Volume VI | Oct./Nov. 2019
Shenandoah Journal
The bimonthly magazine of the Shenandoah District Church of the Brethren
2019 District Conference Preview
Bearing Jesus' Fruit
District Conference Moderator George Bowers has chosen to focus on the fruit each congregation is bearing for Jesus at this year's District Conference. Delegates will have the opportunity to list their congregation's successful ministry activities by writing them on paper and affixing them to a tree designated for the purpose of displaying these fruits. Several of our District's fruit-bearing stories are highlighted in this edition.
Delegate Briefing will be held Sun., Oct. 13, 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Blue Ridge Chapel, 19 Browns Lane, Waynesboro. Share-A-Meal event at 5 p.m. nearby. Proceeds benefit 2020 Disaster Ministry. Contact Catherine Lantz at 896-7556 for tickets. Cost: Adult $20, Children under 12 by donation. Deadline to order tickets is tomorrow, Oct. 1.
“I am the vine, you  are  the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5
District Conference, Nov. 1-2,

"In what ways has your congregation shared Jesus’ love with others? Jesus’ joy? Jesus’ peace? Patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control? What ministries for children or seniors, homeless or hungry, etc.? What teaching emphases or evangelistic outreaches?"
District Conference Moderator George Bowers

Here are a few examples to get the conversation started:
Oak Hill
"Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added  to them.   And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Acts 2:41-42

Pastor Duke McCaffrey believes the fruit Jesus is bearing in his congregation is borne through 'tarrying' together, that is spending time in conversation with brothers and sisters. This is demonstrated through the weekly Wednesday night carry in meal shared by members. Whether it is "Taco Night" or sharing a cake when it's someone's birthday, McCaffrey says the congregation comes together to eat, fellowship and learn together. There are about 15 youth up to age 13 that break into their own activities after the Wednesday meal, while the adults learn about "slowing down" in their class.

Sunday morning worship also leads to more time in fellowship as McCaffrey reports, "It is rare for anyone to leave before 1 p.m. after Sunday services," including approximately 20 children! He has seen growth as a result, noting that, "God has put in great leaders," and he has witnessed the "fathers' engagement and leadership."

Not only does the Oak Hill congregation spend time with each other on Sundays and Wednesdays, they also take time on Christmas day to come together in a special worship service. The great thing about their Christmas Day worship is how many people from other churches in the area join them for the service.

Clearly, this church may be smaller in size, but they have a big impact through their congregation's willingness to be a tight-knit community. To learn more about how 'tarrying' transforms a community, contact Pastor McCaffrey.
"That the generation to come might know  them, The children  who  would be born, That  they may arise and declare  them  to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments..." Ps. 78:6-7

Associate Pastor Jonathan Martino has finally realized the vision for youth ministry he feels God gave him in 2013. It took a few years to investigate how to launch Trail Life USA and American Heritage Girls troops and to lay the groundwork for leadership, but after arriving at Calvary, God put all the pieces in place. Trail Life USA was up and running within four months and the American Heritage Girls troop was established less than two months later. Most of the children enrolled in the troops are from the community.

The Trail Life USA boys troop opened with six boys and was serving 25 boys within three weeks. They now have 36 boys registered in the troop that meets twice monthly throughout the school year. Martino describes the work of Trail Life USA as teaching boys what a godly man is supposed to be and how to respond to their mistakes the way God wants them to handle them. In addition to the twice monthly meetings, the program also includes service projects, fundraisers, field trips and camping experiences. One of the best camping trips was at Camp Brethren Woods where the boys were truly challenged through adventure experiences. "It was a neat thing to see them change over the three days," Martino said, as he watched them bond and work as a team.

Bonding also takes place between the fathers and their sons. One father told Martino after a camping trip, "This is the first time I have truly connected with my son." Beyond connecting boys to their earthly fathers, Trail Life USA seeks to build relationships between boys and their Heavenly Father. The Worthy Life Award program is not for the faint of heart. There are eight pages of memorization about theological concepts that the boys are tested on in order to receive their cross. Only two have met the criteria and received the award to date, one was earned by Martino's son, Elijah.

The American Heritage Girls troop grew more slowly with five to nine girls joining the first two years. The 2019-20 troop opened this year in late August with 29 girls and six more girls joined after two meetings, bringing the current total to 35. Ami Martino (Pastor Jonathan Martino's wife) said of the explosion in registration this year, "Literally, it was all God!" She has just recently stepped down from leadership in the troop but recalls the best experiences were the lock-ins and the service project last February. The girls bonded during the overnight events and the "goofy giggles" were all worth it to see the girls connect, she noted. The service project had the girls making soup and sandwiches to deliver to the congregation's older adults and shut-ins. The intergenerational expression of love was the perfect experience for both the girls and those they served. The goal of Calvary's American Heritage Girls troop is to tell girls ages 5-18 about Jesus and strengthen their faith.

Contact Pastor Martino for more information about forming church-sponsored Christian outdoor adventure and character building groups.
Stone Church at Buena Vista
"But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 19:14

The Stone congregation in Buena Vista is helping their children learn what Christian service is all about and their children's ministry is bearing fruit in different ways. Pastor Galen Combs reported recently that their Kids Club meets twice a month on Sunday evenings and "it is growing with more and more children attending." The children learn about God's word, have snack, play games and do fun activities.

Biblical principles are taught through reaching outside of themselves. For example, in December they bought gifts and made cards for children in an orphanage in Haiti. During the month of May, the Kids Club, through the generosity of a member of the congregation, donated a calf for
the Shenandoah District Disaster Auction. The calf, whose name was 'Peppermint,' made almost two thousand dollars for disaster relief. Some of the children in the Kid's Club were present at the livestock auction to see Peppermint go to the highest bidder.

During children's story time at Stone Church, the children put money in a giant container during the morning worship service. This money is then used to minister to people who are in need.Their money has been used to support a local food pantry. However, this spring their money was used to purchase supplies for two Church World Service clean up buckets. These activities are teaching children about missions by making direct connections with other children in need.

For more information about forming Kids Clubs with a missions focus, contact Pastor Combs .
White Hill
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to  His  purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined  to be  conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." Romans 8:28-29

Pastor Dave Chappell firmly believes it is his job to, "Turn the body loose to do what God has for them to do." He has been equipping his congregation to serve and then telling them to, “Be the disciple God has called you to be.” At White Hill, Jesus is bearing fruit through members doing just that, creating their own unique outreaches to the community. This has led to dozens of stories of how the White Hill congregation is engaging their community for Christ. He shared a few examples, which are outlined below:

Perhaps, one of the largest outreaches the congregation has become involved in is Love Inc. ( Love In the Name of Christ ). This ministry seeks to bring several churches together in the area to help those who are in need with free furnishings, mentoring and job seeking assistance. Together they run a thrift store and have volunteers who drive around gathering donated furniture to share with others. Members of the White Hill congregation serve as director, bookkeeper, driver, reference checker, mentor or volunteer wherever the need arises.

Another community-wide program White Hill provides is Upward ™ Basketball. This recreational league seeks to be different from traditional leagues by instilling Christian values, while developing athletic skills for the next level. The league serves 170-180 children (ages four through ninth grade) residing in Augusta County and surrounding areas. Upward™ sports leagues schedule games that do not conflict with worship times, and Chappell or other leaders open weekly practices with a 15-minute devotional message. Volunteer coaches, referees and league board members are drawn from White Hill and other congregations and community members. Volunteers are trained to try to strike the balance between including everyone and providing for healthy competition. This is an elusive goal. “We constantly pray, ‘Lord, show us how to do this,’” Chappell admits. The aim is to allow children to experience some competition and failure so they can be coached how to work through it. The primary focus is to provide youth a place to play in an environment that promotes Christ and fosters growth experiences that will create a well-rounded child. Another church in the area sponsors the Upward ™ soccer league, so, again, the community is working together.

“We are the image bearers of Jesus,” Pastor Chappell explained, “We need to be the disciples we were called to be and we need to make new disciples.” If hospitality and a heart for service are the keys to reaching the community, White Hill is making great strides toward ‘bearing Jesus’ fruit.’

For more information about then ministries of White Hill, Love INC or Upward™, contact Pastor Chappell .
Pleasant Valley
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;  it is  the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. ” Ephesians 2:8-9

When asked what ministries are bearing fruit for Pleasant Valley, Board Chair Carol Wilson can think of five things right off the top of her head. Two of those are profiled here.

Probably the most prominent ministry is Karis . The Karis ministry is a nonprofit organization established in 2011 by the  Pleasant Valley congregation to be a blessing to many people. It is a place where individuals may consign their new and gently used household items and antiques or where they may sell locally-crafted or hand-made items. When an item is sold, 65% of the profit goes to the consignor. The remaining 35% goes to ministries supported by the organization. In order to increase revenues for ministry, they also run a lunch counter Thurs. through Sat., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check out the lunch menu here .

The concept was born when Railside Industries purchased the old Tyco Electronics building in Mount Sidney for use as a seed warehouse by Houff’s Feed and Fertilizer. The owners offered the building’s former office space to Pleasant Valley to house a ministry of their choosing. Several members of Pleasant Valley formed a board of directors and established the Karis Project as an independent ministry that maintains strong ties with Pleasant Valley. Since 2011, the list of volunteers has grown to include numerous individuals from other churches in our community. Each quarter, Karis celebrates the gift of giving by sharing the store proceeds with local and international ministries

“Karis,” a Greek word that is often translated as “grace,” was chosen because the grace of God’s presence will supply its needs and allow this venture to glorify Him and bring blessing to others. The store is locate d at 2465 Lee Highway , Mt. Sidney. Store hours are: Thursday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to the Karis ministry, Pleasant Valley partners with other area churches and Clymore Elementary to send food home to families through a program called Backpack Pals. Individually wrapped items, along with boxed and canned foods are collected by churches in our community. On Wednesday evenings, bags are compiled at Pleasant Valley and then distributed through Clymore Elementary School to those in need. Each Friday during the school year, over 100 children take home a backpack full of food for the weekend.

For more information about Karis or the Backpack Pals program, contact Board Chair Carol Wilson .
Crab Run - Damascus
“The Spirit of the Lord  is  upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to  the  poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to  the  captives And recovery of sight to  the  blind,  To  set at liberty those who are oppressed..." Jesus in Luke 4:18

Jesus' mission to the poor and brokenhearted inspires the Crab Run and Damascus congregations to serve the residents of White Tree Manor in New Market. Crab Run initiated this ministry with the assisted living facility over 20 years ago and Damascus joined more recently. White Tree Manor serves up to 45 people who have little or no financial resources. Pastor Frank Tusing observed, "If it wasn't for White Tree Manor, many of these people would end up homeless."

Tusing said the two congregations work together to provide gallon-size cans of fruit and vegetables to augment their food pantry and they prepare four meals every year, usually around the holidays. Damascus specializes in lasagna and spaghetti dinners, while Crab Run hosts a Thanksgiving meal in early Nov. and a summer picnic in July. Ten to 12 members usually come to serve meals, visit with residents or even provide haircuts given by professionals in the congregations who donate their time. At Christmas, the churches ask residents to make a gift 'wish list' and then they try to fulfill their needs. Special snacks are delivered at Valentine's Day and Easter, but the service does not end with meals, fellowship, food and haircuts.

When the congregations learned the beds and furniture at the facility were in desperate need of replacement, they worked with local businesses to donate a new mattress for every bed and the churches collected items to outfit every mattress with a waterproof cover, sheets, blanket and a bedspread. They also secured a variety of night stands with drawers, wardrobes and vinyl recliners.

Tusing has watched as members of the congregations have established real relationships with the residents beyond the holiday meals and resource gathering. He notes the sincere, personal interest in those who live at White Tree manor is what love and service are all about.

For more information, contact Pastor Tusing at  896-5731.
Shenandoah County Congregations
Photo: Facebook
Columbia Furnace
Photo: Facebook
Community Mission
Photo: crownresearch.net
Round Hill
Photo: crownresearch.net
Valley Pike
Photo: Facebook

Walker's Chapel
Photo: crownresearch.net
Wakemans Grove
Photo: Facebook
"... for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in..." Matthew 25:35

Wakemans Grove Pastor Mark Bowyer remembers the early discussions area pastors had about the needs of Shenandoah County's homeless children. Since he had experience with a program that worked in Ohio, he believed it would work in Va. A group of church leaders used the Ohio model and brainstormed about how they could create a response locally and as followers of Jesus it was "only natural," Bowyer said, to work together to address these issues. Shenandoah County Family Promise emerged and it took two years to get it off the ground. Looking back, Bowyer marveled "I knew it would work here, but I had no idea it would expand at this rate and work out the way it has." Antioch Pastor George Bowers concurr e d, "I’ve never seen God work the way He has in the formation and provision of this ministry."

The safety of children, parents, guardians and volunteers is a priority, so people who are actively using alcohol or drugs are not admitted to the program, Bowyer said. To reinforce this qualification, the program has a director who conducts intake interviews and vets people seeking assistance. The program seeks to assist children and their families with housing, food and connections to other county resources. Many families who are facing financial difficulties brought on by medical bills and other unfortunate circumstances may become homeless in a matter of weeks. Bowyer said volunteers are trained not to judge or ask intrusive questions, and "...not to expect their clients to act fully Christian."

Family Promise serves up to five families at a time, and the program has a goal to work with the family for 90 days to turn things around. Pastor George Bowers explained, "This ministry is making a real difference in the lives of homeless children and their families and getting them on a trajectory of self-sufficiency as well as connectedness to others. One other wrinkle is that a mentoring group has been added to help clients maintain successful practices."

The director provides the human touch through job hunting assistance, access to food and a place to spend the day. Valley Pike Pastor Jonathan Fletcher noted that the Family Center is vitally important because many of the families are living in their cars and need a place to shower and wash their clothes during the day.

Overnight shelter is provided through individual churches four times per year, one full week at a time. A trailer containing sixteen cots is brought to the weekly host church and members set them up, providing the linens to cover the mattresses. Pastor Jonathan Fletcher explained that when it is Valley Pike's turn to host families overnight, they try to keep families together in separate Sunday School rooms to give them some privacy. A typical week of hosting is to have the evening meal around 5:30 p.m. and then spend time with family members. The families are picked up at 6 a.m. daily and transported to the day center. Fletcher said the main purpose in Valley Pike's purchase of a new playground structure was to also provide a place for children served by Family Promise to have a place to relax and play. He noted, "The most touching experience I've had is one evening my sons and I played basketball with a father and his two sons and they were all smiles...there was laughter and joy. For one moment, they forgot all the struggles." He concluded, "It's these simple acts of kindness that show them the church is there in their time of need. They bless us just as much as we bless them." Bowyer agreed, "Family Promise is a ministry to the church, not only a ministry of the church."

In total, seven Church of the Brethren congregations participate in Family Promise in some way. Antioch, Community Mission, Valley Pike and Wakemans Grove serve as host churches. These churches provide four weeks of meals and overnight accommodations annually. Walkers Chapel is a support church, sending volunteers to assist host churches and providing meals. Columbia Furnace and Round Hill congregations are partner churches who assist with fundraising, budget for donations to the program and send volunteers to assist at the Family Center. Additionally, five members of the Board of Directors for Family Promise of Shenandoah County are Church of the Brethren members.

Questions about Family Promise of Shenandoah County may be directed to Mark Bowyer, George Bowers, Dale Bowers or Jonathan Fletcher.
District Conference Links
2019 District Schedule and 2020 Slate
The 2019 District Conference schedule and biographies and photographs of District servants nominated for the 2020 District Leadership Slate will be forthcoming in the Shenandoah Update. If you do not receive the weekly Update and wish to do so, please contact Brenda Diehl at (540) 234-8555 to be added to the list.
What to Look Forward to at District Conference
Fri. evening will be a tim e of sin ging with the Antioch Worship Team and the Community Choir comprised of vocalists from churc hes in the Luray area. District Conference Moderator George Bowers will bring the message. An Ice cr eam social and time of fellowship will follow to close out the evening.

Brother Galen Combs and Sister Jan Orndorff will be bringing messages on Sat. morning, while District Conference Worship Leaders Brother Mark Bowyer and Sister Kathy Puffenbarger will share in the musical portion of the program.

2019 District Conference Business Item
In 2018, the District Discernment Team drafted a document to provide structure for a congregational withdrawal process. It was reviewed by the District Leadership Team and approved for a first reading at the 2018 District Conference in Nov. of last year. Subsequently, the document has been further studied and now comes from the District Leadership Team as a recommendation to the 2019 District Conference. A copy of the Congregational Withdrawal Process recommendation may be found here.
Love Offering to Support Tree Planting in Haiti
A special lover offering will be received on Fri. evening during the District Conference this year for the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative project , which includes an initiative to plant fruit and coffee trees in Haiti. Checks should be made payable to the Shenandoah District and may be mailed by Thurs., Nov. 7, to:

Shenandoah District
Church of the Brethren
POB 67
Weyers Cave, VA 24486

Please write 'Haiti' in the memo line to ensure donations are directed as intended.
The Shenandoah Journal is a publication of the Shenandoah District Church of the Brethren. It is distributed six times annually on even numbered months. If you have questions, comments or need assistance with subscribing, please contact:
Brenda Sanford Diehl, MPA
Director of Communications
Shenandoah District Church of the Brethren
POB 67
Weyers Cave, VA 24486
(540) 234-8555