Newsline for Nov. 30, 2011

“God gives the desolate a home to live in” (Psalm 68:6a).

NEWS
1) Committee announces decisions regarding 2012 Annual Conference.
2) Enhancing, restructuring, and safeguarding its ministries was the focus of the BBT board’s fall meeting.
3) BBT board offers Ethos Statement to Church of the Brethren community as a guide for interaction.
4) Brethren funds jointly support relief for Horn of Africa famine.

PERSONNEL
5) BBT announces personnel changes and restructuring.

UPCOMING EVENTS
6) Brethren Academy announces upcoming courses.
7) Young adults will meet on theme, ‘Humble Yet Bold: Being the Church.’
8) Bethany Seminary invites youth to explore their call.

9) Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, Christmas events, much more.


Quote of the week: “357 families home! Couldn’t have done it without you!”–One of many thank you signs in a St. Bernard Project video thanking the Church of the Brethren and John and Mary Mueller for helping the area rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. The Muellers spent four years (March 2007-May 2011) as disaster project leaders for Brethren Disaster Ministries in Chalmette, La., in St. Bernard Parish. “Together, we have rebuilt 357 homes, trained more than 100 site supervisors, and worked with more than 31,000 volunteers. You will be remembered and missed greatly, COB!” says the caption for the video. Find it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr-xvK_kbYQ&feature=youtu.be or linked on the Church of the Brethren Facebook page at www.facebook.com/churchofthebrethren/posts/306374629380169 .


1) Committee announces decisions regarding 2012 Annual Conference.

Photo by
The logo for the 2012 Annual Conference offers a new take on the Church of the Brethren “tagline” that has been chosen as the theme of the Conference: Continuing the Work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together. Logo design by Paul Stocksdale working with Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden

At a recent meeting, the Program and Arrangements Committee of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference made a number of decisions including approval of all applications for booth space in the exhibit hall at the 2012 Conference. Among applicants was the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests (BMC).

Other decisions announced by Conference moderator Tim Harvey include a new set up for business sessions that will seat delegates at round tables, a “Continuing the Work of Jesus Wall” to stand in the business and worship hall, a service project to benefit the city of St. Louis, and the naming of Robert Neff as leader of an all-Conference Sunday school session prior to Sunday morning worship. Also, a new logo illustrating the theme, “Continuing the Work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together,” has been unveiled (see image at right).

The Program and Arrangements Committee, which includes the three Annual Conference officers, three elected members, and the Conference director as an ex-officio member, made its decision to grant BMC booth space as part of an evaluation of the 30-plus applications from church-related groups requesting space in the exhibit hall, Harvey said in a telephone interview.

The decision on BMC’s application “was based on the decision of the 2011 Annual Conference,” he said, referring to the 2011 delegate body’s action that “reaffirmed the entire 1983 Statement on Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective, and voted to continue deeper conversations concerning human sexuality outside of the query process.” Harvey specifically cited the delegates’ reaffirmation of the entire 1983 paper, which includes instruction to the church to challenge fear, hatred, and harassment of homosexual persons, and decision to continue conversation in venues outside the query process that brings items of business to the Conference.  “It is the belief of Program and Arrangements Committee that conversation and understanding of the ministries represented in the exhibit hall does take place and is affirmed as a value of the exhibit hall,” Harvey said.

Instruction for the Program and Arrangements Committee to make an evaluation of all the applications it received for exhibit space at the 2012 Conference came from the Standing Committee of district delegates, Harvey said. None of the applications were rejected, he said.

There has been lobbying in the church about the granting of a booth to BMC, Harvey acknowledged. “We received some correspondence both for and against,” he said. He stated firmly, however, that none of that correspondence was discussed at the Program and Arrangements Committee meeting. “We were deliberately trying to get out of the political realm…which is why we went back to what the Annual Conference said.”

He added that as moderator, he hopes to help the church figure out “a better way to talk with each other.” The decision to seat delegates at round tables is another step in that direction. “I’m pretty excited about it,” Harvey said. “It’s an idea that has been around for awhile.”

The concept dates back to a 2007 Conference item on “Doing Church Business” that was received by the delegates and referred to the Annual Conference Officers for implementation. Several recommendations in the document have found life over the years, Harvey noted. He hopes for some business items in 2012 to include time for small group discussion around the tables, including the reports from the Annual Conference-related agencies of the church. He also hopes delegates will sit with people they do not know, and the officers will create opportunities for delegates to find out about each other’s congregations and what is going on in churches beyond their own areas. The round tables will “really build these community groups around the hall,” he said.

Cost for the table set up is “budget neutral” he said. However, since extra cost would be incurred to change seating arrangements mid-Conference, the round tables also will be in place for worship services held in the same hall as business sessions. Due to space limitations, the tables will be provided only for delegate seating (during the business sessions), with non-delegates seated in rows of chairs.

In the business and worship hall will be the new “Continuing the Work of Jesus Wall.” The wall will be a bulletin board for participants to post affirmations in the following three categories: things they are thankful for in their own congregations, “shout outs” to Brethren ministries they are impressed with, and the names of people who should be called to ministry. Program and Arrangements Committee also hopes to set up some electronic means for people to submit affirmations and potential leadership.

The Sunday school session in advance of worship on July 12 will be led by Neff, an Old Testament scholar who is a former general secretary of the denomination, a frequent contributor to Brethren Press, and in recent years a popular speaker at National Older Adult Conference. Harvey said he hopes Neff will be able to take advantage of table groups to foster discussion and make the Bible study an interactive experience for the whole Conference.

Information about the witness to the city of St. Louis will be shared as it is available, Harvey said. The project will be in keeping with the 2008 Annual Conference query ‘Conference Witness to the Host City.” The 2012 Annual Conference takes place in St. Louis, Mo., on July 7-11 next year. For more about the Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac .

2) Enhancing, restructuring, and safeguarding its ministries was the focus of the BBT board’s fall meeting.

Photo by Patrice Nightingale
The Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) board of directors held its fall 2011 meeting in mid-November at the Village at Morrisons Cove, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Martinsburg, Pa.

New capabilities for Brethren Pension Plan members, a restructuring of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) as an organization, and the creation of a reserve fund for Brethren Foundation Charitable Gift Annuities were three of the main outcomes from the BBT board’s fall face-to-face meeting, which was held Nov. 18-19 in Martinsburg, Pa.

Each of these items will be implemented as a result of the board approving staff’s proposed 2012 budget.

“The respective changes that are on their way will allow the Brethren Pension Plan to better serve its retirees and current plan members, as well as to be more competitive at bringing in new members,” said Nevin Dulabaum, BBT president. “The changes will also reduce BBT’s overall expenses as we seek to maintain our effectiveness while utilizing some new efficiencies, and will provide Brethren Foundation protection from future liabilities. While change is never easy, I am confident that these proposals will serve the organization well.”

Total expenses for 2012 are budgeted at $4.18 million, down $58,000 (1.4 percent) from the 2011 budget and down $11,565 from BBT’s end-of-September annualized expenses. While overall expenses will be at a similar range in 2012, the story is in how the expenses will be allocated. Brethren Pension Plan is going to assume additional expenses so that it can transition to an outsourced record keeper, which will provide a number of value-added services for members and administrators including enhanced online tools for each member’s personal account and asset allocation advice. This shift will keep the plan competitive and compliant in a challenging, regulated marketplace. Meanwhile, BBT’s Insurance Services department will adopt some new efficiencies and will be slightly downsized in operations.

With the slight downsizing in operations in insurance, and with the closing of the Church of the Brethren Credit Union this past June, BBT finds itself with administrative support expenses that can be reduced. Thus, five BBT positions will be eliminated effective Dec. 16. A sixth position previously announced–a chief operating officer–will not be filled. The equivalent of a seventh position is being eliminated from BBT consulting fees. In addition to these positions, staff members combed through all budget line items, rethinking how BBT performs its work as they attempted to balance effectiveness with efficiencies. This process also resulted in BBT freezing its 2011 wages for 2012.

“Our organizational needs are changing,” Dulabaum said. “It is our responsibility to redirect expenses to meet the demands of those we serve and to fulfill internal obligations such as compliance. We are working hard to strengthen our ministries while creatively seeking new efficiencies to help bolster our operations. As we live into our new structure, we will continue to look at ways to reduce costs.”

In addition to the budget reductions, the organization will also become more streamlined in 2012. The BBT management team as of Jan. 1, 2012, will be composed of four members, and each member will carry an additional responsibility. Dulabaum will oversee communications. Scott Douglas, BBT’s vice president and director of Brethren Pension Plan, will become the director of the newly formed Employee Benefits Department, supervising all pension and insurance operations. Steve Mason, director of Brethren Foundation, will continue directing BBT’s socially responsible investing initiatives. John McGough, chief financial officer and director of investments, will become BBT’s chief compliance officer.

The other business item with financial ramifications was the board’s creation of a Charitable Gift Annuity Loss Reserve Fund, which will help offset gift annuities that have greater liabilities than assets. Mason indicated that the fund is needed to protect BFI’s assets from “underwater” gift annuities. The board also approved three additional steps that will help govern the administration of the gift annuities BBT manages; donors and intended recipient agencies will be notified of the changes by BFI staff.

Other significant actions

The BBT board affirmed its Ethos Statement for another year, with the belief that the statement that was first approved in Nov. 2008 continues to serve the organization well. The board also produced an announcement that reaffirms the Ethos Statement (see news item below). The Ethos Statement is available at www.brethrenbenefittrust.org/ideals .

The long-term strategy of Brethren Pension Plan’s Retirement Benefits Fund, the status on the search for a pension plan record keeper, and an update from the denomination’s vision committee were some of the reports received by the board.

In September, the board had heard departmental reports during a conference call. This call was designed to accommodate routine business items, which allows for more discussion about difficult issues when the group is convened in person. To this end, the board also decided not to meet at Annual Conference 2012, which would consist of a four-hour meeting following the conclusion of the conference. To conserve expenses and maximize meeting time, the board approved the concept of meeting for two days at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., over a weekend in August or early September.

The board also:
— Approved an amendment to Brethren Pension Plan’s legal plan document, which clarifies when a person shall be entitled to receive an annuity benefit.
— Retained Sterling Capital Management as its short-term investment manager for a three-year term.
— Welcomed board members Harry Rhodes and John Waggoner as the Investment Committee’s chairman and recorder; Ann Quay Davis and Carol Ann Greenwood as the Budget and Audit Review Committee’s chairwoman and recorder; and Donna Forbes Steiner and Eunice Culp as the Governance Committee’s chairwoman and recorder.
— Met with Brethren Pension Plan members and Brethren Foundation Clients at the Village at Morrisons Cove retirement community. BBT’s board members and several staff also met with Corey Jones, Bob Neff, and Linda Banaszak, senior staff members of the Village at Morrisons Cove.
— Affirmed April 21-22 as the board’s next face-to-face meeting dates, in Elgin, Ill., with a conference call to be held in late March.

(This release was provided by BBT).

3) BBT board offers Ethos Statement to Church of the Brethren community as a guide for interaction.

These are difficult times for the church. As an agency of the Annual Conference, Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust takes seriously its leadership role as it serves the church. We value and affirm the relationships that we have with individuals and entities we serve.

In November 2008, the BBT board approved an ethos statement designed to guide board members and staff in their interactions with others. In these uncertain times within the denomination and society, the BBT board reviewed and reaffirmed the statement on Nov. 19 during its fall meeting.

Christ calls us to respect and honor one another. To this end, BBT’s board and staff invite all Church of the Brethren members, congregations, and groups to consider the following statement to guide their interactions with others–

1. Embracing the spirit of God in all that we do.

2. Showing unconditional positive regard* for each other and for those we exist to serve.

3. Equipping ourselves to fulfill our individual and collective responsibilities.

4. Empowering one another.

5. Exhibiting a commitment to serve.

6. Being accountable, individually and corporately, with each other and with those we exist to serve.

7. Operating in a transparent and collaborative manner.

* Unconditional positive regard, a concept developed by Carl Rogers, is when one person is completely accepting of another, modeling an attitude that is demonstrated through behavior.

(This release was provided by BBT).

4) Brethren funds jointly support relief for Horn of Africa famine.

Paul Jeffrey, ACT Alliance
Refugees and workers for the ACT Alliance pitch tents in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya. Tens of thousands of refugees have fled drought-stricken Somalia in recent weeks, swelling what was already the world’s largest refugee settlement.

Two new grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) have been given to help hundreds of thousands of people affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa. The EDF grant of $40,000 and the GFCF grant of $25,000 follow up on two previous grants in the same amounts made in August.

The region most affected is southern Somalia, which has had the first true famine of the 21st century, caused by the worst drought to hit northeast Africa in 60 years. Areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Eritrea also have experienced severe drought. It is estimated that more than 13 million people are affected.

Not all countries in drought have experienced famine. Famine is defined by several measures of the severity of lack of food, such as more than 3 in 10 children are acutely malnourished, more than 2 of every 10,000 people die in a day, 1 in 5 people are unable to access basic foods. On July 20 the United Nations declared Somalia to be suffering famine. Since then, famine conditions spread into six areas of southern Somalia.

In news shared recently by Ecumenical News International, the movement of migrants has greatly lessened to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, just across the border from Somalia. The change is credited to rainfall, along with increased humanitarian aid, “and military operations inside Somalia.” However, Dadaab continues as the world’s biggest refugee complex incorporating outlying border camps that have drawn Somali refugees, particularly women and children. The Dadaab population now exceeds a half million people.

A coordinator of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) relief effort–which is among ecumenical partners receiving Brethren funding–spoke to ENI days after the UN reported that famine had receded in three areas of Somalia previously described as the worst affected. However, ENI also reported that on Nov. 28 the Al-shabab radical Islamic group banned 16 aid agencies, including some with a Christian focus, from areas it controls in southern Somalia. Banning humanitarian agencies from southern Somalia will worsen the situation for 160,000 severely malnourished children and thousands of people recovering from famine, relief agency officials told ENI.

The EDF and GFCF grants jointly support the work of Church World Service (CWS), the ACT Alliance, and partner organizations such as LWF, which are providing life-saving food, water, and support for hundreds of thousands of people. CWS and partners are working in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia to provide immediate relief, and working toward longer-term food security and nutrition and water initiatives in areas of Kenya in particular. In Dadaab, shipments of food, cooking pots, and hygiene supplies have been provided.

With these two most recent grants, the Church of the Brethren has given more than 10 percent of CWS’s total appeal for $1.2 million for the Horn of Africa crisis. A pre-Thanksgiving e-mail letter from Brethren Disaster Ministries director Roy Winter and GFCF manager Howard Royer called Church of the Brethren congregations to join in the response. “A crisis this big should be on the front pages of our newspapers,” the letter said. “We must not ignore it!”

For more about the Brethren response and an opportunity to give online, go to www.brethren.org/africafamine . Gifts to the EDF and GFCF may be sent by mail to Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. A bulletin insert is at www.brethren.org/bdm/files/africa-bulletin-insert.pdf . A sample letter to lawmakers is at www.brethren.org/bdm/files/advocacy-letter-lawmakers.pdf . An illustrated “Prayer for All Who Are Suffering in East Africa” composed by Glenn Kinsel is at www.brethren.org/bdm/files/prayer-for-east-africa.pdf.

5) BBT announces personnel changes and restructuring.

Five Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) colleagues will end their responsibilities with the organization effective Dec. 16 due to budgetary and economic factors.

Cindy Benthusen, general office services representative, began her employment on April 17, 2000. She has been the first point of contact for many BBT members and clients, serving as receptionist. She also has provided support to the president’s office, led mailing projects, provided ancillary services to each BBT department, and kept the office supplies stocked. She and her son live in Elgin, Ill.

Cindy Bravos began serving in BBT’s Communications department on May 3, 2007, when she was hired as the Congregational Contact Network coordinator. More recently, she has served as the organization’s marketing coordinator. Her work focused on promoting BBT’s ministries in the denomination and at Brethren-affiliated organizations. She also produced the annual Memorial Tribute video for the past three years. She lives with her family in St. Charles, Ill.

Willie Hisey Pierson began serving BBT as the director of Insurance Services on Sept. 21, 2010, and has helped increase the number of client groups serviced by that ministry. He brought a plethora of insurance knowledge to BBT after gaining more than 16 years of experience working in the industry. He and his family live in Plainfield, Ill.

Lauryn Klotzbach has served as production coordinator since June 1, 2004. She has been key in developing the look of BBT’s marketing materials and publications. She also served as the lead administrator of the organization’s customer relations management system. Prior to her BBT tenure, she worked for Church of the Brethren General Board for four years. She and her husband live in Elgin, Ill.

Diana Seymour joined the insurance team on Jan. 4, 2010, to help grow that ministry’s medical and ancillary business. She spent 24 years in the insurance industry before working at BBT, including positions with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and The Plexus Groupe. She and her husband live in Bartlett, Ill.

These staff will complete their duties in mid-December, but will receive salary and benefits through March 31, 2012. They also will receive consulting services to assist them in finding employment.

Please hold these people in prayer as they search for new employment. To honor the service of these staff members, BBT has scheduled a farewell gathering on Dec. 15 when the General Offices community will have an opportunity to say goodbye.

Additionally, in the restructuring process, Randy Yoder will end his employment with BBT on
Dec. 31, 2011, but maintain a role with BBT as an individual contractor selling Long-Term Care insurance. Patrice Nightingale will shift to the manager of production position effective Jan. 1, 2012, to reflect the changing level of demand on BBT’s Communications department. Also, on Jan. 1, Scott Douglas will become the director of Employee Benefits and provide leadership for insurance services in addition to continuing to provide oversight for the Pension Plan.

Effective Jan. 1, 2012, BBT will restructure according to the following chart:

Administration:
Nevin Dulabaum, President
Donna March, Director of Office Operations
Diane Parrott, Administrative Office Assistant
Eric Thompson, Director of Operations for Information Technology
German Gongora, Programmer Analyst & Technology Support Specialist
Patrice Nightingale, Manager of Production
Loyce Swartz Borgmann, Manager of Client Relations
Brian Solem, Coordinator of Publications

Finance:
John McGough, Chief Financial Officer
Sandy Schild, Director of Financial Operations
Ovidiu Catanescu, Accounting Manager
Veronica Aragon, Systems Specialist

Employee Benefits (includes Pension and Insurance):
Scott Douglas, Director of Employee Benefits
John Carroll, Manager of Pension Operation
Lori Domich, Member Services Representative, Pension
Jill Olson, Member Services Representative, Pension
Tammy Chudy, Manager of Insurance Operations
Connie Sandman, Member Services Representative, Insurance

Foundation:
Steve Mason, Director of Brethren Foundation
Steve Lipinski, Manager of Operations

— Donna March is director of Office Operations for Brethren Benefit Trust.

6) Brethren Academy announces upcoming courses.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has announced courses for 2012. Courses are open to Training in Ministry (TRIM) students, pastors seeking continuing education units, and all interested persons. Registration brochures are available at www.bethanyseminary.edu/academy or call 800-287-8822 ext. 1824. For a Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center course contact SVMC@etown.edu or 717-361-1450.

— “The Historic Peace Churches Seeking Cultures of Peace” on Jan. 9-13 at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., taught by Scott Holland (register by Dec. 9).

— “The Spiritual Life of the Congregation,” an online course with Rhonda Pittman Gingrich from Jan. 30-March 23 (register by Jan. 2).

— “Matthew and the Brethren” online with Susan Jeffers from Feb. 12-March 23 (offered through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, register by Jan. 30).

— “Seeing Things Through John’s Eyes: A Study of Revelation” taught by Richard Gardner on April 26-29 at McPherson (Kan.) College (register by March 25).

— “The Protestant National Church in Germany Today,” a study trip to Marburg, Germany, led by Kendall Rogers on May 18-June 3 (call the Brethren Academy to receive details as they emerge; estimated cost $2,000 from departure airport, not including registration; register by Dec. 1).

— Academy level course in conjunction with the Church Planters’ Conference, “Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully” held May 17-19 at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. The instructor will be David K. Shumate; exact class dates TBD.

— “Defining Set-Apart Ministry within the Bivocational Reality” online with Sandra Jenkins from June 6-Aug. 14 (register by May 4).

7) Young adults will meet on theme, ‘Humble Yet Bold: Being the Church.’

Young adults between the ages of 18-35 are invited to National Young Adult Conference (NYAC) in Knoxville, Tenn., on June 18-22, 2012. The conference sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry will be held at the University of Tennessee campus on the theme, “Humble, Yet Bold: Being the Church,” from Matthew 5:13-18, “Being Salt for the Earth” and “A Light for the World.”

“The Young Adult Steering Committee is hoping this event will be a chance for young adults to gather and create a loving community,” said an invitation. “Young adults will gather together and have engaging conversations about our role in the denomination with one another, our various speakers, and others that will join us in Knoxville.”

Online registration begins Jan. 6, 2012, at 8 p.m. (central time) at www.brethren.org/yac . Cost is $375, which includes housing, programing, and meals. A $100 nonrefundable deposit is due within two weeks of registering. The steering committee encourages congregations to put NYAC scholarships in their 2012 budgets to help young adults be able to attend. Also, NYAC gift certificates may be purchased by friends and family members for their favorite young adults.

Young adults are invited to show their support for the event by joining the Facebook group called “Young Adults of the Church of the Brethren.” For more information go to www.brethren.org/yac or contact NYAC coordinator Carol Fike at 800-323-8039 ext. 281 or NYAC2012@brethren.org .

8) Bethany Seminary invites youth to explore their call.

High school youth are invited to attend Exploring Your Call (EYC) at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., this summer, June 15-25, 2012. This event provides the opportunity for young people entering their junior or senior year of high school in fall 2012 to explore faith and vocation through classes, congregational involvement, service projects, personal and spiritual enrichment, and recreation.

Russell Haitch, associate professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Youth and Young Adults at Bethany, oversees EYC. “It’s an intense but beautiful program. Last year, youth studied theology in the classroom, then shadowed pastors and did real-life ministry, then took a trip to Chicago to live in an intentional community and learn about all sorts of non-pastoral vocations. The level of conversation and quality of friendship that developed was really splendid, and I’m excited that equally good things will happen this year.”

Through continued generous funding from Barnabas Ltd., participants can attend EYC at no cost except for travel to and from Richmond, Ind. Located in New South Wales, Australia, this family foundation was begun by the parents of current Bethany trustee Jerry Davis and focuses primarily on projects that help prepare people for ministry. “Although the program is free,” says Haitch, “it could cost you a whole change of direction in life.”

First held from 2001-2005, EYC was revived in summer 2011 with an “intellectually alert, emotionally alive, and spiritually courageous” group of youth, according to Haitch. “Unprompted by us, they started sharing about transformational experiences of God in their lives–and every day it kept getting better.” Participant Stephen Dowdy from Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntington, Pa., said, “EYC helped me to better understand how my actions are a part of my ministry. I came to realize that my church life and my ‘normal’ life should not be separate parts, but a whole experience with a concentration in community.”

Participants have also shared that EYC sparked their interest in doing advanced biblical and theological work in a seminary environment, gave them a lively introduction to the work of pastoral ministry, and enabled them to meet peers who were serious about their Christian faith. Many continue to stay in contact with each other. Former participant Dylan Haro is now a middler student at Bethany and served as a student organizer and leader for EYC 2011. “It was during my participation in Exploring Your Call that I first considered ministry as my vocation. I am excited for high school students today who have the same opportunity to experience this unique and enriching program…. It is programs and people like these that ignite my hope for the future of the church.”

More information and an online application for Exploring Your Call can be found at www.bethanyseminary.edu/eyc or contact eyc@bethanyseminary.edu or 800-287-8822.

— Jenny Williams is director of communications and alumni/ae relations at Bethany Seminary.

9) Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, Christmas events, much more.

— Corrections: Two links in the Nov. 16 Newsline were incorrect. The correct link to more information about Church of the Brethren workcamps is www.brethren.org/workcamps . The website for the Feast of Love movement is www.feastoflove.org .

— Remembrance: Former district executive S. Earl Mitchell (101) passed away Nov. 29 at his home in Slidell, La., according to a prayer concern from Virlina District. He was born in Boones Mill, Va., on Jan. 30, 1910, the son of Martha and Zion Mitchell. He was the beloved husband of the late Vera Woodie Mitchell. He graduated from Bridgewater (Va.) College, and Bethany Theological Seminary, and was awarded a doctor of Divinity degree by Bridgewater in 1958. He served a number of congregations in Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois as pastor following ordination in 1927 and advancement to the eldership in 1933 by the Middle Maryland District. He was a district executive for a predecessor of Mid-Atlantic District (1948-51) and director of Church Relations at Bridgewater College during the 1980s. In 1996 the Mitchells moved to Slidell and became associate members of First United Methodist Church. He is survived by two children, Karen Allen of Slidell and David Mitchell (Alice) of New Port, Ore.; four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Relatives and friends of the family are invited to visitation at Honaker Funeral Home in Slidell on Dec. 1 from 6-8 p.m. Funeral service will be at First United Methodist Church in Slidell on Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. Interment will be at Antioch Church of the Brethren at a later date. Please visit www.honakerforestlawn.com for a guest book.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Rachel Buller is heading to Japan to serve as a longterm volunteer at a brand new project for Brethren Volunteer Service: ARI, or the Asian Rural Institute in the area of Tochigi-ken.

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Rachel Buller leaves today for placement at the Asian Rural Institute in the area of Tochigi-ken. The institute, known as ARI, is a new project site for BVS. It developed connections with the Church of the Brethren through the Global Food Crisis Fund, and following the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan ARI also received funding from the church’s Emergency Disaster Fund. Buller will work on an organic farm helping with gardening, caring for livestock, cooking, office work, and hosting short-term volunteer groups. She grew up at Koinonia, an intentional Christian community and farm in Americus, Ga., also known as Jubilee Partners. While awaiting her visa to Japan she has been serving at the Meeting Ground in Elkton, Md.

— Manchester College is seeking a new dean for its School of Pharmacy. Philip J. Medon, vice president and founding dean of the new school, has resigned for health reasons. During the search for a replacement, college executive vice president Dave McFadden will serve as interim dean working closely with three associate deans. “We are grateful that Dean Medon has led the School of Pharmacy through several significant stages in its growth since his arrival in 2010,” said Manchester president Jo Young Switzer. “He has hired an exceptional team of faculty and administrators and the accreditation agency has expressed confidence with the leadership transition plan we have put in place.” The school already has 23 faculty members for its four-year professional doctoral program. The pharmacy leadership also already has secured hundreds of experiential opportunities for the pharmacy students in northeast Indiana. Classes will begin in Aug. 2012 for about 70 students in a $20 million state-of-the-art learning and research facility under construction on the north side of Fort Wayne, near Interstate 69 and Dupont Road. By the fourth year of the Pharm.D. program, enrollment is expected to exceed 260 students. The full news release is at www.manchester.edu/pharmacy/newsearch.htm .

— On Earth Peace has announced a job opening for a peace retreat coordinator who will serve through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). The peace retreat coordinator works closely with the program coordinator for Peace Education to develop, resource, and facilitate peace retreats for youth as well as work with the Step Up! network and other peace education initiatives. For a full job description, contact Marie Benner-Rhoades at mrhoades@onearthpeace.org .

— An Associated Press article is reporting on a delegation of US religious leaders to Cuba. The group led by National Council of Churches general secretary Michael Kinnamon includes Becky Ball-Miller, a member of the Mission and Ministry Board, as the Church of the Brethren representative. Find the AP story at www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gFQZb62m7l1m0GYGr21UTHExUHuw?docId=86957156a08d48918410abf648b11319 .

— Congregational Life Ministries is offering prayers and questions in connection with this year’s Advent devotional from Brethren Press. “Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, David’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog,” said an invitation from Joshua Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship. Find the blog site at http://blog.brethren.org . Order the devotional written by David W. Miller for $2.50 plus shipping and handling at www.brethrenpress.com or call 800-441-3712.

— Registration for the 2012 Christian Citizenship Seminar opens at www.brethren.org/ccs on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m. (central time). The Christian Citizenship Seminar is an opportunity for youth and their advisors to travel to Washington, D.C., and New York City and explore the theme “Stepping Out: Our Relationship with Carbon.” The cost for the week will be $375, which includes some meals, lodging, and transportation from one city to the other. For more information check out www.brethren.org/ccs. Contact Carol Fike or Becky Ullom at 800-323-8039 ext. 281 or 297, or CoBYouth@brethren.org .

— The Church of the Brethren’s Intercultural Consultation and Celebration scheduled for April 19-22, 2012, in Santa Ana, Calif., has been postponed until a future time to be determined. “The decision to postpone is due to the current staff vacancy for director of Intercultural Ministries and ongoing strategic planning,” said an announcement from Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries. “We remain committed to developing intercultural competence and relationships throughout the Church of the Brethren, but simply do not have the resources and readiness to follow through with this event as originally scheduled. Further information will be posted as it becomes available.” Questions? Contact Shively at 800-323-8039 ext. 282 or jshively@brethren.org .

— This week’s Action Alert from the church’s witness and advocacy office calls attention to the United Nations climate change conference that started Monday in Durban, S. Africa, and continues through Dec. 9. Citing the 2011 Annual Conference acceptance of a query regarding the earth’s climate, the alert asks Brethren to help encourage the US to take a prominent role on climate change. It also encourages participation in a “Do It in Durban” ecumenical Christian campaign on climate change led by the National Council of Churches Eco-justice program. The Durban meeting is an attempt to advance toward a global agreement cutting carbon emissions, with expiration of the Kyoto protocol expected at the end of 2012. Find the Action Alert at http://cob.convio.net/site/MessageViewer?em_id=14361.0&dlv_id=15922

Photo by Dr. Emerson Pierre
A Brethren-sponsored medical clinic was held in Haiti earlier this month, hosted by Laferriere congregation of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) near Mirebalais. The initiative for medical clinics in Haiti came out of a medical delegation of Brethren who helped out shortly following the earthquake in 2010.

— An initiative for Brethren-sponsored medical clinics in Haiti has held its first clinic, serving some 150 people and hosted by the Laferriere Haitian Brethren congregation near Mirebalais. The initiative is spearheaded by physicians and others who took part in a medical delegation to Haiti in March 2010, shortly after a massive earthquake ravaged the nation. The group hopes to set up an endowment fund of $100,000 for the effort. A grant of $6,000 in initial funding has been given by the denomination’s Global Mission and Service program. For photos from the clinic, plus photos of the new Canaan church in Haiti, go to www.brethren.org/partners/images/haiti/haiti-medical-clinic-november-2011/haiti-medical-clinic.html .

— Church of the Brethren United Nations representative Doris Abdullah is inviting church members to join her at a forum for non-governmental organizations on the status of women, from Feb. 26-March 9, 2012, in New York City. The forum kicks off with a Consultation Day on Feb. 26 at the Salvation Army Headquarters (120 West 14th Street) and continues with a reception and other events. For more information go to  www.ngocsw.org .

— On Nov. 18-20, Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren held its fifth annual Brethren Press booth at the Miami International Book Fair.

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., is planning its second annual Holiday Festival, from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11. Guests will be able to tour the main building and Village, sample refreshments, hear holiday music in the Dining Room, take a horse-drawn-sleigh ride, and meet staff and residents. Santa will be on hand for photos in the Parlor. A slide show of events during the year at Fahrney-Keedy will be on display. A copy of the 2011 Fahrney-Keedy cookbook, “Golden Goodies, Then and Now” will be a complimentary gift to all attending the event. RSVP by calling 301-671-5016.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College Equestrian Club will host the 10th annual “Horses’ Christmas” at the college’s Equestrian Center in Weyers Cave, Va., on Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. This year’s theme is “A Fairy Tale Christmas.” All elementary and pre-school students in the community and their families are invited to the presentation, which will feature horses dressed in seasonal garb and skits that are focused on fairy tales. Santa and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance on horseback. Jerry Schurink, coach of the Bridgewater riding team, will narrate. Awards will be presented to the best costumed entries. Kids will be allowed to reward horses with a tasty treat following the competition. In lieu of an admission charge, the club requests donations of canned goods for a local charity. For more information call Beth R. Boteler at 540-223-2437.

— Pleasant Hill Village, the Brethren retirement community in Girard, Ill., is offering a “Church of the Brethren Illinois/Wisconsin District Historic Sites Jigsaw Puzzle” as a gift option for the holidays. “Puzzles make perfect gifts for all occasions!” said an announcement. $25 includes shipping to family and friends, with a note card included carrying a personal message. Sales benefit Pleasant Hill Village. Call 217-627-2181 and order from chaplain Terry Link.

— The latest “Brethren Voices” community television program from Portland Peace Church of the Brethren deals with the subject of slavery in the 21st century. “We were able to get permission from a journalist in Denmark to use his documentary, ‘The Dark Side of Chocolate,’” reports producer Ed Groff. “We’re asking viewers to contact the CEO of Hershey chocolate to change the ways they do business. Most of their cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast where the documentary was filmed.” The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 2008 passed a resolution against modern-day slavery. “The Dark Side of Chocolate” directed by Miki Mistrati shows young children still being illegally trafficked and sold to cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast, producing cocoa used by Nestle, Hershey’s, and other large chocolate producers. In 2001, these large chocolate producers signed the Cocoa Protocol promising to work for the eradication of child labor by 2008. Contact Groff for a copy of the program, at groffprod1@msn.com.

— Tom Hurst, director of service programs at McPherson (Kan.) College, has been recognized as the 2011 Kansas Community Engagement Professional of the Year. The award cites his initiative to greatly increase participation by students and faculty and staff in service work since 2007.

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jordan Blevins, Jeff Boshart, Josh Brockway, Carol Fike, Mary Kay Heatwole, Julie Hostetter, Jeri S. Kornegay, Michael Leiter, Matthew E. McKimmy, Glen Sargent, Callie Surber, Becky Ullom, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue on Dec. 14.


Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. Newsline appears every other week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to www.brethren.org/newsline.