Newsline for Jan. 25, 2014

“But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies’” (Matthew 5:44a).

NEWS
1) Many state laws link Selective Service registration to driver’s licenses
2) Global Food Crisis Fund gives $50,000 for agricultural projects in Haiti
3) Disaster grants go to South Sudan, Honduras
4) NPR finds Peace Studies class in story about detained immigrants

PERSONNEL
5) Carrie Eikler to serve as TRIM and EFSM coordinator

UPCOMING EVENTS
6) Annual Clergy Tax Seminar is offered online and at Bethany Seminary
7) ‘Jesus Weeps–Resisting Violence, Building Peace’ is theme for advocacy days

FEATURE
8) Action Alert: End the violence in Syria

9) Brethren bits: New employees at Brethren Service Center, executive opening in N. Indiana, planning worship in Lent, National Farm Worker Ministry, chicken canning project, Shenandoah peace fest, BHA project in Harrisburg, Fahrney-Keedy master plan, and more.


The Center on Conscience and War (website www.centeronconscience.org , shown here) is a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of conscience, opposes military conscription, and serves all conscientious objectors to war. Formerly known as the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO), it was formed in 1940 by an association of religious bodies including the Church of the Brethren. Its mission statement, in part: “The center is committed to supporting all those who question participation in war, whether they are US citizens, permanent residents, documented or undocumented immigrants–or citizens in other countries.” Services are provided to the public at no charge. CCW participates in the G.I. Rights Hotline, a national referral and counseling service for military personnel. In the event of a military draft, CCW will assist in the placement of conscientious objectors in alternative service programs. The Center is opposed to all forms of conscription.

Quote of the week:

“I believe that as long as there is war, there will be conscientious objection. The need for our work will go on.”

— Bill Galvin, counseling coordinator at the Center on Conscience and War, in an interview for the news piece below on state laws that automatically register young men for the draft when they apply for a driver’s license or state i.d. The Center on Conscience and War in Washington, D.C., was founded in the 1940s by religious organizations including the Church of the Brethren and other peace churches, and was formerly known as NISBCO, the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors. The center helps protect the rights of conscientious objectors, is active in the G.I. Rights Hotline, monitors laws such as the automatic registration into the draft, and helps immigrants and people of different religious backgrounds apply for conscientious objector status. Find out more at www.centeronconscience.org .


1) Many state laws link Selective Service registration to driver’s licenses

By Lucas Kauffman

When young American men turn 18, they are required to register with the Selective Service System (SSS) because of federal law (50 U.S.C. App. 451 et seq). That law requires almost every male citizen, as well as immigrant men living in the United States, to register in the event of a military draft. Women are not required to register, nor are men 26 and older.

For officials, a high compliance rate is important, since that would mean that any military draft that might come up would be fair. To make sure there is 100 percent compliance, a lot of states have created legislation that links SSS registration with the process of applying for a driver’s license or state identification card.

Delaware was the first state that reached a nearly 100 percent compliance rate, since beginning the legislation in 2000. Seven other states also increased compliance rates after similar driver’s license legislation in 2002, the Selective Service reports on its website.

Reasons for these state laws include assuring eligibility for some programs and benefits to their citizens, because men who fail to register with Selective Service are not eligible for programs and benefits that Congress, 41 states and territories, and the District of Columbia have linked to registration for the draft. That would include student loans and grants for college, most government jobs, and job training. Also, immigrants who fail to register when they are at least 18 but not yet 26, may be denied citizenship.

Typical state legislation instructs the Department of Public Safety or Motor Vehicles to include a consent statement on all applications or renewals for driver’s permits, licenses, and identification cards, the SSS website says. The statement tells the applicant that by signing the application, he consents to his registration with the SSS. The applicant’s data is transferred to the SSS electronically through an arrangement the state has with the data sharing system of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

A problem for nonregistrant conscientious objectors?

For those who do not want to register for the draft or who decide to be nonregistrant conscientious objectors, this legislation could be a problem. According to Bill Galvin, the counseling coordinator at the Center on Conscience and War, there is at least one option. “One option that people have is just not apply for a driver’s license until they turn 26 years old,” he said.

However, young men who do not register for the draft may be denied financial aid for college through the federal government. Galvin said that the Center on Conscience and War may be able to help provide funding, if that happens.

The Center on Conscience and War, based in Washington, D.C., was founded in the 1940s by the Historic Peace Churches–Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers. According to Galvin, the center exists to help protect the rights of conscientious objectors.

“We are active in the G.I. Rights Hotline, which is a hotline that people can call if they want to not be a part of the military anymore,” said Galvin. The center also monitors state laws such as the automatic registration into the draft, advocates for the rights of conscientious objectors, and helps immigrants and people of different religious backgrounds apply for conscientious objector status.

Since the Center on Conscience and War is opposed to a military draft and conscription, it does not want the law that protects the rights of conscientious objectors to go away, Galvin commented when asked about the necessity of a Selective Service System in light of automatic draft registration in so many states. If Selective Service were done away with, the Center on Conscience and War could still exist he said. “Churches do support us, especially if they have conscientious objectors in their congregations,” said Galvin.

“I believe that as long as there is war, there will be conscientious objection. The need for our work will go on.”

Find an article on “Selective Service Registration: Coercion of Conscience?” from the Center on Conscience and War at www.centeronconscience.org/co/5-draft/320-selective-service-registration-coercion-of-conscience.html .

Conscientious objector checklist, from the curriculum Call of Conscience published by the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org/co .

Role of Brethren Volunteer Service in event of a draft

Director of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Dan McFadden offered his thoughts about the legislation that links Selective Service registration with driver’s licenses. “BVS would provide an opportunity for alternative service [in the event of a draft], and it has done so in previous drafts,” said McFadden. “There would most likely be more people that sign up for BVS to look for service opportunities, if there was a draft.”

Not many people know about the legislation that links registration with driver’s licenses, he said. “For most people, this is not a big deal. However for a conscientious objector, if you are not registered and you are in college, the government can block federal student loans.”

If that happens, McFadden said that some Church of the Brethren related schools, such as Manchester University, “will help with student loans, if you are not able to get loans because of not registering for the draft.”

McFadden has heard about and kept up to date on the legislation through regular conference calls with the Selective Service and other Anabaptist and church volunteer organizations. He thinks that the driver’s license legislation is a way the government is improving compliance rates, just like Selective Service wants. “It is a way to streamline the people who register,” he said. “This is a way to have names of people on hand, if there ever is a draft.

“This legislation does not really matter if you are planning on registering with the Selective Service,” said McFadden.“You have to selectively say that you do not want to, by sending in materials.

“Personally, I do not really think that the Selective Service System is necessary,” he added. However, he clarified that “the Selective Service draft system is one place where the federal government recognizes conscientious objectors.” If the current Selective Service System was dismantled, “there is no guarantee that a new selective service put back into place in the future would recognize the right to conscientious objection,” McFadden said. “If they do away with the system, conscientious objectors would not receive any recognition.”

How to register as a conscientious objector

While there is no official way to register as a conscientious objector, men may inform the government that that they are conscientious objectors by filling out a paper form and writing a personal statement.

According to McFadden, conscientious objectors should send in paperwork to the Selective Service using the “mail-back”registration forms that are available at any US Post Office. On that form, young men may write, “I am a conscientious objector,” and make several photocopies before mailing the form to Selective Service. McFadden has been informed by Selective Service staff that the department keeps a copy of all of the paper registration forms they receive.

Conscientious objectors should make several copies of the form and their personal statement, to keep for themselves, and to mail a copy to be kept on file by the denomination. Mail to the Church of the Brethren General Offices, Attn: Global Mission and Service Office, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Some Brethren congregations may provide this service to their members by keeping a file for conscientious objectors.

Information about conscientious objection including a check list to prepare evidence to support a CO claim, and other helpful resources, are available at www.brethren.org/CO .

States with laws linking registration to driver’s licenses

Following is a list of the 40 states, 4 territories, and the District of Columbia that have such legislation in effect, as of Oct. 25, 2013, according to the SSS website: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands, District of Columbia.

States and territories that have enacted but not yet implemented the legislation are Maine, Maryland, Puerto Rico.

Find out if you have automatically been registered for the draft by typing in name and social security number at the Selective Service website www.sss.gov .

— Lucas Kauffman is a senior at Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind., and a January term intern with the Church of the Brethren News Services.

2) Global Food Crisis Fund gives $50,000 for agricultural projects in Haiti

The Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF), a fund of the Church of the Brethren dedicated to developing food security, is making an allocation of $50,000 for the continuation of agriculture development projects in Haiti. A previous grant of $50,000 was given to this project in September 2012.

This grant will provide funds for mini-grants being used to start tree nurseries, to buy animals, to purchase improved varieties of seeds and fertilizer, and to start family gardens.

Jeff Boshart, fund manager, and the GFCF Grant Review Panel recommended the additional allocation in support of a program that operates in 18 communities where L’Eglise des Freres in Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti) has an established presence. The agriculture program provides training in appropriate agriculture practices and gives small grants to families to initiate small enterprises suitable to their circumstances.

The GFCF is the primary way that the Church of the Brethren assists hungry people in developing food security. Since 1983, the fund has provided grants upwards of $400,000 annually to community development programs in 32 countries. Find out more at www.brethren.org/gfcf .

3) Disaster grants go to South Sudan, Honduras

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the church’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to the needs of people displaced by armed conflict in South Sudan, and to people threatened by food insecurity after Honduras declared a state of national emergency due to a disease affecting the coffee harvest.

An allocation of $15,000 responds to an appeal from ACT Alliance following heavy armed fighting that began in Dec. 2013 in South Sudan, resulting in the displacement of up to 194,000 people. Many of the displaced are seen in the Torit area of the Eastern Equatorial State, where the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service is active with two mission workers and several partnerships. Additional grants are anticipated in the future to support the response efforts organized by Global Mission staff and volunteers. The grant will help to provide emergency food, water, sanitation, and household supplies to families displaced inside South Sudan.

An allocation of $10,000 responds to a Church World Service (CWS) appeal following the declaration of a national emergency in Honduras due to the worst Coffee Rust plague since 1976. The grant will support CWS partnering with the Mennonite Social Action Commission of Honduras to assist 200 families at very high risk of food insecurity. The families will be provided with vegetable seeds, plantain trees, aquaculture, chicken coops, and help with improving agro-livestock production, agricultural inputs, nutritional education, access to alternative livelihoods, and on-site technical assistance.

4) NPR finds Peace Studies class in story about detained immigrants

Photo courtesy of Manchester University

Manchester Peace Studies class visits with men being held in Stewart Detention Center as part of an experience with the Alterna and El Refugio communities in Georgia.

By Jeri S. Kornegay

The National Public Radio (NPR) program Latino USA interviewed participants in Manchester University’s “Peace Issues” January session class for a story broadcast Jan. 17.

“We were visiting with men being held in Stewart Detention Center as part of an experience with the Alterna and El Refugio communities,” said Katy Gray Brown, director of Peace Studies for Manchester University. Stewart, in remote Lumpkin, Ga., is the largest immigrant detention center in the United States and the site of numerous abuses documented by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights organizations.

The students visited detainees in the center and met families who had come to visit relatives who are being detained. They also volunteered in hospitality programs created by neighbors of the detention center–reaching out to families, who often had traveled hundreds of miles to see their loved ones.

The experience gave Manchester students an excellent opportunity to meet those affected by immigration detention policies, said Gray Brown.

The story by Latino USA reporter Martha Dalton–“A Refuge for Detention Center Visitors”–includes an interview with Manchester senior peace studies major Katy Herder of Claremont, Calif. Dalton spoke with many of the Manchester group, Gray Brown noted.

As they traveled the South, the students discovered that the greatest civil rights sites in the United States today are Ground Zero for some the most contentious battles in immigration and immigration rights. Their class ends Jan. 23.

Listen to the story on the Latino USA website at http://latinousa.org/2014/01/17/a-refuge-for-detention-center-visitors .

— Jeri S. Kornegay works in University Media Relations for Manchester University.

PERSONNEL

5) Carrie Eikler to serve as TRIM and EFSM coordinator

Stevenson PhotographyCarrie Eikler

Carrie Eikler has been named half-time coordinator of the Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) programs at the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. She will begin her duties on Feb. 1. The academy is a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary.

Eikler will continue as co-pastor of Morgantown (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren/Mennonite Church USA (a dually affiliated congregation), where she has served since 2007. As part of her new position, she will spend a minimum of a half week per month in office on the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind., or at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Eikler is a graduate of Manchester University (formerly Manchester College) and holds a master of divinity degree from Bethany Seminary. While in seminary, she served as peace studies assistant, interim admissions assistant, New Testament teaching assistant, worship coordinator, and a Student Leadership Team member. She is affiliated with the Church of the Brethren Ministerial Association, Morgantown Women’s Clergy Network, and Allegheny Mennonite Conference Leadership Council, and has served on the West Marva District Peace Team. Her continuing education experiences include the academy’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Vital Pastor program.

–Jenny Williams contributed this release. Williams serves as director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.

UPCOMING EVENTS

6) Annual Clergy Tax Seminar is offered online and at Bethany Seminary

The annual tax seminar for clergy will be held March 3. Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend either in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or online.

The sessions will cover tax law for clergy, changes for 2013 (the most current tax year to file), and detailed assistance to correctly file the various forms and schedules that pertain to clergy including housing allowances, self-employment, W-2s clergy reductions, and so forth.

Greatly appreciated by Bethany Seminary students, this seminar is now open to clergy and others across the denomination. It is recommended for all pastors and other church leaders who wish to understand clergy taxes, including treasurers, steward commission chairs, and church board chairs.

Participants will learn how to file clergy taxes correctly and legally, will learn how to comply with regulations while maximizing tax deductions, and will earn 0.3 continuing education units.

Leadership is provided by Deb Oskin, EA, NTPI Fellow, who is also an ordained minister. She has been doing clergy tax returns since 1989, when her husband became pastor of a small Church of the Brethren congregation. She has learned the problems and pitfalls associated with the IRS identification of clergy as “hybrid employees,” from the personal and professional perspective. During her 12 years with H&R Block (2000-2011), she achieved the highest level of expertise certification as a master tax adviser and certified advanced instructor, and has earned the status of enrolled agent with the IRS, qualified to represent clients to the IRS. She was called by Living Peace Church of the Brethren in Columbus, Ohio, to be the congregation’s peace minister to the wider community in 2004, and served as Southern Ohio District’s board chair from 2007-2011. She also works closely with several interfaith peace organizations in central Ohio and currently operates her own independent tax service specializing in clergy taxes.

Seminar schedule, Monday, March 3
Morning session: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (eastern time),  0.3 continuing education units available for live attendance, either in person or online
Lunch is on your own
Afternoon session: 2-4 p.m. (eastern)

This event is sponsored by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Seminary’s Office of Electronic Communication. Registration is $20 per person. Registration fees for current Bethany, TRIM/EFSM/SeBAH, or Earlham School of Religion students are fully subsidized (free). Registration is required to reserve a seat at the seminary or proper access to the online event, and make sufficient materials available. For those attending online, instructions and handouts will be sent a few days prior to the event. Registrations are not complete until payment is received. For space and quality reasons, registrations may be capped at 25 participants locally and 85 online. Prompt registration is advised. Go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/webcasts/clergytax2014#reg .

— Julie Hostetter is executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a joint endeavor of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary.

7) ‘Jesus Weeps–Resisting Violence, Building Peace’ is theme for advocacy days

The Office of Public Witness invites Brethren to the 12th Annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) that will take place in Washington, D.C., from on March 21-24. This year’s theme is “Jesus Weeps–Resisting Violence, Building Peace.”

EAD is an ecumenical conference grounded in biblical witness and shared traditions of justice and peace. EAD’s goal, through worship, theological reflection, and opportunities for learning and witness, is to strengthen our Christian voice and to mobilize for advocacy on US policy issues.

This year’s theme particularly speaks to the Church of the Brethren’s rich tradition of peacemaking in the world, so the Office of Public Witness staff hope that Church of the Brethren members will join the staff in Washington, D.C., for this exciting conference. For more information and to register go to EAD’s website at www.advocacydays.org .

— Bryan Hanger is advocacy assistant at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness.

FEATURE

8) Action Alert: End the violence in Syria

From the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness

This week delegations from many of the factions involved in the Syrian conflict gathered in Switzerland for the Geneva II conference. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger was in Geneva last week working with the World Council of Churches encouraging Christian leaders from across the world to come together as a united voice for peace in the lead up to the conference.

This conference provides the best chance for negotiating an immediate ceasefire and a possible plan for future negotiations to fully end the conflict in Syria. While in Geneva, Noffsinger wrote a personal letter to President Obama urging him and his administration to push for peace at Geneva II saying:

“The Church of the Brethren follows the One who promises to make all things new, and as people of faith we will work in solidarity with the people of Syria as they seek a new start and a way out of the cycle of violence that has crippled their country. Our hope is rooted in the belief that enemies can be reconciled to one another and that new beginnings can be salvaged from the ending of violence. We hope that you will work with us to make this hope a reality.”

The conflict in Syria has persisted for more than 1,000 days, leaving over 100,000 Syrians dead, 6 million Syrians internally displaced, and over 2 million Syrians displaced as refugees in neighboring countries. This appalling violence continues and the humanitarian situation has reached historic proportions. The United States has been leading the way in providing humanitarian aid to Syrians affected by this conflict, but what we currently are doing is not enough, and the need will only grow as violence continues.

Late last summer, we had 495 Brethren at National Older Adult Conference write to the President regarding US involvement in Syria and a large response to our Action Alert to Congress and the President. We helped to successfully urge the Administration and Congress to refrain from engaging militarily in Syria, and once again we need to raise our voice up for peace.

American negotiators need to hear that we want peace above all else. We cannot allow this golden opportunity at Geneva II to be squandered away by cynicism or political agendas. Write the President and urge him and his administration to support an immediate ceasefire so that Syria can begin the process of rebuilding and reconciling.

Sample letter:

Mr. President,

As your administration prepares for the upcoming Geneva II conference, I want to urge you to prioritize peace above all other concerns. Only an immediate ceasefire that allows for serious political negotiations to begin can finally bring this violent conflict to an end.

This conference provides a golden opportunity to make progress towards a brighter future for Syria and its people, and I hope that your administration will make every effort to get as many different parties to the table so that a broad agreement can be reached. This conflict cannot be won on the battlefield, but rather must be ended by negotiators that prioritize peace and the safety of the Syrian people above everything else.

I pray that you will remember the many Syrians who are suffering under such awful violence as you and your administration deliberate on these tremendously important matters.

Thank you for hearing my concerns,

(Signature)

In God’s peace,
Bryan Hanger
Advocacy Assistant
Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness

— Church of the Brethren Action Alerts are a ministry of the denomination’s Global Mission and Service and Office of Public Witness. To receive Action Alerts or other e-communications go to www.brethren.org/advocacy/actionalerts.html . For more information about the public witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Nathan Hosler, coordinator, Office of Public Witness, 337 North Carolina Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003; nhosler@brethren.org ; 717-333-1649.

“Planning worship for Lent?” asks a Facebook note from Brethren Press. “View the updated lectionary, which highlights texts used in our bulletin series.” The Church of the Brethren offers an online page focused on the lectionary scripture readings for the year, with links to a listing of the scripture readings used in the Living Word Bulletins published by Brethren Press, and a guide for studying the lectionary scriptures with a discernment process and helpful questions. Go to www.brethren.org/discipleship/lectionary.html . Living Word Bulletins may be purchased from Brethren Press at www.brethrenpress.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=6700 or by calling 800-441-3712.

9) Brethren bits

— The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has announced the hiring of two new employees. Glenna Thompson has accepted the position of full-time office assistant for Material Resources starting Jan. 21. Most recently, she worked for IMA World Health as resource development associate and general administrator. Darlene Hylton has accepted the position of temporary part-time office assistant for the Brethren Disaster Ministries office, supporting the administrative and database work. Her most recent work has included assisting with the disaster ministry’s Church of the Brethren membership and IMA databases.

— The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness coordinator Nate Hosler is in California for the National Farm Worker Ministry’s board meeting. In a Facebook post, the office shares that Hosler joined interfaith leaders and other board members in a prayer for immigration reform outside House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s Bakersfield District Office. More information on the event is at www.facebook.com/friends/requests/?fcode=AY-6ydjy-sUL2IoR&f=1666786010&r=100001160697396#!/notes/ufw/farm-worker-advocates-interfaith-leaders-to-hold-prayer-for-immigration-reform-o/10152130809599318 .

— Read the latest “Brethren in the News” at www.brethren.org/news/2014/brethren-in-the-news-for-jan-24.html. Topping online news reports from across the nation that feature Church of the Brethren members and congregations, is an article about the way Grossnickel Church of the Brethren continues its long-term support for the Foods Resource Bank. Also included are a number of other news pieces and obituaries.

— Northern Indiana District seeks a district executive to fill a three-quarter to full-time position available Sept. 1. The district includes 40 congregations with 1 in southern Michigan and 39 in the northern third of Indiana. Its congregations are a mix of rural, urban, and suburban with a healthy mix of theological diversity. The district board’s commitment is “Communicating, Coordinating, Connecting our family of churches” (Galatians 6:10). The preferred candidate is a personable/relational, curious, and competent administrator, who will serve as coach and team builder. The district envisions a creative model for team leadership where the district executive facilitates ministry priorities as noted by the district. The district office currently is located in Nappanee, Ind. Responsibilities include to serve as executive officer of the district board offering administrative leadership; equip, empower, inspire the board to leadership and good governance; build and strengthen relationships with congregations and pastors; use mediation skills to work with congregations in conflict; facilitate and encourage the calling of persons to set-apart ministry and lay leadership; facilitate the pastoral placement process with congregations and pastors. Qualifications include a clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant spiritual life; grounding in Church of the Brethren faith and heritage, belief, and practice; valuing the infinite worth of each person and congregation; a collaborative leadership style that enables teamwork and shares tasks; curiosity; a vision and plan for the future; valuing all aspects of relationships with and within congregations; expertise in the dynamics of small church life and its vital mission and ministry; strong communication, mediation, and conflict resolution skills; strong administrative and management skills; respect for theological diversity; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership. Requirements include ordination in the Church of the Brethren, with a variety of ministry experiences preferred. Apply by sending a letter of interest and resume via e-mail to OfficeofMinistry@brethren.org . Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. A candidate profile must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is March 1.

— The annual Meat Canning Project of Southern Pennsylvania District and Mid-Atlantic District takes place April 21-24 at Christian Aid Ministries in Ephrata, Pa. A note from coordinator Terry Wueschinski publicized in church newsletter reports that the goal for this year is to can 45,000 pounds of chicken. The amount planned for has been reduced from previous years due primarily to the lack of financial backing, Wueschinski noted. Last year 67,000 pounds were processed and labeled by volunteers. The funds that support the project are used to purchase the chicken and pay for facility usage, labels, and shipping. The canned chicken is distributed to those in need in the two districts, with the possibility of a portion going to an overseas mission.

— Virlina District’s Childrens Cabinet will hold a “Back In Time” event for children kindergarten thru fifth grade and their parents on Saturday,  April 26, 9 a.m.-12 noon in the Deer Field Center at Camp Bethel. Activities will include living history demonstrations, presentations, music, games, and snacks.

— The 2014 “Peace Feast” in Shenandoah District will be March 18, at 6:30 p.m., at Sangerville (Va.) Church of the Brethren. The event will celebrate the service of the Seagoing Cowboys of Heifer Project (now Heifer International).

— The Brethren Housing Association broke ground Jan. 23 on its Hummel Street Townhouses, a major housing renovation project in the distressed Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg, Pa., said a release. In partnership with PinnacleHealth Systems and affiliated construction contractors, the association was able to purchase or procure five lots on Hummel St. across from Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren. “In place of crumbling buildings, BHA plans to erect five townhouse apartments for its transitional housing program serving mothers and their children recovering from homelessness” said the release. “More than 80 supporters and officials celebrated the project’s groundbreaking, estimated at $950,000, of which approximately half has been pledged so far.” For more information contact Chris Fitz at 717-233-6016 or cfitz@bha-pa.org . See photos on Facebook, search for brethrenhousing. Find a “Patriot-News” article about this project at www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/01/hummel_street_townhouses_proje.html#incart_river_default .

— In more news from the Brethren Housing Association, the group has thanked the more than 250 volunteers who turned out for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Events took place at the Brethren Housing Association and Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren on Jan. 20 in conjunction with other neighborhood organizations including Brethren Community Ministries, the YWCA, Tri-County Community Action, Habitat for Humanity, and more, a release said. Volunteers renovated several apartments and a volunteer house, and did outside cleanup. Church groups who would like to be involved in an urban renewal project, especially involving carpentry, drywall, masonry, painting, and/or cleaning, are invited to contact Dennis Saylor at 717-233-6016 or dsaylor@bha-pa.org .

— A $2,500 grant to Bridgewater (Va.) College from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation will fund the purchase of an electric-powered utility vehicle for use in the college’s recycling program reports a release. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of the company that operates Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, and Alamo Rent A Car brands. According to Teshome Molalenge, director of the college Center for Sustainability, the purchase of a used, extended-cab electric utility vehicle will double the recycling transportation options available to the student-run  recycling program. Eight students currently work in the program and share one small electric utility cart and a student-assembled Bike Cargo to transport recycling items throughout the 240-acre campus.

— The board of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., has approved a comprehensive Master Plan that “lays out three phases that will affect every aspect of Fahrney-Keedy while spanning a timeframe of up to 20 years,” said a release. Some key components of the plan include ensuring that revenue-generating projects are developed, combining a number of financing options to make the plan work, increasing short-term rehabilitation, expanding independent-living cottage and apartment homes as the market demands, expanding parking, completing a perimeter road, preserving campus green space, and constructing a water storage tank for present and future needs, said the release.   A major project will be the eventual replacement of the skilled nursing center. “The plan took months to research, write, and complete, involving many hours of board and staff time,” said president and CEO Keith Bryan. “Implementing the plan will involve everyone at Fahrney-Keedy.” Visit www.fkhv.org for additional details.

— Another congregation of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has suffered an attack as terrorist violence has continued in northern Nigeria this January, carried out by extremist Islamist group Boko Haram according to media reports. The EYN building in Bzuba village was destroyed in an attack on Jan. 8, reports “Christian Today” of Australia, in an article that asserts that “Islamic extremists have attacked villages in three states in Nigeria every Sunday this month, killing at least 15 Christians.” Another wave of violence also has wracked Nigeria as anti-gay violence broke out following a recent law that bans gay marriages and activities, according to African media. “Gay individuals have reportedly inundated some foreign embassies in Lagos to seek asylum,” said a CAJ News piece posted today at AllAfrica.com . “The law stipulates 14-year jail term for any person found to be nurturing gay relations or promoting gay activities…. Officials have already begun the implementation of the law with the arrest and arraignment of five suspected gays in the northern part of the country.” A source told the CAJ news agency that “embassy authorities would likely give genuine considerations to visa applicants who were gay and might be in obvious danger.”

— Jerry Dick of Penn Run Church of the Brethren has been named volunteer of the month by Community Action Inc. He has been a member of the Indiana County (Pa.) Senior Corps-RSVP since May last year, reports the “Indiana (Pa.) Gazette.” He volunteers for Aging Services Inc.’s Two Lick Valley Social Center and Indiana County Community Action Program’s White Township Food Pantry, and is a volunteer firefighter for the Cherryhill Township Fire Department.


Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deborah Brehm, Jeff Boshart, Charles Culbertson, Chris Fitz, Bryan Hanger, Mary K. Heatwole, Julie Hostetter, Lucas Kauffman, Jeri S. Kornegay, Nancy Miner, Glen Sargent, Jenny Williams, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is planned for Jan. 31. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org . Newsline appears at the end of every 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 .