Friday, March 30, 2007

AGBM Event Dates for April, 2007

These are the AGBM-related event dates listed on the "events" section at Send any additions or corrections to

Saturday, April 07 -- NAF Women of Grace Spring Rally

Tuesday, April 10 -- NCO Licensing/Ordination Exams

Thursday, April 12 -- Mid-Atlantic Day Away

Friday, April 13 -- Day Away - Wooster

Tuesday, April 17 -- Tri-State Ministerium

Tuesday, April 17 -- Heartland Ministerium

Thursday, April 19 -- Church Planting Summit

Friday, April 20 -- NW District Conference

Friday, April 20 -- NAF North of 55 Day Away

Friday, April 20 -- NAF Men's Event w/Mike Stanley

Friday, April 27 -- Third Quarter

Sunday, April 29 -- NCO Night of Praise

Sunday, April 29 -- Iowa/Midlands District Conference

Friday, May 04 -- SoCal Men's Conference

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thoughts on Maundy Thursday

Kork Moyer, the NAF coordinator and pastor of the Still Waters church in Pottstown, PA, has posted some information on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Here is an excerpt. Read his entire piece at

Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday) [môn'dē]

Maundy Thursday is one of the lesser-known days of the Christian calendar and, were it not for the Maundy Ceremony, would probably have fallen into disuse altogether. It is the day before Good Friday.

Maundy Thursday is the traditional English name for Thursday during Holy Week, so named because it is considered the anniversary of the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus at the Last Supper (that is, the mandatum novum or “new commandment”).

The word "Maundy" is derived from the Latin mandatum meaning "command" - the same Latin root as mandatory and mandate. This is a reference to Christ's commandment to love one another, made at the Last Supper (the day before the crucifixion) when Jesus washed His disciples' feet.

In some churches, Jesus' washing of the disciples' feet is symbolically reenacted. In our Grace Brethren tradition, we employ this reenactment as a normal part of our remembrance – the three-fold communion.

Maundy Thursday has been celebrated since the earliest days of the Christian church, and the feet of pilgrims were washed by the clergy and nobility from at least the 4th century up until the mid 1700’s.

Gary Austin Surgery Scheduled for Thursday

This note from Jean Austin, wife of Pastor Gary Austin of the Grace Brethren Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, tells of an operation that Gary was scheduled to have today (Thursday):

It has been a while since you have received an update from us on Gary's health and it is because he was hospitalized on Sunday, March 25 with a fever of 103 and abdominal pain.

It was discovered after much testing that he has a perforated colon probably caused by the radiation. He has been "marinated" with antibiotics and pain medication. The fever is gone, but there is still evidence of the hole in the colon.

This morning they gave him the first fluids he has had since Sunday. The doctor told him at 9 am that perhaps he could go home tomorrow. He called me with the news. I talked with him at noon and he said that he was bloated, which indicated that the hole was not healed.

The doctor returned late this afternoon with the news that he would need a temporary colostomy. So tomorrow (Thursday) he will have laparoscopic surgery to accomplish that.

Our friends Howard and June Immel were with us on Sunday and took us to Iowa City to the Emergency Room. They will be with us through the surgery as well. We do so much appreciate their friendship and the fact that they are near enough to help us in this time of need.

Monday afternoon about 3 pm, seven of our prayer warriors arrived. Mark and Julie and the kids, came into the hospital room. We were so happy and surprised. We loved them so much for coming.

God is using this experience to conform us to the image of His dear Son. He showed us Psalm 57:7-11 in the Emergency Room on Sunday night. We just want to praise Him for His unfailing love and faithfulness.

Thanks again for all your prayers. They are what is keeping us going these days. God bless all of you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New Theological Interpretation Journal Debuts

Grace Seminary New Testament professor Matt Harmon in his blog this week announces the publication of a new journal entitled Journal of Theological Interpretation.

Harmon says, "Although I have not read through the entire journal, the proposed scope of this journal, combined with its outstanding editorial board, suggests this journal will quickly become a forum for the important discussion of the relationship between historical-critical study of Scripture and theology. Particularly noteworthy are the twelve identifying marks of theological exegesis that Hays proposes in his essay."

"That will be the subject of a future post," says Harmon.

The journal will be issued twice a year, and subscriptions are $30. For more information, check out information page for the Journal of Theological Interpretation at the Eisenbrauns website.

Harmon's blogsite is

Urgent Prayer Request for Gary Austin

Please pray for Gary Austin, pastor of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Grace Brethren Church, who is currently about halfway through a series of 28 treatments for colorectal cancer.

Word has come that Gary was admitted to the hospital on Sunday with a high fever. Doctors discovered that he has a perforated colon, and they have discontinued his cancer treatment. He is off of all food and they are hoping for it to heal naturally.

Gary's wife, Jean, says he is doing well, and is up and able to walk around the hospital. Doctors will evaluate the situation Friday for further treatment.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Waipio Church Seeks Pastor

Since David Mitchell, the current pastor, will be retiring soon, the Waipio Grace Brethren Church, located in Mililani, Hawaii, is seeking a full-time Grace Brethren pastor who is able to provide teaching, biblically-based preaching, and equip people to serve God.

We are a congregation of approximately 100 regular attendees. We have a uniquely diverse congregation of various nationalities with a real family atmosphere. We are seeking a long-term pastor with a love for people.

If you are interested please send a note of interest to Tom Norris at (Parsonage provided)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Resource for Studying the Emerging Church

Pastor Larry Weber of the Waynesboro, PA, Grace Brethren Church, sends along the following note about another resource that has come to his attention to help understand and evaluate the emerging church movement.

With the swirl of comment regarding the emerging church movement, I have received this communication which is from the Evangelical Theological Society. I do not know John Ronning, but his biblical scholarship and devotion to orthodox, evangelical theology is persuasive.

I have read both of his attachments. While he is focused on one seminary and a handful of individuals speaking and writing from the emerging church movement, his treatise is thoughtful, biblical and disturbing.

It would seem to be worth a serious examination by theologians within the FGBC, and at least some further publication of honest evaluation of what is being taught and advanced by emerging church leaders as it is laid along side the Word of God and the FGBC Statement of Faith.


Larry Weber

----- Original Message -----

From: John Ronning
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 7:20 AM
Subject: New Web Site on Emerging Church Issues
Dear Fellow ETS member,

I’m writing to let you know about a new web site providing information about issues related to the emerging church movement.

The web site has been started by some alumni of Biblical Theological Seminary who are concerned over the Seminary’s involvement with the emerging church movement and for this reason focuses especially on matters related to the seminary.

Some sample posts:

The Emerging Churches in the Book of Judges shows parallels between modern and ancient movements.

Brian McLaren: Answer to John Franke's Prayer? looks at how the thinking exhibited in the book Beyond Foundationalism could be used to explain Brian McLaren’s recent perverse statements on the issue of homosexuality.

We hope you will find the web site useful in your own study and invite your participation in comments, as you desire.

Regards in the Lord,

John Ronning

Brian Blackburn Concludes Ministry at Delaware

From the latest NCO district newsletter:

Brian Blackburn recently resigned his position as Pastor of Administration and Worship at Delaware, Ohio, Grace Brethren Church.

Brian is now looking forward to new ministry opportunities, including the release of a new worship CD featuring several orginal songs as well as modern favorites. He also plans to travel again, leading and teaching on worship and providing encouragement to the body of Christ.

If you are interested in scheduling Brian for ministry, he is available as of May 6. Contact him at 614-679-2590 or Please pray for Brian and his family during this transition period.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rick Nuzum's Mother With the Lord

Virginia Nuzum, mother of Pastor Rick Nuzum of the Powell, Ohio, Grace Brethren Church, went home to be with the Lord on Friday, March 16. Funeral services were held Sunday, March 18 at Berachah Baptist Church, 1914 First Avenue, Middletown, Ohio.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be given for the "Merrill Chapel Memorial Fund" (checks made out to the Berachah Baptist Church). Please keep Pastor Rick & Tammy in your prayers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gary Austin Update on Treatment, Ministry

Gary Austin, pastor of the Grace Brethren Church of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is currently in treatment for colorectal cancer. Here are some excerpts from his most recent update.

Well, I have passed the "half-way point" of radiation/chemo treatments! Today was #15 of 28 total scheduled.

Yes, I'm feeling the effects. Let's just say the newness has worn off and I'm ready to press on to something else. I guess that's where the real need for prayer is right now--to hang in there through the process.

I've been continuing to preach on Sundays and have at least one Bible study during the week. Last weekend there were two church business meetings and we got a hospital visit in as well. I was done for the rest of the day.

For some reason I was ready to leave early this morning for Iowa City so I took off rather than wait around. Of course I had to wait for 15 minutes or so. During that time another man, who I had talked with yesterday, came into the waiting area.

We got to talking about different things--he told me about his barn that he had remodeled to host dance parties. Then he made the statement, "I wonder what it's like to die? I mean, what's beyond death?"

Talk about opening up an opportunity to talk about life, death, and beyond! We only had about five minutes for that conversation but he was very responsive to what God's Word says. I guess there was a reason for me to get there early today!

Thank you for your continuing prayers.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lititz Church Baptizes 104

From Pastor Scott Distler (Grace Brethren Church of Lititz, PA):

What a thrill it was to see 104 people follow the Lord in water baptism last Sunday here at Grace. In my blog today I will recount the logistical path of navigation we took to see it all happen. You really need to read this.

My blog is accessible at our church website ( There were others wanting to be baptized last Sunday but the date was not good for them. Our next baptism will be June 17.

NAF Welcomes Elk Creek Church

At the Northern Atlantic Fellowship district celebration Sunday, March 18 at Penn Valley church in Telford, Pennsylvania, delegates voted into membership a new church.

Elk Creek Church in South Chester county is pastored by Mike Silliman and is a daughter church of Gateway Grace Community Church in Parkesburg, PA, Dan O'Deens, pastor.

Iowa/Midlands Dist. Conference April 29

The Iowa/Midlands District Conference is scheduled for Sunday, April 29, 2007 from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the East Iowa Bible Camp in Deep River, IA.

The Conference theme is “In Spirit and in Truth” with Dr. David Plaster as keynote speaker.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Eagle River, Alaska, Has New Pastor

From today's Anchorage, Alaska, Daily News:

Eagle River Grace Brethren Church announces the appointment of its new pastor, Grady Pennell. Pennell and his wife, Pat, came to Alaska from Okinawa, Japan, after he retired from the U. S. Navy with 30 years of reserve and active service.

Pennell spent the last 16 years as a Navy chaplain with combat tours in the Persian Gulf zone. After graduating from Texas A&M in 1977 with a degree in engineering, Pennell obtained a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1988 and recently received a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary.

The couple's two children attend college in Chicago.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Clarification: Northwest Focus Retreat Dates

We're not quite sure how this happened, but two different sets of dates are being circulated for the Northwest Focus Retreat, to be held at Camp Clear Lake near White Pass, Washington.

The correct dates--confirmed today by Fellowship Coordinator Tom Avey--are May 14-16, 2007.

Further information and registration forms are available at As with the previous four Focus Retreats this year, moderator Tim Boal will lead the sessions, assisted by Larry Orme, and the focus will be on the biblical definition of the church as presented in the Pauline epistles, based partly on Boal's recently-published BMH book, Building Authentic Community. All retreat attenders will receive a copy of the book as part of the registration fee.

Uniontown, PA, Seeks Pastor

The Grace Brethren Church of Uniontown, PA, is seeking a pastor.

Uniontown is a small city about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh with a population of about 12,400 with many more located in the surrounding areas. It is located in a beautiful, very historic area, at the foot of Chestnut Ridge a small mountain in the Alleghenies in an area called the Laurel Highlands.

UGBC is made up of a small, mature congregation of about 80 regular attendees. Pastoral candidates should have a desire to preach and teach God’s Word and be a godly example to all members of the congregation.

He should possess strong leadership qualities and, with a cooperative spirit, be a team player. Services include several Sunday School classes before morning worship, regular worship at 10:30 and Wednesday night prayer meeting. The Pastor is also responsible for a short radio broadcast that airs on Sunday morning.

The church itself is located in a private setting just outside the city limits and was built in 1974. A residence for the pastor and his family is also located on the property. Our motto at UGBC is “The Bible, The Whole Bible and Nothing but the Bible” and we strive to follow and live its inspired example. It is our prayer that God would send us a man that has a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ and he would be a strong shepherd to the congregation at GBC of Uniontown.

Resumes may be sent to: Dave Gleason (Overseer), 35 Crawford Avenue, Uniontown, PA 15401. (724) 437-9204. You may e-mail Dave Fisher with specific questions or more info at:

Friday, March 09, 2007

Latest SOA(jr) is Now in Your Inbox

The latest edition of the e-mail newsletter Sharpening One Another (jr) by AGBM president Joel Richards (pictured) is now out.

If you have not received it, e-mail Joel at and ask to be put on the list.

Here is one of his little reminders from the current issue:

Dues are Due

It is that time of year. If you can, please have a representative from the district send in one list for the entire district.

If that is not possible you can submit your dues individually by mailing them to AGBM, P.O. Box 694, Winona Lake IN. 45690. This is for district approved licensed and ordained men.

John Snows to Minister in Vermont

From the blog of Scott Distler, pastor of the Grace Brethren Church of Lititz, Pennsylvania:
Last summer, Pastor John Snow (pictured) moved into a one-year partial retirement position here at Grace Church as he prepared for how God would lead him as he and his wife, Lucy, entered full retirement this summer.
God has answered this prayer for them as seen by Pastor Snow's note:
“Lucy and I have been praying for God’s direction as how best to serve our Lord in the upcoming retirement years. God has recently opened a door for us in Lyndon Center, Vermont, at a church which has experienced some difficulties and in their words is in need of healing.
"I met with the leaders and spoke there during a visit in January. A week ago they asked if I would consider coming as an interim pastor as soon as feasible from our end. I have made a commitment to them and we will be making the move during the last week of May.
"Interim positions are typically short-term, but situations like this may require at least a year to work through various issues. So we will be relocating to the North Country (some people call it the Northeast Kingdom).
"It has been a privilege to be a part of this church for the past 8 ½ years. It is exciting to see how God is working in people’s lives. May God continue to enrich each of you as you follow Jesus. We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we work through the many details of transition.”
We are very excited for how God will use John and his giftedness to help bring healing and stability to this hurting church in Vermont. He will be perfect for this task. I hope you will join me in praying for the Snows.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Philiposian Moving from Uniontown to Union City

From the Tri-State website:

On February 25th, The DayStar Church in Union City, IN held a congregational meeting to consider the call for Pastor Nicholas Philiposian, who had candidated the week previous. The vote of the congregation was unanimous, and there was much excitement in looking forward to Nicholas and Charlene arriving.

Nicholas will remain in Uniontown, PA through the end of May, and begin his new ministry in Union City, IN the first week of June.

Pastor Randy and Dena Todd were the church planters that birthed this new work and now Nicholas and Charlene can build on the foundation that has been laid.

Continue to pray for this young church during this time of transition. Also pray for the Philiposians as they bring their ministry to a conclusion in Uniontown, and make plans to move to Union City (IN, or OH).

This past Sunday, February 25th, 2007, the DayStar Grace Brethren Church announced that their mortgage on their 12 acres of land had recently been paid off. While they are currently meeting in a storefront facility on the Indiana side of Union City, they purchased land a couple years ago on the Ohio side of town.

They have systematically paid on the mortgage each month until the $48,000 purchase price has been paid off. Their future plans include a multi-purpose facility that targets the youth of the Union Cities communities.

Bob Smoker Good-News Update

Here's the good-news update from Bob Smoker, via Jay Bell (pray for Jay and the group that's departing for Viet Nam tomorrow):

Traveler’s diarrhea with a bad reaction to doxycycline. That’s it.

The symptoms were similar to heart attack and with my family history and the fact that I have heart disease and had a bypass in 1993, they kept me overnight to run tests, one being a thallium stress test. Blood tests showed elevated numbers that indicated the possibility of pancreatitus and a possible blood clot in the lung.

Since I had just been on a long flight they did a CT scan that tested for both. Results of all tests were negative.

At one point while I was waiting for a test, it occurred to me how blessed I am to live in this great country. Where Jean & I were just one month ago most people would not have access to such medical care.

I am very much aware how blessed I am to be part of this wonderful spiritual family. Our Father is so good! Where Jean and I were a month ago most people do not know Him.

With grateful hearts,
Bob & Jean

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bob Smoker in Hospital

GBIM's Jay Bell distributed the following prayer alert for Pastor Bob Smoker (pictured) of the Susquehanna Grace Brethren Church in Wrightsville, PA. Bob has been active, along with Jay, in the 'Nam Net ministry to Viet Nam.

Jan and I were driving home yesterday from Pennsylvania when we received a phone call from a member of Bob's church informing us he had been admitted to the hospital with shortness of breath and numbness of his arms.

Bob and Jeanne returned home from Viet Nam with intestinal problems and the doctor thinks his symptoms are the result of the illness he contracted in Viet Nam.

Bob and Jeanne and Jan and I were supposed to meet yesterday (Sunday afternoon) in Harrisburg, but they called on Saturday and shared that they were not feeling well. That caneclled meeting is a blessing! When Bob's symptoms developed he was close to home and his local hospital. PTL!

AGBM Elections Complete, Newsletter Coming

The Spring, 2007, edition of "Sharpening One Another," the paper-and-ink newsletter of the AGBM, is now at the press and will soon be in the mail. Here is one of the articles from the upcoming issue:
During the month of December, ballots were mailed to members of the Association. All ministers who were recorded as members on October 15, 2006, were qualified to vote.

About 33 percent of the members responded. Three officers and ten directors were slated on the ballot and all nominees were approved by large margins (95 percent or above). Thank you to Ann Myers (BMH) and Sandy Barrett (FGBC) for their help in counting the ballots.

Those elected are as follows, along with their terms of service:

Officers with three-year terms, 2007-09
President: Joel Richards;
Secretary: Dan White;
Treasurer: Bud Olszewski

Directors with three-year terms, 2007-09
Ken Bickel, Mark Saunders, Randall Smith, Randy Weekley

Directors with two-year terms, 2007-08
Doug Courter, Robert Fetterhoff, Robert Soto

Directors with one-year terms, 2007
Terry Daniels, Greg Howell, Ralph Molyneaux

The officers will begin making recommendations to the directors on February 15 each year. Using the Internet, the directors will discuss and vote on recommendations as they are presented or amended. Every month, they will receive a new set of questions to discuss. Their only face-to-face meeting will be held in the summer prior to the annual meeting of the corporation. At that time, they will formally review and affirm the decisions made throughout the year.

The election of a Board of Directors is a first step in developing a “pastoral ministry office.” No one person can open such an office. No single location in the country can possibly project its services to every pastor and church in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. If the vision for a pastoral ministry office is to be realized, it will be as leaders in our association serve in the regions where they live and work.

Martinsburg, PA, Seeks Lead Pastor

SENIOR PASTOR: Martinsburg, PA, Grace Brethren Church is actively seeking a full-time Lead Pastor to provide teaching, vision and leadership to a membership of 400.

We are entering into our 120th year of service to our Lord Jesus Christ. While a diverse congregation, God has blessed us with many young families. We minister to almost 200 children and youth (60 teenagers) during our mid-week service; and this number is growing.

Our “Boomer Age” worshippers make up the bulk of our two Sunday morning services of between 500 and 550 collectively. Currently we are on track to operate 25 Life Groups (6-10 people per group) comprised predominantly of church members.

Our Christian Education Department provides 8 adult classes and 14 for children and youth to keep pace with the wide range of spiritual and educational needs. Our orientation to family is clearly evident in our Children’s ministry where we maintain a full time Children’s Pastor to over 60 children each Sunday. In addition, our staff consists of two Associate Pastors, Director of Music, Pastor to Students (currently vacant) and a full time secretary.

For additional information, click here.

PA Church Seeks Student Ministry Pastor

STUDENT MINISTRY PASTOR: Kish Valley Grace Brethren Church, located in central PA, is group of approximately 225 regular attendees, whose mission is to help people find REAL person at a time.

We are seeking a man whose primary responsibilities would be as follows: train, work with, and equip leaders to oversee Student Ministry’s weekly gathering. Effectively address all levels of spiritual needs in the students. Guide the leadership team in a strategic, purpose driven plan for events and outreach activities. Communicate with student families, looking for opportunities to minister to them as well.

In addition, there would be some involvement with oversight of Children's Ministry leadership, and sharing duties, when needed, with the Lead Pastor.

If this seems like something God may be calling you to, and you would like further information, please contact us. Email or phone: 717-667-2500.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Update from Gary Austin

Here is an update from Pastor Gary Austin of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Grace Brethren Church, who is currently undergoing treatments for colorectal cancer:

We are in Stage One of Treatment - three days down, 25 days to go.

I had the "port" implanted right chest near collar bone on Wednesday afternoon. It took much longer than they had anticipated - and of course the longer something takes, the more pain to go with it!

Last time I told you I was not in the clinical trial I was being prepped for. What I didn't know then - but do know now - is that I will be on chemo seven days a week, 24 hrs/day.

I am attached to this IV tubing that is attached to a pump that is attached to a bag of 5-FU [short for "fluorouracil"] that's suppose to be "really good" with the radiation I'm having.

One side effect I've been dealing with is tiredness. I don't know if it's the chemo, if it's the radiation, or if it's the stress of driving in near blizzard conditions - but when we get home, I wind up taking a nap, up to eat, read a little, take another nap, wake up and read a little, dinner time, watch some TV, and then off to bed. This could make it interesting on Sundays!

Thank you for your continuing notes, cards, prayers, and expressions of concern. We know God has placed us here for a reason - part of that might just be so we would have great team as you are to be with us on this journey of cancer treatment.

God's blessings on you all.
Gary & Jean