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Stories of Brethren stewards * September 10, 2015

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Nancy S-H
Imelda Velasquez Diaz (first on left) and Nancy Sollenberger Heishman (second from right) serving with the children’s ministry at West Charleston Church of the Brethren.
Photo by Mary Bowman

Se Habla Español (Spanish is spoken here)
An interview by Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries

On July 22, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman began as part-time coordinator of the SEBAH-COB, the Spanish-Language Ministry Training Programs for the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership (a joint effort between the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary). Nancy holds a master's of divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary and continues to co-pastor West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City, Ohio, with her husband, Irv Heishman.

What does SeBAH stand for?
Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano. It is a ministry training program for Hispanic pastors and congregational leaders coordinated by Bethany Academy in partnership with the districts. As coordinator, I will design a Spanish-language track for the Education for a Shared Ministry.

Before becoming the 2013 Annual Conference moderator, you were an interim coordinator for SeBAH. What excites you about returning to this role?
I look forward to reconnecting with students I worked with several years ago. I’m excited about encouraging and supporting more Hispanic leaders within the Church of the Brethren as they grow in their skills and understanding of ministry. I also look forward to working with Hispanic leaders to develop new programs that meet the unique needs of Hispanic Brethren.

How did you learn Spanish?
Nancy S-H teaching
Nancy Sollenberger Heishman teaching
at an intercultural event in 2013.

Photo by Mandy Garcia
I began studying Spanish at age 48, which proves it’s never too late to learn a new language! When we arrived as mission coordinators in Santo Domingo in 2003, we spent a few months in intensive study at a language school, and then continued weekly classes as we began serving. However, I made the most progress in learning Spanish when I taught theological education classes in Spanish. That required quick learning for me, and lots of patience from my students.

What is your greatest challenge?
As an introvert, I have to continually challenge myself to reach out, being aware that my Spanish won’t be perfect, and depending on God’s grace and the patience of others.

What are your goals for SeBAH?
I would love to see an explosion of Hispanic congregations and ministries develop from the leaders trained through SeBAH. I hope the experiences of SEBAH students will lead to Hispanic Brethren taking on greater leadership roles on district, and denominational or related agency levels, transforming Brethren institutions and structures with their unique gifts and perspectives of the gospel. I also dream of many materials communicating Brethren identity, beliefs, practices, and understandings of the church being available in Spanish.

Learn more about Nancy Sollenberger Heishman's role as coordinator of SeBAH at .

Bulletin Insert - Mission Offering 2015


“May the God of transforming
power make of us living bread
and wine in a world that hungers
and thirst for blessing. May our
lives reveal God’s glory. And may the peace of Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.”

This prayer is one of several worship resources written by Ken Gibble
for the Mission Offering on
September 20. Find them all at

“God is a God of love who makes a covenant
with the people. And even though the people
are disobedient, God saves them over and over.
God is always ready to redeem a fallen world.”

—Julie Garber in Call of Conscience, free conscientious objector curriculum available at


Call of conscience-color

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Watch for our next issue on
September 23

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eBrethren: Stories of Brethren Stewards, is produced every other week by the Church of the Brethren Donor Relations team.

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