Students gather for first-ever leadership summit

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Students gather for first-ever leadership summit

Oct. 12, 2008  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0926}

An e-Review Feature
By Sarah Alsgaard**

ORLANDO — When the students entered the room, they were paired into groups and told to choose a certain number of beads from a pile.

Students attending the first-ever student leadership summit participate in one of four worship sessions. Photo by Sarah Alsgaard. Photo #08-1024. For longer description see photo gallery.

The beads, it was later explained, had point values attached to them. Those students with the most points were put into the upper class, those with the second-most points formed the middle class, and those with the least points were part of the lower class.

“The upper class got to make the rules; the middle class got to suggest a rule per round to the upper class and let the upper class decide if they wanted to use it or not,” said Kelly Minter, coordinator of the Florida Conference Network of Ministries for Young People.

It was all part of a workshop on advocacy and one of four workshops offered during a student leadership summit Oct. 3-5 in Orlando that was organized by the Florida Conference Connection on Youth Ministries (CCYM).

The CCYM falls under the Network of Ministries for Young People, which was formed at the 2007 Florida Annual Conference to pull together the conference’s then fragmented youth and young adult ministries. Within that network umbrella there is a group focusing on ministries and resources related to youth, the CCYM. There is also one for young adults and a third for adult workers in young people’s ministries.

Two groups of students participated in the advocacy workshop. The first included approximately 40 students; the second had 36.

“The second group really understood that the whole thing was to be a voice for those who can’t make rules,” said Carlene Fogle-Miller, who led the advocacy workshop and is president of CCYM. “They said it was a very good way to explain a topic that isn’t necessarily an easy topic to explain.”

A youth attending the student leadership summit prays during one of the gathering's worship sessions. Photo by Sarah Alsgaard. Photo #08-1025. For longer description see photo gallery.

The workshops focused on community, advocacy, restoration and evangelism, representing the summit’s theme, “Dare to CARE.”

Minter said 162 students from across the conference registered for the summit. “I heard a lot of the kids come in saying that they had not done an event like this before,” she said.

This is the first summit CCYM has organized since its current members first met in 2006.

“In the past of our conference, the CCYM had a reputation of a party planner and a debt collector,” said Justin Wilkerson, vice president of communications for CCYM. “We really wanted to do something for the conference to revamp the name of CCYM and make the CCYM name something that is synonymous with good things.”

“It’s pretty neat to see a whole bunch of kids worship and follow the Lord’s word the way they do,” said Jeff Reyleome, 17, a member of First United Methodist Church in Callahan

Fellow youth member Dani Jo Stevenson, 11, said he attended because he thought it would be “a good learning experience, and I was really excited about it.” “I think it helped a lot to restore my relationship with God,” he said. “ … I was excited to learn.”

“Almost all of the kids that we invited to come, that we had the scholarships available for, could come,” said Bobbi Mullins, First Callahan’s youth pastor.  

Minter said it took almost a year to plan the event.

The Rev. Roy Terry, senior pastor at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Naples, was keynote speaker for the four worship sessions at the student leadership summit. Photo by Sarah Alsgaard. Photo #08-1026. For longer description see photo gallery.

“I think that all of it’s gone well,” said Eric Morris, a CCYM member. “Because it seems like everybody’s just so excited to be here.”

Giving everything for others

Four worship sessions also focused on each of the event’s themes.

Each session started off with Morris, vice president of CCYM’s Youth Service Fund, asking for “Yay, God” moments. If a student had something positive to report, he or she would stand and announce it. Morris would then snap his fingers and say, “Yay, God.”

The Rev. Roy Terry, senior pastor at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Naples, was the keynote speaker during each service.

“I’ve always enjoyed participating in youth events and also encouraging and motivating our young adults to live the call of Jesus Christ in their lives, and I have a passion for that,” Terry said.

For the restoration worship service, Terry talked about how he found faith as a youth.

“I was living that good life, and I was going to youth group all the time, and I started attending church, but there were still some struggles early on,” he said during the service.

He recounted times when he had problems taking anything related to church seriously and how his friend’s sister would scold him and her brother for it.

“Beautiful girl … she was awesome, just pure as snow and had a heart for God,” he said. “She said these words, and they kind of resonate in my head to this day. She said: ‘(Jesus) is calling you to a different way of life. He’s calling you to a way of life where you are meant to share Him with everyone. He’s not yours to hold to yourself and do whatever you want because it makes you happy or makes you feel good.’ ”

When his friend’s sister died suddenly, Terry struggled to understand why, and felt the call of God for a second time.

Students kneel to pray at the beginning of a worship service during the student leadership summit. Photo by Sarah Alsgaard. Photo #08-1027. For longer description see photo gallery.

“We realized that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not Roy’s gospel … it’s not any of your gospel. It’s the gospel of our first love. His name was Jesus Christ,” Terry said during the service. “He gave everything for you so that you may, in turn, give everything for others.”

Future summits

After CCYM receives survey responses back from this year’s participants, the team will decide if it will hold a similar summit in the future, Minter said.

“If it gets to the point where we’re just doing it because we’ve always done it, then, no. I don’t want this to be an annual event,” Fogle-Miller said. “But if it continues to change lives and make a difference, then, yes, I definitely want this to be an annual event.”


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is a freelance writer based in Lakeland.

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