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2014 Annual Gathering Report from the Conference Youth Minister

Neal WashburnThe Youth of the United Church of Christ here in Southern California and Nevada are active, dynamic, and a very pleasant challenge. Overall, we had a very busy, 2013-2014 year. Here is a summary of the Conference youth activities over the year:

    • General Synod – As all of us here in Southern California and Nevada were aware, the United Church of Christ’s General Synod was held here in Long Beach June 28-July 2, 2013. Twelve of our youth served as “Youth Stewards” for the event. Youth Stewards served the Moderators and officers of the General Synod and were absolutely commendable in their efforts! In addition, many youth from Southern California and Nevada attended at least some of General Synod and really were able to feel some of the “big church” experience.

    • Conference Youth Ministries Camp (CYMC) is the senior high youth program for week 3 of summer camp at Pilgrim Pines (July 21-27, 2013). CYMC continues to be a unique part of the Pilgrim Pines summer camp experience noting that the program is very much created and facilitated by the Youth RoundTable. CYMC also tends to be one of the larger groups during the Pilgrim Pines summer camp experience. This year we had 60 youth of the conference attend CYMC!

• In the fall, we continued with our Youth RoundTable. The Youth RoundTable (YRT) is the youth leadership organization of the Conference.  The YRT is comprised of youth (grades 9-12) and adults (minimum age of 25) who represent the Associations and the various recognized special ministries of the Conference.  The YRT plans these events for the youth of the Conference and the participants have the opportunity to develop and use their leadership abilities. 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, Bakers Field United Church of Christ; December, Mission Hills United Church of Christ; March, San Bernardino United Church of Christ; and May, UCC Conference Office (we attended worship at Altadena United Church of Christ). Many thanks to these host churches!

• Our Funtastic Festi- event was again a Festival (or Festi-Fall) with our youth and the residents of Peppermint Ridge in Corona and was held October 27, 2013. The festival included some basic games, face-painting, a dance (styled after a “Pinester Dance” at Pilgrim Pines), and a pizza party for the youth. We had 46 youth 16 Adult Advisors attend the event. Coupled with 50 or so residents that participated from Peppermint Ridge made for a lot of fun and excitment!

• Junior High JANboree (JHJ) was once again a tremendous event! Rev. Erin Wyma from Manhattan Beach served in her first year as the UCC co-director. The DOC co-director was Kyle Griffith, serving in his third year.  The theme of JHJ was “iPray” and was aptly keynoted by Rev. Justin Floyd from the DOC. Our music was facilitated by former DOC Youth Leadership Team member James Bishop. Once again we had this event at Loch Leven, the DOC Camp facility.

• FEB Camp was equally fantastic! Chris Hause served his third year as the UCC co-director. Robbie Arevalos also served his third year as the DOC co-director.  The Theme of FEB Camp was “Missioin R.E.A.D.Y. (Revolutionary Engaged and Driven Youth)” and our keynote speaker was Jon Barnes from the UCC and DOC Global Ministries.

• Youth Uniting in Mission (YUM) was held April 26, 2014. We had two events running simultaneously: We had an event hosted by Los Altos United Church of Christ which included planting trees at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Long Beach; we also had an event hosted by Pioneer Ocean View United Church of Christ in San Diego in which we partnered with “I Love A Clean San Diego” for a beach clean-up.

In order to better understand and serve the churches of the Conference, I continue to visit 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.

I continue to be involved with other UCC Conference or Association Youth Workers across all of the UCC through the 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.

I also serve on the board of directors for the UCC’s Outdoor Ministry Association (OMA). OMA is made up of many of the camps and conferences of the UCC all across the United States. OMA offers guidance and support to the UCC camping ministry as well as those who lead such ministry.

In May of 2013, the Southern Association, in covenant with myself, Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, and the Conference Licensed and Commissioned me as a Youth Minister in the United Church of Christ. My calling remains the same, but my title has changed slightly from “Youth Ministry Coordinator” to “Conference Youth Minister.”

Neal Washburn
Conference Youth Minister


Other Annual Gathering Reports:

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 Conference Youth Minister

Report from the Acting Young Adult Ministries Coordinator

Report form the Urban Mission New Church Start Planter


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