National Youth Sunday is in early May and provides congregations the chance to experience and celebrate the faith and creativity of their youth within the context of worship. In other words, it’s a chance for youth to “take over” worship from the adults, offering their own perspectives and leadership in many forms.
“When you eat with Jesus, anything can happen!” said an announcement of the new “Come to the Table” Vacation Bible School from Shine, the Sunday school curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia.
Brethren Press managing editor James Deaton (right, shown at center) attended the 2021 annual meeting of the Committee on the Uniform Lessons Series (CUS). The series is a basis for Bible study curriculum used in common by many denominations and publishing partners. Deaton attended on behalf of the Church of the Brethren publishing house, which uses the adult curriculum outlines for A Guide for Biblical Studies. He also is a member of the Adult Age‐Level Team, which reviews the development of the curriculum outlines for adults and creates teaching strategies.
A calendar of online events for youth and young adults has been announced by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult ministry. The events were shared in a letter from director Becky Ullom Naugle to youth advisors and pastors (https://mailchi.mp/brethren.org/youth-young-adult-ministry-2021). Information also is being shared via Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrethrenYYA.
The complete 13-session Compelling Vision Bible Study Series is now available in English with a Spanish translation to be available in coming days. The series is a project of the Compelling Vision Working Group and is intended to help church members study the compelling vision statement that will be brought for approval to the 2021 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren.
Traditionally the moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference calls the church to Bible study and prayer as we anticipate Annual Conference. This year is no exception, but with an added plus: the availability in mid-February of 13 Bible studies focused on the themes of the proposed compelling vision for the Church of the Brethren (www.brethren.org/ac/compelling-vision).
The Wild Way of Jesus: Devotions for Ash Wednesday Through Easter, written by Anna Lisa Gross, is the 2021 Lenten devotional from Brethren Press. “This Lent, walk with Jesus along his wilderness way,” said an announcement. “Look to the birds in the air, taste mustard growing along the path, and greet people deemed outcasts. Follow Jesus through the world’s wild edges and experience life-giving good news.”
Of late, the inauguration of a new US president has occupied our attention. But there’s a more pertinent inauguration needed during days of national upheaval: a fresh elevation of Jesus as Lord. Many have yet to inaugurate Jesus to this status. Yes, we give lip service to the centrality of Jesus, but often we become acculturated, collapsing toward consumerism, civil religion, and an insular faith. In doing so, we fail to allow Jesus to transform every aspect of our “form and frame,” being “born again,” not only in our relationship to God, but also in our relationship to soul, self, others, and all of creation (Romans 12).
The Program and Arrangements Committee has determined that the 2021 Annual Conference will be entirely online. The committee hoped to have a hybrid (both in-person and online) Conference as announced last fall. However, due to the continuing challenges of COVID-19, the committee deemed that it is not wise to have an in-person component for Annual Conference this summer. As Program and Arrangements Committee has consistently stressed, the health and safety of Annual Conference participants is the highest priority.
Much has been altered since the Compelling Vision process began. Some congregations have chosen to leave the Church of the Brethren, the need for structural reform in the church has become ever more evident, and COVID-19 has cast an aura of uncertainty regarding the future nature of congregational life. Amid those significant dilemmas I suggest to you there is nothing more important than studying scripture together to deepen our common commitment to Christ.