Youth Rally to draw thousands for lessons on love

By John W. Coleman

ThisIsLove2017LogoNearly 500 Eastern PA Conference youth and adults will help thousands more fill the Ocean City, Md., Convention Center arena this weekend, Jan. 6-8, for the annual Peninsula-Delaware Conference Youth Rally. Safe from frigid temperatures outside, they’ll turn up the heat inside with energetic praise and worship, creative fun and fellowship, and lively learning experiences.

So far, 336 youth and 118 adults, totaling 454, from 28 churches have pre-registered. But more may show up to add to the over 3,600 total attendees expected. As usual, they’ll enjoy powerful praise and worship, along with generous helpings of wisdom and wit, all around the theme, “This Is Love,” taken from 1 John 4:10.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  —1 John 4:10 (NIV)

Four plenary sessions, beginning Friday night, will feature heart-stirring music and mind-opening oratory, plus some comedic detours to offer levity and laughter. The weekend will end Sunday morning with music, preaching and a celebration of Holy Communion.

Steve FitzhughAuthor and motivational speaker Steve Fitzhugh, a former track all-star and NFL player with the Denver Broncos, will return to inspire the youth and adults with his compelling testimony about life-lessons learned the hard way and life-blessings that made it all worth it.

A national spokesperson for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he speaks often to young audiences, as well as athletes, corporations and penal institutions, about rejecting drugs and alcohol, and making right choices. Fitzhugh, described as a “champion for youth,” along with two partners, turned three former crack houses into an after-school center for underserved youth in Southeast Washington, DC.

Music mainly will be provided by Zealand Worship, a new worship band from Franklin, Tenn., and Rend Collective, described as “an eclectic collective of multi-instrumentalists from Ireland who through songs, music and stories want to lead people closer to Jesus.” Urban Street Level, a Christian hip-hop and jazz-style band, will provide music during the Sunday morning closing session.

Tasha_Cobbs_Single_FINALBut the rally also will again host a Friday night concert, this time featuring “Tasha” Cobbs a young “urban-contemporary” gospel vocalist. She won a Grammy Award for the popular song “Break Every Chain,” and her extended recording titled “Grace” rose to number two on Billboard magazine’s gospel charts.

Zany comedians Dave and Brian, from Philadelphia, will “bring the funny.” They perform nationally, offering high-energy musical comedy that has been described as “truly phenomenal,” “fresh,” and “cutting edge!”

Dave and Brian

The Eastern PA Conference Council on Youth Ministry (CCYM) will host one of 11 lively breakout sessions on Saturday. The morning open session, titled “Ever Wonder Why…?” and led by Dave Piltz, Youth and Young Adult Ministries Coordinator, will wrestle with fascinating questions about wide-ranging topics, both silly and serious.  Through interactive discussions and fun activities, participants will “explore why things happen and how faith in God can help you deal with things happening.”

Two other breakout sessions, “Uncompromised” and “Faith from High School to College,” will engage youth in learning to live purposely for Christ, while Hispanic-Latino/a youth will gather to explore “Who Are We and Where Are We Heading?” Also, adult youth workers will have two sessions for training and problem-solving.

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Saturday night will likely end with the always powerful altar call and prayer. But Sunday will begin with high-spirited preaching by this year’s young Spittin ‘Da’ Word champion. Then guest preacher Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball of the West Virginia Area will offer a closing message. The former Pen-Del Conference Director of Connectional Ministries started the Youth Rally 30 years when she was conference youth director. She will join resident Bishop Peggy Johnson in serving Communion to end the rally.

For more details on the Youth Rally program highlights and schedule, visit the event website.