Youth Speech Contest Winners Address NYC

2010 National Youth Conference of the Church of the Brethren

Fort Collins, Colo. — July 19, 2010




As worship concluded Monday morning at National Youth Conference, singer songwriter Ken Medema summed up the service with a new song:
“We are broken one and all,
But still we hear God’s awesome call.
Turn the rock over,
Because there’s more than meets the eye.”

Worship featured the three winners of the NYC Speech Contest. Kelsey Boardman of Modesto, Calif., and a member of Modesto Church of the Brethren, began her message by singing the theme from the television show the Transformers: “…Robots in disguise, Transformers, more than meets the eye.” She admitted that unlike the alien Optimus Prime, “the Brethren have not now nor have they ever been able to transform themselves into semi-trucks and Chevy Cameros to save the day. However we are able to transform and save the day in a different way.”

Brethren have transformed themselves and the world, she suggested, by reaching out to the starving, the homeless, and those abused by nature’s fury. “Once exposed to the love and compassion Brethren have to offer, the downhearted have a new outlook on life and transformation.”

She challenged youth to use the talents and skills they may not know about. “Offering those gifts creates a transformation that in turn creates a difference. The kingdom of heaven is being able to give selflessly, to give smiles to deprived children, being able to kneel at your peer’s feet and serve them selflessly through feetwashing.”

Some might consider the Transformers to be fictional. “They couldn’t be more wrong,” she said. “For 300 progressive years the Church of the Brethren has consistently proven that heroes like the transformers do exist.”

Calling to mind examples from Brethren history of real-life transformers, including Alexander Mack, Sarah Righter Major, Dan West, and the contemporary Brethren music group Mutual Kumquat, as well as all the thousands in attendance at NYC, she said to all assembled, “You are a Transformer.”

Best friends Arbie Karasek and Renee Neher from York Center Church of the Brethren in Illinois delivered their sermon as a team. The two began by describing individuals and situations in their lives that demonstrated that in everyone there is more than meets the eye.

One talked about her brother, whose Down Syndrome has come with many medical problems, has traveled around the world, and is an excellent swimmer. The other recalled a time in her childhood when she invited a new student to join her and her friends in jumping rope and discovered that all of her first impressions were wrong. One spoke about the experience of a workcamp in the Dominican Republic, where the joy that transcended the poverty–as in their other examples, there is always more than meets the eye.

What they do is not who they are, the speakers emphasized. They described how they’d learned more about each other by asking questions, and invited youth to do the same. “As you make new friends, step out of your bubble, and dig a little deeper. You never know what you will find.”

Responsive readings during the service suggested that one way to address the world’s brokenness is to look at people in a different way, get to know them better, and create deeper relationships.

A. Mack made an appearance during worship, having “sneakered in” to talk about the brokenness we all share and how building school kits helps relieve the brokenness around the world. The collection of school kits came to 737 kits.

And Jacob Crouse, a member of the NYC Band, played his rocking composition titled “More than Meets the Eye,” which won the NYC music contest. Beach balls abounded.

–Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren

The News Team for the 2010 National Youth Conference (NYC) includes photographers Glenn Riegel and Keith Hollenberg, writers Frank Ramirez and Frances Townsend, “NYC Tribune” guru Eddie Edmonds, Facebooker and Twitterer Wendy McFadden, website staff Amy Heckert, and news director and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Contact .

Go to to subscribe to the Church of the Brethren Newsline free e-mail news service and receive church news every other week.

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]