UCC Connecticut Conference sponsors youth trip to General Synod
Youth and young adults are the future of the church—with current leaders of the United Church of Christ strongly standing behind that sentiment. This summer, the Connecticut Conference of the UCC is strengthening that sentiment, by bringing 18 young people to General Synod.
The conference and its congregations are sponsoring the youth participation in the Youth and Young Adults @ General Synod program in Cleveland, June 25 through June 30.
It’s part of the conference’s belief in building leaders of the future today. Debbie Kirk, director of youth and young adult ministries in the Connecticut Conference, explained why the conference is making the investment in young people as part of the life of the church.
“In the Connecticut Conference, we are focusing on raising our leadership level and congregational vitality,” she said. “It has been our experience that youth who have the opportunity to see the diversity of the wider church and take part in events like General Synod and National Youth Event are bringing back all kinds of things: creative worship, diversity that is part of national church, a passion for justice.”
During the Youth and Young Adults @ General Synod program, teens from across the country will participate in worship and plenary sessions, attend hearings, follow resolutions, and join in mission work to serve the greater-Cleveland area. Some of the planned activities include an immersion trip to the Cleveland Theatre District, participating in a gay pride parade to stand up against bullying, and outreach to hungry and homeless people by sharing a meal with them in the community.
The conference—which has previously sponsored trips for youth and young adults to General Synod—is partnering with neighbors in the region and renting bus to fill it with young people from the Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts conferences for the trip to Cleveland.
“This has grown out of our last trip to National Youth Event (2012),” Kirk said. “We had four busloads from New England for that, and now we are building on those relationships with colleagues from other conferences.”
There are other young people from the Connecticut Conference traveling independently to General Synod—as many as 35, Kirk said. The conference also has 13 voting delegates, out of 50 total, who are youth and young adults.
“We have a strong commitment to youth as leaders of today, and leaders for the future,” said the Rev. Kent Siladi, conference minister of the Connecticut Conference. “The experience of General Synod allows them to see the church in full expression. The only way to learn about it is by going to Synod, so that’s why we are making it possible for so many young people in the conference.”
The conference and local churches are donating money, looking to raise about $4,000, to cover the costs of the group of 18, all of whom are in high school. There is also a team of chaperones that will travel with the teens.
One of the youth participants, Hannah, from Glastonbury, Conn., says the UCC “has always been dear to me. Not only has it been a safe haven but it has been a second home.”
Another, who is just finishing up confirmation, is excited to tour the UCC national offices and the Amsted Chapel in the denomination’s headquarters “to learn more about the ministries of the national setting.”
“Synod, in particular, is a chance for youth to dig in more on justice issues,” Kirk said. “We want to give them experience of seeing church deliberate on tough issues in a loving way.”
Registration for Youth and Young Adults @ General Synod at a discounted rate is available until March 20. General registration is open until June 12.
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