Thursday at NOAC

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Runners in the Trekkin’ for Peace around Lake Junaluska during NOAC 2013.

Quotes of the Day

“Our culture is afraid of talking about death and dying. [After my stroke] I did not struggle with fear. I wanted to talk about death. I wondered what it was like, what happens to my soul, my body, myself. People didn’t want to go there.” –Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm of the Bethany Seminary faculty, leading the morning Bible study

“There was no better preparation for me to respond to warlords in Mogadishu than Mennonite pacifist church conflicts.” –John Paul Lederach, recently named as director of the Peace Accords Matrix at the Kroc Institute at Notre Dame, and the Thursday morning keynote speaker

“This has got to stop.” –John Paul Lederach quoting a Kenyan woman living in an area near the Somali border that has been plagued by violence. Lederach told her story to the NOAC assembly. The quote was the woman’s thought as she hid under her bed with her three-year-old daughter in her arms, and had a flash of memory from her own childhood of her mother holding her under the bed to keep safe during a previous outbreak of violence

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
John Paul Lederach, giving the Thursday keynote speech at NOAC 2013. In the background: a picture of a Kenyan woman whose story Lederach told as he talked about his work doing peacebuilding in communities experiencing violence in various hot spots around the world.


Mark 5 Bible study focuses on topic of death and dying

Sharing frankly about her experiences following an unexpected stroke, Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm discussed the great mystery of death through the lens of Mark 5:21-43, where there is healing beyond death.

In this passage, the story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter is sandwiched around the healing of the woman with the flow of blood. There is unexpected interruptions, a contrast between the powerful and the powerless, the named and the nameless, a man whose presence is integral for the quorum at worship, and a woman who simply doesn’t matter when it comes to whether people may meet for worship or not–and Jesus is present through it all, healing and transforming.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Theresa Eshbach directs NOAC in singing “Dona Nobis Pacem”–give us peace.

The woman with the flow of blood might be considered unclean by the standards of Leviticus but in gospel terms “doesn’t need to be cleansed but healed–and delivered from faulty medical practices,” Ottoni-Wilhelm said. “She is not cured by magic. The woman participated in God’s healing.” And what she received as well was the peace of Christ.

There’s no shortage of divine power, there’s enough eschatological power to go around,” she said, noting that Jesus addresses both the woman and girl as “daughter” and cares for them equally.

The stories not only anticipate the resurrection of Jesus, but demonstrate God’s passion for life. “There is a positive relationship between human and divine longing for life and power.”

Ottoni-Wilhelm admitted that most of us cannot exercise the same gifts of healing as does Jesus–but we can live as he lived. She called to mind her first experience as a chaplain with a woman who had HIV/AIDS. There was still much that wasn’t known about the disease at the time, so protocols called for gloving and gowning, but as Ottoni-Wilhelm said, “I may not have the power of healing, but I can touch. Jesus shows us how to be a healing presence.” And so she followed Jesus’ example of touching a woman considered unclean by the standards of the day, and held hands with the woman.

— Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and a volunteer member of the NOAC communication team.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Three friends who asked for their picture to be taken and posted online on the Church of the Brethren website. One explained that it was to prove to their children at home that they really were at National Older Adult Conference.

Busload from NOAC visits Balsam Mountain Preserve

Many of those at NOAC experienced not only the charm and wit of Michael Skinner when he presented the show Birds of Prey: Masters of the Sky as Wednesday’s afternoon entertainment. On Thursday, 25 hikers were hosted by Skinner as they took part in an informative hike on the grounds of the Balsam Mountain Preserve.

Skinner led the group on a hike of moderate difficulty alongside a stream, and up the side of a North Carolina mountain. He led the group in identifying many blooms (the area has a very long blooming season, he explained), insects, and animal habitats. The NOAC group learned about the various gems and minerals mined in the region, which species of plants are invasive, which are edible, and which are best avoided!

The Balsam Mountain Trust is charged with conservation and preservation of natural resources in the area, along with scientific research and nature programs.

— Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and a volunteer on the NOAC communication team


Question of the Day: Asked of several NOAC nonagenarians (90 years old and older), “What wisdom have you gleaned from the years?”

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Charlotte McKay and Lucile Vaughn.

“Take a day at a time.”
–Charlotte McKay, Bridgewater, Va.

“Live within God’s loving presence.”
–Lucile Vaughn, Bridgewater, Va.


Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Betty Bomberger at NOAC 2013.

“I would like to say it was very difficult for me to sell my home and move into Brethren Village. [But] as it says in the Bible, ‘…I have learned to be content with whatever I have [Philippians 4:11].”
–Betty Bomberger, Lancaster, Pa.


Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Esther Frey.

“Back when my children would say, ‘Life’s not fair,’ I’d say, ‘Get used to it. That’s the way life is.’ It sounds better in French, ‘C’est la vie.’”
–Esther Frey, Mt. Morris, Ill.







NOAC Communication Team: Frank Ramirez, Eddie Edmonds, Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

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