“Be still, and know that I am God.” Ps. 46:10a
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) Reports from three recent district conferences.
7) Disaster Child Care volunteers join in unique opportunities.
8) Annual Conference office moves to new work schedule.
9) Brethren bits: BBT board, Outdoor Ministries, and more.
10) General Board seeks news director/associate editor of Messenger.
11) Mark DeVries will address Youth Ministry Workshop.
12) Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center will dedicate campus.
13) Camp Mack prepares to dedicate new Mission Village.
14) “Source” packet comes filled with materials for fall.
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 forgiveness.
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 available.
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 matters.”
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, following 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 discussions.
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) Reports from several Church of the Brethren district conferences held in the past month:
- Northern Plains: The conference took place Aug. 1-3 at the University of Northern Iowa using the denominational tagline, “Continuing the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together,” as the theme. Registration was 219. Jeff Neuman-Lee of the Panther Creek congregation served as moderator, and Panther Creek members provided much of the weekend’s music leadership. In business, delegates approved a 2004 district budget of $107,310; called Tim Peter as moderator-elect and elected other district leadership; approved the dissolution of the Brooklyn (Iowa) congregation; and appointed a site committee to consider options for future district conference locations. Youth and adults at the conference assembled 250 school kits to be sent to Afghanistan through Church World Service, and congregational representatives took home other bags to be filled with additional kit materials.
- Southeastern: The conference met July 25-27 at Mars Hill (N.C.) College with the theme “Standing on the Rock,” from 2 Thess. 2:15. The conference speaker was Russell Payne of Coulson Church of the Brethren in Virlina District. In business, delegates passed a budget for the coming year, approved new Southeastern District camp by-laws, and approved core value statements for the district, as follows: “1. God, the Creator makes His divine love and grace available to all humanity; 2. Based on John 14:6 Jesus Christ is the only Savior and Lord. He alone has the power to redeem lost humanity; 3. We believe in the Bible with the New Testament as our rule of faith and practice; 4. Pastor, leaders, and laity should model servant leadership under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and 5. Congregations within the district should maintain connections to the district, the denomination and the whole body of Christ.” A memorial service was held for three district pastors who died in the past year, and recognition was given to two people who completed the Christian Growth Institute and Training in Ministry (TRIM) programs. Annual Conference moderator Chris Bowman shared updates in a post-Annual Conference question-and-answer time. The theme for 2004 will be “Making Disciples,” from Matt. 28:19, with Tim Coulthard serving as moderator.
- Western Plains: Met Aug. 1-3 at University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo with the theme “Bear . . . with one another, and forgive,” from Col. 3:12-13. Ken Frantz of the Haxtun congregation served as moderator. Registration was 206, with 73 delegates. A Friday morning pre-conference dialog was moderated by On Earth Peace co-director Bob Gross. Worship speakers during the weekend were Frantz; David Smalley, pastor of the Topeka (Kan.) congregation, Keith Funk , pastor at Quinter (Kan.); and Joyce Petry, pastor of Antelope Park, Lincoln, Neb. Brief “Flights of Faith” interludes sponsored by the Decade to Overcome Violence were interspersed through the business sessions. In business, delegates recognized ordained ministers with 30 or more years of service; remembered four ministers whose lives of service ended in the past year; dealt with requests for closure of the Fredonia (Kan.), Rocky Ford (Colo.), and Verdigris (Emporia, Kan.) congregations; and approved a 2004 district budget of $145,164. Other speakers included Don Vermilyea on his Walk Across America; Anne Albright of McPherson (Kan.) on her trip to Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams; John Doran of Antelope Park (Lincoln, Neb.) on caring for God’s creation; and Sarah Hoffman of Monitor (Kan.) on her call to ministry. Several workshops were also offered. Youth spent the weekend building a playhouse under the supervision of the district disaster coordinator and helpers. It was sold at a Saturday evening auction sponsored by Projects Unlimited.
7) 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 techniques.
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.”
8) With the approval of the Annual Conference Council, Annual Conference staff will be moving to a new work schedule starting Sept. 2.
Working overlapping four-day work weeks, executive director Lerry Fogle will maintain office hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Conference assistant Rose Nolan will maintain those same hours Tuesday through Friday.
With the new schedule, staff presence in the office will be expanded each weekday, allowing more interaction with the constituency from coast to coast. The new work schedule is being implemented on a trial basis, with assessment of its success and desirability to be conducted next summer by the Council.
9) 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.
- A debriefing session for the Ministry Summer Service program took place this past week at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. General Board staff Chris Douglas and Mary Jo Flory-Steury, along with Manchester College church relations director Wendi Hutchinson, spent time in evaluation and hearing stories from the various experiences this summer. Sixteen young adults participated in the program, serving as interns in a variety of ministry settings. It is the eighth year the program has been offered.
- 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.
- Camp Mount Hermon, Tonganoxie, Kan., is nearing completion of its new multi-purpose building. The new structure is attached to the dining hall and will provide additional office and activity space.
- 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.
- Twenty Brethren traveled to the Central American country of Honduras for a 10-day learning tour in early August. Participants, including 11 youth, came from eight districts. The group traveled to a small community in the south of the country where they assisted in construction of a health clinic and received orientation to the overall social and economic situation from their host, the Christian Commission for Development. The group also visited villages assisted by Brethren development aid and toured Mayan Ruins at Copan. The leader for the experience was former Brethren Witness director David Radcliff, now working with New Community Project. Construction foreman for the group was Jim Dodd of Midland, Va., making his 10th trip to Honduras.
- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) director Gene Stoltzfus was honored for his lifelong commitment to peace work during this summer’s Mennonite Church USA biennial gathering in Atlanta, according to a release from Mennonite Mission Network. The Peace and Justice Support Network of Mennonite Church USA presented Stoltzfus with a pitcher representing “a life poured out for Jesus, our nonviolent Lord.” . . . CPT will hold a benefit concert Sept. 6 at Douglas Park Church of the Brethren in Chicago, where CPT’s headquarters is located. The concert will feature folk musician Dave Martin and other local artists. A $10 donation is suggested; proceeds will help CPT replenish legal defense funds heavily used in the past year.
- Jan Eller of Portland, Ore., has begun as the new administrator for the Church of the Brethren Womaen’s Caucus, succeeding Kara Evans of Claremont, Calif.
- The World Council of Churches (WCC) will hold its Central and Executive Committee meetings Aug. 24-Sept. 2 in Switzerland. Among discussion topics will be the need and potential for reconfiguration of the ecumenical movement for the 21st century. A major consultation on this topic will take place place Nov. 17-20 in Antelias, Lebanon. A youth consultation will also be held. WCC general secretary Konrad Raiser is spearheading the effort.
- Eastern Mennonite University is seeking a New York-based program associate for the Seminars in Trauma Awareness and Recovery (STAR) project, jointly sponsored by EMU’s Conflict Transformation Program and Church World Service. The associate will direct and manage activities of the project, which provides training in trauma and healing, justice, and peacebuilding for religious leaders in areas affected by trauma. Start date is Oct. 1. For details, contact Anthony Resto Jr., director of Human Resources, Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Rd., Harrisonburg, VA 22802-2462. Call 540-432-4108 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Lansing (Mich.) First Church of the Brethren will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a variety of events Oct. 18-19. . . . The Hooversville (Pa.) congregation will mark its 100th anniversary in its meeting place with a centennial celebration Sept. 7-14. It will include special worship services, a community wiener roast and pancake breakfast, a luncheon, a bluegrass concert, an open mic session for sharing, and a covered-dish picnic. . . . East Dayton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren will celebrate its centennial Sept. 13 with a concert and catered meal. . . . The West Charleston congregation (Tipp City, Ohio) will celebrate 100 years Sept. 12-14 with a hymn sing, entertainment and a dinner, and several special worship services.
10) 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: email@example.com.
A fuller description can be found at www.brethren.org/genbd/GeneralSecretary/Elgin.htm. Application deadline is Sept. 12.
11) 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 www.brethren.org/mrkconf.html.
12) 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 issues.
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.
13) Camp Alexander Mack of Milford, Ind., will dedicate its Mission Village, a new group of “yurts” (Mongolian huts), at 12:45 p.m. Sept. 13, during South/Central Indiana District conference. All are welcome, and a special invitation is issued to families of the missionaries recognized.
Each hut is named after a Church of the Brethren General Board missionary family that served Camp Mack on furlough or by being part of one of the Indiana districts. In each hut will be a photograph and written history of that mission couple. Families and countries served are: Homer and Marguerite (Schrock) Burke, Nigeria and Puerto Rico; Franklin Henry and Anna (Newland) Crumpacker, China; Adam and Alice (King) Ebey, India; Ira W. and Mabel (Winger) Moomauw, India; Benton and Ruby (Frantz) Rhoades, Ecuador; and Wilbur and Mary (Emmert) Stover, India.
“We want missions to become a living, breathing entity as well as an historical reference,” said Rex Miller, executive director of Camp Mack. “Mission Village is designed to encourage missions as a vocational choice,”
An interpretive brochure about the families recognized is being designed. For details, about the project or the dedication service, call Miller at 574-658-4831.
14) The September “Source” packet from the General Board Interpretation office comes stuffed with resources for events occurring throughout the fall and beyond.
Pieces enclosed include an invitation to join the Youth Day of Prayer in September, materials for the General Board’s World Mission Offering in October, a flier on November’s National Donor Sabbath, a poster for Junior High Sunday, a flier on a November youth ministry workshop, and order forms for the Advent devotional booklet from Brethren Press.
Among other contents are a folder on the 2004 Living Word Bulletin series, a listing of 2004 lectionary texts, brochures for next summer’s National Young Adult Conference and for Ministry Summer Service, a flier on auto loan rates from Brethren Employees’ Credit Union, and copies of The Seed Packet and On Earth Peace/Womaen’s Caucus newsletters.