Northern Indiana

156th Recorded District Conference

September 18 & 19, 2015
 at Camp Alexander Mack, Milford, IN



Camp Alexander Mack was the location of the 156th Northern Indiana District Conference of the Church of the Brethren.  David Bibbee, moderator elect was the worship leader.  One hundred-fifty two people were in attendance. Seventy-one were delegates.  The offering of $2,765.50 will be used to help Nigerian children.  Angi Harney spoke about the recent Northern Indiana Sale and Auction for Nigerian Crisis Relief held June 27, 2015. 

The message, “The Messy Side of Faith” was given by Pastor Brandy Liepelt.                                                     

There were two insight sessions:  Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria led by Paul and Brandy Liepelt,  Fireplace Chat with DE Torin Eikler.


Brian Hartman led opening singing, and Galen Jay gave announcements and invited all to view the Nigerian art work and Nigerian fabric quilt.  There were 116 delegates.

Moderator Alice Archer opened the meeting at 9:10 a. m. with prayer and reminded us of how strong our faith is as we rise to the challenge of supporting our Nigerian sisters and brothers of EYN as they rebuild their lives after the recent violence in their country. 

The minutes of the 2014 District Conference were approved as presented.  The 2015 agenda was approved and seconded.

DISTRICT BOARD REPORTS:  Board chair, Rosanna McFadden, and members of the Board presented a skit of songs and dialog explaining the functions of the District Board.  She explained that the District Board is made up of four working groups:  Leadership Development, Congregational Nurture, Administrative Support and Executive Committee.  She emphasized that District Board strives to nurture unity among the churches in Northern Indiana. Susan Korchyck gave a financial report and said the District Executive salary changes seemed large because of shifting health insurance benefits into the salary line (due to the Affordable Care Act). She also noted an increase in travel expense line item.  Also, the office manager salary received a cost of living increase.  We now have one standing committee member which led to a reduction in appropriate line items.  Susan expressed appreciation to the treasurer, John Dye for his hard work and dedication.  Susan asked for help from the various congregations to increase their giving by 5% as there has been a decline in funds recently.  She also noted there are grant request forms available on the district web-site.  The District Board will be hosting a church growth and revitalization retreat on the morning of November 21, 2015 at Yellow Creek COB.  Jonathon Shively will lead and focus on helping churches with vitality concerns.

MINISTRY RECOGNITION:  Torin Eikler, District Executive brings a concern about the LaPorte church.  Many of the members are retirees on limited income, and they struggle to maintain the building.  It needs a new roof among other things.  At the same time he is inspired by the many ministries this small church offers to its community.

There is one new licensed minister this year, Caleb Kragt.  James Mckibben is interim Pastor at Camp Creek Church.  Three churches are looking for staff.  Torin thanks the Board, the Ministry Committee and Rachel Kauffman.

The following Pastors are recognized for their years of service: 

Brent Freel, 5   Mark Riege, 10   Jack Cary, 15   Esther Norris, 20   Mike Overpeck, 25 Becky Ball-Miller, 25   Sam Norris, 30   Deanna Brown, 30   Phyllis Carter, 45   Arden Ball, 55   John Tomlonson, 65

PERSONNEL COMMITTEE REPORT:  Requested delegates to add the name of Kimberly Koczan Flory (Sec 2) and Tonya Stern-Gilbert (Sec 2) to the District Personnel Slate.  Also, add the name of Phil Barkey under Appointments for Confirmation to Indiana Camp Board.   

INSTITUTION REPORTS----CAMP MACK:  Ryan McBride reported that in 2014 Camp Mack operated in the black with a profit of over $24,000.  The debt has been reduced by 50% ($182,000 left and they are able to pay $1,300 a month on the debt.)  They hope to hire an Executive Director by September 1, 2016 and they are developing a new web-site.    TIMBERCREST:   Executive Administrator, David Lawrenz reports that Timbercrest is committed to nurturing its relationship with the Church of the Brethren.  It is a ministry of the church.  All Board members are Church of the Brethren.  Timbercrest is home to 182 COB members or 63% of the residents.  The values of the Church of the Brethren filter down to its employees and residents.  These values remain steady now and into the future.  Regarding regulatory compliance:  there were only 3 findings (they have been corrected) and they still have a 5 star rating.  Their finances are very stable and there is no mortgage debt.  Timbecrest helps those who need charitable assistance.    MANCHESTER UNIVERSITY:   Paris Ball-Miller from the Manchester Board spoke about the new President, David McFadden and his vision of growth for the school.  Paris highlighted the Pharmacy School that is in its fourth year with 100% of students completing their degrees.  Manchester wants more COB students and would like to see the churches encourage more of their youth to choose Manchester University for their continuing education. In response to a question regarding the hiring of more diverse faculty in the Religion and Philosophy areas, Paris responded that Manchester respects the infinite worth of every person.     

STANDING COMMITTEE:   Duane Grady encourages churches to work harder at sending in nominations.  He hopes to see a deeper connection to Annual Conference.  He highlighted several learning opportunities for the district to take advantage of:  November 14, at Cedar Lake church you can help prepare ballots for Annual Conference; February 21, at Goshen City, Mid-winter coffee and cocoa.  Focus: the importance of AC; and May 22, at Blue River & Nappanee.  Focus:  2016 Annual Conference briefing.

BY-LAW REVISION:   In regards to what a congregation shall be named, District Board says congregations may choose what to name themselves but Congregations should consult with the District Board.  In the ADDENDA to PLAN of ORGANIZATION a proposal was made to amend the word “recognized” to “affirmed” in Reference 2 Article IV page 4, line 29 and 30.   The amendment was approved and seconded.  The name change from Osceola Church to Shepherd’s Heart was affirmed.

VOTING:  Prayers were offered as ballots were filled out and turned in.

OFFERING FOR DISTRICT YOUTH FUND was $1,174.66.  Val Kline thanked all who helped and were involved in the various activities this past year.  She invited all youth to come to the many opportunities to meet new people and to take part in many fun activities and youth conferences.

ELECTION RESULTS:  The following slate of nominees was approved:

                Moderator elect ---- Gene Hollenberg        

                Program and Arrangements Committee----Phyllis Leininger       

                District Board ---- Rosanna Eller McFadden and Harriet Hamer       

                Personnel Committee   (Sec 5) ---- Janet Ryman,          

                                                                (Sec 2)------Jeanine Klotz, Kimberly Koczan Flory and Tonya Stern-Gilbert     

                Appointments to Indiana Camp Board 3 year term------Sue Freel (2nd term) and Phil Barkey.


DISTRICT BUGET:   The proposed 2016 District Budget of $113,000 was approved as presented.

OPERATING PROCEDURES REVISIONS:  Indiana Camp Board                                                                                In voting to replace any current Operating Procedures it takes two-thirds (2/3) of the delegates to approve any changes (such as term limits etc.)  A vote was taken by a show of hands to approve the changes proposed by the Indiana Camp Board.  There were 44 yes votes and 38 no votes.  The yes votes did not equal 2/3 of the delegates voting.  No changes to the Operating Procedures of ICB were made.

BRETHREN AGENCIES:   BETHANY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY----Dan Pool showed a video highlighting the work of the denominational agencies and spoke more about the Seminary and the many aspects of its ministry.  He emphasized how committed Bethany is to keep student debt low or non-existent.   New technology unites students from many distant areas.  Many new and timely courses have been added and Dr. Nate Inglis a new assistant professor of theological studies has just been hired.  Bethany offers reduced-cost community housing in the “Bethany Neighborhood”.  They have exceeded their campaign goal and graduated the largest class in 17 years in May, 2015 (18 students).  The Northern Indiana District and congregations gave $21,757 in financial support of Bethany.  BRETHREN BENEFIT TRUST----Jean Bednar, Director of Communications for Brethren Benefit Trust highlighted some of the areas BBT offers products/services in:  Insurance, Pension plans, responsible investing, and many workshops in a variety of financial/long term care areas.  Their newsletter appeals to non-members as well as members of the COB.

MINISTRY EXCELLENCE PROJECT:  This is a grant funded project.  Money from the Lilly Foundation is used to support Pastors and congregations in various endeavors.  A goal of the project is to make it self-sustaining in the future, but that has not been easy. So, as grant funds get low churches and individuals may need to contribute. Each church should have received the DVD, “What’s so Funny about Money?” by Ted and Company. 

CLOSING:   Executive Director, Torin Eikler presided over the consecration of the new officers, leaders, volunteers and appointees.   Moderator Alice Archer announced that $950.00 was collected from the “Kids for Change” project with M&M tubes and will be sent to Elgin for EYN children and closed the conference by asking again, “what are you passionate about?  What is your congregation passionate about?”,  encouraging all in attendance to keep cultivating the seeds of faith that have already been sown.  Alice gave the gavel to new moderator David Bibbee, and he announced that the theme of supporting Ekklesiar Y’anu’wa Nigeria will be continued through the next year. 

The Conference was adjourned at 3:20.    

Respectfully submitted, MaryJane Coursen, Conference clerk.

Rachel Kauffman,
Aug 26, 2015, 7:31 AM
Rachel Kauffman,
Apr 29, 2014, 7:56 AM
Rachel Kauffman,
Apr 29, 2014, 7:56 AM
Rachel Kauffman,
Apr 29, 2014, 7:57 AM
Rachel Kauffman,
Apr 29, 2014, 8:01 AM
Rachel Kauffman,
Aug 26, 2015, 7:38 AM