By Kim Ebersole
Interest in attending the 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) is running high, with more than 850 people already registered. The event takes place Sept. 7-11 in Lake Junaluska, N.C. Registration continues up to the start of the conference, with a $25 first-timer discount on the registration fee available to people who are attending for the first time.
The conference theme is “Then Jesus Told Them a Story” (Matthew 13:34-35), and storytelling in many forms will be interwoven throughout the conference. New this year is the NOAC Coffee House featuring singer/storyteller Steve Kinzie. NOAC participants also are invited to perform. Contact Debbie Eisenbise at email@example.com or 847-429-4306 if you want more information.
A great line up of speakers and performers is planned, including Ken Medema, Brian McLaren, Deanna Brown, Robert Bowman, Robert Neff, Christine Smith, LaDonna Nkosi, Alexander Gee, comedian Bob Stromberg, and the musical group Terra Voce. The NOAC News Team returns to delight the NOAC audience with their zany antics.
In addition there are workshops, creative arts classes, and a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Continuing education units are available for many presentations and workshops, which is a great benefit for ordained clergy attending the conference.
Service is always a meaningful part of NOAC, with Thursday being designated “Service Day.” People who have served in Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), Brethren Disaster Ministries, Children’s Disaster Services, or Church of the Brethren workcamps are invited to wear t-shirts from their experience. BVS will have special alumni t-shirts available at NOAC. Contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-429-4396 by July 31 to order a shirt. Suggested donation is $15.
“Share a Story,” an outreach project to the Junaluska Elementary School, also is new this year. Our goal is that at least 350 new illustrated children’s books for students in grades K-5 will be collected. Books should be non-religious and without any inscription. NOAC participants are invited to bring books along or purchase books at the Brethren Press bookstore at NOAC, which will feature a display of appropriate books.
At the 2015 Annual Conference, participants purchased 20 illustrated children’s books to donate to the Junaluska elementary school, jump starting the NOAC service project.
The Church World Service “Kits for Kids” project continues. Monetary donations to purchase items for kits are especially welcome in advance of NOAC. Checks should be made out to the Church of the Brethren and sent to the NOAC Office, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. A list of items needed for the kits can be found at www.brethren.org/noac/documents/cws-noac-service-project.pdf . Items and completed kits should be brought to NOAC.
“One World, One Church: NOAC for Nigeria!” is the focus of a fundraising walk around Lake Junaluska on Thursday morning of the conference. All the money raised will benefit the denomination’s Nigeria Crisis Fund. The young adult volunteers, coordinated by BVS volunteer Laura Whitman, and Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), are coordinating this year’s walk.
NOAC participants are invited to volunteer in a variety of other ways--sing in the choir, serve as an usher, be a greeter at registration, or assist people with their luggage as they arrive or depart. Especially needed are people with medical training to staff 30-minute drop-in clinics to take blood pressures and answer health questions. Contact Laura Whitman at email@example.com or 847-429-4323 if you can help in any of these ways.
With conference registrations as high as they are, lodging at the Lake Junaluska Conference Center is near capacity, but registrants are encouraged to contact the center about available lodging on the grounds and in nearby hotels. Ask to be put on Lake Junaluska’s lodging waiting list as there are often cancellations. The phone number for lodging information and reservations is 800-222-4930 ext. 1.
-- Kim Ebersole is director of National Older Adult Conference, serving on the staff of the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries.