by Debbie Eisenbise and Gimbiya Kettering
This is the 25th anniversary year (and 14th gathering) of the National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), and we are especially grateful for the sponsorship and leadership of denominational agencies, Fellowship of Brethren Homes communities, and other nonprofits who have an opportunity to share their mission with the conference participants.
Sponsorship for “Inspiration 2017" has increased 300 percent over the average of previous years, with increased support from sponsors who have participated for many years and some new partners. Sponsorship subsidizes participants’ costs while still enabling us to bring in exciting speakers and new presentations and opportunities.
“Inspiration 2017,” the title for this year’s NOAC, gathers together generations of people whose lives have been touched by our church. Participants will range from church members, to those with deep Brethren family roots, to those who have moved to places without a local Church of the Brethren congregation and who want to continue to connect, to alumni/ae of Brethren colleges. With keynote speakers, interest groups, and lots of fellowship time, the conference inspires and refreshes the commitment to discipleship.
“Education is an important component of what we do, which is why Brethren Benefit Trust is proud to once again serve as a sponsor of NOAC events and have the opportunity to share our personal interests and knowledge with others,” says BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. “That is why in addition to focusing on the ministries of BBT through several learning sessions, we will also offer NOAC sessions on photography and Brethren heritage.” BBT was created by Annual Conference to provide pension, insurance, and educational services to the employees, retirees, and organizations of the Church of the Brethren denomination. BBT is sponsoring a keynote address presented by Jim Wallis, the NOAC News Retrospective, and the fitness walk.
Bethany Theological Seminary is another perennial supporter of the conference. Bethany president Jeff Carter says NOAC “embodies the value of lifelong learning and speaks to our shared faith commitments. For the seminary, the gathering includes many alumni/ae as well as those who support the work and witness of the seminary. Together, we are the continued story of the church which should be proclaimed again and again.” This year, Bethany is sponsoring a sermon by Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden, and the second annual coffee house hosted by Chris Good and Bethany alumnus Seth Hendricks.
Other sponsors include
-- Heifer International, which is supporting Peggy Reiff Miller’s plenary speech, and a service trip in which volunteers will read to students at Junaluska Elementary School;
-- Upper Room Books, which is supporting a keynote presentation by Missy Buchanan, a prayer room, and an exhibit with books for sale;
-- the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, which is sponsoring daily Bible studies led by Stephen Breck Reid, whose book “Uncovering Racism” will be for sale at the Brethren Press bookstore;
-- The Palms of Sebring, Fla., which is sponsoring a sermon by Susan Boyer;
-- the Ron and Mary E. Workman bequest, which is providing new binders to be used for songbooks during the week.
Held in western North Carolina at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center on Sept. 4-8, “Inspiration 2017" welcomes all people age 50-plus to participate. Registration is open through the first day of the conference. Information is available at www.brethren.org/noac .
A program of Congregational Life Ministries, “Inspiration 2017" is made possible by numerous volunteers working throughout the year and serving during the conference, Church of the Brethren staff and support staff in various departments, and our financial sponsors. Thanks to all of you!
-- Congregational Life Ministries staff Debbie Eisenbise and Gimbiya Kettering provided this report. Eisenbise director of Intergenerational Ministries and is a staff leader for NOAC. Kettering is director of Intercultural Ministries.