I Will See You There!
When it was announced that Youth 2015 would be held in Orlando, I was worried. How are we going to get our Michigan people to Orlando? The cost of the conference is about what churches can afford, so the added cost of transportation felt like it would be a deal breaker. Having attended Youth 2011 at Purdue (so close to Michigan!) I knew it was something we had to figure out so Michigan youth could have this experience.
So I started talking to everyone at the Conference office in Flint, I called all the District Superintendents in both our Michigan Conferences. Everyone agreed that having the transportation paid for would allow more kids to participate. Piece by piece the money came together and we were able to get 3 coach busses. We took 153 youth and their adult leaders to Orlando to experience Youth 2015.
It was worth every dollar donated and every begging phone call. To be in a room with 5,000 United Methodists was an experience like no other for these young people. The worship, the speakers, the music, the laughs, the prayers… it was an incredible time of connecting to people from all around our country in our shared values and faith journey.
I am a big believer in service trips, so I understand the dilemma some churches face every 4th year when they do not feel free to break from their usual summer trip routine. I know that service trips change young lives in remarkable ways. So, hear me when I say, this is worth changing the schedule. These events are unlike anything your students will experience at home. I have become comfortable with a cycle of 3 summers with a service trip and 1 to Youth 2019, then 3 more summers with service trips, then Youth 2023. The youth I have traveled with agree. It’s a different energy, it’s a different experience but can be as moving and as transformational.
By the time we ride to Kansas City for Youth 2019, our two Michigan Conferences will be officially one and we will hopefully fill 5 busses of young people ready for a fantastic experience that could well become a turning point in their faith journey. I have already started asking for money from the Conference and from our Districts to make it happen for free. I cannot wait to see who signs up and what churches come along. I pray youth leaders will take a chance and put Youth 2019 in their schedule.
I will see you there!
Bridget Nelson is the Coordinator of Youth Ministry Development for the about-to-be Michigan Annual Conference. She is also the volunteer youth worker for Royal Oak First United Methodist Church in Royal Oak, MI