Today at NOAC 2023 – Thursday, Sept. 7 – “…What God Will Do”

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 16:18-21, NRSVue).

Geese take off in flight over Lake Junaluska. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Today NOAC celebrated the church’s ministries of service. Shown here, NOACers raise their hands in response to coordinator Christy Waltersdorff’s question, who here has been in Brethren Volunteer Service? Who has worked with Brethren Disaster Ministries? or Children’s Disaster Services? She extended the invitation to all who have ever carried out any kind of service in Jesus’ name. Most everyone’s hand went up. (Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford)

NOAC’s day began with a fundraising walk around Lake Junaluska, raising money for a NOAC scholarship fund to help bring people to the next event who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend. The daily events also continued–from early morning devotions, to Bible study, the morning keynote, followed in the afternoon by workshops, bus tours, arts and crafts, and recreation, and in the evening with worship and yet more college- and university-sponsored ice cream socials. A second BVS-sponsored talent night closed out the day.

Find today’s NOAC photo album at A new album is planned for each day this week, and additional photos will be added as they become available.

Quotes of the day

Lexi Aligarbes (photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford)

“Jesus gave us a charge: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…. Discipleship was not meant to perpetuate relationships of oppression.”

— Lexi Aligarbes preaching for the Thursday evening worship service, on the need to deconstruct the Great Commission because of how it has been used to prop up the Doctrine of Discovery and justify colonialism and other oppressive systems. A co-pastor at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, she is originally from New Mexico and holds a bachelor’s degree in peace and global studies from Earlham College and a master of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. “What if we saw this text [the Great Commission] as a call to love?” she posited. “This is new because some of our actions of the past I would not describe as love…. We are being called to live out this new understanding of our mission.” She asked the NOAC congregation to become partners in carrying out a five-step journey of loving action: 1. Charity, 2. Support, 3. Service, 4. Justice, and 5. Transformation into the Beloved Community.

“What if the new thing God is doing is calling us to reclaim belovedness so that we can become unique expressions of the Beloved Community?”

— Osheta Moore giving the morning’s keynote address. Telling of her experiences as an anti-racism educator, and recalling some of the key common tragedies and traumas in our nation’s experience in recent years–the murder of George Floyd, among others–she spoke of the need for people to work against racist systems and white supremacy via a “third way” called “anti-racism peacemaking.” The key is rediscovering belovedness, she said, and claiming that we are beloved by God ourselves and helping others discover that they are beloved by God. “I am beloved. You are beloved. We are beloved,” she said, as she closed by leading the NOAC congregation in a meditative practice that she uses to close each session, to acknowledge and feel belovedness.

Christy and Dale Dowdy perform a skit during the morning’s Bible study. Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

“Baptism and a meal. It’s these communal things that bring meaning.” — Bob Neff

“There’s a recognition that comes with the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the meal.” — Chris Bucher

The day’s Bible study led by Church of the Brethren biblical scholars Chris Bucher and Bob Neff focused on the story of Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus following the resurrection. They also addressed the ending of the book of Acts. Much was said about a trope in ancient literature that revolves around the unrecognized traveler whose identity will eventually be revealed, in Luke the Christ who walks the road of life with us.

Jonathan Emmons (photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford)
Nancy Miner (photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford)
Carol Hipps Elmore (photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford)

The service musicians: Joe Detrick, guitar; Paul Fry-Miller, djembe; Nonie Detrick, violin; Vicki Ullery, clarinet; Ben Bear, recorder (photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford)
The NOAC choir, directed by Bev Anspaugh (photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford)

By the numbers

84 people participated in the fundraising walk around the lake. Funds will support a new NOAC Scholarship. Walk donations total $5,077.

$9,404.55 was received in this evening’s offering during worship. Funds will support the Church of the Brethren’s Discipleship and Leadership Formation program.

The fundraising walk around the lake by Benjamin Hoffmann
Photo by Benjamin Hoffmann

Up early for a good walk, and a good cause

By Frank Ramirez

For those like myself, who are accustomed at NOAC to looking out through the window in the direction of the lake and seeing nothing but grey fog, it is a surprise to learn that before it is properly dawn there is a clear sky. Walking along the lakefront on the Rose Path, it was good to look up and see the cross shining brightly on the hill, light streaming out from the lakefront houses, and bright Venus scanning it all from the heavens like a searchlight.

I sauntered over to the parking lot outside the chapel to greet folks who arrived early for the 7 a.m. start of the fundraising walk around the lake. The event raised money for the newly founded NOAC Scholarship Fund, which will help pay the way for older adults who find it hard to afford the conference.

The first walker to arrive at the starting line was Erma Foust of Union, Ohio. When asked why she was there, she replied, “Because somebody said they could use some help. I said, ‘Tell me what I can do.’”


Learning about the Cherokee

By Frank Ramirez

Many of the 46 NOAC attendees who traveled by bus to Cherokee Village, and to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, were still mulling over what they had heard earlier in the day from keynote speaker Mark Charles (see “Tracing a traumatic history, laying bare the roots of the Doctrine of Discovery” at

Upon arrival to the village the NOACers learned firsthand how the Cherokee of North Carolina lived, hunted, created useful and beautiful crafts, and both struggled with and survived the arrival of Europeans.

The NOAC group next visited the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, which chronicles over 13,000 years of local history. The interactions between Europeans and the Cherokee–both positive and negative–were chronicled in models, artifacts, and words.


Photo by Benjamin Hoffmann

The Press Team for NOAC 2023 includes Frank Ramirez, writer and pastor of Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind.; Benjamin Hoffmann, photographer and a volunteer with Brethren Volunteer Service; Russ Otto, on the website staff for the Church of the Brethren; and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, editor and news director for the Church of the Brethren.

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