Youth Conferences Across the Region
We are blessed to have clusters of congregations in our respective former districts (Central Midwest, Heartland and Prairie Star) who help to create, with youth and adult leaders, distinct structures for youth events in their respective areas. In FY14, there were more than a dozen youth ministry events across the region, serving just under 1,000 youth and adult leaders!
To enable and foster such a robust youth ministry experience, we are working with a variety of geographical structures for youth events, to keep them all engaging and safe.
Our MidAmerica regional staff members, Nancy Combs-Morgan, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Dori Davenport Thexton email@example.com, continue to work with congregations on developing sustainable youth ministry experiences, as well as continuing education training, such as the “New Youth Advisor Webinars (Sept. 9th and 18th). Nancy Combs-Morgan serves as advocate for the three area youth councils; both Nancy and Dori organize the training for the Con-Coordinators for the Central Midwest Area. Nancy works directly with the Con-Coordinators, and is the point person for congregational leaders who questions about youth conferences in the MA region.
I am so pleased that many congregational leaders in MidAmerica have stepped up to be fully engaged in youth ministry for our entire region. In my regional work, I am so proud to be working with youth and adult leaders who are actively planning to provide a wide array of youth ministry events in 2013-2014 program year. In the Heartland area, we now have a Heartland Area Youth Council, with 9 youth and adult leaders that are organizing youth cons and trainings. In the Central Midwest area, there are a group of committed leaders who are in the process of organizing a Northern Area Youth Council and Southern Area Youth Council, who will be the point people for working with congregations who wish to host a fall or spring con. Thanks to the inspiring leaders of the new MidAmerica Youth Advisor Network (MAYAN), there are advisors who will be serving on these youth area councils to make sure that all of the youth ministry events are of excellent quality and following the highest standards for safety. MAYAN is the new professional association for adult congregational leaders in youth ministry, and will primarily serve to provide support and trainings for youth advisors, youth coordinators, and religious educators (MAYAN will not be the group who actually plan and/or provides youth conferences). Two talented leaders from the Prairie Star area, Ben Wallace, from 1st UU in Omaha, NE, and Sara Karbeling, from 1st UU in Des Moines are also serving on the new MAYAN board. Sara, and the Des Moines youth group, will be hosting their annual youth conference, DEF CON, on Nov. 22-24. Also, in the Prairie Star area, Jill Schwendeman, and the youth from White Bear congregation in Minnesota, are in the process of planning a youth conference in May. For the Central Midwest area there will be a northern Fall Con, Cobalt Nitrate Youth Con, in Rockford, IL, Nov. 15-17, and a southern Fall Con, Space Time CONtinUUm, in Peoria, IL, Nov. 8-10. There are two youth training events on the horizon, a Chaplaincy Training Con, on Oct. 11-13, in W. Lafayette, IN, and a Spirituality Development Conference, on Nov. 15-17 in Dayton, OH. Also, thanks to the leaders in our Michigan congregations there will be a Middle School retreat in southeastern Michigan, Mystic Lake Retreat, Oct. 11-13. Just in case you wanted to find out about more transformative youth events, there will also be the annual Fall conference in the Heartland area, CONtagious, in Indianapolis, on Nov. 1-3!
So, you can see that there is a rich array of wonderful youth ministry events on the calendar for MidAmerica, and I hope to report back soon on the emergence of our MidAmerica Youth Ministry Advisory Group, who will have leaders from the respective area youth councils reporting on youth ministry in their areas. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org