By Debbie Eisenbise
The next National Older Adult Conference, Inspiration 2017, will be held in Lake Junaluska Conference Center, in western North Carolina, from Sept. 4-8. The theme is “Generations” from Psalm 145:4: “One generation shall laud God’s works to another and shall declare God’s mighty acts.” The theme reflects the intergenerational community that gathers at NOAC and the importance of generations engaging each other in meaningful conversations about relationships, leaving a legacy, and faith.
Worship services will pick up on the theme as seen through the teachings of Jesus and the wisdom of the church. Monday evening Rodger Nishioka, pastor for Adult Educational Ministries at Village Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Kan., and a preacher at previous Annual Conference and National Youth Conferences, will preach. Susan Boyer, senior pastor at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, will preach on Wednesday evening. And Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press and communications for the Church of the Brethren, and 2017 Bethany Seminary graduate, will preach on Friday morning.
Stephen Breck Reid, professor of Christian Scriptures at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, and former academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary, will lead daily Bible Studies. Together we will explore what the Hebrew scriptures have to say about adult inter-generational relationships: Joshua and Moses, Ruth and Naomi, Esther and Mordecai..
This year’s keynote speakers are authors Missy Buchanan, Peggy Reiff Miller, and Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners, and editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine.
Missy Buchanan, writer and speaker about aging and faith development, will engage participants in thinking about conversations between adult children and aging parents. Based on her latest book, “Voices of Aging: Adult Children and Aging Parents Talk With God,” she reflects on the importance of connecting with one another about the things that matter most. See her interviewed on Good Morning America at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/robin-roberts-mom-reflect-memories-book-16318978 .
Jim Wallis’ latest book is “America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America.” He will remind conference-goers of the on-going importance of social justice work from a faith perspective, looking back at the witness we have made in the past and challenging us to stay engaged as we face into the future. His thoughtful and provocative essays can be found at https://sojo.net/about-us/what-we-cover and in Sojourners magazine .
Peggy Reiff Miller will share with us the work she has been doing for the past 15 years, The Seagoing Cowboy Storytelling Project. Looking back at the beginnings of Heifer Project, she will help us consider how we, too, can deliver hope for future generations. More about her work documenting this fascinating part of our Brethren history is posted on the Church of the Brethren NOAC Facebook page.
Brethren Press will have her newly published children’s book, “The Seagoing Cowboy,” available, along with books by other speakers. Afternoon and evening book signings and workshops with plenary speakers will allow more conversation and discussion about the ideas and issues these speakers raise.
Afternoon and evening activities include opportunities to explore the area from the Biltmore mansion to the Oconaluftee Indian Village, walking through the lovely gardens on the grounds of Lake Junaluska Conference Center, taking a boat ride on the lake, hiking in the Smoky Mountains, and more. Jonathan Hunter, a regular at Song and Story Fest, will tell stories, and 2018 Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya will speak about his congregation’s ministry and outreach in Rockford, Ill. Chris Good, Seth Hendricks, and others will lead an evening hymn sing, and the infamous NOAC News team will host a 20-year retrospective: “From Trolleys to Tubs: the Inside Story.” Michael Skinner, chief naturalist and director of the Balsam Mountain Trust, is returning by popular demand with his birds that take to flight in Stuart Auditorium to entertain and educate.
The Fellowship of Brethren Homes, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Brethren Benefit Trust are among the sponsors making this conference possible. This year buses will be coming from Southern Pennsylvania, Atlantic Northeast, Shenandoah, Mid-Atlantic, and the Western Plains districts. Volunteers from throughout the denomination are serving on a working group providing leadership for Inspiration 2017: Glenn Bollinger, Karen Dillon, Rex Miller, Pat Roberts, and Christy Waltersdorff.
For a free promotional DVD, contact Debbie Eisenbise at email@example.com, or call 800-323-8039 ext. 306. Look for registration materials to arrive in the mail at the beginning of February. Registration on-line and by mail begins on Feb. 20.
-- Debbie Eisenbise is director of Intergenerational Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, and a staff member of Congregational Life Ministries.