Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Caring Ministries Assembly centers on the theme, 'Being Family.'

Speakers, worship, and workshops for the sixth Caring Ministries Assembly will center on the theme "Being Family: Reality and Renewal." The biennial assembly sponsored by the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) will be held Sept. 6-8 at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

The theme is based on the belief that the God of creation delights in his children, from Acts 26:18b, in which the believer is blessed with "a place in the family--invited into the company of others to begin real living through Jesus Christ." The assembly will examine commonalities amidst the variety and diversity of families.

Assembly planners acknowledge that "at its best, a family can be a source of love and acceptance, support and encouragement, nurturing and growth. Yet being part of even a healthy family cannot ensure that individuals will not experience difficult times and challenging relationships. The reality for many people is that family falls short of the ideal and is unable to meet all our expectations for meaningful relationships. This assembly will explore ways members of families can be there for each other, even when reality falls short of expectation."

Organizers hope that deacons, pastors, Christian educators, chaplains, and other caregivers who attend the assembly will discover how to help families--and faith communities--grow in love, acceptance, forgiveness, reconciliation, celebration, and delight.

Keynote speakers include David H. Jensen, formerly assistant professor of religion and philosophy at Manchester College, currently associate professor at Austin (Texas) Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and author of "Graced Vulnerability: A Theology of Childhood." An online video of Jensen talking about his views of the assembly theme, and his connections with the Church of the Brethren, is available at ABC's website

Also keynoting are Donald Kraybill and Kathryn Eisenbise, co-authors of "The Brethren in a Post Modern World." Kraybill has served as chair of the Sociology and Social Work Department at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and as director of the Young Center. Eisenbise is a Bethany Theological Seminary graduate pursuing a doctorate in theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.

Bible study leader Curtis Dubble is a retired pastor and leader of the denomination's Family Ministries program in 1992, and author of "Real Families from Patriarchs to Prime Time" for the People of the Covenant series of Brethren Press.

Leaders in worship include Annual Conference moderator Belita Mitchell, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa.; and Marilyn Lerch, pastor of Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren in Blacksburg, Va.

Music throughout the assembly will be led by internationally known musicians Jean and Jim Strathdee, who also will perform a Friday night concert bringing a message of compassion, justice, healing, and hope. The concert is part of the assembly, but the public is welcome to attend. A free will offering will be taken.

Registration materials and promotional posters for the assembly have been mailed to all Church of the Brethren congregations. For the registration brochure listing workshops and speakers visit or call 800-323-8039. Continuing education units for ministers will be available. For the first time attendees may register online using a credit card. Registration cost is $125 until Aug. 1, after which the registration fee increases to $150.

--Mary Dulabaum is director of communications for the Association of Brethren Caregivers.

Source: 6/20/2007 Newsline Extra

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