Next Generation Responds to Message of Hope

Youth Inspired at Middle School Retreat

Submitted by Matt Parker Wrzeszcz, Youth Ministry Consultant, Presbytery of Chicago and Associate Pastor, Elmhurst Yorkfield

An amazing group of Middle School youth & leaders at the January 2015 Middle School Retreat

An amazing group of Middle School youth & leaders at the January 2015 Middle School Retreat

Over seventy youth and adult leaders converged on East Bay Camp, in Hudson, Illinois the weekend of January 23-25, 2015 for the Annual Middle School Retreat. All Presbytery of Chicago churches are invited to these retreats.

The theme for the weekend was HOPE and leaders utilized scripture references from Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”), as well as the Road to Emmaus from the Gospel of Luke.

Self-proclaimed Hope Dealer Amy Williams offered an inspirational challenge for each of us to BE the church, to bring hope into the world, and to shine the light of Christ in the darkness. She shared accounts of her ministry with youth in gangs and prison and connected with the group in many ways. During one of the last sessions, each person was given a glow stick as Amy talked about how God takes our brokenness and makes something new. Each person was encouraged to envision how to be a “dealer of hope” in the world, spreading the love of God and sharing with one another. One youth was heard to say, “I am going to go home and bring hope to my friends at school.”

TC Anderson leads the youth in music and song.

TC Anderson leads the youth in music and song.

Youth leader TC Anderson, Arlington Heights First, led music during the weekend, offering a variety of great songs to get the crowd moving and participating in worship. An inspirational worship service was created and led by the youth on Sunday morning. Several of the youth commented that it was a great weekend and many sixth and seventh graders are looking forward to the retreat next year. Registration materials for this retreat are usually available late fall so be sure to sign up your TC Anderson leads the youth in music and song. youth for our January 2016 retreat.

Upcoming Events for Youth and Leaders

Youth Ministry Team (YMT) Meeting: Attention Middle School and High School Youth leaders – we need your input! Join other adult leaders to share, learn, plan, and discuss upcoming ministry opportunities. The next YMT meeting is Monday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m. at Elmhurst Yorkfield. Please send a representative from your church.

AWOL: A Work of Love: All Middle School and High School Youth are invited to participate in this amazing mission opportunity April 10-11. The group stays overnight Friday at Chicago Fourth to enjoy dinner, games, worship, and workshops. On Saturday morning, traveling via public transportation, the group partakes in a mission project to assist those in need. Only ninety spaces available, so register early! Cost is $45.

Get more details and see the calendar of upcoming events.

This article was originally published on as the cover story of the February 2015 Our Common Ministry, the presbytery’s newsletter. Download the complete issue.

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