A Moment for Mission
“I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.” —Ephesians 3:19, CEB
While only two young people spoke on the General Conference 2016 stage, thousands more stood with them. Chelsea Spyres of Newark, Delaware, and Peter Cibuabua of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, identified themselves as “ambassadors sharing young people’s voices from around the world.”
That voice declared the uncompromising nature of God’s love and grace for all people.
“The objective of this message is to help you, our brothers and sisters in the church, to understand how widely and deeply the young people are engaged in Christ’s journey with energy and love,” they said.
They then listed challenges their generation faces as well as solutions for building the church.
“Maybe God stops whispering and starts to yell,” Spyres said as she called persons to move beyond their personal intentions and goals in order to listen to “new voices longing to be heard.
“How would the church grow,” she asked, “if we encouraged each person to discern their calling, to discern where God is leading them to make a difference in the world? If we listened before we spoke?”
Cibuabua said young people’s programming is usually one of the lower line items on a conference budget.
“In this way, young people are marginalized in the church,” he said, listing ways the world’s young people are victimized by violence, war, disease, poverty, racism, sexism and child trafficking.
Even so, he added, “Young people are shaped by the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Adapted from “Two Ambassadors of God’s Love Share Young People’s Address,” Kay DeMoss, UM News, May 14, 2016. Used by permission.
Loving God, we sing, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Help us to put those words into action as we support ministries through the Youth Service Fund. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: 9th Sunday after Pentecost — Mighty and all-knowing God who sees us as we are and as we might be: What offering can we give that will bring you joy? We have brought gifts this morning that you might dedicate them to the work of caring and compassion in our neighborhoods, in our nations, and throughout the world. Yet all the money we have can’t accomplish what you can make happen if we simply let Christ dwell in our hearts – not for an hour on Sundays but every hour of every day. This is the offering we dedicate this day. In Christ, our redeemer, we pray. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Wherever she goes, youth director Keri Cress loves to lead teens in mission. After serving for many years at Hillcrest United Methodist Church, she now is youth director at East End UMC, another Nashville, Tennessee congregation.
“Our favorite little outreach at Hillcrest,” she recalled, “was delivering communion to our at-home members. We did it quarterly. We would also sing for them—‘Carols at Christmas’ and ‘All You Need Is Love’ for Valentine’s Day—and plan a brief worship service together. It was so meaningful for our at-home folks and for our youth as they received love and life lessons.”
COVID-19 offered new challenges to the youth at East End who, Cress said, “have been sending messages of love to the community through encouraging words on the sidewalks around the church building.”
Across the United Methodist connection, the Youth Service Fund inspires young people to reach out to others. Teens raise money, decide which projects to support and spend their contributions on ministries that help youth.
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, retired from UMCom