Over 370 children, youth, and adults from 31 churches covered the campus of Mount Olive College on May 16–18 for the Annual Youth Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. With a theme of “Identity Crisis,” the weekend focused on teaching everyone how to find our “identity” changes when we accept Christ as our Savior. The theme verse for the weekend came from Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The theme song for the weekend was “Identity” by Kutless.
The weekend was filled with worship services featuring the band, Traditional City, and nationally known evangelist Kevin Davis. Saturday night’s worship service also featured dramas and music from youth groups from Blended Fellowship, Little Rock, and Juniper Chapel. Sunday’s worship service featured singing and dramas the different age groups learned throughout the weekend. A group from Union Chapel (Albemarle Conference) led the music in the worship service.
On Saturday morning, each age group spent time packing 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now, an international relief organization driven by the vision of a world without hunger and a mission to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and lifesaving aid to the world’s most vulnerable and by creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources. Stop Hunger Now’s meal packaging program is a volunteer-based program that coordinates the streamlined packaging of highly nutritious dehydrated meals comprised of rice, soy, vegetables, flavoring, and 21 essential vitamins and minerals. The meals are easily transported to crisis-burdened areas or supplied to school feeding programs around the world. The meals cost only $0.25 per meal to create. Churches donated the $2,500 needed to pay for the 10,000 meals packaged at the Youth Convention.
In addition to the money raised to make the Stop Hunger Now project possible, churches also contributed $1,011.60 to the Fountain of Youth Endowment. This Endowment was established with the NC Foundation for Christian Ministries in 2012, to benefit the Original Free Will Baptist Convention Ministries. Long after we have left this earth our giving will continue through this established fund. After the initial amount of $10,000 has been received, an annual distribution of the interest earnings will be given to the ministries. To date, approximately $4,000 has been received toward this Youth Project. Children and youth also enjoyed various other activities throughout the weekend included woodworking, crafts, drama classes, creative hands classes, special speakers, games, inflatables, and water slides.
The Saturday night worship service also featured the installation of the 2014–2015 officers and representatives and announcement of Bible Bowl winners and Elizabeth C. Hansley Outstanding Youth Program Award Recipients. This year’s officers are: President—Marshall Jenkins from Little Rock (Western Conference), Vice President—Peyton Overbee of Tee’s Chapel (Cape Fear Conference), Recording Secretary—Morgan Edmonds of Whaley’s Chapel (Eastern Conference), Corresponding Secretary—Jordan Cobb of Kings Cross Roads (Central Conference), and Program Coordinator—Tyler Britt of Union Chapel (Albemarle Conference). The representatives this year are: Coy Oliver of Union Chapel (Albemarle Conference), David Norris II of Yelverton Grove (Cape Fear Conference), Daniel Watson from Marlboro Church (Central Conference), Jacob Cottle of Juniper Chapel (Eastern Conference), Sarah Richards of Cypress Creek (Pee Dee Association), and Naomi Jenkins of Little Rock (Western Conference).
Those awarded plaques for the Bible Bowl competition were: Beaverdam (Pee Dee Conference)—1st place in Cherubs, 2nd place in AFC, and 1st place in YFA; Jackson Heights (Eastern Conference)—1st place in AFC and 4th place in YFA; Yelverton Grove (Cape Fear Conference)—3rd place in AFC and 5th place in YFA; Whaley’s Chapel (Eastern Conference)—4th place in AFC and 3rd place in YFA; and Ormondsville (Central Conference)—2nd place YFA. These competitions took place at the University of Mount Olive on Saturday, April 5.
Little Rock Church (Western Conference), Powhatan Church (Cape Fear Conference), Robert’s Grove Church (Cape Fear Conference), and Sound Side Church (Albemarle Conference) were each awarded Gold Level Elizabeth C. Hansley Outstanding Youth Program Award Recipients. This award is named in memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Hansley, affectionately known as “Ma Hansley,” who dedicated much of her life to working with the children & youth of our denomination. The main purpose of this award is to encourage youth group leaders and members to plan, implement, and evaluate activities that provide positive spiritual growth for youth in a variety of areas. The secondary purpose is to recognize those groups that reach a certain level of achievement in this process. Recipients of the Award receive Gold, Silver, or Bronze level recognitions. Applicants completed an application documenting activities their Youth Program completed from May 2013–April 2014 in the following areas: Development of Individual Youth Members (Christian Leadership; Health & Well-being; Spiritual Growth); Development of the Total Youth Program (Recruitment; Financing; Denominational Leadership); Development of the Church (Cooperative Efforts; Facility Maintenance and/or Improvement; Congregational Ministry); and Development of the Community (Community Outreach; Physical Improvement; Citizenship).
The Rev. Todd Sutton, pastor of Saratoga FWB Church, was recognized on Saturday night for his many years of dedication and work on the Youth Taskforce (which is now the Youth Commission). Mr. Sutton has served two terms on the Taskforce/Commission. The Youth Commission members for 2014-2015 are: Victor Jones (Eastern), chair; Heather McPherson (Pee Dee); Marci Rollins-Smart (Western); Alex McCarter (Central); and the Rev. Heath Connor (Pee Dee).
There is no way we can possibly list all the volunteers who helped plan and carry out the Youth Convention! It takes MANY people from many different churches and districts all coming together and using their gifts and talents for God to make the weekend the success that it is! The individual age group portions of the Youth Convention were planned and organized by: Cherubs—Barbara Avery (Core Creek), Tammy Gardner (Kings Cross Roads), Donna George (Greenville First), Diane Hobgood (Marlboro), Janet Joyner (Free Union, Central Conference), and Susan Lackey (Mosely’s Creek); AFC— Faye Bryant (Cypress Creek), Teresa Harris (Kings Cross Roads), Lynn Watson (Marlboro), and Angie Toler (Juniper Chapel); and YFA—Wanda & Haley Benson (Powhatan), Wyatt and Tara Harvey (Union Chapel), Leigh Ann Norris (Tee’s Chapel). Others assisting with the weekend were Hope Fields (Beaverdam), Naomi Jenkins (Little Rock), and Jonathan Whitford (Free Union, Central Conference). The 2013—2014 representatives and officers helped plan the Youth Convention as well as carry out the events of the weekend. The outgoing officers were: President—Daniel Watson of Marlboro (Central Conference), Vice President—Jacob Cottle of Juniper Chapel (Eastern Conference), Session Secretary—Nicholas Richards of Cypress Creek (Pee Dee), and Program Prayer Chair—Coy Oliver of Union Chapel (Albemarle). Youth selected by their districts serve as representative for one year and then serve as officers the following year.
Plans are already being made for next year’s Youth Convention. Mark your calendar for May 15–17, 2015 so you don’t miss it! The corporate worship services will feature Jeff Smith of Salt and Light Ministries. Jeff has performed throughout the world as a featured performer and master teacher at local, state, and national training conferences and seminars in drama, worship arts, music, ministry, teacher training, children’s ministry, and creative arts. You can learn more about Jeff Smith and Salt and Light Ministries at <saltandlightmin.org>.