I’ve lost from my mind some of the things I was going to say about this, but perhaps that simply means that what I’ve got left in my gray matter is what’s really important to say.
From where I’m sitting, it looks like my denomination is dying. I love the Church of the Brethren dearly, and I think it will be tremendously sad for the world when it is no longer. (If you don’t know about the Church of the Brethren, check out my link to it on the sidebar or wikipedia it — surprisingly, there’s a pretty impressive entry on us there.) It seems to me that simplicity, service, peace, and community (the four main values indicated in our tagline), not to mention Jesus are precisely what the world needs at the present moment. So… I will stop sermonizing here, but I think you get my point — I am very sad, for me and for the world, that the Church of the Brethren is not thriving.
However, I am looking for a resurrection, and it became abundantly clear to me at the CoB Young Adult Conference that, if a resurrection happens, it will likely be much because of God’s working in the young adults of the denomination.
So YAC was amazingly fun. I wouldn’t have gone had I not been asked to coordinate opening worship, but I can’t imagine now not wanting to go. The people are amazing, the worships were very meaningful, the values and questions and lives of the young adults there are inspiring. Eighty young adults gathered in a worship space singing clear, spontaneous, unaccompanied, four-part harmony… need I say more?
As for my part in the weekend, it went quite well. Worship planning is one of the things I count among my gifts. I often will have somewhat of an idea about what the worship will look like, but I never know how God is going to flow through it until I actually experience it — and often it happens that I am filled with awe, not at what I have come up with, but at how God has used the stick hut I constructed as a glorious temple. It was that way again for this worship, giving me no choice but to breathe a prayer of thanks.
So, if you are the praying type, pray for God’s will for the Church of the Brethren (though I have to admit that I’m trying to convice God that it is in fact his will for the church to give it the strength to come back…).
And, for all you young adults out there who are Church of the Brethren or all you people who know CoB young adults or all you young adults who wish you were CoB… Next year’s gathering of young adults (age 18-35) is in Estes Park, CO. The planning committee is aiming for 250-500 of us next summer. Check out the YYA section of the CoB website for more information. (Or talk to me if you need any convincing!)
I also have a link on the sidebar to A Place Apart’s blog (from there you can get on their website, too) — in my mind this also holds hope for the Church of the Brethren, though this resurrection (as perhaps any resurrection) will likely look much different than a simple recast of the old or even current CoB.