By: Sami Tierney
On March 10-11, nearly 80 youth and leaders gathered at Koronis Ministries in Paynesville for the Confirmation Gathering. Confirmands learned about the “Faithful Five” tenets of United Methodist membership vows from Rev. Chris Carr, a Minnesota deacon and former youth ministry leader.
Carr shared relevant connection points for confirmands about what it means to offer their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness as part of the body of Christ. Participants engaged with several creative prayer stations at which they learned some new ways to pray. They also completed a spiritual gifts inventory to learn about how God has wired them. When talking about “service,” groups spent time coming up with a service project for their own communities and shared a “commercial” promoting it to the larger group.
Through these interactive elements, discussion in church groups, and large group sessions, youth engaged with the material in practical ways.
With snow expected on the afternoon of the second day, the retreat wrapped up early, but groups were welcome to stay and enjoy all Koronis Ministries has to offer, including a tubing hill, broomball on Lake Koronis, and the open gym and game room.
The Confirmation Gathering hasn’t taken place in-person since 2020 because of COVID-19, and those present enjoyed the opportunity to gather in a large group. Leaders shared the sentiment that it’s nice to bring Confirmation classes together so students don’t feel so alone as they work through the material in their small groups at their own churches.
Youth Ministry Co-Coordinators Catie Levenick and Sami Tierney focus the Confirmation Gathering on United Methodist or Wesleyan teachings; previous retreats under their leadership have included “Quad Goals” (on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral) and “3 Simple Rules” (do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God). Confirmation programs look at bit different at every church—with a variety of ages, durations, curriculum, and expectations—but the teachings of John Wesley and the core tenets of United Methodism are the same, so they form the basis for each annual gathering.
At the end of the retreat, participants were sent forth with a good word from Carr, who told them: “Your witness going forward as people of faith matters.” Indeed, it does.
Sami Tierney is co-coordinator of the Minnesota Conference Youth Ministry and director of youth and family ministry at Messiah UMC in Plymouth.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church