Simple Living has been a core Brethren value since our earliest days as a denomination. But what does it mean to live simply in a busy, modern, 21st century world? What does it mean for us, for our relationship with God, and for the Earth? Join inspiring practitioners and experts on simple living as they offer practical, engaging, and hands-on workshops and experiences to help us consider what simple living looks like for us today. We’ll have opportunities for worship, fellowship, and great food.

 

Cost

$35 Fri + Sat (includes all meals and lodging)
$20 Saturday Only (includes lunch)
$10 Students

Presenters

Nancy Heisey

Nancy Heisey has taught biblical studies and church history for eighteen years at Eastern Mennonite University, and currently serves part-time as associate dean at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. Her work is shaped by a childhood among the Navajo people with Brethren in Christ missionary parents. She also learned much from her years as a secondary school teacher under Mennonite Central Committee in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and by the two years she traveled with her husband Paul Longacre visiting Mennonite partners and friends around the world from 1987-1989. She served as president of Mennonite World Conference from 2003-2009.

 

Sam Funkhouser

Sam Funkhouser resides with his family in Franklin County, Virginia, and is a member of the Old German Baptist Brethren Church, New Conference.  He is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.), where he wrote a thesis on the theology of early English-language Brethren hymnody and served as a teaching assistant in the Biblical Studies department (teaching Biblical Hebrew).  Sam currently serves as the Director of Risk Management for Family Preservation Services of Virginia, a community-based mental health provider, and he is also a consultant for GreenFaith, an interfaith coalition for the environment.

 

Tom Benevento

Tom Benevento is co-director of New Community Project and Vine and Fig's sustainable living center in Harrisonburg VA. Tom has worked with native peoples in sustainable development in Guatemala for several years through Brethren Volunteer Service and the Church of the Brethren's Latin America Office. Along the Dominican Republic/Haitian border, Tom partners with local church members and farmers in the development of edible forest ecosystems and permaculture design. Tom lives with his wife and two sons in Harrsionburg Virginia.

 

Keynotes

Sam Funkhouser; Trapped in a Globalized Economy: The Christian Imperative for Non-Conformity Today

The Biblical witness concerning the spiritual and ethical dangers of wealth, and especially against prosperity at the expense of others, is one of the key themes that we find throughout the Scriptures.  The Anabaptist movement in particular has long emphasized the need for simple living and non-conformity to the world.  And yet the Church today is faced with ethical quandaries that are in many ways unique to modernity. The pressures of industrialization (the ability to harness human and natural resources with mechanical efficiency), consumerism (an economic system predicated upon a “free market” and ordered by purchasers’ self-interest), and globalization (the application of industrialization and consumerism the world over) have together shaped a culture and economy that is deeply at odds with the Gospel. This economy has in turn spawned new evils—such as human-induced climate change and massive resource depletion through unsustainable use—while causing the problems associated with more traditional societal evils—such as economic injustice, racism, and militarism—to become more acute.  Furthermore, we are “trapped” in this economy, so that in even our most simple and basic daily activities (the food we eat, energy we use, and goods we purchase) we cause harm to others—both now and to generations yet unborn.  In this keynote, then, we will explore these social pressures in greater detail, and articulate a new and more robust call for radical lifestyle change as a response to the Gospel in our contemporary context.  We will focus on three of Christ’s key teachings—the need for repentance from sin, the obligation to love our neighbor, and the call to bear witness to the Kingdom of God—and argue that non-conformity to the world is not only important, but imperative for our lives as Christians today.

 

Workshops

Tread Lightly: Reducing Our Transportation Footprint

Sam Funkhouser
Over 25% of the United States’ carbon output comes from transportation, and for many of us (especially those who live in rural areas) driving can the single largest source of the greenhouse gases that we produce.  Yet for many of us, immediately giving up our car would be impractical, if not impossible.  So what can we do?  In this workshop we will discuss practical ways to reduce our transportation footprint, with an emphasis on “hypermiling”—that is, making small but significant changes to our vehicles and the way in which we drive them that increase MPG by 10-50% or more.

Beyond Plainness: Building a More Just and Sustainable Wardrobe

Sam Funkhouser 
The contemporary fashion industry creates significant, detrimental social and environmental impacts, and cries out for a robust Christian witness and counter-culture.  “Plain dress” has been a longstanding practice of the Anabaptist movement, but many churches have abandoned the practice altogether, and even the “plain” churches of today have adopted the clothing materials and manufacturing methods of the larger textile industry.  In this workshop we will explore the effects that our clothing choices have around the world, and discuss practical ways to minimize these impacts, such as simplifying our wardrobe, committing to purchasing used clothing, sourcing organic and fair trade materials, and making clothes at home.

 

Taming the “Technology Monster”

Nancy Heisey
This workshop will 1) help people laugh and recognize that there are no simple solutions to technology use; 2) invite participants to consider the energy-reliant items we use in daily life; 3) brainstorm about choices we have the freedom to make, related to that use; and 4) look at biblical and other Christian writings that may contribute to future discernment  and practice with our technological possessions.

Introduction to permaculture and the science of agro-ecology 

Tom Benevento
In this session we will learn about the ethics, principles, and design process of permaculture and agro-ecology to create vibrant and abundant sustainable systems at your home and in your neighborhood. We will discover the interplay between social and ecological design, bio-mimicry and native peoples wisdom. Participants will engage in hands on activities and have the basic tools for creating integrated and sustainable food, energy, and water systems for their home site.

Change in Place: Instigating a community driven revolution

Tom Benevento
We can't really go somewhere else to "save the world" It only really happens in the places where we live. This is a nuts and bolts session on how to instigate and incubate powerful community projects in your town, city, or community to live more sustain-ably. Using ecosystem principles and Gandhian integral nonviolence as our models, we will learn best practices and step by step processes to empower you to be an agent of positive change in your community.

Schedule

Friday
6:00-7:00PM – Registration
7:00-7:30pm – Opening Worship
7:30 – Simple Living Vision – sharing vision, passions
8:00 – refreshments, board games, and continued conversation

Saturday
8:00-9:00AM – Breakfast
8:00-9:00AM – Registration
9:00-10:15AM – Worship and Keynote
10:30AM-11:15AM – Workshop 1
11:30-12:15 – Workshop 2
12:30-1:15PM – Lunch
1:30-2:15 – Keynote
2:30-3:15 – Workshop 3
3:30-4:45PM – Panel Discussion & Closing Worship
4:45PM – Depart