Meet the Bethlehem Farm, Inc. Governing Board!
Scott McNelis (Chair), Manager at ALDI in Cincinnati, OH
I am originally from Fishers, Indiana, but have lived in Cleveland, Ohio since 2008. I have been blessed to have been connected to Bethlehem Farm since before it was actually formed, when it was just an idea planted by other college students and Nazareth Farm staffers. Collen Buck-Fitts and I kept in contact and were able to coordinate a group week from Indiana University in the first winter of the Farm’s existence. After the first summer at the farm as a “Summer Servant”, college weeks, and adult weeks, I was blessed to bring my (former) youth ministry program from Noblesville, Indiana to the Farm. I have truly been fortunate to see the Farm from almost every angle. My wonderful wife Kera (currently a doctor in pediatrics at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, OH) has been along for the ride with me the whole way since the beginning. We actually began dating shortly before that first group week, and the Farm has played a major role in our life together. As such, I have great memories of the Farm’s beginnings, as well as high hopes for it’s future. I am truly honored and humbled to be joining this great organization in a more formal association, and look forward to working hard to ensure that this great establishment can continue to work miracles in the lives of so many.”
Jake Teitgen (Vice-Chair), Youth Minister in Noblesville, IN
I first came to Bethlehem Farm as a summer servant after my freshman year of college in 2005. After a few weeks of feigning knowledge of Farm chores (“Where would you think you would find work gloves?”), spelunking, and living the gospel in an authentic way, I was hooked. I’ve been traveling back to Clayton Rd – often with lots of friends – ever since. My favorite Farm activities include scything the hill, winning scavenger hunts, happening upon an oddly-placed St. Joseph statue, praying, and striking fear into the hearts of would-be late night cow tippers. Currently, I reside on the north side of Indianapolis and coordinate a junior high youth ministry, lead a young adult ministry, and direct communications at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church. I’ve got a knack for playing games, rowing boats, and telling stories. I married Alicen in 2009; I really like her and appreciate all that she does to put up with (and join in on) my shenanigans.
Sharyl Pels (Secretary), Attorney, Washington, D.C.
I first came to the farm as a high school retreatant, and I have been coming back as a “summer servant” over my fall and spring breaks from school ever since! I particularly love working in the garden, meeting the neighbors, going on Eric’s star tours, and exploring with Miriam. I graduated from law school at Indiana University in May 2015 and I now live in Washington, D.C., where I serve as a U.S. Coast Guard JAG officer. I served on the Parish Council at St. Paul’s Catholic Center in Bloomington, IN, for two years. The Farm holds such a special place in my heart, and I consider myself very lucky to have a small role in assuring that others will have the opportunity to feel the same way I do.
Caitlin Morneau (Treasurer), Student and Nonprofit Administrator, Alexandria, VA
I was introduced to the Farms through my college campus minister and former caretaker, Julie Tracy. While studying at the University of New Hampshire, I attended two spring break trips to Nazareth Farm, which led to several terms of Summer Servanthood at Bethlehem Farm. Each time, I left with a changed heart and a new perspective on life, God, and the world around me. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I completed a year of AmeriCorps service as Caseworker in Baltimore, MD. I then worked at Catholic Volunteer Network as a Recruitment Associate and AmeriCorps Program Assistant, supporting and promoting full-time, faith-based service opportunities. In August of 2016, ! left my position as Operations Manager at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts to pursue an MA in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. My studies were very much informed and inspired by my time at Bethlehem Farm. I live with my husband, Aaron, and dog, Sydney, just outside of Washington, DC.
Kathryn Moran, Healthcare Account Manager in Clarksville, MD
I first visited Bethlehem Farm during Family Week 2012. I had been searching for a service experience in which my teens could participate actively. Bethlehem Farm seemed to be …and proved to be… the perfect opportunity and community. We left with great affection and admiration for Bethlehem Farm…its mission and spirit. We have tried to bring home to Maryland many of the lessons and practices learned last summer (with varying degrees of effectiveness…). We look forward to the next Family Week. I am thrilled to be serving on the Board.
Frederick Pratt, Counselor at Friends’ Central School
I grew up in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey and have lived up and down the great cities of the East Coast until I finally chose Philadelphia as home in 2003. I admire the mission of Bethlehem Farm because the community-based ministry contributes to a renewal of the central, yet often neglected, practice of Christian hospitality. My awareness of Bethlehem Farm began in 2005 through my friends Sean and Tara Dolan who encouraged my wife Erin and I to bring a group of students for a transformative week of prayer, hospitality, community and service. The Farm creates a liminal space for all participants and Caretakers that encourages growth within a loving and caring environment. I have happily served as a board member since 2011, filing various roles as needed. I am proud to continue that service alongside such thoughtful and supportive individuals. I encourage anyone with a passion for the mission of Bethlehem Farm to fill out an application for Board service, we would be enriched by your gifts.
Paul Daugherty, President and CEO of Philanthropy West Virginia
Paul’s lifelong commitment is to ensuring West Virginia and it citizens have the greatest quality of life, life-long success, and making WV a national leader in economic and community success. He became connected to Bethlehem Farm through his many years of volunteering, summer staff, and board service at Nazareth Farm having known Eric and Colleen Fitts as close friends since their time at Nazareth Farm. He brings a very diverse background of volunteer leadership, nonprofits, and rural issues having lead, founded, and/or served with numerous programs from Rural Community Development to Parks and Recreation to Education to Energy Express to Habitat for Humanity to WVU Family Nutrition Program to Rural Specialty Eye Care outreach programs and much more. His commitment, drive, and results-oriented service for improving the quality of life, housing opportunities, and communities for the citizens of West Virginia is something he looks forward to contributing in his time on the Bethlehem Farm Board.
Jennie Motto Mesterharm, Small Business Lending Manager at Accion Chicago, Chicago, IL
I visited Nazareth Farm as a college student in 2007 and really enjoyed the experience of living in community and focusing on service, prayer, and simplicity for a week. After I graduated, I spent a couple of years living and working at an orphanage in Honduras with the same cornerstones (or pillars, as we called them). I still strive to prioritize faith, community, service, and simplicity in my daily life, although these can look very different now than they did during my time volunteering. I was first introduced to Bethlehem Farm by Jake Teitgen (current board member and long-time Bethlehem Farm fanatic) and am humbled and excited to be part of the Farm community. I currently work at Accion Chicago (a non-profit that makes micro-loans to small business owners)and really enjoy working with the high school youth group at Old St. Patrick’s Church and volunteering for Ladder Up (an organization that provides free financial programs to families in the Chicagoland area) in my free time. My life is never boring because I am married to Mike D, a tall ginger who tells ridiculous stories, loves to laugh, and is endlessly patient. We look forward to shared Bethlehem Farm adventures over the years to come!
Molly Linehan, Director of Campus Ministry at Charleston Catholic High School, Charelston WV
Bethlehem Farm’s reputation preceded my first visit in 2010. Finally seeing the place, I was awed by the global and local: Tibetan Prayer Flags hanging amoung laundry drying from the rails of the second floor loft. I have lived in El Salvador (2 years) and India (just one) and traveled a great deal before delcaring West Virginia my home. Creating a culture of service, then transitioning that service to a vision of vocation and mission has been central in the work I’ve done. There are few places like Bethlehem Farm who live that vision of mission. I’m thankful to find a community of such integrity right here in West Virginia.
Moira Reilly, Spiritual Care Resident-WVU Medicine, Morgantown WV
After hearing amazing things about Bethlehem Farm since moving to West Virginia in 2007, I finally made my inaugural visit on a Simplicity as an Act of Social Justice Retreat in Feburary of 2009. I was hooked! I ran home and submitted my application to be a Summer Servant, and returned during my summer breaks from campus ministry over the next two years. In 2010, I applied to be a Caretaker, and moved into the Farm house in May of 2011. The following three years were filled with heritage chickens, compost, venison stew, drill bits, grant proposals, Catholic Social Teaching, and community nights. After a foray into nonprofit management in 2014, I landed in Preston County, WV as a combination-Faith Formation and Summer Home Repair-Coordinator, putting that BF home repair experience to good use! The next leg of my journey was sparked by a conversation with former Summer Servant Anna Robertson, as she shared her experience in Clinical Pastoral Education at a hospital: “Moira, this is so you”. A part-time internship in 2016 gave me a taste for chaplaincy; being God’s love to others and really “seeing” them, cultivated in me at Bethlehem Farm, and I started as a full time chaplaincy resident in August of 2016 at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV. During this transition, I felt called to continue to serve and promote justice by joining the board of Bethlehem Farm. I’m excited to be supporting the Farm in this way as it continues to Transform Lives!
Are you interested in joining this great team? We are always looking for passionate & qualified members to join the Bethlehem Farm Board. Call or email Eric Fitts, Director, for more information. 304-445-7143. firstname.lastname@example.org