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