Newsline Extra for February 26, 2009

“…Workers who were working in the house of the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 34:10b).

1) Michael Schneider named as new president of McPherson College.
2) Nancy Knepper ends her term as coordinator of District Ministry.
3) Janis Pyle ends her term as coordinator of Mission Connections.
4) Brethren bits: More personnel announcements.

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1) Michael Schneider named as new president of McPherson College.

Michael Schneider has been chosen by the McPherson (Kan.) College Board of Trustees as the 14th president of the college. He currently is vice president of Advancement and Admissions for McPherson.

Craig Little, chair of the board of McPherson College, expressed appreciation to the search committee, consultant Tom Scheye, the campus community, alumni, and members of the Church of the Brethren for their efforts on behalf of the selection process. “Nearly 50 applications were sorted down to four finalists and making the final decision was not an easy one. I have great belief in the collective wisdom of the trustees and the search committee and think we made a great choice.”

Schneider holds a master of business administration from the University of Denver and a bachelor of science in communication from McPherson. He has worked for the college for the past seven years, starting as director of career services, then vice president of advancement, and adding the vice president of admissions role in 2007. In his current role, he is responsible for student enrollment, fundraising and annual giving, alumni relations, marketing, and career services. Through his leadership, the 2008 incoming class exceeded 500–the highest number in 30 years. In addition, the “myMC” campaign, which was completed in July 2008, raised $9 million–more than a million dollars over the original goal. The total number of donors to the college has increased by 20 percent during Schneider’s time with McPherson.

Schneider also serves as board member and general partner in two outside companies: KESK, Inc., a small company that invests in start-up businesses in the energy sector; and Sunflower Wind, LLC., a privately-held wind turbine manufacturing company. He is an active member of the McPherson Community Education Foundation Board of Directors and is heavily involved in leadership committees at First United Methodist Church of McPherson.

— Jana Wingert is director of Marketing and Communications at McPherson College.

2) Nancy Knepper ends her term as coordinator of District Ministry.

Nancy F. Knepper, coordinator of District Ministry for the Church of the Brethren’s Ministry Office, has completed her term of service with the denomination. The position of coordinator of District Ministry has been eliminated as part of a re-evaluation of the needs of the Ministry Office.

She has served as coordinator of District Ministry since Oct. 1997. She started working for the Church of the Brethren General Board in Feb. 1989 as director of Outdoor Ministries in a half-time position through 1997. She also served briefly as interim coordinator of the General Board’s ministry team. Previously she was administrator and manager of Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla., and administered Atlantic Southeast District’s outdoor ministries program. She is a graduate of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and holds a master’s degree from Shippensburg (Pa.) State College. She is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren.

Any services or functions previously handled by Knepper should be channeled through Mary Jo Flory-Steury, executive director of the Ministry Office.

3) Janis Pyle ends her term as coordinator of Mission Connections.
  • Janis Pyle, coordinator of Mission Connections for Global Mission Partnerships, has completed her term of service with the Church of the Brethren. The coordinator position has been eliminated as part of a re-evaluation of the needs of Global Mission Partnerships.
  • Pyle has served as coordinator of Mission Connections since Nov. 2001. During her tenure she helped strengthen the connections of church members with the denomination’s global mission efforts; produced communications on behalf of the mission program; gave presentations for congregations and other groups; and helped organize missions events at Annual Conference. In previous employment she was a writer/editor for newspapers, corporations, and nonprofits. Her volunteer work has included service on the Northern Plains District planning committee and community projects related to homelessness and immigration issues. She holds a degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has studied at the graduate level at Iowa State University.
  • Any services or functions previously handled by Pyle should be channeled through Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships.
  • 4) Brethren bits: More personnel announcements.
  • Lois Grove has been named district minister of Leadership Development for Northern Plains District. The new position was created by the district board with “awareness of the need for a dedicated effort to identify, call out, train, and nurture leadership in our district,” from an announcement in the district newsletter. Responsibilities will include communicating with individuals and churches for the purpose of identifying gifts of leadership and offering opportunities for training, identifying needs and opportunities for professional growth for ministers, and ongoing development of ministers’ spiritual awareness and growth.
  • Elizabeth Mullich began Feb. 16 as secretary for Brethren Disaster Ministries, at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. She most recently has been the primary caregiver for her mother. Previously she was an executive secretary at Fairhaven in Sykesville, Md. She also has worked for the Columbus (Ind.) Philharmonic Orchestra in several administrative roles.
  • Sharon Norris began Feb. 23 as office assistant for the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program located at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. She most recently worked for a small beverage distributor in an administrative role. She also has worked for Random House in customer service.
  • John and Mary Mueller have been named to a new role as project consultants for Brethren Disaster Ministries, on a contract basis. They formerly worked as regional project directors. Their new position was created to assist Brethren Disaster Ministries in achieving a number of goals identified through a recent survey, including teaching construction skills to volunteers, increasing the number of homes rebuilt, and maintaining leadership teams. The Muellers will support the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries project leaders and volunteers by providing construction expertise, project estimation, consultation, spiritual support, household and transitional management, and teaching construction skills.
  • The 2009 Youth Peace Travel Team has been announced: Chelsea Goss of Mechanicsville, Va.; Jessica Flory-Steury of Kettering, Ohio; Marianne Houff of Bethel, Pa.; and Bethany Funkhouser of Strasburg, Va. The team will represent the Church of the Brethren as it travels to camps across the denomination throughout the summer. The Youth Peace Travel Team is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Outdoor Ministries, Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Brethren Volunteer Service, On Earth Peace, and Brethren Witness/Washington Office. The program is designed to share with Brethren youth the message of peace and justice that has been a core faith tradition of the church throughout its 300-year history. The team also will attend and lead sessions at the National Junior High Conference, Annual Conference, and a workcamp at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.
  • Matt Witkovsky has begun a Brethren Volunteer Service assignment at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office. He is a graduate of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and was a member of the Church of the Brethren’s Youth Peace Travel Team in 2006. His work will focus on issues of eco-justice, the Middle East, and the death penalty, and he will assist with the Christian Citizenship Seminar.
  • Several Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village employees received awards at this year’s Staff Recognition Dinner. Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village is a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. Receiving Service Excellence awards were Karen Gish, assistant director of the Dietary Department, who is in her 36th year at Fahrney-Keedy; and Gail Hammond, who works in the Housekeeping Department and who is in her second year at the community. Besides these honors, many on the staff received recognition for years of service including Barbara Weber, Social Services director, and Janet Filler, Nursing Department, for 40 years; Ginger Lowery, Environmental Services, for 35 years; Martha Wolfe, Human Resources, for 20 years; Donna Clark and Kathy Cosens, both of Nursing, for 15 years; Deborah Martz, Environmental Services, and Mary Moore, Nursing, for 10 years; Kelly Keyfauver, Rose Wenger, Pamela Burger, Carrie Davis, Ronda McGilton, and Carla Spataro, all in Nursing, for 5 years; and Marvin Ickes, Dietary, for 5 years.
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) seeks young adult stewards for an upcoming Central Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on Aug. 19-Sept. 4. English-speaking young adults aged 18-30 from WCC member churches are eligible to apply. The Church of the Brethren is a member church of the WCC. The Stewards Program includes a week-long Ecumenical Learning Program prior to the meeting, assisting with staffing during the meeting, and an ecumenical project to be done when the stewards return home. The WCC will be responsible for lodging and meal expenses during the time of the program. Travel costs to and from Geneva are paid by the stewards or their church. The deadline for applications is March 31. Go to http://www.oikoumene.org/fileadmin/files/wcc-main/documents/p1/info_stewards_2009.pdf  to download a brochure about the program. Go to http://www.oikoumene.org/fileadmin/files/wcc-main/documents/p1/applic_form_stewards_2009.pdf  to download an application form.

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, cobnews@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Phil Jones, Karin L. Krog, and Glen Sargent contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for March 11. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. For more Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine, call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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