– Justin Wells – Fairway District Director of Youth Ministries
Youth news this week is an article from one of the youth on their experience at Annual Conference. Enjoy, Justin
There are not many events that have shaped my life and faith as much as conference ministries have. I was raised as a United Methodist, so I had a foundation at home rooted in Christ. Now that I’m a young adult, I keep finding ways to put my faith into action. And I have never been happier.
For the last three years, I participated in Youth Conference events. You know what they say about God’s timing always being right? That sentiment proved true over and over again when I found myself alone, scared, at the start of a pandemic that had no end in sight. It was at that time when God brought me to the Annual Conference Session for Youth back in the summer of 2020… virtually, of course.
Now I’m gearing up for my third (and unfortunately last) year of Youth Conference, and I got to see what it was like at the next level. There was so much I came home with—messages from the sermons given, fun memories with my friends—but mostly, a deeper understanding of how our conference works, and why our conference works.
If I could sum it all up in a few words, I had a wonderful experience. I sat in the front with the rest of the youth, so we could see everything going on right in front of us. We went to sessions, debriefed as a group in the common areas at ECU’s dorms before bed, and participated in God’s work just like all the adults there. Seeing our resolutions in the workbook and knowing we were making a difference was the most amazing feeling. I always knew our voices could be heard, but it is something totally overwhelming hearing a room full of adults discuss topics my friends and I think are important.
Annual Conference was nothing like I expected, yet at the same time it felt so familiar. With the knowledge I have from Youth Conference, I followed along and had a great time doing it. The whole week I sat between the Youth Conference Vice President and Treasurer, and we all took notes to bring back for our upcoming Youth Week.
There should be absolutely no doubt in Youth ministries, especially the conference events. I felt fully prepared and engaged at Annual Conference, to the point where I spoke at the microphone in front of everybody. It’s not at all like singing on stage at Pilgrimage when the lights blind you from seeing the crowd! Either way, I am so glad I stepped out and spoke up. Every time an adult came up to me to tell me how proud they were of the youth, it gave me a bit more confidence. I love my work in Conference, and every event I leave solidifies a bit more that my calling is right where I am.
Just like the hashtag said all week, I got to be a United Methodist. Conference is where I’ve found some of my closest and most meaningful friendships. I witnessed debate and conflict resolution, and sometimes even compromise. While everyone may not see eye-to-eye on every topic, the one thing that unites us is our love for Christ. I saw that love being given and received freely, like I do at the Youth Conference events where I’ve found my home.