Wednesday’s inspiration – National Older Adult Conference 2017

Church of the Brethren Newsline
September 6, 2017

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

Early morning

Rain and cold temperatures moved the early morning devotions with General Secretary David Steele indoors, resulting in a gathering of 40 attendees. Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya also led 7 am devotions in The Terrace hotel.

Bible study

Stephen Breck Reid, Professor of Christian Scriptures at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary, tied the story of Ruth into today’s news: “At the edge of starvation, this family saw its best hope by moving.” He pointed out that gleaning allows contact between those who have and those who have not. He called this connection with someone from a different race or social class a “Boaz moment”. Finally, he pointed out the danger that Ruth found herself in on the threshing floor, at risk of rape or other abuse.

He gave the group three areas to ponder:

  • What is your family’s famine story? How did you get to the place that you are?
  • What is your Boaz moment?
  • Who was your mentor as you were going through dangerous transitions?

View the Bible study recording.


Because of the ongoing rain, group photos were taken inside. Photos of the whole group, those over 80 years old, and those who have been to every NOAC are available to purchase. As of Wednesday night, order forms were available at the back of Stuart Hall.

Keynote address

Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners, spoke on “The Bridge to a New America.”

Jim Wallis speaking at Inspiration 2017- National Older Adult Conference. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

“I think the 50-pluses and 60-pluses and 70-pluses have a critical role to play in building that bridge,” he said. “You’re going to be critical to what we have to do… And you’re just getting started.”

“It’s about following Jesus being the central, motivating, determining, decisive, factor of our lives.”

“Our job is to help this country navigate this…demographic change that so many white folks are afraid of.”

“You can do this. It’s part of your vocation as Christians.”

Watch the recording of Jim Wallis’ presentation.

Wallis signed books and did a presentation talk-back later in the day.

Bus trips

Sixty participants visited Biltmore House and Garden in Asheville, North Carolina. Forty-six toured Hendersonville and enjoyed locally made ice cream and chocolates.

Interest groups

Afternoon options included storytelling by Jonathan Hunter, Disaster and the Children Next Door (CDS), Emmaus Ministries, Heifer and how you can help, How to choose your life plan, Charitable trusts and gift annuities, Finding joy in retirement, South Sudan, Transgender 101, Denominational leadership panel, Songs and songwriting, Social media, Survival bracelets and Brethren camping, Tie dye, a screening of “The Disturbances” documentary, and Gentle yoga.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

Annual Conference Moderator Samuel Sarpiya and Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries, led a lively dialogue called “Beyond Today: Why the Future of the Church of the Brethren Is Intercultural, Intergenerational, and Calls Us to Plant Churches in New Places and Do Church in New Ways.”

See the recording of the “Future of the Church” session.

Evening worship

Susan Boyer speaks at Inspiration 2017 – National Older Adult Conference. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

Worship featured the hilarity of NOAC news, inspiring music by the choir and organist Jonathan Emmons, and a challenging sermon by Susan Boyer, Senior Pastor of the La Verne Church of the Brethren. She shared stories of the bold, courageous faith of her grandmother and mother.

“I was handed that legacy… a courageous faith, born of conviction in service to love and humility.”

Boyer said, “Like Timothy we have a choice: Make sure we don’t offend anyone, so no one else leaves, or hold fast to the courageous faith that’s been handed down from generation to generation, that we may be able to hand it down to the generation after us.”

View the complete service at

Evening activities

Following worship, participants enjoyed s’mores by the campfire, an ice cream social , and book signings by Stephen Breck Reid and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

Find Inspiration 2017 – National Older Adult Conference photos, resources, videos and more at

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