Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Caring Ministries Assembly 2007 focuses on ‘Being Family.’

Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren was a busy place last week as more than 200 deacons, pastors, chaplains, and other caregivers attended this year’s Caring Ministries Assembly, sponsored by the Association of Brethren Caregivers on Sept. 6-8. The theme, “Being Family: Reality and Renewal” (Acts 26:18a), was explored through keynote presentations, workshops, Bible study, and worship.

The assembly began Thursday evening with worship and the first of two keynote presentations by David H. Jensen, associate professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, who explored family life in our society. On Friday morning, Jensen continued his look at family life with a presentation called, “Marking Time Together: Christian Faith, Brethren Tradition, and the Renewal of Our Days.”

On Friday afternoon, participants attended their choice of workshops about family, including a look at step families, end-of-life spiritual care, healthy aging, strengthening marriage, creatively handling conflict, and self-care for caregivers. An hour-long “Time for Renewal of Body, Mind, and Soul” provided the opportunity for silent reflection, walking a labyrinth, prayer, journaling, meditative movement, and massage therapy.

Marilyn Lerch led the Friday evening worship and communion service, sharing stories about family. Musicians and songwriters Jim and Jean Strathdee performed a concert of music of compassion, justice, healing, and hope.

The Saturday sessions featured Donald Kraybill and Kate Eisenbise, authors of “The Brethren in a Post-Modern World,” who shared a multi-generational look at how their own families have changed as they interviewed each other. Afternoon workshops again provided opportunities to learn, in workshops about communication, healthy relationships, bridging multicultural differences, and deacon visitation etiquette.

The assembly concluded Saturday afternoon with worship. Belita Mitchell, immediate past moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, challenged worshipers to “go and tell” others what the Lord has done, and what they learned at the Caring Ministries Assembly.

Other highlights of the conference included Bible study led by Stephen Breck Reid, academic dean of Bethany Theological Seminary; musical leadership by the Strathdees throughout the entire assembly; and the hospitality of members of the Lititz church as they shared the congregation’s facilities with the conference.

The next Caring Ministries Assembly is planned for September 2010.

--Kim Ebersole is director of Family and Older Adult Ministry for the Association of Brethren Caregivers.

Source: 9/12/2007 Newsline

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