“We were all brainstorming with the coordinators,” said Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, a former NYC coordinator herself, “to think of an event that would help people mix together, get to know each other while having a great time, while letting the agencies tell a little of their story.”
And that’s what led to Sunday’s first NYC Brethren Block Party.
There were many popular activities, chief among them the Dunk Tank—labelled appropriately “The Easy Dunker.” Prominent (but not pompous) agency heads and denominational leaders as well as NYC coordinators were dunked. Many were willing to wait in a long line to throw three balls at a metal button. Most missed, resulting in a dull thunk, but every now and then a solid “thwack” preceded a scream, then a splash!
Brethren Benefit Trust sponsored a photo booth, where individuals and groups could don Viking outfits, Hulk Hands, oversized glasses, and extravagant hats for pictures. Within seconds, every participant received three copies of the photo.
At a Brethren Voice table the NYC News Team invited passersby to “Paint Your Story” on sheets laid out on the sidewalk. Some took a painstaking approach, recreating the NYC logo, or painting trees, hearts, and peace signs. Others dug in to make handprints and even footprints.
There was a beanbag toss celebrating Heifer International, as well as GaGa Ball played in an oval created by overturned tables—seemingly a cross between handball and cage fighting. Also popular: a rubber chicken toss, and apple butter tasting.
Bethany Theological Seminary sponsored a “selfie” scavenger hunt which resulted in youth asking anyone with a Bethany t-shirt to pose with them for a cell phone picture.
Not all was fun and games. Another booth with long lines was sponsored by Global Mission and Service, involving the serious task of filling out postcards to Secretary of State John Kerry encouraging him to act more proactively on the crisis in Nigeria. The cards bring attention to the mass abductions of schoolgirls who are the same age as the NYC participants.
“I think it is very important to be involved,” said one youth who carefully filled out a postcard. Another said, “I met Beatrice from the EYN when she was here with her mother. I became her friend. This is very personal.” A third said, “I just think it’s a terrible thing. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have no freedom to come and go as I pleased.”
Their advisor said she hadn’t had to ask twice if they wished to be involved. “We do important work in our youth group,” she said.
Another opportunity for an in depth activity was offered by the Spiritual Direction Team, which posed two questions: “What do you pray for?” and “What gives you hope?” Samples of responses: “My church family,” “Homeless people,” and “My friends and relations I do not know.” Hope was found in “My family,” “Our youth,” and “Reassurance.”
— Frank Ramirez is a volunteer writer on the NYC News Team.
NYC News Team: Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services. Eddie Edmonds, Tribune editor. Photography: Glenn Riegel, Nevin Dulabaum. Writers: Frank Ramirez, Mandy Garcia. Question of the Day: Britnee Harbaugh, Maddie Dulabaum. Web and app support: Don Knieriem, Russ Otto.