Youth Experience Synod in Indianapolis

Youth Experience Synod in Indianapolis

Teens from the Southern New England Conference joined up with over forty youth from across the country to participate in Youth @ Synod in Indianapolis on June 30 to July 4.  They engaged in worship and witness, service and learning around poverty and homelessness, and made friends and connections with youth from other conferences.   Youth @ Synod is a leadership development program that helps prepare future delegates.

"The SNEUCC youth who said yes to this opportunity, stepped away from their familiar routines to engage in the work of the wider church.  They started as individuals who hardly knew one another and quickly created an inclusive space for connections and friendship.  They brought curiosity, compassion, and energy to their time in Indianapolis," said Debbie Gline Allen, SNEUCC Minister of Faith Formation, and one of the chaperones for the trip.

Rev. Trayce Potter of the National Staff prepared the program which featured several presentations by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for Homelessness. NEOCH led discussions on root causes of homelessness and then took the group through a resource mapping exercise, as well as meal planning for a family living at the poverty line.

Some reflections from a few of the participants:

I truly enjoyed participating in the homelessness workshops and working to break the stereotypes surrounding it. I see homelessness in a different perspective now that we dove deep into root causes while relating them to our own lives. I had avoided looking at homeless people and tried not to make eye contact but now I feel so much more educated and empowered to recognize and help them rather than ignore them. Some of the resolutions we discussed were very large-scale problems that would take a lot of effort, time, and contribution to change even slightly. But helping the homeless is something I can do now and on my own.       -- Alyssa from Kingston (RI) Congregational Church

This was just a small encounter, but it was big to me: I was at a table at the Exhibit Hall which had both Spanish and English versions of a guide to welcoming the Latinx community. They also had pride pins in Spanish saying “Encuentros Latinx.” The person at the station told me I could take some a pins and guides; and she did this speaking Spanish. I said “gracias” and she continued to speak to me in Spanish. I don’t know Spanish very well, and when I picked up one of the guides, a Spanish one as she told me she only had Spanish left of that one, I told her I wasn’t great at Spanish. She told me that I said “gracias” with a good accent.  It isn’t just the huge, world-impacting things that make Synod worth it. Some incredible things happen just between people, in ordinary interactions. It’s ordinary, in an extraordinary way.     – Sophia  from Sharon, CT

Once we arrived and met the other kids from other conferences, we started the work of our week that included assembling over 3,000 period care packs and walking together in solidarity with our trans and non- binary siblings whose rights to use the bathroom of their identity are threatened and endangered in Indiana, and listening to the stories of our unhoused neighbors and children at the border. When we are open to listen to the voices and stories of those who have different lives than the ones we live, we allow God to work. When we open ourselves up to the new thing God is doing, we allow God to work. This week God moved through the hard work of our youth who have poured themselves out to serve others and make meaningful connections along the way.  -- Lindsey Pacios South Church of Andover, MA

This experience was made this possible through proportional giving to Our Church's Wider Mission by our local congregations.  Additional financial support was provided by the Edward Turner Scholarship Fund which was created in memory of a Connecticut lay leader who worked in youth ministry and wanted youth to experience the vitality of the wider church.

More stories, photos, quotes, and videos from Youth @ Synod



debby kirk.jpg
Debby D. Kirk

Debby Kirk serves as leader of the staff team that provides resources for the work of nurturing disciples of all ages in the local church. Her area of focus is youth ministry. Contact her for:  Faith Formation Communities of Practice Confirmation ...

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