Church: Wheelock UMC
District: Twin Cities
Submitted by: Christa Meland
Wheelock United Methodist Church has a strong presence within the large Hmong community surrounding its St. Paul neighborhood—but its visibility extends far beyond the Twin Cities and even Minnesota.
On April 11 and 12, Wheelock hosted about 140 Hmong youth and young adults from across the United States for an annual event that brings Hmong United Methodists together for worship, workshops, and fellowship. Teen and 20-something United Methodists from Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Wisconsin joined youth from across Minnesota for “Revival 2014.”
Revival is an annual event, and this year’s theme was freedom—drawing from the first and second verses of Romans 8: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Wheelock Pastor Tsuchue Vang says Revival is mostly about leadership development—and that’s an area for which he has a personal passion. His church’s youth and young adults lead worship on the third Sunday of each month, and events like this give them the tools and confidence to take an active role within the congregation.
“We hope to grow the next generation of the church,” he says, adding that one of the things he often tells Wheelock youth is not to be afraid to make mistakes. “He was on the cross because we made mistakes. You learn from your mistakes.”
Xong Yang, a 25-year-old member of Wheelock, says the Revival workshops, which explored building roots toward God and the cost of freedom, were particularly enlightening.
“What I took away from it was that Jesus died on the cross, and that’s my freedom right there,” says Yang. “He paid for it. The pain that Jesus went through was just for me.”
Yang and other youth and young adult members of Wheelock led the Revival worship on April 11 and served as hosts throughout the two-day event.
But Yang, who also attended last year’s Revival event in Milwaukee, says the best part of both events was “seeing other individuals my age who are also passionate for Christ.” Her two brothers, like many other young people, aren’t part of a faith community—but she’s encouraged by events like this one that give her an opportunity to connect with other young people who are growing in their faith and love for God.
Minnesota is home to about 64,000 Hmong residents, roughly half of whom live in or near the St. Paul area. Vang, who came to Wheelock about eight months ago, serves as chair of the National Hmong Caucus and as vice president of the National Federation of Asian American United Methodists.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church