Saturday, June 29, 2002

No More Lines

In an initiative being funded by the Ministry of Reconciliation, Bob Gross will be handing out cell phones to all of the delegates at Annual Conference. "The old model of having delegates talk at microphones is not serving us well in this modern age. We need more communication to resolve the differences between us. It is important that we go beyond listening and truly hear what the other person has to say," says Gross. So after each delegate is done speaking they will confirm that the other person they are talking to actually understood where they were coming from by asking, "Do you hear me now?" The cell phones will all be a conservative black.

Financial Update

Dennis Kingerly, General Board Contoller, announced that the General Board's new relationship with the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen is not only saving money (since they are desperate for clients their rates have become very Brethren), but also generating new funding ideas. The latest idea is to borrow large sums of money from BBT and then pay it back on "Nigerian time". The General Board will put up some "found" property in India for collateral which they just realized that they still can control.

Friday, June 28, 2002

Now Playing

The Annual Conference premier of Dave Sollenberger's latest video documentary was met by rave reviews. The film examines all aspects of the Old Order Brethren, from their plain clothes to their unique perspectives on theology.

During the course of the 19th century, Brethren had to interact with American culture to an ever greater measure because the artificial barriers of a different language and insulated life on the frontier were steadily eroding. As a result, the Brethren brought increasing numbers of questions to their Annual Meeting for deliberation, on issues as diverse as the allowance of carpets and flowered wallpaper in homes, to the proper style of plain clothes, to the acceptance of higher education and Sunday Schools. By the 1860s, two quite divergent views were developing in the church about such issues. One group, the Old Order Brethren, was reluctant to make full use of such practices as Sunday Schools, evangelism, higher education, and foreign missions that would move the church in the direction of worldly Christianity and away from the old order or faith of the church. An opposite position was taken by the Progressive Brethren who felt that such innovations would enable the church to spread the beliefs of the church more widely and to move more quickly into the mainstream of American culture.

Please check with Brethren Press about the availability of Men in Black.

MIB II,” a study of the Progressive Brethren, will be available at next year's Annual Conference.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Unsolicited letters from our readers:

    "I just spent a half an hour reading the GM. THANK YOU."

    "Thank the good graces, you all finally got together and put this together. I needed the laughter this morning."

    "Thank God, there is hope for the Church - Gospel Messenger is back!!"

Monday, June 24, 2002

Guest Review

Kindling: Spark the Fire

Artist: Kindling
Album Title: Spark the fire
Rating: **
Genre: Folk
Styles: Contemporary Folk, Gospel, & Sadcore
Time: 57:01

For the dedicated Kindling fans (I guess I should call them Match Heads, since they follow this group like Dead Heads follow the Greatful Dead), it has been a long wait for their sophomore production "Spark the Fire". Get the clever title? Do you remember when Andy and Terry Murray stopped singing about Grandma's feather bed, and started singing songs that were nothing more than sermons put to Guitar? That is the feeling that this latest album has left me with.

Some think that Kindling is the Brethren answer to the Weavers. Good old fashion folk music with a message. Where the Weavers got black listed for having communist friends, Kindling is banned from Brethren gatherings. Like NYC - Right Shawn? This album has the prettiest music for the most depressing topics. Songs about discrimination, Auschwitz, Columbine, the killing of Mathew Shepard, middle age angst, Apartheid, and death. Throw in a couple of songs based on the writings of some dead Saints and you have a real party album for 2002.

Oh how I long for the anthems of their first album that would get the whole crowd singing. I guess you can't go home (or to Cincinnati) again.

1. Where Everything is Music 5:31
2. Wade On In 6:27
3. Separate Rooms 5:03
4. Kaddish 3:04
5. Rain Come Down 4:43
6. Chains of Hate 4:55
7. New Ways to Praise 4:47
8. Living in the Between 4:36
9. Hand of the Artist 4:00
10. Child of God 4:20
11. Christ Has No Body But Yours 3:10
12. All That Remains is the Love 6:35

Steve Kinzie vocals, banjo, guitar
Shawn Kirchner: vocals, piano, melodica
Lee Krahenbuhl: vocals, guitar, bouzouki
Peg Lehman: vocals, mountain dulcimer

Contact to order your copy.

Investment Opportunity

As one faithful reader asked, "would the Jim Myer bobble-head actually wear a tie?"

We've corrected our mistake and the Jim Myer bobble-head is now sans tie. If you got ahold of one of the early models, hang onto it. No doubt it will soon become a collectible. It will be worth even more if you've left it in the original packaging.


"pearls before swine" by Stephan Pastis

Friday, June 21, 2002

End of an Era

This year's Annual Conference marks Duane Steiner's last as its Executive Director. His illustrious career in the lay ministry of the denomination has spanned 20 years and has included administrative positions at Bethany Seminary as well as the past 10 years as Annual Conference's Executive Director.

Of Annual Conference, Duane has said “Annual Conference statements are intended to teach us how the Brethren should be, not how the Brethren are”.

To honor Duane's career, the Gospel Messenger is offering
commemorative Duane Steiner bobble head figures to
the first 1000 registrants at this summer's Annual Conference.

Other Brethren bobble head figures will be available
at the Brethren Press Bookstore in the Conference
Exhibit Hall.

Truth is stranger…


Will Don Vermilyea be making walk on appearances at Annual Conference, National Youth Conference, and NOAC? Maybe, but who cares. The real questions is whether anybody's arranged a drive by with Sam Hornish Jr., the Brethren's answer to NASCAR.
The Small Picture: What do peas have to do with me?

The unique event was co-sponsored by Brethren Service Center, New Windsor Conference Center, On Earth Peace, and the General Board's Small Membership/Rural Church Advisory Committee.

The day began with a challenge to the small, rural churches from Congregational Life Team staff member Jim Kinsey.

Throughout the day workshops were offered on topics includingthe group's identity and function, the pressing needs of small membership and rural churches, the best ways to process these needs, and changing rural paradigms. Participants also had the opportunity to meet with agency staff from the General Board, On Earth Peace, and the Washington Office.

Representatives Ray Barkey, Northern Indiana District, and Mary Jane Button-Harrison, Northern Plains, called it “a marvelous event which exemplifies the impact church agencies can have when they utilize their partnerships to bring people together.”

In light of the fact that membership (although the decline has slowed) is still declining, the General Board has announced the creation of a new Director of Evangelism staff position. “We realized that the Church of the Brethren is just not as popular as most of the main stream denominations, and we needed someone who can bring people to the denomination in spite of our poor performance,” said General Secretary Judy Mills Reimer. Barring a miracle, Andy McPhail will assume evangelism duties for the Church of the Brethren this October

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Got Brethren*?

The Brethren* are no longer plain dressing, tobacco farming simpletons. Today's Brethren* are college educated, hip members of society. We are poets, famous musicians, and Indy race car drivers. If you liked the Cooking with Less cook book, you're going to love us.

Come and join us (before it is to late).

*name subject to change

Saturday, June 15, 2002

The Vote is In

Participants at the Midwest Regional Youth Conference
vote for their favorite NYC Coordinator.
S'more ChubbyBunny-gate Developments

Is the Methodist church taking aim at our youth? As noted in the June issue of Messenger, it's not a Brethren leader exposing Brethren youth to the dangers of marshmallowdom.

Methodist comedian Chris Danielson has Jenna Lamb
of Vandalia, Ohio, and other "contestants" try to pronounce
Old Testament city names with a mouthful of marshmallows.

The Gospel Messenger thinks that there might have been a mix up at the post office due to the anthrax scare, but we are happy to publish whatever mail we get (or make up).

My dear Wormwood,

Nephew, at first I was skeptical of your plan. The Church of the Brethren has been a thorn in my side for hundreds of years. Their constant good doing have kept countless souls from joining me in Hades. Who would have thought that their annual meeting would be such a perfect instrument of their undoing? I was especially nervous when I heard that a man of such spirituality as Paul Grout was elected to be their moderator. His message of renewal and turning all things over to God could have been devastating to us. How in the world (or under the world) did you manage to get so many queries, whose intention are clearly to tear apart the church of North America, through the standing committee? The format of Annual Conference is perfectly designed so that people will attempt to get their positions off is 30 second sound bites that are sure to push the other delegates' hot buttons. You have managed to break the heart of their top leader by burying him in business. Keep up the good work.

Your Uncle


Friday, June 14, 2002

For Sale:

All youth attending National Youth Conference have signed a covenant to attend all of the worship services. The Southeastern District Board, however, is encouraging the youth of their district to ignore that covenant and boycott worship services which are being led by some "open and affirming" individuals.

The Gospel Messenger now offers a solution to this moral conundrum. We will be selling ear plugs at each NYC worship so that all youth may attend each and every worship and stay committed to the covenants they have agreed upon without fear of having their leadership influence their impressionable young minds.

The ear plugs will also be available at Annual Conference business sessions for any delegates who feel they might be influenced by outside forces. The ear plugs would have been available to youth at District Board meetings if the timing of our marketing efforts had been more advantageous.
RYC News:

Reports of the death of a RYC participant are "unfounded", according to the national Youth and Young Adult Office.

Perhaps there has been confusion between the activities at the Midwest Regional Youth Conference held at Manchester College and the marshmallow game known as "Chubby Bunny". Chubby Bunny is a dangerous activity and, in this day and age, you will scarcely find it employed at Brethren Camp talent shows. See: "The Chubby Bunny Game" May Be Hazardous To Your Patients' Lives

While the activity at RYC involved marshmallows (check your June 2002 issue of Messenger magazine), it also involved the recitation of Old Testament city names and so it had to be perfectly harmless.

And besides, we're sure that the youth attending RYC all signed waivers beforehand.
News Flash! This item just in:

Rumors persist that Southeastern youth attending National Youth Conference this summer will be forced to stay in same-sex housing. The Elgin NYC Office insists that there is not a hidden agenda behind their housing arrangements.

There are also unconfirmed rumors that the NYC Office is arranging for Southeastern District youth to share housing with youth from the Michigan and South/Central Indiana Districts.
A Controversy (some facts)...

This year marks the end of the moratoriom on speaking to the issue of gay leadership in the Church. The current Annual Conference positition is that practicing, non-celibate homosexuals should not be ordained. On June 1st, the Michigan District ordained an openly gay man. (Newsline, June 14, 2002)

Additionally, the South/Central Indiana District is struggling with the Manchester congregation which voted in October to permit same-sex covenant services as part of the congregation's overall stance of treating same-sex couples the same way it treats others. (Newsline, March 8, 2002)

Related to the Manchester issue, the Southeastern District Board has called for its youth to boycott two of the National Youth Conference worship services which are being led by individuals who are "open and affirming".

To round out you access to all sides... Brethren Revival Fellowship's viewpoint, which includes a link to the Skyridge (Michigan District) congregation's post. BMC - the Brethren/Mennonite Council for Lesbian and Gay Concerns - who have nothing about these issues on their website.

Welcome Back

Welcome to the return of the "Gospel Messenger".

This "Gospel Messenger" being the humor/satire parody of the Church of the Brethren "Messenger" magazine. This first edition of the Gospel Messenger was published on 4/1/1994 and appeared annually on April 1st for the years of '94 through '98.

It was a lot of work to put together this hardcopy parody and difficult to garner submissions from writers and so it went out of press.

But controversy breeds satire and the church is rife with controversy. And so, this incarnation of the GM. Thoughts will be posted and if you find the seeds for further writing, have at it and send your submissions. Maybe they'll be posted.