Forum of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes Meets in Ohio

The 2011 Forum of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes (FBH) enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Good Shepherd Home, Fostoria, Ohio, for its annual meeting April 5-7. Representatives from FBH retirement communities, the Church of the Brethren, and the Church of the Brethren Benefit (BBT) Trust gathered to hear presentations by several experts in the field of long-term care and to share updates and best practices from their respective organizations.

Robert E. Alley, the first Annual Conference moderator to attend a FBH Forum, spoke to participants about the long relationship enjoyed by the Church of the Brethren and Brethren retirement communities. Alley highlighted the importance of this ministry through the years to older adults, and shared personal recollections about the beginning of the Bridgewater Retirement Community and his connections with its residents during his ministry career.

A tour of the Good Shepherd Home (GSH) campus included their health care, dementia, assisted living, and independent levels of care. Good Shepherd’s “Departing with Dignity” service, celebrating the lives of residents at the time of their death, was described by executive director Chris Widman and local funeral director Terrence Hoening. Upon a resident’s death, family members, staff, and residents accompany the body, covered by a specially embroidered cloth, to the main entrance of the home where a short service honoring the deceased is held. Two family members whose loved ones were remembered in this manner shared how meaningful the service was for them, and expressed appreciation that their relatives left Good Shepherd through the front entrance, the same one they entered when they moved into the home. Contact Jim Sampson, chaplain, at for more information about this service.

Forum participants also toured HUD Section 202 apartments on the GSH campus and heard a presentation by consultant David Brainin, who described the application process to build and run HUD supportive housing for the elderly. Other presentations related to long-term care included Steve Wermuth, COO, Ohio Department of Health, who addressed national health care reform and older adults; Steve Stanisa, CPA, President, Howard Wershbale and Company, who presented strategies to respond to health care reform; and Karla Dreisbach, Senior Director of Compliance, Friends Services for the Aging, who reviewed the latest compliance regulations. Brethren Benefit Trust sponsored a presentation by Lou Burgess from Front Line Advantage about the importance of quality customer service.

Participants in the 2011 Forum included Chris Widman, Good Shepherd Home, Fostoria, Ohio; John Warner, Brethren Retirement Community, Greenville, Ohio; Carma Wall, The Cedars, McPherson, Kans.; and Vernon King, Cross Keys Village – The Brethren Home Community, New Oxford, Pa. Also, Mike Leiter, Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, Boonsboro, Md.; Jeff Shireman, Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, Palmyra, Pa.; Ferol Labash, Pinecrest Community, Mt. Morris, Ill.; David Lawrenz, Timbercrest Senior Living Community, North Manchester, Ind.; and Shari McCabe, executive director, Fellowship of Brethren Homes. Additional participants were Nevin Dulabaum and Loyce Borgmann representing Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust; Robert Alley, Jonathan Shively, and Kim Ebersole representing the Church of the Brethren; and Wally Landes, chair of the former Association of Brethren Caregivers board, who led devotions for the group. Good Shepherd staff also contributed to the meeting, from the dining services staff to inspirational music provided by Kevin Gordon and Liz Darnell.

The date and location for the 2012 Forum will be announced at a future date.

The Fellowship of Brethren Homes is comprised of 22 retirement communities related to the Church of the Brethren. Members of FBH are committed to providing high quality, loving care for older adults and work together on common challenges such as long-term care needs, uncompensated care, and nurturing relationships with congregations and districts.

– Kim Ebersole, Director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministries and Loyce Borgmann, Client Relations Manager, BBT


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