Thursday, September 09, 2010

Remembrances: Charles (Chuck) Boyer, Mary Eikenberry, Esther Mohler Ho, Susanne Windisch.

Charles (Chuck) Boyer, 73, a past moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and a former director of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and peace consultant for the denomination, passed away Sept. 2 in La Verne, Calif. He was an ordained minister and a strong peace and justice activist and advocate. He served as BVS director from 1969-76 and as peace consultant from 1976-88. During his own term as a BVS volunteer in 1959-61, he worked in a refugee camp in Berlin, Germany, and planned workcamps and peace seminars for the Brethren Service Commission. As peace consultant he helped develop the People of the Covenant program, and from 1980-85 chaired the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors during a time when compulsory draft registration was reinstated. In 1986 and 1988 he testified before House and Appropriations Subcommittees for fair treatment of conscientious objectors. He was arrested several times in actions for peace, once after helping lead a Brethren footwashing service in the Capitol rotunda as part of a Lenten witness against the Contra War and US policies in Central America. Then, from 1988 until his retirement in 2002 he served La Verne Church of the Brethren as senior pastor. In 1993 he was moderator of Annual Conference--the first from the West Coast in 30 years, noted a "Messenger" magazine interview published in February that year. Interviewer George Keeler reported Boyer's "tough convictions" on a number of issues including his inclusive stance on sexuality. The interview raised a "furor" in the denomination, as Boyer describes in his most recent contribution to "Messenger"--an essay that appears posthumously this month titled "What's Ahead for the Church of the Brethren?" Reflecting on the denomination's current Special Response process, Boyer writes about the furor over his stance on sexual inclusivity in 1993, the calls for his resignation as moderator, and the hate mail he received at the time. Boyer was born July 20, 1937, in Wabash, Ind., the only child of Ralph and Edith (Frantz) Boyer. In 1962 he married Shirley Campbell, who survives him. He held degrees from Manchester College and Bethany Theological Seminary. At Purdue University he served as campus pastor in the Ecumenical Ministry to International Students from 1964-69. He was an accomplished pianist and loved sports, volunteering as a baseball umpire and officiating at basketball games at different times in his life. Honors and recognitions early in his career included listings in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities and Outstanding Young Men of America, and more recently the 2008 Friend of Caucus Award given by Womaen's Caucus. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Shirley, son David (Gwen) Boyer, daughter Valerie (Jaime) Beltran, son Mark, and seven grandchildren. Memorial donations are received to La Verne Church of the Brethren and Manchester College. The memorial service will be held at La Verne Church of the Brethren on Sept. 16, at 10:00 a.m.

Mary Elizabeth (Flora) Eikenberry, 95, a former mission worker in Nigeria, died Sept. 1 at Timbercrest Senior Living Community in N. Manchester, Ind. With her husband, the late Ivan Eikenberry, she lived and worked in Nigeria for 35 years. Beginning in 1945 she taught elementary school at Garkida Mission School and at Waka Teachers Training College; from 1959-77 was administrative assistant for the Northern Education Advisory Council in Kaduna, where she also hosted international mission visitors, served as chair of the service committee, and as president of the International Women's Club; and from 1979 until retirement in 1981 taught at Kulp Bible School near Mubi. At a "send off" in honor of the Eikenberrys retirement given by the Waka Old Students Association, Rev. Nvwa Balami commented, "Your contribution in education has changed the history and destiny of ethnic groups in this country within a period of one generation...." After retirement the couple moved to Trotwood, Ohio, and participated in mission interpretation and the "Micah Mission" from 1981-86, in the summer of 1983 accompanying a tour of the women's choir of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Other volunteer service for the church included terms on the Southern Ohio District Board and as district moderator. In 1993 her husband, Ivan, died, and in 2006 she moved to Timbercrest Senior Living Community. She was born June 13, 1915, in New Windsor, Md., to Joel Cephas and Elizabeth (Garver) Flora. She earned a degree from Manchester College, was active in church youth camps, and served on the youth cabinet in Southern Ohio District. From 1936-39 she taught junior high and high school in Ohio. In 1939 she married Ivan Eikenberry. She was preceded in death by her husband and sons Brian and Terril. She is survived by three remaining children and their spouses: Melody and Lawrence Rupley, Joel and Beverly (Sayers) Eikenberry, and Lynn and Beth (Johnson) Eikenberry; nine grandchildren; and seven great grandchildren. A celebration of her life was held Sept. 4 at Trotwood Church of the Brethren. Memorial donations are received to the Ivan Eikenberry Family Scholarship Fund at Manchester College, Trotwood Church of the Brethren, and Timbercrest Charitable Assistance Endowment Fund.

Esther Mohler Ho, 79, former staff in the denomination's peace office, died on Aug. 20 in Hayward, Calif. From 1957-61 she worked with the director of Peace Education and Action for the Church of the Brethren. Previously she served in Brethren Volunteer Service in Kassel, Germany, as a representative for International Christian Youth Exchange. She continued her work for peace in later years by joining the Hayward Peace and Justice Fellowship, the Ecumenical Peace Institute of the Bay Area in Berkeley, Interfaith Witness for Peace in the Middle East, and the American Muslim Voice Foundation. With Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) she worked in the West Bank city of Hebron and in Chiapas, Mexico. A brief memoir of her life appears in "Love, Grandma," published by Grandmothers Against the War. She was born July 2, 1931, the daughter of John and Lota Mohler. She held degrees from McPherson (Kan.) College and Northwestern University in Illinois, and worked as a speech and language specialist. She was a member of Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren and Fremont (Calif.) Congregational Church. According to an obituary in the "Morning Sun" newspaper, she was recognized earlier this year by the Alameda County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors for her many decades of public service and faith-based activism in support of peace and social justice, and by the American Muslim Voice Foundation as a "Hero of Peace, Love, and Friendship." Her husband of 49 years, Winston C. Ho, a native of Shanghai, China, survives along with daughters Cheri and Lisa Ho, and grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley on Sept. 5. Memorial donations are received to Christian Peacemaker Teams, On Earth Peace, and Heifer International.

Susanne Windisch, 93, who worked in Kassel, Germany, with Brethren Service following World War II, died on Aug. 30. She was a secretary, administrative assistant, translator, interpreter, and a "guide and diplomat" for the Brethren Service program, and a personal friend to many Brethren volunteers who served in or traveled through Kassel. A remembrance by Wilbur Mullen, who directed the Brethren work in Germany beginning in 1954, describes her as "one of the great and devoted friends of the Church of the Brethren. She became a helping friend to the many seagoing cowboys, those who brought the gifts of livestock to Europe. Brethren Service and Brethren Volunteer Service quickly became the family she never had. She is one who lived through World War II, before, during, and after the heavy bombing of Kassel when it was 85 percent destroyed. After the death of her parents she lived a frugal life. She spoke about walking to and from work, an hour daily each way, to save the 15 or 20 cents for food.... Susanne came to love the Church of the Brethren and the many members she met. Years later in one of her letters she wrote, 'Now I begin to understand how Christ is central, a part of all the Brethren do.'"

Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline

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