Preview of National Youth Conference

“He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Come and see.'” — John 1:39a

1) Thousands will ‘Come and See’ at National Youth Conference 2006.
2) Dominican Republic youth get first taste of US culture on way to NYC.
3) NYC nuggets.

For daily news and photographs from National Youth Conference (NYC) beginning July 22 through July 27, go to and click on the NYC link on the Feature Bar.

Spanish language reports of the major business items at the 2006 Annual Conference are available at Another new Spanish language resource is the study guide for Together: Conversations on Being the Church, posted at in both pdf and rtf formats.

1) Thousands will ‘Come and See’ at National Youth Conference 2006.

The National Youth Conference (NYC) of the Church of the Brethren will be held on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., July 22-27. NYC will draw more than 3,600 teenage youth and adult advisors from the across the US and Puerto Rico, and a group from the Dominican Republic.

“Come and See” is the theme of the conference, which takes place every four years. Activities include morning and evening worship celebrations each day, concerts, workshops, mountain hikes, and service projects, among a host of other opportunities.

Presenters for worship celebrations include:

  • Jim Wallis, of the Sojourners Community in Washington, D.C., known nationally for his work to promote a Christian approach to current political issues and author of the best seller, “God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It,” speaking on Monday evening, July 24. The service will be followed by a “Talk Back” session with Wallis.
  • Craig Kielburger, an internationally recognized advocate for children’s rights and founder of Free the Children, speaking Sunday evening, July 23.
  • The Mennonite comedy duo Ted and Lee, performing Sunday morning, July 23.
  • Three Church of the Brethren youth–Allen Bowers, Jamie Frye, and Chrissy Sollenberger–who will speak for worship on Monday morning, July 24, as winners of a youth speech contest.

Other Brethren preachers include Jeff Carter, pastor of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, speaking Saturday evening, July 22; Beth Gunzel, consultant for a microloan community development program in the Dominican Republic working with the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board, speaking Tuesday evening, July 25; Andy Murray, founder of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and a popular Brethren singer and songwriter, speaking Wednesday morning, July 26; Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, associate professor of preaching and worship at Bethany Theological Seminary, speaking Wednesday evening, July 26; and David Radcliff, director of the New Community Project, a Church of the Brethren related nonprofit organization, speaking Thursday morning, July 27. Tuesday morning worship on July 25 will be on the theme “Church of the Brethren Connections,” led by General Board staff and others.

Among musicians featured at the conference are Superchic[k], in concert the evening of Sunday, July 23; and Christian musician Ken Medema, featured in evening worship on Monday, July 24, and in a late-evening concert Tuesday, July 25.

Another main event will be “REGNUH: Turning Hunger Around,” a 5K walk/run fundraiser to “undo” hunger (try spelling the name of the event backward) through the Global Food Crisis Fund. The fund is a ministry of the General Board. REGNUH will take place on a course around the CSU campus on Sunday afternoon, July 23.

The conference is planned and carried out by the National Youth Cabinet and a team of three young adult coordinators–Cindy Laprade, Beth Rhodes, and Emily Tyler–along with denominational staff and many volunteers from across the church.


2) Dominican Republic youth get first taste of US culture on way to NYC.
By Janis Pyle

A group of six youth from the Dominican Republic have “stepped out on faith” in their efforts to attend National Youth Conference. “It is a group of exceptional leaders who all have generous and kind spirits,” said Beth Gunzel, one of the group’s hosts and translators. She is consultant for a microloan community development program in the DR, working with the General Board’s Global Mission Partnerships.

“I was immediately impressed to see how well they worked together and the thought-provoking questions they had,” Gunzel said of the Dominican group. “The group maintained a positive attitude as they practiced songs and dramas, while facing the possibility of not being able to travel.” A strict US immigration policy has made it very difficult for the youth to obtain travel visas, Gunzel said.

The six youth from Iglesia de los Hermanos-DR (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) arrived July 15 to visit the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and the Chicago-area congregations before attending National Youth Conference in Colorado. Gunzel is assisted in translation and hosting by Tim Heishman, son of DR mission coordinators Irv and Nancy Heishman.

Participants and their churches and villages are: Guildalba Feliz Guzman, Pena de Horeb, Bastida; Elizabeth Feliz Marmolejos, La Hermosa, La Caya; Maria Virgen Suero De Leon, Ebenezer, Bonao; Vildor Archange, Nueva Uncion, Mendoza; Benjamin Lamu Bueno, Rey de Reyes, Sabana Torsa (San Luis); and Pedro Sanchez Ledesma, pastor at Mone de los Olivos, Magueyal.

Guzman explained just how new this experience is for her. In one weekend, she has experienced for the first time computers, e-mail, air travel, and hamburgers. At a Sunday morning worship service at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., Guzman found herself enjoying the piano music, even without the clapping or drums she is accustomed to. “Although our worship styles differ, we serve the same God,” she said.

The group’s schedule included a potluck at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin; a trip to Camp Emmaus and Pinecrest Community in Mount Morris, Ill.; worship with Christ Connections congregation in Oswego, Ill.; and sightseeing in downtown Chicago.

The Dominican group will be highlighted at NYC on Tuesday, July 25. During morning worship, Archange will share about the microloans program from his perspective as a board member and a local representative in his community. The group will perform the closing song for evening worship the same day.

–Janis Pyle is coordinator of mission connections for the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board.


3) NYC nuggets.
  • The winner of the NYC Theme Song Contest is Seth Hendricks. His song, “Come and See,” will debut during the opening worship celebration Saturday evening, July 22. Hendricks lives in Richmond, Ind., with his spouse, Laina, and has just finished his first semester at Bethany Theological Seminary.
  • The closest Church of the Brethren congregation to NYC–Northern Colorado Church of the Brethren–is located in the small town of Windsor, just a few miles east of Fort Collins. The church is pastored by John Carlson.
  • Buses full of youth from Atlantic Northeast District and Shenandoah District visited the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., en-route to NYC. For several days, the office building was filled with youth taking tours and enjoying meals in the cafeteria and courtyard. Yet more busloads of youth on their way to Colorado from other areas are being hosted for overnight stops by Brethren congregations across the midwest and plains states.
  • Many youth groups going to NYC have been tithing to the Global Food Crisis Fund, and raising sponsorships for the REGNUH 5K walk/run at NYC on Sunday afternoon, July 23. The fund is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board and makes grants for hunger relief efforts around the world.

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