National Virtual Conference for Older Adults with Keynote Presentations, Worship, and Bible Study, and Unique Online Meetings – News



The National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) is fully online this year. The dates are from September 6th to 10th. The topic, “Overflowing with Hope” is inspired by Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you believe, that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may be flooded with hope” (Christian Standard Bible).

Register at (For paper registration forms, call 800-323-8039 ext 303.) Registration is $ 100 per person or $ 150 for a couple (spouse, friend, or relative). Registration gives access to all keynote presentations, church services, Bible studies, workshops, virtual excursions, virtual “bonfires” and “ice cream socials” as well as post-event recordings.

All who register will receive an email with basic information on online access to NOAC events and a conference brochure in PDF format by the end of August, also by email. During the NOAC, registrants will receive an email every morning with the schedule, credentials and links for that day.

A helpline at 800-323-8039 will be available each day of the conference from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time for questions or help with logging in.

The NOAC 2021 schedule (all times Easter)

Monday, September 6th

– 6:50 p.m. – Congregational singing, greeting, announcements and NOAC news

– 7.30 p.m. – Adoration with preacher Christy Dowdy

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 7th-9th September

– 8:20 a.m. – Congregational singing, greeting and announcements

– 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – Bible study led by Joel Kline

– 9:35 am – Welcome, announcements and NOAC news

– 9: 45-11 am – Keynote presentations: Karen González on Tuesday (with panel discussion until 12:05 pm); “From Trolley to Tub: The Story of NOAC News” on Wednesday; and a keynote presentation by Lisa Sharon Harper on Thursday (with a panel discussion until 12:05 p.m.)

– 1.30 p.m.-2.45 p.m. and 3.15 p.m.-4.30 p.m. – workshops and virtual excursions

– 6:50 p.m. – Congregational singing, greeting, announcements and NOAC news

– 7.30 p.m. – Adoration with preacher Paula Bowser on Tuesday; Andrew JO Wright on Wednesday; and Don Fitzkee on Thursday

– 8:30 pm-10:00pm – Virtual bonfires and ice cream parlors (online meetings and reunions)

Friday September 10th

– 8:50 am – Congregation chanting, greeting, announcements and NOAC news

– 9: 15-11 a.m. – Keynote presentation by Ken Medema and Ted Swartz

– 11:05 am – Closing service with preacher Eric Landram

Many of the NOAC events are recorded and streamed at the time specified in the schedule. The live parts of NOAC are: the keynote presentations and panel discussions on Tuesday and Thursday; Welcoming declarations and announcements by coordinator Christy Waltersdorff and others before every Bible study, keynote presentation and service; and closing remarks on Friday after the service.

Keynote presentations

Karen González will be the keynote speaker on Tuesday, September 7th at 9:45 am Eastern Time. González is a speaker, author, and immigrant who herself immigrated from Guatemala as a child. She is a former public school teacher and has been a nonprofit professional for 11 years currently working for World Relief. She attended Fuller Theological Seminary, where she studied theology and missiology. Her book on her own immigration history and the many immigrants found in the Bible is entitled The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belonging (Herald Press, May 2019).

“From trolley to bathtub: The story of NOAC News” is the keynote presentation on Wednesday, September 8th at 9:45 am (Eastern Time). This retrospective reviews the history of the ever-popular, humorous NOAC News video segments produced by the Church videography team of Brothers David Sollenberger, Larry Glick, and Chris Brown.

Lisa Sharon Harper presented on Thursday, September 9th at 9:45 a.m. (Eastern Time). She leads training courses that strengthen the ability of clergy and church leaders to organize believing people for a righteous world. A prolific speaker, writer, and activist, Harper is the founder and president of, an advisory group dedicated to narrowing the narrative divide by developing forums and experiences that enable shared understanding, engagement, and action. She has also written several books and previously served as the Chief Church Engagement Officer for the Sojourners Ward in Washington, DC

Ken Medema and Ted Swartz The keynote moderators are on Friday, September 10th at 9:15 a.m. (Eastern Time). They have been popular performers at the National Youth Conference, the Annual Conference and previous NOACs. Medema is a Christian musician, singer, and songwriter who, despite being blind from birth, has inspired people through storytelling and music for four decades. Swartz is a Mennonite playwright and actor whose appearances touch the intersection of humor and biblical history to discover a new understanding of scripture. He is the managing director of the Center for Art, Humor and Soul.

Worship and Bible Study

Christy Dowdy preach at the opening service on Monday, September 6th, at 7.30 p.m. Eastern time. Dowdy has been a pastor in the Church of the Brethren for 31 years. During many of those years she and her spouse Dale Dowdy pastored Antelope Park Church of the Brethren in Lincoln, Neb., And Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. She is currently an interim pastor in Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

Paula Bowser will deliver the message on Tuesday, September 7th at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Bowser is a retired pastor from Englewood, Ohio, and a writer. She wrote for Brethren Press and wrote two devotions –The Word made flesh and Holy manna– and two federal Bible studies –Jonah and Hebrew Bible women. She has worked as a high school English teacher, reporter, and campus ecumenical minister at Iowa State University.

Andrew JO Wright will preach on Wednesday, September 8th at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. Born and raised in England, he was inducted into the Church of the Brethren and married his wife Debi while teaching at Hillcrest School in Nigeria. In the United States, he led three churches in southern Ohio before retiring in 2019 and now serves as an interim pastor. He has also made a career as a musician.

Don Fitzkee bring the message on Thursday, September 8th at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Fitzkee is Pastor of Worship in the Lancaster, Pa. Church of the Brethren. Before that, he worked for 20 years as a “free pastor” and worked on the staff of COBYS Family Services. At the denominational level, he chaired the Mission and Ministry Committee and preached at the 2015 annual conference. He has written for Brethren Press and delivery boy and is the author of On the way to mainstream, a 20th century history of the Atlantic Northeast.

Closing service on Friday, September 9, at 9 a.m. (Eastern time) Eric Landram, Pastor of the Brethren Church Lititz (Pa.). He has preached for the National Youth Conference 2018 and the National Young Adult Conference 2016 and was one of those planning services for Young Adult Conferences. In addition to pastoral care, he has worked for the state of Virginia to help people with severe mental illness.

Bible study is Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8.30 a.m. to 9.30 a.m. under the direction of Joel Kline. Kline, a Church of the Brethren pastor, most recently pastored the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Illinois.

Karen González
Lisa Sharon Harper
Ken Medema
Ted Swartz

Workshops and virtual excursions

There are two workshops or virtual excursions to choose from every afternoon.


Topics range from poems and memoirs on “Art in the Church”, “Viruses and Other Problems Infecting Our Economy”, “Is Someone My Age Well” and much more. A full list can be found at

Virtual excursions

– “Brethren Heritage Tour” under the direction of David Sollenberger and “Ephrata Cloister” under the direction of Elizabeth Bertheud on Tuesday afternoon, September 7th

– “Civilian Public Service and Plowboys in China” directed by Karen Dillon and Ivan Patterson and “Global Food Initiative” directed by Jeff Boshart on Wednesday afternoon, September 8th

– “John Kline Homestead” under the direction of Mike Hostetter and “300th Anniversary Celebration” under the direction of David Sollenberger on Thursday afternoon, September 9th

The online list of excursions can be found at

Virtual bonfires, ice cream parlors, gatherings, and reunions (8:30 pm-10:00pm, Eastern Time)

A popular feature of past NOACs were the ice cream socials sponsored by Bethany Seminary and church colleges and universities. This year, that tradition continues with a virtual bonfire and camp gathering sponsored by the Outdoor Ministries Association. Although attendees have to bring their own ice cream, these virtual events provide the opportunity to connect with school and camp friends at Zoom meetings. Participants will receive emails with the links they need for each day.

“Virtual campfire and camp meeting” sponsored by the Association of Foreign Ministries takes place on Monday evening.

That Bethanien Theological Seminary The reunion will take place on Tuesday evening.

Are on Wednesday evening College reunions for Bridgewater (Va.) College, Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and McPherson (Kan.) College.

Thursday night College reunions is taught by Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, the University of La Verne, California, and Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.

The schedule with some fun videos can be found at

Service projects

A virtual “donation tour around the lake” This year is raising funds for the Emergency Disaster Fund and helping communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations can be made online at

A book campaign for the elementary school on Lake Junaluska will help Ira Hyde, the school librarian, build a more culturally diverse library for grades K-5 children in this low-income community. A list of suggested books was drawn up with the help of Church of the Brethren volunteer Libby Kinsey. Donate money to buy books at

NOAC online bookstore

Brethren Press has a dedicated online NOAC bookstore at New products include a NOAC News memorial mug designed by artist Mitch Miller, priced at $ 20 each.

Watch parties

NOAC organizers encourage people to join forces with others in their communities or retirement communities to attend guard parties. If you would like any ideas, please contact the NOAC coordinator Christy Waltersdorff at [email protected].

The NOAC planning team includes Waltersdorff along with Glenn Bollinger, Karen Dillon, Jim Martinez, Rex Miller, Pat Roberts, Paula Ulrich and the staff of Discipleship Ministries, Josh Brockway and Stan Dueck.

Further information and registration at


For more news on the Church of the Brethren, see:



Leave A Reply