Thursday, December 27, 2007

Regional Youth Conference Not to be Held in 2008

The Regional Youth Conference (RYC), normally scheduled in April at Manchester College, will not be held in 2008 according to Dave McFadden, Manchester College Executive Vice President. Declining attendance at this event led organizers to ask how youth and congregations in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan might be better served.

During a meeting with youth pastors from Northern and South/Central Indiana districts, Steve Crain, Manchester College Campus Pastor, and Dave McFadden learned that the traditional late April date conflicts with end-of-year school activities for many youth. Also, the "mini-NYC" approach spreads leadership and participants too thinly.

McFadden says, "We know there will be disappointments with our decision but we hope this disappointment is a good sign that there is ongoing interest in a six district event. As the interests and schedules of youth change, we want to adapt creatively to those changes." McFadden relates other possibilities will be considered and a group will be charged with planning an event in the fall of 2008 or spring of 2009. Questions are welcomed and may be directed to Dave McFadden by email at dfm@manchester.edu or by phone at 260-982-5050.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Junior High Winter Retreat: January 18-19

From: Lisa Fike <frptcob@juno. com>

I am sending this Email to you for advanced notice and will send more information to the churches.

Illinois Wisconsin District Jr. High Winter retreat will be January 18-19, 2008 starting at 7:00 on Friday and closing January 19 at 4:00pm. We will meet at First Church of the Brethren in Peoria .

Jr. High Youth grades 6-9 are welcome. Yes, I realize that 9th graders are in high school but I have had requests to include them especially for those who are not quite ready to go to the high school events.

This event begins AFTER supper time on Friday, so participants will need to have eaten before they arrive. We will ask everyone to bring snacks to share; a Brethren (snack) potluck.

We expect at least one adult, at the event, for every 6 youth. Please do not send youth without adult chaperons. If you are send both male and female youth send male and female chaperons. Adults will be asked to participate in all events.

There will be a nominal fee for participants to cover food and supplies. Mark your calendars. More information will be coming soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Brethren workcamp ministry experiences successful expansion.

An expansion of the workcamp ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board has been very successful, according to coordinator Steve Van Houten. This past summer, the ministry involved about 875 participants in a total of 37 workcamps that took place across the US and internationally.

"We really jumped into it this year," Van Houten said. The most workcamps held in previous years was in 2005, when 26 events involved about 650 people. Another aspect of the expansion was the number of workcamps offered for different age groups, from junior high through youth to young adults, to intergenerational events that also involved older adults. The workcamp ministry also offered "custom" workcamps for congregations that could send a large enough group to hold a workcamp by themselves (at regular workcamps only a third of participants can come from the same church). Also new this year was the widest variety of locations ever offered.

"It was a very positive year, from the youth who responded," Van Houten said, adding that, "the adult leadership that stepped up and came on board was wonderful."

New locations offered the opportunity to partner with Brethren camps, including Camp Mardela in Maryland and Camp Wilbur Stover in Idaho, and with Brethren Disaster Ministries at the Hurricane Katrina rebuilding sites in the Gulf coast. Other new locations included a home building site in an Appalachian area in southeastern Kentucky with Homes, Inc., which saw the largest single group this summer with 52 participants. Five workcamps were held in the Caribbean including the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. Other international workcamps were held in Mexico and Guatemala.

The responses from those receiving the service of workcampers signaled success to Van Houten. "People are amazed that the youth workcampers will pay to come to work," he said. Community members always want to know why the youth are there, he said.

Van Houten described a conversation on St. Croix with a Muslim man who managed the lumberyard that supplied materials for the workcamp. "He scratched his head," Van Houten recalled. "He said, are these bad kids doing community service? I explained these are good kids who want to be here. He struggled to understand.... He said, your kids come here and do things for people who aren’t even neighbors, this is amazing."

At the end of the conversation, the manager insisted on giving Van Houten a hug, instead of a simple handshake, saying, "We are brothers."

Another unmistakeable sign of success for Van Houten came during a "custom" intergenerational workcamp held for Plymouth (Ind.) Church of the Brethren in Keyser, W.Va. Ages ranged from the teens to the mid-70s. "Those 26 people will always have a bond that they wouldn’t have otherwise," Van Houten said. He had asked the adults to take the role of mentors, to share their knowledge and skills with the youth, and encouraged the youth to be the ones actually doing most of the work. The youth responded with affirmation, he said, even expressing the wish that their grandparents and parents would spend that kind of time with them. "Work-wise we might not have gotten quite as much done," Van Houten said, "but I think in the end they all saw the benefit."

Van Houten has resigned as coordinator for the program as of the end of the year, to return to pastoral ministry. Jeanne Davies begins in mid-January as fulltime coordinator. Sharon Flaten and Jerry O'Donnell are working with the ministry as Brethren Volunteer Service workers.

The General Board will offer 26 workcamps next summer, 2008, on the theme "Strengthen My Hands" (Nehemiah 6:9). Locations will include the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding projects on the Gulf coast; the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.; the Dominican Republic (co-sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship); Roanoke, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Ashland, Ohio; Baltimore, Md.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Idaho; Broadway, Va.; Castaner, P.R.; Neon, Ky.; Kyle, S.D.; the eastern shore of Maryland; Keyser, W.Va.; Chicago, Ill.; St. Croix; Reynosa, Mexico; and North Fort Myers, Fla.

For a 2008 brochure contact cobworkcamps_gb@brethren.org or 800-323-8039, or go to www.brethrenworkcamps.org for more information. Registration for the 2008 workcamps begins online at www.brethrenworkcamps.org as of 12:01 a.m. (central time) on Jan. 3.

Source: 11/21/2007 Newsline
Counter-Recruitment Networking Call

On Earth Peace has announced its next counter-recruitment networking call for those working against military recruitment, on Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. Pacific time/1 p.m. eastern time. The networking calls are for both new and experienced peacemakers to share experiences and receive support for their work resisting military recruitment and generating alternatives for youth. Each call offers opportunities for sharing, as well as a "strategy session," and spiritual and theological reflections on counter-recruitment. Find more information about the calls at www.brethren.org/oepa/programs/peace-witness/counter-recruitment/NetworkingCalls.html. Reserve a place in the Dec. 13 call by e-mailing mattguynn@earthlink.net.

Source: 11/21/2007 Newsline
WCC Essay Contest: Making a Difference Together

Students of theology and young theologians are being invited by the World Council of Churches (WCC) to participate in an essay competition to mark the council's 60th anniversary. Participants are invited to address the theme, "Making a Difference Together--Prospects for Ecumenism in the 21st Century." The best six essays will be presented by their authors at an international consultation in Switzerland in late 2008. Other selected essays will be published by the WCC. Essays should be written in English, but will be judged for the quality of their contribution and not their language proficiency. With a length of 5,000-6,000 words, the essays should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere. More details are at www.oikoumene.org/contest. The deadline is Feb. 28, 2008.

Source: 11/21/2007 Newsline
Camp Alexander Mack: news Year's Eve

Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind., is planning a New Year’s Eve event for the 300th anniversary. "Wouldn't it be great if 300 young people (who represent the next generation of the church) gathered together in one place to celebrate this milestone in our history by ushering in the New Year?" said an invitation from the camp. The event is being planned for 300 junior high and senior high youth. It will begin at 2 p.m. on Dec. 31, and conclude at 1 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2008. The theme is "Fan the Flame." Indoor and outdoor activities are planned including worship, an "Olympics," talent shows, and a Times Square-like countdown to the New Year with the dropping of a lighted ball at midnight followed by a hike to the "living cross" for devotions, and continuing on with activities throughout the night. The fee is $55 ($45 before Dec. 10). T-shirts cost $10. Contact the office at Camp Mack for brochures, 574-658-4831.

Source: 11/21/2007 Newsline

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Christian Citizenship Seminar to examine genocide.

The 2008 Christian Citizenship Seminar will be held on the topic of genocide, focusing on the Darfur region of Sudan, with a scripture theme from Matthew 5:44. The event for high school youth is scheduled for March 29-April 3, in New York City and Washington D.C., sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office and the Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the General Board.

This year’s seminar is being planned to increase understanding of the relationship between faith and our response to the violence of genocide. The event is open to all high school youth and adult advisors. Registration will be limited to the first 100 youth and adults who apply. The $350 registration fee includes lodging for five nights, dinner on the opening evening, and transportation from New York to Washington.

Register at www.brethren.org/genbd/yya/CCS.htm. Registration will be cut off by Feb. 28, 2008 or as soon as 100 registrations have been received. Contact Youth and Young Adult Ministries at 800-323-8039 or COBYouth_gb@brethren.org.

Source: 11/07/2007 Newsline
2008 National Young Adult Conference

National Young Adult Conference is offering a gift certificate option through the Youth and Young Adult Ministries Office of the General Board. Family and friends of young adults can purchase a gift certificate for 50 percent ($162.50) or 100 percent ($325) of the registration cost. "As Christmas is approaching, consider giving the gift of National Young Adult Conference to your favorite young adult!" said coordinator Rebekah Houff. Visit www.nyac08.org for more information, or contact Houff at 800-323-8039 ext. 281 or rhouff_gb@brethren.org.

Source: 11/07/2007 Newsline

Monday, November 05, 2007

IL/WI District Jr. High

From: Lisa Fike [mailto:revsfike@ hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, November 05, 2007 9:47 AM
Subject: IL/WI District Jr. High

Amazing things happen when God is a part of Conference! Those of you who heard the report from the Jr. Highs at the conference about National Jr. High Conference will perhaps remember that I made a comment that Brian Archer and I are ready to launch a District Jr. High revival. After that comment, several of you said you had Jr. High youth that would like to be involved! Praise the Lord!!

Details will be coming, but the early news is that we are planning a District Jr. High (Grade 6-7-8) Winter retreat sometime in January.

We are most likely looking at a Friday night Saturday event. Brian and I are both serving our congregations as pastor and feel that we need to be in attendance at our churches on Sunday.

For Jr. High Kids one overnight is usually enough...(for the Leaders) If you would like to be in on the planning for this or other events, please let me know.

Next year at District conference may we have 10, 12, or more Jr. high age students.

Blessings for today and always,

Lisa

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Senior High Fall Retreat -- November 2-4, 2007

"Encountering God On the Way"



About 20 people took part in this year's fall district youth retreat, held during district conference in Freeport. Thanks to the Freeport Church of the Brethren for providing space for the event!

Seth Hendricks, who coordinated music for the 2006 National Youth Conference and last year's Regional Youth Conference, was the guest leader for the weekend on the theme "Encountering God on the Way." Seth is currently a student at Bethany Theological Seminary and made the long drive up from Richmond, Ind. The three sessions took place in a worship setting, with Jewel McNary, Walt Wiltschek, and Bill Williams providing meditations on encountering God through prayer, through everyday moments and places, and through scripture.

The weekend also included a service project in Freeport, several good meals, some time for games and recreation, and a Sunday morning insight session on the district's youth ministry. The youth also joined district conference for opening and closing worship services and the Saturday evening concert---after which they served ice cream as a fundraiser for the district.

The spring youth retreat (for youth currently in grades 9-12 and advisors) is scheduled for Feb. 29 to March 2 at Decatur Church of the Brethren. Watch www.cobyouth.org for details.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Waynesboro Peace Retreat

Senior high youth are invited to Waynesboro (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Nov. 16-18 for a peace retreat on the theme, "A Kingdom that Cannot Be Shaken." Susan Chapman (program director at Camp Bethel) and Susanna Farahat (coordinator for peace education at On Earth Peace) will lead youth in a weekend of energizing sessions based on Hebrews 12:18: "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." Youth will have an opportunity to discuss the questions brought up by this scripture: How do we worship acceptably? What does it mean to be part of "a kingdom that cannot be shaken"? How can we accept the challenge that Jesus’ call to discipleship presents, in a world of diversity? In addition to times for study and worship, participants will also enjoy food, fellowship, and recreation time with youth from across the Virlina and Shenandoah Districts. Registration forms are available online at www.onearthpeace.org. For more information contact Susanna Farahat at 410-635-8706 or sfarahat_oepa@brethren.org, or Terrie Glass (host) at 804-439-0478 or t.glass@comcast.net.

Source: 10/10/2007 Newsline
Junior High Sunday, 11/4/2007, will focus on ‘Amazing Race’ theme.

The Church of the Brethren celebrates Junior High Sunday on Nov. 4 this year. The event is sponsored by the Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Church of the Brethren General Board. The theme for this year’s Junior High Sunday is the same as the theme for the National Junior High Conference that was held on June 15-17, "The Amazing Race: Continuing the Work of Jesus," based on Luke 9:23.

A website offers resource materials for congregations to observe the special Sunday, including ways to involve junior high youth in leading worship. The materials available at www.brethren.org/genbd/yya/YouthSundayJ.htm include a Bible study by Chris Douglas, worship resources by various writers such as calls to worship and prayers, a skit on the Lord’s Prayer, a skit on the "Amazing Race" (alluding to video clips from the National Junior High Conference that may be ordered from David Sollenberger at 717-867-4187 or LSVideo@comcast.net; cost is $10), a sheet about "Worship our Privilege," and an outline for a Junior High Retreat to help youth groups plan for the Sunday.

Not included on the website, but available from David Sollenberger is a video scripture jam on the Luke 9:23 passage, in DVD format (call 717-867-4187 or e-mail LSVideo@comcast.net; cost is $10 including shipping). For more information contact the Youth and Young Adult Ministries at 800-323-8039 ext. 297.

Source: 10/10/2007 Newsline

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Senior High Fall Retreat -- November 2-4, 2007

"Encountering God On the Way"
  • Do you long for a closer connection to your faith?
  • Do you feel uncertain about the 'right' way to talk to God?
  • Do you want some new tools to help you on your journey?
Then come to the year's fall Illinois/Wisconsin District Youth Retreat, November 2-4 in Freeport, IL!

It will feature special leadership by Seth Hendricks, music leader for the 2006 National Youth Conference, along with great worship, incredible people, and good food.

Here's what you need to know:
Where: Freeport Church of the Brethren and the nearby Masonic Auditorium, Walnut & West Stephenson St., Freeport, IL.
When: November 2-4, 2007 (the 1st weekend in November). Registration will begin at 7pm Friday at Freeport. We'll stay for opening worship, then head to our retreat. We finish by noon on Sunday.
Who: Everyone currently in 9th through 12th grades, and advisors.
What:Worship, music, learning about God and yourself, food, fun, games and recreation, a possible service project, time with friends, and much more.
Cost: $30 (advisors can come for free!) Register using forms in the district conference packet or... Click Here

Click here for a flyer that you can post in your church.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

STEERING COMMITTEE PLANS NEXT DENOMINATIONAL GATHERING FOR YOUNG ADULTS

The Young Adult Steering Committee for the Church of the Brethren met Aug. 24-26 in Elgin, Ill., to plan National Young Adult Conference (NYAC). The denomination’s young adult program is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board.

NYAC is scheduled for Aug. 11-15, 2008, in Estes Park, Colo., at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center. The conference is open to all young adults ages 18-35. The Steering Committee is encouraging congregations to put NYAC scholarships in their 2008 budgets to help support the young adults in their churches. Find more information about NYAC at www.NYAC08.org or www.brethren.org/genbd/yya/nyac.htm.

Members of the Young Adult Steering Committee are Hannah Edwards of Southeastern District, Bob Etzweiler of Middle Pennsylvania District, Megan Fitze of Southern Ohio District, Ethan Gibbel of Atlantic Northeast District, Caitlin Haynes of Mid-Atlantic District, and Virginia Meadows of Middle Pennsylvania District. Staff working with the steering committee are Chris Douglas, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the General Board, and Brethren Volunteer Service worker Rebekah Houff, who serves as NYAC coordinator. Contact Houff at rhouff_gb@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 281.

Friday, August 31, 2007

YOUTH CABINET ISSUES 300th ANNIVERSARY CHALLENGE TO YOUTH GROUPS

The 2007-08 National Youth Cabinet held its first meeting Aug. 1-3 in Elgin, Ill., giving input for the Church of the Brethren’s denominational youth program, selecting a 2008 youth ministry theme, developing resources for the 2008 National Youth Sunday, and preparing for the denomination's 300th anniversary.

Elizabeth Willis of Tryon, N.C., Tricia Ziegler of Sebring, Fla., Joel Rhodes of Huntingdon, Pa., Seth Keller of Dover, Pa., Turner Ritchie of Richmond, Ind., and Heather Popielarz of Prescott, Mich., are serving on the cabinet. Dena Gilbert of La Verne, Calif., is serving as advisor to the group, along with Chris Douglas, Youth/Young Adult Ministries director for the Church of the Brethren General Board.

The cabinet settled on "By the Manner of Their Living" for next year's youth ministry theme, drawing on a familiar quote attributed to Alexander Mack Sr. for the denomination's 300th anniversary year. Mack is considered the founder of the Church of the Brethren. The theme scripture is Colossians 3:12-15. Resources will be drawn on this theme for the National Youth Sunday scheduled for May 4, 2008.

In addition, the group issued a 300th anniversary challenge to youth groups across the denomination, following up on a General Board challenge to do something in multiples of 300 for the anniversary year, such as rebuilding 300 homes in disaster areas or having 300 more people participate in summer workcamps. Suggestions to youth groups include giving 300 hours of service, preparing 300 school kits for disaster relief, giving 300 cans of food to a local food pantry, or offering 300 prayers of peace.

The meeting also included conversations about Brethren Volunteer Service, a tour of the offices, and several times of worship. The cabinet next meets July 31-Aug. 3, 2008, in Elgin.

--Walt Wiltschek is editor of “Messenger” magazine for the Church of the Brethren General Board.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

District Senior High Fall Retreat -- November 2-4, 2007

"Encountering God On the Way"
  • Do you long for a closer connection to your faith?
  • Do you feel uncertain about the 'right' way to talk to God?
  • Do you want some new tools to help you on your journey?
Then come to the year's fall Illinois/Wisconsin District Youth Retreat, November 2-4 in Freeport, IL!

It will feature special leadership by Seth Hendricks, music leader for the 2006 National Youth Conference, along with great worship, incredible people, and good food.

Here's what you need to know:
Where: Freeport Church of the Brethren and the nearby Masonic Auditorium, Walnut & West Stephenson St., Freeport, IL.
When: November 2-4, 2007 (the 1st weekend in November). Registration will begin at 7pm Friday at Freeport. We'll stay for opening worship, then head to our retreat. We finish by noon on Sunday.
Who: Everyone currently in 9th through 12th grades, and advisors.
What:Worship, music, learning about God and yourself, food, fun, games and recreation, a possible service project, time with friends, and much more.
Cost: $30 (advisors can come for free!) Register using forms in the district conference packet or... Click Here

Click here for a flyer that you can post in your church.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Teens Visit to Perform Service, Gain in Spirit

by Steve Matrazzo

It's not every teen-ager who would give up a week of summer vacation to travel to a strange town to perform public service. Fewer still would be likely to pay $300 for the privilege.

Yet 12 teens from at least five states were doing just that last week here in Dundalk.

They came as participants in the Church of the Brethren's Workcamp Ministry program at the invitation of Dundalk Church of the Brethren and its pastor, the Rev. Andrew Sampson.

Founded in 1988, the Elgin, Ill.-based program is designed to bring young churchgoers into the Church of the Brethren's tradition of community service.

This year, according to Church of the Brethren national workshop coordinator the Rev. Steve van Houten, more than 900 youths will participate in 37 locations across the U.S. and in a handful of foreign countries.

Church of the Brethren parishes suggest projects for each summer's program. This year, Sampson thought his church and the Dundalk area might benefit from hosting a youth work camp.

“We started the process about a year and a half ago,” he recalled, “and just threw our name out there. “Since most of these kids come from very small towns, Dundalk is just the kind of place the program is looking for to expose the kids to something different.”

A dozen teens from states including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana were sent to work in the August heat at the church and with the Community Assistance Network (CAN) and the Family Crisis Center, two organizations with which the local parish has worked closely.

Work at the church included the restoration of 26 pews that took hours each to sand and refinish. According to Mike Hoppe, who supervised the group working at the church, the pews “hadn't been touched since the church was built in 1951.”

Other teens worked in local homes, performing repairs and other tasks for residents designated by CAN and the Family Crisis Center.

One beneficiary of the group's work was a wheelchair-bound Loganview Drive resident whose backyard shed needed roof repairs. On a rainy Thursday, three teens under van Houten's supervision ascended ladders to remove and replace the old roof.

“Part of the emphasis of the Church of the Brethren is service,” van Houten told The Eagle, “and these kids chose to give up a week of their summer to come work and serve.”

All three of the teens working at the residence seemed focused less on their own service than on the personal and spiritual growth they have experienced through the work camp program.

Asked why she chose to take part, 14-year-old Carissa Doody of Union Bridge, Md., said simply, “I just wanted to try it, just as something new.”

When describing what she gained from the experience, however, she was ebullient.

“It was so great to meet [the Loganview Drive woman]. She was so nice and she told us her whole life story. You can learn so much from an older person like that.”

Another plus, she said, was the experience of making new friends who shared her faith.

“It's so nice to be with people you have something in common with,” she said.

Workmate Perry Ellwood, 17, who came to Dundalk from Saluda, N.C., agreed that the fellowship aspect of the camp was gratifying.

“The group setting really uplifts your spirit,” he said.

He also noted the educational benefit of his trip, which included a stop at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., gave him and others a sense of perspective regarding hardship.

“After seeing the museum and learning what people went through [during the Holocaust], I'm not going to complain because my hand hurts from this work,” he said.

The third member of the team that worked at the Loganview Drive residence was Rachel Sain, a 16-year-old from Tryon, N.C., who like Ellwood said the camp experience had given her a new outlook.

“I've always thought, Oh, I can't do this and I can't do that, it's too hard,” she said. “Now I'm here actually doing things I never thought I could. “It makes me feel a lot stronger in myself and in my faith.”

Sampson praised both the teens and the adult leaders who accompanied them to Dundalk.

“They didn't come here as a group,” he said. “They came as small groups or individuals, and by the end of the week they came together as a group.

“They're great kids, and I think the leaders did a great job with them.

“The stuff that they did around here was phenomenal for just a week. They worked around the church and at three different homes that CAN suggested, and they helped the Family Crisis Center with the temporary move they've been making.

“It's great to see young people who are not only going to church but who are actually doing service. What's really amazing is that they were willing to pay money to be here. They can serve as a model for so many others.”

Sampson was so impressed that he allowed the Workcamp Ministry individuals to lead the Sunday worship service that concluded their stay.

“It was just a small way of recognizing how grateful we are,” he said.

Source: Dundalk Eagle

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Church fund-raiser is 'flush' with success

By AMANDA BUCK - Bulletin Staff Writer

Many community groups raise money by washing cars or holding bake sales.

But when members of the youth group at Mount Hermon Church of the Brethren started thinking about a summer fund-raiser, they came up with a different idea.

You might call it commodes with a cause.

“The last time we went to (a national youth) conference, some advisers were together discussing fund-raisers,” said Denna Ramsey, a youth leader at the Bassett church. “Another adviser was talking about putting pink flamingos in people’s yards. In order to move the pink flamingo, the person had to make a donation.”

The youth at Mount Hermon thought the idea had potential, but they wanted to put a slightly different spin on it.

“They said pink flamingos weren’t bad enough, that people would just leave them there,” Ramsey recalled. “They wanted to put toilets in people’s yards.”

The youth introduced the idea to the congregation with a skit during a Youth Sunday service in May, complete with a toilet “right up front,” Ramsey said.

“They thought it was hysterical,” she said of church members. “Our congregation really likes to joke around.”

The youth chose Ralph Stone of Bassett as the first in the congregation to be “toiletized.”

“We had a little toy toilet, and we put it under the pew” where Stone was sitting, Ramsey said. Since then, each person who finds the toilet in his or her yard gets to chose where it will go next.

Volunteers move the toilet at night or when the homeowners are away so that it shows up as a surprise.

Since mid-May, the “golden throne” — so-named because church members have painted the toilet gold and decorated it with flowers — has been placed in the yards of 15 to 20 church members, Ramsey said.

Late last week, Theresa Shepherd became one of them.

“I had been at church helping with vacation Bible school, so while I was gone they put it in my yard,” said Shepherd, who lives in Collinsville. “People have taken pictures of this thing; the neighbors ask questions. ... It’s been so much fun with this thing, it’s unreal.”

Those who find the toilet in their yards negotiate with the youth’s CIA (Christians in Action) service to have it removed. The minimum donation required is $5, and so far church members have given as much as $60, Ramsey said.

Although she hasn’t totaled the money donated so far, Ramsey said the group hopes to raise $1,000 this summer. In addition to the toilet project, the group is performing odd jobs for church members.

The funds will go toward paying for a trip to the Church of the Brethren’s National Youth Conference, which is held every four years at Colorado State University. The trip usually costs about $1,000 per person, Ramsey said.

The next conference will be in 2010, so the youth, who are in eighth through 12th grades, have a few more summers of work ahead of them.

So do Ramsey and fellow youth leaders Sherry Flanagan and LaDonna Varner, who have helped organize the project. But that’s OK by them, Ramsey said.

“We have really had time to go visit with people in the church that we normally wouldn’t visit with” when the toilet is delivered or removed, she said. “It’s been a blessing.”

Source: Martinsville Bulletin

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2008 WCC Internship Program

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced its internship program for 2008. The WCC will welcome five young people aged 18-30 to serve as interns in its offices in Geneva, Switzerland, from Feb. 2008-Jan. 2009. Interns will be assigned to one of the WCC working areas. Each intern will be expected to plan an ecumenical project to implement in his or her home context when they return home in Feb. 2009. Areas of work will be
  1. the Decade to Overcome Violence (www.oikoumene.org/?id=3107);
  2. youth (www.oikoumene.org/?id=3069) and ecumenical relationships (www.oikoumene.org/?id=2950);
  3. visitors program (www.oikoumene.org/?id=3185) and media relations (www.oikoumene.org/?id=3432);
  4. faith, science, technology, and ethics (www.oikoumene.org/?id=3125); and
  5. just and inclusive communities (www.oikoumene.org/?id=3105).
Successful candidates will be committed to the ideals of the ecumenical movement and will bring energy, commitment, and a fresh vision to the work. Along with an application, applicants must send background information about their church or Christian youth network that will help them in implementing their proposed ecumenical project. Closing date for receiving applications is Sept. 20. More information and an application form and a background information form are at www.oikoumene.org/?id=3187.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

National Junior High Conference attracts 800 youth and advisors.

The first-ever National Junior High Conference in the Church of the Brethren attracted 800 participants to the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College from June 15-18. Youth and advisors engaged the theme, “The Amazing Race: Continuing the Work of Jesus,” based on Luke 9:24, as they worshiped, learned, played, and fellowshiped.

Turn-out for this inaugural event more than met the expectations of the organizers, who had been planning for an attendance of around 400. The size of the conference was finally determined when registration outpaced capacity at Elizabethtown College.

“It exceeded all of my expectations for this first gathering of the National Junior High Conference!” said Chris Douglas, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the General Board. “It has also made me look forward to doing it again in the summer of 2009, hopefully in a place that could accommodate more participants.”

Belita Mitchell, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, greeted the conference, as did Stanley J. Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board. Worship leaders included Christian musician Ken Medema, who provided musical leadership for the entire weekend, and Baptist preacher Tony Campolo, who shared the message on Friday night. Campolo emphasized that participants should be asking how they will spend the rest of their lives in service to God and others. David Radcliff of the New Community Project delivered Saturday morning’s message, stirring youth to think carefully about how their lifestyle choices are related to stewardship of the blessings humanity has collectively received from God in the form of the planet.

Saturday night conference-goers were immersed in a Brethren “extravaganza,” a worship service that invited all into participating in the many ministries of the General Board. During closing worship Sunday morning, Medema asked the youth to share their own dreams, motivations, and signs of God working in their lives; he then turned the stories into songs on the spot.

--Becky Ullom is director of Identity and Relations for the General Board.

Source: 6/20/2007 Newsline

Friday, May 18, 2007

YOUTH STAFF REMEMBER THE MINISTRY OF LEE ESHLEMAN

Today the Church of the Brethren General Board received the sad news of the death of Lee Eshleman, a member of the Mennonite comedy duo Ted & Lee, who has been a major presenter at National Youth Conferences over the past decade. Following is a pastoral letter from Chris Douglas, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the General Board, that is being sent by e-mail to the adult advisors who accompanied youth groups to National Youth Conference in 2006:

“Lee Eshleman, a member of the Mennonite comedy duo Ted & Lee, took his own life yesterday, May 17, after succumbing to a long battle with depression.

“Brethren youth and young adults, especially those who attended National Youth Conference (NYC) in the last decade, will remember Lee from his comedic and insightful performances with Ted Swartz, as they acted out biblical stories for the current day. Ted & Lee were major presenters at the last three NYCs, in 1998, 2002, and 2006. They also performed at two National Older Adult Conferences, and were booked to lead worship at the National Junior High Conference this June.

“At the 2006 NYC, Ted & Lee closed a worship service with feetwashing, in the most powerful interpretation of what Jesus did for his disciples that I have seen. I remember thinking at the time, they have made sense of the feetwashing service for a whole new generation of Brethren.

“We at the Youth and Young Adult Ministries Office, and the General Board, join with Lee’s family and loved ones, and with Ted and the Mennonite community, in grieving his death.

“Realizing that many Brethren youth may share this loss, I am encouraging youth advisors to talk about Lee’s death with youth groups, with special care for those who were at NYC last summer. This also is an opportunity for open conversation with youth about related issues of suicide and mental health.

“Consider ways to invite youth to a healthy and faithful response. If your youth group includes a number who were at NYC, you may want to set aside a moment of silence during Sunday school class or at the next youth group meeting, and offer an opportunity for youth to say prayers. Remember to reaffirm Lee’s public ministry, helping youth understand that his personal struggle with depression does not invalidate his faith, and does not negate the important things that he taught about following Jesus.

“In talking with youth about related issues, reassure them that for those who are living with mental illness, treatment does work; in the midst of this one loss, we must remember that many others have sought help and received it successfully. Research shows that the best treatments for mental illness today are highly effective. Our faith, as well as modern medicine, offer us resources of hope. We do not know what caused Lee to take his own life, but talking about the hope that is available to us will be helpful to youth who are concerned.

“If youth have questions about the struggle of those with depression or other mental illness, or for help in speaking about suicide from a faith perspective, resources are offered by the Association of Brethren Caregivers at www.brethren.org/abc:

— “What Every Church Should Know About Mental Illness” gives an explanation of depression and other mental illnesses.

— “Talking About Suicide Can Change a Life” includes the signs of depression and suicide risk, common misperceptions about suicide, and advice about how to find out if someone is suicidal.

— Internet links for further resources about suicide include two recommended DVDs: The video “The Truth About Suicide: Real Stories of Depression in College” from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which was shown at workshops for advisors at NYC (www.afsp.org). “Fierce Goodbye: Living in the Shadow of Suicide” is from Mennonite Media (www.mennomedia.org).

“Another way youth may want to respond is to contribute to an online page of condolence and remembrance offered by Eastern Mennonite University, where Lee Eshleman was an alumni. Go to www.emu.edu/response/lee.

“If your youth group includes individuals who seem to have an extreme reaction, you need to invite help from the parents and your pastor, and refer to local mental health professionals for help.

“Please join with me in holding all those who cared for Lee Eshleman in our prayers. May God bring comfort and peace.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me...” (Psalm 23:4a).

Signed,

Chris Douglas, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry
Church of the Brethren General Board
Lee Eshleman (1963-2007)

Harrisonburg, VA — Lee Eshleman, one half of the acting duo, Ted & Lee, died on May 17, 2007. Lee took his own life after succumbing to a long battle with depression. He leaves behind his wife, Reagan, and their children, Nicolas, Sarah and Gabe, along with countless friends and fans around the world.

Lee has been acting with Ted Swartz, since 1987, when they were introduced to do some comedy pieces for a retreat. Since then, the duo formed Ted & Lee TheaterWorks and have written and performed dozens of sketches and plays, including their most well-known plays, Fish-Eyes and Creation Chronicles, as well as a Christmas show (written and performed with Ingrid DeSanctis) called DoveTale, and their most recent show, Live at Jacob's Ladder, a musical written with Ken Medema and performed with Ken (and Jeff Raught).

Ted & Lee performed regularly at retreats and conferences for just about every denomination, and were featured performers at national events including DC/LA (for students) and Youth Specialties' National Youth Workers Conventions.

Lee was an active member of Community Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and is remembered by others as a funny, compassionate, thoughtful man who cared deeply for his family and was passionate about acting and sharing the story of God with others in creative and compelling ways. Along with Ted, he performed all over the country and in Kenya and Japan.

Lee performed a wide range of characters in their shows. But of his favorite, Lee once said, “I think it's Nigel Nevilson; just so darned enthusiastic about everything. He's a good-hearted, optimistic and slightly unhinged soul. Anyone who can find God in Green Eggs and Ham is good company. And when I really cut loose in character, Nigel pulses with all the spontaneity and basic sunny-ness that I sometimes suppress in my real life.”

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 21 in the Lehman Auditorium on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. There will be a visitation at the Lindsay Funeral Home, Harrisonburg, from 4-7 p.m. on Sunday evening, May 20.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Eastern Regional Youth Conference

On March 9-11, 154 youth and advisors from the Pennsylvania districts of the Church of the Brethren (Atlantic Northeast, Middle, Southern, and Western Pennsylvania) gathered on the Juniata College campus for Eastern Regional Youth Conference. The college is located in Huntingdon, Pa. The keynote speaker was Roland Martinson, professor of Children, Youth, and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He spoke on the theme of Life Quest, based on Proverbs 3:4. The conference provided an array of workshops including “The Heart of a Champion,” “The Power of Enemy Love,” “Afghanistan and Back,” “Am I Making the Right Choice,” “God and Science,” “Building Bridges: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity in Dialogue.” A number of workshops, together with the keynote message, challenged youth to make the right choices in their faith journey. For more go to www.eryccob.org.

--From the “Link” newsletter of Middle Pennsylvania District

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Taking the Pulse of Health care:
Christian Citizenship Seminar Introduces Youth to Complex Issue


How many Americans lack adequate health insurance? What global benchmarks are set by the Millennium Development Goals? How are epidemic conditions in Africa being addressed?

Seventy-two senior high youth and advisors tackled these questions and others as the state of health care received a check-up at this year’s Church of the Brethren Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS). The event began March 24 in New York and concluded five days later in Washington, D.C., with an assortment of presentations, small-group discussions, a United Nations tour, worship, and sightseeing in between.

Many speakers focused on the merits of a “single-payer” health care system, which would eliminate the insurance companies as an intermediary in the process. Instead, standard rates would be negotiated by the government in each region, similar to what is done in Canada and in many nations in Europe and elsewhere. While funded publicly, care would still be delivered privately.

“The present system is sick and just doesn’t get the job done,” said Bill Davidson, a Church of the Brethren cardiologist from Lebanon, Pa. “Heath care is the next big social battle that’s going to take place, and you as young people have a front-row seat.”

Davidson, who has become a strong advocate for universal health care despite some opposition from within the medical community, said that the huge profits currently being reaped by insurance and pharmaceutical companies could easily be redirected to provide health care for all Americans. He noted that the World Health Organization currently ranks the US No. 37 in overall health care worldwide.

Marilyn Clement, national coordinator of Healthcare - NOW, focused on House Resolution 676, which proposes a United States National Health Insurance Act, guaranteeing universal access to high-quality and cost-effective health care. Clement’s organization is leading a petition drive for the bill to be passed.

Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren pastor Wally Landes observed in an opening session that Brethren have often not chosen the easy road in a quest for mutuality. “Issues of health and wholeness are in our bones as Brethren,” Landes told the group. “I think God’s will is for wholeness, and sometimes stuff gets in the way.”

One day of the seminar focused on the more specific health issue of AIDS, which is still running rampant, especially in Africa. Church World Service (CWS) policy analyst Kathleen McNeely outlined the work being done in Africa through the CWS Africa Initiative, tackling issues of water, hunger, and poverty in addition to HIV/AIDS. “Africa has got to be given a chance,” she said. On the Millennium Development Goals, many of which concern Africa, she noted that we are about halfway to the target date of 2015, “and we’re not doing so hot.” Delegates at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference endorsed those goals last summer.

In the evening after McNeely spoke, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Church of the Brethren pastor Phill Carlos Archbold related his personal story of caring for AIDS patients, using photos to show the devastation the disease brings. “I want you to go back wherever you came from and begin to make a difference,” Archbold said. “You can do those kinds of things for people who are hurt and who are needy.”

Youth later in the week lobbied their representatives in Washington on the Senate and House bills they had learned about, following a session on advocacy by Greg Howe, who grew up in York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. Howe, now a senior policy manager on health care reform issues under Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, described his call to advocacy work and offered pointers. He said that while many states are working at the issue, “we need a federal solution.”

While the youth still clearly had some questions at the end of the week, it was also evident that the issue-and the larger concern of advocating for justice as part of one’s Christian witness-had struck a chord with many of them.

“It’s amazing how many different programs we can get involved with,” said Alex Otake of Lombard, Ill. “There’s no excuse for us not to do anything. It’s just a matter of choosing.”

Phil Jones of the Witness/Washington Office rounded out the sessions on Thursday morning with tips and ideas on how the CCS participants could move forward in their advocacy and education around this issue. “You have accomplished a great amount his week”, he stressed, “now go back home and continue to be engaged in this issue of justice.”

- portions of this article from Walt Wiltschek, editor of Messenger. He attended this year’s Christian Citizenship Seminar.

Source: April 2007 Witness to Washington Newsletter
CCS 2007 Reflection
Emily O’Donnell, is a current BVSer and Legislative Associate, in the Brethren Witness Washington Office.

As we arrived at the Vanderbilt YMCA in New York City for the start of the 2007 Christian Citizenship Seminar, the worry remained. How would the youth respond to an entire week dedicated to learning, listening, and advocating on the issue of healthcare? To be honest we feared the appeal of healthcare to youth, more than likely insured under their parents, would not be great. So you might wonder why choose this issue for the theme of a youth conference? But as the week progressed the answer became clear to all involved, especially the youth, that our nation’s healthcare system is a broken one. God has called us to not simply care for ourselves, but to care for our brothers and sisters throughout our nation and the world. Currently, the United States is failing in the area of healthcare, and the concern, questions, and a desire for change expressed by the youth at CCS erased any fears we had. The youth were ready to take on the challenge of healthcare.

The statistics on the U.S. healthcare system are harrowing. 47 million Americans are uninsured, 50% of Americans have inadequate insurance, and 18,000 Americans die each year from diseases that would be treatable or preventable with adequate health coverage. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a universal healthcare plan and its healthcare system is ranked 37th in the world. The youth realized very quickly that this not an issue for someone else. This is an issue for them right here, right now. It is a moral issue, an issue of justice.

On Sunday night in NYC, a speaker few will soon forget, Pastor Phil Carlos Archbold, of Brooklyn Church of the Brethren, told his incredible story. He told of his relationship with David, a young man with AIDS who he legally adopted, and his calling to be a caregiver, friend, and father to one who was sick and in desperate need of love. One could only leave that night thinking “What would Jesus do in terms of healthcare and the sick?” The answer: exactly what Phil did and continues to do as he works with AIDS patients in NYC. Jesus would care for them, love them, pray for them, serve them, and heal them. In the case of David, Phil healed David’s heart prior to his passing. In both NYC and DC where the conference took place, a number of speakers spoke on a single payer universal healthcare plan for the U.S. Speakers Marilyn Clement, National Coordinator of Healthcare, Dr. William Davidson, cardiologist and President of the Good Samaritan Medical Staff, and Greg Howe, the senior policy manager in PA Governor Rendell’s Office of Health Care Reform, all spoke in support of a single payer universal health care plan that would provide health insurance for all and remove the inadequate and frustrating use of insurance companies. The youth asked question after question trying to grasp this single payer plan and understanding that this is probably one of the best solutions for a just healthcare system for all. I was amazed at how well the youth understood the plan and their ability to articulate this plan and other issues on healthcare to their Senators and House Representatives when lobbying on the final day of CCS.

I have to admit my first CCS experience was more than I could have imagined. As a leader, I felt encouraged and motivated by the enthusiasm, intelligence, and compassion of our denomination’s youth. I left the conference feeling informed and driven to change the tide of healthcare in our nation. Our system of healthcare is broken, and now is the time to fix it. Healthcare is not for the privileged but for everyone because Jesus has called us to care for one another. Jesus asked Peter so many years ago “Do you love me.” Peter responded “Yes, Lord you know that I love you.” Jesus replied “Then tend to my sheep.” It is time to tend to the sheep, to hear Jesus’ call. I heard the message of CCS 2007 loud and clear and with great confidence I can say the youth of our denomination are ready to take on the broken healthcare system in our nation.

Source: April 2007 Witness to Washington Newsletter

Thursday, April 19, 2007

CHRISTIAN CITIZENSHIP SEMINAR EXPLORES ‘THE STATE OF OUR HEALTH’

Seventy-two senior high youth and advisors explored questions related to "The State of Our Health" in the US and abroad at this year’s Church of the Brethren Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS). The event began March 24 in New York and concluded five days later in Washington, D.C., with an assortment of presentations, small-group discussions, a United Nations tour, worship, and sightseeing in between.

Many speakers focused on the merits of a “single-payer” health care system, which would eliminate the insurance companies as an intermediary in the process. Instead, standard rates would be negotiated by the government in each region, similar to what is done in Canada and in many nations in Europe and elsewhere. While funded publicly, care would still be delivered privately.

Each worker would pay a small percentage from his or her paycheck to fund the system, providing resources for those who can’t afford health care on their own. Recent government estimates put the number of Americans without health insurance at about 46 million. Many companies are also being squeezed by the cost of health care coverage.

“The present system is sick and just doesn’t get the job done,” said Bill Davidson, a Church of the Brethren cardiologist from Lebanon, Pa. “Heath care is the next big social battle that’s going to take place, and you as young people have a front-row seat.” Davidson noted that the World Health Organization currently ranks the US number 37 in overall health care worldwide.

Marilyn Clement, national coordinator of Healthcare-NOW, focused on House Resolution 676, which proposes a US National Health Insurance Act, guaranteeing universal access to high-quality and cost-effective health care. Clement’s organization is leading a petition drive for the bill to be passed. “Getting there is going to be hard,” said Clement, who noted that health care costs could top 20 percent of the gross national product (GNP) by 2020 under the current system. “It’s not going to be easy.”

Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren pastor Wally Landes observed in an opening session that Brethren have often not chosen the easy road in a quest for mutuality. “Issues of health and wholeness are in our bones as Brethren,” Landes told the group. “I think God’s will is for wholeness, and sometimes stuff gets in the way.” He emphasized that health is a theological and spiritual issue, that Brethren “have always taken health and healing seriously,” and the ability of Brethren to do big things despite their relatively small size. Often, he added, some have made sacrifices to bring about justice for the larger community.

One day of the seminar focused on the more specific health issue of AIDS, which is still running rampant, especially in Africa. Church World Service (CWS) policy analyst Kathleen McNeely outlined the work being done in Africa through the CWS Africa Initiative, tackling issues of water, hunger, and poverty in addition to HIV/AIDS, while Brooklyn (N.Y.) Church of the Brethren pastor Phill Carlos Archbold related his personal story of caring for AIDS patients, using photos to show the devastation the disease brings.

Youth later in the week lobbied their representatives in Washington on the Senate and House bills they had learned about, following a session on advocacy by Greg Howe, who grew up in York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. Howe, now a senior policy manager on health care reform issues under Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, described his call to advocacy work and offered pointers. He said that while many states are working at the issue, “we need a federal solution.”

Christian Citizenship Seminar is sponsored annually except in National Youth Conference years by the General Board’s Youth/Young Adult Ministries and Brethren Witness/Washington Office. Details are at www.brethren.org/genbd/yya/CCS.htm.

--Walt Wiltschek is editor of the Church of the Brethren “Messenger” magazine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Youth Heritage Teams are coming!

In 1708, Alexander Mack and seven others risked their security and safety by going to the Eder River to be re-baptized as adults and begin a new church. The Church of the Brethren was born. Next year we will celebrate the 300th anniversary of those historic steps.

An exciting piece of that anniversary celebration is the commissioning of Youth Heritage Teams. Each district was invited to call out two youth for this responsibility. Our district called James Gibble-Keenan of the Highland Avenue congregation in Elgin and Carlos Maldonado of the Cerro Gordo congregagtion.

Their call began with a trip to the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., where they attended an intensive training event April 13-15. Their time there included learning more about our heritage as Brethren, leadership skills, and how to effectively communicate with congregations in worship and workshop settings.

Now they are ready to share at events in the district over the next year, up until June 2008. They will be sharing at the district camps and district conference, as well as some congregational visits. For information on scheduling the team in your area, contact the district office at 630-261-0951.

Why have a Youth Heritage Team at your congregation? It helps to provide an important leadership development opportunity for the youth who are serving on the team and making these visits. It helps to revitalize our congregations as we learn and connect together. And it helps all of us deepen our Christian discipleship as we learn more about our Brethren heritage and values. Be part of the celebration!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

NEW NATIONAL YOUTH CABINET NAMED FOR 2007-08

The Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Church of the Brethren General Board has named a new National Youth Cabinet for the denomination, to help plan youth events for the year 2007-08.

The six youth who have been named to the cabinet are Seth Keller of Dover, Pa.; Heather Popielarz of Prescott, Mich.; Joel Rhodes of Huntingdon, Pa.; Turner Ritchie of Richmond, Ind.; Elizabeth Willis of Tryon, N.C.; and Tricia Ziegler of Sebring, Fla.

Adult advisors for the cabinet are Dena Gilbert of La Verne, Calif., youth ministries coordinator for Pacific Southwest District; and Chris Douglas of Elgin, Ill., the General Board’s director of Youth and Young Adults Ministries.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

YOUTH PEACE TRAVEL TEAM IS SELECTED FOR SUMMER 2007

The 2007 Youth Peace Travel Team has been selected. The three members of the team are Amanda Glover of Mountain View Fellowship Church of the Brethren in McGaheysville, Va.; Audrey Hollenberg of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren; and Emily LaPrade of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va.

The team is jointly sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, Brethren Volunteer Service, and the Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Church of the Brethren General Board, and by the Outdoor Ministries Association and On Earth Peace.

Team members will share Christ’s message of peace with youth across the denomination this summer. They will join fellow Ministry Summer Service workers in Elgin, Ill., for orientation at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, and then will travel to Woodland Altars, a Church of the Brethren camp in Peebles, Ohio, to continue their orientation and provide leadership for a senior high youth camp.

Other stops for the team later in the summer include Camp Eder in Fairfield, Pa.; Camp Harmony in Hooversville, Pa.; Shepherd’s Spring, a camp in Sharpsburg, Md.; Camp Mardela in Denton, Md.; Camp Swatara in Bethel, Pa.; Camp Blue Diamond in Petersburg, Pa.; and Annual Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

“The Youth Peace Travel Team exemplifies what it means to live simply and follow Christ’s example,” said Susanna Farahat of On Earth Peace. “They travel the country teaching and modeling Christ’s love and commitment to living in right relationship with each other and creation. I look forward to watching God work through these incredible women!”

For more information contact Farahat at sfarahat_oepa@brethren.org or 410-635-8706.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

REGIONAL YOUTH CONFERENCE; April 28-29, 2007

“Now Follow Me”- Jesus (Luke 9:23)


Worship is always the highlight of RYC. Three worship celebrations will center on the Church of the Brethren National Youth theme of “Now, Follow Me,” based on Luke 9:23. Worship will lead the youth to a new understanding of what “follow me” could mean for them. This theme responds to last year’s invitation to come and see.

RYC begins at 11 a.m. Saturday morning with time for getting acquainted followed by worship before lunch. Workshops will be on Servant Evangelism, Prayer and Doubt, What are My Next Steps, BVS and Work camps. More come after lunch, followed by opportunities for small service projects.

Seth Hendricks will lead music throughout the weekend. Seth composed the NYC theme song and led music last year. Youth may also choose late evening and early morning prayer times in the chapel. Keynote speaker for RYC is Walt Wiltschek. Walt edits The Messenger, the Church of the Brethren’s monthly magazine. Walt is the local and district youth advisor for the Illinois/Wisconsin district. Walt emceed the recent RYC Coffeehouses and was a workshop leader. His humor should keep us all laughing while he helps explore what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

We invite District Youth Cabinet Leaders from Northern and Southern Ohio, North and South/Central Indiana, Michigan and Illinois/Wisconsin to arrive between 7 and 8 p.m. on Friday evening, April 27 for a leadership development workshop. This is a great team building event for district youth leaders! The leaders will put their leadership skills into practice by helping with RYC registration, get acquainted games and worship leading.

The body of Christ is alive and vibrant! Support your youth to experience the vibrancy of faith amongst their peers! Send a carload to RYC at Manchester College from your church!

Registration is on-line at ryc.manchester.edu. or phone: 260-982-5237 and ask for Bev Eikenberry.

source: March 2007 IL/WI District Newsletter
NATIONAL JR. HIGH CONFERENCE

The Illinois Wisconsin District Leadership Team asked if Lisa Fike would coordinate transportation for the District Jr. High youth to attend the first ever National Jr. High Conference being held this June 15-17, 2007 at Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA.

Jr. High youth groups should NOW be making arrangements to attend. Some of you may not have heard much about the conference. You should check it out at www.brethren.org keyword "Youth/Young Adult"; look for the Jr. High Ministries heading and then look for National Jr. High Conference. Pastors have received a brochure to share with youth and their leaders. The leadership looks wonderful, (i.e. Tony Campolo, Ted and Lee, Ken Medema).

If your youth group would like to be a part of a district bus traveling to N.J.H.C. Registrations for the conference are already underway. We are in a time crunch.

Please let me know if your church would like to participate in district wide travel. It would be very helpful if you can give me an educated guess as to the number of participants from your congregation. Also if you are not sending anyone this time forward that information, too.

Contact: Lisa Fike, Pastor, Freeport Church of the Brethren, 777 W. Pleasant St., Freeport, IL 61032 revsfike@hotmail.com

source: March 2007 IL/WI District Newsletter

Monday, March 05, 2007

Bridgewater Roundtable

The theme for the March 16-17 Youth Roundtable at Bridgewater (Va.) College is “Humbled by His Presence.” Roundtable is one of the annual regional youth conferences in the Church of the Brethren. Jim Hardenbrook, former Annual Conference moderator and pastor of Nampa (Idaho) Church of the Brethren, is the guest speaker, with music by "Into Hymn." For more information contact Virlina District at 540-362-1816 or MQT1965@aol.com.

Source: 3/5/2007 Newsline

Monday, February 12, 2007

Youth Peace Travel Team - Deadline Extended

The deadline to apply for the summer 2007 Youth Peace Travel Team has been extended to Feb. 23. This year’s team, which will provide leadership to Church of the Brethren outdoor ministry programs, is sponsored by the General Board’s Brethren Witness/ Washington Office, Brethren Volunteer Service, and Youth and Young Adult Ministries, along with the Outdoor Ministries Association and On Earth Peace. Four youth or young adults between the ages of 18-22 will be selected for the 2007 team. A stipend is available to team members. The first Youth Peace Travel Team was formed for the summer of 1991 as a cooperative effort of a number of programs of the Church of the Brethren General Board.

Go to www.brethren. org/genbd/ WitnessWashOffice.html and click on “Youth Peace Travel Team” to download the application form.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007 workcamp registration is now open!

Registrations will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants must register using the webpage. But the registration process will not be complete until they have received your deposit, and space is not guaranteed in your first or second choice until that time.

A $100 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of registration and the full balance of the registration fee is due by April 1, 2007. Make checks payable to “Church of the Brethren General Board.” Please send checks to Church of the Brethren General Board, c/o 2007 Workcamp Coordinators, 1451 Dundee Ave. Elgin, IL 60120.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

National Youth Conference energizes Dominican youth

What a privilege it is to spend time with energetic, dedicated, capable young Christian leadership. This was the joy that staff members Beth Gunzel, community development staff, and Nancy Heishman had when they shared the responsibility of accompanying six Dominican youth to National Youth Conference and two weeks of visiting churches. On July 15, six very nervous and excited youth (along with their experienced “travel guide” Timothy Heishman, age 16) boarded a Boeing 757 bound for Chicago and eventually for National Youth Conference. By the middle of the following week, Guidalba FĂ©liz Guzman was marveling at all the completely new experiences she had had within just a few short days. Hamburgers, e-mail and computers, and air travel were just a few of the experiences that were new for many group members. What has been most lasting for the group, however, are the relationships they formed with US Brethren, the kinship they feel for the larger church, and the conviction to return to their communities and invest their lives in the work of Christ there.

One example is the renewed energy Pastor Pedro Sanchez has for reaching the youth of his tiny town of Magueyal. Only 23 years old, Pedro has begun of fering activities designed to introduce young people to Christ and the church family. He is combining a study of the book, “The Purpose Driven Life, ” with an invitation to the participating youth to make a life commitment to Christ. Pedro is organizing recreational activities, all-night prayer vigils in the church, as well as small renovations to the building to accommodate the growing numbers. All this is undergirded by Pedro’s deep devotion to a life of prayer and study of God’s Word and his warm, joyful spirit. Other youth have been inspired to sharpen their English skills and to also invest themselves more fully in their communities.

Source: December 2006 Dominican Mission Report
Youth Peace Travel Team Application Deadline Approaches

The first Youth Peace Travel Team was formed in the summer of 1991 as a cooperative effort of a number of General Board programs. Since that year a team has been fielded every summer. The members of the Youth Peace Travel Team travel to camps throughout the Church of the Brethren. The goal of the team's work is to talk with other young people about the Christian message and the Brethren tradition of peacemaking.

The Youth Peace Travel Team is sponsored by On Earth Peace, the Outdoor Ministries Association, and the Church of the Brethren General Board's Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office, Brethren Witness/Washington Office, and Brethren Volunteer Service.

Four youth/young adults between the ages of 18-22 will be selected for the 2007 team. A scholarship stipend is paid to team members through the Ministry Summer Service Program of the Church of the Brethren General Board.

Visit www.brethren.org/genbd/witness/YPTTapp2007.pdf for the application form. If you would like more information contact the BW/WO at 202-546-3202. Deadline for application is February 4, 2007.

Source: Winter 2006 Witness to Washington Newsletter

Monday, January 01, 2007

Peace Essay Contest

In recent years, many cultural critics have observed that progressives have lost the ability to tell a good story. It is suggested that the political right learned how to compose a convincing, coherent narrative as progressives debated important yet disconnected issues about health care, education, war and clean are. James Carville stated the problem pointedly on Meet the Press: "They produce narrative, we produce a litany."

This first decade of this new millennium has been declared by the World Council of Churches as "The Decade to Overcome Violence." The Historic Peace Churches - Brethren, Friends, and Mennonites - have been invited to think creatively and critically in communion with the international ecumenical community about seeking cultures of peace in a violent world. What story will a Peace Church tell the world?

The Peace Studies Program and Bethany Seminary Theological Seminary, in partners! hip with Messenger magazine, in pleased to announce the Jennie Calhoun Baker essay contest. Contestants will submit an essay or story-shaped manuscript address this question: "What story will a Peace Church tell the world?" First prize: $2500. Second prize: $1000. Winning essays will be published in Messenger magazine. The genre of the essay may be personal, philosophical, story-shaped, or it may be composed in a style similar to National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" radio series, This I Believe. Manuscripts should not exceed 2,000 words. The contest is open to students who are part of the Historic Peace Church tradition.

Manuscript submissions will be accepted from January 1 - June 1, 2007. Awards will be announced by September 1, 2007.

Send manuscripts to:
Sc! ott Holland
Associate Professor of Theology and Culture
Bethany Theological Seminary
615 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana 47374

Source: January 2007 District Newsletter
Fall Retreat Wrapup (and upcoming events)

Youth gathered Nov. 3-5 during district conference in Lombard, Ill., for their fall retreat. Jim Chinworth, campus minister for Manchester College, led the weekend focusing on "Being Still". Other activities along with a variety of discussion, role plays, sharing times took place with the help of three Manchester students.

The weekend included a time of sharing in one of district conference's business sessions, several worship/devotions times and the conference opening and closing worship services. The host church provided for basketball, games, good food and fellowship. 30 people from nine congregations participated in the retreat.

The district youth cabinet will hold their annual planning retreat Jan. 19-21 at Cerro Gordo; all youth are invited to meet the cabinet on Saturday January 20th. The spring district youth retreat, featuring leadership from Brethren Volunteer Service, will be March 16-18 at Peoria Church of the Brethren. The Christian Citizenship Seminar will be held March 24-29, 2007. Finally, don't forget Regional Youth Conference April 27-29 at Manchester College.

Source: January 2007 District Newsletter