A Final Call to Transformation

Tonight, the 121st General Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church wrapped up with a final call to transformation — the thematic focus for the 500-plus delegates who gathered in Grantham, Pa., over the last four days. In her evening sermon, Dr. Joy J. Moore — associate dean for black church studies and church relations at Duke Divinity School — called conference delegates to go out from Grantham freshly committed to God’s call upon the Church: to be a glimpse of the transforming work of Christ in a broken, divided, and unjust world.

As the following photo essay demonstrates, tonight’s events brought together the Brethren in Christ in visual representations of our commitment to the community of faith and the pursuit of God’s mission of redemption and renewal.

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A lesson from Antioch

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Tonight, 800 Brethren in Christ meditated on the call to reach our communities through service and witness. Ryan Brown, pastor at New Life Community in Carlisle, Pa., had this to say about his journey in ministry:

“I grew up in rural, ‘white’ Canada. I had never touched poverty, never touched prison, never really even touched diversity. Then I came to [New Life Community] and stepped into this messy, broken church and my heart was wrecked. It was just wrecked. But over my last six years at New Life, I’ve learned that we need to be wrecked in order to meet others in their brokenness.”

And as Ryan has come to this realization, his church gained a better understanding of what compassionate service is. Among other outreaches, New Life opens its doors early on Sundays and its members sit down for breakfast with the homeless that queue up outside before the service.

Another BIC church that has committed itself to engaging in compassionate service, embracing the full community of faith, and witnessing to the world is Harrisburg BIC, and it was Woody Dalton, Harrisburg’s pastor, who shared the evening message with us tonight.

Drawing from Acts 13, Woody pointed out that the first “missionaries” of the New Testament were not sent out of the church in Jerusalem, a bastion of Jewish believers, but in Antioch, the multicultural, multi-ethnic, multiracial “cradle of Gentile Christianity” (according to Wikipedia).

“The New Testament church  was not homogeneous,” Woody pointed out. “It was diverse! As the many New Testament accounts of cultural and racial tensions in churches indicate, that diversity was difficult, but they stuck to it because they believed that was the Gospel.”

“Human prejudices run deep,” he continued. “It is only the love of God that can overcome centuries of bitterness and exclusion and knit together those who were once enemies.”

In the face of these hostilities, Woody shared about the Lebos, a couple at Dillsburg BIC who own a greenhouse. A few years ago, they were in need of over 100 seasonal workers to help with the harvest, so they took to the streets of York Springs, Pa., and passed out about 10 of their business cards. The next week, over 200 workers showed up for jobs. Under the U.S. government’s guest worker program, the Lebos were able to hire many of them, and today, about 25% of them have accepted Christ. In turn, some of those workers, during the off-seasons, have planted a BIC church in their hometown in Mexico.

Following this story, Woody posed this question to listeners: “When children from other countries come to our country to study, will we welcome them into our church? When interracial couples come, will we welcome them into our church, or will they move on down the line to one that will . . . or will we let them give up all together?”

In response, one person yelled out, “Help us, Lord!”

Truly, help us, Lord! As our churches and countries grow more diverse, as people of different colors, ages, backgrounds, belief systems, and socio-economic statuses come to our churches, may we welcome them with open arms, like the family they are.

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Quizzing Finals 2010

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Final Quizzing Results

In addition to the team quizzing awards that were conferred earlier this evening, quizzers were honored for their individual achievements. The top quizzer from each team received a $1000 scholarship from Messiah College. The top ten quizzers and the top rookie quizzer were also recognized. Lastly, the Quizzer’s Choice Award was presented to a quizzer who exhibited exceptional skill, leadership, and character. The recipients of these awards are listed below. Congratulations to all of the teams and individual quizzers who participated in this year’s competition!

Top quizzers for each team :

Tyler Mathna (Elizabethtown)
Valerie Hernley (Cross Roads)
Julie Buckwalter (Elizabethtown)
Hope Long (Fairview Avenue)
Andy Brubaker (Dillsburg)
Becca Shirk (New Life)
Ben Zercher (Nappanee)
Baruch Fickett (New Vision)

Top 10 quizzers overall :

1. Ben Zercher, 5.03 avg (Nappanee)
2. Valerie Hernly, 3.81 avg (Cross Roads)
3. Becca Shirk, 3.40 avg (New Life)
4. Hope Long, 3.17 avg (Fairview Avenue)
5. Julie Buckwalter, 2.61 avg (Elizabethtown)
6. Baruch Fickett, 2.60 (New Vision)
7. Asher Fickett, 2.23 (New Vision)
8. Andrew Smith, 2.15 avg (Fairview Avenue)
9. Andy Brubaker, 1.88 avg (Dillsburg)
10. Alexa Hoffman, 1.85 avg (Elizabethtown)

Top Rookie Quizzer : Josh Warford (Fairview Avenue)

Quizzer’s Choice Award : Ben Zercher (Nappanee)

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Quizzing Finals: The Live Blog, Part Deux

A victory from second-seeded Cross Roads in the first match of denominational finals has brought us to a second match. They will face off against first-place Nappanee.

Wow! Cross Roads has a delightful pump-up chant they use before a match.

As the two teams shake hands and take their seats, retiring quiz master John Weaver prepares to begin the final quiz — the quiz that will determine the 2010 denominational champions!

The quizzers have begun to test their lights. Competition is about to get underway!

With a near-full house here in Brubaker Auditorium, the championship quiz begins!

Question #1: Jump and correct answer from Cross Roads. They take an early lead with 20 points.

Timeout crossroads.

With some substitutions on the Cross Roads team, quizzing resumes with Question #2.

Question #2: Jump and error from Cross Roads. Bonus to Nappanee. No correct answer. Score remains the same.

Question #3: Quote this Verse. Jump and correct answer from Cross Roads. They retain the lead with 40 points. Nappanee remains without score.

Question #4: Jump and correct answer from Nappanee. Puts them on the board. Cross Roads 40, Nappanee 20.

Question #5: Jump and error from Nappanee. Bonus answered correctly by Cross Roads. Cross Roads 50, Nappanee 20.

Question #6: Jump and error from Nappanee. Bonus to Cross Roads. Correct answer for another 10 points. Cross Roads 60, Nappanee 20.

Nappanee has challenged the judges’ ruling on their error.

Cross Roads offers a rebuttal.

Quiz masters rule: The original error ruling will stand.

Question #7 incurs an early foul for Cross Roads. A jump from Cross Roads on the same question results in a correct answer. Score: Cross Roads 80, Nappanee 20.

Question #8: Jump and error from Cross Roads. Bonus to Nappanee. No correct answer. Score stands at Cross Roads 80, Nappanee 20.

Question #9: Jump and error from Nappanee. Bonus to Cross Roads, with a correct answer. Score: Cross Road 90, Nappanee 20.

Nappanee calls a timeout.

A substitution for Nappanee precedes Question #10.

Question #10 to Nappanee, with a correct answer. The score stands at Cross Roads 90, Nappanee 40.

Question #11: Jump and correct answer from Cross Roads. With a forty point bonus for having all four members of their team jump, Cross Roads jumps ahead with a score of 150 to Nappanee’s 40.

Question #12: Jump and error from Cross Roads. Bonus to Nappanee, with a correct answer. Score Cross Roads 150, Nappanee 50.

Question #13: Jump and correct answer from Nappanee propels them ahead to 70. Cross Roads 150, Nappanee 70.

Question #14: Jump and correct answer from Nappanee. Cross Roads 150, Nappanee 90. They’re catching up!

Question #15: Jump and correct answer from Nappanee. Cross Roads 150, Nappanee 110.

Timeout from Cross Roads.

Returning to the quiz with a substitution on Nappanee.

Question #16: Finish these TWO Verses. Jump and correct answer from Cross Roads. Score at Cross Roads 170, Nappanee 110.

With another substitution from Nappanee, quizzing resumes at Question #17.

Question #17: Jump and correct answer from Cross Roads. Cross Roads 190, Nappanee 110.

Question #18: Jump and error from Cross Roads, with a 10 point deduction for too many team errors. Bonus to Nappanee. No correct answer. Score stands at Cross Roads 180, Nappanee 110.

Timeout Nappanee.

Quizzing resumes with Question #19.

Question #19: Jump and error from Cross Roads, with a 10 point deduction for too many team errors. Bonus to Nappanee, with correct answer. Score stands at Cross Roads 170, Nappanee 120.

Timeout Cross Roads.

At Question #20, Nappanee could still pull out a lead, should they get the 40-point bonus for having all four members jump. Can they do it?

Quizzing resumes with Question #20.

Question #20: Jump and error from Nappanee, with a 10 point deduction for too many team errors. Bonus to Cross Roads, correct answer.

With their win, Cross Roads takes home the championship of the 2010 Denominational Quizzing Finals. Congratulations to both competitors — you all did an incredible job!

Final score: Cross Roads 190, Nappanee 110.

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Quizzing Finals: The Live Blog

Welcome, Friends of Quizzing, to the Live Blog of the 2010 Denominational Quizzing Finals. I’m writing live from the conference floor, where first-ranked Nappanee is facing off against second-place Cross Roads.

The quizzers have shaken hands and taken their seats. Competition is about to get underway!

Retiring quizmaster John Weaver is giving final instructions to the audience, and introducing the two competing teams.

As John has just pointed out, if first-place Nappanee wins this first quiz, they will be named the 2010 championship team.

Should Cross Roads win the first match, teams will switch sides and engage in a second match to determine the champs.

Quizzers are now taking some practice questions, and then the match will begin.

Question #1: Jumper from Cross Roads errored, bonus to Nappanee. Nappanee answered the bonus correctly for 10 points. Nappanee in the lead.

Question #2 went to Cross Roads. Cross Roads is in the lead with 20 points, Nappanee with 10.

Cross Roads called a timeout.

After three substitutions from Cross Roads, quizzing resumed with Question #3. Cross Roads jumped and errored, bonus to Nappanee. Nappanee did not answer. Cross Roads retains the lead.

Question #4 to Nappanee for 20 points. Nappanee retakes the lead with 30, Cross Roads 20.

Question #5: Nappanee jumped and errored. Bonus to Cross Roads, answered correctly. Cross Roads gets 10 points to tie the game.

Question #6: Jump and error from Nappanee. Cross Roads for correct bonus answer. Cross Roads, with 40 points, takes the lead.

Question #7: Two part question to Cross Roads — answered correctly for 20 points. That takes Cross Roads to 60 (lead), wtih Nappanee trailing with 30.

Question #8: Jump and correct answer to Nappanee. Nappanee with 50, Cross Roads still in lead with 60.

Question #9: Nappanee jumps and answers correctly for 20 points. Nappanee takes the lead with 80 to Cross Roads’ 60. Nappanee takes a timeout.

After a substitution for Nappanee, quizzing resumed at Question #10.

Question #10: Nappanee’s jump. Correct answer for 20 points. Nappanee 90, Cross Roads 60.

Question #11: Jump and correct answer from Cross Roads. Cross Roads with 80, Nappanee still leading with 90.

Question #12: Jump and error from Cross Roads. Bonus to Nappanee, with correct answer. Nappanee retains the lead with 100, Cross Roads 80.

Question #13: Finish this Verse. Nappanee with the jump and correct answer. Nappanee picks up a bonus 10 for having their whole team answer. Score: Nappanee 120, Cross Roads 80.

Question #14: Jump and correct answer from Cross Roads. Nappanee 120, Cross Roads 100.

Question #15: Finish these TWO Verses. Jump and error from Nappanee. Bonus to Cross Roads with a correct answer. Nappanee with 120, Cross Roads creeping up with 110.

Question #16: Jump and error from Cross Roads. Bonus to Nappanee. Without a correct answer, the score remains the same.

Timeout from Cross Roads.

Quizzing resumes with Question #17.

Question #17: Jump and error from Nappanee, with a 10 point deduction for too many errors. Bonus to Cross Roads. Correct answer for 10 points. Cross Roads takes the lead with 120, Nappanee with 110.

Question #18: Jump and error from Cross Roads, with a 10 point deduction for too many errors. Bonus to Nappanee. No answer. Tie score, 110 to 110.

Question #19: Finish these TWO Verses. Jump from Cross Roads, correct answer. Cross Roads takes the lead with 130. Nappanee stands with 110.

Timeout.

Resume with Question #20.

Question #20: Jump and error from Nappanee, with another 10 point deduction for too many errors. Bonus to Cross Roads, without a correct answer.

Cross Roads wins the match! Final score: Cross Roads 130, Nappanee 100.

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Quizzing Update #2

Intense quizzing competition continued this afternoon, determining the participants in the final quiz at 6:15 this evening. Nappanee advanced to the final quiz through the winners bracket. They will face Crossroads, who was forced by an earlier loss to Nappanee to make their way to the finals through the losers bracket. These two teams have quizzed very evenly against each other all year and should provide an exciting contest tonight! Don´t miss it!

Final standings for the other 6 teams are as follows:

3rd place : Elizabethtown
4th place : Fairview Avenue
5th place : Dillsburg
6th place : New Vision
7th place : Carlisle
8th place : New Life (Hershey)

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Equipping for transformation

At first glance, Greg probably seemed like your average North American: He had a wife and kids, a job, a house. But unbeknownst to the outside world, he also struggled with an addiction. Life was painful but manageable, as long as there was the promise of that next hit.

As time passed, however, Greg’s life became increasingly difficult. Unable to keep up on mortgage payments, the family lost its house and moved into an apartment. One evening, after a night of using, Greg returned home to see his girls sprawled out on sleeping bags on the apartment floor. And that was Greg’s breaking point. It was also the day of his final hit.

Shortly thereafter, Greg and his family became a part of the Mechanicsburg (Pa.) BIC Church, joining a small group and actively participating in its services. One day, Greg had a vision: He saw himself sitting in church, with a whole crowd of addicts filling the seats behind him.

Mechanicsburg is a middle-class suburb just outside of Harrisburg, Pa. It’s a community with manicured lawns, quaint houses, quiet neighborhoods, and friendly people. But despite the picture-perfect exterior, Greg knew that many around him were carrying heavy burdens, as he once had. And so, he began to reach out to those struggling with issues he had faced.

Today, addicts and recovering addicts fill up two or three whole rows on a Sunday morning at Mechanicsburg BIC. Greg has dedicated himself, even in his weakness, to doing God’s good and perfect work, and the Lord had honored his heartfelt service.

Greg himself shared this story with the General Conference tonight as part of the message brought by Layne Lebo, pastor of Mechanicsburg BIC, during the evening service. Drawing from Greg’s example, Layne emphasized the vital role that discipleship plays within a church. “Pastors are equippers, not some superhuman evangelists,” he said. “The ministers in a congregation are not the pastors but the congregants, the people of the church.”

Yet as a study recently conducted by the Barna Group revealed, although 2/3 of non-church attendees report that they recognize they have a deep, unfulfilled spiritual need, the church was one of the last places they said they’d go to overcome their emptiness. Drawing upon 2 Corinthians, Layne encouraged listeners to consider the call to be ambassadors–to go, like Greg, into the world to reach people for Christ. This means not waiting for people to come to us.

“A congregation’s ability to realize full and complete transformation depends upon the peoples’ response to God’s call to be ambassadors,” observed Layne. “Like the ambassador of a country, we are called not to stay in our own nation, but to venture out into foreign lands. We are to be out in the world, going places that the church stereotypically does not go…and even avoids!”

Just as God came into our world through Christ, so are we called to enter into new territories to reach the lost. May we, as Brethren in Christ, embrace our role as ambassadors carrying a message of peace and good news to those held so dear by their Creator!

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Behind the Scenes at General Conference

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Quizzing Update #1

After a long day on Friday and several more quizzes this morning, the BIC quiz teams concluded the round-robin portion of this year’s competition. The struggle for the #1 seed in tomorrow’s double elimination tournament was fierce, with many closely contested quizzes along the way. The veteran teams rose to the top but several young teams, such as Dillsburg and New Life (Hershey), showed great promise as well.

Quizzing continues tomorrow, with all first round quizzes starting at 2 pm and the final quiz taking place at 6:15 pm. Round-robin results and pairings for the first round of double elimination are as follows:

Nappanee : 11 wins, 3 losses
New Vision : 9 wins, 5 losses
Cross Roads : 9 wins, 5 losses
Elizabethtown : 8 wins, 6 losses
Fairview Avenue : 7 wins, 7 losses
Dillsburg : 6 wins, 8 losses
New Life (Hershey) : 5 wins, 9 losses
Carlisle : 1 win, 13 losses

First Round Pairings:
Nappanee vs. Carlisle
Elizabethtown vs. Fairview Avenue
New Vision vs. New Life (Hershey)
Cross Roads
vs. Dillsburg

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