Written by Barb Powell
There's a first time for everything, and UCC General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black took his first shot at Twitter Friday during the UCC's National Youth Event (NYE) at Purdue University.
"My friend Barack Obama invented this thing called Twitter Town Hall," Black said after he ascended to the darkened stage of Purdue University's Elliott Hall of Music on a lift through a trap door. "So I now have a smart phone, and I'm on Twitter. However, Tiffany [French, UCC social media and marketing associate] is here to help me."
With that, he put his phone down and began to field the more than 200 tweets French relayed sent from young people in the hall.
Kids from Pilgrim Faith UCC in Oakmont, Ill., wanted to know how to carry the message of NYE back home.
"Think big and take home the idea of collaboration," Black said. "Be emphatic and inspired about what you experienced. Don't just talk, but demonstrate. Share with them the technology. Go online and show they what it was about. Take the spirit with you."
Megan Wallace asked, "Have you gone through the fountain yet?"
"I went looking for it but it was turned off."
The UCC's Executive for Local Ministries the Rev. J. Bennett Guess wanted to know the jazz connection to the gospel of Jesus Christ since Black is such a jazz fan.
"It's about deep spirituality," Black responded. "If you really listen to jazz musicians as they do their craft, you will hear the oneness. Musicians connect to each other intuitively. Jazz is about call and response, improvisation and multi-rhythm. These techniques are spiritually grounded and take us back to Jesus . . . to do what is necessary in the moment to make harmony. It’s a creative force."
Another person asked how we can create one church with the wide range of beliefs we have in the UCC?
"We all operate at different rhythms but there are moments when we are in sync," said Black. "It's like the law of entrainment that we heard about last night. We connect at the important moments when it counts."
Why are the Stillspeaking youth so important to the church?
"In any movement that changes the world, young people are important. The first people commissioned to serve people around the world, they were young people in their late teens. The Civil Rights movement had adult leaders but look at who was pushing the envelope for change. It was young people, college students. If the UCC has a future, its because of the sensitivity and ideas of young people."