Youth and Young Adults to experience General Synod, Cleveland in community

The youth and young adults of the United Church of Christ will experience General Synod 2015 by exploring and engaging the Cleveland, Ohio, community in ways that strengthen their faith.

The Rev. Waltrina Middleton envisions two objectives with the Youth and Young Adults at General Synod program next summer. The first is to welcome youth and young adults from across the UCC to Cleveland, the home of the national offices, and the second is to show them many ways that Cleveland rocks.

“We are lifting up the theme of ‘Unexpected Places’ through a variety of activities and events for our youth that require immersion in the city,” said Middleton, minister for youth advocacy and leadership formation. “We will have an exhibit space as we have before, but we’ll spend time in the community.”

General Synod takes place June 26 through June 30 at the Cleveland Convention Center, but the youth gathering begins a day earlier, on Thursday, June 25.

“We like to say that the youth are the ones unofficially welcoming everyone to General Synod, because we are there before everyone,” Middleton said.

Youth and Young Adults at General Synod (Y&YA@GS), an official outreach of General Synod, is for participants from 13 to 20 years old. Stillspeaking Y&YA groups from all across the country convene with pre-synod activities that connect them with their UCC history and polity, service, justice, leadership and faith.

On Thursday, June 25, youth and young adults will participate in off-site theater exercises in the Gordon Square Arts District–a revitalized area on the west side of Cleveland–meeting with local thespians, playwrights, producers and community organizers committed to using fine arts as a tool of justice. It’s an opportunity to see theater as an agent of change, reflecting on stage the realities of communities, nation and world and providing inspiration for response and action.

Saturday, June 27, will be a day to challenge youth attendees to rethink the ways ‘church’ exists outside traditional sanctuary space. Middleton hopes that about 200 to 300 attendees will participate in the Cleveland Pride Parade, whose route will pass next to the Cleveland Convention Center. Also that day, youth and young adults will break bread with people in need around downtown Cleveland, welcoming all to the table for an optional dining meal in partnership with Bread for the World and City of Cleveland agencies dedicated to hunger and homelessness.

“This challenges them to think beyond the traditional walls and how we equip the church for the future,” Middleton said.

Sunday is a day for literacy, as youth and young adults interact with author Rob Shindler to examine ways illiteracy impacts a range of social justice issues. Shindler wrote Hotdogs & Hamburgers, the book used to kick off the UCC literacy initiative, Reading Changes Lives.  At Synod, UCC youth will also stuff busses with books as a way to contribute to the literacy effort. During National Youth Event in 2012, UCC youth collected and donated 6,000 books—the goal for General Synod is double that amount.

Young people will also have an optional “field day” to explore Cleveland’s landmarks—such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Zoo—on Monday, June 29.

Youth and young adult registration for General Synod 30 opens Wednesday, Oct. 15. There is a program fee of $75, plus General Synod registration, meals and housing. For more information, visit the Y&YA@GS website.

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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