Ignite Youth Conference: Striking a Spark of Faith in TAC Youth
By: Sherri Gragg
Lighting a Candle
Methodist minister W.L. Watkinson once said, “It is far better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Each year, the Texas Annual Conference seeks to light a candle of faith in the lives of students grades seven through twelve during the Ignite youth conference.
Traditionally, Ignite takes place in multiple locations over the course of several weekends throughout the year. This year Rev. Eddie Erwin, Director of Youth and Young Adults, and his team wanted to do something a bit different. In the spirit of the conference theme, “Unity in Christ,” 450 youth from across the conference met for one big weekend of worship, teaching, and fun.
“It was exciting to have everyone in one place for worship,” said Erwin. “The kids really enjoyed being together.” As part of the corporate worship time each evening, Rev. Parker Zimmerman, Associate Pastor of Faith UMC Richmond, challenged the youth to live a life of unity in Christ. The conference’s workshops were thoughtfully chosen to lay the groundwork for future youth events throughout the rest of the year. The wide variety of offerings included: Leading in Worship, Coloring Through the Psalms, and The Theology of the Songs We Sing. The Texas Youth Academy was on hand to lead a workshop on discipleship, and Unleashed’s Haley Brown led a workshop on discernment. This fall, Brown will return to minister to TAC ninth graders with a tailor-made curriculum to help them prepare for their transition to high school.
Faith and Fun
Ignite afternoons were filled with fun. Youth played basketball, enjoyed a zip line, and participated in a variety of games. Youth directors and volunteers from throughout the conference provided essential support for the weekend, assisting in workshops, worship, and filling vital roles as cabin counselors. Youth leaders from Temple UMC Port Arthur were enthusiastic about the time they spent with the teens. “What a great weekend we had talking Unity, and being ONE in Christ. From worship, to art, to exploring the woods, to zip lining, to gaga ball, to new friendships…we are one!”
The tremendous success of the joint conference has led Erwin to contemplate the possibility of brining everyone back together again in the future. For now, he is busy working to plan for next year’s event. When teens toss their backpacks and sleeping bags down on their bunks for Ignite 2019, they will find the theme “Community” awaits them. Once again, Erwin and his army of volunteers will be ready to light a candle of faith that the teens will carry with them throughout the coming year.