Alabama-Northwest Florida Young Adults
Hello from the Alabama/Northwest Florida Mission Center! This is Katie Hensley here. I volunteer as the Young Adult Minister for our Mission Center.
Our first Young Adult Retreat
45 young adults participated at some point during the weekend. And when adding children and staff, 73 people attended. Participants traveled from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana to join together at Bluff Springs Campgrounds on the last weekend of February. The theme: “Is Peace Peculiar?”
Our guest minister was Greg McManus, pastor of the Eros, LA Congregation. He did a wonderful job relating to young adults and helping us to understand our “peculiar-ness” and strengths as a church. We also learned how to incorporate Peace into that, using Jesus as a model. We were able to understand more about our giftedness, and how to use it in our congregations.
9 class options were provided including Dynamic Worship, College Issues, Dealing with Divorce, Young Adult Ministries, Healthy Relationships, The Gospel of San Bartolo, Social Justice, Revelations, and Disc Golf. Friday night, the whole group learned more information about Evangelist Blessings. Each day held times for praise music and general sessions from the guest minister.
Childcare at our retreat was a must! Generous volunteers spend the weekend with the young adults’ children. Childcare was provided during each worship, class, and guest minister session. These servant ministers planned activities, arranged crafts, and took loving care of the children so that their parents could participate in the retreat.
Another bonus for parents was that there was no additional fee for children. This cut in the retreat cost, setting a low budget, asking for congregation sponsorships, and taking up a love offering allowed more young adults to attend even in financial hardships.
Campfires are always a time to have fun, relax, sing those favorite camp songs, and open your heart to the Holy Spirit. Even though it was an indoor gathering, our young adults still had a chance to share hopes, concerns, and testimonies with each other during campfire.
Our Saturday night evening activity was intergenerational. This gave a chance for children and the entire family to be in an activity together. We had a “Lip Sync/Airband Show”. Each of 3 teams was given a CD with a selected song on it and a copy of the lyrics. They then had 30 minutes to come up with an act to the song. They could gather whatever props they needed from items around them and in their cabins.
Our closing worship service included communion, group testimony and individual sharing. The group testimony included a time for young adults to share a way that God has taken them from a struggle in life and then blessed them in the place where they are now. Each one did this silently in front of the group during a song by holding up a cardboard sign to share their struggle written on one side, and their new outlook on the other. Here’s a video of the example we used.
From working with young adults, I’ve learned it’s important to stay connected in their lives, whether it be in person, on the phone, or connected online. Using e-mail, text messages, and social networking sites increase opportunities to stay informed about people’s lives and to distribute information about events effectively and frequently. They keep us connected and give efficient ways of announcing events.
Events in our Mission Center have been sporadic, but momentum from the retreat has increased interest and participation. Gatherings have usually focused on fellowship, and have been planned by a congregation, a cluster (groupings of congregations,) or an individual young adult. We’ve come together to go bowling, to watch ice hockey and baseball, for a Christian Coffee House, for Game Night at someone’s house, to enjoy a Holiday Potluck, for a Family Beach Event and more.
Connections are made during mission center-wide activities such as Reunion, Priesthood and Women’s Retreats, through staff at youth camps, and at conferences. Reunion 2008 connected young adults to World Church Appointee, Seventy Karin Peter. Here are some young adults taking a lunch break at a local restaurant.
Lunch together and an Evangelist Blessing Question and Answer session, were some ways we gathererd as young adults during our Family Camp.
Young adults are involved in congregation life at various levels. Here young adults participate in the sacrament of baptism. You may find young adults as youth leaders, one as a pastor, co-pastors, priesthood. Some are involved in Bible School, Sunday School and other activities, others are supportive members, and still others just stay connected through e-mails. All are important and all are called.