“Easier Said than Done.” That’s what hundreds of youth will learn about “Living as a Christian in a World that is Not Christian,” their theme and subtheme for the 4th Annual Eastern PA Conference Youth Rally on Saturday, March 16, 1 – 5 PM, at Wesley UMC, 2540 Center St., Bethlehem. The event is free, but online registration is requested.
With new leadership, the Conference Council on Youth Ministry is planning a creative, energetic afternoon of candid dialogue, dramatic skits to open hearts and minds, Bible verse challenges, exciting games and other fun activities. And of course, there will be plenty of music by several Christian bands and lots of fellowship—maybe even new friendships formed—in a jam-packed, half-day rally.
Former NFL football star Lee Woodall will speak to the youth and their counselors about his life choices and challenges, including tough lessons he has learned in managing success and overcoming failure. Woodall, from Carlisle, Pa., played at West Chester University and competed in a Super Bowl and two Pro Bowls during his eight-year NFL career as a linebacker. Today he chairs the NFL Alumni Association of Philadelphia and is a public speaker and entrepreneur with the Pros 2 Professionals Scouting Association.
Then, moving from sports to entertainment, Barry Bennedetta, a Christian music composer, songwriter and Multi-Platinum Award-winning lead guitarist from Philadelphia, will take the mic to share his testimony of faith with words of wisdom and worship. As a former guitarist for British heavy metal rock band “Waysted,” he opened for Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue on their infamous tour in 1984, and then gave his life to Christ the next year. A former guitarist at Emilie UMC in Levittown, he now lives and records in Nashville, Tenn.
The day’s ideal Scripture focus will be on 1 John 2:15: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world.” (NRSV)
A group of actors will perform a series of brief but compelling skits about the bullying, violence, trauma, peer pressure, low self-esteem and other struggles many young people must deal with. Insightful remarks and dialogue will follow each skit.
An altar call will follow, as always, inviting the youth to accept or affirm Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
CCYM will follow that powerful event with another, when it sponsors its second Youth Diversity Weekend Retreat, May 3-5, at Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center. The adventure will include talks, games, activities, worship, recreational play, meals and fellowship—all focused on broadening the teenagers’ knowledge and appreciation of racial and cultural diversity. More details and registration will be announced soon.
The new CCYM leaders, who span the conference from Levittown in the East to Lancaster in the West, include: Jose Tirado Jr., president; Lauren Clawges, vice-president; Tyler Santone, secretary; and Isaiah Lynch, treasurer. Also Nate Calderon is treasurer of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Council on Youth Ministry.
“We lost a bunch of experienced leaders who worked well together but graduated last year,” said David Piltz, Conference Coordinator of Young People’s Ministries, citing a problem many church youth groups have. “It’s always a challenge each year to get CCYM back up and running smoothly with new leaders who need to learn about each other and figure out what they can and want to do.”
Tirado, a continuing member, accepted the challenge from previous leaders. “When they left, they told me I had to step up and keep this going,” said the high school junior. “I understand now. When you invest so much in a ministry and then have to leave, you want to make sure others will take the lead and make it better.”