BIC Church grieves the loss of former General Conference Board chair

—This morning, the Brethren in Christ Church in North America received word that Mark Garis, former chair of the General Conference Board and long-time BIC church leader, passed away following a three-year battle with brain cancer.

Garis, a member of the Souderton ( Pa.) Brethren in Christ Church and a retired superintendent of the Souderton Area School District, served as a member-at-large of the General Conference Board (formerly Board for Administration) for 16 years. For eight of those years, he was chair.

Garis was also an active leader at the regional conference level, serving in various capacities on the Atlantic Conference Board of Christian Education (formerly Commission on Home) in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1980, Mark joined the Atlantic Conference Board of Administration (formerly Executive Committee), on which he served until 1989.

Beginning in the 1980s, he also sat on the Messiah College ( Grantham, Pa.) Board of Trustees, serving as its vice-chair for seven years.

Under the auspices of BIC World Missions, Garis and his wife, Nancy, traveled to Venezuela in September 2002, where he served as interim director at the Academia Cristiana Internacionale de Caracas (ACIC) for 10 months.

“Mark Garis served the BIC Church in leadership roles through a time of significant change,” said Warren Hoffman, moderator. “Wherever Mark served, his wisdom, strength of purpose, and consistently gracious manner were invaluable contributions. As moderator over the years that Mark was chair of the GCB, working under his supervision, I am deeply grateful for his good guidance, counsel, mentoring, encouragement, care, and friendship. With sadness and heartfelt appreciation at his homegoing, the Brethren in Christ honor Mark’s life, witness, and service among us.”

Messiah College President Kim S. Phipps remarked that Garis “embodied the outcomes of a Messiah College education—service, leadership, and reconciliation. His commitment to his alma mater’s mission was evident in his chosen vocation . . . and in the 24 years of devoted service he gave to the College as a trustee. We will miss his grace-filled presence in our community but remain profoundly grateful for his significant and selfless contributions to the strength and quality of [our institution].”

Garis is survived by his wife; his son, Jeffrey; and his daughter, Kris.