Mar 31, 2022

The EPAUMC Black and Brown Youth Retreat, April 1-3, an unprecedented spring gathering of 55 Black and Latino/Latinx young people at Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center in Lebanon, is designed to plant fertile seeds of relationship and revival.

The retreat—from Friday evening to Sunday morning—will draw racially and culturally diverse youth of color together from various churches. “We’ve been talking about doing something like this for years,” said the Rev. William Brawner, conference Youth & Young Adult Ministries Coordinator, “because we share some of the same challenges with oppression in our communities.” His other purpose is to invite more youth of color to join the Conference Council on Youth Ministry and thus, increase that group’s racial-ethnic diversity and inclusion.

Registration exceeded initial plans, as Brawner worked with the Rev. Luky Cotto, EPA’s Latino Ministries Coordinator, to promote the event. While focused on youth in grades six through 12, young adults will also attend as participants and counselors—especially Latino/Latinx young adults whose earlier retreat scheduled for January had to be canceled due to the resurgent COVID pandemic.

But that canceled retreat provided the spiritually uplifting theme for this one: “Generation of Revival.”

“During COVID and quarantine a lot of youth and young adults lost that flame they had for God,” said teenager Brianna Granados. “When we asked some what happened, they told us they had become disconnected from their churches, and they didn’t have that guidance they used to have. So we thought to ourselves, ‘This is our generation; this is the generation of future leaders, pastors and missionaries. We have to help our generation revive again and turn that flame back on for God. This is the generation of revival; this is the generation of tomorrow.’”

During the retreat attendees will join in inspirational worship and witnessing, dialogues and devotions, teambuilding and trust exercises, and music and meals together. They’ll also enjoy outdoor fun, while forging new friendships during gaga, basketball and other games, plus a campfire with s’mores,

“Scriptures say, ‘And a child shall lead them’” (Isaiah 11:6), said Brawner, who already is planning an encore to this promising experience. “So we want young people to show adults the way to build bridges, not barriers for the future.”