|Photo by Glenn Riegel|
|The Council of District Executives (CODE) gave an Award for Excellence in Pastoral Ministry at their first ever dinner event at an Annual Conference: at left Southern Pennsylvania District executive Georgia Markey gives the award to Janice Custer, pastor of Huntsdale Church of the Brethren.|
CODE, the Council of District Executives, held its first ever Annual Conference dinner, July 9. Craig Smith, chair of the executive committee and executive minister for Atlantic Northeast District, opened the meeting stating that the dinner was to be a “Celebration of Leadership.” A highlight of the dinner was a new award for pastoral excellence.
Smith introduced the new district executives in the group: Russell and Deborah Payne, Southeastern District; John Jantzi, Shenandoah District; and Hector Perez-Borges, associate for Puerto Rico in Atlantic Southeast District.
The program included Vickie Smith sharing a selection of songs including “Because He Lives” and “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”
Georgia Markey, executive minister for Southern Pennsylvania District, announced the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Pastoral Ministry. She listed qualities of an exemplary minister as one who encourages leadership, has a positive impact on others, mentors others, exhibits spiritual depth, and models healthy relationships.
Janice Custer, pastor of Huntsdale Church of the Brethren in Carlisle, Pa., received the award. Markey described her as one who leads her congregation as the “hands and feet of Christ.” As an instructor for the SVMC (Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center) course on pastoral care, she is respected by those of a wide diversity of theological belief. Markey described her as on who “is and does live out her faith.”
Custer described herself as one who has known from the young age of 7 that she would serve others. At that age she wanted to be a nun when she grew up. Her Mennonite mother informed her that she “would not be a nun.” In high school she told her counselor that her goal was to help other people through serving God. The counselor told her to reconsider that goal. She did not reconsider, and is now satisfied to serve God as a pastoral minister. She closed her comments on receiving the award with encouraging words: when your goal is serving God, “you can’t say no to God and say yes to people,” she said. “We simply say yes to God.”
As a thank you to all the ministers at the dinner, Pacific Southwest District executive Don Booz shared a light-hearted look at ministry that closed with a film clip to assure them that “one can never measure the impact of what ministers do.”
— Karen Garrett is a volunteer writer for the Annual Conference news team and staff of the Brethren Journal Association