Newsline for May 9, 2020

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Bibles at Lancaster Church of the Brethren

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

NEWS
1) Denominational board amends BFIA grant guidelines to help churches and camps
2) Emergency Disaster Fund grant supports COVID-19 efforts in Nigeria
3) Sunday worship under lock down in Nigeria
4) Brethren Benefit Trust updates its Department of Defense screening lists for 2020
5) On Earth Peace reports from Spring meeting, announces decision to join SCN
6) Brethren offer music online for inspiration, solace, healing

7) Brethren bits: Remembering the Kent State shooting, remembrance for Josephine S. Wampler, prayer requests from Global Mission, youth scripture jam, Northern Plains district conference going virtual, more Bridgewater College student awards, global prayer day on May 14, and more

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Find our landing page of Church of the Brethren COVID-19 related resources and information at www.brethren.org/covid19 .

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Find a listing of Church of the Brethren congregations offering online worship services at www.brethren.org/news/2020/church-of-the-brethren-congregations-worship-online.html .

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An ongoing listing of Brethren active in health care is online at www.brethren.org/news/2020/brethren-active-in-health-care.html as a way to help us recognize, thank, and pray for Church of the Brethren members who are caring for people’s health right now–from nurses and doctors, to therapists and pharmacists and dentists, to aides and chaplains, paramedics and EMTs, hospital volunteers and staff of clinics and retirement communities, and other roles in direct health care. To add a person to this listing, send an email with first name, county, and state to cobnews@brethren.org .

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1) Denominational board amends BFIA grant guidelines to help churches and camps

By Stan Dueck
 
COVID-19 has created programming and financial stress on Church of the Brethren camps and congregations. Due to the coronavirus, the Mission and Ministry Board of the denomination made the following changes to the Brethren Faith in Action Fund guidelines. The amendments are in place through Dec. 31, 2020.
 
First, Church of the Brethren camps are now eligible for a one-time grant up to $5,000. The matching requirement of 50 percent of the amount awarded remains in place. A Church of the Brethren camp may apply for a waiver of some or all the matching fund requirement.
 
Second, Church of the Brethren congregations, fellowships, and projects applying for Brethren Faith in Action grants also may apply for a waiver of some or all of the matching fund requirements through December 2020. Churches are eligible for funds up to $5,000. 
 
In this time, when needs in our communities are so great, all applicants are asked to carefully consider the budget of their outreach projects and ask for only the money that is truly needed. The Brethren Faith in Action funds are limited; good budgeting will allow more applications to be granted to help more people.
 
Another reminder to congregations is that Emergency Disaster Fund grants also are available for many outreach projects in this time of emergency.
 
The Brethren Faith in Action guidelines and application form are in English, Kreyol, and Spanish, and are available at www.brethren.org/faith-in-action .

— Stan Dueck is co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries for the Church of the Brethren.

2) Emergency Disaster Fund grant supports COVID-19 efforts in Nigeria

A COVID-19 poster in Nigeria features EYN staff liaison Markus Gamache

A COVID-19 poster in Nigeria features EYN staff liaison Markus Gamache

A grant of $14,000 has been given from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) directed by the Brethren Disaster Ministries staff to COVID-19 response in Nigeria. This allocation supports Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) for two months of its pandemic response.

EYN made a request of $7,000 per month to help some of the most vulnerable widows and students stranded at Kulp Theological Seminary during the travel restrictions and “lock down” that began March 30. This program will be coordinated with the Nigeria Crisis Response to serve the most people possible.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there have been at least 1,932 COVID-19 cases and 58 related deaths in Nigeria. Brethren Disaster Ministries staff noted in the grant request, however, that this is likely a gross under representation of the cases in Nigeria. In recent days, Nigerian media have reported as many as 600 deaths in a likely COVID-19 outbreak in Kano State in northern Nigeria. There may be many more COVID-19 cases in other Nigerian states.

Nigeria imposed travel restrictions and a lock down starting March 30. The president of Nigeria announced the easing of confinement measures starting May 4, with a night curfew and the wearing of masks required. The grant request said that as the Kano situation is researched further, these orders may change.

The restrictions have created a hunger crisis for the poorest citizens of Nigeria and also have limited the ability of EYN staff to implement the Nigeria Crisis Response plan related to ongoing violence in the northeast of the country. Some crisis funds have been re-purposed to help with extreme hunger and preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus.

To contribute financially to the Emergency Disaster Fund go to www.brethren.org/edf . For more information about the joint Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .

3) Sunday worship under lock down in Nigeria

By Zakariya Musa, communications staff for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

Following the lock down measures put in place by the Nigerian government to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection among its citizens, the preventives measure are considered differently depending on the environment or level of understanding. Some states are in the fifth week of the total lock down, while others are in the third week. Adamawa State is among the recent states to place the order of lock down.

At the news of this pandemic, which has killed about over 200,000 globally, it is expected that social distancing, personal hygiene, and use of face masks are taken with seriousness. But this is still facing lots of challenges, either due to ignorance about the pandemic or how it infects people. For example, in many communities people get upset especially when his or her fellow refuses a handshake. From the preventive measures, it is also expected that people don’t converge in one place for worship, burials, weddings, naming ceremonies, and other sorts of parties, because the infected persons may not seem different from others who could get infected easily. Some of the religious leaders who were expected to extend awareness down to their followers don’t promote or support the government measures against the spread of the virus, which could cause total setbacks in the communities.

The lockdown measures have increased the difficulties of life. People cry of hunger as they stay indoors, especially those who depend on daily earning to put food on the family table. The so-called government palliative is not reaching the needy, or has less impact on the lives of the masses crying out from their homes. While defying the lock down measures, many have faced he wrath of security personnel as they try going about their business.

The last Sunday in April was the first for lock down to take place all over Adamawa State following the discovery of a COVID-19 case in the state. Churches conducted Sunday services in unusual ways by splitting the congregation into cells. I compiled a situation report on how the Sunday services were conducted on April 26:

“We are trusting God for protection against the stubborn coronavirus crisis that has shaken the global community. We had our worship in the family. We did a complete Sunday worship including offering to be taken to the church when the situation improves. We used the EYN texts for that day. Wash your hands, stay at home, stay safe.” – Rev. Dr. Toma H. Ragnjiya, Maiduguri

“Well we used to form cells by zones, but today only five attended in my zone due to rainfalls. But last Sunday we were 47 in my cell, though police/security used to distract. We do adhere to NCDC guidelines.” – Rev. James U. Hena, Yola

“We shared the church into 20 groups in our houses, this is the fourth Sunday we have been worshiping in our homes.” – Rev. Elijah Madani, Yola

“There was no Sunday service. We had service in the house. We are all fine.” – Rev. Patrick Bugu, Abuja

“We had our Sunday service in our compound (Theological Education by Extension, or TEE). Even the Bible studies, we did it together with our families in the compound and it was amazing. We took the offering we made to the nearest church (about 8,000 Naira)…. We give God the glory for all things.” – Rev. Daniel I. Yumuna

“It was ok, but the respect of the social distancing is observed by the members in some churches.” – Luka Isaac, Minawao, Cameroon

“As you may already be aware, the FCT [in Abuja] is one of the places that have been on the Presidential lockdown for over four weeks now. At EYN LCC Utako, only the three pastors, the church secretary, the technical crew, and a few others hold worship services in the church on Sundays and stream it on social media. Other members of our church hold worship services in their areas and homes. We have received testimonies from some of them, especially the men, on how this has helped them learn to be pastors in their homes. A good number of them send their reports to the church secretary promptly.” – Rev. Caleb S. Dakwak, Abuja

— Zakariya Musa is communications staff for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

4) Brethren Benefit Trust updates its Department of Defense screening lists for 2020

BBT logo

By Jean Bednar, director of communications for Brethren Benefit Trust

Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has released the 2020 Department of Defense lists that are used for screening investments under its management. All investments managed for members, clients, and donors follow Brethren Values Investing guidelines that are consistent with Church of the Brethren Annual Conference statements.

This means that the 25 publicly traded companies that receive the most US Department of Defense contracts (in terms of dollars), and companies that generate 10 percent or more of their gross earnings from US Department of Defense contracts, firearms and military weapons systems, weapons of mass destruction, abortion, alcohol, gambling, pornography, or tobacco, are screened from BBT investment portfolios. Companies that are egregious violators of environmental or human rights regulations also are screened from BBT portfolios.

Following are the updated lists:
 
2020 US Department of Defense companies screened due to greater than 10 percent of gross revenues from prime contracts with the US DoD (see note below). This list has been developed on a best effort basis by Kayne Anderson Rudnick:

Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings
AeroVironment
Air Transport Services Group*
ASGN*
Avon Rubber
BAE Systems
Ball*
BK Technologies*
Boeing
Booz Allen Hamilton
CACI International
Cerner*
Chemring Group
Cleveland BioLabs*
CPI Aerostructures*
Cubic
Curtiss-Wright
DLH Holdings*
Dynasil of America*
Emergent BioSolutions*
Energy Focus*
FLIR Systems
Frequency Electronics*
Genasys*
Genedrive*
General Dynamics
Giga-tronics*
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock
Griffon*
Hanger*
Healthcare Trust of America*
Honeywell International*
Hornbeck Offshore Services (Louisiana)*
Hudson Technologies*
Huntington Ingalls Industries
Iridium Communications
Itamar Medical*
KBR*
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions
L3Harris Technologies
Leidos Holdings
Lockheed Martin
Luna Innovations*
Moog
National Presto Industries
Northrop Grumman
Ocean Power Technologies
Oshkosh
PAR Technology
Parsons*
PureTech Health*
Raytheon Technologies
Science Applications International
SIGA Technologies*
Tactile Systems Technology*
Teledyne Technologies
Tel-Instrument Electronics*
Tetra Tech*
Textron
Ultra Electronics Holdings
Unisys*
Vectrus*
Vocera Communications*

Note: Public companies that received prime contract awards during the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2019.

* Denotes new to the list for 2020.

Removed from the 2019 list: Astronics; Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings; Austal; BWX Technologies; Comtech Communications; Engility Holdings; ESCO Technologies; Esterline Technologies; Express Scripts Holding; Harris; Hawaiian Electric Industries; Hawaiian Telecom; Humana; Inovio Pharmaceuticals; Jacobs Engineering Group; KEYW Holding; ManTech International; Maxar Technologies; Orbit International; Perspecta; Rockwell Collins; ViaSat; VSE; Wesco Aircraft Holdings.

US Department of Defense 2020 top 25 publicly traded companies receiving prime contract awards. Source: Federal Contract Data: Federal Procurement Data System, Top 100 Contractors Report Fiscal Year 2018-19:

1. Lockheed Martin
2. Boeing
3. Raytheon
4. General Dynamics
5. Northrop Grumman
6. Humana
7. Huntington Ingalls Industries
8. BAE Systems
9. L3Harris Technologies
10. General Electric
11. Centene
12. Leidos Holdings
13. Oshkosh
14. McKesson
15. Textron
16. Fluor
17. AmerisourceBergen
18. KBR
19. Booz Allen Hamilton Holding
20. AECOM
21. Science Applications International
22. Leonardo
23. CACI International
24. Austal
25. Perspecta

New to BBT Top 25 list for 2020: 16. Fluor; 22. Leonardo; 24. Austal; 25. Perspecta

Removed from the BBT Top 25 list for 2020: Healthnet; United Health Group; Harris (merged with L3); United Technology (merged with Raytheon)

5) On Earth Peace reports from Spring meeting, announces decision to join SCN

From an On Earth Peace release

During the On Earth Peace board meetings held April 2-4 via Zoom, the board, staff, and Anti-Racism Transformation Team met to receive committee updates, hear staff plans for implementing the organization’s strategic directions, continued to deepen commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression through caucusing, and announced a decision made at its previous board meeting to join the Supportive Communities Network (SCN).

Read the full release from On Earth Peace at www.onearthpeace.org/on_earth_peace_spring_board_meeting_report_2020?recruiter_id=9309 . Read an On Earth Peace statement about its decision to join SCN at www.onearthpeace.org/scn .

6) Brethren offer music online for inspiration, solace, healing


The inaugural COBCAST from Messenger Radio: Poem "Waiting" read by Wendy McFadden with Nancy Miner on piano playing "Move in Our Midst"

Nancy Miner, a gifted pianist and a member of the denominational staff serving as office manager for the General Secretary, has been posting piano performances via Facebook Live. Many are beloved hymn tunes. Recently she recorded “Move in Our Midst” for use in an inaugural “Messenger Radio” podcast from the Church of the Brethren “Messenger” magazine featuring publisher Wendy McFadden reading her poem titled “Waiting.” Listen in by clicking the “COBCAST–Church of the Brethren podcast” button at www.brethren.org/messenger/articles/from-the-publisher/waiting.html .

Many Church of the Brethren musicians have been stepping up to provide online performances, concerts or festivals, music downloads, and other offerings for inspiration, comfort, solace, and healing. Following are just a few of these musicians (if you have been inspired by a Brethren musician during this crisis, let Newsline know by sending an email to cobnews@brethren.org ):

— The “Sing Me Home Festival” is an innovative new partnership between the band Friends with the Weather and Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind. Co-coordinators are Chris Good and Seth Hendricks. Launched online on April 12 with a Friends with the Weather concert, the festival is about to start it’s fifth week of online programming. According to a release, “the festival has featured more than 20 concerts and talks from luminaries such as Addison Agen, Carrie Newcomer, May Erlewine, Steve Kinzie, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, and Dr. Drew Hart. The upcoming and final week in this initial online offering will include performances/talks from Jacob Crouse, Zander Willoughby, Sadie Gustafson-Zook, Ethan Setiawan, and festival co-coordinator Seth Hendricks.” What was originally envisioned to be an inaugural gathering in October 2020 in North Manchester “has radically transformed,” said the release. “If there ever was a moment to Sing Me Home, THIS IS IT.” Good, a musician and activist from Ann Arbor, Mich., commented on the healing power of music for this moment in time: “The visions and dreams of all of our early 2020 days have surely been shook by the fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and grief that have settled in wide and deep…yet, so much remains the same. We all yearn for voices of healing, vision, and love to break through the noise and give us courage to step into right relationship with each other and the earth. We have been deeply moved by the engagement and enthusiasm that the festival has received in just a few short weeks as people have tuned in from across the country and the world. Our hope is that it can continue to serve as a space for people to come together to be inspired and restored during these challenging times.” The upcoming week 5 theme is “Sing Me Home with Love.” Learn more about the festival and watch the festival trailer at singmehome.org . Stream all programming and archives at www.facebook.com/singmehomefestival . Read a “Local Spins” article about the festival at https://localspins.com/online-sing-me-home-fest-tourism-worker-relief-concerts-ramp-up-as-live-shows-go-dark .

Shawn Kirchner of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, who is composer-in-residence at the Los Angeles Master Chorale, has delighted church congregations and denominational gatherings–including Annual Conference–with his musical gifts for performance and composition. During the COVID-19 crisis he has been offering live music online on his Facebook page, including favorite hymns like today’s Facebook performance of “Holy Holy Holy.” One of the most popular YouTube performances of his compositions is of a choral piece titled “I’ll Be on My Way,” recorded by the University of La Verne Chamber Singers in 2018, conducted by Dr. Irene Messoloras and filmed at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, Calif. Find it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6EbWTem0tQ .

Ryan Arndt, organist at West Green Tree Church of the Brethren in Elizabethtown, Pa., has been part of a unique hymn sing held over YouTube. For this time of shutdown and uncertainty, the church created a live stream through YouTube for the congregation to worship without having to meet face to face. After a few weeks of worship, they decided to add midweek ministries. They also came up with the idea for the hymn sing in which people could send in hymn requests ahead of time, for hymns to be sung and played in a live stream event with the lyrics displayed for attendees to sing along at home. The first hymn sing was planned as a one-time event, Arndt reported, but it had more than 200 live attendees and so the congregation decided to offer it on a weekly basis each Monday night at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). People from other states have been tuning in, he reported, including Florida, Michigan, California, Arizona, Washington, and even Canada. “We did this first as an encouragement for our church body, but it has grown to be a tremendous outreach,” he wrote. “A church of 175 people on a Sunday is reaching hundreds through the use of live streaming.”

Linda Williams, a Church of the Brethren musician, songwriter, and peace activist in San Diego, Calif., is offering free downloads of the songs she has written and posted online over the years during the pandemic. Much of her music is written for children, and she contacted Newsline to share that her songs may be a way for families staying safe-at-home to share Brethren values of faith and peacemaking with their children. “I was reviewing these songs for another project, and it occurred to me that the words of ‘Grant Me Patience, Lord,’ and ‘The Serenity Prayer’ might be helpful to others as we experience these trying times!” Her website also is offering songs to help children deal with difficult feelings. Williams is offering a free download of her music during this time, visitors to her website at https://lkwbetterworld.wordpress.com are welcome to simply enter $0 at check out.

Mike Sievers is another of the many Church of the Brethren members offering special musical offerings online. For a recent online worship service from Brookville Church of the Brethren, he shared a song he had written more than three decades ago. Here is his note to Newsline: “As I’ve been going through my musical archives over this past week, I came across a praise song that I wrote when I first became a Christian, over 35 years ago. Susan and I recorded it back then with the group, Garment of Praise, and I have included it in this service.” Find the Brookville service at https://youtu.be/O01fpnDuSJI .

7) Brethren bits

Remembrance: Josephine S. Wampler, 89, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in India, passed away on May 1 in Bridgewater, Va. She and her husband, Dr. Frederick William Wampler whom she married in 1953, and who passed away in 2013, served as missionaries to India for 10 years. She was born on Dec. 26, 1930, in Salem, Va., to Horace Charles and Ruth Webster Spangler. Over the course of her life she was a homemaker, a school teacher, an artist who loved weaving and painting, and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and Brethren Disaster Ministries. She helped found the Humane Society in Johnson City, Tenn. She was a lifelong member of the Church of the Brethren, most recently attending Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. She is survived by three daughters, Amanda Marie Wampler Smith and her husband Cecil “David” Smith of Mt. City, Tenn., Ruth Virginia Wampler also of Mt. City, Tenn., and Rosalie Savita Wampler of Baltimore, Md.; and grandchildren. A private graveside service will be held at Greenmount Cemetery in Harrisonburg, Va., and a memorial service at a later date. Memorial gifts are received to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Online condolences may be made to the family by visiting www.mcmullenfh.com .

Prayer requests from the staff of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service:
     Norm and Carol Waggy, interim directors of the Global Mission office, have shared a prayer request from Brethren in Brazil following a telephone call with Marcos Inhauser, who serves as denominational staff with Igreja da Irmandade (the Church of the Brethren in Brazil). Inhauser requested prayer that “Brazil has a pandemic as well as a political earthquake because the president is not dealing with the health problems but is creating political problems.”
     Global Mission staff also have received an update from a church in Honduras that recently received a small COVID-19 grant. Roy Winter, associate executive of Global Mission and Service, highlighted the church’s statement of faith in the face of extreme hardships including Dengue fever and COVID-19 together. Global Food Initiative manager Jeff Boshart translated the update into English from the original Spanish written by Arely Cantor, a pastor of the Vivendo en Amor y Fe congregation in Tegucigalpa along with her father, Mario Cantor.
     “[In] the quarantine we continue now…. Each family of the church meets together to pray, sing, and meditate. We are studying a book about Jubilee and we write in our Whatsapp group the prayers and experiences that we are living during the week. We have given food to the families. It has been a great experience. We have seen God accompanying the people. We have cried to see so much pain, but our trust is in God and his overabundant grace in the middle of all the darkness. In Honduras almost everyone is detained. The unemployment grows and in the best of cases, some are working for 50 percent of their original salary. We aren’t only working to survive the COVID-19, but also Dengue fever is spreading every day. We have many deaths. It looks like the plagues of Egypt truly! We pray to God that our faith will not fall and for strength to continue maintaining our hearts as a lamp full of oil to be useful, we hope-givers where we are and how we are.”

Youth from Antioch Church of the Brethren have created a video scripture jam titled “Through my fear, I trust in God.” The Facebook video was posted on the Youth Advisors of the Church of the Brethren page by Nolan McBride, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the denomination’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Find the scripture jam at www.facebook.com/groups/140324432741613/permalink/3118880678219292 .


Mary Scott Boria of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., making face masks 

Mary Scott Boria of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., has sewn 1,000 COVID-19 masks, “and counting!” report fellow church members Joyce and John Cassel. “Masks for hospital workers, prison inmates, anti-violence street workers, senior citizens in public housing, postal workers, police detectives, disabled people, grandchildren, and others. Masks were sent to Boulder, New York City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Puerto Rico, Chicago, suburban Chicago, and other locations.” Boria is a longtime member and a strong leader in the congregation. She has “always loved fabric, and loved to sew,” the Cassels write. “Across the years Mary created many artistic and creative pieces, like the Pentecost banner she made for First Church.” They report that sewing has been an important part of life for Boria, who has had connections to the Textiles Department of the Chicago Art Institute, and at one point owned four sewing machines. Her project to sew face masks started when a friend expressed frustration, via Facebook, about not being able to find a mask for her disabled brother. “Mary said to herself, ‘I can make a mask.’ And she improvised two for her friend.” After her friend wrote a post appreciating Boria’s mask-making gifts, other people started to contact her asking for masks, “and the requests exploded.”

Northern Plains District has announced that it will not be meeting face-to-face for its 2020 District Conference on July 31-Aug. 2 but will be gathering together on the same dates, through technology-based platforms yet to be decided. Said the district e-newsletter: “District Conference Planning Committee made this decision after conferring with the District Board. The Committee is exploring how to provide a meaningful program of worship and business along with opportunities for fellowship, learning and giving. Congregations should still select and register their voting delegates for the business meeting, noting that participation in the meeting will be through computer or telephone.”

Bridgewater (Va.) College continues to announce student awards.
    Ashley N. Williams of Temple Hills, Md.,  received the 2020 Paul M. and Betty Kline Student Art Award. The award is in honor of the late Paul Kline, who retired as professor of art in 1997 after 38 years on the faculty, and Betty Kline, who formerly served at the college as dean of women and a psychology instructor.
     The Bridgewater College Alumni Association recognized a number of students with Alumni Legacy Scholarships: Colin M. Bryant, a sophomore from Port Republic, Va.; Mark R. DeWitt, a sophomore from Henrico, Va.; Jacob H. Grabeel, a junior from Gordonsville, Va.; Kellen C. Hodge, a sophomore from Greensboro, N.C.; Davin P. Kines, a sophomore from Amissville, Va.; Jenna Long, a sophomore from Bridgewater and Dayton, Va.; Charles H. Price, a junior from Shenandoah, Va.; Camryn P. Rosenberger, a senior from Mount Jackson, Va.; and Luke N. Stubbs, a junior from Pearisburg, Va.
     Also awarded by the alumni association was the Citizenship Award, given to Anh H. Nguyen, a global studies major with a minor in economics, from Hanoi, Vietnam.
     The Dr. Jacob S. Huffman Outstanding Student Leadership Award was given by the alumni association to Victoria L. Hudson from Springfield, Va., an environmental science major with a concentration in wildlife biology.
 
About the latest Dunker Punks Podcast: “Need ideas for some wholesome fun? Having trouble finding a silver lining? Susu and Annika chat about experiencing community during a pandemic, rekindling their love and excitement towards nature, connecting with old friends, and a lot more. For your daily dose of positivity!” Listen at bit.ly/DPP_Episode98 or subscribe on iTunes.

On Earth Peace is announcing a Dunker Punks Podcast “talkback” session with Dana Cassell about her “Praying Through A Pandemic” episode. “Many of us are experiencing faith life in new ways in the physical separation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. How is it going with your spiritual life in this moment?” said the announcement. Participants should first listen to “Praying Through A Pandemic” at https://arlingtoncob.org/96-praying-through-a-pandemic to get the most out of the discussion, which will include time to share experiences and introduce some creative prayer practices. The event takes place online on Wednesday, May 13, from 3 to 4 p.m. (Eastern time). Sign up at www.onearthpeace.org/cv_5 .

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is offering a webinar titled “Iraqi Kurdistan: Nonviolent Resistance to Cross-Border Bombings” on May 14 at 12 noon (Central time). CPT began as an initiative of the historic peace churches including the Church of the Brethren. In this live webinar, the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team will speak about how “for years Turkish and Iranian bombings have disrupted the lives of civilians within Iraqi Kurdistan,” said an announcement. “The bombings have displaced families, destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of communities, and injured and killed many civilians, including children. Over the past year, there have been over 350 bombings in the Sidakan sub-district alone and the bombings continue, even during this time of COVID-19.” The webinar also will include information on the “Hear Us Now: Stop the Bombing! Campaign.” Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_z1-ZmDzlQq6nU272u8XoBg .

Bread for the World has published its annual hunger report, provided through the Bread for the World Institute. This year’s report, titled “2020 Hunger Report, Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow,” examines the challenge of ending global hunger and malnutrition and offers recommendations to accelerate progress, said an announcement. The overview of the report, posted online, notes that “currently, there are 822 million people undernourished because of hunger, more than 2 billion people undernourished because of vitamin and mineral (micronutrient) deficiencies, and another 2 billion overweight or obese. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 interconnected goals adopted by the United States and 193 other countries in 2015, include a goal to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. The World Health Assembly (WHA) in 2012 adopted a set of global maternal/child nutrition targets for 2025. The SDGs and the WHA targets are touchstones for all our recommendations in the report. The world is not on track to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030. Neither is it on track to reach the maternal/child nutrition targets. To get on a path to success, food systems need to make healthy diets available and affordable to all; ensure that food is produced sustainably; and support equitable livelihoods for all workers in food systems.” Find the full report at https://hungerreport.org/2020 .

The National Council of Churches (NCC) has issued a statement grieving acts of violence perpetrated against two unarmed African American men reported this week. Citing Isaiah 1:17, the statement noted that these shootings happened “even as most of the nation has remained at home sheltering in place. These incidents have reinforced the urgent need for us to address racism and white supremacy. The evil that results from racial hatred is exactly this: Black bodies lying dead in the streets.” The NCC statement responded to the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery who was shot dead by two white men while jogging through a neighborhood just outside Brunswick, Ga., and the shooting of Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, 21, by Indianapolis police who fired 13 bullets, “most after he fell helplessly to the ground,” the statement noted. Said NCC president and general secretary Jim Winkler in the release, “Our history is marred with 400 years of slavery, racism, and lynchings that include far too many incidents like these. Now, we have these unprovoked and grotesque murders in broad daylight. We demand justice.” Read the full statement online at http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/ncc-decries-violence-against-two-unarmed-african-american-men .

— World Council of Churches (WCC) acting general secretary Ioan Sauca has invited all member churches to observe a global prayer day on May 14. “The joint initiative with the members of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, of which the WCC is part, is calling for prayer and supplication to God for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said a release from the WCC. “Many of our people are experiencing fear and uncertainty, as well as trauma, separation, isolation, and even death in their families or in their church communities,” said Sauca. “As we continue to navigate this global health crisis, world unity through prayer reflects our willingness to care for one another. WCC member churches can, from their own places and traditions, support each other, look outwards to the needs of all their neighbours, and strengthen our one human family.” In calling for worldwide prayer, the committee stated in the invitation: “Each one, from wherever they are and according to the teachings of their religion, or faith, should implore God to lift this pandemic off us and the entire world, to rescue us all from this adversity.”

Justin Self of Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., has been named a co-valedictorian for the class of 2020 at Manchester Jr.-Sr. High School. He has earned Academic Excellence and highest honor roll during all four years of high school, is a member of the National Honor Society and served as secretary, participated in a Germany exchange program, has been involved in choir, school musicals, and theater productions, and participated in the Wabash County Honor Choir. He also was a key member of the soccer team that won a sectional championship this past fall, served as team captain for two years, and received TRC All-Conference and Academic All Conference awards for two years. He is the son of Randy and Brenda Self. Find the full announcement from the Times Union at https://timesuniononline.com/Content/Local-News/Local-News/Article/Manchester-Names-Top-Students/2/453/126369 .

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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Ryan Arndt, Jan Fischer Bachman, Jean Bednar, Marie Benner-Rhoades, Joyce and John Cassel, Stan Dueck, Chris Good, Nolan McBride, Nancy Miner, Zakariya Musa, Mike Sievers, Linda Williams, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to cobnews@brethren.org . All submissions are subject to editing. Find the Newsline archive at www.brethren.org/news . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren emails, or make changes to your subscription, at www.brethren.org/intouch .

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