Friday, August 31, 2007


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 (;
  2. youth ( and ecumenical relationships (;
  3. visitors program ( and media relations (;
  4. faith, science, technology, and ethics (; and
  5. just and inclusive communities (
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