Attending Youth Harambee 2011 | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
June 2011

Attending Youth Harambee 2011

By John Hodges-Batzka

Summer means that youth and college students are out of school, there's barbecues to attend, swimming to be had, and for those of us in the South crazy amounts of heat. It’s also the season in which some of the biggest youth gatherings of the year take part. Last week, I was able to attend the Black Methodists for Church Renewal Harambee youth event at Paine College, a historically black liberal arts college in Augusta, Georgia on behalf of Young People’s Ministries. The event gathered youth from across almost every conference in the Southeastern Jurisdiction to fellowship, take part in spirit-filled worship, and participate in workshops on a variety of subjects for both youth and their youth workers.

This was my second year attending this great event. I was able to have conversations with youth and youth leaders from around the area as they were registering for the weekend. I also was able to participate in the worship, led by a great choir formed by the youth attending the event. Reverend Candace Lewis, a minister who has planted a successful church in Jacksonville, Florida, led the event focusing on the theme of “Reality Check.” Rev. Lewis played contemporary rap music videos alongside Christian music videos to compare their reality, answered questions that youth had submitted on 3x5 cards, and challenged them to see God in their lives.

One of my favorite parts of my participation in the ministries of Young People’s Ministries is going to events such as this. The love shown by the organizers of events like these is something that we should all emulate. But I was also encouraged by the fact that a great deal of the planning, the music, the speaking, and the organization of the event was run by young people, from the ages of thirteen up to college students. Seeing this group of leaders live into their own call as Christians and their desire to lead others into relationships with God and the church reminds us of the important goals of ministries with young people.