Saturday, December 31, 2005

Cobdoku 1


Complete the grid so that every row, column and 3x3 box contains each of the nine Brethren related logos.

Bonus: Identify each of the logos.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hebron Delegation

Hebron Delegation Rocks the World

It's December 14, 2005, and the January 2006 co-sponsored On Earth Peace-Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation to Hebron isn't even yet packing their bags. However, Claire Evans, delegations coordinator for CPT, shared in a candid interview that "This group is going to rock the Middle East like it's never been rocked before."

Although she hasn't actually met many of the delegation members, Evans reports that twelve of the delegation's fifteen members are associated with the Church of the Brethren, "and we all know they kick ass -- Domination System ass, that is."

Bob Gross, co-director of On Earth Peace and delegation leader, was unavailable for comment.

Rumor confirmed: Delegation intends to end occupation

Sources close to the January Middle East Peace delegation sponsored by On Earth Peace and Christian Peacemaker Teams confirmed today that the real purpose of the trip is to end the occupation of Palestine and bring peace to the region and security to Israel. Delegation leader Bob Gross remains unavailable for comment, but the group's spiritual leader, known only as Subcomandante Hay-Soos, has advised the group to overcome evil with good and to love their enemies if they find any.

Further details will be forthcoming at a later date, according to un-named but authoritative sources.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

How Low Can You Go?

Pope to Change D&D Cosmology

Vatican City (Reuters): The Pope is set to abolish the concept of Limbo, overturning a belief held by Dungeons & Dragons players since Gary Gygax first described the cosmology of the game in the Players Handbook in 1978.


Thursday, November 10, 2005


New Software Titles from Brethren Press

Do you need to change religion to grab the chance for a career outlook? Are you going to work abroad? Getting a new customized god is easy with Plug'n'Pray. A new spirituality and a new respectability can be yours at a mouse click.

Religious Gurus from all over the world compiled these kits for you. Religious and cultural habits are fully illustrated: audio and video files will teach you everything about prayers, mortification and purification rituals, as well as ready to use supplications, special formulas and sacred functions.

A variety of Plug'n'Pray kits will soon be available through Brethren Press.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Brethren Mission Delegation

A Church of the Brethren delegation, organized by the Church of the Brethren General Board's Brethren Witness office, heads to the Smurf Village next week. The delegation is taking with them a pile of Davey and Goliath videos and a spirit of understanding between Christian and Smurf cartoons.

The tentative schedule includes briefings by the Smurf Council of Churches and other leaders, visits in and around Smurf Village, and dialog with clergy and church members in the cities. They will also be delivering the 2,800-plus greeting cards created by Brethren congregations, groups, and individuals. More than 50 congregations sent cards.

The trip had been in the works long before the attack on the Smurf Village but has taken on added significance since then. The Church of the Brethren has also been active in providing emergency disaster assistance and hunger relief to the Smurf Village.

Also, during the recent General Board meetings, a new mission initiative has been created.

"We have affirmed a major new mission in the Smurf Village," said General Board chair Glenn Mitchell at board meetings Oct. 15-17 in Elgin, Ill. The new mission was approved in concept during a meeting focused on "Smurfed Together, Finely Woven: That Your Hearts May Be Encouraged," a theme taken from Colossians 2:1-3. Lively and intense worship experiences marked the meeting, with closing worship led in Smurf and English by board member Jaime Diaz, a pastor from Puerto Rico.

Smurf Mission Initiative:

The General Board accepted a proposal for a new Church of the Brethren mission initiative to the Smurf Village and approved it "as a concept for implementation and development." "There is new opportunity to walk with the Smurfs in a healing and reconciling way, and to smurf together to rebuild their land," said the proposal for the new mission.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Home Churching Your Kids

A new trend in the religious upbringing of children is steadily becoming more prevalent within the Church of the Brethren. "Home-churching," the individual, family-based worship of Jesus Christ, is steadily gaining in popularity, as more parents seek an alternative to what they consider the overly humanist content of organized worship.

Home-churchers create their own services, emphasizing close readings of Old Testament books led by a parent, and sermons that often exceed two hours. Proponents of home-churching argue that, when handed down by family members, biblical teachings take on a more direct, personal meaning. Additionally, they say home-churching reinforces familial bonds.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

Prayer to the God of all ages


...Whoever and wherever you may or may not be, God of all ages, races, creeds, colors, astrological coordinates and gender specifications; one God, or perhaps three, or maybe a whole lot more; God of many names, You know who You are, we pray that You, or at least a two-thirds majority of You, look down upon us with favor, forgive us the sins we have committed against You and your creation, or if it turns out we created You, forgive us for that.

Grant that we may grow in grace. Walk in wisdom and abide in love, hewing ever close to the examples set forth in the scriptures of world culture, which may or may not have been inspired by You or Someone like You.

Deliver us from ourselves, that we may know complete satisfaction or return the unused portion, and increase our faith in the hereafter and whatever's here after that, fulfilling the promise of redemption given to Your Chosen People and other people chosen as alternatives, that on the Day of Non-Judgementalism we may enter the gates of eternity and find at last, the true mates for all of our socks.

Amen and women, too.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Planet of the Love Feast

"The planet around them was alien; the star-charts claimed it was Earth-type G, but semi-desert. The crash landing had been unfortunate. But the planet had seemed beautiful and inviting from space, even though they had landed in a desert, bordered by distant mountains. It would be an easy matter to get to more pleasant surroundings and begin a life on this virgin world.

Darkness had fallen a few hours earlier and Jon Crayford built a campfire from the wood sections of the small space car that had brought them there.

He looked at his lone companion. He couldn't have made a better choice. She would surely be an inviting companion in the coming weeks, months and probably years. Righteous and pious looking; she was in the prime of life. At the time, though, there had been only one thought in mind: a holy sacrament. The escape from the Penal-Ship, which was taking him to Penalton Planet, had been impulsive, sparked by the unexpected trouble among the Ship's officers. He'd grabbed the first basin, towels, bread and wine near him.
So begins "Planet of the Love Feast," the first novel of the new line of science fiction titles to be published by Brethren Press.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Grace is an Unforseen Favor

God's kingdom is like an old neighbor who went out early in the morning to hire brown capuchin monkeys to clean his basement. They agreed on a wage of a meal of juicy cucumbers for a day’s work. And so they went to work.

Later, about nine o'clock, the old neighbor saw some other monkeys hanging around the jungle, unemployed. He told them to go to work in his basement and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.

He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o'clock. At five o'clock he went back and found still others hanging around. He said, “Why are you hanging around all day doing nothing?”

They said, “Because no one hired us.”

He told them to go to work in his basement.

When the day's work was over, the old neighbor called the monkeys in to pay them their wages; starting with the last hired and going on to the first.

Those hired at five o'clock came up and were each given a meal of sweet grapes. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But to their consternation, they got the agreed upon wage; a meal of juicy cucumbers. Taking the cucumbers, they groused angrily to the old neighbor, “Those last monkeys put in only one easy hour, and you just fed them a meal of sweet grapes while to us, who slaved all day in a dank basement, you only fed cucumbers.

He replied to the one speaking for the rest, “Friend, I haven't been unfair. We agreed on a meal of cucumbers, didn't we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the grapes. Can't I do what I want with my own fruit and vegetables? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?”

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Klingons For Christ

January Workcamp

To provide an opportunity for persons to live and work on Kronos with Christians from the Klingon Empire.

What are we going to do when we get there?
Continue the construction of a secondary school. It's purpose is to provide continuous, quality education for its members. Participants must be willing to do physical labor, including masonary, carpentry, painting, wielding a bat'leth, and plastering. Construction experience is helpful, but not necessary. A willingness to interact with other workcampers and participate in activities is expected.

Will I have to live in a mud hut and eat gagh?
No, at least not most of the time. On the project you will live in dormitory style facilities with the Klingon workcampers (no private accommodations); other times you will be in guest houses and/or homes. Meals will consist of a variety of Klingon food and sometimes simple American food. You should come prepared for a culinary experience.

What is this all going to cost?
$ 2200.00*--This includes round-trip travel from the closest airport in the continental US and all living expenses while in Nigeria.

Completed applications are due by October 3, 2005

* This price is subsidized by the Global Mission Partnership office of the Church of the Brethren's General Board. This price is also subject to current airfare rates.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Are You Religious?

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: “Stop. Don’t do it.”

“Why shouldn’t I?” he asked.

“Well, there’s so much to live for!”

“Like what?”

“Are you religious?”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?”


“Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?”


“Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”


“Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?”

“Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?”

He said: “Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915.”

I said: “Die, heretic scum,” and pushed him off.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Another View of Yoga

It’s a practice you may know; Yoga; Yoga
It’s a practice you may know; Yoga, Yoga, Aum
Yoga, Yoga, Aum; Yoga, Yoga, Aum
It’s a practice you may know; Yoga, Yoga, Aum

When it’s done by a bear, he’s Yoga Yogi
When it’s done by a bear, he’s Yoga Yogi Bear
Yoga Yogi Bear; Yoga Yogi Bear
When it’s done by a bear, he’s Yoga Yogi Bear

When it’s done on Degobah, Yoda Yoga
When it’s done on Degobah, Yoda Yoga it is
Yoda Yoga it is; Yoda Yoga it is
When it’s done on Degobah, Yoda Yoga it is.

Some folks do not like yoga, Dunker Journal
Some folks do not like yoga, Dunker Journal Blog
Dunker Journal Blog; Dunker Journal Blog
Some folks do not like yoga, Dunker Journal Blog

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Gather Round

Gather 'Round

The Gather 'Round curriculum project still has openings for writers for two curriculum units. Persons wishing to submit an application for the Preschool unit (ages 3-4, with tips for 2s) or the Multi-age unit (grades K-6, with suggestions for older students) may request an application packet. Accepted candidates must attend a writers' conference at Camp Alexander Mack on Jan. 8-12, 2006. Writing will begin in January. Deadline for applications is Nov. 1.

Brethren Press will begin catering to the more conservative Brethren with their new curriculum. Summer is over, but these book are good all year round: Summer Reading For True Christian Kids.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose in the embattled Midwestern state of Kansas. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Global Warming

Warming Up The Church

In a recently released study, Indur B. Goklany has found a direct relationship between increased global warming and homosexualism and the progressive church. "As global warming has increased, we have seen a corresponding increase of liberal Christianity." Goklany, who has been linked to oil companies' funding of environmental studies, claims that his critics are just cynically trying to avoid the discussion of the need for environmentalism. "Caring for God's creation is not only in the domain of the progressive Church. Conservatives and Evangelicals can feel good about being green."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Walking Machine

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pining For Fjords

It's Not a Dead Spiral

Insuree: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.


Insuree: 'Ello, Miss?

BBT: What do you mean "miss"?

Insuree: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

BBT: We're closin' for lunch.

Insuree: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this spiral what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

BBT: Oh yes, the, uh, the Brethren Medical Plan... What's,uh... What's wrong with it?

Insuree: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!

BBT: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.

Insuree: Look, matey, I know a dead spiral when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

BBT: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable spiral, the Brethren Medical Plan, idn'it, ay? Beautiful coverage!

Insuree: The coverage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.

BBT: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!

Insuree: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up!

(shouting at the plan)

Insuree: 'Ello, Mister Medical Plan! I've got lovely fresh membership for you if you show...

(BBT hits the cage)

BBT: There, he moved!

Insuree: No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!

BBT: I never!!

Insuree: Yes, you did!

BBT: I never, never did anything...

Insuree: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) 'ELLO PLAN!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o'clock alarm call!

(Takes plan out of the cage and thumps it on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

Insuree: Now that's what I call a dead plan.

BBT: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned!

Insuree: STUNNED?!?

BBT: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Brethren Medical Plans stun easily, major.

Insuree: look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That plan is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.

BBT: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.

Insuree: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got 'im home?

BBT: The Brethren Medical Plan prefers keepin' on it's back! Remarkable plan, id'nit, squire? Lovely coverage!

Insuree: Look, I took the liberty of examining that plan when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.


BBT: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If I hadn't nailed that plan down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent 'em apart, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Insuree: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this plan wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'E's bleedin' demised!

BBT: No no! 'E's pining!

Insuree: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This plan is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PLAN!!


BBT: Well, I'd better replace it, then.

(he takes a quick peek behind the counter)

BBT: Sorry squire, I've had a look 'round the back of the shop, and uh, we're right out of plans.

Insuree: I see. I see, I get the picture.

BBT: I got a slug.


Insuree: (sweet as sugar) Pray, does it provide coverage?

BBT: Nnnnot really.


BBT: Look, if you go to my brother's office in Bolton, he'll replace the plan for you.

Insuree: I'm not prepared to pursue my line of inquiry any longer as I think this is getting too silly!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


More Troubles for Pat

While Pat Robertson is busy issuing apologies for his Venezuelan faux pas there's plenty hot water to be gotten into. One inexplicable act follows another and now he's in the hot seat for peddling an age-defying elixer.

The Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) and Brethren Press have announced that they have no plans to market a competing product and that the talk about the Granddaughter's Inglenook Miracle Drink is only a rumor.

Sunday, August 21, 2005



Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. Many people around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It is believed that it was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. Pastafarians feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

who will be first?

Who Will Be Eaten First?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

ILWI Query

District to Close More Congregations

The Illinois/Wisconsin district, which has seen several congregations close over the past several years, is continuing to do its best at continuing this trend.

After several congregations were unable to pass a query to their district conference, a new query has been proposed.

Proposed Query:
The Church of the Brethren
Position on Sin

Whereas, our Lord Jesus Christ warned us that we should "not think that" He "came to abolish the Law or the Prophets...but to fulfill" the Word of God since "not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law...." (Matt. 5:17-18);

Whereas, there is continued confusion about the issue of sin in the Church of the Brethren;

Whereas, there is more confusion about sin and much promotion of sinners in our culture;

Whereas, there are leaders in the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ inside and outside of our denomination who are refusing to call sin "sinful," who are allowing sinners to become official Church members and leaders in good standing, and who are uniting sinners in ceremonies;

Whereas, the Scriptures plainly teach that those who do not repent of sin cannot become nor be members or leaders in good standing in the Church (Matt. 18:15-20, 1 Cor. 5:13);

Whereas, the love of our Lord Jesus Christ compels our Churches to minister to sinners by calling them to repent so that they can become transformed as God intended and become new creatures in Christ (Luke 13:5, Acts 17:30, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, 2 Cor. 5:17, Rev. 3:19);

Therefore, we, the undersigned Churches, meeting in our Church Councils do hereby bring the following query: Will the Church of the Brethren explicitly and plainly state that sin is sin, and will the Church of the Brethren forbid those persons who engage in or promote sinful behavior from becoming or continuing as members in the Church?

Action: Proposing unanimous approval by the Astoria Church of the Brethren Church Council in Astoria, IL; by the Allison Prairie Church of the Brethren Church Council in Lawrenceville, IL; the Cherry Grove Church of the Brethren Church Council in Lanark, IL; the Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren Church Council in Noble, IL; the LaMotte Prairie Church of the Brethren Church Council in Palestine, IL; the Martin Creek Church of the Brethren Church Council in Fairfield, IL; the Oak Grove Church of the Brethren Church Council in Washburn, IL; the Romine Church of the Brethren Church Council in Salem, IL; the Oakley Brick Church of the Brethren Church Council in Cerro Gordo, IL; and the Virden Church of the Brethren Church Council in Virden, IL.

Thursday, June 30, 2005


“Can we talk?”

If a peace church can’t,
then who can?

Together: Conversations on Being the Church is most of us in the Church of the Brethren getting together in small groups to talk about being the church. We’ll worship, listen, learn, pray, reflect.

“Together” conversations are not scheduled for all church-wide conferences from spring 2006 through spring 2007, but every district will hold at least one. Especially important will be the conversations that take place in congregations, including your own.

For more information, visit or contact your district office.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Take a Moment

Please take a moment to appreciate Jesus’ infinite power and love in your life…

Thursday, June 02, 2005

God is Great

God is Great

Transubstantiation is the belief of many branches of Christianity that when you take communion, the bread and wine transform physically into the flesh and blood of Christ. So, to some, this is literally true and not just symbolism: the flesh is present, the bread is gone.

If you conservatively assume that these are the End Times and that Jesus will soon be completely consumed (a detail generally not a part of mainstream Christian dogma), then he weighs two billion times more than you, and contains fourteen billion times as much blood. (2,028,252,833× and 14,375,000,000×).

By comparison, the largest living animal on Earth is the Blue Whale, at a paltry 150 tons (a mere 2,500× bigger than you). It is believed that the largest dinosaur, the Argentinosaurus, weighed only 90 tons.

However, perhaps Jesus, like Wolverine, has amazing regenerative powers (in which case, it's surprising it took him three days to return from the dead. But maybe he was just taking a little time-out.)

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Christian Citizenship Seminar 2006

Plans have already begun for next spring’s Christian Citizenship Seminar which will use the theme “Peace is Patriotic.”

Starting in New York City, sessions will include workshops lead by On Earth Peace. Later events will include an aerial tour of the nation’s capital followed by “Homeland Security and the Brethren” led by Hayden “Jim” Sheaffer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


No Experience Required

The estimated cost of a volunteer for a 12 month period is $5000 to $7000. This includes room, board, and a monthly allowance.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Disaster Response

In an effort to keep relief programs in operation in any type of condition, Church of the Brethren Emergency Response/Disaster Services is partnering with another organization in the creation of a new pilot project.

If you're a Christian, you've got a big problem on your hands. After you're swept away to walk the streets of gold with Jesus, red hot lava is going to pour from volcanoes, hurricanes and tsunamis will flood most of the world’s coastlines, and earthquakes will cause inestimatable damage to the housing of the countless survivors. Will you feel guilt for an eternity?

The Church has made a commitment to helping the world’s refugees and that commitment needs to be kept. And in doing so, Christians will be able to enjoy eternity with a clear conscience. To that end, the Church of the Brethren, through Jesus Pets, is seeking secular humanists and other liberal non-believers. Anyone who is committed to keeping up the good fight when the faithful have all been swept up is encouraged to apply.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Another Way of Spiraling

Smaller. Ebbing. Waning. Another Way of Spiraling.

Embrace and celebrate the "death spiral." Shirts and more is the GM Store.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Travel Services

Travel Planning

As the peak travel season approaches, Arthur Dent, the Director of Brethren Travel Services (BTS), is asking everyone to consider their carpooling options. "Whether you are traveling the road to Emmaus, going to Noah's Ark, Annual Conference, or just to your neighborhood Subway, there may be others trying to figure out how to get to the same destination. While some may opt to walk, others may be unable to drive and could use a lift. Please keep your neighbors' good in mind as you make your travel plans. You never know what new friends you'll meet along your way."

Monday, May 09, 2005


Roadside Religion

As Brethren across the country are making their plans for travel to Peoria this summer, they may want to check out a book by Timothy K. Beal. Beal, a religion scholar who took his family on a summer RV tour of some of America's oddest religious sites, explores the varieties of religious. Whether he's tackling the popularity of biblical mini-golf courses or Precious Moments figurines, Beal uncovers serious questions about religion and its sometimes highly singular practitioners. It's clear that the sites he finds most compelling are those whose creator has stepped out of the mainstream to carry out a quixotic personal vision, like the former Church of the Brethren pastor who is building a gigantic replica of Noah's Ark to the size specified in the Book of Genesis.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Kettering: 'I was ... running away from myself'

Merlyn Kettering, the so-called runaway inkman who went missing once the Anglo Leasing scandal hit the fans, issued a public apology through his family's pastor and said that he is getting professional help.

"Please may I assure you that my running away had nothing to do with cold feet nor was it ever about leaving Kenya," wrote Kettering, in a statement read by the Jennifer Wilbanks of Duluth, Ga.

"Those who know me know how excited I've been and how excited I was about the spectacular work we planned." his statement read.

Kettering said that he looked forward to the day when he would be strong enough to "speak for myself."

Kettering wrote, "At this time, I cannot fully explain what happened to me last week. I had a host of compelling issues which seemed out of control -- issues for which I was unable to address or confine."

"In my mind, it was never about timing," he said. "I was simply running away from myself and from certain fears controlling my life. Each day, I'm learning more about who I am and the issues that have influenced me to respond inappropriately.

"I am sorry for the troubles I caused and I offer my deep and sincere apology. I ask for forgiveness."

While he apologized to his family, friends, community and "others I may have offended unintentionally," he did not specifically address the Hispanic man and white woman he made up as kidnappers in the story he first told authorities.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Church of the Brethren Membership Falls Again in 2004

Overall Church of the Brethren membership continued to decline in 2004, according to year-end figures collected by the "Church of the Brethren Yearbook," published by Brethren Press. The denomination reported a net loss of 1,280 members last year, down just under one percent from the previous year. It is, however, a smaller decline than in 2003, when the Church of the Brethren had a net loss of 1,363 members.

The declining membership has been described as a death spiral. A query will be coming to Annual Conference requesting that 70% of the couples in the Brethren denomination should be required to have three or more children in order to reverse this trend.

Friday, April 29, 2005


The Top 15 Signs You Are Worshipping GodZILLA, Not God

15> Less smiting, more biting!

14> Every single story in the Old Testament ends with God destroying a city.

13> You insist that every courthouse display a copy of 10 instructions for destroying Tokyo.

12> Your hymnal is copyrighted by Blue Oyster Cult.

11> You're expected to build a cross big enough for crucifying Godzuki.

10> You issue a fatwa for jihad on Mechagodzilla.

9> The whole "Bambi is Satan" thing should have been a big tip-off.

8> His sole commandment: Thou shalt run screaming through the streets.

7> Every time you kneel to pray, your Lord steps on you.

6> Golden calf? No response.
Sacrificial lamb? Not even a twitch.
Passenger train full of screaming Japanese passengers? Bingo!

5> The sermon is lovely, but Reverend Takoshi's words are out of sync with his lips.

4> Instead of a communion wafer, you're supposed to eat Tokyo.

3> Recently chosen Pope Megalon XVI crushes all attempts to alter church doctrine.

2> You just spent $20,000 on eBay for the Virgin Mothra stuffed calzone.

and's Number 1 Sign You Are Actually Worshipping GodZILLA...

1> That thing about keeping the temple's lamps lit for eight days with no oil? Not a problem.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Mystery Location Announced

The Youth/Young Adult Office has revealed the location of its mystery workcamp. The May 29-June 4 workcamp will be held with Disaster Response in Pennsecola, Florida. Once there, young adults will be able to help re-build homes damaged by last fall's hurricanes. Amazingly, five workcampers have already registered in spite of having no idea where they would be sent. For more information about this workcamp, check out

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Papal Reports

Perhaps having just been delivered by extraterrestrial transport, word has come out of Rome, reporting of confusion and disappointment upon learning that "the Celestial Kingdom of God to which the departed faithful ascend in the afterlife is significantly less luxurious than the Vatican's Papal Palace," in which the pope spent the past 26 years of his earthly life.

Monday, April 18, 2005


New Resources Created in Effort to Save Regional Youth Conference

The recent Regional Youth Conference (RYC) held at Manchester College continued a downward participation spiral, having only 85 youth attend. Of those, most were from Indiana with only 6 youth traveling from the adjacent Illinois/Wisconsin district.

Manchester College (Ind.) is making new resources available as part of its effort to save Regional Youth Conference (RYC). The plan is for Church of the Brethren pastors and church employees, district employees, and employees of Annual Conference agencies, and affiliated agencies and institutions, and their youth. A video addressing questions about the conference, a power point presentation on the history of the conference, information about scholarships, and information about all of the Brethren colleges, are being made available free of charge. Manchester College has also worked with the Midwest districts, agencies, and Ministers' Association to create an advisory panel for the conference and is training advocates to promote the conference in districts.

The Regional Youth Conference is in a "death spiral," a downward cyclical phenomenon caused by decreased attendance and the reduction of the length of the event to two days. In districts that have more than 75 percent participation among eligible youth, the scholarship ratio is such that the conference should be able to survive, RYC reported. In districts where there is less than 75 percent participation, the scholarship ratio is such that, left unchecked, the conference could cease to exist within several years.

Revitalization of RYC will come through increased attendance. Manchester College has reinstated a requirement of 75 percent participation among eligible youth in each of the Midwest districts, for districts to continue in the conference. If a district does not have commitments from its congregations by Aug. 31, 2006, to meet that goal, all youth in the district will be ineligible for the regional conference on Jan. 1, 2007. The college states that the 75 percent requirement was part of the RYC Plan when it began in the 1950s, but "fell by the wayside" in the early 1980s. "The conference must regain an appropriate attendance in order to continue."

Manchester College has begun training advocates to work in each district to promote the conference with congregations and church youth. The advocates will use the new video to help rebuild participation in the conference. A first group of seven advocates was trained on March 7-8. As of March 17, 12 of the Midwestern districts had named advocates. More advocate trainings will be held in late spring.

An April 18 follow-up meeting between Manchester College and the Council of District Executives will be held in Richmond, Ind. It was requested by the district executives and will include members of Manchester’s board and staff, executives of the Annual Conference agencies, representatives of Annual Conference, and members of COBCOA. This summer RYC will be a major topic of discussion at Annual Conference in Peoria, Ill.

To order the video in DVD or VHS format, or to receive any other resource mentioned above, call 800-555-1505 ext. 374 or e-mail

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Christian Womaen's Wrestling

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." - Ephesians 6:12

The Global Womaen's Causus Project is starting a new project in hopes of empowering women in the Church. Christian Womaen's Wrestling will help women to become aware of global poverty, oppression & injustice suffered by women around the world; to recognize how over-consumption & misuse of resources directly contribute to their suffering; to examine & change our way of living & learn about our sisters’ lives; to support self-help, community projects that are led by, empower & benefit women in the U.S. & developing areas; to impose on ourselves a tax on luxury items & use the money for grants given to help support projects that enrich, fulfill, liberate, educate & develop leadership of women globally.

Available resources can be ordered from the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, click here for the form.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Dress Reform Committee Reconvenes

Continuing the Work of Jesus; Peacefully, Stylishly, Together

The Dress Reform Committee which last met in 1924 has been reconvened by Ken Neher, Director of Funding and Donor Development.

Analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis suggests that good-looking people tend to make more money and get promoted more often than those with average looks. The analysis is published in the April edition of The Regional Economist, the Fed's quarterly magazine. The researchers cited one study that found a "plainness penalty" of 9 percent in wages — meaning a plain person tended to earn 9 percent less than those with average looks — and a "beauty premium" of 5 percent.

Neher stated, “We, as a denomination, face a financial penalty because of our heritage of dressing so plainly. Encouraging our young people to dress more sharply lays the foundation for a strong financial future for our Church.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Day of Balance

One of these sites promotes "freedom of religion". Their religion, that is.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Wherever 8% work together in His name...

Last year, the 15% vacancy mark for summer workcamps was reached in February. This year, the 15% mark is still holding strong with 9 workcamps accounting for 89 of the 581 positions still up for grabs. Where last year the northeastern destinations was the least popular, this year’s unpopularity is fairly widespread. However, Wisconsin and Oregon are definitely this year’s leaders in unpopularity.

Here are the 9 least popular sites, listed with their percentage of available openings:

92% Inspiration Center, WS
90% Camp Myrtlewood, OR
75% Disaster Response
60% Walk Across America
53% Brazil
50% Phoenix, AZ
24% Indianapolis, IN
20% Innisfree Village, VA
8% Mendenhall, MS

Saturday, April 09, 2005


Credit Union Announces New Rate Structure

The Church of the Brethren Credit Union has announced new savings rates (APR and APY).

Prior to the change, members were required to have at least $5,000 in savings to get the second tier savings rate and $20,000 for the third tier rate. The savings level for these rates has been dropped to $50 and $200 respectively. The saving level for the fourth tier savings rate remains at $50,000.

cobcu rates

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Job Opening

The Papal throne once again lies vacant... Do you have what it takes to do the job? The position is open... Your destiny awaits!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


A Delicate Balance

A reader was wondering if the Gospel Messenger site would be willing to add as sort of a bit of balance. While we don't find as much entertainment value in the VOS site as we do in some of the BRF postings, we are happy to oblige. And even though there's been no request, here's a BMC link too.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Brethren Press Reports Candy Shortage


Friday, March 25, 2005


Maundy Madness

As a service to our readers who were busy with Love Feast on Thursday evening, here are Thursday's NCAA results:

 4 Louisville vs.
1 Washington
 7 W Virginia vs.
6 Texas Tech
Chicago Region   
 12 WI Milwaukee vs
 1 Illinois
 3 Arizona vs
2 Okla St

Monday, March 21, 2005


Taking a Steroid to Heaven

At its March meetings, the General Board conducted a hearing to investigate the conduct of its staff. Concern has been voiced that, while members of Brethren congregations may or may not hold the General Board Staff as role models, the staff should be held accountable to the manner in which they conduct business for the Church. A large part of the hearing centered on the increased productivity of the staff and the questionable way that this is accomplished. Over the past several years the number of national staff has decreased while the workload has remained the same or, in some cases, increased. When asked about steroids or other performance enhancing substances one staff member responded, "I don't want to talk about the past, I want to stay positive. By that I mean, I want to stay cash-flow positive. Have I done some salty things in my time that would help sell a juicy tell-all book? Yes. Have I done things that would harm my endorsement deals? To that my answer is an unequivocal 'not sure.'"

The Board did not reach any conclusions at the end of their hearing but left matters such that an investigation could be continued at their next meeting.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

It Makes Scents

The chemists in the Brethren labs are furiously working to come up with scents that embody various Brethren icons such as Alexander Mack, John Kline, Anna Mow, and others. Brethren Press is hoping to be ready in time for Annual Conference in order to ride the wave of success of other candles now on the market.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

March 2005 Bingo

General Board Meetings

The Church of the Brethren General Board will be meeting on March 11-14, 2005.

[Meeting Information] | [Meal Reservations] | [Buzzword Bingo]

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Early registration for Nigerian Direct Marketing Conference

With 150,000+ Brethren in Nigeria, that nation will be hosting a Direct Marketing Conference for congregations and individuals interested in various methods of fund raising, stewardship, outreach, and church growth. March 8 is the early registration deadline for the conference which runs April 8-10 in Abuja, Nigeria. A late registration fee of $30 will be added after March 8. The conference, which is an investment in your future, is part of Bethany Theological Seminary's centennial celebration and is funded by the Rosenberger Memorial Recital Series and the Stephen I. Katonah Endowment.

Keynote speakers are Sally Morgenthaler, founder of—Re-imagining Worship for a New Millennium; James Abbington, professor of Music at Morgan State University and executive editor of the African American Church Music Series from GIA Publications, Inc.; and Dr. Hamza Kalu. Each speaker, as well as a variety of other leaders, will give workshops. Workshops will be offered on a variety of topics including economics, statistics, accounting, commerce and open discussions.

Registration including three lunches and three nights' lodging is $229 for the first person from a congregation, $159 for others. Commuter registration (no lodging) is $99 for the first person from a congregation, $69 for others. Participants qualify for 1.5 continuing education units. Registration forms were mailed in the March Source packet to all Brethren congregations. Send your bank's name, account number, your name, address, telephone number, and fax numbers. Please note again that this transaction is strictly confidential and as such should be kept secret. Be rest assured that this transaction is 100% risk free.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Religion Commparison

A Comparison Of Religious Theories
  • 7th Day Adventist - He who plays with his toys on Saturday, loses.
  • Agnosticism - It is not possible to know whether toys make a bit of difference.
  • Amish - Toys with batteries are surely a sin.
  • Anglican - They were our toys first.
  • Apathy - Toys? Why do I need toys?
  • Apostolic Faith (Oneness Movement) - There is only one toy, and it is in our church.
  • Assembly of God -It doesn't matter how you play with the toys as long as more people join in with you.
  • Atheism - There is no toy maker.
  • B’Hai - All toys are just fine with us.
  • Baptist - Once played, always played.
  • Branch Davidians - He who dies playing with the biggest toys, wins.
  • Capitalism - He who dies with the most toys, wins.
  • Catholicism - He who denies himself the most toys, wins.
  • Church of Christ - He whose toys make music, loses.
  • Church of Christ, Scientist - We are the toys.
  • Church of Scientology - Toys ‘R’ Us.
  • Communism - Everyone gets the same number of toys, and you go straight to the opposite of heaven if we catch you selling ours.
  • Confusianism - Once a toy is dipped in water, it is no longer dry.
  • Crystal Cathedral - There are no bad toys, and no bad toy players.
  • Evolutionism - The toys made themselves.
  • Existentialism - Toys are a figment of your imagination.
  • Greek Orthodox - No, they were OURS first.
  • Hari Krishna - He who plays with the most toys, wins.
  • Hedonism - To heck with the rulebook. Let’s play!
  • Hinduism - He who plays with bags of plastic farm animals, loses.
  • Jehovah's Witnesses - He who sells the most toys door-to-door, wins.
  • Liberalism - I feel good playing with toys, don't you? That is why I know I am going to heaven
  • Lutheranism -- We are justified by toys alone through play (and not by work, lest anyone should boast).
  • Methodist - Toys are toys are toys.
  • Mormonism - Every boy may have as many toys as he wants.
  • Name-it-Claim-it - I have toys. I have toys. I have toys. I have toys. I have toys. I have toys. I have toys.
  • Non-denominationalism - We don't care where the toys came from, let's just play with them.
  • Pentecostalism - He whose toys can talk, wins.
  • Polytheism - There are many toy makers.
  • Presbyterian- These toys were chosen for you to play with and these were chosen for me to play.
  • Republicans - If you don't repeal this tax on all toys, you will go to hell.
  • Taoism - The doll is as important as the dump truck.
  • Voodoo - Let me borrow that doll for a second...
  • Witchcraft - Toy making is killing our Earth Goddess.
  • Word of Faith - Send me $100 and I will tell you "How you TOO can have more toys."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Sunday, February 20, 2005


New Store Items

Including the GM spin on the Annual Conference logo, there are a few new designs and products available in the GM store.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


What Did Jesus Say?

According to the Bible…
God created man 6,000 years ago.
God gave man “Free Will” so man could choose between good and evil.
There was only one catch…
You see, God made a big point of not giving man the knowledge to distinguish good from evil.
He only gave that to apples.

Do you know the New Testament?
Or do you only think you do?

Try this quiz.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Baby Got Book

I like big Bibles I can not lie,
You Christian brothers can't deny,
When a girl walks in with a KJV
And a bookmark in proverbs, You get stoked.

It got a name engraved,
you know this girl has been saved
It looks like one of those large ones,
With plenty of space in the margins,
Oh baby, I want to read it with you,
Because your Bible has got pictures,
My minister tried to console me,
But the book you've got makes me so Holy.

Check out the video.

Monday, February 07, 2005

What About Waldo

Notable or Notorious

In case you think you've found everyone in the previous post here's a list (let us know if you think the list is incomplete) of people you can find. And there's extra credit if you find which person we accidentally cloned and decapitated (sorry about that).
  • Chris Douglas (Director of Youth & Young Adults)
  • Lerry Fogle (Annual Conference Executive Director)
  • Bob Gross (On Earth Peace Co-Executive Director)
  • Delmas Keeney (Executive Director of Congregational Life Ministries)
  • Mervin Keeney (Executive Director of Global Mission Partnerships)
  • Merlyn Kettering (New Sudan Council of Churches strategic advisor, Kenya)
  • Judy Keyser (Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer)
  • Dan McFadden (Director of Brethren Volunteer Service)
  • Wendy McFadden (Executive Director and publisher of Brethren Press)
  • Craig Alan Myers (Assistant Editor of BRF WITNESS)
  • Stanley Noffsinger (General secretary)
  • Wil Nolen (BBT President)
  • Walt Wiltschek (Editor of Messenger)
  • Roy Winter (Executive Director of Brethren Service Center, New Windsor)
  • Waldo
Answers provided upon request.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Where is Merlyn Kettering

Where's Merlyn?

Can you find Meryln (and several other Brethren staff)?


Not An Omen

While groundhogs are known for predicting the end of winter and robins are a harbinger of spring, the Stewardship of Property Committee insists that any Orioles migrating from Chicago are no indication of their leanings on the subject of future locations for the Church of the Brethren headquarters.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Pontius Puddle to Quit Messenger
Frosty Flap Widens

In an act of solidarity with fellow cartoon character Frosty the Snowman, Pontius Puddle has given notice that he will not renew his contract with the Church of the Brethren magazine Messenger when the contract expires later this year. Puddle has appeared in the magazine for several years but says this will be his last because of the blatant hostility displayed toward a cartoon character in the denomination’s nationally broadcast Christmas Eve service on CBS. “After I heard about it, I decided it was time to take a stand against that kind of hate-speech,” said the frog. “I don’t know Frosty personally, but I respect his work and he doesn’t deserve to be treated that way – and by a church, no less!”

Puddle’s move has left Walt Wiltschek, editor of Messenger, scrambling to look for a replacement. Wiltschek told reporters, “We’ve put out feeler thingies but, frankly, we aren’t very popular in the cartoon character community right now. We did hear from Sluggo, the tough kid with a buzz cut in the old ‘Nancy’ comic strip, but we aren’t sure he is a good fit for us, since pacifists we are. For now, we'll keep looking.”

In a related development, more than 150 members of the Cartoon Actors Guild took out a full page ad in Christianity Today to voice their protest of the treatment Frosty received in the Brethren broadcast. The CAG is calling for the National Council of Churches (of which the Church of the Brethren is a member) to issue a formal reprimand. Among those who signed the protest were well-known characters Snoopy, the Roadrunner, Barney Rubble and Betty Boop.

Monday, January 31, 2005


Frosty Threatens Suit

Animated movie actor Frosty the Snowman announced on Tuesday that he has placed Attorney Johnnie Cochran on retainer and is considering a civil suit against the Church of the Brethren, an Elgin, Illinois, based denomination. Frosty alleges that he suffered irreparable harm to his reputation from the comments made during the Church of the Brethren Christmas Eve Service broadcast on CBS. During that service Oakton, Virginia, pastor Christopher Bowman criticized the cartoon character’s appearance and suggested that he was not fit to be present in a nativity display.

At a hastily called press conference, an obviously distraught Frosty said the nationally broadcast criticism was interfering with his ability to make a living. “My agent says that all interest in me has evaporated. I was hoping for a guest shot on The Simpsons, but after Christmas Eve they called and said they were going in another direction. Everyone in the industry is freezing me out.”

Religious scholars are at a loss to explain why the Church of the Brethren harbors such animosity towards Frosty. According to Marin Marty, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, the Brethren are known as a peaceable people. “It just doesn’t make sense. Frosty is a lot like the Brethren – he’s non-violent and appears to live simply. I have no explanation,” Marty said. “I just hope this is an isolated event and not the beginning of a trend for the Brethren.”

Frosty has the same concern and says it is part of the reason he is considering legal action. “At first thought, ‘Why me?’” he said. “Then I began to think, if I don’t stand up against this, who will be next? Rudolph? Santa?”

Sunday, January 30, 2005


Frosty Damned
Church of the Brethren Leader Declares Famed Snowman Will Spend Eternity In Hell

Apparently, being a "jolly, happy soul" isn't enough to get you through the pearly gates - at least according to the Church of the Brethren. The small denomination, known for its commitments to peace, service and ecumenical cooperation, shocked millions of viewers of the nationally broadcast Christmas Eve service on CBS by announcing that Frosty the Snowman is destined to spend eternity in steam. Thousands flooded CBS with phone calls and emails complaining about the vicious attack on the beloved cartoon character in the midst of an otherwise pleasant and upbeat program.

Mention of Frosty and his fate came midway through the brief sermon given by Christopher Bowman, former moderator of the denomination and current Oakton, Virginia, pastor. Bowman began by insulting the snowman's appearance, saying Frosty has "a face that looks like a botox treatment gone bad." Bowman went on to describe the character who has brought joy to millions of children as "cold" and "hard." A few moments later, Bowman drove home his argument that Frosty doesn't belong among the redeemed by stating plainly, "He'll never get it. He can't help himself. He'll never change".

Asked after the service for an explanation, Gene Roop, president of the denomination's seminary said, "It may have sounded like a personal attack, but Chris is just too nice to do such a thing. I'm sure he simply meant that Frosty is not among the elect." Roop added, "I'm sorry if people were offended, but the Brethren have always been willing to take controversial positions. If necessary, we will gladly suffer for our beliefs."

A representative for the Brethren Revival Fellowship, a conservative advocacy group within the Church of the Brethren, was supportive of Bowman. According to a member of their governing board, "It was great to hear someone from our denomination preach the truth - and the truth is, some people are going to hell, whether they like it or not, Personally, I always suspected that Frosty was engaged in an unacceptable lifestyle."

Ecumenical reaction was mixed. The United Church of Christ headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, indirectly criticized the Brethren by issuing a statement that said, in part, "while some churches may use bouncers to keep cartoon characters out of their churches, we do not. Jesus wouldn't have turned Frosty away, and neither will we." The Vatican put out a press release that claimed Frosty was actually headed for purgatory and recommended that concerned fans sponsor masses in Frosty's memory. Southern Baptists, on the other hand, were generally supportive of Bowman's claim, noting that the reference to "magic in that old silk hat they found" suggested the snowman was involved with occult practices and belonged in hell, suffering forever along with pagans, free-thinkers and liberals of all stripes.

Some offended cartoon fans have begun to picket Church of the Brethren offices in Elgin, Illinois, but so far no apology has been forthcoming. Wendy McFadden, publisher of the denominational magazine, Messenger, has responded, "Chris said it. We believe it. That settles it."

Friday, January 28, 2005

NYC Theme

Artists Sought

The National Youth Cabinet and the Youth and Young Adult Office invite Brethren artists to submit ideas for a logo representing the theme for next summer's National Youth Conference. It is the desire of the cabinet to have both a static and dynamic version of the logo, but they are not expecting artists to submit dynamic versions at this time.

The theme, just announced by the committee is "For such a time as this, come to the edge with eyes of faith and see!" Please ponder the theme as you design a logo possibility.

Drawings and explanations of logo entries must be received by the Youth and Young Adult Office no later than July 15, 2005. Submissions must be on paper size 8 1/2" x 11" or smaller. If you choose to submit a color entry, we also request one in black and white. The Church of the Brethren logo may not be used as part of the design. All entries should include the artist's name, address, and phone number on a separate sheet of paper. The National Youth Cabinet intends to select a logo at its fall meeting. The artist whose design is selected should be prepared to consult with our graphic designer for final adjustments, to participate in developing a dynamic version of the design, and to participate in production of any large scale versions (i.e. banners, worship center, etc.)

The mailing address is Youth and Young Adult Office, Attention: NYC Theme Logo, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Way and Means

Madness To Our Methods

It has been said that Christians have been adapting their means on a continual basis. Who first used the printing press? Christians. Who first used tracts? Christians. Who first used radio? Christians. Who got on to the Internet? Christians.

However, one of the primary drivers behind these very means is the adult entertainment industry. As goes pornography, so goes technology. This concept may seem odd, but history has proven the adult entertainment industry to be one of the key drivers of any new technology. Pornography customers have been some of the first to buy home video machines, DVD players and subscribe to high-speed Internet.

Does the end justify the means?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

One leg at a time.

One Leg At A Time

Contrary to any rumors you've heard, you don’t need square pants to visit this summer’s VOS booth at Annual Conference and you’re more than welcome to visit the BRF booth regardless of the shape of your jeans.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Could it be satan?

The Great American Satan?

President Bush's "Hook 'em, 'horns" salute got lost in translation, when shocked people interpreted his hand gesture during his inauguration as a salute to Satan.

That's what it means when you throw up the right hand with the index and pinky fingers raised, a gesture popular among heavy metal groups and their fans.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Death Spiral

Effort to Save Brethren Medical Plan from the Death Spiral

A financial crisis in the Brethren Medical Plan has prompted Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) to initiate a new requirement for the denomination's 23 districts. BBT has instituted "The Force", a requirement that each district must have at least 75 percent of its congregations committed to participating in the plan by Aug. 31, 2006. The requirement makes church employees in each district eligible as a group. A district that does not meet the requirement, and its pastors and church employees, will not be eligible for the plan after Dec. 31, 2006.

The Brethren Medical Plan is in a "Death Spiral" created by greater numbers of high-risk participants, BBT president Wil "Skywalker" Nolen said in October when he updated the General Board about the status of the plan. Pastors and other church employees have not been signing on in great enough numbers to maintain a good spread of risk, he said. A high number of pastors in the plan are considered high risk and "aren't insurable anywhere else," Nolen added.

BBT hopes that The Force will revitalize the Brethren Medical Plan, as pastors and church employees and their families return to the plan and help stabilize risk. Mennonite Church USA stabilized its denominational medical plan through a similar 75-percent participation requirement for districts, BBT reported. Benefits of the Brethren Medical Plan emphasized by BBT hinge on key components of mutuality and "guaranteed issue": employees of Church of the Brethren congregations, districts, and agencies, and their spouses and children, are automatically eligible for coverage without having to pass risk assessment or screening for pre-existing medical conditions.

"I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home," Nolen told the General Board, emphasizing that he was confident that districts will be able to meet the requirement even as he faced sharp questions about the move. He expressed understanding for small congregations that feel unable to pay for health insurance for pastors, as well as pastors in districts that are not well represented and therefore in danger of losing insurance. Defending the requirement as "not an unrealistic objective," he reported that three districts already have met it and several others are close. "This is the church plan," Nolen said. "Each district has to own it as its plan. All the entities of the church have to use The Force to make it successful."

Monday, January 10, 2005


COB Crystal Cathedral

Reports remain unconfirmed that the Stewardship of Property Committee will be meeting this month somewhere north of Tucson Arizona. Rumors have begun circualting that a capital campaign is in the early stages of being formed. Monies raised would be used to finance a relocation of the Brethren nation headquarters as will as for the creation of a COB version of the Crystal Cathedral.