Youth soak up Barrymore message, Steve Fee music at Resurrection '06
By Annette Bender
WHAT WILL youth who attended Resurrection 2006 remember the most? Some will remember how they screamed at Ripley's Haunted Adventure during free time. Others might recall jumping up and down to Steve Fee's music, or waiting outside in freezing temperatures for their session to begin at Gatlinburg Convention Center.
Taylor McCoy, age 16 - along with his friends at Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Tazewell District - will remember how the speaker compared the spiritual journey to a cross-country race.
"I can understand the phases that she described," said McCoy. "I feel like I want to keep going."
"I feel like a better person after listening to her," said Rebecca Damron, 17, also of Ebenezer. "She gave so many examples about how to be a better Christian."
With stories about her own experiences as a young athlete and earnest Christian daughter, the Rev. Alise Barrymore sent home many of the estimated 11,400 youth and youth counselors attending Resurrection with her message on their minds.
Barrymore, dean of university ministries and campus pastor at North Park University in Chicago, preached for six days over two weekends - Jan. 13-15 and 20-22 - at Holston's 21st annual spiritual event for teenagers.
Counseling listeners to "pace yourself" and "consider dressing appropriately," Barrymore referred to Paul's words in Philippians 3: "No matter what happens, always press forward," she said.
"If you have friends who don't want to go to youth anymore, don't you stop ... Keep running, no matter what happens.
"I want to encourage you tonight. You are the one the world is looking for. Run!"
Also leading worship was the Steve Fee Band of Atlanta, sending young people careening through the aisles with "The Happy Song" and quieting their hearts with "Amazing Love."
Other highlights included funny warmup activities led by Don Washburn, Camp Lookout director, and youth talent presentations from each district.
As a new youth director for Central UMC in Salem, Va., Aaron Kelderhouse attended Resurrection for the first time this year, although the Virginia Conference church has been attending for 10 years.
"It's all I've heard about. It's the highlight of the year for them," said Kelderhouse, whose 24-member group was one of 12 United Methodist groups arriving from outside Holston Conference. "I'm really glad to see Alise here. I saw her speak at a national youth conference."
Paula Sandoval, youth leader for Bookwalter UMC in Knoxville District, led a group of 16 to Gatlinburg Convention Center. "If you have some new kids in your group, Resurrection really seems to bond them together," she said. "We come here to be closer to God and closer to others."
Members of the Conference Council on Youth Ministry (CCYM) rejoiced that the first weekend of Resurrection raised $13,500 for the Youth Service Fund (YSF) - sending them well along the way toward their $31,000 goal for 2006.
"It was a great start," said Austin Moody, 17, of Munsey Memorial UMC in Johnson City District.
Helping the YSF campaign along was a friendly competition between districts for the "Skillet Award" (Chattanooga won the prized cookware during the first weekend) and special efforts carried out by groups like Ebenezer UMC in Knoxville District. Spencer Carroll, 13, Ben Nelson, 14, and Craig Clayton, 15, sang and played their guitars outside Starbucks during free time to raise more than $100 for YSF.
The largest group attending was Burks UMC of Chattanooga District with 200 (100 for each weekend). Red Hill UMC of Cleveland District, with nine youth, was represented at Resurrection for the first time.
Red Hill Pastor Carolyn Braddy also attended for the first time. "I'm excited to be here," she said. "I love the enthusiasm of the kids, and the speaker has been speaking to, not just the youth, but to all of us."
The group from Tazewell District's Ebenezer UMC commented on how exciting it was to be among the people strolling and shopping in Gatlinburg.
"We're from a small town - Bluefield - so we don't see a lot of people on the streets," said David Marrs, 13. "This is a different atmosphere for us."
In the Resurrection office, the lost-and-found box overflowed with hats, lone mittens and gloves, hoodies, backpacks, umbrellas, an empty Bible cover, a pink fuzzy scarf, and numerous cell phones - some that were claimed only to reappear again.
Eleven non-United Methodist groups attended. One 12-year-old girl from Bastian Union Church in Bland, Va., came to the office in search of a lost shoe. "I was dancing, and somebody kicked it off," the girl said, tearfully. A search party was organized, including security guards and volunteers.
An hour later, the girl passed the Resurrection office with a smile - and with both dancing shoes in place.