GraceConnect E-News, No. 36, Week of February 24, 2014


The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches

Hiking for Water in Africa

Brenda Petroski has been hiking since 1987. Next month, she will celebrate her 60th birthday by hitching up her backpack and heading out to Springer Mountain, Ga. There she will begin the longest hike of her life – the Appalachian Trail â€“ with a specific purpose.

She is raising funds for
Water For Good (formerly ICDI), an organization that builds wells in the Central African Republic (CAR). A grandmother of two, Brenda says she has always had a soft spot in her heart for needy children, and those without clean water touch a special nerve. Last year, she found a way to combine her passion for hiking with her heart for the needy. 

“So many people don’t realize how unclean the water is all over the world,” Brenda noted. “An estimated 60 percent of wells in the CAR have been damaged in recent conflict or need to be repaired. Without the proper maintenance, once again communities are without clean water. My goal is to raise $20,000 to keep the clean water flowing from 40 wells in Central Africa.”

Brenda has always been at home in the woods. “When I was a kid we were six girls out in the country and there were farms all around – I’d always be out roaming the woods and the meadows or up at the farm.” Once she got older, she started hiking with the birding club to combat the winter blues, but her infectious, spontaneous laughter scared the birds away. She joined the hiking club instead, where she later met her husband Peter, who is a Grace Brethren church planter in Columbia, Pa. (a work that is supported by the
Grace Brethren Church, York, Pa.).

“I’ve always loved reading about the Appalachian Trail,” she explained. “I like the idea of living out of the backpack…the rawness of that.” A few years ago, she picked up one of her well-read Appalachian Trail books and looking at the first page, immediately thought, ‘I’m supposed to hike the trail,’ and started praying about the idea.  

The hike will take an estimated six months to complete â€“ and many who start have to cut their hike short. But Brenda isn’t worried. “This is a spiritual journey for me…when I first realized this is what I am supposed to do I felt like Moses!

“I believe God puts something on everybody hearts that they are extra sensitive to â€“ in my case it’s kids without clean water. During the hike I’ll miss my kids and my grandkids, and I’m afraid of streams and steep mountains…but if God can take a 60-year old grandma and send me out to the trail, He will equip me with what I need.”

here to follow her Brenda Hikes the Trail blog. If you'd like to help sponsor Brenda's trek, click here.


Keith Bowers, pastor at Solid Rock Community Church, a Grace Brethren church in St. Thomas, Pa., has announced his resignation. His last Sunday will be June 29, 2014.

From Around the Web

Here are a few links from Grace Brethren churches that you might find of interest…

Pastors and leaders in Grace Brethren churches in North America have been meeting this year at regional Focus Retreats to lay the foundation for a national dialogue called The Identity Initiative. During the 48-hour retreats, Dr. Dave Guiles, executive director of Encompass World Partners, is leading sessions that help participants explore, create, and commit to a cluster of shared values that will guide FGBC leaders next year in discussions that define who the Grace Brethren are, what we believe, and how those beliefs are expressed. During the retreat, each person is asked to write a letter to their "Timothy," or a person they have mentored in the faith. Click here to read those letters. At the top of the list are those from the most recent retreat in the Southwest region of the United States. Tweets and Instagram photos from the retreats may also be found on the Identity Canvas at and are a real-time response of individuals to the sessions.

Leadership Development

The Silver Medal Syndrome: "what we focus our thoughts on has great power and influence in our life." From the blog of Rich Yauger, Care/Connections/Discipleship Pastor at Grace Community Church, a Grace Brethren church in Goshen, Ind. (Jim Brown, senior pastor).

Integrated Ministries

CPR-3 is a faith-based movement that is committed to awakening, connecting, and unleashing God’s people to breathe life and hope into the world. For the past few years, they have served people in crisis and poverty in Haiti. Learn more about this ministry (and experience, via video, a drive through Port-a-Prince) through a recent newsletter send by Scott Feather, senior director of operations. Click here to read.

Church Planting

Go2 Ministries' Mission Alignment Program (MAP) uses the latest church planter profile systems, demographic data profiles, and Biblical teaching to help churches and pastors identify and release church planting missionaries to the 1,765 Circles of Grace across the United States. Click here to view a video about this program.
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This week's featured book

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Events in the FGBC

March 16, 2014 â€“ Prayer Sprint Begins (EWP)
March 17-19, 2014 â€“ South Focus Retreat, Florida FFA Leadership Training Center , (FGBC)
April 25-26, 2014 â€“ Women's Leadership Studies: Equipping Others (WGUSA)
May 19-21, 2014 – Northwest Focus Retreat, Camp Clear Lake, Wash. (FGBC)
June 27-July 3, 2014 – Encounter ATL (EWP)
July 17-21, 2014 â€“ Vision2020 DC (FGBC)
July 22-27, 2014 â€“ Momentum Youth Conference (CEN)
November 11-24, 2014 â€“ Cambodia GO Team (WGUSA)

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC â€“ Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
WGUSA â€“ Women of Grace USA
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