150 youth from 16 churches in both the Southeast and Southern Conferences of the UCC descended on Blowing Rock Conference Center over MLK weekend for the annual Winter Youth Retreat.
It was a packed weekend full of music, laughter, fellowship, skiing, and service projects. The band, Lost and Found, a dynamic, fast paced musical duo that has been playing youth conferences for over 25 years, led our morning and evening worship sessions.
The theme of the weekend was “Tell your story” and each time we gathered together as a group for worship and programming we were given various chances to tell our stories to one another. In Luke’s Gospel, Christ tells the disciples to go and tell what they have seen and heard…When we feel encouraged to tell how and when God has been active in our lives we quickly find out that the barriers that separate us as individuals fall away. We tell our stories and glimpse pieces of our own journeys when we hear other’s stories.
I am convinced that by investing in our youth we are investing in the future of the church. By empowering them to speak out, by exposing them to progressive theology, and by giving them a community in which asking questions is encouraged we are providing the framework for a faith that can stay with them through the trails and challenges of life.
The Winter Youth Retreat is something our Conference can be proud of and something we should brag about. The long weekend was an affirmation of unity and progress. As I looked out across the glowing red mountains of North Carolina, I was reminded of the energy and vision of a wider church body that feels committed to the work of United Church of Christ. That they may all be one- certainly manifested itself in our common gathering.
Please join our Facebook group “UCC Winter Youth Retreat” for updates and information about how you can join us next year on January 15-18, 2016.
Rev. Lacey Brown