Friday, July 23, 2010

National Youth Conference brings some 3,000 Brethren to the mountaintop with the theme, ‘More than Meets the Eye.’

National Youth Conference (NYC) held July 17-22 in Fort Collins, Colo., brought together 2,884 Church of the Brethren youth and adults on the campus of Colorado State University. The conference is held every four years by the Church of the Brethren for high school-age youth and those who have completed the first year of college.

The highlight of the daily NYC schedule were two worship services--one held each morning, one each evening--featuring a wide array of preachers addressing the theme, "More than Meets the Eye" from 2 Corinthians 4.

Daily themes guided the experience, moving from "A Yearning to Belong," on the opening day to "Searching for Identity," "Facing Brokenness," "Accepting Grace," and "Extending Agape Love," ending with the last day’s theme, "Manifesting Joy."

Two guest speakers from outside the Church of the Brethren--Shane Claiborne, a founding partner of the Simple Way faith community in inner city Philadelphia; and Jarrod McKenna, a "neo-Anabaptist" peace, justice, and environmental activist from Australia--called the youth to a radical revolution based on the grace and love of Jesus Christ.

"The God I know is a God that loves the broken," Claiborne said in his sermon. "We have a God who’s all about loving people back to life." He ended his presentation with a call to confession--which he characterized as a kind of spiritual revolution. It is liberating "to beat our chests and confess our sins to each other," he said, adding that in the culture of the United States it is radically counter-cultural to say that we are wrong, and that we are sorry. "That’s the kind of revolution Jesus has." Closing with prayer, he prayed for the church to respond to the needs of a broken world: "Oh God of all grace, have mercy on us.... Forgive us, forgive us...."

Preaching on the theme, "Extending Agape Love," McKenna encouraged NYC to understand love in its proper biblical context, warning against preachers who hold up the Bible on Sunday mornings to preach a prosperity gospel that is untrue to its context. Rather than looking for that kind of certainty at the center of the gospel message, McKenna said, the Jewish tradition out of which the first Christians came places mystery at the center of the gospel--a mystery McKenna connected with the agape love shown by Jesus Christ.

Allow the mystery to happen, he urged the youth. "We often whittle the gospel into one little point of love," he said. But the gospel displayed in the New Testament invites us into the story, not into one point of certainty. "Instead of us understanding it (love)," he said, "we are to stand under and undergo love."

The NYC week also included an opportunity to receive anointing--which has been a regular event at National Youth Conferences over the decades--as well as other "mountaintop" experiences like afternoon hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. More than half of the NYC participants spent one afternoon working at a variety of service projects in and around the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland.

Numerous afternoon workshops were offered Monday through Wednesday of the NYC week, ranging in topics and activities from discussions of the church’s peace witness, to examination of the call to ministry, to reflections on current issues in the world, to crafts including the making of wooden spoons.

Recreation included an early morning 5K run, an ultimate frisbee championship, an informal table tennis competition, and more.

In a special recognition during the conference, Chris Douglas was honored for her years of service to the youth of the Church of the Brethren during the time she spent as director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. She is now serving as Conference director for the church. Current youth director Becky Ullom called Douglas to the podium on the NYC stage, where she received a standing ovation.

Leadership for NYC was provided by co-coordinators Audrey Hollenberg and Emily LaPrade, who served through Brethren Volunteer Service. Becky Ullom, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, was the key denominational staff person for the conference, working along with National Youth Cabinet members Kelsey Murray, Tyler Goss, Jamie Frye, Sam Cupp, Kay Guyer, Ryan Roebuck, and adult advisors to the cabinet Christy Waltersdorff and Walt Wiltschek.

The worship coordinators for the event were Jim Chinworth, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, David Steele, and Tracy Stoddart. Music, a key part of the NYC worship experience, was led by coordinators David Meadows and Virginia Meadows, who also were vocalists for the NYC Band: guitarist Laban Wenger, bass player Jacob Crouse, drummer Andy Duffey, and keyboardist Jonathan Shively.

The NYC theme song, "More than Meets the Eye," was composed by Shawn Kirchner of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. In an introduction explaining the song’s focus on Jesus, Kirchner wrote to the youth at NYC: "Who was the essential Jesus, the Jesus the first Christians knew, that the early Brethren hoped to rediscover? The guy who got all this going, so that 2,000 years later we're all here at the mountain asking this question? Let's spend our lives finding out...."

Go to for complete coverage of NYC 2010 including reviews of several of the sermons, reports from the week’s main events, daily photo albums, issues of the "NYC Tribune," and links to the NYC Facebook page and Twitter stream. Worship resources for the NYC services will be coming soon as an added online feature.

Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline
Becky Ullom leads her first NYC as denomination’s youth director.

Her first National Youth Conference as director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry was winding down on Tuesday when she was interviewed in Fort Collins, Colo.--and Becky Ullom felt things were going well.

"It’s so wonderful to see the faces of people who’ve been just a picture in the book, and to have a strong connection with so many," she said. "We’ve all come to help youth to build community with each other and the church."

As she learns the ropes, Ullom feels that many of the skills essential in her former position in the office of Brethren Identity has helped. "The importance of community, of fellowship, how we become the hands and feet of Christ in the world, these are what we share in NYC."

There is tremendous energy for the youth conference, but as people transition from youth to young adults, Ullom said, there are obvious distractions. Young adults, like youth, need a sense of belonging. That’s why she plans to work hard to help them stay connected to the church.

"We need the kind of feedback that comes from being together to help relationships grow deeper. Our programs keep us together to share pain and joy, things we can’t do on cyberspace."

-- Frank Ramirez, pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, served as a volunteer writer on the NYC News Team.

Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline
NYC facts and figures:
  • NYC was made possible by: Co-coordinators Audrey Hollenberg and Emily LaPrade, youth and young adult director Becky Ullom, the National Youth Cabinet, a host of volunteer youth workers, guest speakers, adult advisors, district staff and volunteers, staff of denominational agencies--and the congregations and families who supported youth in attending NYC!

  • Total registration, including youth, adult advisors, volunteers, and staff: 2,884 people.

  • Food offering for the Larimer County Food Bank, based in Fort Collins, Colo.: 1,854 items of food, making up 40 boxes of canned and dry goods.

  • Offering to support Haitian schoolchildren and Brethren-related schools in Haiti: $16,502.00.

  • Cash offering for the NYC Scholarship Fund: $6,124.87.

  • Offering of School Kits for disaster relief: 737 kits collected.

  • Service projects: More than half of the participants at NYC spend an afternoon doing a service projects in and around the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland.

  • NYC 5K: Approximately 180 runners participated. Kelsi Beam of McPherson, Kan., finished first in the women’s category (21:32), followed by Brittany Fourman (23:04) and Megan Krok (23:17). Jordan Smeltzer of New Paris, Ind., finished first for the men (17:54) followed shortly by Tyler Riegel (18:27) and Adam Rudy (18:53).

  • "There s More than Meets the Eye," the NYC song contest winner by Jacob Crouse, can more than meet your ear if you go to Just click "See All Songs" and you can play, queue, favor-ite, download, or share it. You can also learn more about his six song EP "Moments" as well as upcoming per-formance dates and other interesting information.
  • A professionally produced DVD Wrap-Up full of memories of NYC 2010 is available from Brethren videographer David Sollenberger at Include your name and address information in your order. The DVD will cost $20, which includes shipping and handling.
Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline
Romary elected chair of the Brethren Benefit Trust Board at July meeting.

Deborah Romary was elected as chair of the Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) Board of Directors at the group’s July 7 meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa., following Annual Conference 2010.

This election comes three years after Romary joined the BBT Board, during which time she has served as the chair of the Investment Committee. She brings to the position insight she has gained while serving as chief executive officer of Romary Financial Services Inc., a financial planning firm in Fort Wayne, Ind. She attends Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne.

"The BBT Board and staff have appreciated Deb’s strong leadership and unique perspective that comes from being a financial planner, an economist, and a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary," said BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. "I look forward to working with her in this new role."

Before the board meeting began, a luncheon was held to honor the service of departing chair Harry Rhodes, who completed his allotted eight-year term on the BBT Board this year. His tenure as chair began in July 2006.

The nine members present at the meeting also elected Karen Orpurt Crim as vice chair of the board, who has filled this role since July 2009. Dulabaum will continue to serve as the board’s secretary.

The board also voted on the officers of BBT’s corporation: Dulabaum will serve as president, Brethren Pension Plan director Scott Douglas will serve as vice president, director of office operations Donna March will serve as secretary, and financial officer Jerry Rodeffer will continue to serve as treasurer.

In other news from the meeting, the Annuity Benefit Reduction Assistance Program has been extended through Dec. 2011. The board voted to extend the program, a grant issued to qualifying Brethren Pension Plan annuitants to help offset the hardship some members have experienced due to last year’s annuity assumption rate reduction to 5 percent. The grant program will now continue through 2011 and then will be reassessed. New applications will be processed and payments will begin approximately 30 days following approval. Current recipients of the grant must reapply for assistance by Sept. 1 to avoid an interruption in payments.

"The members who have been most impacted by the reduction in benefits have appreciated receiving this grant," said Scott Douglas, director of Brethren Pension Plan. "We’re glad the board voted to continue to assist those members."

The board also approved creationg of a Treasury-Free Bond Fund for Pension Plan members, in order to provide members the option of restricting US Treasuries from their Brethren Pension Plan portfolios. This option is managed like the Bond Fund, but cannot invest in Treasuries.

Iridian has been retained as a large cap value investment manager for BBT. The Investment Committee commended investment management firm Iridian for its performance on BBT’s behalf in the large cap value sector. The firm’s three-year rate of return for Brethren Pension Plan exceeds its benchmark by almost 7 percent. More impressively, Iridian earned a 36.5 percent rate of return in 2009 compared with the S&P 500, which earned 26.5 percent. Iridian, based in Westport, Conn., has been serving BBT since 1993. At each board meeting, the Investment Committee performs a three-year review of one of its eight investment managers.

-- Brian Solem serves on the communications staff of Brethren Benefit Trust.

Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline
CDS helps train Catholic Charities volunteers to address oil spill needs.

Children’s Disaster Services, a Church of the Brethren program, is helping to train volunteers of Catholic Charities in the Gulf region to address oil spill needs related to children. A grant of $5,000 has been requested from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund to support the effort.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico is impacting the fishing, seafood, and tourism industries, and the businesses that provide them support, noted the grant request. "As the oil spill continues into its third month more families find themselves caught in an economic and mental health crisis. There is no end in sight for the economic impact of this environmental disaster."

The Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans has opened five Oil Spill Relief Centers where those affected can access free counseling and apply for emergency assistance, CDS staff reported. As of mid-July the organization has assisted over 17,000 people and has distributed more than $593,000 worth of food vouchers, food and baby supplies, and direct assistance, with the anticipation that there will be an ongoing need for these centers.

Because school is out for the summer, children often accompany their parents to the Oil Spill Relief Centers, presenting the need for care for children as parents apply for aid or receive counseling. Catholic Charities is working with volunteers, deacons, and others who have started planning activities for children. Children’s Disaster Services is providing training for the National Community Civilian Corps (AmeriCorps) workers who will care for the children in three of the centers.

"It is anticipated that another group of NCCC volunteers will replace the first group in six weeks," said the CDS report. "They will need training as well."

Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Corrections, personnel, job opening, district conferences, more.
  • Corrections to the Newsline of July 7: Elaine Gibbel’s name was misspelled. She was among those confirmed to agency boards by Annual Conference, as a trustee for Bethany Theological Seminary. Also, in news from the New Community Project, Sarah Parcell’s church membership was given incorrectly. She is from Indian Creek Church of the Brethren in Harleysville, Pa.

  • The Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry has announced assistant coordinators for workcamps in 2011: Carol Fike, a graduate of Manchester College from Illinois and Wisconsin District; and Clara Nelson, a graduate of Virginia Tech from Virlina District. Assistant coordinators serve through Brethren Volunteer Service at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. They work from September-May to plan for summer workcamps, and during the summer are on the road leading workcamps for junior highs through young adults.

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers Leonard and Helen Stoner of First Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., will be traveling to American Samoa on July 25. Leonard Stoner will be serving as the Brethren building project manager, leading others from Brethren Disaster Ministries, United Church of Christ, and Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. The group will be continue to build a home for an elderly couple on the Pacific island of American Samoa following an earthquake and tsunami in 2009.

  • SERRV International is seeking an administrative coordinator for a New Haiti Design Center at the Fondation pour le Développement de l’Artisanat Haïtien (FDAH)/ Comite Artisanal Haitien in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Following the devastating earthquake in January, FDAH is launching a new design center to help grow sales of handmade products to increase artisan incomes. The coordinator will be responsible for all logistics of the center, including establishing and managing center space and equipment, finance and management systems, a database of artisans and skills, as well as coordinating local Haitian designers, international designers, and international funders in their work with the center. The position requires an 18-month commitment to working in Haiti, with the possibility of longer employment. Salaried at $1,200 US dollars a month plus housing. Air travel to Haiti and return airfare at the end of 18 months, along with a modest stipend to ship additional luggage to Haiti will be provided. Qualifications include sme university or college education, with a bachelor’s or master’s degree preferred, basic computer skills, strong communication skills, strong organizational skills with some management or supervisory experience, basic financial and accounting skills or the ability to learn such skills quickly, a sensitivity to appropriate product design and handmade product retailing strategies for the US and European markets, fluency in spoken and written French or Haitian Creole, experience living or traveling in a developing country. Comite Artisanal Haïtien (CAH) represents more than 170 individual Haitian artisans and groups, including the artisans from Cite Soleil and other poor areas in and around Port-au-Prince, who create beautiful works of art from recycled metal drums, baskets, painted wood products, stone carving and more which have become hallmarks of Haitian craftsmanship. Comite Artisanal Haitien and SERRV International have been partners for more than 20 years. Apply by sending or faxing a resume and letter of application to or 712-338-4379. Include in a cover letter reasons for interest in working in Haiti as well as personal perspective on living in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere in the wake of a devastating earthquake, and French and/or Haitian Creole language abilities. Position is open until filled. Start date is not firm, but preference is for someone to begin as soon as possible. Questions (but not applications) can be addressed to Cheryl Musch, Director of International Development, SERRV International,

  • The Church of the Brethren is one of the faith groups and organizations signing an advertisement calling for reauthorization of a strong child nutrition bill in the US Congress. The church is one of 128 groups signing on to the advertisement, which is sponsored by Feeding America and includes other Christian denominations such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as well as Church Women United, Catholic Charities, and others. The ad ran on Wednesday this week. A coordinated national call-in day also was to be held to further amplify the message to Congress to care for American children. "With 1 in 4 kids at risk of hunger and 1 in 3 obese or overweight, the time for strong action is now," the advertisement was to proclaim. "Congress must pass a robust, well-funded child nutrition bill this summer to help reach the national goals to end child hunger by 2015 and solve child obesity in a generation. The health and future of America’s children depend on it." View the advertisement at

  • Before Aug. 2, On Earth Peace is seeking 25 faith and community groups to sign up to organize public prayer vigils with other local churches and groups in their communities during the week of Sept. 21 for the International Day of Prayer for Peace. New registrants will receive additional training for themselves and other participating groups from their communities. For more information or to sign up to participate visit the On Earth Peace campaign website for the International Day of Prayer for Peace at

  • Zach Wolgemuth of Brethren Disaster Ministries has been in Nashville, Tenn., meeting with local leaders involved in flood recovery efforts. He also is a member of a subcommittee of the National VOAD (an organization of voluntary groups working on disaster recovery) that has been charged with rewriting a manual to help guide communities recovering from disasters. "This has been a long and process but is very important and necessary due to changes in disaster response and the way communities recover following disasters," Wolgemuth reported. The manual "is considered one of the most important and necessary resources for local long-term recovery group formation and overall recovery in communities impacted by disaster."

  • The Church World Service inventory of clean-up buckets and school kits for disaster relief work is extremely low, according to an alert from CWS. "The need is great as we are in the midst of tropical storm and hurricane season where clean-up buckets often are requested, and for the school kits we are getting in numerous requests as overseas partners prepare for the fall school year," said the alert. The buckets and kits are processed through the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. For more information about the contents of buckets and kits, and how to assemble and ship them, go to

  • Children’s Disaster Services is offering a volunteer workshop in Los Altos (Calif.) United Methodist Church on Oct. 29-30. Local contacts are Janice Maggiora or Patricia Parfett, call 650-383-9322. Cost is $45 for early registration, or $55 after Oct. 8. Children’s Disaster Services volunteers provide a calm, safe and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos that follows disaster by setting up and operating special child care centers in disaster locations. Parents are then able to apply for assistance and begin to put their lives back together, knowing their children are safe. This workshop is designed to train potential volunteers to understand and respond to children who have experienced a disaster, but the information learned at the workshop can be beneficial to anyone working with children. Once the training is completed, participants have the opportunity to become a certified Children’s Disaster Services volunteer by providing two personal references and a criminal and sexual offender background check. Children’s Disaster Services has been meeting the needs of children since 1980, and is a Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministry. For more about Children’s Disaster Services go to

  • Beaver Run Church of the Brethren near Burlington, W.Va., now has a web site. Go to

  • National Youth Conference keynote preacher Jarrod McKenna will speak at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., on Sunday, July 25, at 6 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by Fox Valley Citizens For Peace and Justice. McKenna is an Australian peace and environmental activist who is active in The Peace Tree Community, Together for Humanity, and the award-winning initiative Empowering Peacemakers in Your Community in western Australia. A time for discussion will follow the presentation. Call 847-742-6602 for more information.

  • South Central Indiana District is holding its District Conference on July 30-31 in Anderson, Ind.

  • Northern Plains District holds its District Conference on July 31-Aug. 2 at Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa. The conference will be led by moderator Marge Smalley on the theme, "LET GOD: Lighten up, Energize, Tell, Go Out Disciples."

  • Western Plains District Conference will meet in McPherson, Kan., from July 30-Aug. 1. Several of the district conference sessions will be webcast, with district member Andy Ullom as host. Connect to the webcasts at

  • Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., is one of the congregations helping support Camp Mack following a fire that destroyed Becker Lodge. Last Sunday church members had an opportunity to write messages and sign a banner for the Camp Mack staff. During Sunday School, the children decorated the banner and wrote their own messages on it. The church distributed a letter from Barry Bucher of the camp board of directors on July 15, reporting that "Camp Mack is still moving forward with two groups in residence this week and more scheduled for the remainder of the summer." A portable kitchen under a tent is providing an outdoor eating space for campers, the camp office has been moved next door to the staff house, and copier and computers have been replaced. "A computer and the server were rescued by firemen from the fire so most of the camp records were saved. Most of the paper files were lost," Bucher wrote. Donations of clothing and gift cards have been received for staff who lost belongings in the fire. "Now begins the process of salvaging what is still useful and planning for the future," Bucher reported. The camp is calling for volunteers to help salvage and clean equipment, help with the demolition of the burned building, and perform other work in coming weeks. Contact the camp office at 574-658-4831.

  • Middle Pennsylvania District and Camp Blue Diamond hold their annual Brethren Open Golf Tournament on Aug. 10 at Iron Masters in Roaring Spring, Pa. Cost is $60 per golfer and includes dinner at Albright Church of the Brethren following the tournament. Contact 814-653-0601.

  • A Tubing Adventure Day on the Shenandoah River on Aug. 21 is sponsored by Brethren Woods, a Church of the Brethren outdoor ministry center. Participants in the afternoon of tubing will gather at 1 p.m. at Mountain View-McGaheysville Church of the Brethren. Brethren Woods staff, including a certified lifeguard, will provide a brief orientation to tubing and safety. The group will float down a stretch of river from Power Dam Road to Island Ford and return to the church at about 4 p.m. Cost is $15 per person and includes transportation, certified staff leadership, inner-tube, lifejacket, and some additional gear. Registrations are due Aug. 13. Contact 540-269-2741 or

  • Fundraising to purchase the historic John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., continues as a deadline nears to raise the total by the end of this year. One of the organizers of the effort, Paul Roth, reports that the total of contributions and pledges now comes to nearly $241,000, "leaving just under $85,000 to be raised by the end of 2010." Contributions may be sent to John Kline Homestead, P.O. Box 274, Broadway, VA 22815. Contact Linville Creek Church of the Brethren at 540-896-5001 to schedule a tour of the homestead for your church or family group. The Board of Directors are planning several events at the homestead beginning in 2011 as part of the four-year Sesquecentennial Commemoration of the Civil War. Included in the plans are a lecture series and interpretive dinners.
Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. The NYC News Team included photographers Glenn Riegel and Keith Hollenberg, writers Frank Ramirez and Frances Townsend, "NYC Tribune" guru Eddie Edmonds, Facebooker and Twitterer Wendy McFadden, website staff Amy Heckert. Judy Bezon, Jordan Blevins, Michael Colvin, Jeanne Davies, LethaJoy Martin, Jim Miner, Dennis Moyer, Paul Roth, Mary Shesgreen, Zach Wolgemuth, Jane Yount also contributed to this report.