“The Board of Directors of the United Churches of Lycoming County selected the Rev. Mark Donald Brumbach to replace J. Morris Smith, Th. D. as Shepherd of the Streets. His ministry as the Shepherd began Monday, August 31st,” the Rev. Gwen N. Bernstine, executive director of United Churches of Lycoming County, announced on behalf of the Board of Directors.
As he completed his first week “on the job” he wrote that he wanted to open his first article as the “new” Shepherd of the Streets by expressing sincere gratitude to Dr. J. Morris Smith for his 20 faithful years of service to United Churches and Lycoming County. It would be interesting to know how many lives have been impacted through his service as Shepherd. Morris allowed Mark to shadow him for a few weeks before his retirement. Often clients would say, “you have big shoes to fill” as they expressed their thanks and farewells to Morris. I am doing my best to “fill the shoes” and am most grateful for the wisdom and direction Morris shared as he prepared for his departure.
I also want to share with you a few details about me and about my immediate plans moving forward as the Shepherd. I grew up in Milton, PA, attended Messiah College and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have served as an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church in Central PA for thirty years. I met my wife, Emily at Messiah and after 33 years of marriage we have two grown children, Micah and Hannah. I have and continue to serve as pastor of South Williamsport United Methodist Church. Emily is the Elementary music teacher for South Williamsport. I am also a veteran of the Army and Air Force Chaplain Corps.
Let me now share with you some of my short-term plans for the Shepherd of the Streets ministry. Throughout the next few months we will be working to update all of our Shepherd of the Streets promotional materials. I will be networking with pastors and congregations as well as community organizations, businesses and individuals within the county. I will be placing before them once again the purpose, ministry and needs of the Shepherd of the Streets. My hope is to garner their ongoing support. Further we will evaluate and assess the current policies and procedures for the overall ministry of the Shepherd.
In conclusion allow me to share the immediate and ongoing needs of the ministry. As of today (September 2) I have less than $50 in the Shepherd checking account with which to help folks. Morris shared with me that in his 20 years he has never seen such sparse financial support for the Shepherd. Our hope is that it is just this crazy year. We need your faithful financial support if the ministry is to continue and to thrive. We also need a variety of items for our health kits. Note the updated list at the end of this article.
Financial contributions should be sent to: Shepherd of the Streets, P. O. Box 2184, Williamsport, PA 17703. Health kit items can be dropped off at the Shepherd Office located in the Costellano Center, 320 Park Ave., Williamsport (Monday – Thursday from 9 – Noon)
A final parting shot. Monday, August 31st was my first day as Shepherd. Before going to the office, I opened my daily devotional book and the title was “Caring in Action – Make sure your caring includes doing”. The author proceeded to remind me that “If you really love God, you’re going to get sweaty. It involves hard work. It means serving others… God is more pleased by seeing your dirty hands than your pressed apparel.” The verse for the day was James 1:27 – “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.”
What a privilege to get sweaty and dirty serving others in the name of Jesus.