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Enjoying the Brethren Flow-Through

Jun 17, 2004

One of the advantages of living in Winona Lake, Indiana, is seeing so many Grace Brethren-connected people flow through this town, which houses most of the Grace Brethren national organizations.

This week, for example, we saw Linda Mensinger in church. She’s on her way to the Northwest to care for her parents, leaving Eddie—for the present—teaching back in the Central African Republic.

Then one noontime Keith Shearer wandered by for a brief conversation. Pastor of the New Beginnings Grace Brethren Church of Myerstown, Pennsylvania, Keith will be moderator of the National Conference year after next. He’s in town teaching a D.Min. course at Grace Seminary on Implementing Change and Conflict Management in the Local Church.

One of the students in that class, Greg Howell, also stopped in for a chat. Greg, whom we just saw at the Northwest Focus Retreat, is the longtime pastor at Community Grace Brethren Church in Goldendale, Washington, and is the “go-to” person for churches seeking a pastor or pastors looking for a place of ministry. He keeps active lists of both, and has a good system for linking churches with potential pastors.

A happy surprise this week was a quick visit from Bill and Mary Elsa Schaffer, who were enroute to their home in Homestead, Florida, from visiting with one of their children in Wisconsin. Bill, who taught music at Grace and now represents Rodgers Organs in south Florida, was the son of my former pastor, the legendary William H. Schaffer, who helped found Grace Seminary and the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.

Forming a Grace Brethren Navy?

We’ve been giving Larry Chamberlain, executive director of Grace Brethren North American Missions, a hard time this week. Signs have sprouted up all over Winona Lake encouraging people to donate boats to GBNAM. When we asked whether he was forming a Grace Brethren Navy to protect our waterways, he quickly informed us it was a fund raising venture for Urban Encounter, the inner-city ministry in Chicago. Clive Craigen up there is using a boat auction to raise money and, since they do not have separate not-for-profit status, chose to put GBNAM’s name on the signs. That clears up the confusion.

Larry, by the way, is the author of an article entitled “The Discipline of Creative Leadership: Reflections on Creativity and Innovation in Christian Ministry,” which appears on page 29 of the “Christian Management Report” June 2004 issue. The publication is the June 2004 edition of the magazine of the Christian Management Association. Chamberlain is a third-year doctoral student in Regent University’s School of Leadership Studies.

Tom and Donna Miller
were missing from our Wednesday-night Global Prayer Group this week because they’re in Madrid with missionaries Larry and Vicky DeArmey. The Millers are part of a prayer group that is seeking to encourage and fortify with prayer the Grace Brethren ministry in Spain and other parts of Europe.

Tom and Doris Julien left the Prayer Group early to pick up an incoming conferee for the SALT Training that will occur in Winona Lake next week. About 30 missionaries and church leaders from all over the world will be here to participate in the training, which uses an agricultural analogy (laws of the sower, the seed, the soil, etc.) to give practical training in whole-life Christian discipleship and church-planting.

Issue #4 of FGBCWorld went to the printer today. It should arrive in homes and churches around July 1. The front-page feature articles include a summary of the upcoming adult and youth conferences and a feature on the Bayaka Pygmy goal to plant 50 churches along the route of the trek taken earlier this year by the three Pygmy pastors, missionary Barb Wooler, and their group.

Right next door to our BMH building is Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, which is in Vacation Bible School this week. Nearly 500 children and workers are participating each morning—today was “salvation day” when each attending child was to receive an explanation of the Gospel and would be presented with an opportunity to receive Christ as Savior. We await the good news as to how God worked.