office director Mary Jo Flory-Steury and Youth/Young Adult
Ministries director Chris Douglas led many of this year's sessions.
Faculty from Bethany Theological Seminary, Southern Ohio District
executive Mark Flory Steury, and other denominational staff
provided additional leadership. Topics addressed included Brethren
heritage, personality styles, ministerial ethics, and church
polity. The group also worshiped at Richmond Church of the
Brethren, visited the Bethany campus, and took turns leading
devotions. Mentors arrived for the final three days of the
orientation, getting to know their interns and building plans for
the summer. The week concluded with a commissioning service.

Ten female and seven male interns are participating this year. Ten
are serving in congregations, others are working with camps, on the
Youth Peace Travel Team, with youth workcamps, in the Brethren
Witness/Washington Office, and with Companeros en Ministerio of
Tijuana, Mexico.

More than 100 young adults have been part of MSS since it began in
1996. The challenge now is to secure support so the program can
continue. Underwritten by an individual donor for its first eight
years, the program now requires other funding. General Board staff
are seeking donors and funding resources.

3) Disaster grants fund storm relief, aid Sudan and Sierra Leone.

A total of $55,000 in grants from the General Board's Emergency
Disaster Fund have been given to storm relief efforts and to aid
Sudan and Sierra Leone.

A grant of $20,000 will continue funding a long-term Emergency
Response project in Poquoson, Va. The repair and rebuilding project
was begun following Hurricane Isabel, which caused extensive
coastal damage in Sept. 2003. The project is expected to continue
into 2005.

In the aftermath of a multitude of spring storms and extreme
weather across the US, an allocation of $10,000 supports a Church
World Service (CWS) appeal for aid. Since April, 520 tornadoes have
caused deaths and injuries in 14 states and Puerto Rico, and
widespread damage including the destruction of homes, power
outages, flooding, and thousands of tons of debris. The spring
storms relief effort also includes shipments of supplies from the
Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and a grant of $5,000
to fund Disaster Child Care in affected areas. The child care
program has deployed volunteers in Nebraska, following a tornado in
Hallam, and in West Virginia where four counties--Mingo, Raleigh,
Wyoming, and Logan--have had repeated flood damage.

Another $5,000 has been given to open a flood recovery project in
Greenbrief County, W.Va. Last November, storms again flooded
numerous communities that already had suffered multiple floods in
less than two years. About 19 families currently await assistance
from the Brethren volunteers who are doing repair work, Emergency
Response staff reported.

The Church of the Brethren has responded to an appeal for Sudan
with $15,000 to help displaced people in the Darfur region with
food, medicine, water, and agricultural training. Sudan is holding
peace talks to end its civil war but continues to experience
violence. "One of the worst humanitarian crises in Africa has been
unfolding in Darfur," according to the appeal from CWS, which said
that the area has suffered systematic killings, the burning of
villages, and human rights violations by militias tied to the

The Brethren fund also is supporting civil war recovery in Sierra
Leone, sending $10,000 to a community empowerment and sensitization
project for children, youth, and young workers. Following a
decade-long civil war, the grant will support a program combining
education, food production, and skills and management training as
an alternative to armed conflict.

4) Puerto Rican churches hold 18th annual assembly.

The 18th annual island-wide assembly of Church of the Brethren
congregations in Puerto Rico was held at Cristo Nuestra Paz
Fellowship in Yahuecas on June 4-5.

Opening the weekend event was a workshop on leadership led by Carol
L. Yeazell, General Board Congregational Life Team staff from Area
3-Southeast. Evening worship began with Miguel Alicea, pastor of
Rio Prieto, Iglesia de los Hermanos, preaching on the conference
theme "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that
bringeth forth his fruit in his season..." from Psa. 1:3a.

Under the leadership of Maria Otero, moderator and member of the
Vega Baja congregation, 23 delegates heard reports, voted to
recognize La Casa del Amigo, Santana Arecibo, as a fellowship, and
approve a budget. Lydia Fernandini was chosen as moderator elect.
A group from La Casa del Amigo shared about exciting work being
done in Arecibo where 25-30 young people now gather on a weekly
basis for worship, teaching, and fun in a drug-free environment.
Already the testimonies of changed lives is resulting in church
growth for this new church plant.

Wilson Novia, fraternal delegate from the Dominican Republic, gave
a report on the crises involving Haiti and the DR. No Church of the
Brethren congregation was affected directly by recent flooding on
the border of the two countries, but extended family and friends of
church members suffered losses. The Dominican Brethren are making
plans to assist with construction of 20 homes and are at work to
provide needed medical and material aid to those who have been left

Next year's annual assembly will take place in Vega Baja on June
3-4, 2005.

5) Brethren bits: Personnel, `Pennies for Seeds,' and much more.

*Leland W. Flora, director of admissions for Bethany Theological
Seminary in Richmond, Ind., has announced his resignation effective
June 30. He served Bethany just under one year. Prior to his work
at Bethany, Flora was a teacher, assistant principal, and for 27
years a personnel supervisor for the Prince William County, Va.,
public schools. He plans to enjoy more time in retirement and
volunteer activities.

*Bethany Theological Seminary announces the appointment of two
associates in the Institutional Advancement office. Theresa
Eshbach, who earlier this year announced her retirement as
executive director of Institutional Advancement, will continue in
this new capacity half time, working from her home in York County,
Pa. Fred Bernhard, pastor of Oakland Church of the Brethren in
Greenville, Ohio, will join Bethany's staff, working from his home
in Arcanum, Ohio. Bernhard and Eshbach will serve for two years as
Bethany completes its "Inspired by the Spirit, Educating for
Ministry" financial campaign.

*McPherson (Kan.) College has named Michael Schneider vice
president of advancement, a role in which he will provide
leadership for career services, communications, and development.
Schneider has served the college as director of career services
since Aug. 2002. He is a 1996 graduate of McPherson and completed
an MBA at the University of Denver.

*Bethany Theological Seminary announces an opening for director of
admissions, available immediately. The school seeks a creative
professional to help identify and encourage leaders to develop
their gifts through graduate theological education. The director of
admissions will be responsible for student development and
recruitment, will represent the seminary at off-campus events, and
travel to visit students and attend camps and conferences.
Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree with seminary experience
preferred. Understanding of the Church of the Brethren is required.
Two to five years of professional experience in a field working
with people is valuable. Applicants should demonstrate skills in
communication, listening, organization, and the ability to help
individuals discern vocational direction. Experience in
communication technology and multicultural recruitment is a plus.
Bethany is an equal opportunity employer and encourages
applications from those who can enhance the breadth and diversity
of the educational community. Submit a letter of application and
resume to the Executive Director of Student and Business Services,
Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Rd. W., Richmond, IN

*McPherson (Kan.) College is accepting applications for director of
development and director of career services. In a recent release
the college announced that it has restructured its advancement
department to replace the position of director of alumni and
community relations with a second director of development. Each
development position will provide constituent relations from a team
approach. Members of the development team will lead alumni events
and coordinate community programming. For more information contact
Michael Schneider, vice president of advancement, at 620-241-0742
ext. 1227 or e-mail

*After the children of Calvary Church of the Brethren in
Winchester, Va., collected "Pennies for Seeds" for the Global Food
Crisis Fund, someone left an anonymous donation at the church
office: a five-gallon bucket full of pennies. Karol Hottle, the
Sunday school superintendent who already had counted and wrapped
most of the $225 worth of pennies collected by the children, knew
she needed help when the bucket showed up. She took the bucket to
a bank that wrapped 207 more rolls of pennies--10,396 in all. "Our
check for Pennies for Seeds came to $332.24," she said. "We also
got two washers, one button, two foreign coins, and three paper
clips! This morning, there was a small bank envelope with more
pennies in my church box. This project not only helped the hungry,
but it got a bunch of pennies back in circulation!" Hottle wrote in
a follow-up note to General Board staff, "Next year I think we'll
do `Dollars 4 Seeds'!"

*A "19th Annual Run for Peace" and "4th Annual Walk for Peace" will
begin at 8:15 a.m. June 28 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the
Brethren. Runners and walkers will follow a course through town and
the Elizabethtown College campus. A 5K run, 10K run, and 5K walk
will be held. Registration costs $15 before June 21, then $20 until
race day. This year's beneficiaries are the Brethren Housing
Association and the Emergency Disaster Fund, according to the
church's newsletter. For more information visit

*A program on Civilian Public Service will be presented by Valley
Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, 2 p.m. June 19 at Garbers
Church of the Brethren, Harrisonburg, Va. The video "A Life of
Peace in a Time of War" will be shown followed by a discussion.
Exhibits will highlight the CPS story. Al Keim, first director of
the center and author of "The Politics of Conscience" and "The CPS
Story" is the program coordinator. For more information call

*Volunteers to help with the blood drive and a display booth at
this year's Annual Conference in Charleston, W.Va., are sought by
the General Board's Emergency Response/Service Ministries. The
blood drive will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 5 and 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
July 6, and five volunteers are needed each day to help with
registration, escort donors, and serve in the canteen. Volunteers
also are sought to staff the ER/SM booth, to greet guests and
answer questions related to the Disaster Response and Disaster
Child Care programs. Contact Diane Gosnell at 800-451-4407. 

*Helen Stonesifer and Glenn and Helen Kinsel, of the General
Board's Emergency Response/Service Ministries, attended a Region
III Disaster Child Care Reunion at the home of Jean and Carl Myers
in Sinking Spring, Pa., on June 5. Approximately 28 child care
givers attended the event from Delaware, the District of Columbia,
Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. "Everyone had
a great time of fellowship, fun, sharing disaster response pictures
and stories," reported Stonesifer.

*Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 260 is holding a potluck 6
p.m. July 31 for former BVS workers and Civilian Public Service
(CPS) workers and anyone connected to BVS or CPS in the area of
Union Bridge, Md. The potluck will be held at Union Bridge Church
of the Brethren. "We see this potluck as a wonderful opportunity
for the volunteers in training from Unit 260 to be able to connect
with people who have done similar service," said Sam Bowman,
assistant to orientation. "Please bring a covered dish to share, or
any other type of food for the potluck. There will be a short
informal time of introduction and sharing. We hope to see you

*Brethren Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement center in
Lancaster, Pa., was given attention in a Workforce Management
publication reported Ralph McFadden, staff for the Association of
Brethren Caregivers' Fellowship of Brethren Homes. Under the title,
"They Don't Retire Them, They Hire Them," Brethren Village was
commended for its policy of hiring older adults. The article noted
the leadership of David Fleming, who heads human resources.
"Because Lancaster is an older area, so is Brethren's workforce: 34
percent of its workers are over age 50," the article read in part.
"Fleming goes to senior job fairs when he stresses the many job
attributes at Brethren that surveys show are particularly important
to older workers....If workers want to spend the winter in Florida,
Brethren will be happy to employ them during the warmer months.
Knowing that health insurance can be a hot-button topic for older
workers, Brethren gives health-care coverage year-round to
part-time workers."

*The Cedars, a Church of the Brethren retirement center in
McPherson, Kan., was honored April 29 with two awards from the
Kansas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. The Cedars
received a Clinical Care Award for its risk management program,
which demonstrated significant improvement for residents in the
areas of weight, skin integrity, fall prevention, restraints,
infections, and pain. The Cedars also received a Recognition Award
that is presented to association members receiving three or fewer
nursing care deficiencies on their annual surveys. The Cedars
received only two.

*The Good Shepherd Home, a Church of the Brethren retirement center
in Fostoria, Ohio, went to extremes to make the news in May,
according to Ralph McFadden, staff of the Association of Brethren
Caregivers' Fellowship of Brethren Homes. The town newspaper ran an
article titled, "Stag wreaks havoc, injury at Good Shepherd" after
a deer jumped through a window in the home's assisted living
facility at about 3:30 a.m. on May 20, injuring two residents and
three staff members. The police and fire departments captured the
deer. The home's executive director Chris Widman noted that the
response of the home's staff to the emergency was tremendous.

*Heifer International's 60th anniversary will be celebrated June
25-27 at HI's Midwest Regional Center in Goshen, Ind. The event
will recognize the beginnings of HI in Elkhart County, where Church
of the Brethren leader Dan West first found support for a shipment
of heifers to Spain in 1944. The weekend will include educational
forums, dedication of the center, a Ken Medema concert, animal
displays at the Elkhart County fairgrounds, speakers from HI
projects around the world, a celebration banquet at Greencroft
Senior Center, and church services Sunday morning. A Dan West
monologue co-authored by his daughter, Jan Schrock, will be
performed at the banquet by Brian Kruschwitz, a former Brethren
Volunteer Service worker. Registration is required for the concert
and banquet. For more information call 574-642-3096. 

6) Mission staff complete terms of service in Nigeria.

John and Patty Crumley, mission staff of the General Board in
Nigeria, have completed their term of service and have returned to
the United States. Program volunteers Gerald and Eleanor Roller
also have returned to the US.

The Crumleys began their work in Nigeria in 1999. Patty taught
music at Hillcrest School in the town of Jos, and John filled a
variety of mission support positions including the tutoring of
students and working on buildings and grounds projects at
Hillcrest. For the past year John also has taught at the
Theological College of Northern Nigeria.

Also completing a term of service in Nigeria are Gerald and Eleanor
Roller, who have served for six months as program volunteers in the
areas of leadership training, marriage enrichment, and the Rural
Health Program.

7) ABC offers seminar on older adult ministry, disabilities

The Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) is offering "A Seminar
on Effective Ministry for, by, and with Older Adults" in
conjunction with its National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) in Lake
Junaluska, N.C., Sept. 6-8. The association also has a new
listserve for those interested in disabilities issues.

Keynote leader for the seminar will be Ted Sample, coordinator of
the Network for the Study of US Lifestyles which has focused
attention on generational research. Church of the Brethren
presenters also will provide leadership for the event, which is
designed for clergy, chaplains, retirement center personnel, social
workers, and lay leaders involved in older adult ministry. 

Clergy will receive one continuing education unit and EFSM/TRIM
students who attend may receive one ministry skills unit through
the Brethren Academy. Registration for the seminar includes
participation in NOAC. Cost is $175, $285 for EFSM/TRIM students.
For more information contact ABC staff member Scott Douglas at
800-323-8039 ext. 303.

ABC has launched a new e-mail listserve for individuals and
congregations interested in discussing disability issues and
concerns. The listserve is a ministry of the Church and Persons
with Disabilities Network. To subscribe to the list, go to and follow
the instructions.

8) International visitors are refused visas for Annual Conference.

Several international guests who were invited to attend Annual
Conference this year were not able to get visas to enter the United
States. Those denied visas include Anastasia Buena, moderator of
Iglesia de los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren) in the Dominican
Republic; her husband, pastor Isaias Pena of San Luis Iglesia de
Los Hermanos; Filibus Gwama, president of Ekklesiyar Yanuwa a
Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria); and Yohanna
Y. Balami, EYN's general secretary.

Although a July 6 insight session that was to feature the Nigerian
leadership will be canceled, an International Welcome Dinner on
July 3 will still take place with speakers Jeff and Peggy Boshart,
mission staff for economic development in the Dominican Republic.
Another July 5 evening insight session that was to be led by Buena
may still take place as well.

Haruun Ruun, executive secretary of the New Sudan Council of
Churches, will attend the Conference to speak about efforts for
peace in Sudan. He will be accompanied by Merlyn Kettering, NSCC
strategic advisor. Ruun will be at the International Welcome Dinner
and will be the featured speaker for the Global Ministries Dinner
and an insight session on July 6.

9) `Out of context' milestone prompts writer's reflection.

Nearly ten years, two churches, and four computers later, the 500th
meditation in my weekly feature "Out of Context" will appear in the
June 27 lesson of the Brethren Press curriculum "A Guide for
Biblical Studies," in the issue for June, July, and August 2004.

The feature has appeared without a break as I moved from Indiana to
Pennsylvania, traded in my Atari 800XL word processor for the first
in a series of PCs and laptops, and said goodbye to my children and
hello to the empty nest I share with my spouse, Jennie.

Each week, "Out of Context" hones in on a Bible verse to provide a
second focus to complement the lesson. The result is a meditation
built around a personal experience, a figure from Brethren history,
an observation about the natural universe, or a reminiscence about
a friend or place. In some I have written about my travels (always
on the cheap). In others I've given a glimpse of my personal life
(usually at my expense). Often I uncover some facet of the lesson
I was pretty sure was too odd for the writer assigned to the
quarter. Some are poignant, some funny, and most, I hope, are
thought provoking. All, I pray, give glory to God.

The idea for "Out of Context" was loosely based on the work of a
friend and fellow writer, Bob Baker, of Elkhart, Ind. Bob wrote a
short weekly feature called "If I Taught the Lesson" for the
Mennonite publication "The Builder." The more I thought about Bob's
feature, the more I realized I'd like to try something like it.
Julie Garber, then editor of Brethren Press, sounded intrigued. She
asked me what I wanted to call the feature. I hadn't given it a lot
of thought, but I blurted the words, "Out of Context." The name

I do a lot of writing, but nothing is as much fun as "Out of
Context." Originally the meaning of the title was my belief that
out of context comes meaning. In other words, look at the context
of a Bible verse and you'll have a better idea what the writer--and
God--was trying to say. In the end I liked the title for itself. I
was taking verses out of context and seeing where they led me.

In an interesting coincidence, both the first and the 500th "Out of
Context" accompanied lessons written by Nancy Heishman. The first
"Out of Context" was based on Matthew 3:4 and the odd appearance of
John the Baptist. I tied the verse to the theft of part of an
outdoor nativity set at the Elkhart City (Ind.) Church of the
Brethren, and how pastor David Bibbee made lemonade out of lemons
by putting a sign out front promoting an upcoming service with the
saying "The Manger Is Empty! Find Out Why!"

The 500th meditation includes a memory of a meal shared with a poor
family in Guatemala, and the reference to Melchizedek in Hebrews
5:6. The hosts of the meal were survivors of a brutal civil war and
both had lost spouses who had been murdered during the conflict.
Over a meal of black beans, rice, and corn tortillas in a cramped,
smoke-stained kitchen, I pointed out that just as Melchizedek's
lone encounter with Abraham echoed over the centuries, so our brief
encounter made a lasting impression and sharpened our desire for
ministry and service in the name of Jesus. That simple meal
prefigured the common meal we all will share at the heavenly
banquet table.

--Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
and frequently writes for Brethren publications.

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. Sam Bowman, Ralph McFadden, Marcia Shetler,
Helen Stonesifer, Walt Wiltschek, and Carol Yeazell contributed to
this report. 

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