A highlight of NYC for me was the opportunity to lead a small group. The purpose of small groups is to bring together youth from across the denomination who do not know each other and help them process their NYC experience together. It was a challenging assignment, but one that was exciting for me. My group was a bit quiet at times, but they were always enthusiastic to participate and share their experiences together. We had 45 minutes together every day following morning worship, in which we got to know each other, discuss our experiences, play games, and pray together. It was a learning experience for me. I found it to be very rewarding personally, and I hope it was for the youth as well.
An exciting thing about landing on YPTT this year was the opportunity to attend National Youth Conference. As an inspired participant four years ago, coming back to NYC as a staff member was rewarding in so many ways. This year’s conference theme carried a message of empowerment. It was one that focused deep within the heart, not the organ that pumps blood around the body, but the inner person or essential self. We acknowledged the truth that as children of God, we are “More than meets the eye”. One thing that touched me at conference was having the opportunity to see the energy, enthusiasm and zeal that our church youth have for serving God. And because of this reality, they are standing by to lead in the church. They are ready and eager to impact the world for Jesus with the gifts and abilities God has given them. Check this out: more than half of those who attended conference participated in service projects throughout the week. Even more inspiring, over sixteen thousand dollars was raised in one offering alone to help students in Haiti receive a decent education. That’s phenomenal! Hearing the testimonies of young people who left with a new, fresh desire to be more involved in their denomination has showed me that, indeed, there is more than meets the eye with the youth of the Church of the Brethren.
National Youth Conference was a blessing. It was a blessing to be in community with other Brethren – past campers from this summer, former YPTT members, people from my home church, and other Brethren I’ve met along my journey. I enjoyed community when I led a small group, when the team led workshops, when I performed a dance in a flash mob, and when worshiping with almost 3,000 Brethren. I can live peacefully and I can live simply, but it is meaningless unless I live in community with other people. The community of the Church of the Brethren touched me at National Youth Conference.
This week at National Youth Conference made me appreciate how wonderful seeing a familiar face can make someone. After eight weeks of traveling, seeing my home congregation and youth pastor was a delightful sight. I was very glad I got to experience a second round of NYC, especially sharing it with my congregation, my team members, and past campers. Another thing that really was special about NYC was a peace commercial that we were able to perform for the entire conference. It went over very well and everyone enjoyed it. It was a great affirmation and we were proud of our work. After a week of amazing music, wonderful people, flash mob dances, and so much more, I feel like the Brethren are so much more than meets the eye!