Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Apocalyptic Texts Annotated in Book

Dr. Robert G. Clouse, a long-time Grace Brethren pastor in Clay City, Ind., and professor emeritus of history at Indiana State University, Terre Haute has compiled a selection of apocalyptic texts in The End of Days, published by Skylight Illuminations.

He examines key scripture verses, visionary writings from Augustine and other church fathers, accounts of radical millennial movements of the 1600s, sermons from preachers such as Jonathan Edwards and Dwight L. Moody, and current-day popular books including 1970s prophecy sensation The Late Great Planet Earth and the bestselling Left Behind novels.

The book is arranged with accessible facing-page commentary that easily explains the apocalyptic writings, even if the reader has no previous knowledge of Christian teachings on the end times.

The book is available at

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gary Austin Home From Hospital

After 17 nights in the hospital, Gary Austin returned home on May 28. He reports that he still has a catheter for the next three weeks plus the ostemy. But he also says, "Home food is sure a lot better than hospital food!"

He anticipates a few more days to gain more strength. "Thank you for continuing prayers," he adds.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Pastor's Job Description

Dr. Ray Pritchard has some insightful comments about the pastor's job in a recent blogpost. Here is a short excerpt--read the entire post at

It’s easy for a pastor to be sidetracked into a thousand things that don’t really matter in the ministry. I meet pastors all the time who work hard, stay busy all week long, and have their hands in a thousand things at once. That’s generally a recipe for eventual burnout. No one can do it all.

When you find good soil, cultivate it. That’s what Jesus did. Though he spoke to the masses, and though he had time for individuals, he gave the majority of his time to training the twelve.

No one really knows what the pastor’s job is. Even if you have a job description, it’s usually so general as to be almost useless. I don’t know a single pastor who consults his job description in the morning to figure out what he should be doing during the day.

If you have 300 people in your church, you’ve got 300 bosses, each with their own perception of what you should be doing. If you fall into the trap of trying to please them all, your ministry is bound to fail or you will end up frustrated and ineffective.

I don’t think we can improve on Jesus’ plan for reaching the world.

He preached to the masses.He ministered to individuals.He poured himself into a small group of key followers.He called an even smaller group to be his apostles.

That small group of 12 men (which eventually became eleven after Judas defected) was the real focus of Jesus’ earthly ministry. After he returned to heaven, they became the foundation for the church he was building (Ephesians 2:20).

Every pastor needs to do the same thing. Find a group of key men and women and pour yourself into them. Teach them. Pray with them. Listen to them. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Challenge them. Encourage them. Meet them early in the morning. Call them late at night. Send them a weekly email. Bring them into your confidence. Let them see your heart.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Al Kidder to Take Kenai Pastorate

Al Kidder, who has been pastoring the Suburban Grace Brethren Church of Hatboro, Pennsylvania, has submitted his resignation to that congregation and will be moving to a new position as pastor of the Kenai, Alaska, Grace Brethren Church effective July 1, 2007.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Update on Lanham Van Accident Victims

Pastor Paul Mutchler of the Lanham (MD) Grace Brethren Church sends along the following update on the victims of the recent van crash in Orlando:

Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragements.

LCS fourth senior, Jason Coleman, has returned to school this week with two arms in casts. Our fifth senior, Megan Matthews, remains at home with fractured vertebrae, still healing and hoping to be able to walk enough for graduation on June 2.

Ms. Veronica Coleman is progressing remarkably! Her physicians, who originally said it was a “miracle” that she lived, have now also said it is a “miracle” that there appears to be no brain damage!

They have rebuilt her skull, and performed first of many facial reconstructions. She cannot talk, due to a trach, but is able to write and is now in charge of her own medical decisions. There is hope that she can be dismissed from Melbourne soon, and transferred to a hospital in the DC area…her church and family support group is here. Thank you for continued prayer.

Because He Lives, Pastor Paul

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gary Austin Beginning to Improve

Here is today's update from Jean Austin, wife of Gary Austin, pastor of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Grace Brethren Church, who recently had surgery for colorectal cancer:

Psalm 57:1-3 has been a special encouragement to us in these difficult days. "I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High to God, who fulfills His purpose for me. He sends from heaven and saves me. God sends His love and His faithfulness." Praise God for His faithfulness to us.

Gary is doing better. He feels like he is on the way "out of the pit". He has not had a fever for five days. They did x-rays again today of his abdomen and there are still pockets of air in his small intestine. He still has the NG tube, which is a real bother.

Today they started giving his nutrients intravenously and are hoping that in a day or two the tube can come out and he will be able to tolerate liquids and then a soft diet and soon real food. His spirits were better today. He continues walking, which is all he can do to get the systems operating again.

Thank you again for your prayers. We can feel "God's everlasting arms" holding us up.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pray for Gary Austin in Post-Surgery Setback

This message from Jean Austin, wife of Cedar Rapids (Iowa) pastor Gary Austin following his surgery for colorectal cancer:

Please pray for Gary. He is experiencing fever, infection, fluid retention, nausea and vomiting. He is a very sick man. Tuesday the doctor will do a CT scan to see where the abscess or infection is and we will make some decisions about his treatment.

Debbie, our daughter, returns to France on Wednesday. Please pray for her safety as she travels. She has been such a blessing to us during her short visit.

Thanks again for your continued prayers.

Jean for Gary

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rich Fellowship, Discussion at Focus Retreat

Rich fellowship, good worship, and substantive discussion of a number of Paul's epistles marked the Northwest Focus Retreat, held at Camp Clear Lake near White Pass, Washington, Monday through Wednesday of this week. Tim Boal, current moderator of the FGBC, led the sessions, along with his associate, Larry Orme.

Time For a Little Pre-Retreat Sightseeing

Since the Northwest Focus Retreat didn't begin until mid-afternoon Monday, there was a little time for out-of-towners to do some sightseeing in the Columbia River Gorge. Here Goldendale pastor Greg Howell (left) and AGBM president Joel Richards (right), who is pastor of the LaLoma Grace Brethren Church in Modesto, California, stand in front of Multnomah Falls--which has a combined vertical drop of more than 600 feet. Also on Monday's schedule was a tour of the fish hatcheries at the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia.

A Last Look at Goldendale

Majestic Mount Adams looms more than 12,000 feet just behind the Grace Brethren Church of Goldendale, Washington. What an inspiring sight!

Betty Gregory 'Doing Better'

Update on Betty Gregory, wife of Pastor John Gregory (Columbia City, Indiana) as of Wednesday afternoon:

Betty is doing much better now; she was actually walking around today. She has been “unhooked” from all of the wires and tubes that she had attached to her just a few days ago.

God is good isn’t he? The plan is for Betty to temporarily move into The Oaks in Columbia City for a couple of weeks to help her heal and rehabilitate from her procedures from the last week.

Please continue to pray for Betty’s recovery and treatment. Also, continue to pray for John and the rest of the Gregory family for comfort and rest.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Meet Paul Rhodes, New Pastor at Chico, CA

Paul Rhodes (pictured), the new pastor at the Chico, California, Grace Brethren Church, has provided the following helpful background on his life and ministry. We welcome him (back) to the Fellowship and look forward to getting to know him better!

I came to Chico in July 1977 as Director of Nursing at Community Hospital. In October of the same year I was appointed associate pastor at Grace Brethren Church, with Lloyd Woolman as my senior pastor. Together with my wife Jeene we did the music, youth choir, and evening services.

Much water has passed under the bridge since then. Jeene went home to be with the Lord in October 1998, and Pastor Larry from Neighborhood Church asked me to go full time on staff there as pastor for pastoral care.

In Feb of 1999 that became a reality and I completed the ordination requirements for the C& MA. I have served at this church for the past eight years, but have maintained great relationships with Grace Brethren, frequently doing music with them and guest speaking during the time they were without a senior pastor.

I remarried in July 2002 to a wonderful woman named Andrea and she has been a tremendous asset to the ministry, and we have been praying as to where we can be of most use in God’s Kingdom in our final days .

I received a call from the elders at Grace to be their senior pastor and we have prayed and discussed this for almost six months during which time God has made it abundantly clear that this is the place He wants us to be. For me it’s coming home.

Andrea and I will be going to Equip 07 in July.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Top Seminary Students Receive Awards

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana, announced the recipients of its annual awards at the President’s Luncheon on May 4.

The following students were recognized:

Nathan O. Harlan (MA 07) - The Alva J. McClain
Award in Systematic Theology.

Ryan N. Egli (MDiv 07) - The John J. Davis Award
in Old Testament.

Amy Becker - The Homer A. Kent Award in New

Aaron J. Edwards - The Russell D. Barnard Award
in World Missions.

Andrew A. Koetsier - Award in Expository Preaching

Michael P. Hontz (MDiv 07) - Faculty Award

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Heartland to Feature Boehm on Church Planting

Excerpted from a memo to Heartland district pastors from acting chair Jim Franklin of the Flora, Indiana, Grace Brethren church:

The May Heartland minsterial meeting will be very different. In fact, there are THREE different meetings scheduled:

May 15th, 8:30-10:30 Grace Community Church, Goshen
May 15th, 12:00-2:00 Winona Lake GBC
May 16th, 9:00-11:00 Ft. Wayne GBC

Ron Boehm, GBNAM's Midwest representative, will lead these meetings. The topic is church planting. Ron and I are asking God to recharge our desire to plant new churches in Indiana that intentionally make disciples.

This is not to say that the ministers of the Heartland district are not doing anything concerning new churches. Tim Boucher, in association with Grace Community (Goshen), has a new work in Mishawaka up and running. John Shirk, of course, is in the Wicker Park area of Chicago. The Community of Hope (Columbia City) works in the Ft. Wayne inner city. Phil Gabriel and Ron Boehm are also praying and discussing the possiblity of integrating Phil's work in Brownsburg (near Indianapolis) into our Fellowship. The Brownsburg church is especially encouraging.

Some leaders in our Fellowship would like to see FGBC expand our Indianapolis efforts. Perhaps there is a location somewhere in Indiana that God has not revealed to us just yet.

Please take some time this week to consider our calling and our participation as a district in the Great Commission.

Gary Austin Surgery May 9

The surgery Pastor Gary Austin of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Grace Brethren Church will have to remove a cancerous tumor has been rescheduled for Wednesday, May 9, rather than the previously-scheduled May 8.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Paul Rhodes to Pastor Chico, CA, Church

Paul Rhodes has been called to pastor the Grace Brethren Church of Chico, California, and will be installed at the Chico church on May 20.

Rhodes, who is from a Christian & Missionary Alliance background, has previously been involved with the Chico church. He has been working with other Northern California Grace Brethren pastors, including Glenn Shirk at Ripon and Joel Richards at Modesto, as he considered the Chico opportunity.

Robert Hayworth, who had been worship pastor at Chico, has been the interim pastor while the search was in progress.

AGBM Events of Interest in May, 2007

Posted here are some of the events of interest to AGBM members throughout the month of May, 2007. For more information, click on any date or log onto the AGBM website at and click on "events."

Friday, May 04 - SoCal/Ariz Men's Conference

Friday, May 04 - SoCal Men's Conference

Monday, May 07 - West Penn Ministerium Retreat

Saturday, May 12 - NAF Ministerium

Monday, May 14 - Northwest Focus Retreat

Tuesday, May 15 - Tri-State Ministerium

Thursday, May 17 - NCO District Ministerium

Monday, May 21 - Book of Acts Study Cruise

Tim Sprankle to Pastor Leesburg, IN, Church

Tim Sprankle has accepted a call to pastor the Grace Brethren church in Leesburg, Indiana, and will begin his ministry there on May 14.

Tim Sprankle is originally from Columbus, Ohio. He attended Grace College and Seminary. He has worked with Ed Waken in Arizona with the house church model and most recently was involved in house church ministry in Denver, CO.

He is married to Liz Regier, whose father, Mel, is moderator of the Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church. The Sprankles have one daughter, Claire, and their second child is due in June.

Dave Mitchell: Hospitalization Leads to Ministry

David Mitchell, pastor of the Waipio Grace Brethren Church in Mililani, Hawaii, is still recovering from open-heart surgery earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from a recent report he gave on a post-op treatment and subsequent ministry opportunities:

ALOHA. I was put in the hospital for a week and just returned home about three hours ago. I did not expect this, but it happened, and for a week they drained fluid from my lung cavity and then did surgery where they go in and scrape the lining of the lung cavity and then spray what is actually talcum powder. Thus the lung is supposed to fill up the cavity preventing fluid again. We'll see. Thanks for praying.

Something good...I had about four opportunities to share Christ. Two different days, two different Catholic chaplains came in to my room having a card that said I was a Catholic....and wanted to give me "Holy Communion."

I shared with them that I was a pastor but not a real religious guy.... Confused, they waited for the next statement..... "but that my faith was built on a relationship. A relationship with Jesus Christ." They both stayed and listened.

One of the nurses was raised for awhile Southern Baptist and then Buddhist and Catholic. She did not like the New Testament because of some of what it taught , one of which was tithing. I explained the NT did not teach the OT law of tithing and that led into other questions and when they wheeled me to the main lobby this afternoon to come home, she yelled goodbye and said for all to hear, "Hey, that man taught me the Bible this week."

This week physically was more painful than my heart surgery in February and I was glad to leave, but in other ways sad because while I may have "enlightened " some of these people, when I left, I left them just as lost as they were before I shared with them and my heart is heavy.

Pray for the wonderful church here. The Waipio GBC in Mililani, Hawaii , is seeking a new pastor that will love and care for these dear people on a long-term basis and they in turn can and will love and care for him and his family as they have done so lovingly to my family and me.