Bethany to Host Anabaptism, the Next Generation

There is talk about “the new Anabaptist.” What images might this bring to mind?

Radical discipleship?
Searching for authentic community?
Working for peace?
Loving Jesus?
Simple living?
Creation care?

The Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults at Bethany Seminary is hosting a new event that will delve into values long held as traditional to Anabaptism and now appealing to new audiences. Anabaptism, the Next Generation, to be held April 17-19, 2015, targets those in ministry with young adults and welcomes all who want to explore the growing edges of Anabaptism.

“More young people are drawn toward Anabaptist themes of community and simplicity, perhaps as a countercurrent to pervasive individualism and consumerism,” says Russell Haitch, professor of Christian education and director of the Institute. “Peacemaking is also a concern because of outrageous violence in the global village or even because of domestic conflict. And some are even wanting to know how to become radical disciples of Jesus. So, for all these reasons, we thought it would be great to have a conference focused on what Anabaptism means to this next generation.”

Among the leadership for the forum are the following Brethren and ecumenical voices:

  • Chuck Bomar, writer and pastor, is also the founder of iampeople, empowering volunteers to serve others in their communities, and of CollegeLeader, a website of resources for college ministry.
  • Josh Brockway, director of spiritual life and discipleship for the Church of the Brethren, brings perspective on how the Brethren are poised well for this new movement in Anabaptism.
  • Dana Cassell, minister of youth formation at Manassas Church of the Brethren, offers expertise on discernment in community among young people.
  • Laura Stone, a lifelong Church of the Brethren member and a doctoral student of practical theology and Anabaptism, has a passion for expression of faith through music.
  • Dennis Webb, pastor of Naperville (IL) Church of the Brethren, explores the intersection of Anabaptism and multiculturalism.
  • Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, spiritual author and speaker, is the founder of the School of Conversion, building community through prison reform, among the disadvantaged, and in community-based education.

In the style of the increasingly popular TED talks in today’s media, speakers will present topics of relevance and value for community and culture in a series of twenty-minute sessions. Leaders will also facilitate discussion groups on topics related to their presentations or other subjects of interest to the group. Participants are encouraged to bring their own questions for conversation with colleagues and forum leadership.

Bekah Houff, coordinator of outreach programs at Bethany, is helping coordinate the event. “The format of this forum came mostly from conversations I’ve had with Brethren young adults across the denomination. Someone suggested a forum in which the speakers gave presentations similar to TED talks instead of longer plenary sessions. People were excited about this idea. Even now as we finalize our leadership and invite people to attend the forum, there is good energy for the format. I’m excited to experience it!”

For those who choose to travel home early, a break in the schedule will take place at 4:00 p.m. Saturday, with additional group activity and discussion continuing that evening. A formal worship service will be held Sunday morning in addition to scheduled times for singing and worship throughout the forum. Registration begins at noon on Friday. Dinner Friday evening and lunch on Saturday are included in the cost. Early registration will be discounted to $99 through Friday, April 3; the regular cost of $129 will be charged after that date. All students and those in Brethren Volunteer Service can register at any time for $50.

Attendees are encouraged to reserve housing in Richmond early, as several community events are being held that weekend. Blocks of rooms are available at some local hotels, and lodging with host families is an option to reduce costs. Registrants will receive details on housing after their registration has been received. More information and online registration are available at For assistance contact or 765-983-1809.