NBA at General Assembly: A Recap of our Week in Louisville
The National Benevolent Association staff, trustees, partners, and supporters were delighted to be able to attend the 2023 General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky. After four years of not being able to worship, learn, and fellowship together, it was momentous to be together and celebrate the Assembly theme of Kindom of God, Within Us, Among Us.
Our time at the General Assembly began with our NBA luncheon, which kicked off with musical selections from the Young Adult Leadership Experience (YALE) Peer Learning & Wellness Group members and NBA’s Rev. Bere Gil Soto, their Peer Group Convener. During the luncheon, we were honored to hear from five speakers, who are affiliated with NBA programming in several different ways. Each speaker shared how they’ve been impacted by NBA and their bold visions for the future of the ministry. Isaac Elizarraras, a member of the YALE Peer Group had this to share during the event:
“When I think about my bold vision for ministry with and for young adults today, two words come to mind: legacy and discipleship. Discipleship comes from a genuine connection and relationship with Jesus, and this results in us being able to share our experiences with our peers, mentors, and community,” he explained. “Legacy involves us passing on the wisdom that we have learned. From my experiences with YALE, I boldly vision to be authentic in my discipleship with Jesus and to share — in the spirit of legacy — how I live my faith with the next generations.”
Throughout the assembly, NBA hosted five workshops each serving as either a continuation of our online resources or an introduction to the new ways we are supporting the bold visions of the young adults and social entrepreneurs we work alongside. Our workshop offerings included a panel discussion on mental health in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities, lessons on Restorative Justice as a new way of addressing harm, an interactive art and activism session, a workshop on the crucial role of grief and lament during seasons of transition, and an interactive breakout session for budding social entrepreneurs looking to bring the dreams of their social enterprise to life.
Guests who visited NBA’s booth were greeted by members of the NBA staff, and trustees as well as the opportunity to interact with 18 of NBA’s health and social service partners, including one of our newest Incubate Partners, Operation Bookbag, and members of NBA Social Entrepreneur Cohorts. Attendees were invited to take a mental health break and add to our coloring wall, enjoy a rest break on one of the many sitting benches, and make connections – new and old – with our NBA community.
As the week came to a close, we hosted a special reception to celebrate the leadership of former NBA Board Chair and Trustee, Ms. Jackie Compton Bunch, and the NBA Jackie Compton Bunch Fund. In 2019, with the generosity of Jackie and in partnership with the Christian Church Foundation, we announced the NBA Jackie Compton Bunch Fund. The earnings from this named fund support Disciples of Christ-affiliated health and social service ministries by strengthening leaders and organizational development. We hosted this reception in partnership with the National Convocation, and featured speakers included Rev. Dr. Delesslyn Kennebrew, Rev. Dr. William E. Crowder Jr., Rev. Allen Harris, and Rev. Marilyn Fiddmont. Guests included members of Jackie’s church, Woodland Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio, in addition to staff of general and regional ministries, NBA trustees, and long-time friends of Jackie.
Finally, our President & CEO, Mark D. Anderson, shared our Business Session report on the work our ministry has been doing since we were last gathered at an assembly. Our report highlighted the people who make our ministry possible, such as our Program staff and a variety of NBA partners including Rosie and Benny Peralez of Glowing Doves Educational Outreach, Rev. Allison Lanza of Be The Neighbor, and Rev. Nora Jacob of Just Us 4 Youth.
Mark Anderson shared, “My friend and our NBA board member, Rev. Orlando Scott, introduced the idea earlier this year that ‘community is the container of belonging.’ The mission and vision of NBA is about empowering leaders and innovative, effective ministries so that their bold visions nurture and deepen communities of compassion and care. In so many ways, this work of collaboration, equity, and building of communities is counter-cultural because of the ways that division and isolation exist today. And, still, our abiding hope is that each of you come away from our gathering as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), inspired and renewed.”
As the days get shorter and cooler and we head into fall, the NBA will host several events including Giving Week, SENT Seminar — a monthlong experience of workshops and keynotes for those interested in social entrepreneurship — and a hybrid Mental Health Professionals Conference. We look forward to the upcoming months of work for our ministry as we continue to accompany leaders and communities committed to compassion, healing, and justice.
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