James M. Beckwith
About Donita Keister
Donita Keister is a lifelong member of the Church of the Brethren, spending her early formative years at Chiques Church of the Brethren (father's childhood congregation) until her family moved to serve at Mt. Olivet Church of the Brethren (mother's childhood congregation) near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where her father, John Shenk, was called to serve as a bi-vocational pastor. Her family had a ministry singing southern-style gospel music together, which taught many lifelong skills on instruments and singing harmonies. Following high school she spent a year with Brethren Volunteer Service serving in Jackson, Mississippi, with Voice of Calvary Ministries. After BVS she completed coursework at Harrisburg Area Community College, receiving an associate degree in accounting and a second in computer programming.
She married Brian Keister in 1981 and moved to Mifflinburg, PA, where she and Brian settled into a life of full-time farming that has continued to present. Brian and Donita eventually welcomed five daughters into their family. Leaving her job as an internal bank auditor, Donita built a baking business in her home specializing in wedding cakes, where she worked full-time for about 15 years (ending in 2012). She is grandma to three grandsons, and assists in her daughter's newly opened bakery in her spare time.
Since their marriage, Brian and Donita have served the Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren in various positions of service and leadership. In 2005 Donita was called to the set-apart ministry by Buffalo Valley, where she was ordained in 2016. She has served Buffalo Valley in a part-time or full-time position for the past 12 years. She is currently serving full-time as Associate Pastor for Children and Pastoral Care.
In July 2013 Donita was elected to serve on the Mission and Ministry Board, where she has served on the Audit and Investment Committee (2013-2016), Stewardship Task Team (2015), General Secretary Transition Team (2015), and Executive Committee (2015-2017). In 2017 she was elected to serve as Annual Conference Moderator-Elect and will serve as Moderator in 2019 at Greensboro, North Carolina.
God has instilled in Donita a passion for the church, the body of Christ. Her calling is steeped in a desire to see the church strengthened so it can carry forth the work of the Kingdom of God. Her response to her initial calling into the set apart ministry in 2005 was motivated by a longing to see the church become a place where all can grow in their faith through a sense of belonging and through the challenge of discipleship. She also is passionate about congregations implementing healthy patterns of dealing with the conflict that inevitably comes with all relationships, so they can remain strong and focused on the ministry Christ has called them to do. In the kingdom of the world there is war, strife, and brokenness at every turn and on every level from personal to cultural to political and beyond. In the midst of this earthly kingdom we are called to be the Kingdom of God where the love, the light, and the peace of Christ is experienced and shared in word and deed. It is Donita’s prayer that the Church of the Brethren will be strengthened in it proclamation of Christ and all that He is, and that together and individually we will reclaim a passion for Christ’s call for us, His bride, His body, His church.
The moderator may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program and Arrangements Committee
James M. Beckwith
Emily Shonk Edwards