“Yield to the Call; Explore the Call; Stay with the Call.” The biannual YES retreat for high school-age youth undeniably masters the “Explore” part of that call-to-ministry formula. Hopefully, the rest happens when they return home.
As each retreat ends Bishop Peggy Johnson shares her call story and then anoints and prays for each participant (as shown here). But in the eight hours prior to that solemn climax the young attendees explore the inner and outer nature of the “call” experience, aided by some dedicated, knowledgeable tour guides.
There is always uplifting praise and worship, lunch and snacks, getting-acquainted games, fellowship and recreation. But the youth also perform costumed skits to portray biblical call stories. They dialogue and record in personal journals their intimate answers to questions like, “Have you ever felt God speaking to you?” And they examine their spiritual gifts, but only after hearing from people deeply engaged in ministry–from a military chaplain to ordained elders and deacons, to a church pastor/musician, to photographers who capture ministries in motion, and yes, to a bishop who started out as a schoolteacher.
The last YES retreat, Nov. 22, 2014, drew several dozen youth, with adult guides, from host church New Life UMC in Drexel Hill, Hopewell in Downingtown, Sayres in Philadelphia, St. Daniel’s in Chester, and Epworth in Bethlehem.
The Rev. Matt Heckman, of Kochenderfer UMC in Lebanon, has been leading the retreats for four years with help from members of the Cabinet and the Board of Ordained Ministry, both co-sponsors. They move the retreats to different districts to offer the experience to more youth in diverse areas, he said, hoping to bear fruit all over the conference’s ministry garden.
Sabrina Daluisio photos. See more photos of the Nov. 22, 2014, YES retreat in our online photo gallery.