Thursday, April 18, 2013

National Youth Sunday is May 5

Remember to observe National Youth Sunday on May 5. The theme this year is “In God’s Image” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Find worship resources online at .

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

3,000 miles campaign of On Earth Peace receives lots of support.

In a recent update on its 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign, On Earth Peace reported that over 60 fundraisers are underway in support. As of last week, over $80,000 has been raised for the Paul Ziegler Young Peacemaker Fund. Twelve riding or walking events have already taken place, and those taking part have already traveled more than 1,000 miles toward the goal of 3,000 miles.
The 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign is a fundraiser for On Earth Peace that honors young peacemaker Paul Ziegler who had the goal of bicycling across the country--a distance of about 3000 miles--before he was killed in an accident in Sept. 2012. “Together, we are fulfilling Paul's vision,” On Earth Peace said in the update.

Headlining the campaign is a walking trek by On Earth Peace staff member and former director Bob Gross, who is on a 650-mile walk across the Midwest. Gross reported by telephone this week that as of April 17 he has covered 450 of those miles. He expected to walk to the Altoona area of Pennsylvania by today, and to be in Huntingdon and at Juniata College on the weekend.

A key event in the campaign happens on May 5, Ziegler’s birthday, at his home congregation at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The church will host a “3KMP Celebration!” that Sunday from 5-6 p.m. (gathering music begins at 4:45). Gross will be welcomed to Elizabethtown as he completes his 650-mile walk and will share highlights of his journey from North Manchester, Ind. There also will be stories and pictures from other individuals and teams who have participated in the campaign and information about upcoming events in the remaining months of the campaign will be highlighted.

“May 5 would have been Paul Ziegler’s 20th birthday,” said pastor Pam Reist. “In honor of Paul and his passion for peace on earth, the celebration will conclude with birthday cake for all. Everyone is welcome to join the celebration!”

Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren is planning an additional event for all who wish to ride, walk, run, or even scooter “for Paul and for peace,” said an announcement from pastor Greg Davidson Laszakovits. Participants will gather at the Lancaster-Lebanon Rail trail on May 4, with registration starting at 9 a.m. and a send off at 10 a.m.cThe congregation has already raised over $2,000 towards a goal of $10,000.cTo join the effort, or for more information visit

Since the launch of the campaign on March 1, interest and participation has been steadily growing. Supporters and participants include bicyclers but also marathon runners, Appalachian Trail hikers, youth groups, canoers and kayakers, college students, weightlifters, congregations, and retirement communities.

Ideas for campaign events “are as diverse as our Beloved Community,” said the On Earth Peace update. A 12 year old at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Ft. Wayne, Ind., walked while on his Spring Break. A 90-year-old resident of a retirement community in Virginia has contacted On Earth Peace to ask how she can get her community involved. Student groups at church-related schools including Manchester University, Juniata College, Elizabethtown College, and McPherson College all have events taking place. 

Youth at the Southeast Regional Youth Conference (Roundtable) on March 23 used part of their free time to contribute to the campaign. Said participant Katie Furrow, "We walked through and around campus (at Bridgewater College in Virginia) with signs supporting peace activism and peace education. It was so exciting to see the interaction between the youth and the community as people and vehicles we passed would throw up peace signs, wave, or honk in our direction as we joyfully filed past!"

Also on March 23, Anna Lisa Gross and 14 others associated with Common Spirit Church of the Brethren or Living Table United Church of Christ circled Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, Minn., collectively walking 57 miles. They wore On Earth Peace's "When Jesus said love your enemies, I think he probably meant don't kill them" bumper stickers, and handed them out to interested onlookers.

Paul Fry-Miller, a member of Manchester Church of the Brethren, is planning a “paddle event” co-sponsored by the local Fellowship of Reconciliation. "We are planning a 5.5-mile afternoon float on the beautiful Eel River through North Manchester, Ind., that will include several stations along the way for brief stories and talks about peacemaking and our environment,” he told On Earth Peace. The Kenapocomoco Coalition members of Manchester University Peace Studies program will be camping out Friday night, April 26, in preparation for the float.

A group of bicyclists including denominational staff are planning a ride from the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., to Camp Emmaus in Mt. Morris, a 150-mile roundtrip to be accomplished over two days with an overnight at the camp. Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) president Nevin Dulabaum is one of the organizers and has invited other interested cyclists to join the effort.

On Earth Peace recently hired a part-time campaign organizer, Becca DeWhitt, to help staff the campaign. The organization also is seeking volunteers gifted in publicity, social media, data management, or outreach, who may have connections to bike clubs, congregations, or campuses where a ride or walk for peacemaking might be held. A number of volunteer positions are available. Contact executive director Bill Scheurer at

For more information visit To hold a peace witness as part of the campaign, contact

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Young Adult Conference 2013 is held at Camp Pine Lake in Iowa.

The 2013 Young Adult Conference will be held May 25-27 for Brethren age 18-35 at Camp Pine Lake near Eldora, Iowa. The event will offer participants a long weekend of worship, fun, and fellowship.

The annual conference is an opportunity for young adults to connect with others from across the denomination and to together explore a theme and scripture. This year the theme will be “Voice: ...The Stones Would Shout Out!” from the story of people spreading their cloaks before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, told in Luke 19:36-40: “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’”

Leadership will be provided by speakers Eric Landrum, Kay Guyer, Jonathan Brenneman, and Joanna Shenk. Worship coordinators are Marie Benner Rhoades and Tyler Goss. Jacob Crouse is the music leader.

The cost is $100 per participant, or $125 after May 1. Scholarship help is available. The registration fee includes two nights of lodging, as well as all meals and programming during the event.

Coordinating the 2013 young adult event is Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Contact her at For more information and registration go to

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Friday, April 05, 2013

Youth voice is heard in New York and Washington during Christian Citizenship Seminar.

A CCS guest speaker highlights poverty across the nation
Photo by Rachel Witkovsky
A CCS guest speaker highlights poverty across the nation through a graphic. Speakers at the 2013 Christian Citizenship Seminar offered varying perspectives on poverty and children affected by it.
During the last week of March, 55 Church of the Brethren youth and advisors joined forces to learn more about the issue of childhood poverty at this year's Christian Citizenship Seminar. CCS is a week-long event sponsored by the denomination's Youth and Young Adult Ministries and Office of Public Witness (formerly Peace Witness Ministries) based in Washington, D.C.

CCS gives senior high youth the chance to explore the relationship between faith and a particular political issue. This year the focus was on how a child’s lack of adequate housing, nutrition, and education may perpetuate the cycle of poverty and limit a child’s potential.

The event was planned and led by a number of denominational staff including Becky Ullom, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries; Nathan Hosler, coordinator of the Office of Public Witness; Rachel Witkovsky, a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker and coordinator of National Junior High Conference; and Bryan Hanger, also a BVS volunteer and advocacy assistant in the Office of Public Witness.

The week began in New York City where Nathan Hosler and I spoke of our experiences with the issue as part of our work at the church’s Office of Public Witness. We spoke specifically of the “sequester” and the effects these cuts to the federal budget have on children facing poverty. For example, some 600,000 participants will be cut from the Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program designed to help the nutrition of young infants and mothers. In another example, more than 100,000 formerly homeless people will lose access to shelters due to drastic cuts in homelessness assistance (see ).

In Washington, so much emphasis has been placed on the bottom budget line that the human costs of these cuts has been tragically overlooked. We encouraged the youth to instead look for inspiration from Jesus’ example in scripture to care for the "least of these."

This theme was expanded by the first guest speaker, Shannon Daley-Harris, who is the religious affairs advisor for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). Her vast experience of working with religious communities addressing childhood poverty provided great insight for our youth on the human cost of poverty. She spoke specifically of the CDF’s program “Be Careful What You Cut,” which emphasizes long-term effects of cutting anti-poverty programs for young children (more information is at ).

The second guest speaker was Sarah Rohrer, deputy director of Bread for the World’s office in New York. The Church of the Brethren has a history of working with and supporting the mission of Bread for the World through the Global Food Crisis Fund. Recently Stan Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren general secretary, signed Bread for the World’s Circle of Protection Pastoral Letter to the President and Congress ( ). Rohrer talked about the effects of poverty on children around the world, and spoke specifically about Bread for the World’s 1,000 Days program and Offering of Letters advocacy effort. The 1,000 Days program focuses internationally on the early development of children and is designed to eliminate malnutrition of young children and mothers by providing ample and healthy food during the 1,000 days from pregnancy to the child’s second birthday. The Offering of Letters is an advocacy effort that provides a way for church members to speak out on issues of poverty from a faith perspective and encourage their representatives and senators to support policies that will help programs like 1,000 Days be effective.

In between these two sessions with guest speakers, youth got to explore the Big Apple including a trip to the United Nations where youth were able to take a tour and learn about UN efforts to reduce poverty. After three days of fun and learning in New York, the CCS group boarded a bus to Washington, D.C., for the second half of the seminar.

In the nation’s capital, the educational tour continued with a trip to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) where three staff members of the USDA’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships spoke about how they work with churches and social organizations to implement government policies at a community level. The USDA staff encouraged our youth to learn from the success stories they shared, and create community programs that collaborate with the USDA to help as many people as possible. We learned how recent budget cuts have affected many of the USDA efforts to combat poverty effectively, but also how they were proactively adapting their strategies and goals to transform many of their programs. One of the changes is a new program entitled "Strikeforce," which will work to reduce poverty and encourage economic development in rural communities that have not traditionally been recipients of USDA programs ( ).

After the USDA visit, the youth had a chance to learn how to put their knowledge into action. For this task our guests were Jerry O’Donnell, a member of Washington City Church of the Brethren and also press secretary for Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-32), and Shantha Ready-Alonso, director of the National Council of Churches (NCC) Poverty Initiative. O'Donnell provided an insider perspective as a Congressional staffer while Ready-Alonso demonstrated the advocacy skills and strategies needed to be an effective Christian voice on Capitol Hill.

This combination gave our youth the confidence and knowledge to go to Capitol Hill themselves and lift up the issue of childhood poverty with their own representatives and senators. By the time the seminar concluded, Brethren youth had advocated their concerns with senators and representatives from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, California, Ohio, and Oregon.

Overall, the week was a rousing success. Brethren youth connected with each other and worked with adult advisors and staff to learn more about child poverty. Visiting New York and Washington, and getting to speak faithfully with a Brethren voice to policy experts and lawmakers, was truly a unique experience. We can’t wait to hear about the fruits of this experience once the youth carry their ideas home and put them to work in their own communities.

-- Bryan Hanger is an advocacy assistant at the Church of the Brethren's Office of Public Witness.

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Ecumenical Luncheon at Annual Conference

Young adults ages 18-28 are invited to attend the
Ecumenical Luncheon

Annual Conference 2013
Charlotte, North Carolina
Monday, July 1 at 12:00 noon

Featuring The Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins
General Minister and President,
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Seeking Wholeness
Dr. Watkins will share reflections on Christian unity as a gift and a goal for the church of Jesus Christ in the complex society of the U.S. and the world.

To order your complimentary ticket, e-mail by June 14.

Sponsored by the Office of the General Secretary