Bishop Nominee Named for the Susquehanna Conference

GRANTHAM, Pa. (Jan. 14, 2009)—The General Conference Board of the Brethren in Christ Church, upon the recommendation of the bishop search committee, has presented the name of Douglas P. Sider, Jr., senior pastor of Summit View BIC Church in New Holland, Pa  for approval as bishop nominee of the denomination’s Susquehanna Conference.

After prayerful consideration, Douglas accepted the nomination, and, pending final confirmation by the Susquehanna Conference, will begin his service as bishop on February 16, 2009. In order to meet the pressing needs of the Conference, the Summit View congregation has agreed to a shared arrangement from February 16 to May 15. During the transition, Douglas will divide his time, working half-time with the congregation and half-time with the Conference. Douglas will begin full-time service as bishop on May 16, 2009, completing the six-year term of his predecessor, Bishop Ken Letner, through July 31, 2014.

Commenting on the opportunity to serve the Susquehanna Conference, Douglas says, “I look forward to walking with pastors as they come to a deeper sense of their calling, to working alongside churches as they grow in purpose and impact their surrounding communities, and to identifying a new generation of leaders who will lead the Church into the future.”

Doug grew up in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, the son of a BIC pastor. He committed his life to Christ at the age of four and was baptized five years later. As a teen, Douglas attended the 1986 General Conference held at McMaster University (Hamilton, ON), which he points to today as being a pivotal event in his life. “It was there [at General Conference] that I first sensed God calling me into ministry,” he shares. “The call was clear and real.”

And it was his obedience to this call that shaped the choices he made as he grew older, including his decision to attend Briercrest College (Caronport, SK)—where he earned a B.A. in pastoral theology—and to marry his partner in life and ministry, Tonya, in 1995. After serving for three years at Summit View Community Church, a BIC church plant in Calgary, Alberta, Doug became pastor of Summit View BIC Church (New Holland, Pa.) in 2001. During his eight years at the church, the congregation experienced fresh growth, seeing expansion in attendance, renewed focus on mission, revitalizing changes in its children’s and youth ministries, and increases in its budget. Beyond this, Douglas was also able to help resolve conflicts from the church’s recent past, eliminate its long-term debt, and plant New Day (formerly Octorara) BIC Church in Atglen, Pa.

While at Summit View BIC, Douglas was active at the Regional Conference level, serving as stewardship team leader of the Atlantic Conference from 2002–2005 and as director of conference development for the Conference from 2006–2008. In this latter role, he helped organize Conference events (such as church growth dinners) and served as a coach to pastors and congregations. He also provided oversight to the development, production, and promotion of “What’s it all about?,” a resource on stewardship created by the Atlantic Conference and which has been used across the General Church and in Mennonite circles.

Douglas has also been involved in the work of the wider Brethren in Christ Church. He was a participant in the 2004 Daring to Dream initiative and in the 2005 BIC Emerge program. In 2006, he went on a BICWM Pastors Vision Trip to India, and in 2007, he helped coordinate The Call, which was attended by over 200 young adults from across North America. Since 2007, Douglas has served on the BIC Board for World Missions, on which he is presently serving as vice-chair for the board and chair of the strategic planning team. This past year, he travelled to Esteli, Nicaragua on a BICWM mission trip. Most recently, he served as the denomination’s point-person for health insurance, meeting with congregational leaders across the U.S. to explain the BIC Church Health Plan, which was successfully implemented in January 2009.

Douglas was ordained by the Brethren in Christ Church in 2002 and has continued his education by enrolling in the masters program at Philadelphia (Pa.) Biblical University, where his focus is on Organizational Development.

From the days of his youth, Douglas has appreciated the core convictions of the BIC Church, as well as its emphasis on putting those values into practice. He shares, “The blend of evangelical convictions, holiness thinking, and Anabaptist understanding positions us as Brethren in Christ to speak to many issues that the world is currently facing in a way that is both humble and unique. It is a good time to be a part of the BIC Church.”

Douglas and Tonya are the parents of four children, Prestyn (11), Grace-Anne (8), Ashly (6), and Carter (2)..

The members of the Susquehanna Conference Bishop Selection Committee were:
Debby Bentch, Moderator Warren Hoffman, Layne Lebo, General Secretary Don McNiven, Bill Strausbaugh, and Jennifer Whitcomb.