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2011 Annual Gathering Report from Youth & Young Adult Ministries Coordinator

by Neal Washburn, Youth & Young Adult Ministries Coordinator

     The Youth of the Southern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ are active, dynamic, and a very pleasant challenge. Overall, we had a very busy, 2010-2011 year. Here is a summary of the Conference youth activities over the year:

  •      Western Regional Youth Event (WRYE) – WRYE was held in Billings, MT July 5-10, 2010. Overall, approximately 250 people (Youth and chaperones) were in attendance. From the SCNC-UCC, we had 49 youth, 15 adults, and one infant for a total of 65!

      Conference Youth Ministries Camp (CYMC) is the senior high youth program for week 5 of summer camp at Pilgrim Pines (August 1-8, 2010). We had 49 youth of the conference attend CYMC! CYMC continues to be a unique part of the Pilgrim Pines summer: almost all of the adult counselors and directors are volunteers; additionally, the program is facilitated also by the Youth Roundtable.

      In the fall, we continued with our Youth RoundTable. We had 18 youth members, representing all four of our Associations! And five volunteer adult advisors representing two of our Associations. YRT meetings are held four times a year, and our meeting sites were as follows: September, Pilgrim Pines; December, Irvine United Congregational Church; March, Manhattan Beach Community Church; and May, First Congregational Church of Long Beach. Many thanks to these host churches!

  • Our Funtastic Festi- event for this year was a Festival (or Festi-Fall) with our youth and the residents of Peppermint Ridge in Corona. The festival included some basic games, face-painting, cook-out (for the youth) and a dance, styled after a “Pinester Dance” at Pilgrim Pines. We had 46 youth 16 Adult Advisors attend the event. Coupled with 50 or so residents that participated from Peppermint Ridge made this one of the best attended FFF events in several years!
  • Junior High JANboree (JHJ) was once again a tremendous event! Tracy Halter-Balin from Long Beach served in her second year as the UCC co-director. The DOC co-director was Molly Campbell, serving in her first year.  The theme of JHJ was “Coloring Outside the Lines” and was aptly keynoted by Rev. Timothy Murphy. This is the second year that we’ve held this event at Loch Leven, the DOC Camp facility.
  • FEB Camp was equally fantastic! Rev. Mark Pettis served his second year as the UCC co-director. Lisa Kolbe also served her second year as the DOC co-director.  The Theme of FEB Camp was “Seeking the Peace You Long To Hear” and our keynote speakers were Louise Sloan-Goben and Galen Goben from the North Hollywood Christian Church.
  • Youth Uniting in Mission (YUM) was held April 16, 2011. We had two events running simultaneously: We had an event hosted by Claremont United Church of Christ which included working at a food bank, assembling hygiene kits, and assembling Easter Baskets; we also had an event hosted by Mission Hills United Church of Christ in San Diego which was a beach clean-up. At the Claremont event, we had more than 35 youth and adults participate; in San Diego, we had a like number.

     In order to better understand and serve the churches of the Conference, I have been visiting churches for Sunday worship. I always call and email ahead of time so that churches know that I am coming, and in some cases, I have received an invitation to attend. My involvement ranges from simply attending worship and providing the opportunity during fellowship time to discuss youth, young adult, camps, etc.; to being asked to preach a sermon! I believe that there is a direct correlation between visiting churches and the number of youth that attended all of our events this year. I plan to continue this ministry as well.

     Our Junior High JANBoree and FEB Camp events are partnership events with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Pacific Southwest Region. One of the struggles we have had with both of these winter camps has been in finding appropriate counselors to staff the events. Perhaps one of the reasons why is that we have been charging counselors $100 to attend! The UCC Conference and the DOC Region need to take some proactive change to address this problem. I believe that the SCNC-UCC can come up with a budget for our winter camps to cover the cost of half of the staff necessary to facilitate the events. I have challenged the DOC Region to do the same.

     I have become involved with other UCC Conference or Association Youth Workers across all of the UCC. Our organization is called Network of Wider Church Youth Ministries or NOWCYM. This group meets (in person) annually, and facilitates quarterly telephone conferences to exchange ideas, discuss our respective ministries, offer mutual support, and continue to develop our ministries. This coming year, I would like to use this model to reach out to the churches of the SCNC-UCC and start a like group of Youth Ministers, Youth Workers, Youth Directors, etc. here in our Conference. Again, the purpose would be to establish a community of youth workers, at the local church level, to exchange ideas, discuss ministries, and create opportunities for different local churches to perhaps join with other churches for fellowship, mission, education, and on and on.

Neal Washburn
Youth and Young Adult Ministries Coordinator

Other Reports:

Report of the Conference Minister

Report of the Board Chair

Repoort of the Associate Conference Minister for Border & Latino Ministries

Report of the Director of Finance, Administration & Communication

Report of the Associate for Church Development & Renewal

Report of the Youth & Young Adults Ministries Coordinator

Report of the Financial Development Team

Report of the Pilgrim Pines Camp Executive Director

Report of the President of the Pacific School of Religion

Report of the Coordinator of Parish Ministries

Report of Peppermint Ridge

Report of Retirement Housing Foundation

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