National Older Adult Conference of the Church of the Brethren
Lake Junaluska, N.C. — Sept. 7-11, 2009
Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009
Quote of the Day:
“Those people whom we least expect to be part of the community are the ones who will be included.” — Bob Neff, Bible study leader, speaking on the story of Ruth as an alternative narrative to the power and authority and violence of the rule of the judges and monarchy in the Old Testament
Overview of the Day:
The morning of Tuesday, Sept. 8, found some NOAC participants at “Meet the New Day” activities before breakfast. Gathering singing preceded the morning Bible study led by Bob Neff (click here to read report). The keynote session of the day followed, with guest speaker Rachael Freed on the topic, “Harvesting the Wisdom of Your Life: Creating Your Own Spiritual-Ethical Will,” sponsored by Brethren Benefit Trust. A NOAC golf tournament headed an afternoon of recreation, interest groups, craft workshops, and other activities. Well known folk/indie singer songwriter Carrie Newcomer gave an evening concert, sponsored by MMA. College alumni receptions and ice cream socials sponsored by Juniata College, McPherson College, and Manchester College rounded out the evening.
NOAC Bits and Pieces
A First-ever NOAC Art Gallery: Don and Joyce Parker of Ashland, Ohio, are coordinating the exhibit, which includes the work of 11 NOAC participants and Brethren artists. “The response has been great for this, our first time,” said Joyce. “We have everything from some canes that have been carved, and other sculptures, to a small bronze. There are some wood carvings, and there’s the work of a photographer, and there are water color and oil paintings. Oh, and one fabric wall hanging.” The Parkers are members of the Association for the Arts in the Church of the Brethren (AACB).
The Brethren Press bookstore has been offering book signings along with an array of old favorites and new publications. Jeff Lennard, marketing director, pointed out a selection of “green” books when asked what he might take home if he were buying. On the top of his list: “Enough: Why the Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty” by Roger Thurlow and Scott Kilman; “Menu for the Future,” a discussion course published by the Northwest Earth Institute; and “The Green Bible” that includes the New Revised Standard Version with all the passages associated with care for creation and management of the environment printed in green type.
NOAC Story of the Day
No doubt Bethany Theological Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen expected a small number to attend her interest group on “Beatitudes of Spirituality for the Second Half of Life.” Nevertheless it should not have been a surprise that there was a full house.
She began by telling the story of a traveler confronted by a ferocious monster. The monster asked him, “What is the best place in all the world?” Afraid of offending the monster by naming the wrong place, the traveler replied, “’The best place is where one feels at home.” Taken aback, the monster said, “You are indeed wise.”
Johansen invited her audience to feel at home in the second half of life, and to make of it the best place despite the many challenges. A healthy dose of imagination, she said, is necessary, as well as the grace to confront issues rather than avoid or deny them. In this way a space is opened up for love and transformation.
The Beatitudes of Jesus, she said, “are heard as ethical guidelines. I want to propose that they are a description of the way things are.”
She invited all the participants to introduce themselves and to describe one of the issues of aging they are facing, then drew upon some insights from James Hollis, author of “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life” and “What Matters Most.”
It is key, she said, that one not allow fear to dominate thinking. “How do we live life without giving into fear?” she asked. Facing complex issues and diminishing energy, one must learn to tolerate ambiguity, she said. “Things do not work out neatly.”
Balancing the tension between the conscious world and the invisible world is also important. One key insight she shared is that “our task is to be defeated by ever larger things. Follow the path of creativity. Open the space for enthusiasm.” Quoting from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, Johansen reminded her listeners that there is a time and a season for everything.
— Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.
Afternoon recreation today at NOAC included a golf tournament. Click here for
more photos of recreation and other NOAC activities.
Photo by Perry McCabeQuestion of the Day
What wisdom from our Brethren legacy do you most want to pass down to the next generation?
“Make sure you’re correct,
then do it!”
“The peace witness is the real key part of our legacy.”
“It takes a lifetime to learn
how to live.”
“Be wise, be prudent, be loving,
be kind, be generous, and always
“Two things. Always love the Lord, and take advantage of every opportunity to study the Bible.”
Indian Creek, Pa.
“Be open minded.”
Mt. Jackson, Va.
“The most impressive thing about the Brethren is the loving acceptance and the service.”
“I want to pass along the tradition of Brethren Service the way it was done by M.R. Zigler and Dan West.”
Interviews & photos by Frank Ramirez