Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gordon Austin Recovering From Heart Attack

Your prayers will be appreciated for the recovery of former Grace Brethren International Missions employee Gordon Austin, who suffered a heart attack Saturday while working on the grounds of the Winona Lake (IN) Grace Brethren Church, and is currently in Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Gordon, who served many years in audio-visual ministries with GBIM served with his wife, Charlotte, and family as a missionary in Argentina before coming to Winona Lake to work in the home office of GBIM.

Austin has had several stents inserted, and will likely have several more before being released from the hospital, hopefully sometime this coming week.

Monday, March 24, 2008

SOA Is In The Mail to You

The spring, 2008, edition of Sharpening One Another, the paper newsletter of the AGBM, is now in the mail and should be arriving shortly in members' mailboxes.

Edited and produced for the AGBM by Liz Cutler Gates of the Brethren Missionary Herald Company, the newsletter this edition contains a lead article by AGBM president Joel Richards, a summary of the re-election of three AGBM directors, information about the upcoming AGBM annual meetings in Tampa, a summary of curricular shifts at Grace College & Seminary by Dr. Kenneth Bickel, and much more.

Sharpening One Another is sent to all dues-paid members of the AGBM. If you should be receiving one and are not on the list, contact Ann Myers at to be added.

Seminary to Host 'Glimpse of Grace' This Friday

Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana, is hosting its annual “Glimpse of Grace,” this Friday, March 28.

"Glimpse of Grace" is an event for seminary acceptees and candidates that includes a scholarship competition, dinner, and question/answer session. Any seminary candidate for the 2008-2009 school year is invited to the dinner.

In order to compete for the scholarships, a prospective student must have completed an application. This can be done online or in person on the day of the event.

The scholarships include three trustees scholarships of $2,000 each; three faculty scholarships of $1,000 each; and five achievement scholarships of $500 each.

“Glimpse of Grace” is a great time for prospective students to see the Grace campus, meet faculty, and get a close-up look at seminary life.

If you know someone who is interested in attending Grace Seminary, please send his/her name to Jim Hill at (574) 372-5100, ext.6435 or More information on “Glimpse of Grace” is available at

Thursday, March 20, 2008

AGBM Annual Meeting Coming

Annual Meeting In Florida

In cooperation with the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC), the annual meeting of the Association of Grace Brethren Ministers will be held July 29-31 at the Innisbrook Golf Resort near Tampa, Fla. Meetings will be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings from 8:00 to 9:30.

There will be ample time for fellowship and prayer, unlike the limited opportunities during the Equip conferences.

Mark your calendar and register for the conference at the FGBC website,

April, May are 'Pay Your Dues' Months

From the latest e-mail newsletter from AGBM president Joel Richards:

All members of the AGBM will soon be receiving a reminder that membership fees are due and payable during the months of April and May. The simplest way for the AGBM to handle the dues is for one check from the district for all your men to be sent directly to the AGBM address in Winona Lake. HOWEVER, this year you can log on to the AGBM Website and pay your dues on line if that is more convenient or if you somehow miss the district taking care of this.


You can now pay dues on line. Go to our website, login and you will see a menu button for the acceptance of dues on line. We would prefer that each district handle all of these matters at one time because it saves a lot of work on our end. However, we want to do whatever is necessary to make the paying of dues as easy as possible. Keep in mind though that your name has to be forwarded by a district to become or remain a member of the association.

Maundy Thursday Reflections

Today is Maundy Thursday and Kork Moyer, coordinator for the Northern Atlantic District and pastor of Still Waters, a Grace Brethren church in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, has sent his parishioners an e-mail backgrounding the history and tradition of Maundy Thursday. Here is a short excerpt -- to read more from Kork click on

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.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Richard Bell's Lymphoma Returns

Richard Bell, pastor of the Apple Valley Community Church, a Grace Brethren church in Winchester, Virginia, has been battling a rare form of lymphoma the last several years.

Bell, 60, experienced aggressive treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and was hoping for several years of relief from the disease. Recently he learned, however, that it has returned after only about four months.

Richard and his wife Nancy (daughter of Ralph and Betty Hall) are facing the possibility that effective treatment may not extend his health appreciatively. Currently, however, he says he is feeling well, is able to preach most Sundays, and is enjoying a reasonably good quality of life.

Richard asks that his friends pray that he might be free from slow, painful progress of the disease, and that he would "end well" and that his wife, two adult children, and church would see God glorified in him.

In the immediate future, he will be treated with several rounds of light chemotherapy which he hopes will give him some months of reasonably good quality of life. The address for the Apple Valley church is PO Box 2851, Winchester, VA 22604.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Shirk's Poetic Tribute to Ralph Wiley

John Shirk, well-known poet from Chicago, composed this tribute to the late Pastor Ralph Wiley and has read it at open-mike poetry readings:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely and in a pretty and well-preserved body. But rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow, what a ride!”

Throughout History
In the name of God
“Great” Men have pursued Godlike power
And rape
The greatest crimes against humanity
Have been committed
in the name of divinity
under the banner of the cross
By “Great” men
Building kingdoms
Through genocide and oppression
Constructing cathedrals
On the backs of widows and orphans

The most persuasive arguments against the existence of God
Are “great” men claiming
To speak and act for Him
Were they His only witness
No one would believe

But we are not without witnesses
People whose lives display the love of God
Not in power, but weakness
Not in fame, but obscurity
Not in wealth, but generosity

Ralph Wiley was such a man
A life marked by the presence of love
And the absence of fear
28 years a prison chaplain
And giving hope
To those locked away and forgotten
Remembering them on their release
Welcoming them into his home
Not afraid
Because Love casts out fear

Noticing people in need
Not afraid to pick up hitchhikers
Including Lisa
A young lady he and his wife gave a lift
Society labeled her a hooker
Ralph labeled her human
Created in the image of God
He loved God
So he loved people
Even when God’s image was hidden or obscured
He never saw Lisa again
But he prayed for her
The rest of his life

With a love that extended to strangers
His Christmas tree was balanced
Each dollar spent on presents under the tree
Had a companion hanging on the tree
Donated to charity and missions

A preacher of modest means
He counted himself rich enough to share
Sending money regularly
To those living in third world slums

On November 8, 2007
He was given a death sentence
Terminal Cancer, two months to live
His response, “That is the best news I have gotten in years.”
Thus began a two month celebration
Savoring his “last meal” over and over again
Eating dessert first
Preaching his own living memorial service
With an incredible sense of humor
And complete lack of fear

On January 3, 2008 his death sentence was carried out
And he joined his “Mama Girl” on the other side
He left behind a worn out body
Willed to science
Ralph didn’t need it anymore
Why let it rot in the ground
when it might help others?
And he left behind a testimony
Of love so strong
Fear, itself was afraid to face it
But he left no kingdom
He was going to meet his King
He left no mansion
His mansion was waiting with his King

The best news he had gotten in years
Got even better
His two-month celebration
Got even longer
In fact, it’s never gonna stop

John Shirk
March 2008

One Pastor's Influence

Pastor Dave Mitchell, who recently retired after many years of pastoring a Grace Brethren church in Hawaii, sent along the following testimony upon hearing of the February 28 death of longtime Grace Brethren pastor Robert E.A. Miller.

I was nine years old in 1952, and after hearing a message from Pastor Miller, I felt the need to accept Christ as Savior.

I hestitated and all week was most miserable. The next Sunday after the message was preached, Pastor Miller came forward to give an invitation but before he could do so I ran up front to where he was.

"What are you up here for David?"

"I want to be saved."

Because of this occasion I have always considered Pastor Miller my "spiritual father." I have thanked him over the years for being there for me as a child and leading me to Christ. I will thank him again someday when we meet in heaven.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Chuck Miller Joins Southern Hills Staff

Chuck Miller has joined the staff of Southern Hills Community Church, a developing Grace Brethren church in North Royalton, Ohio (Mike Stern, pastor), as part-time associate pastor. A graduate of Grace Theological Seminary, Chuck is responsible for administrative tasks in addition to assisting with adult education and discipleship. He and his wife, Millie (a Grace College graduate), reside in Brunswick. (Photo at right, Chuck and Millie Miller)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Teevan Responds to Mouw in CT

Dr. John Teevan (pictured), former FGBC Moderator and now director of the prison extension at Grace College, Winona Lake, Indiana, has a letter-to-the-editor in the current (March 2008) edition of Christianity Today Magazine.

Teevan is responding to an article by Richard Mouw on consumerism. The letter appears on page 10 and an excerpt is: "In its most blunt form, spiritual consumerism means that God's message is adjusted to suit the consumer, rather than demanding that the person adjust his life to suit God and his Word. That's why the word marketing has as its direct antonym mission."