Leaders announced for Atlantic, Southeast, and Susquehanna Regional Conferences
GRANTHAM, Pa. (june 13, 2012)—The BIC Church is working intentionally to prepare for transitions in leadership within the next two years. As we approach this time of restructuring, we rejoice that recent searches have culminated in the appointment of three seasoned and highly qualified individuals to serve in key roles in the Church.
Rev. Aner Morejon, associate bishop of the Southeast Conference
At the Annual Meeting of the Southeast Conference on April 28, 2012, Aner Morejon, senior pastor of Maranatha BIC Church (Hialeah, Fla.), was approved as associate bishop of the Southeast Conference. He will begin his work on August 1, 2012, following the retirement of Eduardo Llanes, who will conclude his six years of service as bishop of the Conference this coming July.
“God has given me a passion for His kingdom,” Aner affirms. “I know this position requires a lot of work and responsibility, but I love the BIC Church family and its values.”
Growing up in Havana, Cuba, Aner was introduced to Christ early on in life by his parents, who were both pastors in the Nazarene Church. He was baptized at the age of 12 and called to ministry at 18. After working as the youth pastor for a church in Camaguey, Cuba, he returned to Havana to finish his studies at Seminario Teológico Nazareno Cubano. During that time, he also served as the national youth president for the Nazarene Church, as well as assistant pastor at the Nazarene Church in Mariano, Cuba.
In 1990, Aner and his family—which included his wife, Vivian, and their son and daughter—moved to the U.S., and Aner became a youth pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Hialeah, Fla.
He was then introduced to the BIC Church by a friend, Mery Parenzuela, who was hosting a Bible study in her home and who quickly introduced him to the bishop of the Southeast Conference. “It was the doctrine of the BIC that motivated me to become part of BIC family,” he says. “Secondly, I deeply appreciated the sense of family, and it seemed to meet the need that I had at that time.”
The connection was solidified in January of 1991, when Aner was officially invited to join in the work Mery had begun. Today, that ministry has grown to become Maranatha BIC Church (Hialeah, Fla.), a thriving community of Spanish-speaking believers that Aner has served as senior pastor for 21 years.
Over Aner’s tenure, the church body at Maranatha BIC has seen increased membership, the establishment of a solid leadership team, priority placed on discipleship, and steadfast commitment to biblical teaching. Another significant milestone accomplished by Maranatha BIC under Aner’s leadership was the acquisition of a church building 12 years ago. “By God’s mercy and the support of the BIC Foundation,” Aner notes, “we were able to buy land and a building for Maranatha BIC.”
In addition to leadership at the local church level, Aner has also contributed to the wider community of faith, serving as a seminary professor, a member of the board of directors for the Greater Miami Ministers Association (and as president of that board from 2009–2010), a member of the reference committee for Mennonite Central Committee, and as the leader of an interdenominational prayer group with 18 pastors from various churches in Hialeah.
Aner’s experiences of growing up in Cuba, moving to the U.S., and ministering in a city in the Greater Miami area, have helped shape his understanding of the diversity in the body of Christ. “Those who know Miami know that there is a great cultural mix,” he relates. “In my own congregation, we have more than 14 countries represented. We also have missions in Costa Rica, and I have been able to participate in activities in Colombia and the Dominican Republic.” It is this diversity, says Aner, that serves as the foundation for his pursuit of community and the catalyst in his vision for outreach. “Being able to feel like you belong to an authentic community of faith is a vital part of following Christ,” he shares. “It is that sense of being part of a community that leads you to turn your perspective outward. The BIC have a wonderful history in nurturing a ‘brotherhood’ and of witnessing to the world through missions.”
Aner and his wife, Vivian, have two grown children, Anler and Magbys, and three grandchildren.
Rev. Kenneth O. Hoke, bishop of the Susquehanna Conference
After serving the Susquehanna Conference in an interim capacity beginning January 2, 2012, Kenneth O. Hoke was appointed by the General Conference Board to serve as bishop, effective March 29, 2012.
"I accepted the role of bishop in the Susquehanna Conference in response to the need for stability and follow-through," notes Ken. "I am very excited about the multiple ways in which today's pastors are seeking to impact their communities for Jesus, and I am eager to walk alongside them, to challenge our pastoral team for ministry within their own settings."
The son of Brethren in Christ missionaries to India, Ken spent much of his childhood outside of North America. He came to faith in Christ at an early age, but it was not until his time at Messiah College (Grantham, Pa.) that he began to feel God’s call to full-time pastoral ministry. During his studies at Ashland (Ohio) Theological Seminary, Ken served for a year as youth pastor at the now-closedSippo Valley (Ohio) BIC Church and, later, filled a three-year appointment as senior pastor at Ashland BIC.
In 1975, Ken and his family—which then included his wife, Carol, and their eldest son, Bryan—moved to Carlisle, Pa., where Ken accepted an associate pastor position at Carlisle BIC. He would go on to serve at Carlisle for 23 years, the final 11 as senior pastor.
During his time at Carlisle, Ken witnessed incredible growth in the congregation. When he arrived in the late 1970s, weekly worship services averaged about 450 attendees. Within a decade, that number had climbed above 600—a fact that necessitated the congregation’s move to a new church building in 1985. Hoke, then an associate pastor, played a pivotal role in the move and continued to shepherd the congregation toward continued outreach when he assumed the senior pastor position two years later.
Ken is no stranger to the General Church. After concluding his pastoral ministry at Carlisle in 1998, he served for six years as the general secretary of the BIC Church. More recently, Hoke has given his time and talents to the global BIC community. First, he serves BIC World Missions as the regional coordinator for South Asia, a position he's held since 2003. Additionally, for the last two years, he has contributed to the work of the International Brethren in Christ Association as the organization’s executive director. He also participates in the work of the denomination's Equipping for Ministry program by teaching a Core Course on Brethren in Christ polity.
"The BIC are a constantly moving and forming group of people in the world today," Ken observes. "I am excited that our community is a flowing and fresh stream rather than a stagnant body of water. Our Lord does not change, but the place in which we apply God's Word is constantly changing. It is a challenge to serve our present day! I desire to be part of making this a reality as I follow Jesus, my Lord and Savior."
Ken and his wife, Carol, have three grown children, Bryan, Steve, and Julie.
Rev. Pauline C. Peifer, bishop of the Atlantic Conference
After serving the Susquehanna Conference in an interim capacity in early 2012, Pauline C. Peifer was appointed bishop by General Conference Board on March 29, 2012.
"I initially accepted the position of interim bishop as the call of God and of the Church to be of help in the midst of a difficult time," Pauline reflects. "When the Atlantic Conference board of directors and the General Conference Board later asked whether I would continue two years for the remainder of the term, it seemed important that our Conference feel consistency and stability in leadership during this time of transition in our denomination."
Raised in the home of a BIC pastor, Pauline earned a nursing degree from Messiah College and spent 25 years in the field of health care administration, including 14 years at Brookline Retirement Community (Mifflintown, Pa.), where she served as executive director. Alongside her first husband, W. Dale Allison, Pauline served in pastoral ministry for over two decades, helping to shepherd congregations in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and planting a congregation in Calgary, Alberta. She and Dale also ministered at both Refton (Pa.) BIC and Elizabethtown (Pa.) BIC, prior to his death in 1991.
"The experience of the death of my first husband while we were pastoring has given me a greater understanding of pain, grief, and loss during ministry," Pauline notes. "I hope to bring these gifts for empathy, among others, into my new role leading the Atlantic Conference."
Pauline's transition out of the healthcare industry and into the pastorate began in the late 1990s. She joined the planning team for a church plant, New Harvest Community Church (Millerstown, Pa.), in 1999, where she contributed to the launch of the congregation in March 2001 and subsequently served as the church administrator and a Sunday morning worship leader. In 2003, Pauline joined the staff of the Grantham (Pa.) Church, first as an associate pastor and most recently as the executive pastor. From 2009–2010, she shepherded the congregation as the interim lead pastor.
Pauline believes that her varied career in pastoral ministry has helped prepare her for leadership at the Conference level. "The opportunity to help plant two congregations—one in Calgary, which did not survive, and the other in Millerstown, which succeeded—has given me greater understanding of the challenges of church planting," she notes. "And the privilege to pastor in a large congregation at the Grantham Church has given me an understanding of the challenges and blessings facing our pastors in more traditional ministry settings."
Pauline also brings to the bishopric a history of service to Regional Conferences. She has served on a variety of boards and commissions, including her most recent role as secretary of the board of directors of the Susquehanna Conference. Moreover, Pauline has actively contributed to BIC affiliate ministries like Messiah Lifeways (formerly Messiah Village), a retirement community in Mechanicsburg, Pa., which she presently serves as a member of its board of directors.
As the first woman to serve the BIC as a bishop, Pauline hopes that her efforts will inspire other women to pursue God's calling on their lives. "I am very appreciative of the confidence placed in me as a woman serving in leadership at this time," she adds. "I pray this will pave the way for future women in ministry in our denomination."
Pauline is married to Elvin Peifer, CEO of the Brethren in Christ Foundation, and together they have five grown children and 14 grandchildren.