From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline: Older Adult Conference connects wisdom and legacy

From CoBNews <>
Date Fri, 25 Sep 2009 15:03:47 -0500

Newsline: Church of the Brethren News Service, News Director Cheryl Brumbau gh-Cayford, 800-323-8039 ext. 260,


(Sept. 25, 2009) Elgin, IL -- The Church of the Brethren held its 10th Nati onal Older Adult Conference (NOAC) on Sept. 7-11 at Lake Junaluska (N.C.) C onference and Retreat Center. The event is for people 50 and older. Registe red participants numbering 928 came from across the country to attend.

The theme of "Legacies of Wisdom: Weaving Old and New" (1 Corinthians 2:6-7 ) and images of weaving informed the conference. Keynote speakers and preac hers addressed the connections between legacies of life, faith, and wisdom,  and ways to create new possibilities of hope.

Rachael Freed, founder of Life-Legacies and author of "Women's Lives, Women 's Legacies," gave a keynote address on her work to reclaim the ancient Jew ish tradition of the ethical will or legacy letter. She proposed the tradit ion as a useful tool for older adults to pass on legacies of wisdom and fai th to future generations. The idea is quite simple: a letter that a person  writes to children, grandchildren, or other descendants in order to impart  life lessons, values, meaningful stories, and blessings. Freed described it  as "one of the examples of weaving the old to meet the needs in a new worl d."

David Waas, Church of the Brethren member and emeritus professor of history  at Manchester College in N. Manchester, Ind., asked the older adults, "Wha t will be said about how we witnessed to our time?" Explaining that he aske d the question from the point of view of two identities--Church of the Bret hren and American--he said, "You and I have helped fashion not only our chu rch, but...our nation." He traced current crises in the US, such as the eco nomy and health care, focusing on the "crisis that we never seem to be able  to talk about ... a shift to massive, ever-present military strength." He  called for an alternative legacy that followers of Christ may offer. "We sh ould adopt and reinvigorate the Christian vision to call the state to its h ighest ideals," he said. "We must work as never before to advocate for peac e. You and I are citizens of a great land and we carry the mantle of ... a  rich Brethren heritage which our nation needs."

Michael McKeever, a Brethren member who teaches at Judson University in Elg in, Ill., tied together biblical themes of people on the move with themes f rom popular film to talk about how a life journey may lead to reconciliatio n. He discussed three parables from Luke 15 about God's search for the lost . Christians are portrayed as on the road or "followers of the way" in the  New Testament, he reminded his audience, just as Americans identify with th e Hollywood portrayal of "a restless people who go out on the road to find  ourselves." The search for what has been lost--whether sheep, coin, or fami ly relationship--takes "active and concerted effort," he noted. The work to  seek what has been lost may seem foolish to the world, but it is the fooli shness of God, McKeever said. And for the wise seeker, "giving up is not an  option."

Also addressing NOAC were preachers for the three worship services: Christo pher Bowman, pastor of Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va.; Cynthi a L. Hale, founding and senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in De catur, Ga.; and Dennis Webb, pastor of Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Bret hren. A series of morning Bible studies were given by Bob Neff, former prof essor of Old Testament at Bethany Seminary, former general secretary of the  Church of the Brethren, and former president of Juniata College.

Evening concerts were given by Quaker singer and songwriter Carrie Newcomer , and Andy and Terry Murray, well-loved musicians in the Church of the Bret hren whose songs have focused on the legacy of Brethren values and the stor ies of Brethren heroes.

In other activities, some 175 people joined in a Hike for Haiti that raised  $3,541 for theological training in the Church of the Brethren in Haiti. A  total of $25,124 was received in offerings, including $720 raised by the "S hare to Shear" effort of the NOAC News team. The comic NOAC News video repo rts from the team of David Sollenberger, Chris Stover-Brown, and Larry Glic k were a highlight of the conference.

A new NOAC record was set by the service project to collect Church World Se rvice kits for disaster relief. A total of 1,299 kits were received includi ng 4 clean-up buckets, 535 personal hygiene kits, and 760 kits of school su pplies. Other events during the week included early morning devotions, hike s, bird watching, a golf tournament, ice cream socials, craft lessons, and  interest groups on a wide variety of topics, among others.

Standing on the stage for the opening worship was a large loom into which w orship leaders wove strands of fabric or ribbon during the service. Then th e loom was moved to the exhibit hall for the rest of the week, and each NOA C participant was invited to add a piece to the weaving. The completed weav ing stood on the stage for closing worship, a symbol of the way disparate l egacies may come together to create something beautiful and new.

The NOAC Planning Committee included Deanna Brown, Barbara and Lester Kesse lring, Joyce Nolen, and Glenn and Linda Timmons, and coordinator Kim Eberso le, who serves as director of Family and Older Adult Ministries for the Chu rch of the Brethren.

For more about the conference, including links to daily reports and online  photo albums, go to AC2009 .

The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination committed to continu ing the work of Jesus peacefully and simply, and to living out its faith in  community. The denomination is based in the Anabaptist and Pietist faith t raditions and is one of the three Historic Peace Churches. It celebrated it s 300th anniversary in 2008. It counts some 125,000 members across the Unit ed States and Puerto Rico, and has missions and sister churches in Nigeria,  Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and India.

># # #

>For more information contact:

>Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
>Director of News Services
>Church of the Brethren
>1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120
>800-323-8039 ext. 260

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