Friday, April 16, 2004

Regional conferences energize Brethren youth.

Three regional conferences were held for Church of the Brethren youth in late March and early April: Eastern Regional Youth Conference (ERYC) at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College March 26-28; Roundtable at Bridgewater (Va.) College March 26-28; and Regional Youth Conference at McPherson (Kan.) College April 2-4. Another is planned for this weekend, April 17-18, at Manchester College in Indiana. The Western Regional Youth Conference, held every fourth year, will take place Aug. 4-8 at the University of San Francisco, Calif.

About 250 senior high youth and advisors gathered for an upbeat ERYC. Organizers emphasized a multimedia approach in exploring the theme "Uncluttered: Letting Go...Letting God." Music from the Brethren band "Wake-Up Call" injected additional energy. Jake Larson of the Los Angeles-based duo "Craig & Jake Live" provided keynote leadership for several sessions, working solo after Craig Gross was unable to attend due to illness. Larson challenged the youth, expressing a hope "that you leave here more excited about God."

Jeff Carter, pastor at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, spoke at the Bridgewater Roundtable on the theme, "The Next Chapter...A Future with Hope." Joseph Helfrich provided a concert on Friday evening and led singing throughout the weekend.

Nearly 50 youth and advisors attended the McPherson event, spanning an area from Colorado to Missouri and from the Canadian border to Mexico. Matt Guynn of On Earth Peace and Lee Krahenbuhl of Manchester College provided keynote leadership, focusing on the theme "Simply." Guynn used meditative "centering prayers" as a focus point, while challenging youth to look at priorities, the US culture of consumerism, and the need to turn toward God. "`Simply' is about understanding where our priorities are and letting things fall away and reorganize themselves," he said. "It's about a lifetime of turning. It's not just a single, one-time decision." Krahenbuhl led singing through the weekend, culminating with the group providing special music for McPherson Church of the Brethren's worship Sunday morning.

Messenger editor Walt Wiltschek led an all-group session on media messages, and a series of breakout sessions explored topics including thinking about ministry, youth workcamps, conscientious objection, and various aspects of simple living. Billy Jonas of Asheville, N.C., gave a unique Saturday-evening concert, using an assortment of unusual percussion instruments and heavily involving the audience in being "part of the band." The weekend was organized by McPherson staff Tracy Stoddart, Kenny Manhamo, and LaMonte Rothrock.

For information on the Manchester conference contact Wendi Hutchinson at 260-982-5232 or e-mail For more information on the western conference see the Pacific Southwest District Youth website or contact Dena Gilbert at 909-392-4055 or e-mail

Source: Newsline 4/16/2004

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