National Youth Event - July 10-13, 2012
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not 'imagine' it? -- Isaiah 43:19
National Youth Event Information
United Church of Christ Youth on Facebook
A NYE reflection by: Rev Sharon Wheeler
Elon Community Church UCC
As I write this article for August, I am just coming back from the 2012 National Youth Event (NYE). Those of you who followed my post during the week on Facebook, saw the various messages I took away from the speakers and their stories. We heard some amazing speakers and I understand that I missed the best one of the week who was a young lady (need her name) with Down's Syndrome who spoke on Friday.
What did I take away from this wonderful event? Well the theme was "Imagine." Imagine an event where 2700+ youth and 1000+ leaders gather together at a major university to explore their faith together. Imagine a speaker who challenges--"If you make an observation, you have an obligation." (MK Ashante). Imagine a youth speaker who tells of her story of coming to Hawaii where a United Church of Christ church embraces her difference and helps her learn the English language so she masters it so well that she tells her story in front of 3000+ people! Imagine a young lady who at 17 years old, discovers she is HIV positive, not by any fault of her own, but by her mother's lifestyle. Imagine this young lady who becomes bold enough to teach other teens about this disease because she never knew what it was about. (Lolisha Gibson) Imagine a young soldier, 19 years old in Iraq, getting blown up in his Hummer and having his face permanently disfigured. Imagine this young soldier who learned to "adapt and overcome" enough to be a motivational speaker, a soap opera star, and a winner of "Dancing with the Stars." (JR Martinez)
The week was filled with getting to know others from our conference and other conferences also. We traveled the distance with youth from two other churches in Eastern Virginia. We were on the hall with folks from Holy Covenant UCC in Charlotte. We gathered for devotions with all of the Southern Conference on two evenings which included a group from Laurel Hill UCC in Suffolk. There was getting to know others that we encountered--Marc figured out that he met youth from 20 different states. We stayed at David's UCC in Kettering OH where I met their youth leader Daria and got to Kayla one of her youth as we conversed at the church and encountered each other during the week. There was a time of renewing old friendships as I went to hear JR Martinez with Emily Barrows Kronenberger, from Crosscreek UCC in Dayton OH and some of her youth. Emily had once been in my youth group at First Christian UCC and her dad Bob Barrows my pastor.
Yes there were long days, lots of walking, long lines in the dining hall, and workshops that were canceled. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and a great way for our youth to get to know the National Church. Thanks for your love and support!