“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″
(Aug. 22, 2008) — About 130 people worshiped, conversed, and enjoyed the outdoors at this year’s Church of the Brethren National Young Adult Conference (NYAC) in Estes Park, Colo.
The schedule was built around worship, with morning and evening celebrations on the theme “Come to the Mountain: Guidance for the Journey” each day of the Aug. 11-15 event. Leaders for those times included a mix of young adults and denominational staff, each addressing a key word such as “honesty,” “credibility,” or “grace.”
Several speakers looked at issues currently confronting Brethren. Videographer Dave Sollenberger of Annville, Pa., highlighted both examples of faithfulness and credibility in the church and places where the church has come up short. “It’s very easy to buy into the lies our culture has taught us,” Sollenberger said.
On Thursday evening, in a drizzly outdoor service, On Earth Peace peace witness coordinator Matt Guynn looked at the conflict and differences that exist among Brethren. He suggested that the “push-pull” process can be dynamic and healthy, moving the church out of being “stuck” and stagnant. “We in the church need to engage in the push and the pull together,” said Guynn, who also spoke at the closing service.
Kayla Camps, a young adult leader from Florida, challenged the group to work toward integrity. “The more of God we have in our everyday choices, the more just our society will become,” she said.
Other worship leaders included general secretary Stan Noffsinger; Imperial Heights Church of the Brethren (Los Angeles) pastor Thomas Dowdy; Laura Stone, a young adult currently volunteering at Gould Farm in Massachusetts; and “Messenger” editor Walt Wiltschek.
Young adults delved further into some of the issues raised during a variety of workshops and community group times. Topics ranged from media and ministry to more controversial issues in the church, such as homosexuality and biblical interpretation. Staff from numerous Brethren agencies also shared about their work.
Less structured times included opportunities for salsa dancing, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, hiking, roller skating, and other options at the host YMCA of the Rockies. Several dozen people took part in service projects one afternoon, assisting with tasks such as staining fences and pulling invasive thistles. Late-evening open microphone sessions offered abundant music and laughter.
Bekah Houff, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office, served as coordinator for the conference with the help of the Young Adult Steering Committee. Jim Chinworth and Becky Ullom were worship coordinators, and Shawn Kirchner provided musical leadership.
–Walt Wiltschek is editor of the Church of the Brethren’s “Messenger” magazine.
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