Hello everyone! My name is Catherine Stallsmith and I am super excited to serve as your Conference Youth Secretary for the 2017-18 year. Thanks so much for reading the September issue of our new bi-monthly newsletter! I would like to tell you a little bit about how conference youth ministry has changed and shaped my life, so that you know firsthand the work that God is doing in everyone who attend NCCUMC Conference Events.
I went to my first Breakaway the summer after 8th grade, and I only knew two people. But every summer I attended after that, I got to know people from my different small groups and the amount of people I knew began to expand. I looked forward to going back every summer and I started attending more events as I learned about them. There was always someone to welcome me and to make me feel at home in a new unfamiliar place. This welcoming nature is what drew me back to conference events year after year. I have been able to see how different each of these events are and what makes each truly unique. I have experienced God’s presence every time that I am at a conference event. It is a life-changing experience. It’s something so unique that it can be hard to describe. 4 years later, my mom still doesn’t understand why I keep two weeks of every summer sacred and won’t let her plan trips during ACS or Breakaway.
There seems to be this constant question among churches in our conference – why go to conference events when we can have similar experiences with our youth groups? And here is my answer – the people. You get to know so many people, youth and adults, who become constant companions that help you shape your faith. I am a firm believer in local church ministry, and I am lucky that my church makes sure to schedule their summer mission trip around Breakaway and ACS so that I can attend all of these.
Pilgrimage taught me that I am not alone. Breakaway taught me that we can worship in almost everything we do. ACS taught me that the youth have a voice as long as they believe in it. Global Vision empowered me to make a difference in the world. Kaleidoscope taught me to embrace my identity.
If you attend a church where you are one of the only youth who attends conference events, and you want more youth from your church to attend the events – advertise to your church so that they can make it a priority! Share your testimony of how God has worked through these events in your life so that they will want to join you!
When I first began attending conference youth events, I needed funding to attend. I learned that I could apply for a scholarship from the Youth Service Fund (YSF). This money combined with the money that my church gave me allowed me to attend without any cost to my family. I urge you to please apply for a YSF scholarship if you require financial assistance to attend any of these events. We don’t want anyone to not be able to attend these events if your financial circumstance hinders you from doing so.
I hope that this article has left you encouraged to share conference youth ministry with your church! If you would like to have a voice in conference youth ministry, look into coming to ACS this summer where you can run for positions on the Conference Youth Council (CYC) or Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM). Please ask your District Youth Coordinator if there are any open spots in your district or on CCYM. Please let me know if you have any questions about conference youth ministry, I would love to answer them! I hope to see you all at Pilgrimage!
Conference Youth Secretary