*Due to a high number of registrations, we do not have any more overnight housing available. However, please continue to register for programming but know you'll have to commute or find housing elsewhere.

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.

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

Invitation to Simplify: A Simple Living Weekend


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.


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.


Jennifer Hosler

Jennifer Hosler is co-pastor at Washington City Church of the Brethren in Washington, DC and a PhD student in Community Psychology. Jenn's work and ministry includes preaching, supporting church planting and church renewal, promoting urban ministry, tenant organizing for affordable housing, and in building peace by bringing together people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. She served for over two years in northern Nigeria as a peace and reconciliation worker with the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service, and for almost two years as an interim coordinator of the Brethren Nutrition Program, Washington City Church of the Brethren’s lunch program for people in need. Jenn lives in northeast Washington, DC, with her husband Nathan. She enjoys gardening in tiny spaces (and spreading homemade compost as fertilizer on her city soil), bike commuting through the city, and running.

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.


Yakubu and Diana Bakfwash

Originally from Nigeria but Yakubu and Diana Bakfwash with two of the children Ms. Faith and Ms. Tryphena now resides in east Baltimore, Maryland. While their oldest daughter Ms. Nenrit lives in Houston Texas. Yakubu is a graduate of Nairobi Evangelical Graduate school of Theology (M.Div.), Dallas Baptist University (MA Global leadership), Trinity International University, Deerfield IL., (ThM Evangelism and Intercultural Studies), and currently a PhD student at Trinity International University Deerfield, IL., (Educational studies). His wife Diana holds a Diploma in Christian Ministry from Nairobi Evangelical Graduate school of Theology. Currently, Diana is the Director, community outreach and Acts 2:44 at GraceWay Church. While Yakubu is the Pastor at GraceWay church and he is the Director, Church Revitalization and Intercultural Ministry for the Mid-Atlantic District. In addition, Yakubu is the Director, International Training and Research at the Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation (CNCT), Rockford IL. The Bakfwashs enjoy cultivating their garden.  



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.

Jennifer Hosler: A Biblical Theology of Simple Living

Continuing the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together. While we may easily quote or refer to Jesus' words on peacemaking or on love and Christian unity, the scriptural voices on simple living are less referenced in the Church of the Brethren. What is the biblical message on simple living? Is there a consistent thread throughout scripture that explores how God's people are called to live simply? This session will provide a journey through a biblical theology of simple living, exploring both the witness of the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) and the New Testament.

Workshops and Schedule

Workshop Descriptions

Tread Lightly: Reducing Our Transportation Footprint
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.
Leader: Sam Funkhouser

Beyond Plainness: Building and More Just and Sustainable Wardrobe
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.
Leader: Sam Funkhouser 

Subversive Spirituality in the Marketplace 
US culture shapes us into thinking that we are what we buy or own. Scripture calls us to not be conformed but to be transformed from the world and culture around us. The purpose of this session is to provide resources, tools, and discussion on how to transform our primary identity from “consumer” to “Christ-follower.” While modern life in the US necessitates some level of consumption, how can we think about material goods, money, commerce, and shopping transactions through a biblical and theological lens? Biblical and theological principles will shape our conversations. Practical tools will be provided to start (or continue) exploring how to opt-out of consumption culture and to opt-in to a subversive spirituality of the marketplace.
Leader: Jennifer Hosler

Taming the "Technology Monster"
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.
Leader:  Nancy Heisey

Pastoring and Public Life -- Living Simply in Public
In this session, we will explore what it means to live simply and publicly as a pastor or leader in ministry. Can scriptural passages about church leaders be applied to simple living, stewardship, and the environment? What obligations to pastors and ministry leaders have for thinking rigorously and proactively about how their choices impact our neighbors both near and far, as well as the creation that God made for us? How can pastors and church leaders lead with their lives and words to be good stewards of creation and the world's resources? What does it mean at an individual, congregational, and denominational level? What challenges exist when making "simple" choices and advocating for simple living, when the journey is complicated and long-term? How can we promote simple living discipleship without making others feel guilty or hopeless if they are just beginning? This workshop will use scriptures, practical examples, and group discussions to explore the challenges of leading simply.
Leader: Jennifer Hosler

Introduction to permaculture and the science of agro-ecology 
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.
Leader: Tom Benevento

Change in Place: Instigating a community driven revolution 
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.
Leader: Tom Benevento

Wash one Another’s feet: The Ministry Implications
Like it or not, we are walking billboards for the gospel. People forms opinions about Christ and immediately draw conclusions about our faith based on how we live and interact in our community. If that is so, what does it mean for Brethren in 21st century world to live simply? How then should simple living look like for brethren today? As servant’s leaders in 21st century busy world, in what ways can we embody to our community what it means to “wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14b)? “Wash one another’s feet” is our model of ultimate example of humility and service. If so, in what ways can we live simple life that bear Christ witness to our community?
Together we will hear stories of how GraceWay church of the Brethren is exemplifying to its community what it means to “wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14b).
Leaders: Yakubu and Diana Bakfwash


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

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