by Paul Hoard
“It was my first year and I was blown away! My husband and I will be back every year and are going to spread the word of how much we learned and changed because of DRIVEN,” said one attender of this year’s Grace Brethren conference for twenty-somethings, held at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, June 22-25.
The winds blew hard, the rain came in torrents, and the electricity to the entire Kenyon College campus and half of Marion, Ohio, was knocked out until 1:25 a.m. But DRIVEN06 participants still found their way to the conference.
Despite technical setbacks, the conference got underway smoothly. Lit only by flashlights and a portable video camera light, the first main session kick-started the conference with a meeting variously referred to as “very refreshing, rejuvenating, and recharging.”
“DRIVEN fills a need,” said Nathanael Smith, “to address the emerging culture in ways that are unique in the Fellowship.”
This year’s theme for DRIVEN was “Alert and Oriented.” Speakers focused on four different questions medical personnel use to help gauge alertness and orientation.
Kondo Simfukwe asked “Do I know who I am?” Jeff Bogue’s talks the second day centered on “Do I know where I am?” “Do I know what time it is?” asked Randy Smith, and Kary Oberbrunner ended the conference with, “Do I know what is happening?”
One of the weekend’s highlights was a Saturday evening Grace Brethren threefold communion, led by Dr. Randy Smith. Smith’s experiences in, and knowledge of, Middle-Eastern culture drove the communion experience that began with a love feast, done as authentically Hebrew as possible.
Participants sat on the ground, around U-shaped tables, ate vegetables, blessed each other in much the same way Jesus and His disciples may have done during the Last Supper. After feet washing, participants walked together through the campus to the “Chapel of the Holy Spirit,” a soaring, Gothic structure from the 19th century. Here the bread and cup were celebrated.
John Ward will direct DRIVEN07, which is set for June 21-24, 2007. “John will be the third director. Kary Oberbrunner was the first, Nate [Harrison] the second,” said Mike Jentes, a member of the steering committee. “John is a house church leader with thequest [a Grace Brethren Church in urban Columbus, OH] and owner with his wife of DRAW Productions, a videography company (www.drawproductions.com). John was on the steering team this year and is excited about serving in the director role.”
Paul Hoard, a Grace College journalism major, was the 2006 summer editorial intern at FGBC World and attended DRIVEN06, writing and editing the daily newspaper for the conference.