The next installment of our “Three BIC Books…” series (based on a similarly titled feature over at NPR) comes from Harriet (Sider) Bicksler, a long-time member of the Brethren in Christ Church. (See her complete bio below.) Harriet has included below the three books she thinks “allow for conversation, completion, and understanding” of our shared heritage.
I remember reading this book as a child and being thrilled to find biographical sketches of my parents. The story of the first 50 years of God’s work through the Brethren in Christ in Africa is deeply personal to me as a missionary kid born at the tail end of those 50 years. But this book is more than personal; it is a careful accounting by three people who together spent several decades as missionaries in Africa and India of the first years of the amazing story that is now Brethren in Christ World Missions.
Published more than 30 years ago, this book remains, in my mind, the most important piece of basic Brethren in Christ history. It tells the story of the first 200 years of the Brethren in Christ Church with a wonderful combination of historical objectivity and insider sensitivity. Perhaps because Dr. Wittlinger mentored me through some rough patches when I was questioning my faith and the church, I deeply appreciate his obvious love for the Brethren in Christ Church as he tells our story.
Choosing this as one of my “three books” may seem a little self-serving, since I am one of the story subjects. However, the desire of the editors to “share stories about women of faith and to illustrate the variety of vocations to which God calls them” is important in a denomination that has not always recognized, appreciated, and nurtured the leadership gifts of women. There are stories of women who served mostly in the background as well as stories of women who are still prominent in denominational life. Equally significant is that the writers are all women.
Readers: What are your three BIC books that “allow for conversation, completion, and understanding” of our shared heritage?
Harriet Sider Bicksler is a member of the Grantham (Pa.) Brethren in Christ Church where she is currently secretary of church board and chair of the Missions, Peace and Service Commission. She has edited Shalom!, a quarterly BIC publication on peace and justice issues since 1981, and serves on the leadership team of the Brethren in Christ Council for Women in Ministry and Leadership. Previously, she edited the “Prayer Challenge,” a monthly list of prayer requests for BIC missions, and served first as a member of the former denominational Board for Brotherhood Concerns and then as co-director). in 1989, she was chosen as a member-at-large on the board of Mennonite Central Committee U.S., and then served as chair of the board from 1999-2008. For the last seven years of her board service, she was also the BIC representative to both the MCC U.S. and MCC binational boards. Professionally, she works as a communications consultant for the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, focusing on children’s mental health.