Arkansas well represented at YOUTH 2015

By Amy Forbus
Editor

Arkansas youth Lauren Lovelady, Leah Paige and Claire Thompson cast votes for youth representatives to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in July 2016. Thompson was among those selected to attend the gathering at which new bishops are elected. COURTESY PHOTO

Arkansas youth Lauren Lovelady, Leah Paige and Claire Thompson cast votes for youth representatives to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in July 2016. Thompson was among those selected to attend the gathering at which new bishops are elected.
COURTESY PHOTO

YOUTH 2015, a fun-filled quadrennial event packed with opportunities for worship and learning, outreach and service, drew about 4,800 United Methodist young people, youth leaders, staff and volunteers gathered to Orlando June 24-28. More than 200 of those participants came from 15 churches within the Arkansas Conference.

Two members of the YOUTH 2015 worship design team came from the Arkansas Conference: high school senior Claire Thompson, a member of Pulaski Heights UMC Little Rock, and Brennen Boose, who first arrived in Arkansas as a mission intern with the General Board of Global Ministries and is now an active member of Theressa Hoover Memorial UMC Little Rock.

The worship design group “planned everything that happened in the big room: the worship, the Bible study, and the late-night events,” Thompson said.

Brennen Boose, left, and Claire Thompson, both of Little Rock, served as masters of ceremonies for YOUTH 2015, held June 24-28 in Orlando. The two also served on the worship design team for 18 months leading up to the quadrennial event. COURTESY PHOTO

Brennen Boose, left, and Claire Thompson, both of Little Rock, served as masters of ceremonies for YOUTH 2015, held June 24-28 in Orlando. The two also served on the worship design team for 18 months leading up to the quadrennial event.
COURTESY PHOTO

In addition to participating in about 18 months of advance planning via phone and Google Hangout, Thompson and Boose served as co-emcees during the event—not something that Thompson thought would work for her.

She protested when the idea came up in a design team meeting. But she also knew the experience of helping to plan YOUTH 2015 had increased her confidence in her own leadership skills, so she agreed to give it a try.

“I never thought I could do that, but I did,” she said. “It ended up being great.”

“It was interesting to see, with Claire’s involvement and Brennen’s involvement, how excited our Arkansas people were,” said Michelle Moore, youth and young adult ministries coordinator for the Arkansas Conference. “They embraced it. Most of our kids, the 200 kids who were there, had never met Claire or Brennen…. [but] by the end, they had claimed them as their own: ‘These are our Arkansas people.’ It was really cool that they got the connection piece of it.”

“I’m really happy with how many kids we had from Arkansas that came,” Thompson said. “We were kind of joking about how Arkansas was taking over” because not only did she and Boose emcee, Bishop Gary Mueller was involved in leadership as well. And the Rev. Jay Clark, associate pastor of Pulaski Heights UMC Little Rock, would go onstage a few minutes before each evening’s worship to lead “Funzzies”—silly songs and games—just like he does at Arkansas Conference youth events.

The Rev. Jay Clark, associate pastor at Pulaski Heights UMC Little Rock, leads “Funzzies” before worship at YOUTH 2015.  COURTESY PHOTO

The Rev. Jay Clark, associate pastor at Pulaski Heights UMC Little Rock, leads “Funzzies” before worship at YOUTH 2015.
COURTESY PHOTO

Thompson said it was common for people to stop design team members in the hallways to express appreciation for their work.

“I had a lot of kids just stop me and talk to me, and adults, too, that were just really impressed and moved by it all,” she said.

Besides worship, workshops and service projects, attendees elected youth and youth-leader observers to attend next summer’s Jurisdictional Conferences. Thompson and Clark were elected to observe the South Central Jurisdictional Conference.

YOUTH 2015 also included the baptism of one young person. Thompson said there was discussion months ago about whether to intentionally include a baptism in one of the worship services, but they decided against trying to orchestrate that step in someone’s faith journey. But the Holy Spirit can have that kind of impact at YOUTH 2015. Mid-week, a young woman approached the team about being baptized. After having a conversation with her and making sure it was OK with her family back home, Bishop Mueller carried out the sacrament during worship, as the young woman’s youth minister and youth group surrounded her in support.

To see more from YOUTH 2015, check social media channels for the hashtag #y15umc.