Introducing the Young Adult Steering Committee and the 2024 theme ‘Transformed by God’

By Ruth Ritchey Moore

This past October, the Young Adult Steering Committee met at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., to begin planning for Young Adult Conference 2024, which will be held May 24-26 at Camp Shepherds Spring in Sharpsburg, Md.

Our theme for the weekend will be “Transformed by God,” using Romans 12:1-2 (The Message) as our guiding scripture.

It was wonderful to discuss and plan together, using our collective gifts and experiences. When we are not working on plans for Young Adult Conference, we spend our everyday lives in a broad variety of jobs and activities.

The Church of the Brethren’s Young Adult Steering Committee (with staff liaison Becky Ullom Naugle)

Read on to “meet” the six members of the Young Adult Steering Committee:

Hannah Smith is a junior at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, majoring in sociology with a dual minor in religious studies and women and gender studies. Along with studying, she likes to crochet (coasters and bookmarks) and enjoys listening to music–especially Noah Kahan. Hannah had this to say about the YAC 2024 theme: “I really enjoy the concept that a relationship with God is forever evolving. I like the idea that the relationship will continue to grow and develop. I also like the idea that individuals can still be immersed within everyday culture, yet it is imperative to be continuously thinking about honoring God throughout the culture we find ourselves in.”

Thomas McMullin teaches 5th grade at Perry (Iowa) Elementary. Prior to teaching, Thomas pastored Fairview Church of the Brethren in Unionville, Iowa. Besides teaching, he coaches (8th grade volleyball, high school girls varsity basketball, and middle school soccer) and works in the pro shop at River Valley Golf Course. “My hope for the young adults in the Church of the Brethren is to be empowered to feel the love of God through the example of Jesus Christ. I pray that this empowers them to reach their fullest potential in all that they do,” shared Thomas.

Lauren Flora (Bridgewater class of 2018) works at Bridgewater (Va.) College as director of Special Events, overseeing all institutional, presidential, and advancement events. “I love working with the students and being a part of creating our annual and special events throughout the year. There’s something magical and exciting about watching an event from start to finish and seeing how much joy it brings to campus,” shared Lauren. When she isn’t event planning she’s often found taking photos and/or videos of events. Why has it been important to her to stay connected to Brethren friends and activities as she’s journeyed through life? “Growing up, I spent a lot of my time involved with youth group and church-related activities including FaithX trips, National Youth Conference, my district’s youth cabinet, and being involved in our children’s choir, handbell choir, and all the other youth activities at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. Being so involved allowed me to gain lifelong friendships, but also shaped me as a person. I want to continue providing those opportunities to today’s youth.”

Luke Haldeman works for Mennonite Central Committee and Spring Creek Church of the Brethren. What are the best parts of each position? “I usually work downstairs in the mailroom, but I really love being able to meet people from all around the world who visit our office or do service years and internships in Akron. It opens up a global perspective on the world for me like no place I’ve been in before. I also really love that MCC allows me to be part of the work of Jesus in the world in a really tangible way,” says Luke. “Probably my favorite thing at Spring Creek so far has been the opportunity to work with our church’s archives, learning about the past in a way which is both exciting (because of all the gossipy things in said archives) and spiritually challenging (because of how seriously our church members took their faith a hundred years ago, and how I want to do more of that today).” This is Luke’s first year on the Young Adult Steering Committee, and he has bright hopes for the coming years. “I really want our denomination to do something special for the 500th anniversary of Anabaptism in 2025, and have a lot of ideas specific to that which I’d like to see at the Young Adult Conference that year. In addition, I hope to see better grounding in scripture, a greater emphasis on the rich history of the Christian faith, and more stories to inspire us of people who live differently because of their faith.” According to Luke, young adults should consider joining the YAC 24 community to meet cool people, hear cool stories, and to find inspiration for what’s next in their lives.

Rachel Johnson is a senior youth ministry major at Messiah College, with a minor in child and youth service. She is licensed in Atlantic Northeast District and has been discerning her call to ministry through time on the National Youth Cabinet and doing volunteer and intern work at her home church (Mechanic Grove). Her favorite leisure activities include hammocking, crocheting, baking, and tending to her 18 non-edible plants. Rachel is in her second of a three-year term on the Young Adult Steering Committee. “I have seen more and more young adults with a passion to be the church outside the church building and it gives me hope for continuing generations even if it means changing the way we have typically done ministry,” she commented.

I am Ruth Ritchey Moore, a teacher of children ages 5 to 17 who are in the process of immigrating to the United States from Central and South America. Occasionally, my work includes reunifications. It’s always very emotional and rewarding to be able to see the kids with their families! One of the main ways working for Bethany Christian Services has impacted my faith is that the other teacher I work with has been going through a crisis of faith for at least the past year and has shared many of his thoughts and feelings with me. It seems like I’ve been thinking deeply about my faith for most of my life because my family provided a space for discussion and learning, and Manchester (University) was a safe space to keep questioning and growing. So I’ve never come to a place where I suddenly felt like I couldn’t believe in anything. I’m really grateful for the different kind of Christian upbringing I’ve had. Sometimes it’s really discouraging to hear the kids’ experiences of some of the worst ways people can treat each other, but I also get to see how generous and caring my co-workers are in their dedication to their work, and how resilient the kids are, even in their short time with us. When not working with kids, I love to run (20 to 25 miles a week–unless training for a marathon). My dog Hera occasionally accompanies me on shorter runs.

We are honored to be able to serve on the Young Adult Steering Committee together, bringing these and other experiences to the table and to Camp Shepherd’s Spring when we get to meet in person for YAC next spring.

If you are a young adult or know a young adult who might be interested, please tell them about YAC and encourage them to visit www.brethren.org/yac.


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