By: Christa Meland
Approximately 300 United Methodist youth from 36 churches across Minnesota came together last weekend for fun and fellowship.
“The Event,” which took place Friday evening through Sunday morning at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, was for sixth- through ninth-graders—and the focus of this year’s gathering was discipleship.
“Participants were invited to explore how they are called and what makes them alive in that call,” said Rev. Cody Nielsen, who leads the Minnesota Conference’s youth ministry team, which planned the event.
The Event consisted of several worship services, music by Twin Cities band Boiling Point, free time for participants to spend with their own youth groups and getting to know people from others, and three structured sessions on Saturday.
One of the three sessions was led by Deanne Parks, artist-in-residence at Rosemount United Methodist Church. Students used plaster of paris, modeling clay, fabric, paint, and other materials to create sculptures of themselves. When everyone was finished, all of the sculptures came together to create an installation.
During that session, youth were encouraged to think about their own gifts—and how God is calling each of them to use those talents in the world. When the sculptures were all displayed together, representing the group’s combined gifts, “they saw how community is an important part of discipleship,” said Erica Koser, part of the youth ministry team and the event’s primary planner.
Another session, led by the Minnesota Conference’s camping ministry, focused on team-building through interactive games and sports. And the third session invited attendees to think outside the box and explore opportunities to serve others in their communities.
Here are a few comments from the evaluations that youth and adult participants completed at the end of the weekend:
“It’s a life-changing experience.”
“The Event . . . showed [kids] that church doesn’t have to be boring.”
“Teens are leaving The Event inspired to help others and start new programs in church.”
“Worship taught discipleship in a fun way that teenagers could relate [to].”
“I think that the ways discipleship were explained proved that there aren’t rules, you can do what you love.”
“This format . . . opened new lines of friendship and fellowship.”
The Event in 2015 has been scheduled for Nov. 6-8, again at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church