‘Called by Christ: Blessed for the Journey Together’ Theme Shapes NYC 2014

The 2014 National Youth Conference planning has been shaped by the theme from Ephesians 4:1-7, “Called by Christ: Blessed for the Journey Together.” The theme was chosen by the National Youth Cabinet, working with Youth and Young Adult Ministry director Becky Ullom Naugle and the three NYC coordinators Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher.

The conference, described by organizers as “a week-long faith formation extravaganza” is held by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries every four years. All youth who have completed ninth grade through one year of college (at the time of NYC) are eligible to attend, along with their adult advisors. This year more than 2,000 people are expected.

The NYC theme song, “Blessed for the Journey,” can be previewed via a link at www.brethren.org/yya/nyc . The song was commissioned for the 2014 NYC with text and music by Seth Hendricks of Mutual Kumquat.

Daily themes and schedule

Each day of NYC will feature morning and evening worship services focused on a daily theme. The daily schedule also includes morning devotions, required small group meetings that include each youth and advisor, afternoon workshops, recreation options, and late night activities. On several days, youth may choose to spend the afternoon hiking in the Rocky Mountains or taking part in service projects to aid the local community:

— On the opening day, Saturday, July 19, the day’s theme “Right Now” will inform the evening worship service and message to be brought by Samuel Sarpiya, a Church of the Brethren pastor and church planter from Rockford, Ill. Saturday’s events start with registration and a picnic supper, and close with late night activities including a swing dance.

— On Sunday, July 20, the daily theme “Called” is the subject for the youth speech contest winners who will give the morning message in worship: NYC Speech Contest. Alison Helfrich of Bradford, Ohio, from Oakland Church of the Brethren in Southern Ohio District; Katelyn Young of Lititz, Pa., from Ephrata Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District; and Laura Ritchey of Martinsburg, Pa., from Woodbury Church of the Brethren in Middle Pennsylvania District. Rodger Nishioka, who holds the Benton Family Chair in Christian education and is an associate professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., will preach for evening worship. The Sunday morning offering is Hygiene Kits for Church World Service. The Sunday evening offering will be received for the Haiti Medical Project of the Church of the Brethren. Sunday will open with a 5K around the CSU campus, includes a first-ever NYC “Brethren Block Party” in the afternoon, and closes with a late-night Mutual Kumquat concert.

Monday’s theme “Struggle” will be addressed by the morning worship presenter Ted Swartz of Ted & Co., a Mennonite comedy troupe, and evening preacher Kathy Escobar, co-pastor of the Refuge, a mission center and Christian community in North Denver. The Monday morning offering will collect canned food for the Larimer County food bank to help meet the needs of people in Fort Collins and surrounding area. The Monday evening offering will benefit the NYC Scholarship Fund for international and intercultural youth. Also on Monday: the first mountain hiking trips, and the first afternoon of service projects, as well as a performance of Ted Swartz’s most recent production “Laugher as Sacred Space.”

— The theme “Claim” sets the stage for worship on Tuesday led in the morning by Bethany Seminary student Jennifer Quijano, who serves as youth and worship director at Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren in Ohio, and led in the evening by Katie Shaw Thompson who pastors at Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa, and helps lead Camp Pine Lake in Northern Plains District. Late night activities include a camp fire, pizza with a Brethren higher education group, and an international worship experience.

Wednesday’s theme, “Live,” will offer food for thought as Leah J. Hileman, pastor of Lake View Christian Fellowship in Southern Pennsylvania District, preaches in the morning, and Jarrod McKenna makes a return visit to NYC as guest speaker for the evening service. He is a teaching pastor at Westcity Church in Australia and he and his family live with 17 recently arrived refugees at First Home Project modeling Christian Hospitality. He also serves as World Vision Australia’s national advisor for Youth, Faith, and Activism. On Earth Peace sponsors an evening peace vigil, just prior to worship. A concert by the Rend Collective, described as “an eclectic group of multi-instrumentalists from Northern Ireland,” will be a highlight of the last night of NYC.

NYC closes with the theme, “Journey,” as youth gather for the final worship service, then pack up to head back home. Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter is the morning preacher.

For onsite coverage from NYC 2014 go to www.brethren.org/news/2014/nyc2014 .

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