The Association of Grace Brethren Ministers (AGBM) has served the pastors and churches of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches for many years. In recent years it has made some changes in its focus. Dr. Jerry Young, served as the ministry director of AGBM until his death in 2010. He renewed the focus of AGBM in a vision statement published in 2008. This vision included the following:
- Provide ministry certification standards which are accepted and recognized throughout the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.
- Provide standards for churches to follow in their relationships with pastors, especially as they relate to search and selection processes, compensation, continuing education, sabbaticals, and conflict resolution.
- Provide ethical standards for pastors and ministry leaders which are accepted and recognized throughout the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.
- Create an environment of mutual accountability whereby pastors and ministry leaders are called upon to conduct themselves in a manner which honors the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Identify, qualify and encourage the professional development of men and women who are being called by God to ministry in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.
- Create an official roster of pastors and ministry leaders who are certified for service in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, whether they are members of the Association or not.
- Maintain ministry profiles for pastors and ministry leaders throughout the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches to the end that they may know each other better and serve one another more efficiently.
- Create and maintain a system by which individual pastors and ministry leaders are recognized for excellence and faithfulness in ministry.
- Offer specific activities by which pastors and ministry leaders may grow toward excellence in ministry through such means as continuing education, networking and mentoring.
- Offer a comforting and counseling presence to pastors and churches which are struggling because they are unable to resolve conflicts or achieve stability in ministry.
- Offer financial assistance, within the constraints of available resources, to those in ministry who are experiencing a temporary but serious financial crisis.
Today, many of these statements have become reality for the AGBM under the leadership of Joel Richards, president of AGBM. Dr. Mark Saunders was hired in the summer of 2011 to assume Dr. Young’s position with a new title, director of pastoral ministries. Since that time, AGBM has brought on nine volunteer pastors that serve as representatives of AGBM. These pastors are scattered throughout the US caring for the pastors in their regions. Their goal has become “Caring for those who Care for others.” These men (and their state or district of responsibility) include: Roy Halberg, S. Calif.; Joel Richards, N. Calif.; Greg Howell, Wash., Alaska, W. Canada; Larry Richeson, Ind., Iowa; Bob Comb, Ohio; Larry Edwards, W. Pa.; Dan White, E. Pa.; Paul Mutchler, Chesapeake and Md.; Dan Gillette, Blue Ridge and Virginia; Matt Wheelock, Fla.
AGBM has sponsored an inspirational meal at conference each year to show appreciation for our pastors and wives. They have given out many gift certificates to pastors/wives couples so that they can take some time alone and enjoy one another. These gifts are a simple way for AGBM to say to our pastors, we care about you, your family and your ministry. AGBM recently sent Dr. Kenneth Bickel and Kevin Vanderground’s book, Doing Right while Doing Good, An Exploration of Ministerial Ethics, to all the Grace Brethren chaplains for their reading and use.
All Grace Brethren pastors are encouraged to be a member of AGBM. Membership for 2013-2014 may now be renewed online at www.agbm.org or sent directly to AGBM, Box 394, Winona Lake, IN 46590. Prospective new members should contact Mark Saunders for additional information.