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Filled to the Gills
The Church World Service truck rolled into the depot at the District Office to pick up buckets and boxes of supplies on November 29. Partial loads picked up earlier in the day filled the front and rear of the trailer, so district volunteers were challenged with filling the remaining space in the middle. God had mercy and gave them the wisdom to make it happen and 7,000 pounds of supplies left for New Windsor, Maryland.
Shenandoah District Disaster Ministry Coordinator Jerry Ruff said each bucket weighed eight pounds and the boxes of kits each weighed in at 45 pounds or more. The truck was filled to the top, and there is room in the depot to create new buckets and kits for the next pick up in the spring.



With Humor and Humility, Brethren Woods
Executive Director Doug Phillips Retires

Shenandoah Update
November 17, 2021

After 39 years at the helm of Brethren Woods, Doug Phillips was seated at the District Conference on November 6 holding the hand of his wife, Cindy, as he was being recognized for his nearly four decades of selfless service. Doug will officially be retiring on December 31 but is wrapping up his day-to-day activities this month. A lot has happened during his 39-year tenure and Doug has a wagonload of great memories from his time in ministry.

Larry Glick was called upon to write a citation for the conference send-off which endeavored to encapsulate in a 15-minute presentation all that Doug has accomplished at Brethren Woods. Glick drew from the reflections of past campers, staff and friends to discover more about Doug’s impact at the facility. One comment from a camp supporter poignantly summarized Doug’s role at Brethren Woods, “He has been a friend, a visionary, a disciplinarian, a confidant, a matchmaker, a counselor, a pastor, a fundraiser, an administrator, a budget developer, and above all a steadfast man of God.”

These, among many other accolades, caused Doug to assure others that he is simply a child of God who makes a lot of mistakes. “Even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while,” he noted. Yet, as Sam Flora told him at the 60th anniversary celebration for Brethren Woods, he has come to accept that, “it’s okay to feel good about what you are doing.” Doug reflected, “The positive things are what help you know you are going in the right direction.”

Over the years, God has worked through Doug and a multitude of donors, volunteers and staff members to renew and revitalize the facility and programs at Brethren Woods. From just two buildings, a full-time director and a part-time staff member, it has now grown to 30 structures and six full-time staff members. Since 1983, the facility has hosted 146,000 people. Doug is grateful God has used him “in spite of all his flaws” and he gives God the credit for all the successes. He still enjoys watching what God is doing at Brethren Woods and looks forward to what God will do next.

Doug is originally from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and came to the Shenandoah Valley to attend Eastern Mennonite College (now EMU) after a four-year stint in the workforce and an initial year in college after high school. He began his college experience in the social work curriculum but noticed how much fun his friends were having taking classes in rappelling, kayaking and other outdoor adventure sports. After these experiences, he became drawn to the camping and youth ministries program, as well, and completed both courses of study.

As Doug and Cindy began to explore job opportunities after college, they wanted to move back to Pennsylvania, but nothing available there seemed right. He had always sensed a calling to work with people but had nothing specific in mind. Both he and Cindy felt inclined to pursue a different kind of ministry but were not sure what that was until the fall of October 1982 when they heard about Brethren Woods. They were interviewed and he was hired as director and Cindy came on board in a part-time programming capacity.

Their journey with Brethren Woods officially began in January 1983, and over the years, his role has changed as growth in facilities, staff and programs required increasing administrative oversight. He has gone from being the person building the evening campfires, to being able to stand at a distance and absorb the ministry God is doing at those campfires. He has been called upon to plant some trees and has had to cut down some trees, nearly 400 of them, in fact, after the Emerald Ash Borer infestation. He has tracked the numbers, repaired various pieces of equipment and tirelessly advocated on behalf of the mission. Yet, he never wanted to lose connection with people. Recently, he assigned himself as the pourer of the milk at breakfast each day so that he could stay in touch with campers.

In all these endeavors, Doug has not been alone. He has depended on God to make the dreams a reality and has relied upon the encouragement of Cindy and their girls, Sarah and Rachel, who have been by his side through it all. He has had great staff members and volunteers who got the job done–even when campers were not able to be on-site due to COVID-19 public health regulations. Doug has also met remarkable people on the various committees, boards and teams that shared a vision for Brethren Woods. A large part of the vision has been realized through the support of congregations and individuals who partnered with Brethren Woods and the Shenandoah District to create a place where people can ‘make room for God.’

When asked what one who is considering entry into Christian ministry should do, Doug has sage advice from his decades of serving: “Run!” He notes that it is impossible to persevere in ministry without knowing beyond a doubt that is where God has called one to be. His answer reflects what he has become known and respected for most–ministering with a great sense of humor and heart full of humility.

As Doug looks forward, he has a new vision, one where he will no longer be working, in his words, a “half-time job,” which he humorously defined as “12 hours a day, seven days a week.” Instead, he will be focused on his other job title, “Pappo,” and plans to be able to spend more time with his grandson, Nolan, granddaughter Sloane and the rest of his family. Fishing is also in the planning, as is traveling with Cindy to visit national parks and other Church of the Brethren camps.

The District Leadership Team has appointed Assistant Director Linetta Ballew as the acting director at Brethren Woods until the formal search process gets underway next year.

It is with a mountain of gratitude for a life of service to Brethren Woods that the Shenandoah District wished “Pappo” great success in his new full-time role.

Click to read Larry Glick’s Citation for Doug Phillips. Watch the video by David Sollenberger here


Brenda Sanford Diehl
Director of Communications
Shenandoah District Church of the Brethren

Photo: Courtesy of Brethren Woods

From the Farm to the Barn: District Conference Delegates Gather

The Rally 4 Christ at the Farm in October was well-received as the Brethren joyfully met outdoors for preaching and singing. Fast forward one month–and deduct 44 degrees–and the Brethren met again Saturday morning for preaching, singing and a business session in the display barn at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds. What a difference a month makes! The temperature reached a low of 24 degrees overnight, yet 152 District Conference delegates showed up and huddled together to listen, reflect and approve the slate of officers and proposed budget for 2022.
District Conference Moderator Daniel House used Ephesians 5:1-2 and John 15:9-11 as the basis for his opening remarks. From the last supper that Jesus shared with His disciples to the post-resurrection breakfast on the seashore, Jesus was teaching the disciples and preparing them for the hard times ahead. Jesus helped Peter redeem his earlier denials not by rebuking him for his failure but by challenging him with his future: to feed Jesus’ lambs and sheep. The thread that runs throughout Christ’s message is to love as He loves.
Following the Brethren Woods report, the moderator called upon Larry Glick to address the retirement of Brethren Woods Director Doug Phillips. After 39 years at the helm, Phillips will be retiring at the end of this month to spend time with grandchildren, visit national parks and Brethren camps, and go fishing. More about his retirement will be released in the coming weeks.
The offering received at District Conference this year was $2,317 and it has been earmarked to provide funding to District ministries and to the Haiti Medical Project for building latrines to mitigate the outbreak of cholera in that nation. The offering will be divided equally between these two initiatives.

2021 Disaster Auction Results Announced

The Disaster Auction Planning Committee could not have imagined a net profit north of $400,00 when faced with the second year of COVID-19 challenges, but God provided more than anyone could have asked for this year. Specifically, the total revenues for the Disaster Auction for 2021 were $448,719.51 and the final net profit was $430,558.85. This total includes the pledged matching funds from a generous donor who has seen the devastation disasters create in the lives of families and individuals through personal experience on a rebuilding project trip. The previous record was $225,419.29 set in 2017.
When asked earlier about these record-breaking revenue totals, Disaster Auction Coordinating Committee Chair Catherine Lantz could only say, “I am grateful for the individuals, churches and groups that continued to send donations throughout the summer, and to the very generous donor and auction volunteers, I say thank you.” She also noted that without the individuals who gave their time and resources to make the in-person auction happen, none of this would have been possible, especially in a shortened planning period.
From the proceeds, the District was able to disburse $380,000 to Brethren Disaster Ministries and $60,000 to the local Brethren Disaster Ministries for disaster projects. There is some irony that this announcement came on the very day Hurricane Ida was passing through this region. Perhaps, the message of Ephesians 3:20-21 is at work in ways never imagined. To God be the glory.