Monday, January 29, 2007

Two Prayer Requests

Please pray that all goes well for Laura Distler, wife of Lititz (PA) Grace Brethren pastor Scott Distler, as she has her gall bladder removed tomorrow, Monday, January 29.

Also pray for the Thompson/Firebaugh family. The late Bud Thompson, who worked with Grace Brethren International Missions, and his wife, Mary Thompson, have a grandson, Joel, who lives in Colorado and is the son of Glenn and Judy Rae (Thompson) Firebaugh. Joel's wife, Sarah, was killed in an automobile accident last week as she drove to work on snowy roads.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Updates on James Kennedy, Al Mohler

KENNEDY: Evangelist D. James Kennedy remains hospitalized in stable condition, according to Coral Ridge Ministries spokesman John Aman, nearly a month after suffering cardiac arrest Dec. 28 and undergoing surgery. "He's continuing to receive treatment and progressing toward recovery," Aman said. "Our anticipation is he will return to his normal ministry duties—contingent on his health."

MOHLER: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president R. Albert Mohler is "doing fine and he is back home," according to seminary spokesman Lawrence Smith. Abdominal surgery last month led to blood clots in the lungs that prolonged Mohler's hospital stay. The writer and radio show host is "currently easing back into his duties" said Smith, and has resumed his radio program.

Iowa Pastors Pray for Austin, Johnson

Gary Austin, pastor of the Grace Brethren Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer, sent the following report about this week’s meeting of the Grace Brethren pastors in Iowa:

We had our Christmas/Valentine dinner out in Waterloo, about one hour north of Cedar Rapids. We went to Famous Dave's, a BBQ place in Cedar Falls. There were 15 in all - good food and fellowship. And a late night!

The pastors held a special prayer service for Jean and me as well as for Howard Johnson, pastor of the Davenport GBC, and his wife, Sue. Howard was discovered to be with cancer last Thanksgiving. He was a special friend to begin with - and we've taken a new step together, one we hadn't planned on, that's for sure.

As for the cancer: We have some Good News and some Not Too Bad News. Friday morning it was confirmed that I have qualified for IowaCare, a limited health care plan for Iowa residents with low income and no insurance. That's the Good News!

They will only care for your medical costs if you go to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. That's Not Too Bad News. That is in Iowa City, about 25 miles away. But we've been told they will pick up the costs of treatments I'm facing - which will run in the many thousands of dollars. That's Good News!

We started the process of trying to connect with the offices in IC and found it somewhat frustrating. That's the Not Too Bad News, for our desires would have been to have things fall into place right away. But it was a Friday afternoon. The oncologist we saw earlier this week has faxed my info to them and they told me (by phone) that they will try to get me in at first opportunity. That's Not Too Bad News, too.

You might just pray for that to happen this coming week. Let's see what God will do!

We love you and wanted to keep you in the loop as it takes its different turns along the way!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Matt Carter to Lead Worship at Wooster

Matt Carter moves to Wooster, Ohio, next week and begins his ministry with the Grace Brethren church there (Bob Fetterhoff, pastor) on Jan. 31 as Director of Contemporary Worship.

Matt will provide leadership for two contemporary worship services which are held in the Wooster church's Family Center (combined attendance for these services is about 700).

Jim Laird New Pastor at Marietta, Georgia

Jim Laird is the new pastor at Grace Church in Marietta, Ga. He will serve as senior pastor after having served in the same capacity in Martinsburg, Pa. for the last sixteen years. Jim began his ministry on January 28.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Russ Ogden Recovering Well from Stroke

Pastor Paul Mutchler of the Lanham, Maryland, Grace Brethren Church, formerly pastored by Russ Ogden, recently sent his congregation this update on Russ’ health:

Pastor Emeritus Russ Ogden, pastor here from 1975 to 1993, suffered a stroke at his Indianapolis home Saturday night. Fortunately, Betty called 911 immediately, they took him for immediate treatment, and he was given aggressive medication within a three-hour window of his stroke.

The doctor told Betty there could be one of three responses to that treatment…1-no change…he suffered some loss of limb coordination, and some speech impairment, 2- steady, slow improvement, or 3-the “Lazarus” effect of immediate improvement within the 24-hour waiting period. Of course, we dedicated concentrated prayer for Pastor Ogden during our services Sunday.

Good News! “Lazarus Russ” has no apparent lingering effects, and all his follow-up tests have been very encouraging. He enjoys full limb coordination and speech, but is resting with some nausea and his neurologist is keeping him in overnight yet tonight, Monday, Jan 22. Betty is spending much time at the hospital with him, and praising God for his quick response to treatment.

Pastor Ogden led the church during the years we established Lanham Christian School K-8 (1977) and expanded the ministry to high school with the building of the Betty Ruth Ogden Education Building in 1987. Betty served as the first principal, and recruited our present headmaster of 18 years, Gene Pinkard. We purchased the Magnolia property under his leadership in 1983 as well.

Having served our congregation the longest of any of our pastors, 18 years, Russ was honored with the title “Pastor Emeritus.” Russ and Betty live in Indianapolis near their two daughters. Their son David is a pastor and a counselor in Florida, and a son Jim lives in Ohio.

Cards and notes of encouragement would do wonders for his recovery

Russ and Betty Ogden
7160 Larkshall Road
Indianapolis, IN 46250

Later news -- as of Wednesday evening, Russ says, "I came home Tuesday night with a few more medications and am recovering normally. I’ll probably cut down on my activities, but am otherwise all right."

Gary Austin Reports on Cancer Diagnosis

Gary Austin, who by his own account is “happily living and pastoring in Cedar Rapids, Iowa” at the Grace Brethren Church there, sends this health update.

Gary was was diagnosed recently with colorectal cancer. The surgeon who did the colonoscopy and biopsy strongly recommended we "get on it" without waiting. God opened some doors for us very quickly.

MANY people--from all over the country and world--started praying specifically for our need. Then God moved the "Medical Doors" in our community. I was able to get in to see an oncologist within one week, and today had a PET/CT scan to see what was the "nature of the beast."

The results were Good News and Bad News. The oncologist was all smiles as he looked over the scan results. The Bad News - yes, there is a growth in the rectum but it has not metastasized or spread out of the rectal area.

Therefore, the strategy is changing from chemotherapy first to doing surgery first, followed by radiation. I have an appointment with the surgeon this Friday [Jan. 26] at 3 pm. This is a consultation to determine the direction to go. This will be somewhat critical as it affects the surgery process called "resectioning."

The Iowa GBC pastors are meeting in Waterloo Friday pm. One of the things we are doing is an anointing service for Howard Johnson (pastor at Davenport, IA, also dealing with colon cancer), and myself. Then we're going to Famous Dave's for our "Christmas get-together"!

We would appreciate your prayers as we wait on God's grace to open the doors in a timely fashion, and then have the wisdom to know which is the best course of action to take. We would also ask you to pray for our children - Debbie and Jim Momeyer (in French language study in Albertville, FR), Mark and Julie in Coldwater, MI, and Jon & Daisy, in Chicago.

Thank you for being special friends.

Gary & Jean Austin
1440 Parkwood Dr. SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52403
cell 319-431-6370

Centerville, OH, Gets a Youth Pastor

From the blog of Steve Makofka, pastor of the Centerville, Ohio, Grace Brethren Church:

Last Sunday our church voted to call Dave Holmes to come and be our Associate Pastor of Youth, and Dave has said, "Yes."

This culminates a two-year process of searching for a teammate and co-worker. Everyone here is excited about the possibilities and potential that Dave will bring to the leadership mix.

Holmes graduated from Grace College in 2003 and graduated with honors from Grace Seminary in 2005, receiving both the Alva J. McClain Award in Systematic Theology and the Faculty Award.

Dave previously served as a youth intern at Marysville GBC and Wooster GBC. He has also been involved in missions projects in Philadelphia, Chicago, Mississauga, Cananda, and Belem, Brazil.

Philadelphia Churches Merge

Crossroads-Wissinoming Grace Brethren Church near Philadelphia (Bob Pearson, pastor) has merged with its mother church.

According to Pearson, “We held our last service in Wissinoming on Nov. 26th, and we merged (re-merged) with Crossroads - Frankford (our mother church) the following Sunday. I am the associate pastor to Mark Ritzman.”

Bob says, “The church is growing, but it cannot pay two guys, so...I'm looking for work. I have a few resumes out to be a hospice chaplain. We'll just have to see where it all goes. God is taking care of us.” Your prayers for Bob and Sharon and the two Crossroads churches will be appreciated.

Monday, January 22, 2007

February's AGBM Calendar

Listed here are the upcoming dates for the next month, as listed in the "events" section of the AGBM website. To click open the live links for further information in each of the events, go to and click on "events." Additions, corrections, or deletions should be sent to

Friday, January 26
Fellowship Council

Friday, January 26
Organic Church Movements Conference

Sunday, January 28
SoCal CEN Celebration

Monday, January 29
Southwest Focus Retreat

Thursday, February 01
NCO Ministerium

Monday, February 05
NAF Pastor's Retreat

Thursday, February 08
West Penn Church Planting Exploratory

Friday, February 09
Grace Discipleship Conference

Monday, February 12
TriState Pastors & Wives

Friday, February 16
Mid-Atlantic Winter Camp

Tuesday, February 20
Heartland Ministerium

Tuesday, February 20
Tri-State Ministerium

Wednesday, February 21
Leadership Training Roundtable

Monday, February 26
South Focus Retreat

Dan Grabill Treatment Update

Last week we asked prayer for Dan Grabill of the Brookville, Ohio, church, as he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Here, used by permission, is an update from Dan:

This was a shocker. What started out as a simple pain in the leg became a lymphoma. The treatment has begun and is working. The pain has subsided about 75 percent.

Now, getting used to the poison in my system is another matter. God wants to do something bigger through this than just relieve my pain, so pray that I not miss those opportunities to reflect the glories of His person.

This was a quick thing that came upon me, and I know that the Lord is using it for His eternal glory. The pain and discomfort I know are temporary, but prayer support helps through those times.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dale Harris Ordination Exam January 25

From the web update of the Tri-State Ministerium:

Ordination Exam - January 25th

An Ordination Exam for Dale Harris, pastor of the Brookville, Ohio, church, will be held on Thursday, Jan. 25th at 2pm. This will be held at Grace Community Church in Huber Heights. For information contact Bob Foote at the Huber Heights church.

Dan Grabill Facing Health Issue

From the web update of the Tri-State Ministerium:

At our ministerium this past Tuesday, Dale Harris informed us that Pastor Dan Grabill has been diagnosed with lymphoma and is preparing to undergo chemo and radiation treatments. Please be praying for Dan.

Until recently Dan Grabill had been interim pastor at the Brookville, Ohio, church, and now serves as pastor emeritus. Dan can be reached at

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Singer Hill Searching for Pastor

The Singer Hill Grace Brethren Church, located in Vinco, a small town just outside of Johnstown, PA, with a congregation of approximately 70 people, is searching for a Senior Pastor.

Our town offers a top-notch public school district, as well a Christian school, fire station, grocery store, a local dentist, to name only a few, in our immediate area. It is clean, safe, and a wonderful location to raise a family.

We prefer a candidate who has graduated from a Bible college and who has a strong desire for fellowship, evangelism, worship, discipleship, and missions. We desire a family-oriented, energetic individual who will help us to develop new programs for our congregation, from our youngest to our oldest, and lead our church to growth.

He must know how to skillfully and creatively oversee ministries, equip lay leaders, and encourage the use of our spiritual gifts.

Please submit letter of interest and resume to the contact listed below. Feel free to call with any questions you may have. Wendell L. Gillen. Search Committee Chairman 363 Brazil Lane, Johnstown, PA 15909 814-322-1389 (after 5:30 p.m. ET)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Thornton Concluding Ministry at Soldotna Church

Dan Thornton (pictured), who is currently on sabbatical leave as pastor of the Peninsula Grace Brethren Church of Soldotna, Alaska, announced to his church this weekend that he will be concluding his ministry at the Soldotna church.

Thornton says, "I plan to stay in the area for a couple years working, working on my doctorate, until Michael graduates from high school. Then I will be looking for God’s leading for the next ministry."

He continued, "It’s a little exciting. I had three years of seminary that prepared me for 20 wonderful years of ministry. Now I’m devoting three years for my doctorate. I wonder what the next 20 years will be?"

Thornton is currently the vice chair of the board of the Brethren Missionary Herald Company, having previously served a number of years chairing the board. He will continue as a member of the BMH board.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dave Mitchell Surgery Set for February 6

Many have been praying for the upcoming heart surgery of Pastor Dave Mitchell (pictured) of the Waipio Grace Brethren Church in Mililani, Hawaii. Here is an update from Dave with the schedule:

I must say how touched I am so many people really are concerned about me and the upcoming heart surgery. It means that many are praying to God on my behalf...Thank you !

Surgery is scheduled for February 6. Further tests discovered both my midal and aortic heart valves are bad and both will probably have to be replaced as well as two by-passes now instead of one.

Needless to say this complicates things somewhat. You might say I am having a complete "motor" rebuild. We (doctors, Betty Lou and myself) have decided to have the natural valves instead of the mechanical.

New technology has increased the natural ones to last from 10 to 15 years. They are either from a pig or a cow. If you are a strict Jew they put in the cow (honest) but the pig is the best one. I asked the doctor would I have an even more craving for bacon and he said regardless, don't eat it. Ha!

I was hoping to have it done sooner, like next week, but there are several reasons why it is delayed till February. Despite the severity of the situation, I am at peace with the Lord, knowing that He knows what is happening and what better place to be than in my Father's hands.

Also, even while I am weaker now, I can still preach and thus far fulfill my church obligations by choice. God is so good and when I am preaching I feel great. I may even increase my message time from 30 min. to an hour...Just kidding Waipio.

I appreciate prayer for my wife and sons and their family and our wonderful church, whose love and support will always be remembered. I rejoice in all their strength and their love for God, knowing He is with us in whatever may happen. It's a good feeling to know you can't lose.

Check in with you after the surgery.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Holland Looks for Youth Pastor

ASSOCIATE PASTOR OF YOUTH MINISTRY: New Holland Grace Brethren Church (located in Lancaster County, PA), is seeking a full-time Associate Pastor who will focus primarily on leading their Student Ministry (grades 7-12).

The ideal candidate has a deep passion for youth and the church, and a vision for the transforming power of the Gospel in the context of today's youth culture. Organization, vision, as well as strong personal skills in relating to students and families are key characteristics we are looking for.

Above all, he must love God with all his heart and live as a godly example before other believers. He must exhibit strong moral character and be a team player with other pastoral and administrative staff.

To submit résumés, or for more information, contact the Board of Overseers. EMAIL: / MAIL: 415 S. Kinzer Ave, New Holland, PA 17557 / PHONE: 717-354-9229 (Pastor Tim Hodge).

SoCal to Get CE National Updates

Sunday, January 28th, 6 pm-CE National Celebration at Community Grace Brethren Church, 5885 Downey Avenue, Long Beach (ministry testimonies and video clips plus updates from Ed Lewis and Timothy Kurtanek)

Associate Roles Change at Lititz

In his weekly e-mail update, Pastor Scott Distler of the Lititz, Pa, Grace Brethren Church announces the following upcoming staff changes:

"Right after our Youth Winter Retreat (February 23-25), I will be officially moving Andy Brightbill to the role of Pastor of Connections here at Grace Church and Doug Kegarise will officially become our full-time Director of Student Ministries."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tri-State Ministerium Meets January 16

Ned Denlinger is posting an informative website for the Tri-State Ministerium at

The next meeting of the Tri-State group will be January 16 at Loveland, and the guest will be Greg Ryerson, who will be talking about his new counseling ministry (

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Planning Your Preaching -- Input Sought

Dr. Ray Prichard would like to have your input:

Planning Your Preaching--Survey

Next week I'm one of the speakers at a conference on Planning Your Preaching sponsored by the Olford Center for Biblical Preaching in Memphis. It occurred to me that this is a vital topic that pastors rarely talk about. So I thought I'd ask for some help from readers of this weblog.

These questions are primarily for preachers, but I'll be happy to have comments on this topic from those who listen as well as those who preach.

1) How far in advance do you plan your preaching?

2) What factors do you consider when setting up your preaching calendar?

3) What is the longest sermon series you've ever preached?

4) What value do you see in planning your preaching?

5) What input do you get from others in planning your preaching?

6) Describe your preaching plan for 2007.

Thanks in advance. Answer briefly or in detail. Whatever works for you will be a great help to me.

Click on Comments on to give your answers to these questions.

You can reach the author at

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What Churches are Doing for Outreach

Research results being released for the first time in the January/February edition of Facts & Trends magazine show just how involved U.S. Protestant churches are in evangelism and community outreach, as well as what obstacles hold them back from being even more involved.

The findings are from a study conducted for Facts & Trends by Ellison Research (Phoenix, Ariz.) among a representative sample of 811 Protestant church ministers nationwide.

Senior ministers were asked about the activities their church has held over the past year specifically for the purpose of evangelism, as well as what types of community outreach and programs the church has offered.

The methods churches are using for evangelism are quite varied. The most common is Vacation Bible School, or VBS, which has been used by seven out of 10 churches for evangelism in the last year. At least half have used literature such as tracts or magazines (59 percent), events such as block parties or a Fall Festival (56 percent), musical events or concerts (51 percent), mailings or fliers (50 percent), and nursing home or retirement center visits (49 percent) specifically for the purposes of evangelism.

Other relatively popular evangelistic efforts include "invite a friend to church" days (42 percent), revivals or crusades (40 percent), evangelism training classes or groups (38 percent), door-to-door visitation within the community (37 percent), community service such as cleanup days (31 percent), online efforts such as blogs or web sites (27 percent), audio or visual products such as tapes or DVDs (26 percent), and booths at community events such as the county fair (20 percent).

Ninety-seven percent of all churches report doing something specifically for the purposes of evangelism over the last year.

Just what churches are doing to evangelize their communities differs quite a bit by denominational group. Southern Baptist churches are particularly big on using revivals or crusades, literature, evangelism training classes or groups, and door-to-door visitation, but are less likely than average to use any sort of online evangelism. Other Baptist groups (National, Progressive, General, etc.) are fairly close to average, but are a bit more likely than others to use literature and door-to-door visitation.

Methodist churches are more likely than average to use events, but less likely to use literature, door-to-door visitation, and revivals or crusades. Lutherans are particularly likely to rely on Vacation Bible School, online methods, and mailings or fliers, and less likely to use revivals or crusades, musical events or concerts, or audio/visual methods. Pentecostal churches are particularly likely to employ musical events or concerts, revivals or crusades, "invite a friend to church" days, and audio/visual products, but less likely than average to use Vacation Bible School for evangelism. Presbyterians are especially unlikely to use literature, revivals or crusades, door-to-door visitation, or audio/visual products.

In general, evangelical churches use a greater variety of evangelistic tools than do mainline Protestant churches. Evangelical churches are considerably more likely to attempt evangelism through literature, revivals or crusades, evangelism training classes or groups, door-to-door visitation, and audio/visual products, while mainline churches have only a greater propensity for doing community service as a form of evangelism.

The survey also explored the kinds of community outreach or programs offered by churches. Pastors were allowed to define their church's involvement; for instance, a large, well-funded, daily day care center, and having the youth group volunteer to baby sit for single mothers within the congregation once a month, could both qualify as "free or low-cost day care."

Only three types of outreach are offered by a majority of U.S. Protestant churches in a typical year: food pantry, food collection, or other food-oriented donations (73 percent), Vacation Bible School (68 percent), and holiday food programs such as Christmas or Thanksgiving baskets for poor families (65 percent).

Other types of community outreach offered by much smaller proportions of churches in the last year include prison ministry (25 percent), homeless outreach (24 percent), Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts (20 percent), blood drives (17 percent), after-school programs for kids (14 percent), sports programs (11 percent), and outreach to specific ethnic groups (11 percent).

Fewer than one out of ten Protestant churches offer any kind of free or low-cost day care services, abortion or pregnancy counseling, domestic violence programs, English language classes, job skills or job training, or adult literacy or reading classes.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Last Call for Ballots

All ballots for election of AGBM officers and board of directors members should now be in the mail.

Ballots will be counted next week--if you're still intending to mail yours, please do so no later than Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.

Ballots should be returned to AGBM, P.O. Box 694, Winona Lake, IN 46590. If you are a paid-up member of AGBM and did not receive a ballot in the mail, please call (574) 268-1122 or e-mail

Election results will be announced after the votes are tallied under the direction of the Fellowship Coordinator's office, and current AGBM officers have been notified.