Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Youth share in ‘A-maize-ing Grace’ gardening project.

Iowa youth have participated in growing produce to benefit a Foods Resource Bank (FRB) food security program in Madagascar. The project was part of the "A-maize-ing Grace" Growing Project sponsored by a cluster of congregations that includes Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa.

Also involved are three Presbyterian churches, three Methodist churches, a Church of God congregation, and the Bethel Grove Christian Church.

Produce was grown by students and sold in a local grocery store with proceeds benefiting the FRB. Proceeds from the Gardening Project were over $3,000. The youth recommended the income be given to a food security project in Antsirabe Tanatave, Madagascar.

Leigh Carson and Jay Borgman, youth that participated in the Gardening Project, told of their experiences to a meeting of the "A-maize-ing Grace" Growing Project on Dec. 3. "The gardening was fun, but work!" they said. "It gave us a good feeling knowing we were working together to help other people in need."

Don Linnenbrink, one of the adults involved, commented that the youth were good workers. "If someone was gone on vacation, others were willing to pitch in and care for that person’s garden plot."

Three other communities will each receive $2,000 from the "A-maize-ing Grace" Growing Project: Totonicapan, Guatamala; Bateyes, the Dominican Republic; and Cambodia. The Church of the Brethren is the lead sponsor for the Totonicapan and Bateyes food security projects. A little over $700 will be sent to the FRB national office for staff support, and $5,000 will be retained in the local treasury to assist with planning a 2010 fundraising event in cooperation with students at Iowa State University.

This FRB Gardening Project was the first of its kind in the nation, and the youth are receiving widespread recognition. Joan Fumetti of the FRB staff will recognize the youth and thank the many people involved at a public event--a Soup and Sandwich luncheon at 12:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Conrad, Iowa, on Sunday, Jan. 10.

It is hoped that in the future youth and adults in other area churches will consider participating in gardening projects to raise funds for FRB.

-- Lois Kruse is a member of Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa.

Source: 12/30/2009 Newsline
OMA conference addresses seven foundations of Christian camping.

More than 40 people gathered at Woodland Altars in Southern Ohio District for the 2009 national conference of the Church of the Brethren’s Outdoor Ministries Association (OMA). The event, held every three years, took place Nov. 13-15 with the theme "Christ as Cornerstone."

The conference featured keynote speaker Rick Dawson of Camp Highroad, a United Methodist camp in northern Virginia. Dawson focused his presentation around his "Seven Foundations of Christian Camping," which he developed with a team working on a new vision for camp ministries in their church region.

Dawson outlined the dimensions of each of the seven foundations, which include providing an intentional place apart, teaching creation care and appreciation, developing Christian spiritual leaders, extending genuine Christian hospitality, nurturing Christian faith and discipleship, equipping guests to do love and service, and collaborating with churches and agencies.

"Try to make sure that everyone who comes to your camp has a mountaintop experience," Dawson said. "Offer them every tool you can."

An afternoon session led by Dawson encouraged "nuts and bolts" sharing in small groups on how the seven foundations might apply in practical ways to particular camp settings. He encouraged the development of a strategic plan at each camp to achieve those objectives, along with setting clear roles for staff and examining the camp’s church relationships.

The weekend also included a concert by John and Jan Long of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., who provided a mix of folk and peace tunes, including some sing-alongs, accompanied on banjo, dulcimer, and guitar. Breakout sessions between Dawson’s keynote addresses provided an opportunity to hike, do creative arts and crafts, or have further conversation with Dawson.

The annual OMA auction was held Saturday evening, and worship closed the gathering Sunday morning. Following the conference, camp directors, managers, and other staff remained at Woodland Altars for their annual networking retreat through Nov. 19.

-- Walt Wiltschek is editor of the Church of the Brethren’s "Messenger" magazine.

Source: 12/30/2009 Newsline

Thursday, December 17, 2009

NYC registration opens Jan. 5, ethnic minority scholarships are offered.

National Youth Conference (NYC) registration will be open in less than a month. NYC registration will open online at at 8 p.m. (central time) on Tuesday, Jan. 5. The online registration will be available through April 5.

"Before registering, however, there is some information that each participant should know," said an announcement from coordinators Audrey Hollenberg and Emily LaPrade. Each participant will need to create his or her own log-in at in order to register. It will take longer to register youth groups than in past years because each person will have to log in and out of the system. Also, each participant will need his or her church code at the time of registration (go to to find a congregation’s code number).

The cost to register opens at $425. The cost will increase to $450 after Feb. 15. A deposit of $200 per person is due within two weeks of registration. Credit card payments are another new feature of the 2010 registration. Registration includes all programming, lodging, and meals during the conference, but does not include transportation to and from the conference.

NYC also will offer ethnic minority scholarships. "Raising enough money to attend National Youth Conference is a big obstacle for many youth," said the coordinators. "However, due to generous contributions to a scholarship program created to aid ethnic minority and international youth in attending NYC, the size of this obstacle has been greatly reduced. We are committed to promoting diversity and to making it possible for as many Brethren youth as are interested in NYC to attend." The scholarships will be need-based and offered on a case-by-case basis. To apply, youth or advisors should contact Audrey Hollenberg at or 800-323-8039 ext. 281 before Feb. 1, giving an assessment of the need for ethnic minority scholarship assistance within your church.

Preview the registration page and what information is needed to register at Contact or 800-323-8039 ext. 246 with questions about NYC registration.

Source: 12/17/2009 Newsline
Manchester College looks to its roots in faith, service with a new campus pastor dedicated to mentoring students

Manchester College is looking to Walt Wiltschek, editor of the denominational Messenger magazine of the Church of the Brethren, to lead its campus ministry. Wiltschek, well-regarded for his inter-faith mentoring of youth and young adults, will join the Student Development team on Feb. 2.

As campus pastor for the 1,223-student Manchester College, Wiltschek will lead a religious life program that serves students of more than 30 denominations. The diversity of faith on the residential campus includes students who are Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, and followers of other Christian and non-Christian faiths as well as many not affiliated with a specific denomination.

“Walt Wiltschek brings extensive experience with young adult ministry, and we are looking forward to his arrival on campus,” said President Jo Young Switzer. “He will help students on their spiritual journeys, and he will strengthen our connections with the Church of the Brethren, our founding denomination.”

Wiltschek, an ordained minister, is a former associate pastor for the Westminster Church of the Brethren in Maryland. He has served as advisor to the National Youth Cabinet and Church of the Brethren district youth programs, and as worship coordinator and leader for young adult conferences, including the National Young Adult Conference of the Church of the Brethren in 2004 and 2008.

He has served at the helm of the Messenger for more than six years, and also as director of news services for the General Board leadership of the Church of the Brethren and as director of Brethren identity. In addition to the denominational magazine, he has journalistic experience at the Daily Record in York, Pa., and the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago.

German-born and Pennsylvania-raised, Wiltschek received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and mathematics from York College of Pennsylvania, a certificate in biblical studies from Eastern Mennonite University, a master of arts in religion from Lancaster Theological Seminary and a master of arts in communication studies/journalism from Northern Illinois University.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

NYC 2010 Speaker Feature: Shawn Flory Replogle

Shawn has been in McPherson, KS, for six years. Originally from Bridgewater, Virginia, he received a Bachelor of Science in political science with minors in economics and peace studies from Bridgewater College in 1992. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, Indiana, in 1998, graduating with distinction in biblical studies and with an emphasis in peace studies.

From 1992 to 1994, Shawn served in Brethren Volunteer Service as the Church of the Brethren coordinator for youth workcamps (92-93) and the 1994 National Youth Conference.

Shawn served as pastor for five years at the South Waterloo Church of the Brethren in Waterloo, Iowa, prior to coming to McPherson as copastor of the First Church of the Brethren, where he now serves as a part of a ministry staff team as Pastor and Youth Coordinator. He has also spent two years as part-time Campus Pastor at McPherson College.

Shawn was the Sunday morning preacher at the 1995 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Charlotte, NC; the main presenter and speaker at several regional and national church events, and was the commencement speaker in 2006 at McPherson College.

Shawn is married to Alison Flory Replogle, who works part-time as an elementary school counselor in Lindsborg, KS. They have two sons, Adin, age seven, and Caleb, age five, and a daughter, Tessa, age two.

By Walt Wiltschek, National Youth Cabinet Advisor
  1. See the tender, heartwarming story of when “More Than” met “The Eye” for the very first time.
  2. Colorado is virtually the same shape as Spongebob Squarepants (minus the appendages).
  3. Nearby Rocky Mountains and iconic Colorado State Ram statue make ideal backdrops for jumping photos.
  4. Enjoy the wacky dramatic stylings of Ted & Co., the improvisational music skills of Ken Medema, and a veritable cornucopia of interesting and inspiring speakers. Yes, a veritable cornucopia.
  5. One of those speakers, Jarrod McKenna, comes from Australia. Who can resist an Australian accent? And maybe he’ll bring a wallaby.
  6. When your youth advisor tells you to “take a hike” at NYC, it’s a good thing. The mountains await!
  7. Rumor has it that the NYC coordinators will make their grand entrance into the arena by being shot out of a cannon (then again, rumors are so often wrong).
  8. Everything tastes better at 5,000 feet.
  9. Well over 100 workshops, abundant recreation options, dozens of service projects, thousands of seats to choose from in Moby Arena---basically enough fantastic choices to make your head spin.
  10. NYC registration: $450 (or $425 if you register before February 15!). Transportation to NYC: $10 to $1,000 (depending how you come and how far). A week with several thousand of some of the coolest Brethren people in the world: Priceless.