Tuned into technology, NYE 2012 readies for faith, fun, fellowship
Written by Jeff Woodard
January 17, 2012
That's the message going out to more
than 2,000 UCC youth expected at National Youth Event July 10-13 on the campus
of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
"We're making a push to use technology
to spread the word," says Waltrina Middleton, minister for youth advocacy
and leadership formation on the UCC Congregational Vitality and Discipleship
Ministry Team. "In the past, we might have said, 'Leave your technology
behind.' But we're asking them to bring it. The unofficial theme of NYE is 'No
matter your gadget, your technology is welcome here.' We want to show that you
can use technology as a sacred tool of worship and faith formation."
The official theme
of NYE 2012 is "Imagine." More than 50 daily workshops are planned, with large
breakout sessions interspersed throughout. General Synod-like service-projects,
in conjunction with United Way, also are on the agenda.
"The National Youth Event is an event of the whole church,"
said W. Mark Clark, the UCC's associate general minister, and co-convener of
the National Youth Event. "We want all local UCC churches to get involved, by
financially supporting youth, by carrying NYE stories on their church websites,
and in a multitude of other ways."
The harsh economic climate makes
estimating NYE turnout a little tricky, said Middleton. "But we are faithful
and hopeful that we'll have a strong turnout."
Conferences are lifting up NYE in
unprecedented numbers, said Middleton. "We really reached out to ask them to be
present, and so far, 13 have committed to being there and being involved."
The UCC Collegium of Officers' will be
more involved at this year's NYE. "They will provide a strong presence and have
taken on this event as a major priority for the denomination," said Middleton.
Clark sounds like a kid as he
anticipates his first trip to a National Youth Event. "It's going to be an
amazing experience," he said. "We're excited, and it certainly will be the
largest gathering of UCC folks this year."
Middleton also lifted up the NYE vision
team, a group of a dozen youths nominated by Conference Ministers and charged
with creating the event's theme and logo, and selecting its Scriptural focus
"They're the ones who said, 'We can't
run away from technology,'" said Middleton.
Among unique additions for NYE 2012
will be a "literacy labyrinth," said Middleton. "We're asking everyone
who is coming, when you pack a bag, pack a book to give. We're hoping to
collect 2,000 to 3,000 books to give to a partnership of non-profits. The books
will go to foster- care programs,
after-school programs, libraries and some public schools. "
Registration opened last November, two months earlier than
usual, said Middleton.
"We have a new format for registration and are encouraging
electronic registration," she said. "Forms have been online for a long time,
but now you can submit it online instead of going to the web site, printing out
the form and mailing it."
Registration deadline is May 21.
Held every four years, NYE provides an opportunity for youth
ages 13-18 to gather for worship, workshops, faith, fun and fellowship. Learning
about spiritual and leadership formation is a substantial benefit of the event.
"NYE is not like a summer camp where
you send them off for three or four days, then they come home," said Middleton.
"It needs to be something everyone takes ownership of – just as they would
For more information or to register for
NYE, please visit www.ucc.org/youth/nye/.
Check out NYE on Twitter or Facebook. The
NYE hashtag is #NYE2012.