Veritas 2015 awakens youths’ passion for God

By Madison Akins-BanmanVeritas2015_1231
Special Contributor

On March 6, more than 1,200 youth and youth leaders gathered at the Hot Springs Convention Center to experience passionate worship, spiritual renewal and community building at Veritas, the largest annual Arkansas United Methodist youth event. As buses full of seventh- through 12th-graders flooded into the convention center parking lot despite the snow and ice that blanketed the state only two days before, it was evident that the weekend would surpass all expectations.

Veritas is one of six events created by the Arkansas Conference Council on Youth Ministries (ACCYM). Youth and adults are divided into task forces to plan each event. At the ACCYM retreat in August, the Veritas task force prayerfully discerned the theme “Awake” centered on Psalm 85:6-7, “Won’t you bring us back to life again so that your people can rejoice in you?”

The Ember Days, featuring lead singer Janell Belcher, were among guests at Veritas 2015, the Arkansas Conference Council on Youth Ministries’ largest annual event.  PHOTOS BY ACCYM MEDIA TASK FORCE

The Ember Days, featuring lead singer Janell Belcher, were among guests at Veritas 2015, the Arkansas Conference Council on Youth Ministries’ largest annual event.
PHOTOS BY ACCYM MEDIA TASK FORCE

The task force constructed a prayer to be lifted to God during the months of preparation, in order that God might move in mighty ways. A voice recording of this prayer opened worship Saturday morning, setting the tone for a God-infused weekend. Youth groups were challenged to create their own prayer representing what they would like to experience as they journeyed through the weekend. Devotionals written by task force members were available to youth groups, offering discussion and reflection on the theme.

Because the main focus of Veritas is meaningful worship, the weekend included five worship experiences with three elements: worship band The Ember Days; speaker the Rev. Magrey DeVega, pastor of St. Paul’s UMC Cherokee, Iowa; and spoken word poet Amena Brown with DJ Opdiggy.

“I always feel reconnected after Veritas,” said Claire Thompson, a four-year attendee from Pulaski Heights UMC Little Rock. “The worship is more meaningful when I’m with people my own age listening to speakers and bands who really know how to reach teenagers.”

ACCYM president Madison Akins-Banman, left, assists Bishop Gary Mueller with Holy Communion at Veritas 2015.

ACCYM president Madison Akins-Banman, left, assists Bishop Gary Mueller with Holy Communion at Veritas 2015.

“I enjoyed Veritas because it allowed me to experience God in my own way and have a comfortable and passionate worship experience with people my age,” said Lauren Lovelady from First UMC Hot Springs.

Veritas concluded Sunday morning with Holy Communion led by Bishop Gary Mueller. The weekend was over all too quickly, but youth departed with new friends, revived hearts and awareness of being awake to God’s call. To see more photos of the event, search the hashtag #arveritas on social media and visit www.accym.org.

Akins-Banman is the current president of ACCYM and the youth chairperson of the Veritas 2015 task force.