Youth Weekend

teenweekendkidsAuthor: Naomi Reed

If I had to use one word to describe the October 16-18, 2015 New Church Youth weekend held in Pittsburgh, I would choose the word “phenomenal”!   What were some of the things that made this Pittsburgh Youth Weekend so special? First, the number of teens that attended this weekend has probably set a record for New Church youth weekends. Because Pittsburgh is a central location to both the Northern and Eastern church societies, there were 45 (-48) teens who attended from the surrounding six New Church societies including Pittsburgh (led by Rev. Pearse Frazier), Kitchener (led by Rev. Nathan Cole and Rev. Ron Schnarr) Toronto (chaperoned by Naomi Reid and driver/kitchen and technical help by John Reid), Oak Arbor (chaperoned by Alan David and driver Judy Pafford) Sarver, Pennsylvania (led/chaperoned by ____), Kempton, Pennsylvania (led by Rev. Brett Buick, chaperoned by Principal Mark Wyncoll, Teachers Katrin Junge and Breckon Brown, and drivers Jordan Cooper, Kate Pitcairn, Seth and Heather King). The teens invited to this weekend ranged in age from grade 7-12. It was good to see this many teens interacting positively with each other throughout the weekend. The other thing that made this weekend so special was the large number of dedicated adults who so generously participated as ministers, chaperones, activity leaders, cooks, organizers and drivers.

 

Now for a rundown of the events. Most of the church groups arrived Friday evening. After dinner which was provided by members of the Pittsburgh New Church society, Rev. Pearse Frazier welcomed the group of teens to this weekend event and Katrin Junge led a variety of games to help the teens become acquainted with each other and start to form friendships.   After the games, there was free time to play cards, board games or just visit. A vespers service was led by Rev. Brett Buick and then there was an opportunity for more socializing and finally it was time for bed.

The next morning after breakfast, the entire group walked through the large and beautiful Frick Park to meet up at the river with the local Watershed Association to help them in their efforts to clean up the debris that eventually ends up on the banks of the river when people in the city choose to litter. The teens got into the spirit of the community service work that they were asked to participate in and turned the work into a competition to see who could retrieve the most litter from the river banks. We walked through the beautiful park to eat lunch, attend a community harvest festival complete with hay rides and a bond fire.   Rev. Nathan Cole led a religious discussion which challenged the teens to think about the topic of authority and what role of authority both the Lord and other people should play in their lives.

After the spiritual instruction and discussion session and dinner, the teens went to the park to play a variety of running games including linked arm and octopus tag. When they returned, I led a craft activity where they got to choose one of two quotes from the Word (“This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” and “May the LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you and give you peace”). After craft time, Katrin Junge taught everyone line dancing.   This country dance involved learning a series of simple steps which were combined to form a large group dance. During this dance every boy got a chance to dance with every girl in the group and no one was left out. I think I have never witnessed everyone having such a fun time at a dance. After the dancing was over, John Reid set up the video and audio equipment so everyone could watch a movie called “God’s not dead”. The basic story is of a Christian college student who has the courage to stand up for his belief in the Lord’s existence against an atheist professor who is trying to push his view onto the students. This movie portrays a challenge that any one of the teens may have to face at some point in their lives. After the movie was over, we had a Vespers service led by Rev. Ron Schnarr and then there was time for visiting and board games and eventually everyone went to bed.

 

teenweekendchaperonsOn Sunday morning after delicious breakfast, we packed up our belongings and cleaned up the rooms that we had stayed in and got ready for church.   Rev. Pearse Frazer gave the Sunday morning service. He talked about the importance of approaching the Lord with an attitude of humility and not treating the Lord as someone who is just there to help us attain worldly goals and possessions.

During the church service, when we sang the beautiful hymn “Here I am Lord”, there were a number of people who were brought to tears (myself included). I think this was because of all of the generous people who had worked together to make this weekend into a positive experience for the teens and one that I would only describe as phenomenal! During this weekend, I had witnessed many adults each trying to live what they believed. As I prayed silently in the pew after church and thanked the Lord for His presence during the weekend , it was as if I could hear the Lord saying to all of us, “Well done, good and faithful servants”.

 

(Written by Naomi Reid, Olivet New Church)

 

 

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