By Ralph McFadden
The Fellowship of Brethren Homes met in its annual Forum on April 14-16 in Des Moines, Iowa, and Dallas Center, Iowa. The Forum was hosted by Maureen Cahill, administrator of Spurgeon Manor retirement center in Dallas Center. Fourteen of the twenty-two Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities were represented. With guests, there were 21 people present.
Strategic planning was the focus for current and future programming. Early on in the process, the group focused on its history, its current relationship to the denomination, and a review of a survey that reported on strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
The group present at the meeting not only approved by-laws, but also approved an Executive Committee by consensus. The Executive Committee includes: Jeff Shireman, CEO of Lebanon Valley Brethren Home in Palmyra, Pa., serving as chair; Chris Widman, executive director of Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio, serving as vice chair; John Warner, CEO of the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio, serving at large; Ferol Labash, CEO of Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, Ill., serving at large; and Maureen Cahill, administrator of Spurgeon Manor in Dallas Center, Iowa, serving at large.
Future programming will work on the ways that the homes can continue to collaborate with each other, work with the denomination’s Congregational Life Ministries and Brethren Benefit Trust, and develop stronger ties with the Church of the Brethren and with its districts.
Those attending expressed strong support for understanding and acting on the values of the Church of the Brethren. The two-and-a-half days also were a time of deepening the fellowship and sharing of the CEOs and administrators of the retirement communities.
Ralph McFadden, who was hired by the Fellowship of Brethren Homes as an interim executive director, was confirmed by consensus as the permanent half-time executive director. His contract began immediately on April 16. Over a lengthy career he has served the Church of the Brethren in a variety of capacities including as executive of the Parish Ministries Commission of the former General Board. When he was coordinator of Shared Services in the Association of Brethren Caregivers from 2001 to 2005, his responsibilities included serving as staff of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. In retirement he has been a hospice chaplain, and has been involved with work at Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, Ill. He is a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.
Matthew Neeley, COO of Brethren Hillcrest Homes, invited the Fellowship of Brethren Homes Forum to La Verne, Calif., for the 2016 meeting. Dates will be announced later.
-- Ralph McFadden is executive director of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. For more about the Fellowship of Brethren Homes and the 22 Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities that make up the fellowship, go to www.brethren.org/homes . To contact the Fellowship of Brethren Homes e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .