CCYM shares reflections, advice on surviving pandemic

The Eastern PA’s Conference Council on Youth Ministry (CCYM) is working virtually, via Zoom videoconferencing, to plan its second annual “Camping at the Crossroads” Youth Rally. The March 28 annual spring Youth Rally had to be cancelled due to the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic and “stay at home” mandates.

The summer overnight rally will happen (hopefully) August 21- 22, from Friday at 3 PM through Saturday at 7 PM. Once again, Covenant UMC of Moore Township will host the rally at the church, located at 2715 Mountain View Drive, Bath, PA. It will be part festival, part tent rally and part retreat, all rolled into one event to reach youth and young adults for Christ.

The event theme is “2020 Vision: We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight” taken from 2 Corinthians 5:7. All Eastern PA Conference youth and young adults are invited to come enjoy fun activities, fellowship, worship, dialogue and music and spoken word from The AutumnTom GollyEgypt SpeaksDave Berkey and more. More details will be announced soon.

The Rev. David Piltz, Conference Coordinator of Youth Ministry, recently shared his reflections and those of CCYM members from various churches—reflections on not only surviving but also ministering to others in the midst of coronavirus.

“In the middle of this storm, God is operating and loving each of us,” writes Piltz. “In the middle of the fear that is going on around us, God is a calming influence.”

He continues:

“The youths’ emotions run the gamut from happiness in the freedom to do nearly nothing during this time to feeling overwhelmed by being confined to their homes. There are many reactions to leaders who are managing our current world, country and state situations. What’s most important, however, is staying connected with each other through texts, phone calls, Facetime, Skype, Zoom, and other communication outlets.

“In 1971 a drama project of students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh was a hit at an Off-Off-Broadway theatre. That project was titled Godspell. It was a modern-day (1970’s) musical interpretation of parables drawn mainly from Matthew’s Gospel.

“In the summer of 1972, the Godspell song ‘Day by Day’ hit the number 13 spot on the Billboard pop singles list. The entire song is basically one verse:

Day by day,
Day by day,
Oh, Dear Lord,
Three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly.     
Love thee more dearly,          
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by day.

“EPA CCYM wants to share this message of how to be the church 24 hours a day, even in the middle of a pandemic. We challenge each person, each congregation and each district, during this time, to see God more clearly, to love God more dearly, and to follow God more nearly.

“Here are our simple suggestions to live day by day during this time while being the church.

To see God more clearly:

  • When you feel like you want to argue, or when an argument occurs with another person, see and love the person the way Jesus sees and loves them: as a child of God.
  • In this time when God may not seem close, intentionally consider that everyone is going through similar feelings and situations. Purposefully reach out to connect with others by phone, text, Tik Tok, etc. Say “Hi, and assure them that God is nearby.
  • During this time, pay attention to those who do not know God that well or at all. Tell them about God’s love even in times of fear and concern.
  • Time, time and more time seems to be what some people have in abundance–or perhaps more free time than before, as things are shut down. This means there is more time for prayer and Bible study to learn about who God is.
  • Some form of boredom, fear, concern or anxiousness may be part of everyone’s thoughts and feelings, as news grows of the virus’s spread and its economic consequences. In these times it is important to know that God is with each of us as we go through these feelings.  
  • During this time of uncertainty we may be unsure of whether we can stand to spend another hour or even minute inside the house. Or we don’t know what will happen with our schools, or where we can buy more toilet paper and other necessities. It is essential that we remember that our strength comes from God, who gives us strength and a peace that surpasses all understanding.

To love God more dearly

  • Daily devotions can help anyone to learn about God, how God operates and who God is. The more you know the more you can love God because you will learn how much God loves you. Take time intentionally for multiple daily devotions during this time.
  • Every day, take the time to intentionally sit and be with God in prayer. When you are feeling lonely, anxious, concerned or uncertain turn to God in prayer first. Instead of turning to the phone, TV, video game, and/or snack – turn to God first.
  • When you love God more dearly, you are deeply moved to care for others. Take the time to call someone, or call many people and see how they are doing. Lend a listening ear and a caring heart. Take the time to send cards to others, and tell them you are thinking of and praying for them.
  • Loving God more dearly means connecting with God daily. Can you find God speaking to you in the midst of this storm?

Follow God more nearly

  • No matter the anxiousness, loneliness, sadness, and/or fear you may be experiencing during this time it is essential to have God in your heart. To realize that God in your heart means you turn your worries over to God and ask for God’s loving presence to be felt.
  • In this time of shutdown and lockdown, intentionally participate in as many live stream or facebook live worship experiences you can. Never stop praising God  – even in the middle of chaos, take the time to praise God!
  • Simply, no matter what you are feeling or experiencing make sure you put faith in God in all things and in all ways.”These reflections were gathered from conversations with Eastern PA’s “CCYM’ers.” Contributing their thoughts were: Nathan Calderone, Michael Revell, Claudia Smith, Luci Chelton, Lydia Burkit, Tyler Santone, Jose Tirado, Isaiah Lynch, Janaysia Costello, Rachel Lynch and Lydia Ermer. 

These reflections were gathered from conversations with Eastern PA’s “CCYM’ers.” Contributing their thoughts were: Nathan Calderone, Michael Revell, Claudia Smith, Luci Chelton, Lydia Burkit, Tyler Santone, Jose Tirado, Isaiah Lynch, Janaysia Costello, Rachel Lynch and Lydia Ermer. 

Joining them were other adult youth ministers: Jezerel Gutierrez (Eastern PA’s Associate Coordinator of Youth Ministry), Michael Gold from Covenant UMC and the Rev. Eric Chelton of Christ UMC Lansdale.