Anyone who has attended youth gatherings knows that the middle day of your event is usually the most intense. Deeper relationships are starting to develop, conversations can get more personal and sometimes conflicts arises.
Yesterday was no exception at the West Central Regional Youth Event, at least for the Iowa Conference group. The initial shyness was definitely wearing off, so more people were willing to talk, make comments and ask questions.
In particular, our second plenary session with Karen Georgia Thompson, minister for racial justice in the national setting of the UCC, was a springboard into conversations about race, weath, education, age and gender privilege. Then, we watched a riveting film, 9500 Liberty, that documented how the illegal immigration ripped apart the community of Prince William county, Virginia. In the subsequent conversations, I was blown away by the insights young people had about the issue and what they felt their faith had to say about it. I couldn’t help but wonder what the church would be like if young people held more positions of leadership in the local church.
We then had an amazing discussion in our conference group about the problems and challenges facing churches and communities. They decided that the biggest issues facing the church and communities were not having enough young people/families, having welcoming churches and having better worship and music.
Laura Lof, chair of the Iowa Conference Board of Trustees and Tammi Ebensberger, another board member, both of whom happen to be serving as adult advisers on this trip, encouraged the young people to make a video of their discussions and present it to the board at their next board meeting.
So, we’re going to keep working on that today. Stay tuned folks to see how these young people continue to blossom as our churches’ leaders today.