Students Blessed at Quadrennial Rally: YOUTH 2015
According to Eddie Irwin, TAC Youth/Young Adult Ministry Director, about 150 of the students in attendance came from the Texas Annual Conference. In the Central South District, YOUTH 2015 proved to be “an awesome experience for some 40 youth, youth leaders, two pastors, plus parents and younger children,” says Eleanor Colvin, who accompanied youth from St. Mark’s UMC - Patterson. Eager students from Trinity East UMC, St. Mark’s (Patterson), and Mt. Vernon UMC traveled together for the eighth United Methodist Quadrennial youth event, sponsored by the General Board of Discipleship.
The Quadrennial youth event has been held across the United States since beginning in 1988. This year’s event gave youth and adult leaders the opportunity to experience and explore discipleship by showing and practicing acts of piety and mercy, which John Wesley collectively called, “The Means of Grace.” Although youth have heard the words acts of piety and mercy, in church many times, the conference helped them focus on the Means of Grace in their daily lives. Acts of piety are achieved through reading and meditation on scriptures, praying, fasting, living healthy, communion, sharing their faith and worship. While, acts of mercy are shown by doing good works, seeking justice, caring for the sick, giving generously, ending discrimination and oppression and helping neighbors in need.
During the Y15 event, attendees bagged and shipped 25,000 pounds of potatoes for hunger agencies in the area, and they packed 80,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. Additionally, 31 attendees donated their hair for children experiencing hair loss, and 500 stuffed animals were shipped to children in war-torn countries and refugee camps.
“There were 110 different workshops offered during the event, all of which were virtually filled to capacity,” shares Chris Wilterdink, director of YPM Program development in the US. When asked what was most enjoyable, many Central South youth concluded that it was the youth-centered worship services with speakers Rev. Telly Gadsden who used the word MOVE as motivation for youth to become involved. Rev. Cedric Bridgeforth preached on developing who you are, that regardless of what problems are present, you should always love yourself. Pastor Olu Brown spotlighted Jesus’ disciples, reminding attendees that they were called, prepared and sent. Youth shared that learning more about Holy Communion was both informing and moving. Other workshops included, the Prayer Room, molding of Clay Pots, an opportunity to set up a replica of the Last Supper’s Table, and Dancing for Jesus. Melissa Atkins of St. Mark’s and Jaylon Tasby of Trinity East took part in a Choir Clinic with a 200-plus voice choir. Another popular workshop was “Our Lives Matter: Growing toward Perfection by Being Creatively Maladjusted.” The conference was designed to challenge youth to “Go On” with acts of piety and mercy, working for God, upon their return home.
Resources for the Future
Each day, a production crew produced videos for the Chuck Knows Church series and posted them online at http://www.vimeo.com/godfilmsfb The production crew captured worship sessions, Bible studies and 10-minute talks on a variety of topics which can be accessed by Sunday school or small groups beginning in 2016.
Youth topped off their experience with the opportunity to visit Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Universal Studio Theme Parks. Adds Eleanor, “This trip was extra special to this group of youth. It was a time of many firsts for some; first time away from home, first time to leave Texas or maybe the first time on an airplane, all in Jesus’ name.”
Four days of life-changing worship, learning, outreach and fun United Methodist young people attending YOUTH 2015 has been captured in youth ministry video resources that can be used for years to come. The June event in Orlando inspired many youth to follow a call to ministry or seek baptism in their home churches.