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young adults



setting an

example in conduct, in faith, in love, in purity 1 Tim. 4:12

Welcome to Our New Young Adult Steering Committee (YASC) Members!

Jenna Walmer Jenna Walmer is a grad student at West Chester University of Pa. She is getting her M.A in Holocaust and Genocide studies as well as psychology. Post Grad Jenna majored in Global Studies and Peace studies at Bridgewater College, Va. She is a member of Palmyra Church of the Brethren in Pa. Some clubs she takes part in is Habitat for Humanity, inter district youth cabinet, and spiritual life board. Jenna loves planning faith-based events and wanted to continue being involved after graduation. Jenna is excited to reconnect with Brethren friends through fellowship and worship in Montreat, North Carolina.

Mario Cabrera Mario Cabrera is a student at Orange Coast College. He majors in Electrical Engineering and attends the Principe de paz church in California. Mario is excited to join different programs through church of the Brethren and will also be a part of Ministry Summer Service. He is very active with his youth group at church and in bilingual communications. He is looking forward to NYAC because he never been and wants to see what all of the fuss was about.

Briel Slocum Briel Slocum is a student at Messiah College, Pa. She is majoring in Religion and Peace and conflict studies. She participates on campus as a liason for the Black student union, Chaplain for the International club and as a mentor/leader of a racial reconciliation program. She enjoys working with the youth of her home church (Harrisburg First) and she is excited to serve with the committee as well as get to know young adults in the denomination.

YASC does a lot for young adult ministry, and also...

They plan National Young Adult Conference! National Young Adult Conference is an experience you will never forget! This year’s theme is Love in Action. Join us at Montreat Conference Center in the amazing state of North Carolina to connect with our siblings in Christ. We have great speakers lined up to tell us about the love of God and what love in action really means. Please come with us and register online at www.bretheren .org/yac to experience love in action!

Sidney Haren

Journey to the

Phillipines Hello, Brethren friends! My name is Sidney Haren, and I am a proud member of the Ivester Church of the Brethren in Eldora, Iowa. I’m also a recent graduate of Iowa State University, and while my academic adventure has come to a close, a new adventure awaits: spending six months in the Philippines.

I will serve. Village of Hope is an orphanage in Talibon comprised of four different houses that are home to 10-12 children and a house parent, and I will stay at one of four locations from November to April. My plans involve assisting the house parents, spending time with the children and using my journalism degree to help Village of Hope better tell its story. The orphanage is located in

“Participating in Brethren workcamps all over the nation planted a special seed in my heart; a passion for serving others.”

As a teenager, I began to feel God nudging me to serve. Participating in Brethren workcamps all over the nation planted a special seed in my heart; a passion for serving others. Over the years, God watered that seed by showing me how much loving your neighbor can make a difference. Now, I feel God calling me to one of the 7,641 Filipino islands to volunteer at the Village of Hope Philippines.

an area with few Christians, however the leaders in this particular community are dedicated to God’s teachings.

On November 11th, I will board an airplane in Des Moines, Iowa, and streamline to Chicago, South Korea and Cebu before boarding a boat to Bohol, the island on which

As we sing at camp each summer (shout-out to Camp Pine Lake!), “Love is something when you give it away.” I very much look forward to using my spiritual

gifts on the island of Bohol in the Philippines. I hope to be a conduit for God on this journey; allowing his light to shine through me in the Philippines.

Courtney Hawkins

An Awakening in

Palestine The woman checking through my carry-on bags motions for me to take off my green shirt that I am wearing as outerwear, so I do. The black Arabic tattoo I got in the old city of Jerusalem practically glows against the skin of my right arm. The woman’s eyes catch it immediately like it’s a warning sign screaming, “Terrorist sympathizer! Watch out!” I am consequently subjected to an additional thirty minutes of questioning before I can leave security to board my plane. In America, Black Lives Matter has been called a domestic terrorist group. They have been continuously delegitimized and, consequently, so has their cause. Police brutality against African Americans is an epidemic, but with the combating narratives of some politicians and news stations along with the apathy of many white Americans, the truth of the issue is lost in the noise. In Palestine, Palestinians are subjected to restriction of

their freedom of movement, their water supply and infrastructure, their right to reliable shelter, and a myriad of other issues. However, the existence of Hamas and the fear of past clashes have painted an oppressed people as terrorists to many Israelis. Going to Palestine forced open my eyes, my ears, and my mind to the stark similarities between Palestinians, African Americans, and the truth. They both face these false narratives and power imbalances. The issue of narratives comes down to power. Those who have it can write the story; however, the truth still lives in the oppressed. I am privileged enough to have the decision of whether or not to listen, but those being oppressed always know reality. We must go, see, hear, and experience to learn the truth of these false narratives today in order to create real justice.

Nolan McBride


Peace Education to Youth

They say third time is the charm. That proved true for me as my third time applying for the Youth Peace Travel Team I was finally accepted, abet on my own as the single Youth Peace Advocate. I have wanted to be on the Youth Peace Travel Team since grade school, when the team visited my home camp, Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Indiana. The summers after my first and sophomore years at Manchester University I applied, but for various reasons it didn’t work out. I thoroughly enjoyed being in Ministry Summer Service those summers, but when I got the call saying I’d been accepted as the Youth Peace Advocate this year last spring I was ecstatic. Spending of the summer as the Youth Peace Advocate was hard work and thoroughly exhausting, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I was privileged to travel to Brethren camps all across the country. The Youth Peace Travel Team is sponsored by five organizations affiliated with the Church of the Brethren. They are the Outdoor Ministries Association, On Earth Peace, Bethany Theological Seminary, the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, and

the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Each was involved with orientation for the team and gave me a contact person if I needed them. After YPA orientation online and Ministry Summer Service orientation at the general offices in Elgin I spent a week at Camp Colorado in Colorado, Camp Blue Diamond in Pennsylvania, Camp Brethren Woods in Virginia, Camp Ithiel in Florida, Camp Mack in Indiana (my home camp), Brethren Heights in Michigan, Camp Emmaus in Illinois, and Camp Pine Lake in Iowa. I learned very quickly that I was in for a culture shock at each new camp. Each was run very differently and had different ideas of what they wanted me to do. At some camps I led sessions with the campers about peacemaking and how it is rooted in our faith every day. In others I witness to peace through my presence and informal interaction with the campers. Every camp has its own unique identity that made each week special and memorable in their own way. Conveniently for me, each camp I visited this year was using InsideOut’s curriculum for this summer entitled Peace Works. With the themes and scriptures for each day already being centered on peacemaking, I decided to use them as a foundation for my sessions and then tried to take the campers a step farther or in a different direction than the day’s intended lesson. I also used a session on interpersonal conflict and mediation developed by Camp Brethren Woods for their Shalom time. If you read the Youth Peace Travel Team blog posts I wrote every week for you can find more about the specifics of each camp and the sessions I designed for each day. Very rarely did sessions go exactly as I designed them. I tweaked them for the situation, age range, and time available at each camp. While I worked with campers of all ages, from Elementary to Senior High, I most often ended up working with Junior High. When in the moment I wasn’t always sure how well what I was trying to teach was getting across to the campers, but it was worth it when campers came up to me at the end of the week and told me how much they appreciated my sessions as asked if I would be back again next year. At a few camps I worked with multiple age groups, and at one camp worked primarily with third graders to fifth graders. It did take a little trial and error and help to adjust the sessions I was leading to the age group I was working with that week. Getting to know and form bonds with the campers was one of my favorite parts of the job. Two of my favorite God moments of the summer happened at the first and last camps I attended respectively. Starting the summer, on the first night of camp at Camp Colorado I volunteered to as-

sist with communion and anointing at the end of our first campfire. There were three stations set up around the back of the main lodge where councilors distributed the bread (or in this case chocolate chip cookies), grape juice, and anointed each camper who came forward. I volunteered to help with the anointing, and traced a cross on the forehead of the campers while a councilor prayed a blessing. As someone who finds meaning in ritual and liturgy, particularly what Brethren generally call the ordinances and other traditions refer to as the sacraments, this was deeply moving for me. At the end of the summer for Pine Lake’s Monday night campfire we were focusing on Agape and how Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. That night, staff left out four basins for the campers by the fire. Three were for feet washing and one for handwashing. Nobody was forced to participate, but campers and staff were encouraged to join in as they felt led by asking one another if they could wash each other’s feet. Unlike most Love Feasts I’ve attended, where the act is primarily symbolic, the water the campers were using quickly got dirty with the dirt and grass of a long day spent in God’s creation. (A few campers went out and intentionally dirtied their feet for the washing.) After washing each other’s feet, some of the other staff and I brought around communion bread that had been made by previous camps, offered each camper and staff a piece to break off, and prayed together “This bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ.” We then brought around the cups of grape juice and prayed together “This cup which we drink is the communion of the blood of Christ.” The Youth Peace Travel Team as it currently exists started in 1991 and I was only the second Youth Peace Advocate. That said Brethren Heights a gentleman told me that he had been doing what I am doing this summer 50 years ago and reminisced about watching the moon landing from a camp. He remembered only visiting midwestern camps, and while enough time had past he didn’t quite remember who officially sponsored them, he thought it might have been Manchester. My parents were on the Outdoor Ministries Association team in 1986 and traveled to several of the same camps I am visited this summer. I have met several alumni of the Youth Peace Travel Team at different camps. It was humbling to realize how much history I stood on this summer, I hope that whatever happens the legacy of the Youth Peace Travel Team and everything that came before lives on in some way.

Maria Murphy

Love in a Law Office BVS guides every volunteer down a different path of service, and each nourishes the soul in a unique way. An office job does not provide the same experiences as a homeless shelter or a summer camp. In some ways, it is much easier to witness God’s work through the personal relationships the latter projects offer. After two months at the Bernardo Kohler Center, a non-profit immigration law firm, I have learned the fulfillment service brings is not always immediate or apparent. God’s love is much more subtle in a law office, especially during the intake process. However, when I look carefully, it runs in and through every interaction. Many of the clients do not speak any English, and my Spanish is only good enough to get by. My favorite conversations switch back and forth between languages as we each speak to best communicate with the other. There is love in the laughter that comes with an incorrect word and compassion in the smile of understanding. Most of all, I see the need for my work in the clients’ desperation. Countless cases of heartbreak, struggle, and loss walk

through our doors, and each person places so much hope in the agency. After all they have endured, their confidence can only be described as faith. One woman looked me in the eyes and said “I need my family. I live alone here in the states. All my family is in my country. I just need them.” The plainness of her plea spoke to my heart, and the impact of the moment has not subsided since. Although every lawyer joke may argue otherwise, the Bernardo Kohler Center serves as living proof that God’s love can exist in a law office!

Madalyn Minehart

A Heart for


Our commitment to social justice and peace, our unwavering close-knit community, the unmatched faculty and student relationships… they have roots in a beautiful faith tradition. I decided to join Brethren Volunteer Services simply because it felt like the right thing to do. I’m young, able-bodied, and have a desire to help others. I knew

Manchester Univeristy, with its roots in the Church of the Brethren, educates students for a life of service. Accountants, educators, health professionals – graduates of all vocations leave with a sense “...if you believe in of service instilled. At MU, I deeply enough in was taught by faculty to give something, you can and not expect anything in return. I was taught to apgarner the strength proach every situation with to keep going.” open ears and an open mind. The church’s teachings on peace, justice, and service are many people at MU who did woven through the foundation of Manchester and many terms in BVS and had positive experiences, so it seemed of its educators. like a great idea. And so far, it has been. Being a student in the humanities, I had the privilege of working with students and faculty who were often more familiar with the values of both the University and the Church of the Brethren. I know my experience is not like all students’. Some leave Manchester and think the Church had little to no impact on their experience. Even as MU tries to evolve, it would not be Manchester without the Church of the Brethren.

In a few days, I will be moving from Lancaster, PA, to Waco, TX, to begin a new placement. I am going to work at the Family Abuse Center, a shelter for survivors of domestic violence. The shelter is directed by Kathy Reid, who graduated from Manchester College in the early ‘70s. Her husband, Steve, is also an alum, and a former trustee. I am nervous for this cross-country move,

but excited for the new and exciting work. It will be emotionally demanding, but I believe so deeply in FAC’s mission. That’s something I’ve learned in BVS: if you believe deeply enough in something, you can garner the strength to keep going. Packing your life into suitcases and serving for a year sounds crazy to some, but if it’s for a cause you believe in wholeheartedly, the days are easy. As I travel to Texas to begin a new chapter in my BVS journey, it’s great to reflect on how instrumental the Church of the Brethren has been in my life. Some of my biggest mentors are Brethren women in the Church. I received an excellent education (in Religious Studies!) from a Brethren college and am now a part of Brethren Volunteer Services. I never could have imagined that this small denomination would be such a huge part of my life, but I’m so incredibly thankful for it.

Get Involved!

Ministry Summer Service

Recieve a $2,500 scholarship, food, housing, a monthly stipend, and transportation Apply online by January 10, 2020

National Young Adult Conference May 22-25, 2020 Montreat Conference Center Montreat, North Carolina Register online this January!

Jess Hoffert

Standing and Knocking at the Door:

Accessibility in

the Church “I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret. The church is not accessible. And it doesn’t have to be.” That’s how Katie Smith began her presentation to a group of nearly 50 engaged listeners at last month’s COB Young Adult Conference at Camp Blue Diamond in Huntingdon County, Penn.

Brethren service opportunities such as workcamps. “When you have a disability, you have two options: suck it up or be segregated.” She hopes that in the future, the wider church will consider workcamps and camp programs that are less physically demanding and sensory-friendly. The denomination does offer a “We Are Able” workcamp each year for those with intellectual disabilities.

Smith challenged the group at this year’s Young Adult Conference to take a minority-first approach to church, Smith, who has just received a Master’s degree in Disability Studies from the City University of New York’s School of Pro- considering those with special needs while planning worship fessional Studies, cited the 1990 Americans with Disabilities services and wider activities. Act (ADA), which does not apply to religious organizations. Considerations include railSmith grew up in rural Appalachia, where coming of age with ings and easy-to-open doors for those with mobility issues, a physical disability can be a challenge. According to Smith, there are still people who cling to the idea that a person’s dis- closed captioning for those ability is directly connected to the committing of sin. “I’ve had who are hard of hearing, large print copies of sermons and random people give me ‘tips’ on how to be healed on church trips,” Smith says. “I’ve had people pray over me when I was other materials for the visually impaired, sensory-friendly visiting sick relatives in the hospital.” activities for people with autism, and dietary accommodaThis “moral model” of disability has since become widely discredited, but Smith believes there’s much more work to be tions such as gluten-free bread at communion or sugar-free done for full acceptance and accommodation of people with physical and intellectual disabilities, especially in the church. treats during children’s story. “Just being aware of the issue and asking ‘What can we do?’ means a lot,” says Smith. “The cost of being accessible is a fair concern, but a lot of what can be done doesn’t have to cost a lot or take much.” Smith credits her home church, Central COB in the Virlina district, for moving the youth room from the 3rd floor to the 1st floor after one of her major surgeries so she could continue to participate. An additional challenge for Smith has been participating in

“People are disabled, not by their bodies, but by a society that is not accessible to them,” Smith says. “We, as the church, should want function as Christ would. To me, this means including everyone, not excluding those that don’t look or act as you do.”

Here are some additional ways that Smith says the church and individuals can be more inclusive starting today: • Do not comment about • Use person-first language unless you know an individsomeone’s body or the way ual prefers another method. Instead of “Katie is disabled,” their disability makes them say, “Katie is a person with a disability.” act. • Avoid using pejorative labels such as “cripple” or • Talk to people with “handicapped.” Avoid using words that you think might put disabilities as you would talk a positive spin on a disability, like “handi-capable.” To many with anyone else. people with disabilities, words like “handi-capable” can come across as condescending and infantilizing. • Be aware that the person with a disability may be • Do not assume that a person with a disability needs sensitive about their identity help. Ask before you start to help someone, as your helping as a person with a disabilimay be more of a hindrance. ty. Do your best to include them in activities, even if this • If you have changed aspects of your building or room, means changing your plans a make sure you have notified congregants with visual or little. physical disabilities. Also, regularly check to make sure that any assistive devices are functioning properly. • When thinking of decorating your space for the upcoming holiday season, think about how your decorations might affect those with disabilities or sensitivities. For example, is the handrail easily accessible or is it decorated with garlands? • If you are interacting with a person who is hard of hearing, make sure that you have their attention before you speak. • Don’t decide what a person with a disability can and can’t do. If there is an activity that you are concerned might be difficult for a person, ask first. Don’t assume they cannot participate and exclude them.

Susu Lassa

Standing Up for Peace on

Capitol Hill “It isn’t enough to talk about Peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” -Eleacovert and drone warfare; and nor Roosevelt. unarmed civilian protection. In terms of foreign policy, as the Romans 12 articulates the call Church of the Brethren has a to be personally transformed vibrant history and large conand bear witness to the peace gregation in Nigeria, our office we have received. The Church of the Brethren Office of Peace- convenes the Nigeria Working building and Policy aligns with Group, creating a space through which the various organizations this verse, seeking to live the involved in providing humanpeace of Jesus publicly by aditarian assistance and actively vocating for Brethren values engaged in the country can like peace and simplicity with come together to educate and the context of U.S. policy. As advocate on issues in the norththe Church of the Brethren is east and middle-belt regions of a historic peace church with a moral aversion to war, the work Nigeria. The office also, through partnerships with groups like done by the office lives at the Churches for Middle East Peace nexus of peacebuilding and and Christian Peacemaker U.S. domestic and foreign polTeams, coordinates direct advoicy. Located on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, the office also cacy with Congress, meetings focuses on ecumenical interfaith with the State Department, and coalition sign-on letters. In relations on behalf of the denomination, working with other terms of domestic policy, last faith-based, non-governmental year the office’s racial justice associate worked to create the organization offices to address Native American Challenge and particular areas of concern within the scope of CoB’s annu- the Dikalos 2019 bus trip, which served to foster understanding al conference statements. and reckoning about indigeOPP works on issues relating nous issues for the Brethren. to: regional advocacy around Nigeria, Israel-Palestine, and There is much work to be done; the Middle East; racial justice and creation care; food security; the term peacebuilding alludes

to an organic process through which we must actively work towards building peace, and that is what the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy is doing. Serving as a public witness on the Hill, the office heeds the Biblical call to use our voices to speak out for justice.

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The Bridge: Fall 2019