Evangelist an issue on
The Brethren Evangelist Asks...............................3
THE BRETHREN EVANGELIST ASKS...
What does Thankfulness Mean to You?
Note from Executive Director..............................2 NOTE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR The fall season is almost over and winter is coming. This is a favorite time in the Cole house because it brings the opportunity for our family to decorate the house, eat lots of good food and be with family. During all of this, we set aside time to remember all the blessings we have been given. As I reflect on the last year, I am excited and thankful for what the Lord has done and is continuing to do in and through The Brethren Church. I am thankful for the men and women who give of their time, talent, and resources to the work of the Kingdom of God. One of the best things about our church is that we are family. We all understand that Jesus has woven our stories together and we are blessed by those who stand shoulder to shoulder with us for the cause of Christ. For this reason, I want to take the time to say thank you to our National Office staff for their commitment to Christ and the mission of the church. Paula, Brenda, Gary, Ryan Tony, and Bill are not just great coworkers, they are dear friends and I am blessed to know them. I also want to express my thankfulness for the Executive Board of The Brethren Church. Emery, Scott, Diana, Josh, Dale, Pat, John, and Rich have been a great encouragement to me as I live out my calling in this role as Executive Director. My life is blessed. My family is blessed. It is blessed because of the relationships we have and the love lavished on us by our Heavenly Father. My prayer for all of us is that we will take time, remember how we are blessed by God, and give thanks to him for all we have. I pray this installment of the Evangelist finds you well and you are able to celebrate in this season of thanksgiving and remembrance. Be blessed.
Steven Cole Executive Director The Brethren Church
by Linda Immel
WMS.......................................................................5 Youth Focus.............................................................6 by Brooklyn Lehman & Emerson Mast
Board of Oversight..............................................9 by Emery Hurd
MissioChurch Spotlight...................................... 10 by Jeremy McClung
Brethren Peace Initiative................................... 13 by Phil Lersch
Gretna Celebrates 125 years........................ 14 Obits..................................................................... 15 Mobilize Focus.................................................... 16 by Emery Hurd
Christmas Wishes............................................... 19 Ask........................................................................ 20
524 College Ave. Ashland, OH 44805
The Brethren Church
The Brethren Church National Office
Abraham Lincoln declared a day of Thanksgiving on November 26, 1863, to celebrate a pivotal Union Army victory in the Civil War and enacted a law stating the fourth Thursday in November be set aside as a national day of Thanksgiving. The tradition began, and we are thankful. It’s the time of year when advertising becomes filled with cherubs dressed as pilgrims encouraging us to be thankful, cartoon turkeys beg us to eat more beef, and young school children make the inevitable construction paper turkey whose feathers are made with their handprints, and loving mommas proudly attach it to the refrigerator door to be adored by everyone. We travel “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house.” (And, you know you just sang it, and it will be your ear worm for the rest of the day.) And we are thankful. The young, as well as the youngat-heart, sit spellbound in front of the TV watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, a tradition that began in 1924 and has been televised since 1952. The house begins to fill with the delicious aroma of the turkey roasting in the oven; family appears, and we gather around
the table, eat far more than we should, stumble into the living room, family room or whichever room the nearest TV is in, and fall asleep watching football. The Detroit Lions have been playing football on Thanksgiving since 1934; the Dallas Cowboys, since 1966—another Thanksgiving tradition. And we are thankful. For the bargain-hunters, Black Friday comes earlier each year, and the Christmas shoppers start out at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning—or even earlier-- to be the first to grab that very special Christmas present for that very special someone on their list. Students and teachers alike take advantage of the long weekend and are quite happy that in many states the Monday after Thanksgiving has also become a holiday usually to accommodate the hunters out for the opening of deer season. And we are thankful. Our church music is laced with old hymns like, “Come Ye Thankful People, Come,” or “We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing,” and more modern choruses such as “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart,” and “Jesus, We just Want to Thank You.” We hear sermons admonishing us to give thanks to the Lord and
Giver of Gifts, and when I was growing up, we had a special Thanksgiving service on Wednesday night. And we are thankful. It IS good that we set aside a few days to celebrate the things for which we are thankful —the things God has done for us, but what about the rest of the year? For the Christ-follower, thankfulness should be a life style. Paul tells the Colossian church “. . . And always be thankful. . . .Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts” (Col. 3: 15-16, NLT). He continues that by doing so we are a representative of Jesus! What if we don’t always feel thankful? We should be thankful anyway. “Yeh, right!” you say? I’m not very good at this one either, but God’s will is otherwise: “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus“(I Thes. 5:18, NLT). We are children of the most loving Father. And we are thankful!
The Brethren Evangelist 3
f k u l n n e a s h t In any Language s by Linda Immel Thankfulness, giving thanks, being thankful…what does that really mean? I think that sometimes we just say those words or express that feeling without really thinking a whole lot about it. Some stranger opens the door for me at Walmart and I say “thanks” without much thought. The cashier hands us back our change and we flippantly say “thank you,” but do we really care about that person’s life? Noah Webster defines thankfulness as: conscious of benefit received, grateful thoughts, gratitude, and the list goes on. Paul says this in Colossians 2:6-7: “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” I daresay that here in the United States of America we often go through our days without overflowing with thankfulness. We have so much and we’ve worked so hard for what we have, that we don’t recognize the hand of God or the way He uses people to bless us. This is not the case around the world and especially with the Global Partners that I visited this past year. They may express their gratitude in different ways but it is always the same, sincerely straight from their hearts. In November, 2015 my husband and I spent a month in India with our dear friends, Prasanth and Nirmala Kumar. While there, we got to spend a lot of time with the children living at the Brethren orphanage. On one of those visits we presented each child with a new bed sheet and towel along with a small gift and cards from their sponsors and other Brethren from the U.S. I was struck by the fact that they did not say “thank you” to us. But what they did say was so much more powerful. Every one of them said, “Praise the Lord!” instead. Their hearts were overflowing with thankfulness to God for the people who had given these gifts to them. That wasn’t just Keith and I, but Brethren from across America: you! Most of you have heard our story of how 17 years ago we began to sponsor a young boy living at the Brethren 4 Nov./Dec. 2016
orphanage in India, and now we continue to support him and his family as a village pastor. In all those years, we never once received a thank you card from him (we probably wouldn’t be able to read it anyway). He expresses his thankfulness in a much different way. On this recent trip we had the privilege to visit his village and meet his wife for the first time. After the service, she came to me with a hand full of cards and pictures, all the ones our family had sent to him over the past 17 years. She told me that her husband had told her all about us, and how grateful they are for us. That small act of saving our cards was an expression of thankfulness. Many times during our visit with the Kumars they expressed their thankfulness for the Brethren Church in the United States. They depend on our prayers to strengthen them, are encouraged by the cards, notes and well wishes from friends and strangers alike, and are so grateful for the financial support that has helped them spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the masses in India close to fifty years. I don’t know how you express thanks in Telugu, the language in Andhra Pradesh, but I know that the hearts of the Brethren in India are overflowing with thankfulness to God for how He daily cares for their every need. This past May a team of seven traveled to Chile, South America to visit and work with the Godoy-Forrester family in Papudo. It was an opportunity to see our newest Brethren work and to support their ministry by building a storage shed for their café down on the beach. Many times they thanked us for just the little things we did, the pulling of weeds, hammering in nails, painting a platform, or sewing a bag. Often we would visit with them in the evenings after the day’s work was done, or we would sit around the table after a meal to just talk. Caleb, Tracy and the boys would share their vision for the ministry in Papudo and their dream of a beach church. During these times we could see that their hearts were overflowing with thankfulness to the God that called them and leads them on this journey, and for the Brethren that support and encourage them.
We also visited with the congregation at Santiago, and had a wonderful time of fellowship with them. We met Sandra, a devoted Christian lady that has been called to start an after school program at the Brethren church. They want to upgrade their kitchen area to fix a light snack for the kids that come for tutoring and study. We took a suitcase full of simple kitchen and school supplies for them to use. Sandra kept saying over and over, “Gracias, Gracias!” You would have thought we bought her a new stove and refrigerator, but instead it was kitchen towels, a mixing bowl, some utensils, and pencils, notebooks and crayons. To me that is what thankfulness sounds like in another language. From there five of us traveled to Peru, South America where I got to visit Our Good Shepherd Orphanage in Puerto Maldonado. Spending time with Italo, Rebecca and David Abuid, and seeing how the children in their care are growing and developing into healthy young people was such a blessing to me. Their thanks are often expressed in the giant smiles on their faces when they receive an unexpected gift. Those smiles came from the simple cards they received from the ladies in Indiana who took the time to write a greeting in Spanish just for them. Rebecca had asked if I could bring a Bible for Anthoni, a young boy who has lived at the orphanage since it opened. When I gave it to him he said, “Thank you.” I found out that he had learned some English just for my visit. While with the Lima Brethren Church we were amazed at the ministry of Pastor Luis Angel and the young people who are committed to making life better for the children in some of the poorest areas of the city. They asked for clothes that they could take to the kids, so we took coats and long pants for winter. We have seen pictures of the church delivering these items to the kids in Ticlio Chico, and the smiles on their faces and the shine in their eyes is all we need to know that their hearts are overflowing with thankfulness. These are only a few of the expressions of thanks I have received from the Brethren around the world. Just recently I received a simple “Thank you” from Jenny Loi for the cards, prayers and get well wishes she has received from the U.S. She made sure that her son relayed that message to me. David and Cecilia Molina in Spain were so grateful and encouraged by the prayers and cards sent to them. Messages from the Ferreri’s in Colombia and the leaders in the Philippines include gratitude for the support and prayers. My prayer is that we will live every day in a state of thankfulness to God for all the big and all those little things that He does for us just as our brothers and sisters in other countries do.
Women Meant to Serve serve the local church and the Global Partners in many ways through the year. Each year they support a 2 year giving project. This year is the second year of supporting the ministry at Pucasana Chile. So far the ladies have raised $7110.14. Each society also is encouraged to send cards each month for birthdays, anniversary, etc to partners around the world. Ladies are reminded that these cards should be sent to Linda Immel each month and she will take care of mailing them to the Global Partners. If your group is rolling bandages for India, these are also to be sent to Linda.
Youth focus Essays from our Youth this Holiday Season
ow, I know what you’re thinking, it’s another cliché essay about someone being thankful for their family and friends. You’re partially right. Some days when I look back and reflect on my life, my family is definitely what keeps me going. And, I’m not just talking about my parents and my brother and sister, but this also includes my church family in Nappanee and in Argentina. I’m so thankful I get to call these people family, too. I’m so thankful that I’ve attended Nappanee First Brethren Church for the majority of my life. It is there that I got baptized, learned all my favorite Bible stories, and met some of my best friends. When I was in sixth grade I got involved in youth group which has turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve also become so close with many people there that I now consider family. I’m so thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had being in the youth group. I’ve gone to National Youth Conference with BYIC, gone on missions trips to Lost Creek, KY (Riverside Christian School), School). My most recent adventure was a mission trip to Argentina. I’m so thankful for the pastors we have at NFBC because they truly care about the people of the church. I can’t imagine my life without Nappanee First Brethren Church. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to go to Argentina in June. I met so many awesome people from The Brethren churches in Argentina. I still talk to many of them on a daily basis. They are now a huge part of my support system. I’m so thankful for that trip because it helped me to figure out what I want to do in the future. God is definitely using my trip to Argentina to bless me in many ways. Reflecting on my life, I’m so thankful for everyone and everything in it. I hope all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving and reflect on what you, too, are thankful for. Happy holidays! Brooklyn Lehman
The Brethren Evangelist 7
Youth Essays cont’d...
am thankful for a tremendous number of things in my life. First, I am incredibly thankful for the amazing family that I have. Even though we don’t always see eye to eye and tensions may run high at times, but I love them with all my heart. They have done so much for me and have played a major role in shaping me into the person I am today. I would also like to say how incredibly thankful I am for my parents. My mother has always encouraged and pushed me to be the best I can be in all areas of life, especially for sending me to church camp and encouraging me to join band. My dad has taught me many things and been the main driver in my love of farming, the outdoors, and 4-H. He is one of the main pillars of my faith. I am also very thankful for my Grandma Jan and Grandpa Jerry, who have been massive influences on my life and I truly love them with all my heart. While I am only going to highlight a few more family members, each and every one of my family is very important to me and I am so very thankful for them. I am incredibly thankful for my Uncle Clark and Aunt Kay and for the impact they have had on my life. Uncle Clark has encouraged my interest in farming and so much more. Aunt Kay has encouraged my interest in reading, history, and just makes life more interesting. We’ve had great times together. I am also very thankful for Grandpa Jr., even though we may not have the most traditional of relationships. I love him very much and he has done soo much for me, supporting me in 4-H, teaching me about horses, and showing me how to be a good worker. I am very fortunate to have a large amount of positive influences that are currently in my life or have been in my life, and I am so immensely thankful for them. Now having said this I sadly don’t have the space or time to name all of them. I am thankful for each and every one of the adults, teachers, coaches, camp counselors, camp facilitators, pastors, 4-H leaders and Sunday school teachers and what they have done for me. For Mr. Martin and Ms. Kyzanowski who helped expand my interest in history and encouraged me to join Academic teams. For Mr. Criss who got me involved in high school band and who has helped me to improve my skills as a musician and really made high school enjoyable. For Jacob Grabill who welcomed me as a percussionist and who taught me many things about music and life. For Ray Lynn who gave me the oppor-
The National Board of Oversight from the Mid-Level Organization Task Force
tunity to be a camp counselor and for just making camp fun and interesting. For Bob, Fred, and all the others guys I talk to on Saturdays at the Station; they’ve done much to expand my views and keep life interesting. For Phil who got me involved in the beef club and who has helped me out a lot in 4-H. Ken, Tim, and the all other Diary Feeder Advisory Board members, and leaders have helped me become a better person, 4-Her and just make 4-H more enjoyable in general. Now I would like to say how thankful for all the incredible friends that I have. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some great people and forge some amazing friendships. First off I would like to talk about two of my oldest friends. Dawson Yarnelle and Toby Calloway. I met them both many years ago at church camp and we have been great friends ever since. I am very thankful for their friendship and all the good times, and conversations we have had over the years. A good friend I made more recently is Dillon Gish. Dillon was one of my campers this summer and we became good friends over the course of the week and we were able to have some very deep and beneficial conversations. I am incredibly thankful that I was able to meet and become friends with Dillon as well as being able to be his counselor this summer. Jacob Dougherty has been my friend since sixth grade and over the years we had many good conversations and fun times. I am very thankful to be able to call him my friend. I would also like to express how thankful I am for the Low Brass and all of the band and being able to call them my friends. They are a second family in many ways. Last but certainly but not least is Alex Wiseman. I’ve only known Alex since the beginning of marching band this year but we have quickly became great friends. I am so very thankful to be able to call him my friend. Now I would like to talk about some larger scale things that I am thankful for. I am incredibly thankful for the house that I live in, the property that the house is on, the county the property is in, the state the country is in, and the world the country in. Overall I’m incredibly and immensely thankful for God, because God more than anything else is why I’m lucky enough to be able to be thankful for all the incredible opportunities he has given me. by: Emerson Mast
8 Nov./Dec. 2016
By G. Emery Hurd
For over thirty years the National Ordination Council has served The Brethren Church in providing oversight to the ordination process of those seeking eldership. Organized by a cooperative effort of the nine districts, the council standardized the procedures that individuals seeking licensure and ordination from any district would undertake, and provided a final review of candidate qualifications and education prior to ordination. While the council was successful in achieving its primary purpose, several other important responsibilities were outside of its authority. The National Ordination Council had no direct responsibility or answerability to the national church. Once a candidate was approved by the council, all oversight authority was still within the district where an elder held church membership. If a church or candidate was uncomfortable with the actions of a district board of oversight or district examining board, there was no national appeal process. The council was funded by the voluntary donations of the several districts, so there was no funding mechanism to permit any other activities. With the proposed regionalization, the primary purpose of the National Ordination Council would be continued by a National Board of Oversight, and many of the shortcomings of the National Ordination Council would be addressed. The National Board of Oversight (NBO) will be made up of one lay and one elder representative from each of the five regions. The Executive Director will serve in a voting ex-officio capacity to provide direct communication and coordination with the national staff and through them to the Executive Board. The National Board of Oversight will be included in the Manual of Procedure, providing a direct link to the General Conference. The NBO will continue to supervise the procedures and requirements used by the regions in the examination of candidates for licensure and ordination, but will also serve as a place for regions to come into consensus regarding the procedures of
elder and congregational oversight. It will serve as a place where appeals by elders and churches can be heard for oversight decisions made by Regional Boards of Oversight. Funding for the NBO will occur through the National Office and the fair share giving of Brethren congregations. One of the most significant changes will be the annual certification of elders. Currently, each district oversees the elders within its district, but elder status at General Conference is determined by each local congregation. With reorganization, the NBO will certify elder status for all Brethren elders, receiving lists of elders from the Regional Boards. This will streamline the process of elder certification, with elders being certified nationally and overseen within whatever region they currently serve. Through the NBO, all regions will be aware of all elders in good standing at any time. The benefits of this change include a simplified, direct process for ordination candidates, a consistent process of elder and congregational oversight across the denomination, a recognized appeals process, nationally recognized ordination, and an increased unity between various geographic divisions. I have had the privilege of serving as the facilitator of the National Ordination Council for several years, and during that time have been encouraged by the growing cooperation between the districts, but have also seen the limitations of a system that is outside of a formal national relationship and that does not nationally recognize elders. The National Board of Oversight will provide a much cleaner, more easily understood, and consistent method for those seeking ordination in The Brethren Church and for the oversight of our elders and congregations. The Mid-Level Organization Team and I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have. You can reach chairman Ronald W. Waters at 330-525-7169 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org . You may contact me at EmeryHurd@gmail.com. The Brethren Evangelist 9
A Place to Call
How God Opened the Door for a Young Church to Buy Their First Facility [or something like that]
The chances of finding another facility like it at a price we could afford were slim-to-none. We knew that, yet we had tangible hope that God would provide. So we formed a facility search team, tasked with investigating all the available options in Huntsville and the surrounding area, and armed with the meagre $3000/month we had to offer. In the meantime, we asked the congregation and our friends around North America to pray with us.
Surprisingly, I felt a steady sense of peace as I sat across from Muskoka Community Church’s landlord and absorbed the news that our time at his facility would need to draw to an end. My typical reaction would have been a gutlevel sense of fear and panic, wondering what we would do next, where we would meet, and anticipating a return to the exhausting process of weekly setup-and-teardown in a school gymnasium. I should have felt overwhelmed with worry; but instead, there was a quiet steadiness in my soul, an inner voice assuring me that everything would be okay. I brought this sense of peace into the ensuing meetings where I broke the news first to our leadership, and then to the congregation. The facility we were being asked to leave, an old office building we were renting at a drastically reduced rate, had served us well. Three years earlier, we had hobbled into that miraculous arrangement discouraged and depleted after five years at the school. It had allowed us a safe space to rest, deepen our sense of community, and create a warm and welcoming environment for worship that was a big part of the sense of growth and momentum we were currently enjoying. 10 Nov./Dec. 2016
Numbers 9:15-23 became our theme passage as a church: “Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped” (17-18 NIV). Knowing that church plants often move many times before finding a permanent home, we saw this as the cloud lifting, and we wanted to make sure we followed faithfully to the next God had for us to rent. Our team knocked on every possible door. Anything within our price range was too small. Anything large enough was too expensive (averaging $6000+). It was looking like going back to the school would be our best option, but even that wasn’t working out. But then came four miracles that made it clear to me that God had not “left the building.” First, early in the search process, someone approached me with an interesting offer. They had some retirement savings built up, and wanted to let me know that they could make them available for the purchase of a property for the church, if the opportunity presented itself. They didn’t want to make any money on the deal, but believed in the mission of the church and felt that what they had was a gift from God to be used for his purposes. I honestly didn’t know what to say. I was shocked and honoured— but I also realized that what was being offered ($300,000)
wasn’t enough to buy most mid-sized homes in Muskoka, let alone a commercial building that could house a church. Not only that, but I knew the dangers inherent to purchasing a building (e.g. financial over-commitment, mission-drift), and was a bit wary of the prospect. However, that offer paved the way for miracle number two, when someone had the idea to approach a local builder (who was retiring) about renting or buying his former office facility. Our team went to take a look at it. At 4,000 square feet it was a bit on the small side, but it came with 15 acres of land situated directly on Muskoka’s only interstate-style highway, and had a cell-tower on the property that paid substantial monthly rent. After looking, the team (with some trepidation) asked the owner what he wanted for it. “Two-ninety-nine,” was his reply. What?! At $299,000 a prime property like this would be scooped up in minutes. But, as a devoted Christian, he was “delighted” at the prospect of a church (even one quite different from his) moving into the former home of his family business.
Over the next few weeks two more miracles happened. The first was an incredibly unified spirit amongst about 15 of our leaders who gathered to take a look and pray. Despite the fact that the property meant an additional 10-minute drive for many who were already driving 20 minutes or more, and despite some major reservations expressed ahead of time, in the midst of our time together the Spirit brought us to complete unity. Not only that, but the unity revolved around a common vision to reach more people, even at the expense of our own wishes and comfort. While the new facility takes us about ten minutes south of our current town of Huntsville, it puts right in the middle of the Muskoka region, placing other towns within easier reach. Without my prompting, our leaders saw this and embraced it as an opportunity from God to shine brighter with the Good News of Jesus. It was a proud moment for me as a pastor. When it came time to bring it to our congregation, we were able to do so with great confidence. Early in the process, one of our leaders had prayed, “God, make this The Brethren Evangelist 11
obvious.” He did. Despite continued searching, no other property had presented itself within our price range, either to lease or buy. Especially with the cell tower income factored in, this was our cheapest option by far. And it would mean that we wouldn’t have to worry about moving every few years, but we could focus on ministry from a base of geographic stability. God’s guiding hand had been obvious in the whole process. So when the congregation expressed their unanimous support for buying the building, perhaps it wasn’t a huge surprise. But, knowing how these things can divide churches, I still counted it as my fourth miracle. In the months since then, God has continued to provide. An incredibly talented team has come together to oversee the plans, designs, and renovation of the new building. The current owner has been generous beyond reason. We were surprised with the opportunity to buy three portable classrooms for just over $2000, increasing our square footage by 50% and allowing enough space for future ministry growth. Not everything has gone smoothly (especially with red tape issues), but God is providing at each step. And so it is that eight years after we first started with a tiny group of people in a school gym, Muskoka Community Church has found a permanent place to call home. Though it wasn’t my vision to purchase our own facility, I have great confidence that it was part of God’s plan, and because of that I continue to have a great sense of peace—and gratitude! Though you won’t read this until closer to the American version of the holiday, I am writing on the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving. And I am thankful—profoundly thankful, for the way God has guided this process from the beginning. Thankful for the initial vision to plant a church here; thankful for placing me in this Brethren family which fits me so well; thankful for MissioChurch and the support they have provided; thankful for the congregation he has called together here in Huntsville. And I’m thankful for this new place to call home—not only for us, but for the lost, lonely, and hurting people who, in the coming years, will find God in this former construction office along Highway 11 in the heart of Muskoka.
Jeremy and April McClung were supported by Grace Community Church and the Southeastern District in their vision to plant a church in Huntsville, Ontario. At General Conference in July Muskoka Community Church was welcomed into the Brethren Church as a full-member congregation. If you are interested in learning more about how you could help them in this important step in their journey, contact Jeremy at: email@example.com 705-783-1966 or learn about their Capital Campaign to raise money for renovations at: www.muskokacommunitychurch.com/aptch. 12 Nov./Dec. 2016
DID YA EVER 10) highlighted the book by Dr. only give you more of the same.” WONDER WHY.. Preston Sprinkle, entitled “FIGHT.” . . . . some people emphasize nonviolence, instead of violence, as a means of trying to settle problems – both personally, and nationally as well? . . . . other folks think it is more in keeping with God’s Will to be harmed or killed than to harm or kill another human being?? . . . . some young men & women (and older too) have worked in a lowerpaying job, instead of at a munitions plant where the end products are instruments of maiming and death??? . . . . some patriotic citizens through the years have refused military service, even though penalties, and sometimes imprisonments, resulted???? Well, some Brethren, and others, get their guidance and inspirational positions and actions from the following: (1) In all three centuries of our Brethren history (18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries), there are countless statements recording opposition to violence, war, and killing --- such as this from historian Rufus Bowman: “The founders of the Brethren took the position that war was contrary to the life, spirit, and teachings of Jesus and that it was wrong (sinful) for them to fight.” “They took no part in war.” [And he documents those quotes.] (2) Just a reminder that our entire Brethren Peace Initiative article in the September/October, 2015, BRETHREN EVANGELIST (Page
Here’s a sample of his proclamation, which he substantiates: “Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He never retaliates (violently) and always loves His enemies even when He is violently attacked.” Then Dr. Sprinkle cites the occasions when Jesus’ accusers “spit in his face, beat him, and slap him, jeering at him.” (Matthew 26:67). But still no retaliation; only love. Moments later, “Roman soldiers spit on Him and pound His head with a stick” (Matt. 27:30). Still no retaliation; only forgiveness.
“I believe the only thing that stops violence is the no of nonviolence. The beautiful no that Tom (Fox) gave to the world with his life. No, I will not kill. My body broken for you. The violence stops with me.”
“Someone gave us the image of two hands to help us understand how we can meet the necessity of action that violence imposes on us. With one hand, we speak with force, seeking to protect. ‘No! Stop!’ we say, arm extended long and palm facing outward. With the other hand we offer an invitation. ‘Come, let’s (3) Ten years ago four members of a work together to find another way,’ Christian Peacemakers’ Team (based reaching softly with palm facing up.” in Chicago) were kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents while on a CPT delega- “A Christian Peacemakers’ Team is tion in Baghdad. Tom Fox was sepa- an experiment in responding to viorated from the group, and murdered. lence with the two hands of nonvioThe others, including James Loney, lence. One hand employs the tools of were released eventually. Then later, human rights documentation, public James was challenged by an inter- witness and community organizing to viewer, who asked, “What do you say “La! Basta! No more violence!” do when things spiral out of control, The other reaches with the power of and ruthless bad men use and kill in- listening, dialogue, and collaboration nocents with impunity?” -- implying in search of creative alternatives.” that violence is sometimes necessary. “Partnered with local peacemakers To which James replied, “Violence around the world, CPT are workdoes indeed face us with necessity. ing for a transformed world with the The first necessity is to challenge two hands of nonviolence. More and stop acts of harm. The second so now than ever, our Earth Home is to offer protection. The inescap- is in need of this experiment!” able question is by what method do we seek these things. The problem Used with CPT’s permission, with the method of violence is that and I would add, “The Prince of it perpetuates the very thing it seeks Peace has shown us the way.” to stop and prevent. Violence is cy- clical, an ever-escalating spiral of death and retribution. You throw RICH& PEACEFUL HOLIDAY a stick, I throw a rock. You shoot a GREETINGS TO ALL! gun, I fire a missile. Violence is like Rev. Phil Lersch using gasoline to put out fire. It can
The Brethren Evangelist 13
Those Who Have Gone Before Us
Anniversary Celebrat ion 125th
REV. ROBERT FRENCH, 84 of Eaton, Ohio passed away on Sunday, September 18, 2016. Rev. French was the founding pastor of REV. ROBERT FRENCH , Eldorado (a small town outside of Eaton, OH) 84 of Eaton Ohio passed away on Sunday Sept 18, 2016. Rev and also served at Gratis Brethren Church. French was the founding pastor of Eldorado (a small town Robert was married Virginia. is outside of Eaton OH) andtoalso served He at Gratis Brethren survived bywas three children, Vicki (Ron) Church. Robert married to Virginia. He isWhite, survived by 3 children, White, Carol (Bob) Buchwalter and CarolVicki (Bob)(Ron) Buchwalter and Barbara (Ron) Bauman. Barbara (Ron) Bauman. Robert was ordained as a Brethren Robert as aBrethren BrethrenChurch Elder at Elder at the was Westordained Alexandria in the 1975. West Alexandria Brethren Church in 1975.
At Gretna Brethren Church October 8-9, 2016
Thanks to the vision of the Mission Board of the Brethren Church, a new church was planted in Gretna, Ohio back in 1891. It has remained a faithful witness to God these 125 years. Two hundred and thirty people filled the sanctuary on October 9 to celebration God’s goodness to this little country congregation. Festivities included an antique farm tractor and implement show, hog roast, great music and mortgage burning ceremony. For approximately 60 years of it history students from Ashland Seminary commuted on weekends to Gretna to preach and pastor God’s flock. The congregation has grown from the original 16 charter members to a peak of nearly 200 between 2003 and 2010. There have been seven major building expansions not to mention the addition of a softball field in 1993 which is home to a local church league. Gretna has consistently given strong support to various mission endeavors of The Brethren Denomination as well as Ashland College and Seminary. We rejoice in God’s blessings on Gretna these twelve decades and are finding new ways to love this rural community with the good news of Jesus. Currently a search is in motion to find a new shepherd for this congregation. Rick Cryder Interim Pastor
Please be in prayer for the family of Bill & PEGGY BUSSARD. Peggy passed away on Sunday Oct 30. Bill is the pastor at Loree Brethren Church in Bunker Hill Indiana. Peggy is also survived by two children, Sarah and Aaron. Peggy taught preschool, kindergarten and elementary school. She and Bill served as missionaries in the Philippines for 17 years. Peggy enjoyed family, friends, reading, cooking, gardening and singing. Peggy walked with Christ Jesus and was a faithful & gentle ambassador for the faith. By her simple, quiet and prayerful life she mentored many in their walk with Jesus. She had an “eternal purpose” with everyone she knew. The Brethren Evangelist 15
Mobilize is focused on every church becoming healthier, and a real key to improving overall health is having an “attitude of gratitude” permeate the life of the church. Here are some examples.
A Thankful Church is a Healthy Church Rev. Dr. G. Emery Hurd
Are you thankful for visitors? There are many ways to make a visitor feel welcome, from gifts, to greeters , to landscaping and paint, but the most important thing you can do is be thankful for them. If you are thankful that visitors come you will be more likely to introduce yourself to them and get to know them. You will be more aware of places in your church that might not be visitor friendly. You will also probably be more likely to volunteer to help as a greeter! Are you thankful for your children and youth? In so many ways, like budget, programming, and participation, children and youth can become “invisible” to the adults in a congregation. They are not the future church, they are part of the church today, and they know when they are appreciated or when they are ignored. Do they have adequate and attractive facilities? Are they allowed to participate in the life of the church? Are they regularly recognized? Our young people are great, and we should be thankful . Are you thankful for your seniors and shut-ins? The other side of the scale also deserves our appreciation. They have given years of service, and in many ways continue to serve. In our youth -driven culture it is easy to overlook our seniors. Shut-ins are not just the responsibility of the pastor, but of everyone to care for them and show them the honor they
are due. Are you thankful for them? Are you thankful for your district and national team? OK , I know Are you thankful for your vol- that there are a variety of percepunteers? When was the last time tions and feelings about the work you thanked your worship team, of districts and the national church. or your Sunday School teachers However, every Brethren church is or small group leaders? The church a church because in some way it was family is full of people who serve supported and nurtured by a dismany hours and frequently do- trict and the national church. Every nate their resources as well. Take Brethren elder directly or indirectly a moment to thank them. So of- was assisted in the process of elderten, each thank you card becomes ship through some district and naa prized and cherished reminder! tional entities, like camps, crusading, oversight boards, or possibly Are you thankful for your staff? even the National Ordination CounMany churches have paid secretaries, cil. Take a moment and recognize janitors, and support staff. Yes, they their contribution to your church. are receiving compensation for their time, but most of them give many Are you thankful for your salvaadditional hours of their time, even tion? This is the most important at times buying their own supplies reason to be thankful, and the greatand equipment. They are the people est contribution to a healthy church. that allow the church to function Believers can fall into the trap of smoothly, often without ever being somehow believing they deserve or seen. Be sure to let them know regu- have earned the right to have Jesus larly that you recognize their value. die on a cross for their sins. “For it is by grace you have been saved, Are you thankful for your pas- through faith--and this not from tors? Last month was Pastor Ap- yourselves, it is the gift of Godpreciation Month, so I hope every - not by works, so that no one can church did something to let their pas- boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). One of tors know they are appreciated! One the core measures of church health time a year is great, but the strains is inspiring worship, and inspiring and sacrifices of pastoral ministry worship begins with each of us enoccur all year long. Don’t wait for tering worship fully remembering a special month to let them know! the cost of our salvation and the tremendous gift Jesus Christ gave Are you thankful for your found- each of us. The best worship team ers? Every church was started by can’t create a thankful heart, but a a small group of people that took thankful heart can burst into song a tremendous leap of faith to start with the simplest accompaniment. a church. They sacrificed deeply Think about it…if we were busy to provide the church we enjoy to- being thankful, think of all the day. Do some research, find out other things we wouldn’t have a little about them, and an appro- time to think or say, and how priate time to reflect and share it would transform our church! with thankfulness their important contribution to your fellowship.
The Brethren Evangelist 17
July 17-21 in Ashland Ohio
Warm Christmas Wishes to you and yours The Staff of The Brethren Church wants to wish you & your family a very Blessed Christmas Season. May the Lord bless you as we look ahead to 2017.
for The General Conference of The Brethren Church and Engage Youth Conference. 18 Nov./Dec. 2016
The Brethren Evangelist 19
The Brethren Evangelist (SSN 0747-4288) is published quarterly by The Brethren Church, Inc., 524 College Ave., Ashland, OH 44805-3792 (telephone: 419-289-1708; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; fax: 419-281-0450. Authors’ views are not necessarily those of The Brethren Church. Subscription rates: Sent free to Brethren Church members; $15.00 per year to others. Member, Evangelical Press Association. Postage: Paid at Ashland, Ohio or additional mailing office at Mansfield, Ohio. Postmaster: Send address changes to The Brethren Church, 524 College Ave., Ashland, OH 44805-3792. Nov/Dec 2016, Vol.138, No. 5. Please let us know when you are moving. This will save us much-needed funds for ministry.
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