the United Church of Christ New York State
Youth Event 2010
March 5-7, 2010
at Watson-Homestead Retreat Center in Painted Post, NY
Theme: “Connect the Dots”
Friday, March 5
Theme: “Connecting to Self”
Scripture text: Isaiah 6:7-8
Registration began during the late afternoon hours as groups, youth and advisors from the nine associations across the state began to arrive at Watson Homestead. During registration, several friends reconnected who had not seen each other since the previous year.
Later Friday night, brief orientations were held for both the youth and their advisors. Shortly after these orientations, the Friday night festivities began. The committee members engaged the youth and their advisors in a yarn toss around the chapel in the form of a cross to introduce them to each committee member. After this opening to the weekend ahead, the Friday night service began. The service was planned by the committee members of the Metropolitan and Suffolk Associations and was led by a few members of the Metropolitan Association. The service was based on the day’s theme of “Connecting with Self.” The scripture text (Isaiah 6:7-8) and sermon conveyed the message that in order for one to be able to become a better Christian and be able to tell others about God, they must first connect with themselves and find their inner spirituality so that they can then connect to God, their community and the world. Reverend Rita Root, the Interim New York Conference Minister, also addressed the youth and their advisors with a few words of greeting, her hopes for the upcoming weekend and her desire that each participant would be blessed by something they may have heard, seen or done in the upcoming weekend.
Following this service, the youth and their advisors were split up into family “dot” groups based on the color of their nametags. The dot groups were led by youth committee members in different areas of the main lodge. In these groups meetings, participants were able to meet new people within their groups and learn more about the weekend’s upcoming activities. The groups played several icebreakers and the youth committee members explained the next day’s workshops that they could sign up for and participate in.
After these meetings commenced, participants returned to their respective cabins for a brief reflection moment, also known as vespers, hosted by the youth committee members residing in those cabins. These reflections offered all participants an opportunity to have an open discussion of their views on the weekend and their hopes for what was to come.
Saturday, March 6
Theme: “Connect with God”
Scripture text: Matthew 3:13-17
Saturday morning began with breakfast and a grace led by the Western Association in the Main Lodge. After breakfast, an inspiring keynote address was given by keynote speaker Freeman Palmer, the Interim Southeast Regional Conference Minister on the theme of “Connecting with God.”
Following the address that inspired the youth and their advisors to look beyond themselves and find the gifts that God has given them, the youth and their advisors split up into the various morning workshop sessions they were assigned. The workshops offered ranged from a Ukrainian egg workshop, which engaged participants in the process of decorating eggs with Ukrainian designs, to a “Sweet Dreams” workshop that allowed participants to give back to their communities by creating pillow cases for foster children constantly on the move.
Following these workshops that engaged their participants for the next hour and a half, lunch was served. After lunch, the afternoon workshops began. The list of workshops included choir, for the Sunday morning service, bread making for Sunday’s communion, a pocket prayer book that contained the weekend’s scriptures and provided its creators a place to put their future prayers and hopes, and many others.
After these workshops, the family groups met in their respective meeting areas to create a brief presentation of their perspective of the weekend’s themes and scriptures. The youth and their advisors were then given approximately two hours of free time to take advantage of the various activities and resources that were taking place that weekend at Watson-Homestead. These activities included an indoor pool facility, the retreat center’s gift shop, games in the barn, and the opportunity to observe the process by which maple syrup was produced on the grounds of the retreat center.
Following this free time, the family groups met again to further elaborate on their plans for the next day’s presentation. After this family group meeting, dinner was served and more free time was given until the Saturday night Taize service, which was planned and led by members of the Genesee Valley Association. The service focused on the calm meditative aspect of one’s spiritual relationship with themselves, God, and the world.
After this service, the youth and their advisors participated in the Saturday night dance, which was held in the nearby barn. The dance was well attended by youth and advisors alike and received great reviews from its attendees. When the dance commenced, everyone returned to respective sleeping areas for the night’s vespers and to prepare for their trip home the following day.
Sunday, March 7
Theme: “Connect with the Community”
Scripture text: Matthew 14: 15-21
On Sunday morning, brunch was served with a grace led by the Susquehanna Association. Following brunch, everyone moved to the chapel for the Sunday morning communion service, which was led by the state youth committee members. Reverend Rita Root, the Interim New York Conference Minister, gave a brief sermon that tied all three of the weekend’s themes together. Reverend Root also served as a celebrant for the communion that followed the service. The proceeds of the offering collected went to the United Church of Christ’s Disaster Relief Fund for Haitian and Chilean relief.
Following the service, the family groups presented their interpretations of the weekend’s themes and how they tied into the real world. The presentations, although brief, provided their viewers with several laughs, and allowed them to see different perspectives on the same themes. The last presentation served as a baptism for each participant at the event. Participants created a circle “dot” around the chapel and two bowls were passed around from person to person on wither side, providing everyone with the opportunity to be baptized and to start a new spiritual walk free of any inhabitances from their past.
When the baptism was completed, everyone said their goodbyes and returned to their respective cabins to load their vehicles and return home until next year’s State Youth Event.
Respectfully Submitted by
Dana Harris – Youth Member of St. Albans Congregational Church
My Reflections From the State Youth Event
This was my first year attending the UCC State Youth Event at Watson Homestead in Painted Post, NY. I must say that it was both an eye-opening and rewarding experience. Being from New York City, it was definitely a drastic change in scenery. Waking up everyday to snow covered mountains and trees rather than busy streets and skyscrapers was something that was different, yet relaxing.
Being surrounded by the calm and quiet, I was able to take to heart the theme of the weekend. “Connect The Dots” was all about joining with others to strengthen your love for yourself, the community and for God.
By participating in the worship service, my friends, from the Metro Association, and I were able to share with the rest of the people our way of praising our Lord. Also, watching the other associations conduct services helped me expand my horizons and learn about new ways to give thanks and show my love for Jesus.
My favorite part of the State Youth Event would have to be the workshops. One of the workshops I attended that had an impact on me was ‘Sweet Dreams’ with Rev. Glenda Prins. I found this workshop to be educational and entertaining. Family is something that we all take for granted until we realize that there are others out there who do not have what we have. I love the fact that the pillowcases we made in the workshop were being donated to foster children. It was a rewarding experience knowing that something I made was going to help someone, somewhere.
Overall, I believe the weekend was a success. We are all distracted by many things in our life. A weekend away from it all helps to connect the dots, expand our views and strengthen our relationships with each other, the community, and with God.
- Emily Pandian –Youth Member of Christhava Tamil Koil