We all recognize that our teens are critical to the life of our congregations as part of the the body of Christ, yet so many church leaders are not sure what exactly to do to include them in worship and the regular events that happen at church. We are fortunate in the Southern New England Conference to have a wide variety of opportunities for teens that can support and enhance the ministries you already have (or hope to have) in your local congregation.
Retreats are great opportunities to build Christian community, to offer time for spiritual reflection, to try new spiritual practices, and to engage in deepening relationships — both with peers and between generations.
There is still room for more at the annual Youth Retreat held at Craigville Conference Center on Cape Cod March 27-29, 2020. This event will include participation in the Youth Street Reach ministry of the Federated Church in Hyannis, as well as games, worship, and walks on the beach — experiences that can be brought back to your congregation and continued in your own setting. Registration information can be found here.
Confirmation Classes can take advantage of time away through the annual offerings of experienced retreat leaders from both Connecticut and Massachusetts. There are four different events held at two different sites in Massachusetts January through March, and three different events at Silver Lake Conference Center in Connecticut January through March. Specific details can be found here for the Connecticut retreats, and here for the Massachusetts retreats.
With the success of last fall’s first Youth Program at Super Saturday, we will again be offering a service project for all in attendance, led by the teens, to learn about and minister to the homeless and the hungry at our upcoming March 14th Super Saturday event in Wilbraham, MA. Watch for more information coming soon via the Southern New England Conference media, and start gathering your teens and their adult leaders for another exciting experience.
Not only will these offerings provide a boost to your youth ministry programs; your teens will return home prepared and more willing to share what they learned with others. They will return energized to serve in leadership roles, or perhaps to focus on a specific ministry at your church. And they will be more committed to their peers and leaders at church due to the reinforcing of the relationships formed at these events.
For an even more formative opportunity, join Southern New England Conference teens in journeying to Purdue University in Indiana this summer for the United Church of Christ National Youth Event July 22-25. This experience is offered every four years and provides the youth and their adult leaders a chance to to engage in worship, workshops, service projects, and recreation with teens from throughout the entire United Church of Christ. You will find more information here, and view the promotional video here. Please pre-register here to help the Southern New England Conference youth ministry leadership in planning and arranging transportation. Worshipping and connecting with 3,000 other UCC teens from Maine to Hawaii is a life-changing experience which we hope your teens will take advantage of this summer.
It is the power of community that shapes faith. The communities created within your church, within the Southern New England Conference, and throughout the United Church of Christ will expand your teens’ horizons as they experience God in new ways through Christian community. Invite your youth to grow with us at these events this year!
For more information and resources to support youth ministry in your congregation, visit https://www.macucc.org/youthministry and https://www.ctucc.org/youthandyoungadult.
Debbie Gline Allen is the part-time Associate for Faith Formation & Youth Ministries for the Conference.