Newsline Extra for December 30, 2009

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Extra: Districts End-of-Year Wrap-Up
Dec. 30, 2009 

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19a).

1) Gathering V calls Western Plains District to ‘Behold a New Thing.’
2) Western Pennsylvania District meets on theme, ‘Go, Run Your Race.’
3) Oregon and Washington District meets at Camp Koinonia.
4) Middle Pennsylvania District Conference meets despite early snow.
5) ‘Blessed to Be a Blessing’ provides theme for Shenandoah District.
6) Virlina District Conference celebrates the Name of Jesus.


1) Gathering V calls Western Plains District to ‘Behold a New Thing.’

About 300 people converged on Webster Conference Center in Salina, Kan., on Oct. 23-25 for Western Plains District’s fifth Gathering conference, a project of its transformation movement. If they came for inspiring preaching exploring the theme, “Behold, a New Thing–Do You Perceive It?” or for stretching ideas for ministry back home, lively music, and Brethren fellowship and fun, they were not disappointed.

Jonathan Shively, Carol Mason, and Ken and Elsie Holderread were the preachers, while Shively and Shawn Flory Replogle led related general sessions. Eleven workshops were offered. Marie Rhodes and Seth Hendricks were featured leaders at a youth retreat. Numerous persons led about 16 hours of children’s activities and infant care.

On Saturday evening several activities celebrating the ministry of Ken and Elsie Holderread as district executives since 2003. A “Service of Celebration” used visuals and teams of narrators to tell the district’s story during their time of ministry. A reception in their honor followed.

— Dale Minnich wrote this article for the Western Plains District newsletter.


2) Western Pennsylvania District meets on theme, ‘Go, Run Your Race.’

Western Pennsylvania District held its 143rd District Conference on Oct. 24 at the Fred M. Rogers Center on the campus of Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa. Moderator William A. Waugh challenged the 218 participants with the theme “Go, Run Your Race.” The district comprises 68 churches and two fellowships with a membership of over 9,300.

Insight sessions were held in the morning. The subjects included an overview of the work of two agencies of the denomination, the Church of the Brethren and On Earth Peace; a presentation on preparations for the Annual Conference to be held in Pittsburgh, Pa., on July 3-7, 2010; and a presentation about congregational ethics.

In a business session, a district budget of $189,824 for 2010 was adopted by 187 delegates representing 54 congregations. The delegates also approved a query to be presented to Annual Conference concerning guidelines for implementation of the Congregational Ethics paper. The delegates accepted a revised and updated version of the District Constitution that will be implemented when the accompanying by-laws are updated and approved.

New leadership was called. Ruby F. Mader was installed as moderator of the district for the next year. Wesley J. Berkebile was named moderator designate. Six people were called to three-year terms on the District Leadership Team: Betsy J. Statler, chair; Erin E. Marker; Joel A. Wilcher; William R. Frey Sr.; Jane Wolfhope; and Carol J. Walker. District treasurer Carole J. Horner was appointed to another three-year term.

Dottie H. Grew and Linda K. Stoner were called to three-year terms on the District Conference Program and Arrangements Committee. Christopher A. Forry was called to a three-year term and Gerald R. Baxter was called to complete an unexpired term on the District/Camp Charitable Trust Board. Marie Camut and Donna L. Ramer were named to five-year terms on the Board of Trustees for the Brethren Home Community in Windber. Called to three-year terms on the board of directors of Camp Harmony were Erin E. Marker, Harold “Bill” Miller, Jack Harrison, and Priscilla Haines. Frank P. Young was called to serve a four-year term on the district’s gifts discernment team.

Worship and music were interspersed throughout the business of the day. A highlight of the conference was an auction of three hours of time by the district’s Children/Youth Ministries coordinator Abby Shaffer and Camp Harmony program director Dan Shaffer. The couple donated their time to encourage attendance at the district’s fourth annual Auction that took place Nov. 7. Congregations and individuals also brought enough “Gifts of the Heart” hygiene and school kits to send a full van load to be distributed by the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

— Suzanne Moss is administrative assistant for Western Pennsylvania District.


3) Oregon and Washington District meets at Camp Koinonia.

Moderator Howard Ullery convened the Oregon and Washington District Conference on Sept. 25-27 at Camp Koinonia in Cle Elum, Wash. The approximately 70 attendees enjoyed seasonably warm, early fall weather in a delightful camp setting.

The conference theme was “Come to the Lakeshore.” Ken and Elsie Holderread, co-district executives in Western Plains District, were the keynote speakers. Starting with the text from John 21 in which Jesus advises the disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, the Holderreads talked about innovative ways Western Plains is “doing district.”

The business session featured a report from the district’s finance committee. For the past few years, regular income to the district has not been sufficient to cover yearly costs of ministry. The district’s bank balance has been drawn down, and funds designated for other uses have been tapped to meet these costs. Churches are being encouraged to make district ministries a part of their regular church budget. The committee observed that average Sunday morning attendance throughout the district is approximately 610. If that many people contributed a quarter a day the district would have the funds needed to accomplish shared district ministries.

Meeting in small groups, delegates and attendees brain-stormed ideas for special events to highlight district ministries, build cooperation and fellowship, and raise funds. Delegates adopted a budget of $56,790 for the coming year.

Frosty and Nancy Louise Wilkinson organized the disaster auction. Ken Michael was again an entertaining auctioneer. Over $2,000 dollars was raised for disaster relief. Marie Wiles and Pat Wright also provided an opportunity for attendees to purchase items from artisans around the world through a SERRV Store. Carol Bowman organized a talent show on Saturday night with Mike Titus as master of ceremonies.

Before Sunday morning worship, the assembled group thanked Ullery for his service as moderator for the past two years. Ken Rieman led in a special anointing service for a member who is contending with ALS (Lou Gehrig s disease). Continuing prayers on her behalf would be appreciated. Ken Holderread sent the participants home with closing words of hope and inspiration.

— This report first appeared in the Oregon and Washington District newsletter.


4) Middle Pennsylvania District Conference meets despite early snow.

The 148th Middle Pennsylvania District Conference had a new twist this year with an unexpected early snow fall in the days leading up to the conference, which required cautious travel for some. Lori Knepp served as moderator.

Pre-conference activities began Friday evening with an annual Ministers’ Banquet. Seventy ministers and their spouses enjoyed a wonderful buffet dinner provided by Juniata College and hosted by Juniata president Tom Kepple.

The conference opened with evening worship on the theme, “God Lives in Us” (1 John 4:11-12). Kurt Borgmann, pastor at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., preached on “To Love One Another.” Joel Nogle, pastor at Memorial Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, Pa., preached on Saturday morning, sharing the message that no matter where you come from your heavenly Father is “Your Daddy.”

The conference business included audit reports of the district finances and Disaster Response Action Team. The Coordinating Team presented a 2010 Mission Plan. The $211,700 plan, which represents a $9,945 reduction from the 2009 plan and included no program, ministry, or outreach cuts, was affirmed by the delegate body.

Also a part of conference business was the “Query–Cooperative Ministry Among the Brethren.” Full text of the query can be found at . The query originated from pastors in the district’s Area 3 and was passed on to the delegate body for consideration by the Coordinating Team. After discussion, a motion from the floor to send it on to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference was defeated. A second motion to pass it back to the Coordinating Team for study and action was passed.

District leaders shared information about ministries of their respective teams, such as the Shalom Team, the Calling and Credentialing Team, the Ministers’ Education and Support Team, and others. Individuals from congregations told about ways district ministries have aided them in their local ministries. The Youth Ministry Team held a service of consecration for the ministries they share throughout the district. District executive minister David Steele challenged each church to disciple five new members in the next year.

Friday evening offerings totaling $1,087 were designated to District Youth Ministry and the Pennies for Congregational Ministries offering on Saturday totaled $5,547.77. The District Conference outreach project was a collection of nonperishable food items and donations for the Huntingdon Area Food Pantry.

A slate of leadership was affirmed. Moderator designate is David Filson. Named to the Gifts Discernment team were Eric Biddle and Barbara Rowe. Named to the District Conference Program and Arrangements Committee was Freeman Snair. Jeff Imler was named to the Audit Committee. David Crumrine was named district delegate to the Standing Committee of Annual Conference. Named to the Coordinating Team were Rich Allison, Doris Miller, Bobbie Replogle, and Marian Goshorn. Jim Ake was named district treasurer.

Lowell Witkovsky, 2010 district moderator, was consecrated for his leadership in the coming year. He asked for congregations to be in prayer for the tasks ahead. The 2010 District Conference will be held on Oct. 15-16 at Maitland Church of the Brethren in Lewistown, Pa.


5) ‘Blessed to Be a Blessing’ provides theme for Shenandoah District.

The 42nd yearly conference of Shenandoah District was held at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Nov. 6-7. The conference began with worship led by moderator Matthew Fike on the conference theme, “Blessed to Be a Blessing.”

A Deputation Team from Bridgewater College provided music and worship leadership for the opening service. Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships, gave a Moment for Mission on the denomination’s 100 Homes in Haiti project. The evening offering, totaling $1,627.53, will benefit the Haiti project.

Conference participants numbered 355 on Saturday. The conference-goers enjoyed informative insight sessions highlighting district and denominational ministries such as Brethren Woods, National Youth Conference, Brethren Disaster Ministries, and the district’s annual auction. The district’s Mission Implementation Team held a session to inform delegates about a proposed governance plan. Conference participants also had time to browse exhibits and enjoyed a time of fellowship and refreshments provided by the Pleasant Valley congregation.

In business sessions, the district approved a new governance plan. The recommendation came from the District Board. Revisions grew out of the board’s desire to move to a governance model that assists congregations to be vital, effective, and healthy. The new model streamlines decision making with a Leadership Team replacing the district’s Executive Committee and District Board. Ministry Teams will be more nimble and focused on empowering congregations and groups within the district. At the heart of the model is the biblical concept of discerning gifts for ministry. A major emphasis will be on working with congregations to call and train persons for leadership.

Delegates came forward to share questions, concerns, and support for the proposed changes. Following discussion, moderator Fike led the delegate body in a time of prayer. Delegates approved the revisions to the constitution and by-laws by an 89 percent vote.

Throughout the business sessions, congregational highlights were given from across the district. The Mill Creek Church shared about its emphasis on Youth Ministries. The Mt. Pleasant Church shared about the blessings of the Springs of Living Water church renewal initiative. The Pleasant Valley Church told about Hope Chapel, a worship initiative to reach out to families and individuals in Augusta County who visit the Verona Food Pantry.

The District Board portrayed scenes from an Executive Committee meeting illustrating many ministries that are supported through the district budget. During the celebration, Christian Growth Institute dean Ed Carl presented graduating students with certificates. Those receiving certificates included Jerry Shiflet, Scott Payne, Richard and Janet Parkhurst, and David Chappell.

Other items of business included a “Mission Challenge Budget” for 2010 with income and expense parameters of $407,469. Delegates were informed of possible reductions to the budget if end-of-year finances and commitments for 2010 do not meet the approved income level.

Election results included Janet Elsea as moderator-elect, Ellen K. Layman as clerk, and Gilda Gilbert called to the District Conference Program and Arrangements Committee. Called to the District Board were Martha Barlow, Karen Fleishman, Martha Graves, Sharon Lantz, Linda Neff, Darren Howdyshell, Sue Sandy, Charles Simmons, and Randy Simmons. Henry Elsea Jr. was named district delegate to the Standing Committee of Annual Conference.

Bernie Fuska will serve as moderator for 2010. Jim Miller, district executive, led a consecration service for newly elected personnel, installing moderator Fuska and moderator-elect Janet Elsea with a laying on of hands. Fuska adjourned the conference by sharing a vision for the district which centers on Christ’s teaching of “the things that make for peace.”


6) Virlina District Conference celebrates the Name of Jesus.

The 39th Virlina District Conference was held in Roanoke, Va., on Nov. 13-14. “At the Name of Jesus Every Knee Should Bend!” (Philippians 2:5-11) was the theme. Total registration was 529 people. This included 253 delegates and 276 non-delegates from 78 congregations. Patrick C. Starkey, pastor of Roanoke Ninth Street Church of the Brethren, served as moderator.

Speakers for worship services were Daniel D’Oleo, Donald Gearheart, Hannah Oakes, Dava C. Hensley, and Stafford C. Frederick. An all-conference choir was led by Laura Heptinstall.

Ninety-nine people attended a Ministers and Spouses Banquet held on Friday evening at Peters Creek Church of the Brethren. David K. Shumate, district executive, was the featured speaker.

Business included the granting of a request from Danville (Va.) First Church of the Brethren to change its name to Schoolfield Church of the Brethren, and the approval of a District Board Budget of $289,389.97 for 2010. Delegates also heard that the Camp Bethel budget for 2010 will be $612,210.

Nineteen individuals were called to positions of leadership. Roy A. McVey was called as moderator-elect. Cathy S. Huffman was named the district delegate to the Standing Committee of Annual Conference. Anna W. Hale and Linda B. Vaught were called to the District Conference Program and Arrangements Committee. Patricia A. Edwards, Harriet F. Rader, and Michael J. Huffaker were named to the Nominating and Personnel Committee. Stephanie L. Naff and Julie A. Sink were called to the Outdoor Ministries Committee.

Called to the District Board were Myrna M. Ferguson, R. Keith Beckner, Roy U. Turpin, Mary Ann Mellen, Lula Belle Wood, Michelle Wirt Eaton, Royce L. Saunders, Paul F. Stutzman, and Michael W. Wray. Lynn N. Myers will serve as chair of the District Board for 2009-10.

The conference consecrated Daniel D’Oleo as pastor/developer of the Roanoke, Renacer Project, beginning Jan. 1. Jimmy Robinson and James C. McKinnell were honored for 50 years of ministerial service. The graduation of John G. Edwards from the Training in Ministry (TRIM) process was celebrated.

The conference received offerings of $4,424.25, including $1,647.00 for National Youth Conference, $2,017.25 for the expenses of the District Conference, and $760 for Hispanic Ministries.

The 40th Virlina District Conference will be held Nov. 12-13, 2010. Sharon S. Wood will serve as the 2010 District Conference Moderator.

— David Shumate is district executive minister of Virlina District.

Naperville Church of the Brethren hosted this year’s Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference,  held in November. Gil Crosby served as moderator of the conference. Orlando Redekopp, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., was consecrated as district moderator for 2010.
Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for Jan. 13. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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