The Arkansas Conference Council on Youth Ministries has made the final decision to cancel the fall event, Refuge, due to the increase of COVID-19 cases once again in Arkansas and our responsibility of protecting the most vulnerable in the room (children and anyone who may be suffering from a chronic illness or disease.) Also, with the latest updated guidelines for ARUMC for youth ministries which can be found at the conference website here, and the following factors, we sadly announce that in-person Refuge is canceled for November of 2021:
- The ARUMC Youth Ministry Safety Guidelines
- Youth programming must follow CDC guidelines for sanitation, safety, size, and social distancing.
- Guidelines and procedures for deep cleaning and regular sanitizing of all space used for youth ministries should be developed prior to in-person events and programs re-starting.
- Develop a plan for providing face coverings for those youth and adults who arrive without one.
- All staff, volunteers, and youth should wear face coverings and maintain 6 feet physical distance from all present whether gatherings are indoors or outdoors. Those who live in the same household can be considered a “family unit” and can be within 6 feet of one another but must wear a face covering at all times.
- When possible, youth gatherings should be held outdoors.
- Whether indoors or outdoors, a space of 36 square feet should be accounted for per “family unit” in attendance to allow for space for physically distancing as recommended by the CDC.
- Due to the nature of retreats or trips needing extended periods of time indoors, shared sleeping spaces, and shared bathrooms overnight retreats, trips or missions are not recommended.
- Most importantly, our top priority is keeping everyone safe and healthy while loving one another the best we can.
- With all of these factors, we as the CCYM do not feel we can properly fulfill the purpose of this event which is to build a community for all of our members of the ARUMC youth to be able to see the larger body of the conference in powerful worship.
Instead, the task force plans to put out virtual worship sessions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the original first weekend (November 5-7). These worship sessions will include devotionals written by the task force, worship songs, prayers, and reflection questions to spark spiritual and personal connections in young youth around Arkansas. The reflection questions will be posted on the ACCYM social media platforms to create conversations while being physically distant. We have also teamed up with the Youth Service Fund to sell limited edition t-shirts for our virtual event. All the proceeds will go towards YSF grants for mission and outreach projects around the state. The task force plans to go back to the roots of what Refuge means and guide youth to find their own meaning of Refuge. We are so excited for y’all to see what we have in store!