United Church of Christ

To a hip hop beat, virtual NYE will immerse youth in immigration, encourage creativity

Already launched with videos urging young people to unleash their creativity as a force for good, the United Church of Christ’s first-ever online National Youth Event will culminate July 25 and 26 with an interactive service project, workshops and worship.

Screen shot from NYE 2020 websiteIts offerings range from a session on using social media to drive climate action, to an open invitation, now posted online, urging young people to put poems or freestyle raps to a hip-hop beat. That invitation comes in one of two NYE videos that premiered during live-chat sessions in May and June (see related story).

Youth, young adults and adult advisors can register here. It’s free. “Even if they registered for the in-person NYE, they will need to register again,” said Trayce Potter, the UCC’s national minister for youth and young adult engagement, noting that the process is quick and easy.

When COVID-19 forced the in-person version of NYE to be put off until 2022, organizers still wanted to offer something online this summer, Potter said. But they knew they couldn’t simply replicate all the content virtually.

“Moving to online helped us to pause and be present to what was happening around us in that moment,” Potter said. “So instead of taking what we had prepared for the in-person event, we wanted to find a way to offer meaningful experiences and encouragement to our youth around the theme of ‘UNITE through the Extraordinary,’ as these are indeed extraordinary times.”

The NYE weekend has three components.

The immersive service project, available on demand via YouTube starting at 9 a.m. EDT July 25, will help interactive viewers “enter into the stories of people migrating across borders around the world right now, through firsthand accounts, videos, Google Earth, and more,” Potter said.

“The experience is not for its own sake though,” she said. “Individuals and groups will be immersed in the intersecting issues and ultimately brought back into our own context to understand what it means to create a just world for all, for migrants and refugees in our communities, how we might begin the work, who is already doing the work, and what the risks are when we step out and embody our faith in this way.”

Workshops on the afternoon of July 25, also via YouTube, are scheduled on these topics so far:

  • Social Media to Drive Climate Action
  • Just Say Know! Uniting for Justice through Faithful Sexuality Education
  • A Voice of Palestinian Youth
  • GMP Meets NYE (with General Minister and President John Dorhauer)
  • Mental Health/Illness and Our Christian Faith
  • Brave Space
  • Mindfulness in Times of Change
  • Deaf Community Ministry, Advocacy and ASL
  • Art as Resistance & the Immorality of Drone Warfare
  • I Want You(th) to Make a Difference

Details on those workshops – and more that may be added – will be shared at the NYE website and by email with registered participants, Potter said.

Virtual worship at 4 p.m. EDT Sunday, July 26, will feature Potter, Lea Morris, Tracy Howe Wispelway and the Refresh Collective. It will be presented via Facebook Live.

Potter said she hopes the finale will encourage people to look ahead to the rescheduled in-person NYE at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., June 27-30, 2022. “It was a difficult decision to postpone our 2020 in-person event and transition to a series of virtual events because so much work and prayer had gone into the planning by so many,” she said. “We celebrate all that our planning team accomplished and look forward to being in person at Purdue in 2022.”


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