Designed to encourage ministry for and with young adults, the 2012 Reclaim Gathering will take place March 23-24 at Riverside Park UMC in Jacksonville. Registration began Jan. 1 for the event, which will host dynamic speakers, including Bishop Will Willimon of the North Alabama Conference, Rev. Candace Lewis and Dr. Sandra Richter.
|Bishop Will Willimon
The event is designed to draw not only those young adults who may be seeking a way to plug into their local churches, but also to those who feel the call to help bring young adults (20 and 30-somethings) closer to the church’s heart and life.
“We want to see as many young adults in our denomination as outside it to encourage them to be the church today---not to wait until they have their careers and families set, but to take a place right now,” said Derrick Scott, who is Reclaim planning team leader and executive director of Campus to City Wesley Foundation. The event is sponsored by the Florida conference with support from the UMC General Board of Discipleship’s Young People’s Division.
“We also have a dedicated track of sessions for those who love and want to be leaders in reaching young adults,” he said. “One thing we’ve learned over the last three years is that people want more and more ideas about how to reach youth,” he said.
Anna Frederick, who is Reclaim 2012 coordinator, pointed out that it is no secret that a gap exists for post college, young professionals across the state of Florida. “We have ministries for campus life and young families, but not this particular group. They need to know where they can go to get involved and find out about mission opportunities, etc.,” she said.
The Rev. Bob Bushong, senior pastor at First UMC of Winter Park, applauds the efforts that Reclaim will address. “We have not been doing an effective job of reaching young adults with the gospel message that they need. I sense that we have dropped the ball in reaching them and haven’t stayed culturally relevant to their struggles and needs,” he said.
“Will Willimon has a real passion for youth--remember, he worked with the undergraduates at Duke--and he will be a great asset. As churches, we have to change our thinking a little bit. It’s hard to view a 25-year-old as a leader, but we have to do a job of giving them some power and not view them as immature. We’re excited to be hosting the event and we’re definitely supportive of young adults,” Rev. Bushong said.
Part of what makes the idea of young adults so desirable to local churches is that they have two things in spades: time and energy. These traits can be tapped into at this earlier stage of life, before people marry and have children, according to the Reclaim website.
Rev. Dale Locke, lead pastor at Community of Hope Church in Loxahatchee, is part of the conference strategic leadership team and attended last year said, “We have a goal to grow leaders within local churches in the Florida conference, and we know that a lot of young people just leave. When young people feel like their voices are heard (in a church), that’s where they’ll go,” he said.
For more information or to register, go to www.reclaimgathering.com.