Glimpses of National Youth Conference
“Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life” (Colossians 2:7a, CEV).
Opening worship, Saturday evening, July 23
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me” (Psalm 139:1a).
“God knows you.
God is with you.
God leads you.”
— Saturday evening preacher Rodger Nishioka summarizing the three foundational understandings in Psalm 139. He is senior associate pastor and director of adult faith formation at Village Presbyterian Church in Kansas, who previously taught at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Ga., and has been national coordinator for Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Presbyterian Church.
“Rocks that represent the land you came from and the people who have sent you here with their blessing.”
–– The Youth Cabinet inviting youth to bring rocks from their home congregations and communities to add to the worship center. In advance of that invitation, the Colorado State University land acknowledgement statement was played as a video. With a Hopi song in the background, it acknowledged that the campus hosting NYC is on the traditional lands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute nations. The worshipful moment gave emphasis to the sacred and holy nature of this place and time for youth to share and strengthen their faith.
“The theme for this conference is based on a metaphor- God as rock, as foundation, a source for us to build our lives on. As you consider what that metaphor for God means for you this week, I want you to carry your own metaphors for God with you also. Stick them in your back pocket. Bring them along. Share them with one another. In this room alone are hundreds of unique ways of thinking about God. And that is so important.”
— Audri Svay, theopoet in residence, who is a pastor at Eel River Church of the Brethren in Silver Lake, Ind.
Sunday morning worship, July 24
“Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up” (Luke 24:5b, The Message).
“With all the divisions going on in our society, what should be our common foundation in Jesus? … How important it is to make the living and resurrected Jesus our foundation…. We must confront the meaning of the empty tomb…. We follow the resurrected one.”
— Sunday morning preacher Drew G.I. Hart, of First Harrisburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, encouraging the youth “to be attentive to the living presence of Christ in the world.” He is a public theologian, professor, and director of “Thriving Together: Congregations for Racial Justice” at Messiah University. His books, Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism and Who Will Be a Witness? Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance, have been used widely by Church of the Brethren congregations and members as study guides for working on racial healing.
Sunday evening worship, July 25
“Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became bright as light” (Matthew 17:1-3, NRSVue).
“Those disciples knew who they wanted Jesus to be…a king who would ride in…. And yet that was not who Jesus is. The mountain top is not a permanent dwelling place…. Jesus led those disciples back down the valley…where a ministry of mercy was needed desperately.”
— Sunday evening preacher Dava Hensley, who is in her 16th year as pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. She has served on the Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren, on the New Church Development Committee of Virlina District, and is active in the Northwest Faith Partnership of churches working together in the northwest neighborhood of Roanoke.
“The church cannot live out God’s call to love without you, without all of you…unless you play a central role in your church.”
— Tim McElwee, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, who was introduced to the youth during the evening worship service. He invited youth to come to his workshops at NYC and share with him how they want the church to be, encouraging them to action. “Do you want a church where all of your friends feel welcomed for who they are, without judgement?” he asked. “Then you cannot remain silent. You have to speak up.”
NYC by the numbers
— 584 youth
— 226 adult advisors
— 99 on the NYC staff including denominational staff and volunteer staff
— 154 congregations represented
— 4 countries represented
— 25 states and the District of Columbia represented, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin