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2013 Annual Gathering Report from the Youth Minister

By Neal Washburn, Youth Ministry CoordinatorNeal-Washburn

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, 2011-2012 year. Here is a summary of the Conference youth activities over the year:

National Youth Event (NYE) 2012 – A total of 75 youth and adult chaperones from SCNCUCC traveled to Purdue University in July for NYE2012. We celebrated, sang, worshiped, worked, learned, walked, played, walked, ran in fountains, walked, ate, attended keynotes, walked, face-painted, and more with about 3,000 of our brothers and sisters from UCC churches all across the United States. For some, this was old-hat, for some, this has become a gateway event into wider church youth ministry! The event was full of joy, hope, and did I mention that we walked a lot?!? One of the most surprising things that happened was this: we had SCNCUCC t-shirts (as most conferences had) so we were easily identified at Plenary sessions… I purchased some additional t-shirts to have on hand. While crossing campus, I happened onto an adult and youth who looked at our shirts and said “Hey, we are from Las Vegas, NV!” So, we had more folks there from our Conference. Coincidentally, the group from NV was exactly the number of extra t-shirts that I had, and in the right sizes! God is Still Speaking!

Conference Youth Ministries Camp (CYMC): CYMC is the senior high youth program for week 4 of summer camp at Pilgrim Pines (July 28-August 4, 2012). We had a total of 55 youth of the conference attend CYMC! Our keynote at CYMC was Pastor Hannah Burke from First Congregational Church of Riverside, CA Pilgrim Pines has gone through some dynamic changes this last summer in that all of the camping age groups and weeks were staffed by volunteers, just like CYMC has been all along!

Youth RoundTable (YRT): In the fall, we continued with our Youth RoundTable. We had 15 youth members, representing all four of our Associations! And five volunteer adult advisors representing three of our Associations. YRT meetings are held four times a year, and our meeting sites were as follows: September, Pilgrim Pines; November, San Dimas; March, Santa Barbara; and May, Los Altos UCC in Long Beach. Many thanks to these host churches!

One of our Youth RoundTable members, Hannah Hyatt from Riverside, has been a member of the Council for Youth and Young Adults (CYYAM). CYYAM representatives are from each of the regions, as the last Western Region representative. Hannah was elected as the Western Region representative at General Synod 28 and will be looking to perhaps continue in that role after GS29.

Funtastic Festi-Fall (FFF): FFF was held on October 27th this year.  Our FFF event was the third annual Festival (or Festi-Fall) with our youth and the residents of Peppermint Ridge in Corona. The festival included some basic games, face-painting, pictures, and a dance, styled after a “Pinester Dance” at Pilgrim Pines. We finished the event with a pizza dinner for the youth and their adult advisors. We used that time to talk about the YRT, future Youth events in the conference,

Once again, FFF was a rousing success! We had 46 youth 14 Adult Advisors attend the event. Coupled with 50 or so residents that participated from Peppermint Ridge made for an amazing event!

Junior High JANboree (JHJ): Junior High JANboree is one of our partnership events with the Pacific Southwest Region Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). JHJ is for 6th – 8th grade youth and was held January 18th -21st, 2013 at Loch Leven. We had a total of 75 campers and 28 adult volunteers (31 campers and 16 adults were from UCC churches). The UCC co-director was Ms. Jacqueline Rader who served her first year in this role. The DOC co-director was Mr. Kyle Griffith, serving his second year. The JHJ theme for this year was: “Listen to the Rhythm: Finding Your Voice In God’s Song” and our keynoters were Ms. Robinmarie McClement and Mr. Terry Boyles both from members of the SCNCUCC Overall, the event was considered an amazing success!

FEB Camp: FEB Camp 2013 was a fantastic event! Chris Hause from University City United Church (UCUC) served his second year as the UCC co-director. Robbie Arevalos served as the DOC co-director.  The Theme of FEB Camp was “Don’t Wait. Create!” and our keynote speaker was Rev. Tina Heck (DOC) from United Camps Conferences and Retreats (UCCR). Rev. Joe Zarro was our worship leader. Joe has done this for the last three years, and we are finding that having a consistent leader for worship is a very positive model, and we plan to continue this trend. Our music leader was “Doc” Rogers from the DOC. Doc is very popular amongst the youth (especially the DOC youth), very talented, and is a professional musician.

Youth Uniting in Mission (YUM): YUM was held April 19-21, 2013 at the Conference’s Camp and Conference Center, Pilgrim Pines. We partnered with the United Church of Christ and the Mission 4/1 Earth project. During the course of the weekend, we planted 15 trees at Pilgrim Pines and also helped with some very necessary camp maintenance.

     I continue to be 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 last year, our meeting was in New Orleans.

I am also serving on the Board of Directors for the United Church of Christ’s Outdoor Ministry Association (OMA). OMA has a national presence and all the UCC Camps and Conference Centers are welcome to become members. In the 2012-2013 year, we facilitated a Professional Gathering of camp leaders at the Church House in Cleveland.

We have some very dedicated adult volunteers that serve as advisors to our Youth RoundTable. I would very much like to thank Alison Morales, Barbe Mitchell, Cas Mata, Jackie Rader, Sumer Lessor, and Tracy Halter-Balin. The youth of the conference are very well served by your involvement… Thank you.


Other Reports to the 2013 Annual Gathering:

Report from the Conference Board Chair
Report from the Executive Associate Conference Minister
Report from the Associate Conference Minister for Church Relations
Report from the Associate Conference Minister for Border & Latino Ministries
Report from the Acting Young Adults Ministry Coordinator

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