Wednesday, October 26, 2005

First junior high conference is deemed a major success.

Tony Bruner stood before a group of 250 junior high youth and advisors and told them they were part of a special moment. Never before had a conference for their age group been held on a regional or national scale in the Church of the Brethren. Yet here they were, meeting Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in New Windsor, Md. Eight districts from Pennsylvania to North Carolina took part.

Bruner co-chaired the planning committee with General Board Youth/Young Adult Ministry director Chris Douglas. More than a year of planning went into the weekend, which carried the theme "Be Strong and Courageous."

They had no trouble finding junior highers willing to come. Douglas said registration was capped at 250 due to the facility limits of the Brethren Service Center, and a waiting list quickly grew. While most events were held at the center, the group slept at a nearby middle school.

The conference packed the allotted time with worship, meals, small groups, workshops, optional service projects, games, and tours of the center. Worship messages came from Mennonite drama team Ted & Lee, New Creation Project pastor David Weiss, and Annual Conference moderator-elect Belita Mitchell, who pastors Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. Brethren folksinger Joseph Helfrich led music.

"It's really putting God in perspective," said Laura Kownacki of Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, who said she particularly enjoyed a workshop with Ted & Lee. "They should make it a week long." She also liked the "hot hats" that participants received: red caps printed with "Jr. Hi."

Organizers said the response indicated a need for more such events. In the meantime, Weiss urged the junior high youth to continue offering their gifts to the church and the world. "Young people, we need you now!" Weiss said. "(Others) need to see you making a difference, and they can. There are so many many ways you can make a difference. Will you put your life in the hands of an extraordinary God?"

Source: 10/26/2005 Newsline
Brochures and website are available for 2006 workcamps.

The Youth and Young Adult Office of the General Board has announced that brochures and a website for the 2006 workcamps are now available. Around 3,000 brochures already have been mailed directly to congregations and individuals. For the summer of 2006 the office is planning six junior high workcamps including a new junior high/intergenerational workcamp, one senior high workcamp, and one young adult workcamp.

Junior high workcamps are scheduled for June 12-16 in Ashland, Ohio; June 19-23 in Innisfree Village, Va.; July 9-13 in New Windsor, Md.; July 16-20 in Keyser, W.Va.; and Aug. 9-13 in Indianapolis, Ind. The junior high/intergenerational workcamp is set for Aug. 2-6 in Harrisburg, Pa. The senior high workcamp will take place June 11-17 in Kyle, S.D. The young adult workcamp will be May 29-June 5 in Tijuana, Mexico.

"Continuing the WORK of Jesus" will be the theme for the workcamps, taking a look at the example of Jesus' life and ministry and applying that example to situations in workcamp settings. There will also be sharing about modern people who exemplify Jesus' work in the world, and some of the Youth Action Goals for the United Nations Millennium Development Campaign will be incorporated. "Altogether, we are planning to grow in faith, knowledge, and appreciation for service in many different settings through the 2006 workcamps," said coordinator Monica Rice.

To order brochures or for more information contact Rice at 800-323-8039 or Visit the workcamp website, where you can download a PDF version of the workcamp brochure and begin registration for workcamps on Dec 1 at 12:00 am Eastern time, at

Source: 10/26/2005 Newsline
Preparations for National Youth Conference 2006 continue.

Preparations for National Youth Conference (NYC) 2006 in Fort Collins, Colo., next summer continue with calls for entries to a Theme Song Contest and a Speech Contest, and an announcement of a new list server for the event. The NYC coordinators also issued a call for youth worker applications. Youth workers act as volunteer staff for the event and carry out a variety of tasks during the week of the conference.

The Theme Song Contest is open to anyone who likes to write music. Songs should center on the theme for NYC, "Come and See." Submissions are due to the NYC Office by Nov. 1 in the form of both an audio recording and a print copy of the lyrics.

The Speech Contest is open to all youth attending NYC 2006. The topic of speeches should center on the theme for NYC, "Come and See." Entries should include a written copy and audio copy of the speech, which should be 500-700 words (about 10 minutes spoken). Submissions are due to the NYC Office by Jan. 1, 2006. The authors of the top two entries will give their speeches during a worship service at NYC.

The new list serv is open to anyone who wants to keep up to date on the latest NYC news. Subscribe at

Youthworker applications are due Nov. 1. The application form and more information may be found on the NYC website at

Coordinators for NYC 2006 are Cindy Laprade, Beth Rhodes, and Emily Tyler, working with Chris Douglas, the General Board's director for Youth and Young Adult Ministries. For more information about NYC 2006, see

Source: 10/26/2005 Newsline

Friday, October 14, 2005

Illinois - Land of Contrasts
Don Vermilyea's Reflections
October 2005

Dear Friends

For only the second summer of the four walked, wild fruit was plentiful. The early fruits (blackberries and raspberries) mostly dried up, but the apples were abundant from wild trees. There was even a peach tree with golf ball size fruits on the ground. Man they were good!

Illinois was brutal hot and humid for the entire four months the walk was there, except for about ten days. This makes three summers out of four with well above normal temperatures. Fifty degrees is a nice temperature for me, eighty is very hot to walk and sixty-five and above at night means sleep is accomplished in sweat. But… it didn't rain much, bad for farmers and good for me.

Church of the Brethren and others hospitality was excellent for the most part. This is the largest thank you section so far. June and July thank yous for food, lodging, etc., to: Karen, Charley, and Kenny Bridges; Jim and Becky Griffen; Howard Schockey; Tony Saputo; Dale, Penny, Courtney, Sammy, Evan, Andrae, and Brenden Dinterman; LaPlace Church of the Brethren; Jodie, Derek, Torie, Josiah, and Isacc Agar; Bill Nickerson; Becky from the Salvation Army; Eric Volkel-Barno, Melinda, and Andrew Barno; Terry Link; Marsha, Allen, and Emily Krall; Kres, Elizabeth, and Becka Lipscomb; Springfield First Church of the Brethren; Fletcher Farrar and Mary Jessup; Jan Stoller; Joan Boatz; Astoria Church of the Brethren; Gary Schultz; Woodlands Church of the Brethren; Jeanine and Ernie Shanks; Camp Emmanuel; Debbie Taylor and Love Community Church; Tammy and Kevin Kessler; Canton Church of the Brethren; Virgina Everist; David Radcliff; Larry and Barbara O'Neil; Chris, Jenny, and Molly Stover-Brown; Hannah Edwards; Amy Heckert; John and Michelle Elder; Leonard, Vicky, and Wendy Matheny; Peoria First Church of the Brethren; Christine Hoecker; Dana McNeil; Church of the Brethren General Board; Marilyn Kiefaber; Peter Yordy; Philip and Peggy Yordy; Panther Creek Church of the Brethren; Annie and Jerry Sales; St. James Evangelical Congregational Church; Dan McFadden; Judy and Neil Brinkmeir; Harry and Cindy Wilkinson; Anna Pomazal; Chuck and Jane Pomazal; Dixon Church of the Brethren; Dale and Alice Wickert; Pat Ball; Camp Emmaus; Church of the Brethren Illinois Junior High Camp; Jim Miner; Barb, Tim, Alex, and Cheyenne Krehl; Uldine Baker; Dean and Sue Coppernoll; Pat and Earl Miller; Yellow Creek, Freeport, and Rockford First Church's of the Brethren; Church of the Brethren Illinois Senior High Camp; Mike Garner; Polo Church of the Brethren; and Richard and Joyce Person.

August and September thank yous for food, lodging, etc., to: Franklin Grove Church of Brethren; Dale Erisman; Lelia Place; Ruth and Lloyd Shipman; Judd and Kay Peter; Christ Connections Community Church; Jeff Rugg; Ginger Florence; Dennis Webb; Naperville Church of the Brethren; Ron Olsen; Jim, Elvira, Elizabeth, and Nate Lawdenski; Faith Church of the Brethren; Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford; Ralph Miner; Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren; Jeanne Ardith Davies; York Center Church of the Brethren; Carolyn, Mike, Hannah, Jonah, and Renee Neher; Douglas Park Church of the Brethren; Shirley Petracek; Christian Peacemakers Team; Chicago Fourth Presbyterian Church; Richard Williams; Allison Hutchinson; Chicago First Church of the Brethren; Orlando Redekopp; Barb Dugan; Ruth from Monee (Gas City); Zion Lutheran Church of Chebanse; Ryan from Buckley; Rex Richardson; Margaret Hicks; Champaign Church of the Brethren; J.P. from Paris; Jim Clark; Oak Grove Federated Church; David and Vicky Johnston; Allison Prairie Church of the Brethren; Tim and Dottie Ridgely; Eric Poole; Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren; Pat Rothrock; Debbie Baker; Sharon and Gene Gardner; Kenny Rutherford; Martin Creek Church of the Brethren; Carson and Donna Tullis; Hurricane Creek Church of the Brethren; Tom and Linda Dooley; Marlene Carpenter; Charlene and Bud Leitch; Carlyle United Methodist Church; Guy Ball; Christi, Jeremiah, Jacob, Blake, and Nikki Aeschleman; and Vienna First United Methodist Church.

Special thank yous to: Keith Cummins and Julie for teeth cleaning; Dale Sesse for glasses; Eric Volkel-Barno for typing, emailing, and CD work; Phil Miller for a haircut; Chuck Pomazal for a new reflective vest; Pat Ball for medical help; Jeanne Ardith Davies for typing and emailing; Carol and Darrell Needham for shoes, pair #10; Jewel McNary for maps; Kenny Rutherford for a watch; Carson Tullis for new glasses; Christi Aeschleman for typing and emailing; Ed Garrison and Clarene Dunn for initial church contacts.

A double thank you to all of those I have forgotten to thank.

All kinds of people walked with me in Illinois. Dan McFadden of the Highland Avenue Congregation upped his record for the most miles walked across America to 92. Annie Sales of the Franklin Grove Congregation walked 42, the second most. Guy Ball of the Dixon Congregation is in third with 39. Jim Batterman formerly of the Woodlands Congregation, and now residing in Houston, Texas is in fifth with 26. Camp Emmaus in rural Mt. Morris was the sight of the most at one time to ever walk with me, 91 campers and counselors from the Senior High Camp!!!!! And the Junior High Camp included 45, good for third place all time. I am grateful for all that walked with me. I am even more grateful to those who carried my pack on their back.

And then there is my good friend Barb Dugan who drove from Pennsylvania to walk with me. This was a huge treat. But as usual the huge majority of the time I walked without human companionship.

Illinois had skyscrapers, the tallest of the walk. Such riches tied up in buildings in corporate America. Illinois yielded the second most money from their streets and highways. It was everywhere. Poverty abounded in much of the state too.

Law enforcement was as ornery as the weather. The general public was more ornery than not. There was more Church of the Brethren rejections in Illinois than the prior three plus years west of the Mississippi. It is a wonderful feeling when I know there is at least floor space at night for this homeless person. I have a hard time when we put politics, busyness, selfishness and other excuses above sharing a sleeping space with a Christian brother.

Illinois began after crossing the Mississippi River for the third time and ended when the walk crossed the Ohio River for the first time into Kentucky. I am glad this state is over.
Illinois Stats
May 29 2005 - October 03, 2005
71 nights hosted
56 nights homeless
1393 miles were walked
In Christ's Love,

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Chicago youth hear truth from Sergeant Abe.

With its young folks on the receiving end of a slick and aggressive nationwide military recruiting drive, members of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., brought in their own recruiter: Sergeant Abe.

A creation of Quaker House in Fayetteville, N.C.--neighbor to Fort Bragg, one of the world's largest military complexes--"Sgt. Abe, the Honest Recruiter" appears overlaid on a copy of a conscription agreement. He points out key details that recruiters often fail to mention, such as non-negotiable extensions of deployment, and explains what they can mean in a soldier's life.

Sgt. Abe was just one of many tools employed during an afternoon workshop held at the church on the International Day of Peace, Sept. 21, said Duane Ediger in a report from the event. To open the session, participants shared their connections with the military. Several offered stories of deep suffering by friends and family with combat-induced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They also heard personal experiences of peacemaking in war zones, saw a video featuring interviews of enlistees, were given forms to fill out to help establish a claim of conscientious objection in case a military draft is reinstated, and learned that it is possible--even easy--to back out of a commitment to the Delayed Entry Program.

The 22 participants included seven youth--three regulars at First Church with four of their friends--several adult members of First Church, a chaplain from the neighboring Bethany Hospital, a South African visitor, a Mennonite pastor, a Voluntary Service worker with youth organizing for peace, and other local community organizers. Doug Hostetter, peace minister of Evanston (Ill.) Mennonite Church, and experienced draft counselor Rich Rutschman led the session.

The church served pizza and soft drinks after the 90-minute workshop and participants were invited to stay for the evening Bible study on the related theme of "The Healing Power of Nonviolence/Love" led by First Church pastor Orlando Redekopp.

"Sergeant Abe, the Honest Recruiter" is downloadable as a pdf file from

Source: 10/12/2005 Newsline