The Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) recognized recipients of the agency’s annual caregiving awards during a reception on July 3 at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Des Moines, Iowa.
ABC recognized retired pastor Chuck Boyer of La Verne, Calif., for a lifetime of caregiving. Throughout his ministry, Boyer has advocated for peace and for those who were left at the margins in society and the church. He has served the Church of the Brethren as director of Brethren Volunteer Service, peace consultant, pastor, and moderator of Annual Conference. During his time as peace consultant, Boyer focused on domestic peace concerns, action, and education. In 1988, he became senior pastor of La Verne Church of the Brethren where he was active in housing and food projects, the formation of a new ministerium that supported women in ministerial roles, and compassionate caregiving for all in his congregation, especially those who felt excluded from the faith community.
Rodney E. Mason of Chambersburg, Pa., was recognized for his service as the former CEO of Peter Becker Community, a Brethren retirement community in Harleysville, Pa. During his tenure, Mason fostered ministry for and with elders in many ways. He collaborated with the Indian Valley YMCA to bring a satellite of the YMCA to Peter Becker Community. He worked with other area care centers to provide services to seniors in the Harleysville community. He also helped establish the Peace Church Risk Retention Group, a collaboration between the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Friends. Mason resigned from Peter Becker in 2005 to become CEO of Menno Haven Retirement Communities.
ABC honored Disaster Child Care, a program of the Church of the Brethren General Board, recognizing the program’s more than 25 years of caregiving for children and families during more than 175 disasters. The program has trained more than 2,500 volunteers who donate their time and services. Disaster Child Care began in 1980 and later became an ecumenical endeavor. The program is well respected and is relied upon by partner agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, and Church World Service. In 1998, Disaster Child Care was designated as the official childcare service to assist the American Red Cross following a domestic aviation disaster and formed a specially trained group of volunteers for its “Critical Response Childcare Team.”
Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren in Scottsdale, Ariz., received ABC’s “Open Roof” award for its work on accessibility for people with disabilities. People with disabilities participate fully in the worship, activities and leadership of the church, even though the congregation does not have a formal disabilities program. Papago Buttes has reached out with services and programs to members of a neighboring group home. Love feast services at the congregation offer handwashing for those with mobility issues. Adults and children are mainstreamed into Sunday school classes with special training available for teachers when needed. The new church building was designed as totally handicapped accessible. Now, the congregation is beginning a new construction project–a handicapped accessible baptistry.
–Mary Dulabaum, director of communications for the Association of Brethren Caregivers